WHITE PEARL by Anchuli Felicia King arrives at STC
The old adage “there is no such thing as bad publicity” will be dramatically put to the test in Anchuli Felicia KingThe fast-paced comedy from White Pearl, which will finally play at STC’s Wharf 1 Theater from March 11 after being postponed twice due to the pandemic.
Described by Time Out as ‘incredibly funny satire’, White Pearl documents the fallout of Singapore-based cosmetics start-up Clearday after a racist ad for the company’s ‘White Pearl’ skin whitening cream was gone viral.
A co-production with Riverside’s The National Theater by Parramatta, White Pearl had a sold-out premiere there in 2019 and acclaimed productions at London’s Royal Court TheaterStudio Theater in Washington D.C. In 2021, the show’s run at the Queensland Theater was cut short and Sydney’s first season canceled due to the Delta outbreak.
In White Pearl, King – who was STC’s 2019 Patrick White Playwrights Fellow – deftly unravels toxic corporate culture, the complexity of pan-Asian relations and racism.
“White Pearl explores a grocery list of themes – the beauty industry, the multiplicity of ‘Asian’ identities, intracultural racism, millennial corporate culture, global discourse and the internet, and shame as cultural property,” King said.
“At its core, White Pearl is really about communication: the ways we use language to gain or yield power. I’m so excited to be able to share this piece with Australian audiences again in 2021, at a historic time when it feels more timely. than ever.”
The show puts six young Asian women at its center – played in this production by Deborah An, Manali DatarMelissa Gan, Kaori Maeda-Judge, Nicole Milinkovic and Shirong Wu – who are joined by Stephen Madsen who completes the set as a manipulative French ex-boyfriend.
The production is helmed by Priscilla Jackman (Still Point Turning: The Catherine McGregor Story), who said she was “swept away by the power and provocation of King’s unique voice and mastery of language” when first reading White. Pearl.
“I had never read a piece like this – the sharp idiomatic specificity of the six striking and distinctive female voices, the sophistication and finesse of its haunting rhythms and the depth of its subversive comedy, which seems to seduce and decimate simultaneously” , Jackman mentioned.
“White Pearl is a fierce text, about leaking a racist ad that goes viral. But more importantly, for us, it’s a play about power and language. White Pearl questions the indisputable complexities of PC culture , challenging the privileges of language and identity while offering profound provocations in our human interrelationships. It invites us into a political conversation around power, perspective, cultural currency and consumerism – ultimately asking us to question what that unites us in our humanity and what tears us apart.
Anchuli Felicia King is a Thai-Australian playwright, screenwriter and multidisciplinary artist. As a playwright, she is interested in linguistic hybrids, digital cultures and issues of globalization. His plays were produced by the Royal Court Theater (London), Studio Theater (Washington DC), American Shakespeare Center (Staunton), Melbourne Theater Company (Melbourne), Sydney Theater CompanyParramatta National Theater and Belvoir Theater (Sydney).
As a multidisciplinary artist, King has worked with a wide range of companies and institutions including Punchdrunk, PlayCo, 3LD Arts & Technology Center, Roundabout Theatre, Manhattan Theater Club, 59E59, Ars Nova, the Obie Awards, The Builders Association, Ensemble Studio Theatre, NYTW, American Shakespeare Company and Red Bull Theatre. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theater’s Youngblood group and Roundabout Theater’s Space Jam program.
White Pearl is at the Wharf 1 theater from March 11 to April 23.