THE “Indian princess” and “Chinese cleaner” – race, gender and power collide in Queensland Theatre’s global drama RICE opening tonight

Winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA) 2016-2017, Michele Lee’s first mainstage play Rice sets the personal politics of two women against the global politics of the world food economy. Rice will have its world premiere season in Brisbane from June 24, before touring to Sydney and Victoria.

A co-production with Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney, Lee Lewis directs Kristy Best and Hsiao-Ling Tang in this powerful and tender interrogation of race, gender and the vastly different relationship that migrants of varying generations have with Australia. Rice is the story of two multicultural women making their way in modern Australia who forge a powerful, if unlikely, friendship that gets results.

Working late, high up in a skyscraper, Nisha – at 28, a business prodigy and second-in-command of an Australian rice company – is closing a massive deal with the Indian government. Working later still is Yvette, who clears up her take-away.

“Indian princess” and “Chinese cleaner” is all they see when they face each other across the desk. They are from different cultures, different generations – but as the nights wear on, they discover the many ties that bind them, and help each other navigate their complex lives. Brimming with sharp observations on globalisation, power, politics and migration as well as plenty of wicked humour, Rice won Michele Lee the QPDA 2016-2017 over 50 other entrants.

With a growing body of work that centres on female identity, otherness and Asian-Australian stories, Lee is firmly establishing her voice across stage, radio and fiction. Michele’s digital theatre work, The Naked Self, was commissioned by Arts House and was presented in the 2016 Festival of Live Arts, and her radio play See how the leaf people run won an AWGIE in 2013.

She described her play as a fluid two-hander where women topple women, and women rescue women. “Rice explores the question of women surviving in corporate CBD Australia, especially women of colour, and aims to talk to this changing face of power. The play forms part of a conversation about who we are as a population, and where our roots are from”.

For Lee Lewis, “Michele is one of the next generation of Australian playwrights who writes for the world, not just Australia”. She adds, “Ambitious in form and idea, Rice is both deeply intimate and powerfully global in its reach. It marks the beginning of what I believe will be a robust conversation between Michele and Australian audiences.”

Hsiao-Ling Tang achieved critical acclaim for her recent performance in La Boite Theatre’s Single Asian Female. Her other theatre credits include Professor Burton’s Travelling Federation Show which toured with the QLD Arts Council, After China at Belvoir and Shattered Jade at Seymour Centre. Hsiao-Ling has performed roles in the film Postcard Bandit and U.S. produced Tempted co-starring with Virginia Madsen and Jason Mamoa of Game of Thrones fame.

Kristy Best recently starred in Griffin Theatre Company’s Gloria. She has also had recent roles in Q Theatre Company’s Truck Stop as well as on television in Neighbours and Top of the Lake.

Presented by Queensland Theatre and Queensland Government, the QPDA is a prestigious and important award for Australian Theatre in that it guarantees a professional production of the winning entry. “Rice is a sophisticated portrait of contemporary Australia right now, a play that depicts who we are and who we want to be in all its complexity and diversity. It is deliciously theatrical, it expertly blends dry humour and sharp insight, and I cannot wait to see it on our stage from June 24 in its premiere season,” said Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Sam Strong, who was part of the judging panel for the awards.

The Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2016-2017 is proudly supported by the Queensland Government

Director Lee Lewis
Set Designer Renee Mulder
Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright
Composer & AV Designer Wil Hughes
Cast Kristy Best, Hsiao-Ling Tang

WORLD PREMIERE SEASON : Dates: 24 June to 16 July
Venue: Bille Brown Studio, Queensland Theatre
Tickets: 1800 355 528 or online at

NEW SOUTH WALES: 22 July – 26 Aug | Sydney: Griffin Theatre
VICTORIA: 29 Aug – 2 Sep | Wodonga: HotHouse Theatre

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