Performing Lines WA
Children of the Sea
By Jay Emmanuel
A Perth Festival Commission
Follow four unaccompanied children as they embark on a perilous journey. Drifting on Indo-Australian waters towards an uncertain future they confront memories of the lives they have left behind.
The culmination of a two-year research project, Children of the Sea is Jay Emmanuel’s emotional and epic theatrical piece that shares the journey of young maritime survivors who came to Australia by boat. Inspired by true stories, it brings together a stellar team of five extraordinary young performers onstage with a vocal ensemble led by Green Room Award-winning singer-songwriter, composer, performer and choir-leader, Kavisha Mazzella.
The UN Refugee Agency reports 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution at the end of 2018. 52% of those were children. A counter-response to one of the most pressing issues humanity is facing right now, the piece asks: How do children deal with fate and tragedy? What do children do to survive in the face of adversity? What gives them hope? How does loss and displacement morph childhood?
A tribute to hope and a sobering reminder of the stories that float on the horizon, Children of the Sea explores the paradoxes and confusions of a world dealing with an unprecedented flux of uprooted lives. Chilling, yet playful and funny, this sensitive and politically-charged show puts children front and centre – their voice, their story – ultimately creating an uplifting theatrical experience.
Writer, Director & LibrettistJay EmmanuelScript DramaturgShakthidharan SivanathanCo-Composer & LibrettistKavisha MazzellaCo-Composer & MusicianPavan Kumar HariPerformers/Youth EnsembleManiya Amin-Dheghan, Harry Hamzat, Satchen Lucido, Abimanjou Mathivannan, Happyness YasiniVocal EnsemblePavan Kumar Hari, Kavisha Mazzella, Jordan Azor and Richard MagangaSet & Costume DesignerBryan WoltjenActing CoachPhil ThomsonVoice CoachJulia MoodyCultural AdvisorAli RazaScript Dramaturg – 1st StagePolly LowProduction ManagerBen NelsonStage ManagerRhianne CoffeyLighting DesignerMatt MarshallCommunity Engagement CoordinatorAnju SivarajahCo-produced byEncounter and Performing Lines WA
Jay Emmanuel - Writer, Director & Librettist
Jay Emmanuel is a theatremaker, writer, director, creative producer and community advocate. He is committed to community development using participatory theatre making processes, actively engaging the CACD space to facilitate expression for communities to tell their stories. Currently working as a devisor on the adaptation of Mahabharata by Why Not Theatre (Canada), he has recently appeared in Helpmann award-winning play Counting and Cracking by Belvoir St/Co-Curious. In the past, he has worked with Theatre du Soleil (France), Barking Gecko Theatre, Perth Festival Lab, Perth Winter Arts Festival and with internationally renowned director Ariane Mnouchkine. In October 2016, he founded St George’s Dance and Theatre program and he has produced several well-received works including Helpmann Award-nominated A Migrant’s Son, Fringe award-winning work Syncope, Biryani, a solo show MAA and In Between (Encounter), To Tell Tales and he co-produced In Situ (Strut Dance Co) and Proximity Festival. In 2019 he was shortlisted for WA Young Person of the Year award and Woodside Best Emerging Arts Award in 2016. He is a graduate of the two-year program at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, France, 2018.
S. Shakthidharan – Script Dramaturg
Shakthi is a western Sydney storyteller with Sri Lankan heritage and Tamil ancestry. He’s a writer, director and producer of theatre and film and composer of original music. His debut play Counting and Cracking (Belvoir and Co-Curious) received critical, commercial and community acclaim at the 2019 Sydney and Adelaide Festivals. The script won the Victorian Premier’s Literature Prize and the NSW Premier’s Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting and the production won seven Helpmann and three Sydney Theatre Awards.
Shakthi has a new commission with Sydney Festival, a number of new plays in development with Belvoir and a feature film in development with Felix Media. He's the Artistic Director of Kurinji and Artistic Lead at Co-Curious. Co-Curious is a sister company to CuriousWorks, where Shakthi was the Founder and Artistic Director from 2003- 18. Shakthi was the Carriageworks inaugural Associate Artist and a recipient of both the Phillip Parson’s and Kirk Robson awards.
Kavisha Mazzella – Co-Composer, Librettist & Performer
London born, Perth raised from parents of Italian and Anglo Burmese heritage, the multi-award-winning singer-songwriter, choir leader and composer is an independent community musician who has released eight solo albums to date. She has composed music for many shows particularly Deckchair Theatre in WA and theatre companies in Victoria winning a Greenroom Award for Emma Celebration! by Graham Pitts. She founded and directed the Fremantle Italian Women's Choir Le Gioie Delle Donne (The Joys of the Women) before moving to Melbourne to create more choirs and shows there and produced her own world music show Planetary Wanderer on Castlemaine Community Radio 94.9 Main FM. “She sings with the voice of a heartbroken angel,” says Victoria Laurie of The Australian newspaper.
Pavan Kumar Hari – Co-Composer & Musician
Pavan Kumar Hari is a composer, performer, dancer and director who creates vibrant, dynamic, expressive and dramatic music for theatre, film, dance and the concert hall. He began to study dance and music in Perth at Saraswati Mahavidhyalaya, the Indian School of Performing Arts. He then progressed to study composition and percussion at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where he plays percussion and piano and has recently completed his Bachelor of Music degree (Honours). Pavan’s compositions have featured in main stage dance and theatre productions in Perth. Most recently, Pavan won Best Composition or Arranging at the 2019 PAWA Awards for Fully Sikh.
Maniya Amin-Dheghan – Performer
13-year-old Maniya was born in Iran and came to Australia by boat with her family when she was a toddler. She is a five times Karate champion. Although she has done public speaking she has not acted in front of an audience before. She spoke at the Perth Arena as a part of One Big Voice, and read A Wrinkle in Time to a full house at Edmund Rice Centre. Inspired by the amazing job the lawyers did to help her family to get to Australia, she sees herself as a lawyer or having a seat in the house of parliament when she grows up so she can influence change and help people in need. The character ‘Noor’ is inspired by Maniya’s real-life story.
Harry Hamzat – Performer
17-year-old Harry was born in Germany where his family migrated from Nigeria. As the middle child in a family of three, he describes himself as an all-rounder with a passion for acting, painting and drawing. Someone that he admires very strongly is Nigerian novelist Tomi Adeyemi, whose bestsellers Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance have been a source of inspiration for him. Harry aspires to one day work as an actor and create animated series for television. He would also like to study genetics because DNA and phenotypes have always fascinated him. One superpower Harry wishes he has is telekinesis – the power to move things with his mind – which would be very convenient for him, especially if he was ever in danger or in trouble.
Satchen Lucido – Performer
14-year-old Satchen was born in Perth where he lives with his Italian and Anglo-Indian parents and 12-year old soccer-loving brother. Satchen also has a 16-year-old sister who is studying ballet in Europe. Satchen is a serious and committed actor and loves playing challenging characters. He met Jay Emmanuel while attending drama classes at Barking Gecko Theatre. He is passionate about music and plays multiple instruments including guitar, piano and drums. Satchen also loves to sing and is a bass-baritone. He also enjoys producing short films and has won awards for his artwork. Being involved in the creative arts brings Satchen a great deal of joy and satisfaction, and he hopes one day to make a career in this industry. He feels that while not everyone may have the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, the arts can bring incredible multicultural experiences right to our doorstep, enriching our hearts and minds.
Abimanjou Mathivannan – Performer
Abimanjou is 15 years old and hails from Sri Lanka. His parents came to Australia as refugees in 2009 when he was a small child. He loves dancing to Tamil songs, listening to music all the time, singing and running. Performing in Children Of the Sea has allowed him to overcome his fear of public speaking, and he hopes this play becomes famous as it portrays the courage required and the obstacles children have to navigate for their own safety. When he grows up, Abimanjou would like to travel the world to discover different cultures and beliefs.
Happyness Yasini – Performer
Happyness is the youngest in the group and is only 12 years old. She was born and raised in Australia but her parents are from Burundi on her father’s side and Tanzania on her mother’s side. Something people might not know about her is how good she is at playing the drum, especially the cultural drum. She admires American singer, songwriter and actress Ariana Grande because of her talents and her kindness, and would like to become a comedian, a singer or a writer when she grows up. If she could name one superpower she wished she had it would be ‘super speed’ so she can travel the world.
Jordan Azor – Performer
With formal training from Los Angeles under the auspices of Mark Schulman and the members of P!nk's studio and touring ensemble, Jordan is a composer, director, performer and producer now based in Perth, WA. As a post-graduate researcher, he specialises in Transmedia Production where contemporary music and creative writing (short form, novella, novel) are combined in the context of film and theatre to exponentially elevate the experiential impact of the work(s). As an Australian-born child of apartheid-era immigrants, the need to convey stories that authentically represent his experiences of 'otherness' and reduction are the reasons Jordan uses his creative voice to encourage reflection and representation in a contemporary context.
Richard Maganga – Performer
Richard has long cultivated a passion for music and stories. After three years of acting training at The Actors’ Hub, he appeared in productions of The Innocent Pawn and The Empire, Squawk, performed at The Perth Royal Show, and made his professional stage debut at the Black Swan State Theatre Company, in the play Water. He has also lent his voice to the Water Corporation Road show, an educational campaign rolling out in schools across WA. Richard looks forward to cultivating a path as a culturally and linguistically diverse artist working in film and theatre, as an actor, writer and director.
Bryan Woltjen – Set & Costume Designer
A graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Bryan has collaborated with a diverse range of theatre-makers across Australia, India and Europe. He is the recipient of two WA Equity Guild Awards for Best Set Design. In 2008 he undertook a series of residencies across India researching traditional puppetry and devising new works. Between 2010 and 2019, Bryan was based in London, where he designed scenery, puppetry and costume for site-specific immersive work, new writing, festival installation, alternative spaces and established production houses. Now based in Walyalup (Fremantle), Bryan is also designing for Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Dash Arts London and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.
Matt Marshall – Lighting Designer
Matt has been nominated for his work twice by the Helpmann Awards for Best Lighting Design (2012, 2017) and has received nominations for Best Lighting Design from the Australian Production Design Guild. With 20 years of design experience Matt has worked for all the major performing arts companies and festivals in Australia. Recent designs include The Barber of Seville (NZ Opera & Seattle Opera), Tchaikovsky (Tulsa Ballet), Pigalle (Sydney Festival), Man With The Iron Neck (Legs on the Wall), Carmen (Oper Leipzig), The Misanthrope at Sydney Opera House (Bell Shakespeare), La Boheme the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (Opera Australia).
Philip Thomson – Acting Coach
Phil Thomson has wide experience in introducing acting skills to emerging performers in both cross-cultural and cross-artform projects. His work focuses on protecting and giving confidence to actors by helping them to develop and inhabit the fictional characters they will become. He was AD of WAYTCo and Operation Pilbara; and has taught acting in PNG and India. His work with first-time actors includes Keep Your Culture Strong (PNG), Jandamarra (Kimberley), Jandamarra – Sing for Country (Sydney), Good Little Soldier (Berlin, Perth). He is making a new show with Indigenous students at WAAPA and writing a novel, Disarmed.
Julia Moody – Voice Coach
Julia Moody has a Graduate Diploma in Voice Studies from NIDA (Sydney), a BA from Curtin University (Perth), is a fully accredited Associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework (New York), and did her actor training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (UK). Julia has performed as an actor in theatre, film, TV and radio with companies across Australia. She has been voice and accent coach on over 300 professional theatre productions. Julia has lectured in Voice at the RADA (UK), the RCSSD (UK), the BOVTS (UK), the Victorian College of the Arts School of Drama, the University of Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts, and was Head of Voice in the Acting Department of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University for 21 years.
Ali-Raza Yousafzai – Cultural Advisor
Ali Raza is a 27 year old born in Quetta, Balochistan, a storyteller, community advocate and an avid photographer who has collaborated extensively with Red Cross, MAYAN and Asylum Seeker Hub. Ali came to Australia in 2013 seeking asylum and currently is a temporary resident in Australia. Ali and Jay began their collaboration in 2016, where Ali was interviewed and has since been an advisor on the project. The character of ‘Mir’ is inspired by Ali’s real-life story.
Ben Nelson – Production Manager
Ben Nelson is a professional production manager and audio operator with eight years experience in the theatre industry. He began his career mixing bands in Albany (WA) before joining the Albany Entertainment Centre as acting Head of Audio (2014 – 18), where he expanded his skills working with various touring productions. In 2018 he relocated to Perth and has since worked in diverse roles for various companies including Perth Theatre Trust, WA Ballet, Crown Theatre, Tura New Music, Perth Festival, Sensorium Theatre, Maybe ( ) Together and Performing Lines WA. Since March 2019, Ben has been Production Managing Performing Lines WA’s works including Whoosh!, Layla Majnun, PLWA Creative Hub and ongoing creative developments.
Rhianne Coffey – Stage Manager
With over a decade of experience, predominantly working as a freelance event, stage and production manager, Rhianne has experienced the diversity the arts and entertainment industry has to offer, working across a vast array of subsets including musicals, theatre, concerts, symphony orchestras, ballet, as well as festivals and touring experience both nationally and internationally. Rhianne is eager to continue to work in an industry she is passionate about, bringing amazing productions to the stage that inspires the community and cultivates the curiosity of people from all around.
Anju Sivarajah – Community Engagement Coordinator
Anju is a proud Sri Lankan woman with both Sinhalese සිංහල and Tamil தமிழ் heritage. She has worked tirelessly in the social service sector for the past 22 years, addressing social disadvantage on the frontline with Aboriginal and refugee/migrant communities nationally and locally. She has extensive experience addressing and challenging family & domestic violence, mental health concerns, homelessness, racism, reconciliation and belonging. She has developed close connections with many diverse communities and informed individuals throughout Perth, enabling her to engage with BIPOC performing artists and new audiences for Children of the Sea in her roles at Encounter and Performing Lines WA.
Under the artistic direction of Jay Emmanuel, Encounter is a new theatre company based in Western Australia that champions stories from diverse cultures. Featuring a professional ensemble of emerging and established culturally diverse performers, it stages unique productions of excellence while exploring innovative and collaborative ways of making new theatre works. The company is compiling a database for artists of diversity in WA and forging partnerships with national and international companies. Encounter tells untold Australian stories and shares them with the world. They decolonise theatre. They advocate and we lead.
Performing Lines WA
Performing Lines WA produces transformative contemporary performance by Western Australia’s most audacious independent artists. As the West Australian office of national organisation, Performing Lines, they curate a portfolio of works that are propelled by pressing questions and new ways of seeing the world. Their purpose is to champion risk and to ensure the breadth and plurality of Western Australia’s identity, culture and creative potential is represented, celebrated and enjoyed. They support independent artists to create, present and tour innovative and relevant contemporary Australian performance locally, nationally and internationally.
|Time & Location||
Wed 10 – Sat 13 Feb
Wed – Fri 7pm | Sat 2pm & 7pm
Eligible for package discount
Performed in English, Urdu, Farsi, Kirundi & Congolese
Latecomers not admitted
Post show Q&A
Thu 11 Feb
Stay in your seats after the performance to hear from creators and artists in a Q&A session.
|STAY COVID SAFE||
Remember to stay home if you are sick, maintain social distancing and wash your hands regularly.
Please visit our COVID Safe page for details on how to stay safe at the Festival.
- Cam Campbell
- Co-produced by Encounter and Performing Lines WA
- The Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body and the WA Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
- Perth Festival is supported by See Subiaco for this project