Wow. A couple of years ago I was in a rice paddy just outside of the rice town, Deniliquin. All the reeds were thick and bent over, like swathes of hunched bushes. As a city person, and despite my mother agricultural background and prowess, I am incredibly disconnected from the food I eat, from how things get into the supermarket aisles I wander.
I’d gotten some Oz Co funding to research a play about food production, with two main characters being a younger second-gen Indian girl and an older first-gen Chinese lady. These characters had a magnetism about them, and so I began work to understand the world they lived in. The younger character second in charge in a rice company, the old lady a cleaner. My mum was a cleaner for a couple of years, swiping into government buildings in Barton. I work late some times and cleaners come, invariably yellow or brown-skinned. It could be a relative of mine, I think. And of course I then recall my mum, and the cleaning she did for a few years before she had her mini-strokes.
I wrote Rice and it was a heady mammoth splat of ideas and characters. There was, in my typical fashion, too much there. As usual, it was all making sense to me. I got some development funding from The Street Theatre and undertook a week-long workshop in May 2015, and then I undertook two weeks of development for the Playwriting Festival in 2015, then another half day with Playwriting Australia, and thennnnn entered Rice into the Queensland Premiers’ Drama Award. It got further support and ended up winning in July 2016. This meant guaranteed production in Queensland Theatre Company’s 2017 program. Griffin also picked it up for a co-production.
Both seasons for those theatre companies have now been released so cheers to that, and looking forward to the next stages of Rice leading up into rehearsals.