Lady Tabouli Is An Observation Of Family In A World Premiere At Sydney Festival

Written by Courtney Norton
Category: Arts Published: Tuesday, 17 December 2019 09:14

Trying to navigate the delicate balance between tradition, family and a role in the LGBTQIA+ community certainly isn’t easy, especially when you’re Danny. 

He's a gay, Lebanese-Australian man from a Christian Mennonite family.

'Lady Tabouli', written by James Elazzi, invites audiences into the home of Danny and his family as they attempt to navigate how they start “reconciling their own culture with the choices and the lives of people they love”.

Audiences are introduced to Danny’s family on a very high-pressure day: His sister’s son’s christening.

“They are all preparing frantically to go to the church to have this christening and amidst this high-pressure day, as is often the case when things happen, revelations are born and they start to have to deal with it as a family,” Director Dino Dimitriadis explains.

The fact that it's having its world premiere at Sydney Festival shines a spotlight on 'Lady Tabouli' as part of the diverse programme, which this year – thanks to Sydney Festival’s Artistic Director Wesley Enoch – has become the single largest commissioner of new work in Australia.

“What’s also very exciting about it is, this is a Sydney story and it’s a local work made by local artists as part of the Sydney Festival. It’s wonderful.”

Dimitriadis says that the festival, which in previous years has attracted over 100,000 people to ticketed events, is “a real opportunity to reach a lot of audiences with the story that we’re trying to tell.”

“I think plays tell stories and are about issues facing people, and there are some LGBTQIA+ themes in this play and it’s obviously the inciting incident for a lot of the conflict in the family but it’s not the whole play.

Lady Tabouli Hero2

“What we see as well is the struggles and the challenges faced by communities, inter-generationally, the difference between parents and children, particularly when we’ve got parents who have immigrated to the country. . . The influence of religion and tradition and how that can shackle but also how people can find ways to work around that as well.”

'Lady Tabouli' is being presented for Sydney Festival by the National Theatre of Parramatta and it is something that Dimitriadis wants to ensure is celebrated. He says it’s a testament to the production company.

“They are really backing new voices and new stories and they are unafraid to put a queer director on a play with many different themes: Family, culture, community, queerness, all these things. They’re saying 'This is Sydney now. These are the stories we need to be telling'.”

While audiences will have to see 'Lady Tabouli' for themselves to discover how events unfold for Danny and his family, Dimitriadis explains that the play’s main message is “not just about coming out” but about “everything that comes with being a queer person, in a structure that doesn’t account for queerness”.

“When you start to contest the structure and therefore the rules in your families or in your upbringings or in your traditions or your culture, that’s when the tensions start to surface. . . I think sometimes, people just need time to change and to process things. Sometimes things are irreconcilable but I think what this play does celebrate is that irrespective of the outcome, there is freedom in standing in your truth.”

'Lady Tabouli' plays Riverside Theatres Parramatta 11-18 January.

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