Courtney Stewart, actor, Single Asian Female

Some of the biggest heavyweights in terms of writing and acting in our industry at the moment are from diverse backgrounds. Our future is bright ...

Single Asian Female was one of the most acclaimed breakthrough hits of Brisbane’s theatre scene in 2017. Award-winning playwright Michelle Law’s enthralling comedy of a family of whip-smart women resonated with audiences, leading the production to enjoy a sold-out season at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre in 2018. Those that missed out on Single Asian Female’s initial Brisbane run are fortunate enough to get a second chance to catch the show when it returns to La Boite Theatre on Saturday February 16. The show, which follows the Wong Family, explores family dynamics and generational and cultural gaps in an earnest and relatable way – cementing its status as a must-see production this year. We caught up with cast member Courtney Stewart to find out more about the show and her own work as an advocate for equal representation in the arts.

Tell us about how you got into the dramatic arts! Where did it all begin?
I started dancing when I was seven years old, and then discovered theatre and performance in high school and fell in love with storytelling.

Beyond acting, you’re also a dancer, singer, director and teaching artist. By our count you’re a quintuple threat! How do you manage to juggle all the various facets of your creative passion?
It’s interesting because most of the roles I play ultimately end up combining a lot of my skills and interests. I also have multiple creative endeavours simmering at the same time!

You’ve been a part of the creative development process for Single Asian Female from near the very beginning. What drew you to the project and made you want to be a part of it?
After the first creative development I was involved in, I kind of stalked the project! I loved the writing and the characters and knew this play had a big future.

The story focuses on a trio of women dealing with issues within their family and without – what topics does Single Asian Female tackle predominantly?
For my character Mei, I think this play really looks at the complexity around identity. Feeling pulled by one part of your culture but that being odds with other parts of your identity and how confusing and frustrating that is for a young person who is trying to figure out what they want and who they are.

Single Asian Female earned rave reviews after its premiere at La Boite. What was some of the most memorable feedback you and the team received after your Brisbane and Sydney seasons?
The fact that so many people came to the theatre for the first time in their lives and felt overwhelmed at seeing their faces and hearing their voices on stage. That’s the moment I realised how important this project is.

Has the performance changed much since its debut season in 2017?
Yes! There have been a lot of edits, more jokes, and some different actors. It keeps evolving, which is great for us – it keeps the show fresh and alive. This year we have seen personal changes that really embrace that family feel as well because three of our cast now have bubs of their own.

For those coming to experience the show for the first time, what do you hope they take away from the performance?
I hope the audience falls in love with the characters and the story of these women.

In addition to your work in theatre, you’re also an active member of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance’s Equity Diversity Committee. What are your thoughts on the current state of representation across the Australian theatre industry?
I feel very optimistic about our industry and think we are at a very exciting moment change. Some of the biggest heavyweights in terms of writing and acting in our industry at the moment are from diverse backgrounds. Our future is bright.

What do you look for in a role when weighing up whether or not to take it?
It’s really important to me that every project I work on has deeply considered diverse representation.

Finally, what motivates you on a daily basis in your life and work?
I’m incredibly driven by my career goals, my young family and trying to thrive in Sydney!

If you missed out on seeing Single Asian Female during its debut run (or simply want to catch it again), the play will be at La Boite Theatre from Saturday February 6 until Saturday March 9. You can get your tickets here

Image credit: Daniel Boud


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