Conversations with Charlie


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Charlie holds a big white shaped egg


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DirectorBruce Keller
PlaywrightBinh Duy Ta
ComposerNgoc Tuan Hoang
Set DesignerPierre Thibaudeau
PerformersKerry Casey (Charlie)
 Denice Kickett
 Binh Duy Ta
PhotographersTiet Ho
 Bob Seary
Graphic DesignerNgoc Dieu Hoang


"Through the silence of your films, I can hear the words... the tragedy behind the laughter...the tears behind the happiness...the harmony behind the suffering. "

Conversations with Charlie was performed as part of the Sydney Asian Theatre Festival at Belvoir St Theatre in September 1996.

Conversations with Charlie engaged three performers – one Vietnamese, one Aboriginal and one Anglo-Celtic – in a poetic and abstract story of a young Vietnamese artist adjusting to life in the New Country (Australia) by conjuring forth the Spirit of the Land and the ghost of Charlie Chaplin as his mentors and spiritual guides. In Vietnam, Charlie Chaplin is a cultural icon and national hero, who see themselves reflected in this slight, black haired man (with a beard), who as the underdog is sentimentally romantic, openly poetic, and who, through their wits and cunning, overcome the powerful forces of authority.

Jacqueline Lo wrote in Dis/orientations: contemporary Asian-Australian theatre (1997):

The transformation from the Vietnamese mother to the Aboriginal woman spirit by the Aboriginal actor undermines the fixity of race as represented through the conventions of corporeal signifers and verbal language. Whilst admittedly the use of the Aboriginal female actor to play a range of feminine roles (mother, land, spirit of Aboriginality) runs the risk of re-scribing gender essentialism, it could also be argued that the image of an Aboriginal (m)Other nurturing the Vietnamese newcomer displaces and dialogises the conventional binary representations of Self/Other, White/Black and West/East. This trope is repeated later in the play when the woman becomes the love interest of the young artist…In a live performance with the racially marked bodies of the Vietnamese and Aboriginal actors, the embrace which almost ends in a kiss presents a moment of frisson at the prospect of cross-racial coupling.

Conversation with Charlie is sponsored by the Australia Council for the Arts the Federal Government’s arts funding & advisory body.