In January, Sydney Festival was very proud to host the world premiere of Counting & Cracking, S. Shakthidharan’s play about three generations of a Sri Lankan migrant family, following them from their homeland in the 1970s through to Sydney in the 2000s. The co-production from Co-Curious and Belvoir St Theatre was staged at Sydney Town Hall and played to sold out houses.
We were absolutely delighted last week to see Counting & Cracking sweep the board at the 2019 Helpmann Awards, winning seven of the eight categories it was nominated in, including:
Best New Australian Work
Best Production of a Play
Best Direction of a Play – Eamon Flack and S. Shakthidharan
Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play – Vaishnavi Suryaprakash
Best Male Actor in a Play – Prakash Belawadi
Best Scenic Design – Dale Ferguson
Best Sound Design – Stefan Gregory
“Counting and Cracking changed me in ways I didn’t expect,” said S. Shakthidharan on the night. “Before the show had its Sydney run, I realised that I was my normal Australian self in private and at home, and I put on a limited version of myself in public. After the Sydney season finished, and I saw my community in all its glorious messy complexity on stage every night for three weeks, I realised that was the first time we presented our full selves in public.
“And it seems like this show happened because a lot of people wanted it to, but the truth is that this industry is not set up to make these kinds of shows happen. If we want to be an Australia that asks people to limit themselves to fit in then we diminish our collective imagination; if we want to be an Australia that asks us to expand and present our full selves, we can help fulfil the potential of what this country can be, and I hope Counting and Cracking is the beginning of that.”
Congratulations to S. Shakthidharan and the teams at Co-Curious and Belvoir (which added six further awards across several productions on the night), and all the other tremendous award nominees.
Could there be another Counting & Cracking at the 2020 Festival? Our full program is announced Wednesday 30 October, which is as good a starting place as any to find out…