Press Releases

Straight White Men

1 Apr 2016

Straight White Men is the razor-edged new comedy from Young Jean Lee, one of American theatre’s most acute observers of race and identity. Poking fun at the luckiest social group in modern society, Straight White Men was one of the most talked about plays of recent New York seasons and will now have its Australian premiere on Thursday 12 May at Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio.

Director Sarah Giles takes on this study of social identity featuring Hamish Michael (Janet King), Gareth Reeves (Mary: The Making of a Princess), John Gaden (Other Desert Cities) and Luke Ryan (Yellow Moon) and Candy Bowers (Circus Oz).

Director Sarah Giles said, ‘If you measure your theatre by the quality of the conversation it provokes, then this piece will not disappoint. Prepare to be entertained and simultaneously challenged in a wildly mischievous way as Young Jean Lee hits hard on the subject of white privilege and white centrality. Straight white man? Gay black woman? Transgender Japanese-Australian? This play is for all of us. Donald Trump and his supporters are out in the open; Adam Goodes is booed on and off the field; women are still paid less than men for the same work; this play couldn’t be more timely. Lee’s genius is that she will have you in stitches while you squirm in your seat.’

Christmas is for family, and brothers Matt, Jake and Drew gather at their Dad’s house for the usual observances of the holiday season, adding a few rituals of their own, such as playing politically-correct board games and worrying about what Mum would think. Although she’s been dead for some time now, their liberal, feminist mother still casts a vast shadow. She taught them how being heterosexual white males gives them an unfair advantage in America, but, as carefree youth gives way to mid-life anxiety, privileged is the last thing they feel.

Multi-award winning writer, director and filmmaker, Young Jean Lee has been called ‘the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation’ by the New York Times and ‘one of the best experimental playwrights in America’ by TimeOut New York. She has written and directed ten shows in New York with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, and toured her work to over thirty cities around the world including Melbourne where she performed her work We’re Gonna Die as part of the 2012 Melbourne Festival. She is known for challenging herself with inherently personal works which include Untitled Feminist Show, Lear, The Shipment and Church. Her first short film, Here Come the Girls, was presented at The Locarno International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and BAMcinemaFest.

Director Sarah Giles is an opera and theatre director based in Melbourne. She graduated from NIDA in 2008 with a graduate diploma in dramatic art specialising in directing and has a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Melbourne with a double major in History and Italian. Opera works include O Mensch and His Music Burns for Sydney Festival and Sydney Chamber Opera. Theatre includes The Popular Mechanicals (State Theatre of South Australia), Perplex, Mrs Warren’s Profession, Mariage Blanc, Money Shots, Ruby Moon (Sydney Theatre Company); Die Plantage (The Farm) (NIDA); Vernon God Little (WAAPA); The Ugly One, The Pigeons (Griffin Independent); Kreutzer VS Kreutzer (The Australian Chamber Orchestra); That Face (Red Stitch); The Herbal Bed (The New Theatre); The Bald Soprano, Face to the Wall (NIDA) and The Maids (La Mama). Sarah was the Affiliate Director in Residence at The Griffin Theatre Company in 2009, the Richard Wherrett Fellow at Sydney Theatre Company for 2011 and was Co-Resident Director at Sydney Theatre Company in 2013. In 2011 Sarah won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Direction of an Independent Production for her production of The Ugly One at Griffin Theatre.


Cast Candy Bowers, John Gaden, Hamish Michael, Gareth Reeves, Luke Ryan

Director Sarah Giles

Set & Costume Designer Eugyeene Teh

Lighting Designer Lisa Mibus

Sound Designer David Heinrich

Music Consultant Candy Bowers

Voice & Dialect Coach Geraldine Cook


‘Arguably one of the hottest playwrights in America right now.’ NPR

‘A compassionate and stimulating exploration of one man’s existential crisis.’ The New York Times

‘Both emotionally satisfying… and unflinching in its critique of white-driven social justice.’ The New York Times


Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio

Season dates
6 May – 18 June

Opening night
Thursday 12 May, 8pm

Cast and Artist Q&A
Monday 2 May, 6pm

Tickets on sale now
MTC Box Office
03 8688 0800 or

Arts Centre Melbourne
1300 182 183 or


Published on 1 April 2016