Andrea Fernandez's play Bollywood Dreaming is an unlikely romance set in remote, early 1970s Western Australia. A man places an advertisement in an Indian newspaper looking for a wife. What he gets is Dirty Dancing meets Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge meets Bran Nue Dae!
What made you start writing for the stage?
I am inspired by and have the urge to share stories of my family, my people and my culture not just within Australia, but with the world. There are so many untold stories of both Aboriginal and Indian culture, and I would like audiences to see the beauty in not only other cultures but also in people that appear differently to them.
When did your relationship with MTC begin?
Now! I’m so grateful for this opportunity to connect with MTC and their audiences.
Can you tell us more about your Cybec Electric play?
Bollywood Dreaming is set in the late 1970s, about a decade after the 1967 Referendum, and is a musical about my parents, how they met, how they fell in love and the issues they faced when my Mum moved from India to Australia to be with my Dad. The story and the music draws on both of their cultures and I’ve been inspired by their love and some of my favourite musicals, including Dirty Dancing and the Bollywood films Haathi Meera Saathi and Action Replay.
‘How often do we get to see an Aboriginal man with an Indian woman as the romantic leads in Australia?!’
Why this play and why now?
My writing explores themes of the land, respecting the land, interracial relationships and love. I feel these themes are relevant to what is happening in the world and need to be explored in a more multicultural fashion on the stage.
What is unique about your writing process? Where do you write and why?
If my cat Simba is distracting me too much I’ll go to a library or café (or even a writer’s group) to focus. I can easily focus in noisy areas if I am a part of the world that I’m writing about. The quickest way to get me there is to listen to music that is relevant to the story. I have Spotify playlists set up for each of my writing projects and each song automatically transports me to a scene within my writing. When I write at home (or where it’s quiet) it’s a completely different process to prep me before I start. Firstly, I make sure I eat healthy, I pray and ground in, drown myself in essential oils to relax and stop the mind chatter, and I make sure Simba is fast asleep or nowhere near me!
Can you tell us something interesting, odd or unusual about your career to date?
I never wanted to be a writer! Straight out of high school I studied radio, film and TV. I was so terrified about writing dialogue that my final year project was a silent movie! After graduation I started working in radio promotions and advertising in Sydney and eventually took on the Marketing Manager role at Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company in Perth. It was here that I joined their Metro Writer’s Group, with no intention of writing – I joined to make up numbers in the class! I never thought they’d get me to write. But write I did and my confidence soared. If it wasn’t for that group, Bollywood Dreaming wouldn’t have been born.
What excites you the most about your participation in Cybec Electric 2020?
It’s validation that I made the right decision to leave a secure full-time job in marketing to take on this new path of writing. I’ve been doing the writing thing for the last 15 months, and you know what – it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I know I keep talking about love but I’m just so excited to connect with the MTC audience and share my parents’ love story with them. I mean, how often do we get to see an Aboriginal man with an Indian woman as the romantic leads in Australia?! I just hope MTC audiences fall in love with Bollywood Dreaming just as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it.
Cybec Electric play readings run from 27 to 29 February 2020 at Southbank Theatre, The Lawler.
Cybec Electric forms part of MTC’s ongoing commitment to the development of new Australian writing, and is only possible due to the support of the late Dr Roger Riordan AM and The Cybec Foundation.
Published on 24 February 2020