Pia Johnson








Sid’s life is objectively perfect, but utterly empty. Meanwhile, Sage hustles every waking minute against encroaching poverty and desperation.

When they meet, and fall in love, it’s gonna change the world; and threaten the destruction of the cosmic order. (You know; that cosmic order that safeguards all those privileges that we so richly deserve.)

Singapore-born, Perth-based artist Joe Lui, re-imagines two characters from a towering story of his childhood – the young prince Siddhartha, and the magical Monkey from ‘Journey to the West’ – as young women in contemporary Australia.

Part romantic comedy, part crime saga, and part cosmic fever dream, ‘Enlightenment’ is a dark, hilarious and moving parable from one of Australia’s true renegade artists. Don’t miss its premiere production by acclaimed Melbourne theatre makers Elbow Room, designed by Perth artist Cherish Marrington, and featuring illustrations by renowned artist and activist 巴丢草 (Badiucao), the subject of ‘China’s Artful Dissident’.

Performed in English with Mandarin surtitles. 表演用中文字幕

Joe Paradise Lui – Writer, Sound and Lighting Designer, Marcel Dorney – Director, Jamie Lewis – Cultural Consultant, 巴丢草 (Badiucao) – Illustrator, Cherish Marrington – Production Designer
Performed by Merlynn Tong, Alice Qin, John Marc Desengano, Conor Gallacher and Emily Tomlins

Rose Pidd – Production Manager, Finn Carter – Stage Manager, Adelaide Fisher – Producer, Kevin Chian – Mandarin Surtitles, Samad Shiraz – Assistant Director, Catherine O’Donoghue – Stage Manager (WA), Hardik Mehta – AV Assistant

Image by Pia Johnson.


Please note, there will be an Auslan interpreted performance on Thursday, 18 March at 8.00pm.


This a COVID Safe event with limited audience capacity.

To ensure a comfortable and safe experience for our visitors and staff, we’ve introduced COVID-safe measures in line with the Victorian Government. Where possible, when coming to this event, please adhere to:

– Physical distancing

– Wearing a face covering before and during performances

– Register your visit

– Practice good hygiene

– If feeling unwell or waiting for COVID test results, please do not attend and let box office know so that they can reallocate your ticket.

Thank you so much for keeping us all safe and we can’t wait to see you at the theatre!


Enlightenment was made possible with support from the following generous supporters:





Writer, Sound and Lighting Designer

Joe Paradise Lui is a submerging artist and undisputed winner of the 2013 Spirit of the Fringe Fringeworld award. Joe Lui is a founding member of Renegade Productions. Within its aegis he creates, writes, directs, designs and composes theatre and performance works. Their most recent work was Death Throes, created as part of the 2019 blue Room season.

Joe Lui is also a part of the professional and independent theatre industry in Perth as a director, writer, and a sound and lighting designer. His most recent directing. work was Unsung Heroes, which was presented online as part of Black Swan State Theatre Company’s 2020 season. His most recent design work was The Sum of Us by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company as part of Perth Festival.


Director / Co- Artistic Director, Elbow Room

An award winning playwright and director, Marcel Dorney's work has been commissioned, developed and produced by QTC, Malthouse Theatre, Merrigong Theatre Company, Hothouse Theatre, La Boite, Griffin Theatre, Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, Artslink, and the Next Wave Festival, and published by Playlab Press. He has been an affiliate writer with QTC, La Boite, and Griffin Theatre, and received a Lord Mayor’s Fellowship to study in St Petersburg, Russia. He holds a Masters in Performance Creation from the University of Melbourne.

Marcel’s play Fractions (QTC/HotHouse) received the 2010 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award. Elbow Room‘s fifteen original works since 2008 include We Get It (Melbourne Theatre Company‘s NEON Festival, 2015), Prehistoric (Brisbane Festival 2014), and After All This (Brisbane Festival 2011). His awards include: Best Director and Best Ensemble (Ind.), 2011 Green Room Awards (After All This); 2012 Gold Matilda (Fractions); Best Writing, 2014 Green Room Awards, (Prehistoric). Both After All This (2011) and Prehistoric (2014) were awarded Best Performance by Melbourne Fringe Festival. Screen credits include Arenamedia’s version of Tim Winton’s ‘Cockleshell’ in the anthology The Turning, directed by Tony Ayres for Matchbox Pictures.


Cultural Consultant

JAMIE LEWIS is a Singaporean-Australian artist, curator, dramaturg and facilitator; and is currently the Executive Director at Next Wave. She creates experimental and contemporary intercultural work, facilitating participatory experiences on identity, place, and time, often through autobiographical stories, conversation and food.

She creates and curates site-responsive performances that engage audiences as participants, and communities as artists. Committed to diversifying practice, Jamie seeks alternative models in her work and a re-imagining of leadership, governance, and structures.

Previous roles include Program Manager at Theatre Network Australia and Audience Development Manager at Metro Arts. Jamie was in the 2018 cohort of Australia Council for the Arts’ Future Leaders program and was on the Board of Multicultural Arts Victoria.



Badiucao​ is one of the most popular and prolific political artist from China, and he confrontsa variety of social and political issues head on in his work. He got a nickname as China'sBanksy due to keep his identity secret since the beginning of his art career. He uses his artto challenge the censorship and dictatorship in China via his Twitter account @badiucao. Hiswork was used by Amnesty International, Freedom House, BBC, CNN and China DigitalTimes and exhibited in Australia America and Italy.

He believes history is constantly being unified and tampered with, and even forgotten, whenfree speech and democracy are absent. His art is a record of his personal perspective onsocial issues to confront the official record. He believes art and internet has the power todeconstruct the arrogance and authority of dictatorship as building block of individualawakening and free independence


Production Designer (Set & Costume)

Cherish Marrington is a visual artist and designer for the Theatre, graduating from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2013. Prior to her design studies as a Fine Arts graduate (Central Institute of Technology), she gained a strong public presence for her fineline ink drawings exploring the “ugly-beautiful” – an exploration of hybrid characters, theatrically placed within a surrealist universe.

Marrington regularly collaborates with artists of kindred spirit across Theatre and Film designing costume and sets for live productions (“I Am My Own Wife” with Black Swan Theatre Company), Australian short & feature films, many music videos, exhibiting of her own work nationally, and curating and hosting exhibitions of local talent through her Fine Art printing company, Chinoiserie Fine Art.



Merlynn Tong is an Actor and Playwright. Some of her recent performances include White Pearl (Sydney Theatre Company & National Theatre of Parramatta), The Shot (Queensland Theatre, The Scene Project), Harrow 2 (ABC), Reef Break (ABC/M6), Top of the Lake: China Girl (BBC & Sundance Films, Jane Campion), What I’m Here For (Elbow Room & Flowstate), The Mathematics of Longing (La Boite Theatre), The Lost Lending Library (Punchdrunk & Imaginary Theatre), Hotelling (Bleached Arts), Bitch: Origin of the Female Species (Brisbane Festival), Blue Bones (Playlab Productions), Viral (Shock Therapy Productions), Straight White Men (La Boite Theatre), Ma Ma Ma Mad (Wax Lyrical), The Theory of Everything (Brisbane Festival), The Wizards from Oz (Taiwan, Taoyuan International Children’s Festival) and Hot Brown Honey (Judith Wright Centre).

Some of her playwriting credits include Golden Blood (Melbourne Theatre Company/ Griffin Theatre Company), Antigone (adaptation, Queensland Theatre), Good Grief (Queensland Theatre), The Big Mac (co-writer, development, Black Swan Theatre Company), Come to Where I am (Critical Stages Touring/ Paines Plough Theatre Company, UK), SITE (co-writer, development, Kate Wild, Ellen van Neerven & Sarah Winter), SKIN (Dear Australia, Playwriting Australia), Cocky Jerry Jah (co-librettist, development), Ma Ma Ma Mad (Wax Lyrical) and Blue Bones (Playlab Productions).

Her one-woman-show, Blue Bones, that she also performed in, has won 6 Matilda Awards including the Lord Mayor Award for Best New Australian Work, Best Mainstage Production and Best Female Actor in a Leading Role. She is also the prize recipient of Screen Queensland’s Screen to Stage pitch, The First 10 Pages 2.0.



Alice Qin is a Melbourne based actor,  theatremaker, educator, and occasional Dinosaur puppeteer (Erth Visual Physical/Melbourne Zoo 2019). She was the associate director on Golden Shield (MTC 2019) and she was a participant in the MTC CAAP directing initiative. Her Australian acting credits include Mad As A Cute Snake (Theatre Works 2019), Atomic (Malthouse Theatre 2018/2019), Little Emperors (Malthouse Theatre 2017). She was previously based in New York, where she worked as an actor and an associate physical acting teacher at the Stella Adler Studio New York under the tutelage of Joan Evans. Theatre credits in New York include Is It already Dusk? (Herald Clurman Ensemble/Irondale Theatre, New York 2013). Romeo and Juliet/Richard II/Love’s Labour’s Lost (Hamlet Isn’t Dead 2015). She is a current teaching artist at St. Martins Youth Arts Centre, and House of Muchness.



Upon graduating from The University of Ballarat, Arts Academy in 2008, John Marc performed for a Theatre in Education Company called Brainstorm Productions taking thought provoking shows to primary and high schools all over Australia.

Since 2011, he has worked with theatre company, 15 Minutes from Anywhere, and developed a show called “The Yellow Wave”. The show was part of the inaugural year of The Poppy Seed festival and was nominated for a Green Room Award for most outstanding ensemble in 2015.

John Marc’s stage credits include; The Yellow Wave, Coloured Aliens, The Dead Twin (George Town Festival 2017), The Bachelor S17 E05, Survival, RUR 2020, Just A Boy Standing in Front of a Girl, A Midnight Visit and many more.

He is a proud company member of Impro Melbourne and Soothplayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare.



Upon graduating from The University of Ballarat, Arts Academy in 2008, John Marc performed for a Theatre in Education Company called Brainstorm Productions taking thought provoking shows to primary and high schools all over Australia.

Since 2011, he has worked with theatre company, 15 Minutes from Anywhere, and developed a show called “The Yellow Wave”. The show was part of the inaugural year of The Poppy Seed festival and was nominated for a Green Room Award for most outstanding ensemble in 2015.

John Marc’s stage credits include; The Yellow Wave, Coloured Aliens, The Dead Twin (George Town Festival 2017), The Bachelor S17 E05, Survival, RUR 2020, Just A Boy Standing in Front of a Girl, A Midnight Visit and many more.

He is a proud company member of Impro Melbourne and Soothplayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare.



Conor Gallacher is a Melbourne based actor, voice artist, writer, musician, and emcee.

His stage credits include multiple productions, with or at, the Melbourne Theatre Company, The Malthouse Theatre, MKA,  Powerhouse Theatre (BRIS), Geelong Performing Arts,  La Mama,  Darebin Speakeasy, as well as many other interstate and rural performance venues.

He has appeared on the ABC, and Channel 7. He has also appeared in several web series, some of which are internationally award winning.

As a voice over artist he has worked with Lexus, Holden, 7/11, Simmonds homes, Jim’s Mowing and many others.


Performer/ Co- Artistic Director, Elbow Room

Emily is a co-founder of the award winning independent theatre company Elbow Room. Her theatre credits include We Get It (Elbow Room/ MTC Neon), The Motion of Light in Water, Now More Than Ever, Fewer Emergencies, As We Mean To Go On, Rule of Three, After All This, a tiny chorus and There (Elbow Room), Cyrano de Bergerac (Sydney Theatre Company), Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness (Sydney Theatre Company/ La Boite), Hamlet (South Australian State Theatre Company/ Queensland Theatre Company), Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset, Puss in Boots, The Woman Before, Far Away (Queensland Theatre Company), Actors at Work (Bell Shakespeare), Julius Caesar, Operator, Creche & Burn, Urban Dingoes (La Boite Theatre), Tangle, We Built This City (Polyglot Theatre US Tour), Trailblazer, Drawbridge, Ants, Separation Street, Cerita Anak (Polyglot), Dream Home (Speakeasy/Collyer), Kindness (Flight Festival/Theatreworks), The One (Fire Curtain Co), M+M (Daniel Schlusser Ensemble), Arden V Arden (The Hayloft Project) and The Plague Dances (Four Larks/Malthouse). Film and TV credits include: Winners and Losers, Dr Blake Mysteries, The Underdog’s Tale and the award winning Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke. Emily was the recipient of the 2005 MEAA/ Matilda Award for Best Emerging Artist and was part of the Queensland Theatre Company’s Emerging Artist Ensemble in 2006. As Performer and Collaborator she received the Melbourne Fringe Festival Adelaide Fringe Touring Award for There (2008), Melbourne Fringe Festival People's Choice Award for a tiny chorus (2010), Melbourne Fringe Festival Best Performance and Greenroom Independent Theatre Best Ensemble for After All This (2011). Emily was nominated for a Greenroom Award for Best Female Actor for her body of work (2013) and for Dream Home (2015).


Production Manager

Rose began her career studying drama in Melbourne, discovering theatre and festivals along the way. She was production co-ordinator for MONA FOMA and has production managed at Dark MOFO, Panama Festival, Festival of Voices, Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival (NZ), and too many small festivals to count since. She programmed Marion Bay Village Festival for 3 years. She is currently assistant director for Beaker Street Festival, having worked her way up from production consultant. She has worked with Tasmania Performs- Zeb, A Gender Odyssey, MADE Double Bill, Darebin Arts- The Cabin, Loud Mouth Theatre – Those Who Fall In Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon The Ocean Floor, The Merchant Of Venice, Jeckyl and Hyde; Polyglot Theatre – Separation Street, Paper Planet; Shaken and Suspicious – Dead Set; Blue Cow Theatre - Surgeons Hands; Ranters Theatre – Unknown Neighbours; Terrapin- You, Me and the Space Between (China Tour), and various pieces at La Mama Theatre, The Backspace, The Peacock Theatre, The Theatre Royal and many many pop up venues across Australia and the world.


Stage Manager

Finn Carter is a theatre and festival freelancer from Hobart, who, over the last seven years has worked on a very wide array of theatre productions and performing arts projects. He is an award nominated director for The Theory of Relativity (Leiz Moore and Allan Jeffrey) and Spring Awakening (Old Nick Theatre Company) and has been involved in a variety of shows over years as a  stage manager, production manager, director, performer or audio designer. Some of these include Wicked (Show Company Tas), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Into The Woods (Musical Theatre Crew), Catch Me If You Can, Pippin, Bring it On, The Golden Age, Cloudstreet, The Nest (Hobart College), The Wedding Singer (Old Nick Theatre Company). More recently Finn has worked as a stage manager and venue manager for Falls Festival, Party in the Paddock, The Underground Art Bar, The Unconformity, Cygnet Folk Festival, Burning Desire, Spiegeltent and Mona Foma.



Assistant Director

Samad Shiraz is an amateur actor, writer and director from Sri Lanka. He began his life on stage at 13 playing Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it all just took off from there. Since moving to Australia, he has been involved in a number of shows centered around communities within Melbourne. He has also worked as a director on RMIT’s Fringe Festival offering Snatches (2019-20), and played Dr. Eugene Sorn in Stupid F*cking Bird (2019). Samad is currently a student at RMIT.


Production & AV Assistant/Surtitle Operator

Even though he holds a Masters in IT, Hardik has always had an interest in performing arts. An amateur actor, he has been a part of a few plays on RMIT’s Fringe Festival; Snatches. He has also appeared in a small segment on a Channel 10 show. This will be his first time as a part of the crew instead of the cast. An avid reader, he is also currently in the process of writing his first fiction.



Adelaide Fisher is a creative producer whose practice is deeply driven by values of diversity, accessibility and sustainability in artmaking. She has produced art events, experiences, festivals and programs for RMIT University, City of Darebin, Fed Square, Regional Arts Victoria, the Emerging Writers Festival and more. Her independent theatre collaborations include producing sold out immersive theatre experience The Lizard is Present at Melbourne Fringe and a twelve hour production of The Odyssey with Stork Theatre. Adelaide created and co-directed a community arts festival called Happenstance which was created with a strong focus on artistic development for emerging artists and prioritising access, diversity and sustainability at every stage of production. Adelaide Has completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts with Honours and a Master of Arts (Arts Management) and is currently studying Youth Work at RMIT.

Event & ticketing details

Dates & Times

Preview Wednesday 10 March - 8.00pm
Opening night performance Thursday 11 March - 8.00pm
Performance Friday 12 March, Saturday 13 March, Wednesday 17 March, Friday 19 March - 8.00pm
Performance Sunday 14 March - 6.00pm
Performance (Auslan) Thursday 18 March - 8.00pm
Performance Saturday 20 March - 2.00pm and 8.00pm


Group of 4 or more $28.00
Darebin resident $30.00
Full $35.00
Preview $25.00
Concession and Student $28.00


Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre

189 High St, Northcote, VIC 3070

Get directions


Westgarth Station


Route 86, Stop 31


Route 567

Event notes

Running time

80 minutes

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