This Rough Magic


‘They hurried us aboard a barge, and carried us miles out to sea, where they had prepared a rotten carcass of a boat, with no sails or masts or ropes – even the rats had the sense to abandon it.’

A chaotic storm erupts. A disastrous shipwreck ensues. Refugees Prospero, Miranda and Ariel are washed ashore on Christmas Island seeking asylum in Australia. Miranda connects with Caliban, a Christmas Island local who transforms from rescuer to detention centre guard. Detained by authorities, Prospero and Ariel summon life-changing forces, risking everything in pursuit of freedom.

Opening with the SIEV 221 shipwreck of 2010, This Rough Magic is an exhilarating epic of power reckoning, survival and the cost of pursuing the promise of a better life. A contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest for our time, the play conjures an island of strange sounds and wondrous sights, enigmatic characters and surprising relationships.

Helen Machalias has created a fast-moving drama spiked with humour where ‘brave new world’ poetry collides with ‘stop the boats’ rhetoric and interpolations of Persian poetry, philosophy and storytelling to deliver a radically different representation of offshore detention.

  • bilingual, drama, epic, political
  • 140
  • 7 total
  • 2 female identifying, 3 male identifying, 2 gender unspecified
  • resilience, refugees, power, political/social, migration, culturally and linguistically diverse, community
  • 18+
  • yes
  • teen, young adult, adult
  • Currency Press


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SKU: CP-3844 Category:

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