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Moths 2014

Moths
(c) 2014 Michele Lee
CHARACTERS
All these characters are second-generation Asian Australians.
Raymond Manalac, Filipino, 34, actor
Lien Tian Wang, Chinese, 24, actor
Trung Vu, Vietnamese, 36, actor
Christine Lee, Chinese, 23, actor
Andrew Law, Chinese, 26, actor
Michael Chong, Chinese, 42, actor
These actors can also double up to play the minor characters:
Geraldine Doogue, Julian Meyrick, British Actor, South African Actors 1-3, Indian Actor,
Palestinian Actor, Ukrainian Actor, German Actors 1-3, Penny Wong, Alan Jones, Alan’s
callers 1-3, Helen Mirren, and the voice of the playwright of Moths Julie Saksavoonthurum
SETTING
A theatre. And beyond the theatre.
TIME
From 2014 onwards.
/

= This is an indication for the actor saying the next line to begin their line.

– = This is an indication for the actor saying the line to halt what they’re saying.
... = This is an indication for the actor saying the line to trail off.

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Moths 2014

ONE
A rehearsal space. Everyone is present.
Everyone is facing the audience.
Beat.
RAYMOND: She’s female. 28. Vietnamese. Social worker.
CHRISTINE: “Um... the first good sex I had this is a... it was actually with a girl. And she’s a
white girl. Big boobs. D cup. [Laughs.] I have sex with her after I have sex with the
dude that... um... the Vietnamese gangster boy. And when he finds out about me and
this girl he gets really upset. He rings both of our parents [laughs] to dob us in. ‘Do you
know your daughter’s a lesbian?’ And to my parents’ credit, they actually respond better
than her parents, who are white. They... um... threaten her. ‘We’re going to stop paying
your tuition fees and giving you money. Unless you come home. Unless you stop
seeing Tina.’ And then they write me a nasty letter. Her mum does. Threatens to tell the
police. She calls me a witch, I’ve cast a spell on her daughter.”
Beat.
MICHAEL: He’s male. 26. Malaysian. Student.
ANDREW: “But um, yeah no, the first time’s when I’m 18 and it’s an older woman... she
could be in her 30s. Just really drunk in a place called Carnegies. It’s... short and
probably pretty crap. I do feel like I’ve achieved something, that’s the purpose of the
whole thing is just like ‘I have to do it’. I’m getting too long in the tooth to be a virgin.
The thing is now I don’t really have... I have friends who have particular tastes in
women and I have a sort of... like any age, older doesn’t matter and like race doesn’t
matter. As long as they don’t outweigh me but that’s not hard!”
Beat.
CHRISTINE: 36. Singaporean. Female. Kinesiologist.

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LIEN TIAN: “Here’s the thing. Some of the best sex I’ve had was with myself. [Laughs.] Ok
I was, um, whipped to an orgasm whilst in stocks in public. At Sexpo.”
XXX And there’s her friend.
TRUNG: “I had free tickets to Sexpo.”
LIEN TIAN: “There are stocks. And there’s a man called The Colonel, who’s pretty big in the
Melbourne BDSM scene. I think he’s one of the people who runs The Abyss.”
TRUNG: “It’s a BDSM club. Down in St Kilda.”
LIEN TIAN: [About TRUNG’s character.] “She has a go first in the stocks.”
TRUNG: “I’m into that kind of thing.”
LIEN TIAN: “Then I hop on.”
TRUNG: “People are watching.”
LIEN TIAN: “I couldn’t see them because when you’re in stocks – I have to bend over so I’m
looking at the floor – I can’t actually raise my head to look at the crowd around me.
And right at that time Dr Feelgood – I don’t know if you remember her?”
TRUNG: “From like 15 years ago.”
LIEN TIAN: “She’s do... she’s trying to interview me whilst I’m being whipped.”
TRUNG: “You’re like / ‘Piss off lady.’”
LIEN TIAN: “I’m like ‘Piss off lady.’ [Laughs a lot]. And I have my first Kundalini Rising
orgasm through the stocks.”
Beat.
ANDREW: Kinky.
LIEN TIAN: [To CHRISTINE.] It’s more... you. It’d suit you. [To the group, about
CHRISTINE.] The character’s more / like –
RAYMOND: The interviewee, not character.
LIEN TIAN: [About CHRISTINE.] More... defiant.
ANDREW: Ha ha. Lien Tian just called Christine slutty!
LIEN TIAN: No Andy, / no I didn’t.
CHRISTINE: ‘Kundalini Rising’ orgasm?
RAYMOND: It’s yogic.
ANDREW: Hippy slutty.
CHRISTINE: I’m not a hippy. I am somewhat ‘slutty’!
LIEN TIAN: I just mean that it reminds me of you, that scene you did in third year.
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CHRISTINE: Lien’s talking about the time I, ah, humped a fruit bowl.
ANDREW: Gross.
CHRISTINE: I devised the scene. It was bad.
ANDREW: Devised theatre. Ugh.
Beat.
TRUNG: She’s 34. Thai. A writer.
RAYMOND: “Sexually, I think I’m... I’m a very... curious person. I don’t think I have an
incre... a big libido. I don’t think I want to have sex all the time... But... hmm, yeah...
yes if... if I could have sex with lots of different people or just have lots of sex with one
person I think there would be a real tension for me. I think... that when I reflect on it, I
think that is li... in... my sexual being kind of ties back to being... um, not so much
Australian or Asian but being a modern Gen Y/X person where we like choice and
variety.”
Beat.
CHRISTINE: I like that bit. I like that we all know who said it but the audience won’t know.
ANDREW: [To RAYMOND.] I love this play. I love your girlfriend. I love her writing. I
respect it, this is momentous, being here. All credit to your girlfriend. Your horny
girlfriend.
LIEN TIAN: So immature, Andy.
TRUNG: [To RAYMOND.] Julie interviewed herself?
RAYMOND: I interviewed Julie. So she’d build more empathy with the questions she was
asking other people.
MICHAEL: Was that strange for you?
RAYMOND: No.
MICHAEL: Hearing her speak about sex like that wasn’t strange?
CHRISTINE: He probably got to pick every word he says and we say.
RAYMOND: I may have picked some.
TWO

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Everyone is there.
RAYMOND: The bogong moth appears, a projection on the wall. It flickers.
LIEN TIAN: Beautiful.
RAYMOND: Sound design. We say: “They’re half-Thai. They’re Laotian. Vietnamese.
Chinese. Cambodian. Burmese. Indonesian. Malaysian. Filipino. Aged 27. 31. 23.
Research assistant. Writer. Labourer. Kinesiologist. Lawyer. Stay-at-home mother.
They’re bogong moths. Moths. They’re weird, lovely. They’re coming.” Sound design.
Projection. We will be writhing in our cocoons, slow-motion, we will burst out, we will
be transformed, take over the stage as moths.
CHRISTINE: How are we going to represent ‘cocoons’? ‘Bursting out transformed’?
LIEN TIAN: Movement? I guess. Ray?
RAYMOND: Physical theatre, yes.
ANDREW: Ugh. Hate physical theatre. Hate it. Every physical theatre show looks the same. I
mean, I get it, I get it, it’s metaphorical, but, sorry, it looks the same.
RAYMOND: Julie mentioned something, clarify it with her.
LIEN TIAN: I think it’ll be really...
CHRISTINE: Beautiful?
RAYMOND: “They’re lovely. They’re coming.” Sound design. Video.
THREE
MICHAEL and TRUNG in the room, apart. MICHAEL approaches TRUNG.
MICHAEL: So... what – what do you think?
TRUNG: About what?
MICHAEL: This play...
TRUNG: What do you mean?
MICHAEL: I mean, well, I mean what... what do you think? It’s... y’know...
TRUNG: What?
MICHAEL: Strange.
TRUNG: Strange?
MICHAEL: Yes.
TRUNG: Because?
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MICHAEL: Because... It’s... ah, just different. Strange-different. Bit modern. That’s all.
TRUNG: I haven’t really thought about the play.
MICHAEL: [Pause.] Haven’t done verbatim in... about 10... probably 15 years ago.
Melbourne Festival. Long time ago, weren’t many of us then, just me really. So there
was me, speaking the stories... Asian migrant stories... then other not-so-Asian actors
speaking our stories. I actually played everyone’s son. Ha ha. Funny, funny now I think
about it.
TRUNG: You know I’ve heard this story.
MICHAEL: I told you this?
TRUNG: Shane Porteous from A Country Practice had a cameo. You did the show in the 90s.
MICHAEL: [Pause.] Soooo... what do you think about the cast?
TRUNG: What about them?
MICHAEL: They’re... so young.
TRUNG: Are you saying I’m not?
MICHAEL: No no. But, well, y’know, you’re not a new face.
TRUNG: Neither are you.
MICHAEL: [Pause.] Ten years on my green card. Every time I go back to LA, I know it’ll
wear me down. Soon as I get off the plane, I, ah, I pick up my car, get an In and Out
burger, I – yeah – I drive down the freeway, making my pact with Hollywood: “Fuck
this America. I’m back.”
TRUNG: [Pause.] Michael. I’ll say this once. And don’t interpret it emotionally. I hated you.
But I moved on. So that’s what I think.
FOUR
The actors are moving briskly through the room, striding, running at times,
familiarising themselves with the space, becoming aware of each other’s bodies. At
points the actors call out each other’s names and move towards that person. We can
notice TRUNG and MICHAEL crossing paths, hiding smiles from each other.
CHRISTINE: Group actor hug!
Everyone comes in for a group hug.

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CHRISTINE: We’re putting on a show! We’re putting on a show! Everyone will see it!
Everyone will see it!
FIVE
All the actors are present. They have their scripts in hand.
RAYMOND: Female. She’s Filipino. 25. Bank teller.
LIEN TIAN: “Catholicism is really big for me. I wasn’t allowed to have any boyfriends. Like
if I went to a party the parents would have to call my family and invite me properly. I
used to have to tell my friends to call at a particular time and tell them what to say. I
used to have them to come in the house and introduce themselves and take me out. As I
was driving off my aunty would stand at the fence and then she’d be yelling out:”
RAYMOND: [With a Filipino accent.] “No boys, no boys!”
LIEN TIAN: “It got to a point where they found out I had a boyfriend. And they’re all
standing there at the table, all like:”
RAYMOND: [With a Filipino accent.] “God this, God that.”
LIEN TIAN: “I was crying, obviously, but the worst thing was my Dad. When he said:”
RAYMOND: [With a Filipino accent.] “Carly, that’s really bad.”
LIEN TIAN: “And I, actually, I was heart-broken, like, I’ve never been told off before. And
from that point, actually, I never did anything rebellious like that ever again.”
Beat.
ANDREW: Where’s Trung?
RAYMOND: Christine, can you read?
LIEN TIAN: Here. ‘Female. 32. Malaysian. Lawyer.’
CHRISTINE: Trung says: “Here’s the thing. I don’t really think of myself as feminine and I
don’t really think of myself as Asian either. Fuck it all. Like fuck the categories. But
there’s a phase that that so many women – I’m thinking that Asian women – go through
and there’s a particular way they do it too. It’s like an extra girliness, even though
they’re kind of adults. When I watch Asian movies, like, all the women are behaving
like 13-year-olds. And when I go to Asia as well, whether I visit my family or whether

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I’m just travelling there I find myself putting on this mantle of... the word is si mung,
which is like elegant or gentle or ladylike. More well-behaved and more girly.”
Beat.
RAYMOND: A couple talking. 26. Female. Chinese Cambodian. Stay-at-home mum.
[Pause.] Where’s Michael?
ANDREW: Michael says: “Brad Pitt is just like tall, confident. In Troy, like, with the fit body.
Whereas someone like Gerard Butler, he’s a beefcake.”
LIEN TIAN: The boyfriend. 28. Chinese Cambodian too. He’s a labourer.
CHRISTINE: “It doesn’t really matter what you look like. If you’re ripped, you’re ripped.”
ANDREW: Michael says: “Gerard Butler’s not ripped... he’s just kind of a bit of a... nah.
Maybe in 300 but, like, personally, like, when he’s out and about he’s like...”
CHRISTINE: “Did you see him on 60 Minutes recently, Brad Pitt?”
ANDREW: “No.”
CHRISTINE: “He’s slightly awkward and –”
ANDREW: “I love him.”
CHRISTINE: “He likes to skirt around –”
ANDREW: “I love him.”
TRUNG and MICHAEL enter.
MICHAEL: Sorry.
TRUNG: Big queue.
Beat.
ANDREW: So unprofessional. Naughty actors.
Beat.
CHRISTINE: I can’t hold it in anymore! I have an announcement. My announcement is
that... I’m a writer! A literary agent approached me. We met at a speed-dating event for

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authors and agents. She loves my extract, loves it, she wants the full manuscript by the
end of the year.
LIEN TIAN: Christine! Christine!
CHRISTINE: I know, I know!
LIEN TIAN: Oh I’m so glad for you / I’m so glad –
CHRISTINE: I’m a writer now! After Moths is over I’m going to be a writer!
LIEN TIAN: I’m going to be a mermaid, you’re going to be a writer!
CHRISTINE: A fancy pants novel writer!
LIEN TIAN: Can we read it? What’s it about?
CHRISTINE: It’s ‘about’ Burma. Unlike this play, no offense, my novel is about, well, life in
actual Asia, where life is actually complicated. [To the group.] I’ve got spare copies, I’ll
give them to you later. Maybe we can get the office people to make a few more copies.
ANDREW: Whatever. You know how to use Microsoft Word on the computer.
RAYMOND: Can we get back to the play?
SEVEN
Low lights. The actors are many minutes into an exercise.
MICHAEL: My grey hairs.
Quiet.
TRUNG: My stubby eyelashes.
LIEN TIAN: My yellow teeth.
Quiet.
CHRISTINE: My yellow teeth?
LIEN TIAN: Copycat!
ANDREW: My scrawny biceps.
MICHAEL: My size.
Quiet.
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CHRISTINE: My...
ANDREW: My little eyelids. Ha ha! Fiona loves them though.
LIEN TIAN: My big waist.
CHRISTINE: What? Your waist is tiny, Lien.
TRUNG: Come on, Christine. I used to do it once a week with my actors’ class in LA.
MICHAEL: [To CHRISTINE.] Come on. ‘My...’
CHRISTINE: [Pause.] My voice. My everything, my nothing. My lumpy body, my crooked
nose.
MICHAEL: My age.
ANDREW: And my scrawny pecs.
LIEN TIAN: My... Hmm. My hair.
TRUNG: My impatience.
CHRISTINE: My... My my my. My...
Quiet.
TRUNG: Strengths.
Beat.
ANDREW: Honour. Respect. Dignity.
MICHAEL: My persistence.
RAYMOND: My writing skills.
LIEN TIAN: Punctuality.
TRUNG: Persistence.
RAYMOND: My research skills.
LIEN TIAN: Reliability.
ANDREW: Generosity. Courage. Intelligence. Perseverance. Everything.
TRUNG: My first Hollywood role.
MICHAEL: My last Hollywood role.
ANDREW: My fluent Cantonese.
TRUNG: My drive.
LIEN TIAN: My beautiful singing voice.
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RAYMOND: My conceptual skills.
ANDREW: Everything. Language, food, our culture. My God, we are awesome.
EIGHT
All the actors are present.
LIEN TIAN: Vietnamese. Male. 33. University lecturer.
MICHAEL: “There was one time when I was on a train and there was a bunch of guys, there
would have been like nine guys. And they were like white but they weren’t like white
white. They might have been Greek or European. And there was another Asian guy
there. They were talking to him. ‘Hey how’s it going?’ ‘Where are you going with that
suitcase?’ ‘Oh is the suitcase full of your underwear?’ Next stop he got off. Then I
heard the ‘gook’ word used / and...”
ANDREW: You guys know that it’s pronounced [with an upward inflection]‘gook’. ‘Gook’.
With the upward inflection. ‘Gook’. [And to TRUNG.] ‘Gook’.
TRUNG: Why are you looking at me?
ANDREW: You’re a ‘gook’. You’re Vietnamese. Your family were boat people
RAYMOND: But a young Greek or European thug on a train is not going to say [with an
upward inflection] ‘gook’.
ANDREW: Wogs. And white people. So bland with their language. It’s all these monotoneics, droning on and on, fucking this, fucking that –
RAYMOND: Andrew, you’ve got a classic Australian drawl.
ANDREW: Get me this, this, that, get me that.
RAYMOND: You don’t fully open your mouth to enunciate.
MICHAEL: [Pause.] “The ‘gook’ word. I was like ‘Man that is fucking offensive, this is
bullshit’. First of all they were picking on that other guy, now they’re using the ‘g’
word, you know, which is completely shit and then also talking about how someone’s
hot is just so wrong to me. Yeah it was fucked. But there were nine of them. So I could
have approached them and said that ‘You shouldn’t use that word’. Maybe I would have
done that if circumstances had been different. But I’ve been bashed before. So I just let
them have my presence be known physically, as in kind of standing quite visibly and
glaring at them. And waiting ‘til one person in particular would make eye contact and

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then look away. That made me feel good. ‘Well you’ve seen me, you know why I’m
glaring at you and you’re the one to look away.”
Beat.
RAYMOND: Two men. [About ANDREW.] Vietnamese. 29. Straight. [About himself.] Half
Thai. 23. Gay.
ANDREW: “We’re not very manly.”
RAYMOND: “He’s not very manly.”
ANDREW: “I was discussing with someone, a queer guy, a friend of a friend, about how to
be Asian and male is quite attractive, popular with white gays –”
RAYMOND: “Yeah my brother Tham, he has a lot of Thai friends that live in Sydney, a lot of
them are gay and they all have white partners.”
ANDREW: “Because we’re slighter. Not as, you know, as bigger built. Finer features. We’re
the tallest in our families but in society we’re not tall guys.”
RAYMOND: “It’s our cheekbones. It’s got to be that.”
ANDREW: “We’re down the bottom of the ladder.”
RAYMOND: “Maybe that’s why I’m more attracted to Western men.”
ANDREW: “Because of their big muscles.”
RAYMOND: “Although I’ve never really been in a relationship. I always feel sort of like on
edge at gay clubs or bars. But I like strong eyebrows...”
ANDREW: “And beards? Look. This is our natural facial hair, we haven’t shaved in months.
But this looks like, I don’t know, a white teenager, a white 13-year-old just letting it go
trying to be bad ass. We can’t grow hair here.”
Beat.
CHRISTINE: Three women. In their thirties.
TRUNG: Vietnamese.
LIEN TIAN: Malaysian.
CHRISTINE: Chinese. “I’m not attracted to Asians. They’re too –”
LIEN TIAN: “Feminine.”
CHRISTINE: “Feminine.”
TRUNG: “I’ve never met an Asian man that’s had really progressive values.”
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LIEN TIAN: “There’s this foggy memory of this cool Asian guy, maybe it was at Section
Eight. He was total, like, inner city hipster. Tatted up.”
TRUNG: “Hot.”
LIEN TIAN: “The cool Asian guys, they date white chicks. So, no, I haven’t really been into
Asian guys.”
CHRISTINE: “White guys: they’re not like our brother.”
LIEN TIAN: “They’re not like our father. White guys have our sense of humour.”
CHRISTINE: “Yeah if the white guy’s opening line is:”
RAYMOND: “I only date Asian girls, where are you from?”
TRUNG: “We were born here dickhead.”
Beat.
CHRISTINE: Two sisters. Vietnamese. 21. 24. They work in office jobs.
LIEN TIAN: “You can tell a yellow fever guy by the way their eyes light up when they see an
Asian girl. It’s freaky.”
CHRISTINE: “But I get lots of older guys at my work. I don’t even look at them, I’m like –”
LIEN TIAN: “You go into a class and then have the normal white guys who are just like
‘Hey’ whatever, then you have the white guys who like Asians ‘cause they just gravitate
to you. And once they realise I have an Aussie accent they’re kind of like –”
CHRISTINE: “It’s disgusting.”
LIEN TIAN: “This one guy at tafe he sees my friend Vanessa and I, he just gravitates to our
table and sits with us.”
TRUNG: “So how long have you guys been here for?”
CHRISTINE: “You get yellow fevers in the club.”
LIEN TIAN: “And ‘cause we go to the clubs where all the Asians go, you have these select
white guys. And you know they’re there because of Asians.”
CHRISTINE: “We did have one at David Jones. Because he actually moved to Japan. He
tried to pick me up.”
TRUNG: “What do you do for fun?”
CHRISTINE: “What the fuck? And all the people at work are like ‘He thinks you’re pretty’
and like ‘Does he have yellow fever?’”
TRUNG: “All my ex-girlfriends are Asian.”
CHRISTINE: “Ew.”
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Beat.
TRUNG: Laotian. Receptionist. She’s 23. “They’re screaming, they’re crying, I’m on the
computer, mum runs in:”
LIEN TIAN: [With an Asian accent.] “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know, I can’t deal
with it any more. I don’t want him to be with your sister. I don’t want my grandchildren
to be black.”
TRUNG: “I defend my sister, she’s so happy with him. I turn to Mum, I’m so cold to her.
‘Mum what do you expect? We live in Australia, what are you going to do about it if
she loves him?’ After two days, Mum calms down.”
LIEN TIAN: [With an Asian accent.] “Tell your sister to bring him home.”
TRUNG: “It takes dad a lot longer. Dad doesn’t understand:”
CHRISTINE: [With an Asian accent.] “How I’m supposed to know what he’s like, I don’t
know his family.”
Beat.
RAYMOND: Visual artist. Half Indonesian. 20-something. “I liked them all! But Asian girls
liked Asian boys. Like my high school was 70% Asian. And the Asian girls who went
there were really dorky or, like, gangster girlfriends. We called them ‘Skyline bitches’.
Chicks who dug Skylines. Or otherwise Asian girls dug white boys. But not necessarily
Muslim boys. And Muslim girls you tended not to go near anyway because that’s not
really what was done. Like, you don’t have a crack at a Muslim girl unless you plan on
marrying them. This is going to sound completely racist but I’m about as attractive to a
white person as an Aboriginal or an Indian.”
Beat.
ANDREW: They’re male. 31. 31.
CHRISTINE: He’s Burmese. In IT.
ANDREW: Filipino. Telemarketing.
CHRISTINE: “One time I’m having sex with my girlfriend. So I have this little, ah,
Mitsubishi Colt, ‘86 model, piece of shit. Anyways so we’re having sex in the car and
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I’m doing her doggy style, you can kind of see her arse if you’re looking in, and I look
away, look into another car and there’s this guy just staring at us. In his car. And that
kills her mood. She’s like ‘I don’t want to have sex anymore’. And he drives off and I
chase him, and he’s doing the whole indicating right but going left and I’m like ‘Who
are you fooling, mate?’ He gets to a dead end and I’m looping around him in my car.
He’s so scared, I’m weedy, I’m not going to do anything and he gets on his phone and
he’s not looking at me. Pretends like he’s calling someone to come and get him.”
ANDREW: “That’s how we met! “I’m that guy!”
CHRISTINE: [Laughs, keeping up the joke.] “I’m calling you, save my number!” I just want
to scare him, like I’m young and I’m not tough, I’ll admit it, I’m not tough at all. I’m
just driving around his car staring at him and that’s it, and the girl’s like ‘Come on let’s
go’ and so we just drive off. [To ANDREW.] “Worst and best.”
ANDREW: “Worst and best. Oh ok with the worst I will categorise into four mini stories.
Number 4: the girl’s just so smelly down there, it’s like parmesan cheese down there, it
takes like two days for me to air out my car with all the doors and the boot open, it’s
really bad. And Number 3: ah, this girl, is actually quite attractive, she’s Aussie, blonde,
I’m showing her my best moves, I’m doing everything I can but because she’s so
impressed by it, all my best moves, that she finishes early, far earlier than what I can.
Even though I want to finish last, sometimes I still take forever, to the point where she’s
getting bored and she’s like telling me to ‘Hurry up!’ Looking at her watch.”
CHRISTINE: “She’s literally looking at her watch?”
ANDREW: [Laughs.] “She’s not but she’s not really impressed anymore, it becomes like a
chore for her. I’m like ‘Fucking help me bitch! This is not helping!’ Ahhhh God it’s so
bad. Number 2 is... oh yes! Number 2: this girl is actually quite pretty, quite slender and
stuff but as soon as she takes the clothes off it’s, um, so bad...”
CHRISTINE: “‘So bad’?”
ANDREW: “It’s so bad. You can tell that she’s had a kid because her stomach looks like a nut
sack, all wrinkly and loose skin and flat tits, pancakes. Flapjacks! Her vagina is so
loose. She actually has to do this [motions a woman holding her vagina together] for
me to feel. And I’m like ‘Oh my god, I can’t look at her!’ So um... my Number 1 worst
sex is, with any girl that I am with is onegina.”
MICHAEL: “‘Onegina’?”
ANDREW: “Onegina. It’s a disease where you are stuck to the one girl. When you’re in a
relationship. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great when you have feelings and you’re in
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love, and it’s making love and you are fucking any time you want and it’s on tap and
you have access to each other. However, the problem with that is especially when you
move in together, is it gets a little bit boring. To the point when I rarely actually
finished. And she always did. But yeah, I’m not saying that she’s bad. It’s just the fact
that you know this move, I know that move, fucking twiddle this, twiddle that, getting
AM/FM radio, trying to get some good reception, boom, she loves it, boom, finishes.
And she’s like ‘Ok your turn now’. And I’m like ‘It’s alright. I’ll just go watch
cartoons.’”
Beat.
TRUNG: Do we – do you think it’s necessary that... do we have to keep saying ‘Burmese’,
‘Filipino’? The audience will get it. You’re Asian. Asian-Australian.
CHRISTINE: Australian, really.
ANDREW: ‘Australian’? They’re ‘Burmese’ and ‘Filipino’, that’s what’s written.
TRUNG: We can ask Julie for changes like this. Raymond?
RAYMOND: I don’t know.
MICHAEL: When is Julie coming to rehearsals?
RAYMOND: I don’t run Julie’s diary. I’m not Julie’s PA. But if I were to take a guess, like
any of us here would feel, I don’t imagine Julie would appreciate us editing the script.
TRUNG: This may sound a tad pretentious but, well, we’re post race, we’re beyond ‘insert
ethnicity’. Who wants to pay $100 to see a bunch of Asians telling you about being
Asian?
ANDREW: The tickets aren’t going to be $100.
TRUNG: $50. Whatever the amount is. They’re paying something.
ANDREW: Well they should. We’re good actors.
TRUNG: Exactly. We’re good at what we do, we’re more than ‘insert ethnicity’. I’m going
back to LA for a few days for a call-back, for a major network show.
MICHAEL: You got a call-back?
LIEN TIAN: You’re leaving Moths? You... can do that?
TRUNG: Yes. Just for a few days. I’ll come back.
Beat.

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Moths 2014

ANDREW: [To RAYMOND, about TRUNG.] When she comes back, she has to deal with it,
make it work.
TRUNG: [To CHRISTINE.] You’re a writer. What do you think?
CHRISTINE: Well... actually... actually. Sure. I’m not into the labels.
TRUNG: Lien?
LIEN TIAN: I....
ANDREW: Lien.
LIEN TIAN: I’m not sure... I mean, the labels are sort of helpful. For the audience right?
CHRISTINE: They’re repetitive.
TRUNG: And reductive.
ANDREW: It’s fucked that there’s hardly any mention in here about our ‘labels’, our
cultures, our families, the stuff that makes us who we are. And now you want to do this
play in front of a bunch of white people, pretend we’re like them? Is that what you want
people to pay $100, $50 for? So we de-Asian ourselves.
TRUNG: You’re putting words in my mouth.
CHRISTINE: And ‘de-Asian’ isn’t even a word.
ANDREW: [To RAYMOND, about the girls.] They are always, always until the day they’re
dead, they’ll be ‘insert ethnicity’.
RAYMOND: Calm / down.
ANDREW: And it’s great she’s getting call-backs, power to her. But she’s not getting a callback because she’s ‘de-Asian’. It’s because she is Asian.
TRUNG: I am right here. I can hear / you.
ANDREW: When she was on Bed of Roses, she wasn’t ‘post race’. She was playing a
Chinese chick. For three seasons, that’s who she was. When I was shooting the Tourism
WA TVC last year, la la la, drinking wine, swimming in the ocean, you think I was
‘post race’ in Margaret River? In Perth? Fuck no. [To RAYMOND.] When you were
shooting that episode of Dr Blake, you think Guy Pearce –
RAYMOND: It was Craig McLachlan. He played / Dr Blake.
ANDREW: Craig McLachlan, do you think Mr Craig McLachlan thought you were post race
in Ballarat? [To LIEN TIAN.] You’re playing the Little Mermaid right?
LIEN TIAN: Yes.
ANDREW: After Moths is done you’re going to Hong Kong Broadway right?
LIEN TIAN: Yes.

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Moths 2014

ANDREW: To sing and speak in Cantonese. Not in English. You think you could score a lead
in a Disney musical in Australia?
LIEN TIAN: Well, no, but I haven’t really auditioned yet for that / many musicals.
ANDREW: [To everyone.] Mike. Now Mike. Mike Mike Mike. Mike’s been on Power
Rangers, he was on that US crime show Vandals, he was on that sci-fi show Born
Again. Look it up guys. Do your research. Mike is our grandfather. Before most of us
started, he was doing his first show in Australia, Mike was a lead on Head Start 15
years ago, his character was with a white chick, it was interracial, sure, a big deal, but
he knows and we all know that they wrote him out in season two because Australia
can’t handle being ‘post race’, and no-one remembers who he was, no-one remembers
us unless we’re doing martial arts. [Seeing MICHAEL’S face.] What?
MICHAEL: Who told you about Power Rangers?
ANDREW: I know your work. In this business, you’re my family. We have to celebrate who
we are, if we don’t, then... we’re criminals, thieves, we’re better off in jail.
CHRISTINE: [Laughing.] Once more with feeling! Great monologue!
TRUNG: With all respect, Andrew, I think you’re overreacting.
ANDREW: I’m overreacting? You’re the one fucking off to America!
RAYMOND: Can we get back to the fucking play?
TRUNG: [To MICHAEL.] Do you agree with me?
MICHAEL: I – I...
ANDREW: [To CHRISTINE, who is still laughing.] Shut up, Christine.
RAYMOND: Oh for fuck’s sake.
CHRISTINE: [Laughing.] He’s married to a white woman. Fiona is as white as frigging
Bondi Beach. She’s pale, blonde. Fiona has freckles. We all see Fiona pick him up after
rehearsals in her white Ford Fiesta. The labels aren’t the real issue. All the Asian male
‘interviewees’ in this script are emasculated or they’re fucking pigs. Do we want people
to see this and go “Oh, wow, Asian guys are like women when it comes to their sex or,
when they’re not like women, they’re over-compensating, they’re like beasts.”
TRUNG: I actually don’t have an issue with that.
CHRISTINE: You don’t have an issue with sexism? With ‘onegina’?
TRUNG: It’s interesting vocabulary.
CHRISTINE: Lien?
LIEN TIAN: [Pause.] Why do we have to be so analytical? It’s just a play.
ANDREW: [Pause.] This is not a play. This is us.
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Moths 2014

Beat.
RAYMOND: Bogong moths image. Post-cocoon, we’re all on stage.
ANDREW: End fucking play.
ANDREW goes over to the table, or wherever his bag is, gets his things and exits.
And one by one, the others leave too. Then it’s just TRUNG and MICHAEL.
Quiet.
MICHAEL: Soooo.... what do you think?
TRUNG: Michael, don’t. Please. I mean it.
MICHAEL: What?
TRUNG: Flirt with me. God. It’s so... God. I can’t believe I...
MICHAEL: What?
TRUNG: Just don’t.
MICHAEL: I wasn’t / doing –
TRUNG: It’s not the same as before, between us. But then in some unfortunate ways it’s
exactly the same as before. You don’t back me up.
MICHAEL: What?
TRUNG: In front of a group of people you don’t back me up. Michael, for my call-back, the
executive producer and the co-star want to meet me. The co-star is Helen fucking
Mirren. I’m one meeting away from playing opposite Helen Mirren.
MICHAEL: Helen Mirren. [Pause.] Helen Mirren.
NINE
The actors speak to camera.
CHRISTINE: Why am I in Moths? Well I just graduated from VCA, and Lien Tian and I, we
have the same agent and she sent us along to the audition. And I guess they liked both
of us! Ah, hey, should I be speaking as though the play is on already? Fuck! The play
being on! Fuck! I’m imagining that now. Fuck. That’s actually – sorry, can you cut out
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Moths 2014

the swearing? This is my first professional gig so it’s the first time I’ll have anything to
invite people to. My boyfriend... well, he’s not really my boyfriend, we’re still seeing
other people but for the sake of a commonly understood word, he’ll be known as my
boyfriend. I’d like to invite my ‘boyfriend’ along but, the thing is, he has yellow fever. I
know the other girls he’s seeing are Asian. And I’m... yeah, I’m cool with that. I even
said to him he should bring one of his other girls along to see the play. But last night I
texted him to see if he wanted to hook up and he didn’t reply so obviously my dear
boyfriend was busy getting pussy – ha ha – but I lay awake in bed thinking ‘What the
fuck am I doing? Is this the sort of guy who’ll come to a show about Asian people and
sex?’ He’ll see the ads for this – and no offense to you guys, I know you have to put
something on the ads and ‘Asian girls and sex’ sells. But what if all the yellow fever
guys came to the show? And are they coming to try to get into our heads or into our
pants? Is that why I’m doing this play? Is that what I want? Anyway: off the topic.
Everyone come and see the show, book your tickets, now. There’s a Power Ranger in
this!
Beat.
LIEN TIAN: What does it mean to be Asian Australian? For me it’s been so rewarding to be
cast in this play because as a young actor I cherish the opportunities to work on new
Australian plays. I’m very fortunate for these opportunities. [Pause.] I feel that the best
way to answer the question about being Asian Australian is to just come and see the
show. It’s going to be such a great theatrical experience, it’s a great artistic team
involved. Thank you.
Beat.
RAYMOND: Why is Asian Australian playwright Julie Saksavoonthurum’s work important?
[Pause.] Did Julie write these questions? It sounds like something Julie would ask you
guys to ask us. [Pause.] Did you know that the bogong moth is only one out of the
twenty thousand or so specimens of moths that migrates? The rest don’t. It’s highly
fascinating. You know it was my idea that we go to the Blue Mountains to try to find
the bogong moths in aestivation? That means hibernation. The bogong moths stays in

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Moths 2014

the cool climate of the mountains over summer where it’s cool. And after summer ends,
after half a year, the moths return home to breed.
Beat.
ANDREW: How does this work represent us? How does this work represent us? It doesn’t. It
hides us. It makes me feel like we’re ashamed. Don’t see the show. Don’t book your
tickets. Don’t come.
Beat.
MICHAEL: Am I excited to be returning to the Australian stage? [Pause.] Helen Mirren.
TEN
Opening night. There is sound design, video and projections of moths. The actors,
except TRUNG, are all on stage in white costumes, leotards etc, make-up.
MICHAEL: A man. The lecturer. 33. Laotian. “I went to Thailand, with my girlfriend. We go
to some island. I can’t remember the name of it but it’s not a very busy island. We have
to travel out there by boat and on the boat, the people who we’re sharing with, I’d say
the majority of the other people are white males with younger-looking Thai women. So,
we don’t know what the context is. We don’t know whether these are sex workers, or
whether they’re just their girlfriends, short-term or long-term girlfriends, or what the
situation is. Maybe they’re sex workers. And I don’t say it, like my girlfriend says it
first. She’s like: ‘These guys are oldddd’ and then I’m like ‘Ok it’s not just me!’
Because of race, because I’m Asian I thought I was like perceiving it in this way. Like
most of the men are bald and overweight. They’re very much the dominant beings,
they’re like ‘Get me this, get me that’ kind of thing. And I guess this is like my fears.
All these women in these relationships, if they have children, it’s like a kid will be half
Asian and half white and see what it means to be Asian, which is to be subservient, to
be less than.”
Beat.
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CHRISTINE: You moths! You aliens! You!
LIEN TIAN: You wanted to come here for a while! You didn’t want to stay home!
MICHAEL: In your country!
ANDREW: Maybe come here a week.
RAYMOND: Maybe a year.
LIEN TIAN: Maybe even longer. Go on and say something to me!
CHRISTINE: What have you done to your eyes? Your fuck-off eyes.
RAYMOND: Your defiant, beautiful eyes. You’re coming. You’re here.
The sound design, video and projections crescendo. A physical theatre moment.
A projection of a cocoon image bursts on the wall.
Lights out. Darkness.
Beat.
Lights up. Then the actors bow.
The audience claps. Thunderous applause.
ELEVEN
The end of a long, exhausting season.
A bar, maybe the dressing room.
All the actors are there except for TRUNG. They are half in their costumes. They are
drinking. They are drunk except for CHRISTINE, who is quite sober.
RAYMOND: Fuck this play! Fuck this season!
CHRISTINE: Extended season.
RAYMOND: Fuck this extended season.
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ANDREW: Go Ray. Go boy. Woop woop!
RAYMOND: Fuck you! Fuck you five-star reviewers.
ANDREW: Look he’s getting the classic Asian red face!
CHRISTINE: So limp.
RAYMOND: I – Raymond Manalac – I have had five thousand shots.
MICHAEL: [Laughing.] Red face. Red face.
LIEN TIAN: Oh no. Vomit.
MICHAEL: [Laughing.] Vomit vomit. Ribbit ribbit.
CHRISTINE: [Reading.] “Julie Saksavoonthurum’s Moths is a highly accomplished
exploration of contemporary Asian Australian identity. Saksavoonthurum skilfully
weaves together verbatim interviews that she conducted –
RAYMOND: I did! I did them! Raymond Manalac did them!
CHRISTINE: [Reading.] “That Raymond Manalac did.”
RAYMOND: It says that? The review says that?
CHRISTINE: No. [Reading.] “That she did with elegant metaphors of the bogong moth.
Saksavoonthurum’s works features devised elements, physical theatre and traces of the
actual verbatim interviews in the sound design. The play digs deep, questioning not
only the place of Asian Australians in our society but our place as Australians in the
Asia Pacific region. Five stars.”
RAYMOND: So wanky.
MICHAEL: Wanky wanky.
CHRISTINE: It’s kind of true though.
RAYMOND: So wanky but my wanky. It should be my wanky. I wrote Moths. I wrote it all.
ANDREW: Ray, calm down. Chill. Relaxxxxx.
RAYMOND: Where is she?
MICHAEL: LA. Trung is gone. Trung is gone.
RAYMOND: Where the fuck is Julie? On a residency in Paris!
LIEN TIAN: [To CHRISTINE.] Kisses for me?
CHRISTINE: Lien. We’ve just done a big show, everyone likes it. We have to be grown up
now. No more kissing. We’re not VCA grads anymore. We’re from the highly
prestigious Moths.
RAYMOND: The premier came twice. The Victorian premier.
CHRISTINE: He was talking to me in the foyer for ages.
LIEN TIAN: Just once more. One more kiss.
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Moths 2014

CHRISTINE: Lien! Seriously. I’m talking politics.
RAYMOND: The premier came to my play.
LIEN TIAN: Christine, kiss! Cuddle!
CHRISTINE: Go away.
LIEN TIAN: I am going away. I am. I’m going to Hong Kong. I’m leaving you all. I’ll be by
myself. I won’t have any friends. You guys won’t visit me. No one will visit me. No
one will see my show. No one will say The Little Mermaid is remarkable. Look at my
teeth. I’ve been getting whitening treatments and my teeth still aren’t as white as I need
them to be. They’re not Hong Kong white. I need to be plastic. I need to be a princess.
Christine! I don’t know if I can be a mermaid.
CHRISTINE: Come here. [Hugging her.] No kissing though. Just hugging.
RAYMOND: [Reading.] Oh fuck. Fuck. Another five stars!
MICHAEL: Christine and Lien are hugging. Aw.
ANDREW: I came into Moths and from the very start I was so negative. I hate this, I hate
that, I hate white people, I hate women, I hate devised theatre, I hate physical theatre, I
hate verbatim. But this is our show and people loved our show. I love our show. I love
you guys, I love youse all. Look at youse girls. Youse are so beautiful. If I saw a man
yelling at youse the way I yelled at all of youse...
MICHAEL: Wanker. Wanker.
ANDREW: I’m sorry.
MICHAEL: Never say sorry!
ANDREW: They love us, they love our work, they love Julie Saksavoon... voon... th...
however, whatever. Julie, we love you baby!
MICHAEL: She can’t hear you.
RAYMOND: She’s in Paris. Fucking gay Par-ie.
LIEN TIAN: [To ANDREW.] Huggy. Come and huggy.
ANDREW goes over and hugs LIEN TIAN. MICHAEL giggles, a lot.
RAYMOND: [Reading.] “Did you know that moths have thousands of little mouths? Asian
Australian playwright Julie Saksavoonthurum began her play Moths with this simple
fact and from it spawned her epic new original work.” Epic?
ANDREW: It was epic. It was amazing.
LIEN TIAN: You’re amazing.
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Moths 2014

ANDREW: You’re amazing. So amazing. I’m going to visit you in Hong Kong. Woop woop!
RAYMOND: “Devastating, lyrical, ahead of its time. The rich motif of the moths precisely
captures the universal sentiment of otherness. A tapestry of Asian identity that begins
with individual sexual anecdotes ends with a gut-wrenching analysis of sex work and
the implication of us all in how we construct and constrain the Asian Australian ‘china
dolls’ and ‘lady boys’. Five stars.”
MICHAEL: So strange.
LIEN TIAN: [To ANDREW.] You’re so amazing.
ANDREW: No you are.
MICHAEL: What the fuck do the moths mean?
RAYMOND: Thousands of little tongues? My research!
CHRISTINE: Don’t take credit. You were fucking her, not writing for her.
RAYMOND: I did both!
LIEN TIAN and ANDREW start kissing, a lot.
MICHAEL: Ten years on my green card. Ten years. Every time I go back to Hollywood, to
LA, drive my car, yell. Fuck this. Fuck this America. Argh! Me: ten years. Trung? Two,
maybe three pilot seasons? Trung’s killing it in LA. Trung is a nobody.
Beat.
CHRISTINE: [Reading.] “Despite some uneven performances, in particular from Raymond
Manalac –”
RAYMOND: Uneven?
CHRISTINE: Yes. Uneven. “Despite this Saksavonnthy –” They spelt her name wrong.
“Saksavonnthy’s play is a timely enquiry into the nature of our common identity and its
essentially individualistic and colonised quality. Through a clearly crafted fragmented
structure she illuminates a panorama of present and future Asian Australian citizens, she
delivers a robust landscape, resplendent with mysterious moths, a profoundly human
world, yet wildly alien. This is a play of our times and of our future, not so much a play
but a gathering, an offering for wide reflection on our contemporary sense of being, and
a call to arms for the society we aspire to be. Five stars.”

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TWELVE
A radio interview.
GERALDINE: Welcome back, you’re listening to a special episode of Life Matters, I’m
Geraldine Doogue. We’ve got Christine Lee here with us for the next hour.
CHRISTINE: Good morning Australia.
GERALDINE: Christine’s one of the cast members from a play called Moths, written by Julie
Saksavoonthurum. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see it on its – national?
Was it a national tour?
CHRISTINE: Yes it was. We went to, ah, about 30 venues across Australia.
GERALDINE: Actually, I caught it twice. Once in Fremantle and once here, in Sydney.
Amazing work, utterly astonishing.
CHRISTINE: Thank you. We were really thrilled with how the tour went.
GERALDINE: Now Christine’s also returning to the stage for a brand new play, Moths
Unplugged.
CHRISTINE: Yes I am.
GERALDINE: This is, well, I know in theatre you don’t generally have sequels to shows.
Would you call this a sequel?
CHRISTINE: It’s like a prequel and a sequel and everything in between. It focusses on the
raw materials that Julie Saksavoonthurum gathered for the original Moths, which
actually included my own personal story. I hadn’t been able to talk about that until now.
GERALDINE: Beautiful, just beautiful. Joining me too in the studio is theatre academic and
discursive raconteur, Julian Meyrick.
JULIAN: Very flattering, Geraldine. Good morning.
GERALDINE: Now you’ve actually begun teaching Moths at La Trobe University.
JULIAN: Indeed I have.
GERALDINE: Let’s start by listening to one of these ‘raw’ interviews that Julie and Christine
used as inspiration for Moths Unplugged. You’re joining me, Geraldine Doogue, for a
one hour special with Asian-Australian actor and co-creator of Moths Unplugged,
Christine Lee, and also joining us is Dr Julian Meyrick, all-round literary know-it-all
and another old white person!
JULIAN: I suppose you can call me that!
GERALDINE: Now a warning listeners, what you’re about to hear contains sexual content.
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Moths 2014

The audio of an interview plays.
JULIE: Can you tell me about a time you felt sexualised?
RAYMOND: Because of who you are.
CHRISTINE: Like being Asian?
JULIE: Yes.
CHRISTINE: I made a porno.
RAYMOND: You did what?
JULIE: Oh my God. Christine.
RAYMOND: Are you sure you want to speak about this?
JULIE: We don’t have to use it.
CHRISTINE: It was about four years ago, I was 19, and in the UK, I... I was broke.
JULIE: Ok.
CHRISTINE: And... And I saw an ad posted in a shop for nude portraits. And it said,
“Oriental Girls. No experience, cash upfront”.
RAYMOND: Oriental?
CHRISTINE: Oriental. It’s what – well, in the UK they call us ‘Orientals’. It was a hundred
pounds to flash my ‘Oriental’ tits. And so I went, and then afterwards, after I took the
pictures, well, after they took the pictures, after they paid me, then another guy came
into the room.
RAYMOND: Like a bedroom?
CHRISTINE: No no. Not a bedroom, it was a studio, there was a lot of light, it wasn’t dingy.
JULIE: Oh ok. It must have felt safe?
CHRISTINE: It did. And he was hot.
RAYMOND: He?
CHRISTINE: The guy, the photographer. And if he wasn’t I probably wouldn’t have stayed.
I’d like to say that they drugged me but they didn’t. And they were both involved and I
didn’t mind as long as the hot guy stayed. They turned on a camera, they said they were
making a porno and I said “How much will you pay me?” and they said three hundred
pounds.
And back to the radio show.

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GERALDINE: Wow. Powerful. Powerful material. Christine, tell me about this, what was the
experience like of returning to this original material?
CHRISTINE: It was traumatising but so healing.
GERALDINE: And just then I think we also heard the voice of...?
CHRISTINE: Raymond Manalac.
GERALDINE: One of the original creatives on Moths?
CHRISTINE: Not a ‘creative’. He was an actor in the original cast. But he alleged that, ah –
GERALDINE: The great controversy of Moths.
JULIAN: The fascinating thing about Julie Saksavoonthurum is how clearly she lets her
subject matters articulate their unique truths while still deftly keeping her authorial
voice present. Is this a so-called ‘Asian’ voice? This work, Moths Unplugged, is
‘Christine’s’ autobiography but it is also ‘Julie’s’, and it is also the voice of so many
‘others’. It’s marvellous.
THIRTEEN
A theatre in London. A British ensemble.
BRITISH ACTOR: [Cockney accent.] “I went to Thailand, with my girlfriend. We go to some
island. I can’t remember the name of it but it’s not a very busy island. We have to travel
out there by boat and on the boat, the people who we’re sharing with, I’d say the
majority of the other people are white males with younger-looking Thai women. So, we
don’t know what the context is. We don’t know whether these are sex workers, or
whether they’re just their girlfriends, short-term or long-term girlfriends, or what the
situation is. Maybe they’re sex workers. And I don’t say it, like my girlfriend says it
first. She’s like: ‘These guys are oldddd’ and then I’m like ‘Ok it’s not just me!’
Because of race, because I’m Oriental I thought I was like perceiving it in this way.”
A theatre in South Africa. Three South African actors.
S/A ACTOR 1: [South African accent.] “I can’t deal with it any more. I don’t want him to be
with your sister. I don’t want my grandchildren to be black.”

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Moths 2014

A theatre in India. A theatre in Palestine. A theatre in Ukraine. These should all be
separate spaces but the lines overlap.
INDIAN ACTOR: “I liked them all! But Hindu girls in India liked Hindu boys. Like my high
school was 70% Hindu.”
A theatre in Germany.
GERMAN ACTOR 1: “Sex ist, mit jedem Mädchen, das ich bin mit ist... onegina.”
GERMAN ACTOR 2: “‘Onegina’?”
German physical theatre, German sound design, German projections.
The lights go to black.
Lights up. The German cast are on stage, they bow.
Thunderous applause.
FOURTEEN
Parliament House. The Prime Minister, Penny Wong, delivers a speech.
PENNY WONG: Members of Parliament, Madam Speaker, I want to pay my respects to the
great artists of Australia. When the people of Australia elected the Australian Labor
Party to govern Australia, when they elected me, Penny Wong, to be Prime Minister,
my party had inherited a despicable mess from the Coalition government. And no
vision for Australia. When my father, Walter Wong, migrated to Australia for a better
life, he had in his heart the core values of the Australian Labor Party. A fair go. A fair
go for all Australians regardless of which land we’ve hailed from. My father was more
than a tireless parent, a proud Malaysian Chinese man, he was all of this and more than
this. He was – members of the Parliament, Madam Speaker – a writer. My father was a
writer. Not a well-known writer, not a known writer at all. Where would a man like
Walter Wong have had his stories heard? This is the legacy the Australian Labor Party
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Moths 2014

seeks to unstitch and in its place build a new vision, that anyone and everyone, that the
migrants of this country in all their talents are welcomed and nurtured, that the children
they raise here can dream large and pursue, through thick and thin, the art that will
prepare Australia for the future. I want to quote now, I want to quote now from one of
Australia’s eminent artists, a writer too, like Walter Wong was, like Walter Wong could
have been. Julie Saksavoonthurum. Julie’s play Moths has in no small ways
transformed the way that I, that my father, see ourselves. To quote from her play Moths:
“Well, you’ve seen me, you know why I’m glaring at you.” Members of Parliament,
Madam Speaker, I am glaring at you. I am glaring.
A segment at the AFL grand final. ANDREW and LIEN TIAN stand in front of a crowd
of hundreds of thousands.
ANDREW: Go the Hawks!
LIEN TIAN: Go the Swans!
ANDREW and LIEN TIAN share a little kiss. The crowd erupts – applause.
ANDREW: We’re absolutely stoked –
LIEN TIAN: We’re soooo excited to be here at half-time at the grand final. We love footy!
ANDREW: We’re stoked that this year’s player of the year is Arnold Huynh! First ever
Vietnamese AFL captain! Go Arnie! Go! Boom! He loves it! Boom! We love it! Boom!
Now you’ve seen Lien Tian, my beautiful wife, as a judge on The Voice. Of course
you’ve tuned in to my hit comedy show Everybody Loves Asians. 2.1 million of you
watched the season finale. But do you want to see Andy Law kick the footy at halftime!?!?! Do you want to see me kick!?!!!?
The crowd erupts.
ANDREW: That’s what I want to hear! That’s what Andy Law wants to hear!
LIEN TIAN: Go the Swans!
ANDREW: Go the Hawks!! Go the AFL!!! Woop wooooooop!!!
The crowds erupts, then quiet. LIEN TIAN takes to the microphone.
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Moths 2014

LIEN TIAN: Before Andy takes to the field, I just want to sing a little song for you. I loved
Hong Kong but I’m just so glad I came home!
ANDREW: Love you, babe.
LIEN TIAN: Love you.
They share another kiss. Then she starts to sing.
LIEN TIAN: [In Cantonese.] Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our lands abounds in nature’s gift
Of beauty rich and rare
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia Fair...
The crowd erupts.
A segment from the radio.
ALAN JONES: Moths. Moths Unplugged. And a new one – bloody Moths Unleashed. And
I’m not talking about insects. These are plays! These pieces of garbage are plays about
Asian vaginas and prostitutes and socialism! These plays are being taught in schools
around the country! And it’s a free country, these bloody Asian playwrights and actors
are free to make their lefty Asian plays but we’re free to ban them from our schools!
CALLER 1: Alan, mate, Bruce here. Mate, sorry, mate but I gotta disagree with you. Mate,
we can’t ban these plays from being taught in our schools. I took me grandkids to see
Moths for a second time and they –
ALAN JONES: [Cutting the call.] Bruce, are you kidding me? You bloody paedophile! That’s
what you are! That’s exactly what kind of scum you are!
CALLER 2: Alan dear, Josie here. Moths Unleashed was a very good play, and it wasn’t
about vaginas and socialism it was about so much more, I could even see myself in it,
and I’m –
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ALAN JONES: [Cutting the call.] What an idiot! Josie, you old bat, you’re an idiot. Get off
the pension! Get another radio station! You know what I see? I see Edmond Barton
turning in his bloody grave! I see Captain James Cook turning his fleet back!
CALLER 3: Alan, Mick here. Look, I teach years 7 & 8, so I gotta play the devil’s advocate
as well. These three Moths plays are clever. Alan, mate, have you actually read them?
Actually seen them? When you do, you’ll get it. That’s my two cents!
ALAN JONES: [Cutting the call.] Mick, you fucking moron, put that two cents straight back
into your wallet! Somebody needs to ban these plays! Somebody needs to take these
Asian plays, put them in a chaff bag and dump them in the ocean! Because if someone
doesn’t do this, that’s where I’m heading! You can dump Alan Jones into the ocean!
A segment at the Academy Awards.
HELEN: Members of the Academy, Trung and I are thrilled to be presenting tonight’s
nominees for Best Motion Picture.
TRUNG: Thanks Helen. Tonight’s nominees for Best Motion Picture are Moths, Something
happened on the way to Chinatown –
HELEN: Oh I just adore Woody.
TRUNG: Tokyo Calling. Date with my Supreme Leader. Dalai: the life story. And Forgotten
Cambodia.
HELEN: Magnificent suite of films.
They open the envelope.
TRUNG: The winner is...
Back to PENNY WONG. But she’s now abroad, now in Sweden.
PENNY: Ladies and gentleman, distinguished guests, thank you for having me here in
Stockholm. I’m especially honoured to be here in Stockholm to accept, on behalf of
Julie Saksavoonthurum, the Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s with a deep sadness that she
can’t be here herself. She has asked that I read out her speech. [Pause.] “What are your
plays about? Who are they for? [Pause.] You’re running. You’re in Thailand and you’re
running up towards the Friendship Monument. You do this every day, because you’re a
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writer on sabbatical in Thailand, and all you do each day is write in your hotel room,
and so you need a reason to get off your arse, at least once a day, to exercise your legs.
It’s early in the morning and the streets are quiet. You run past a big hotel, the one
guarded by the dog with the crazy eyes. The dog perks up, attack-ready, and lurches out
at you. You speed up, crazy dog snaps at your legs. When you’ve sped off far enough,
the crazy dog relents, you get away. Around the corner, near the bank, there’s a soldier.
He has a white sash over his body and a rifle. By his side is another bloody dog. The
dog tenses, he chases you. You run. The dog keeps chasing. You accelerate and bound
across the road. There are a few cars to dodge. As you step onto the nature strip, you
lose your footing ever so slightly and within an instant you slip, glide and you’re
falling. As you hit the road, you can feel the skin scraping off your thigh. Cars halt. The
dog halts, sees you fallen and bleeding, and then, with a slow gait, it returns to the
soldier. The soldier sees you but doesn’t help you up. The drivers of the car weave
around you. A man sweeping the footpath free of last night’s rubbish keeps sweeping,
he doesn’t help you either. There are no other tourists around, no other writers on their
morning jogs. You get up by myself, and go back to your hotel, to your air conditioned
cave, and you try to write answers about what has happened in your life. You think of
the moths that you have seen, flattened to the rooves in the cool caves of the Blue
Mountains, and how still the moths were, huddled together, seemingly
indistinguishable, seemingly sharing the one journey, the one relentless cycle. Fuck.
Migrate. Die. Fuck. Migrate. Die. There is a story you’re reminded of. A king and
queen have five daughters: all equally beautiful, all the same to look at,
indistinguishable. But different in temperament: one daughter cries non-stop, one
apologises all the time, one says nothing, one giggles and giggles. The last one never
shuts up. She sings, she yells. The king and queen find suitors for all of them, except
the last. Men do not like the sound of her voice. They say ‘What is she yelling about?’
‘Who is she singing for?’ ‘She is the daughter of a king and queen, she has not had to
struggle like us.” The king and queen cannot marry her, so they consign her to a single
cell in the furthest wing of the palace. [Pause.] I’m running. I’m in Thailand. I’m
running towards the Friendship Monument. The crazy dog growls. But I walk past him,
up to the big hotel he guards, a grand hotel, ten times the size of mine, I peer into the
front door, I walk through it, I eat the feast that’s on the banquet table, I come out. The
soldier cocks his rifle. I give him the finger, I stroll into the bank and into its heart, into
its vault. The other dog barks. I roar. At the Friendship Monument I wait to see who is
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Moths 2014

joining me. In Australia I answered so many questions, so too in London, in South
Africa, in Israel, Palestine, Germany, in America. The world is fearful, it’s hungry for
answers. Tell me your story. Sing sorry to me. Say nothing. Cry for me, laugh with me.
Don’t yell at me. I yell. I have so many moths to show you. [Pause.] We’re running.
[Pause.] Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, thank you for this prize. As they
say in Thai, Kob Khun Ka.”
The audience applauds.
FIFTEEN
Many years later. An art gallery. RAYMOND and MICHAEL. MICHAEL is in his
Power Rangers outfit, but with his head gear off.
They study the art, which is in the direction of the audience.
VOICEOVER: [In Japanese.] Gyarari wa 15-bu de kurozu sa remasu. Oregato. [In Japanseaccented English.] The gallery will be closing in 15 minutes. Thank you.
It takes a moment before RAYMOND and MICHAEL both see each other.
MICHAEL: Ray?
MICHAEL approaches RAYMOND.
MICHAEL: Bloody hell. Ray! It is you! You’re looking... great.
RAYMOND: No I’m not.
MICHAEL: [Pause.] Well...
RAYMOND: [Pause.] You’re looking like a Power Ranger.
MICHAEL: Oh – ah, yeah! [Pause.] Forgot I was wearing this. Should I show you my move?
MICHAEL strikes a pose.
MICHAEL: Dax to the max, POWER UP!
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Moths 2014

Beat.
MICHAEL: Then you clap.
RAYMOND doesn’t.
MICHAEL: And then I sign your poster. Michael Chong, Dax, Season 13.
RAYMOND: Poster?
MICHAEL: Poster, video game. Whatever you give me to sign.
RAYMOND: Afraid I don’t have any of those.
MICHAEL: Sorry, not you, the fans. At the convention. Do this every year, once in LA and
once in Tokyo. There’s a big fan base here in Tokyo. Huge.
Beat.
RAYMOND: [About the art that they’re looking at.] This is spectacular.
MICHAEL: Oh you like it?
RAYMOND: I do. I plan to write at length about it.
MICHAEL: It’s... to be honest, I don’t ‘get’ video art.
Beat.
RAYMOND: Are you still acting?
MICHAEL: Oh no. No not at all. No. I mean... I mean, I do these conventions every year but
that’s... yeah, that’s about it. I mean, wouldn’t mind... I’d love to be doing more. Father
roles, uncle roles, I’d love that. But... the work’s been slow. And, ah, you know, can’t
pay the bills with one convention in Tokyo and a few auditions.
RAYMOND: Oh so you didn’t make a bucket of cash with the rest of them on all the
countless remounts of Moths?
MICHAEL: Yeah. Yeah there were a lot of those, weren’t they?
RAYMOND: A lot.
MICHAEL: Well, they actually... they re-cast it. I wasn’t in the ‘countless’ remounts. [Pause.]
Good on, Julie. She had to make some tough choices going forward. Right?
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RAYMOND: Yes. Good on her.
Beat.
MICHAEL: Did the best thing a 42-year-old actor could have done at the time. After we
finished that first season of Moths, hopped online and married a doctor, she looks after
the money. I look after the kids. Got two little ones.
RAYMOND: Yeah?
MICHAEL: Actually, they’re not that little these days. Sasha’s eight now. Here.
MICHAEL gets out his phone and shows RAYMOND pictures.
MICHAEL: That one’s Sasha. Kayla. They wanted to get pink Power Ranger costumes but I
said ‘No no, Daddy’s wearing black, Daddy’s little girls should wear black too!’
Beat.
MICHAEL: They’re out shopping. With the nanny. I didn’t go... I, ah... I needed a break.
Family holidays are always, you know... full on. My wife’s full on. And with the
convention too. It gets... full on. You need space from family. From your kids, right?
RAYMOND: I don’t have kids.
Beat.
MICHAEL: You... you keep in contact with any of the other guys?
RAYMOND: No.
MICHAEL: Julie?
RAYMOND: She’s dead.
MICHAEL: What?
RAYMOND: The great Julie Saksavoonthurum died last year.
MICHAEL: Ray. Shit. How... did it...?
RAYMOND: Car accident. With her husband. Big funeral. I didn’t go. [About the video art.]
This is his work. He made a lot of art work about her.

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Beat.
MICHAEL: Dead.
RAYMOND: Immortal.
SIXTEEN
It’s 30 years later. A green room, the actors waiting to go on stage.
They are sitting there in silence. They have all visibly aged. MICHAEL is snoozing.
Silence.
TRUNG: [Reading a question sheet.] What does it feel like to be reunited again after 30
years? Why is it important to continue staging the Moths plays? How do these works
continue to represent you today? How were your lives affected by Julie
Saksavoonthurum’s death? [Pause.] There are some individual questions here too. Then
they’ll open to the audience for questions.
RAYMOND: What does it feel like to be paid such a little fee to be on this panel?
Beat.
ANDREW: [To LIEN TIAN and in Cantonese.] Did you bring my water bottle?
LIEN TIAN: [Getting out his water bottle, and to the rest of the group.] Andy can’t drink tap
water.
Beat.
TRUNG: The water in Australia does taste... more metallic these days.
Beat.
CHRISTINE: You reach an age where you’re running the world. But our friends are onto
another divorce, children are old enough to argue with us, parents are dying. You’re
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Moths 2014

small again, fragile. 44 was so young; Julie was so young she died. She was a mentor. I
wouldn’t have written all my novels if I hadn’t met her. So much was expected of me.
Beat.
TRUNG: I shouldn’t be here. [Pause.] I never did the play here. Only once in LA.
Beat.
TRUNG: My mother died recently.
LIEN TIAN: Oh Trung! Sweetie!
TRUNG: I was working at the time.
MICHAEL wakes up.
MICHAEL: Andy? [Pause.] The father character died on your show.
Beat.
MICHAEL: Andy? Andy?
LIEN TIAN: Yes, sweetie. He’s listening.
MICHAEL: The father character. He died.
LIEN TIAN: That episode rated about 23 million. Oh! Oh [laughs fondly] Andy – ah, Andy
still has a – um, what would you call... it’s a chart! Yes he has a chart up in the study
area! With all the ratings for his show. In Australia, and overseas! The Danish loved
him!
ANDREW: Lien –
LIEN TIAN: Then he has all his widdle award statues underneath the chart. Aw. So cute. ‘I
don’t rikey Asians, I ruv Asians! Everybody ruvs Asians.’ Such a funny show. So
funny!
ANDREW: Lien. [In Cantonese.] Be quiet.
LIEN TIAN: Sorry. [Pause, to everyone else.] Sometimes I talk too much!
MICHAEL: The day that character died I had a little accident with my car. The girls were
with me.
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Beat.
ANDREW: [In Cantonese, to LIEN TIAN.] This reunion is depressing.
LIEN TIAN: Andy doesn’t like it when, um, things are too depressing. [To CHRISTINE.]
Christine! Oh! You must have... you’re full of funny stories! Are your books funny?
CHRISTINE: My last one was about celibacy.
Beat.
RAYMOND: I hope they feed us afterwards.
Beat.
RAYMOND: [About the beer on the table.] Does anyone want to drink this? It’s the last one.
Does anyone want it?
RAYMOND drinks.
RAYMOND starts to sob.
Everyone is uncomfortable.
TRUNG hands him a tissue.
RAYMOND: I was kidding.
RAYMOND sobs.
RAYMOND: I wrote a letter... an apology. It’s here. I will read extracts from this, if anyone
in the audience... if anyone wants to ask me questions.
Beat.
TRUNG: Did anyone write notes? Did everyone pick a quote?
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LIEN TIAN: Ray’s right, they’re not paying us enough to be here. All this homework! I – I
was even saying to Andy – I said to you, sweetie, on the way here, I said that if you
really didn’t want to do this then why are / you coming along today!
ANDREW: [In Cantonese.] Lien would you shut up now?
MICHAEL: ‘Who wants to pay $100 to see a bunch of Asians telling you about being Asian.’
‘They’re not paying $100.’ ‘$50’. Was it...?
CHRISTINE: That wasn’t in the script.
Beat.
c
c
TRUNG: [Spoken in Thai] ‘Khn cchlād thèānận thīī ca thām
khảthām
meụcxụ kcheā mịī thrāb
khả txb thīīthææ cring kchxng tạw xeng.’ Thai proverb. Julie taught me. I thought I’d use
that as my quote. It’s not from the script but it was from her.
MICHAEL is nodding off.
Quiet.
RAYMOND: We should get a drink afterwards. There’s a bar nearby.
LIEN TIAN: Oh what a nice idea, sweetie! We’re very busy though. Another time?
We hear from off-stage ‘And tonight, we’re very happy to have the original cast of
Moths join us for a panel discussion’, and an audience claps loudly, in anticipation.
LIEN TIAN: Sweetie? Is my – is there anything in my teeth?
ANDREW: [In Cantonese.] Always going on and about your teeth.
LIEN TIAN: [In Cantonese.] Sorry, Andy. For God’s sake, you old prick, I’m sorry.
CHRISTINE, LIEN TIAN, ANDREW and RAYMOND exit towards the stage.
CHRISTINE and ANDREW are bickering in Cantonese.
It’s just MICHAEL and TRUNG. MICHAEL has fallen asleep again.
Quiet.
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Moths 2014

TRUNG: Michael.
Quiet.
TRUNG: Michael.
MICHAEL wakes up.
MICHAEL: Sasha?
TRUNG: No, Michael. It’s Trung.
MICHAEL: Oh. Where am...?
TRUNG: The panel.
MICHAEL: Moths...?
TRUNG: Yes. Moths. Come on. We have to go now.
MICHAEL: Trung.
TRUNG: Yes?
MICHAEL: It’s good to see you. Saw all your movies. But seeing you here, it’s good.
TRUNG: [Pause.] I’ll help you up. Here.
TRUNG helps MICHAEL up. MICHAEL and TRUNG exit towards the stage.
THE END

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