Shanghai Express by Mary-Anne Gifford

When:15 Sep 2017, 7pm - 9:30pm
Venue:Io Myers Studio
Who:Mary-Anne Gifford & ensemble
Shanghai Express

A staged reading of a new Australian play.

It’s 1927. Esther Cole and Bobby Scott are international stars of the Australian theatre and best friends. When a stranger is killed in front of Esther, in the back alley behind Sydney’s National Theatre, his last words are something about Bobby, Shanghai and a man called Ryder. Ryder was working in the creek bed in Spring Gully where Bobby’s mother, Louisa, was shot and killed twenty years before.

Esther suspects that the stranger’s murder is linked to the death of Bobby’s mother and she determines to solve the mystery. She boards a liner to Shanghai to find Ryder while Bobby reluctantly makes his way back home to Spring Gully.

On opposite sides of the Pacific, the partners in crime enlist the help of friends, lovers and strangers. Esther tracks her quarry in the face of bandits and hijacked trains, Shanghai jazz and civil war. Meanwhile, on the goldfields of Victoria, witnesses to Louisa’s death reveal the events of that terrible summer’s day.

Shanghai Express is a dramatic thriller with comedy and songs.

The writing, development and presentation of the play, Shanghai Express, comprises the major practical component of Mary-Anne’s PhD in practice-based research.

Book Now!

The Writer


Mary-Anne GiffordMary-Anne Gifford - Writer/Director

Mary-Anne works as a freelance director, writer, dramaturge and teacher. She has directed over forty theatre productions including productions in Hanoi and Ohio. Mary-Anne was Artistic Director of Railway Street Theatre Company for six years, Centre Director of Australian National Playwrights’ Centre in its final year and Manager of Part-time Courses and Open Program Productions for NIDA from 2009 to 2012. Mary-Anne has written and directed shows for NIDA (Alice in Wonderland and Robin Hood) and Railway Street Theatre Company (Falling on My Left Ear: A Show about George Wallace and an adaptation of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening) and school shows for NIDA, Bell Shakespeare Company and Sydney Theatre Company. Her play, Something More Than Night, was short-listed for the Patrick White Playwrights' Award. Mary-Anne has worked as a lecturer and tutor in theatre history, directing, playwriting and acting at NIDA and UNSW Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons Class 1) from UNSW, a Graduate Diploma of Dramatic Art in Directing (NIDA) and a Graduate Diploma of Dramatic Art in Writing for Performance (NIDA). Mary-Anne is currently working on a practice-based PhD at University of NSW in the area of early Australian vaudeville theatre.

The Ensemble


Oliver BurtonOliver Burton - Actor

Oliver is an actor and director based in Sydney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media/Communications) from the University of Sydney and a bachelor of Dramatic Art (Acting) from NIDA. In 2009, Oliver produced the inaugural season of the Sport for Jove Outdoor Shakespeare Festivals and then went on to become SFJ’s founding business manager, producing and performing for the award winning company. Oliver is a regular face on Sydney’s improvised comedy scene, having founded impro company, The Post-Haste Players, for whom he continues to direct and play in the long-form improvised Shakespeare shows, Bard to the Bone and The Post-Haste Histories. When not performing works of fiction, Oliver can be found on Sydney stages working as an MC/presenter, with clients including Telstra, Sony Playstation and Fox Sports.


Zoe CaridesZoe Carides - Actor

Zoe is an actress, singer, writer, and filmmaker, whose career has spanned three decades. As an actor, highlights include the TV dramas GP and Grass Roots, Packed To The Rafters, Crownies, and the Spielberg/Hanks-produced The Pacific. Theatre includes The Seagull, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Idiot, The Vagina Monologues, Away, Tot Mom, Murderers, Influence, La Dispute, Spur of the Moment, Tarantula, and Caress/Ache. She’s worked all around Australia in film, television, and for the major theatre companies, and also with international directors Mike Leigh and Steven Soderbergh. Feature films include Death in Brunswick, Brilliant Lies, The Black Balloon, Not Suitable For Children, Blinder, Mystery Road, Terminus, The Little Death, Alex and Eve, and Event Zero. She sings regularly with her band, and has also written/directed three short films which have enjoyed festival screenings in Australia, and overseas. Zoe is an AFI nominee and a Helpmann winner.


Michelle Lim DavidsonMichelle Lim Davidson - Actor

Michelle is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).

Directly after graduation Michelle was cast in the Ben Elton television show Live from Planet Earth. Other television credits include two seasons of the award-winning series Utopia (ABC), Top of the Lake 2 (ABC), Doctor Doctor (Nine Network), Play School (ABC), Big Ted’s Big Adventures (ABC) & Jay’s Jungle (7TWO). Michelle is a regular presenter on Play School and tours nationally in the Play School Live concerts. Theatre credits include Power Plays (STC), The Lysicrates Prize (Griffin), Play School Live (ABC), The Laramie Project (STC Education), Seminar (Ensemble Theatre) & Far Away (Black Swan TC). Michelle guest starred alongside John Cleese in the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.

Michelle’s film credits include the AACTA Best Picture nominated Goldstone, directed by Ivan Sen, and The Wiggles: Pandemonium directed by Ben Elton. Before attending WAAPA, Michelle completed a Certificate IV in Music Theatre. She was a member of the Talent Development Project & danced in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Michelle has participated in numerous creative developments, workshops and play readings for Sydney Theatre Company, Griffin, Belvoir, Black Swan, Ensemble and many others. Michelle was the recipient of the 2013 Mike Walsh Fellowship and the 2016 Equity Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for Utopia.


Sandra EldridgeSandra Eldridge - Actor

Sandra is a WAAPA acting graduate and has a Master of Arts (Practice) for directing CSU. Sandra is one of the Creative Director's for Monkey Baa. For Monkey Baa she has adapted and performed in the national /state tours of Worry Wart's (Published PlayLab), Sprung! The Fairy's Wing's, The Bugalugs Bum Thief, Emily Eyefinger and adapted Goodbye Jamie Boyd, Hitler’s Daughter (Published Currency Press), Milli, Jack and The Dancing Cat, FOX, I Am Jack ,Thursday’s Child (Published Currency Press) Pete the Sheep. In 2015 she wrote and acted in The Unknown Soldier which will tour USA in 2017. For ANMM Nautilus, A Voyage to the Deep, Monkey Tales for Sydney Chinese Gardens and adapted Snugglepot & Cuddlepie for CDP. Acting theatre credits include: Les Liaisons Dangerous, Top Girls, Magpies Nest for the WA Theatre Company, The Real Thing for The Regal Theatre & Yvonne Arnaud Theatre UK, Tom & Clem, Absent Friends, The Heiress for Marion Street Theatre, Anais Nin, Hester, Adelaide Festival. Theatre of Image's Jake and Pete (Canada), Mill on The Floss, Wharf 2, Blue Heart and Tattoo for Griffin Theatre; Summer of The Seventeenth Doll, The Women and Twelfth Night for Railway Street Theatre Company; For the Love of Alma at The Sydney Opera House, Blue Eyes and Heals, Memory of Water for Darlinghurst Theatre, Desert for Tamarama Rock Surfers, All’s Well that Ends Well for Sport for Jove. Her film and TV credits include: Special Ops, All Saints, White Collar Blue, Children’s Hospital, Spellbinder, Footy Legends, Backburner, A Fortunate Life, Sisterly Love, Math’s Break, The Birthday Party, The Distance Between, Stay Awake I’m Not Someone Else and Lady and a Robot. Directing credits for Monkey Baa; Goodbye Jamie Boyd, The Prospector's, I am Jack, Hitler's Daughter 2007 Helpmann Award for Best Children's Presentation, 2006 Drover Award, 2012 Glug Award and Thursday’s Child 2009 Helpmann Award for Best Children's Presentation. Sandra has also directed The Grapes of Wrath and Mill on the Floss at WAAPA, Voyage to the Deep for ANMM, Monkey Tales for The Chinese Gardens, at The Ensemble Theatre, Page to Stage Program Searching for Meaning and Kindertransport for The Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Sandra has been a proud MEAA member since 1983.


David FentonDavid Fenton - Dramaturge

David had directed over sixty-five professional theatre productions throughout his thirty years in the industry. Most recently David was CEO of Metro Arts 2014-15 and before that Head of Performance Practices NIDA 2012-14. With a Masters of Dramaturgy from QUT (2000) David has worked with many companies and playwrights throughout his career. Specifically, he has worked extensively as a dramaturge in residence for JUTE Theatre/Queensland Theatre Company and Metro Arts. He has also provided dramaturgical services for Sandikat Productions, Brisbane Powerhouse, Christine Dunstan Productions, Queensland Music Festival, Replay Theatre Company (Belfast Northern Ireland), Playlab, Umber Productions, Parnassus Den, Playworks and Riverina Theatre Company. Occasionally David has applied his dramaturgical skills to contemporary dance productions like, Being There by Dyson Industries (2009) and Flaunt by Claire Marshall (2016). Most recently David has adapted and dramaturged the work of Oscar Wilde’s, De Profundis (2015) and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (2017) for the stage, through his independent theatre company The Human Company and Old/Boy. David’s qualifications include Ph.D. Performance Innovation QUT, Master of Fine Arts QUT (Dramaturgy), B.A. Directing, QUT, Grad. Dip (Directing NIDA), Dip. Teach Drama QUT.


John Gomez GoodwayJohn Gomez Goodway - Actor

John trained at the Actors Pulse. Recent stage work includes The Peasant Prince, which toured nationally around Australia and received Best Children's Production awards at both the Sydney Theatre Awards and GLUG Theatre Awards of 2017. Other recent stage work includes Oneness: Voice Without Form at the Sydney Opera House, Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It with the Sydney Shakespeare Festival, His Mother’s Voice at the Australian Theatre for Young People, and A Quiet Night in Rangoon at the New Theatre.


Peter KowitzPeter Kowitz - Actor

Peter has appeared at the Sydney Theatre Company in Blackbird, Tot Mom, Marriage Blanc, Australia Day, Talk and Australian Graffiti. Recent stage credits include Double Indemnity and The Weir for Melbourne Theatre Company and The Floating World for Griffin. Previous stage credits include King Lear for Bell Shakespeare; Burning, Strange Attractor for Griffin; Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Falling on My Left Ear, Twelfth Night and Away for Railway Street Theatre Company; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for South Australia Theatre Company and over twenty productions with Queensland Theatre where he began his career 42 years ago. He has also performed with Ensemble Theatre, Black Swan, Hunter Valley, Pork Chop, Nimrod and Belvoir and toured to New Zealand and Germany with the STC production of Blackbird directed by Cate Blanchett. He has appeared in numerous television productions as a regular performer and guest artist and is now in the regular role of Tony Gillies on the popular ABC series Janet King, now in its third season here and overseas. During his career Peter has been nominated four times for the AFI award and has won twice for Bodysurfer and The long Way Home and received a Variety Club Heart Award for Television Actor of the Year in 1989. In 2013 he was awarded the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role in a Main Stage Production for his performance in The Floating World. In September he will begin rehearsal at Ensemble Theatre for the production Taking Steps.


Lindy SardelicLindy Sardelic - Actor

Lindy is a graduate of NIDA and Curtin University, W.A. While at university she appeared in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, A Toast to Melba , Self Accusation and Idol Rumours and, at NIDA, in Love’s Labour’s Lost , Stags and Hens, Pains of Youth, The Wake, The Heiress, Alcestis, As You Like It and Images de Moliere. In television, Lindy has appeared in Tricky Business, Superflu: Race Against a Killer, English at Work, Water Rats, Saltimbocca, Knocker and Message from the Dead. Her theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Wogarama (Elston, Hocking, Woods), Unbeatable and Unbeatable (Joined-Up Writing Pty Ltd./Tour), Stags And Hens (Tamarama Rock Surfers), Five Times Dizzy and Hating Alison Ashley (Theatre South), Malevolence (Bent Double Productions), Rocky Roads to Riches, Man in the Moon and Great Australian Treasure Hunt (Australian Museum), Spring Awakening and Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (Railway Street Theatre Company), Taboo and Burnt (Sydney Theatre Company/Zeal), Servant of Two Masters (Coogee Bay Arts Festival) and Cain & Tayla (Zeal Theatre). Lindy appears regularly with Zeal Theatre.


Nick Simpson-DeeksNick Simpson-Deeks - Actor

Nick graduated from NIDA with a BA in Acting at 21, and has been working in theatre, film, and television for over a decade. He is a three-time Green Room Award nominee, having earned consecutive nods for Assassins in 2014, Pacific Overtures in 2015 and Company in 2016 (all for Melbourne initiative Watch This). In 2016 he performed the Australian premiere of Douglas Rintoul’s award-winning monologue Elegy to critical acclaim, and earlier this year toured Australia as Chris in The Play That Goes Wrong. Other favourite stage credits include Sweet Phoebe (Basement Theatre NZ), Ned: A New Australian Musical (Groaning Dam), Floyd Collins (Angel Place), Jersey Boys (Original Australian Cast), Jerry Springer the Opera (SOH), The Turning (Perth Theatre Co.), Somewhere (Q Theatre), Handbag (Seymour Centre), Away (Railway Street Theatre Company), Falling on My Left Ear (Railway Street Theatre Company), and Pina Bausch’s Masurca Fogo. Nick played Archie MacMahon in both seasons of the award-winning SBS drama series The Circuit, and Rhys Mitchell in Channel Seven's Winners & Losers. Other screen credits include Underbelly: Fat Tony & Co., Mr & Mrs Murder, The Strange Calls, City Homicide, Stormworld, The Postcard Bandit, Play School, Jim Sharman's Andy X, and the 2012 feature film The Cup. Nick is a Mike Walsh Fellow, a recipient of Inscription’s Macquarie DEST Youth Award, and a graduate of Steppenwolf Theatre Company's School at Steppenwolf in Chicago.


Jessica VickersJessica Jantina Vickers - Actor

One of Australia’s most exciting and talented young actors, Jessica Vickers is best known for her role in the well-received 2013 short film #30. For her role as Chelsea, she was nominated for Best Actor in the 2013 Manhattan Short Film Festival. Jessica graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 2014 receiving a BA in Acting, and joined a variety of productions with NIDA including Sunday in the Park with George, Kasimir & Karoline, Woyzeck, In A Pink Tu Tu, The False Servant and The Light In The Piazza. More recently, Jessica’s theatre credits include The Gruffalo’s Child (CDP Productions) and Rodger Hodgman’s Fiddler on the Roof, and Jason Kos’ web series Anti-Adults.

Finding us

Io Myers Studio is located at the entrance to Gate 2 High St, Kensington. Look for the Creative Practice Lab neon sign in our foyer windows.

There is limited parking in the Gate 2 area around Io Myers Studio but free parking is available from 6:30pm in the car park next to NIDA accessed through Day Ave.

More information on getting to UNSW.
Download a campus map.  (PDF)


This project has the support of Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences Funding UNSW and UNSW Creative Practice Lab, School of the Arts & Media.
Produced by the UNSW Creative Practice Lab

View Past Events
Join our Newsletters