By Andrea JamesDramaCurrency Press

Sunshine Super Girl: The Evonne Goolagong Story

A young girl hits a ball against the tin wall of her family’s home. This is where it all began for Evonne Goolagong. Hers is a quintessentially Australian story about a girl from the bush who dared to dream, and with the support of an outback farming town, rose to become the No. 1 tennis player in the world and a household name by the age of 19.  

Evonne Goolagong’s heartwarming story is a celebration of spirit and passion over adversity, and a tribute to a woman whose sporting prowess continues to inspire a nation, giving hope to thousands of young girls across the country. With its distinctively Australian sensibility and humour, Sunshine Super Girl asks us to consider our nation’s future and the part we can play for the next ‘Goolagong’ waiting in the wings.  

Portrait of Andrea James

Andrea James

Andrea James is a Yorta Yorta/Gunaikurnai woman and a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts.  She makes work that reflects her identity, sharing historical and contemporary stories of Aboriginal experiences within sharp contemporary theatrical language and form. Andrea is an experienced collaborator, playwright, producer and director.

She was a recipient of British Council’s Accelerate Program for Aboriginal Art Leaders in 2013 and was awarded an Arts NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship.  She has produced for Carriageworks, Blacktown Arts Centre and Urban Theatre Projects.

She was Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers Theatre 2001-2008 where she is best known for her play Yanagai! Yanagai! She co- wrote Coranderrk with Giordano Nanni for LaMama and Ilbijerri, Bright World with Elise Hearst for Arthur Productions and wrote Blacktown Angels for Home Country for Urban Theatre Projects, Bukal for JUTE Theatre and Winyanboga Yurringa presented by Moogahlin Performing Arts and remounted at Belvoir in May 2019. Her works have shown throughout Australia, in the UK, Paris and New York. 

She is currently a writer-in-residence at Melbourne Theatre Company developing The Black Woman of Gippsland from her grandmother’s country. Her play, Sunshine Super Girl, about Wiradjuri tennis superstar Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, was produced by Performing Lines and premiered in Griffith on the 9th October 2020 before it travels to the Sydney Festival. Her newest play Dogged, written with collaborator and friend Cath Ryan, will premiere in 2021.

Judges’ report

In Sunshine Supergirl, Andrea James balances with skill, respect and care, the conventions of dance theatre with the onerous task of documenting the life story of one of our most treasured sporting icons, Evonne Goolagong Cawley. The play marks a shift in Indigenous storytelling toward celebration and acknowledgement of the extraordinary achievements of First Nations Peoples in Australia. Cawley faces isolation from family and community as she is made an 'honorary white' so that she can play in South Africa, she confronts the usual racial slurs by focusing on her game and her brilliance at it. Lively, funny and poignant, this work about Australia’s first Indigenous tennis champion, and her determination and love of tennis is a story about being the best in spite of racism and political agendas.

Extract

An extract from Sunshine Super Girl: The Evonne Goolagong Story is available here.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist