Skip to content

Cultural Catalysts: Creativity in the Sri Lankan Diaspora

‘I think being a migrant, it also requires you to be creative. Like we know the ancestry we come from, and that’s not the world we’re in. So, it just requires a certain level of innovation to not lose yourself.’
– S. Shakthidharan

Share this content

S. Shakthidharan’s debut play Counting and Cracking began with a shoebox of his great-grandfather’s letters. Working with his family and the wider Sri Lankan diaspora, he excavated his family’s history, weaving threads of culture and connection into a multi-award-winning theatrical epic following four generations over five decade.

To celebrate the Melbourne debut of this global hit, Shakthidharan is joined in conversation by Masterchef sensation Minoli De Silva, who infuses her culinary artistry with Sri Lankan flavours at Darwin’s Ella restaurant, and actor and comedian Suren Jayamenne, whose stand-up work draws on his experiences as an Australian with Sri Lankan heritage.

Hosted by journalist Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, these acclaimed Sri Lankan creatives came together for an insightful and celebratory exploration of how personal narratives and cultural influences shape their craft, from family kitchens to international stages.



This event was recorded on Sunday 2 June 2024 on the set of Counting and Cracking at the Union Theatre as part of RISING.

It was presented in partnership with RISING and University of Melbourne Arts and Culture.


The official bookseller was Readings.

Featured music is ‘Different Days’ by Chill Cole.

Counting and Cracking is now playing at the Union Theatre until 23 June 2024 as part of RISING. Tickets can be purchased via

Stay up to date with our upcoming events and special announcements by subscribing to The Wheeler Centre's mailing list.

Privacy Policy

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.