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VPLA 2023
Golden Blood 黄金血液

Drama Award Shortlist

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Title: Golden Blood 黄金血液

Author: Merlynn Tong

Publisher: Currency Press in association with Griffin Theatre Company

Golden Blood by Merlynn Tong feels like a big-screen thriller, even though it’s got a cast of two. Playing out on the neon streets of Singapore, it desperately claws back the extreme wealth it once knew, holding a rusty machete between its teeth.

When her mother dies, a teenage girl is left alone within the four walls of the only thing she’s inherited—a decaying penthouse in the heart of Singapore. To make matters worse, she’s now in the care of her estranged brother, and he’s not exactly up to the gig. For one, he’s only a few years older than her. And two, he’s a gangster.

Like, an actual one.

Left with next to nothing, the orphaned siblings become a formidable, atypical corporation of two. But it’s not long before cracks begin to show. What is the trade-off for desiring excessive levels of luxury? What should be kept in this world, and what should be offered to the next?



Judges’ report

Golden Blood charts the relationship of a teenage girl and her older brother after being orphaned in Singapore. The erstwhile estranged siblings have come from wealth but in the wake of their mother’s death are left destitute and are increasingly caught in illicit dealings. The play explores glittering Singapore’s shadier criminal underworld, and moves like a thriller as it follows the siblings through their young adulthood.

Tong’s writing pulses with darkness and humour, exploring the deep, unshakeable bonds of family as well as the furthest limits of these bonds. The exploration of Chinese Singaporean culture, along with the fluid use of Mandarin, Hokkien, Malay and Singlish in the dialogue, offer an inclusive, expansive, and imaginative understanding of what Australian plays can be.




An extract from Golden Blood 黄金血液 is available here.



About the author

Merlynn Tong is a Playwright and an Actor. She is currently a resident writer of La Boite Theatre and the 2020 resident writer of Melbourne Theatre Company. Some of her playwriting credits include Golden Blood (Griffin Theatre & Melbourne Theatre Company), Antigone (adaptation, Queensland Theatre & Mercury Theatre, UK), Good Grief (Queensland Theatre), Consent (Force Majeure, development), Legends [of the Golden Arches] (co-writer, development, Black Swan Theatre Company), Come to Where I am (Critical Stages Touring & Paines Plough Theatre Company, UK), SKIN (Dear Australia, Playwriting Australia), Ma Ma Ma Mad (Wax Lyrical) and Blue Bones (Playlab Productions). Her one-woman-show Blue Bones that she also performed in, has won 6 Matilda Awards including the Lord Mayor Award for Best New Australian Work, Best Mainstage Production and Best Female Actor in a Leading Role. She is also the prize recipient of Screen Queensland’s Screen to Stage pitch, The First 10 Pages 2.0.

Some of her performances include Golden Blood (Griffin Theatre/ Melbourne Theatre Company), Enlightenment (Elbow Room), New Babylon (Brown’s Mart Theatre), White Pearl (Sydney Theatre Company & National Theatre of Parramatta), The Shot (Queensland Theatre, The Scene Project), Harrow 2 (ABC), Reef Break (ABC/M6), Top of the Lake: China Girl (BBC & Sundance Films, Jane Campion), The Mathematics of Longing (La Boite Theatre), The Lost Lending Library (Punchdrunk & Imaginary Theatre), Hotelling (Bleached Arts), Bitch: Origin of the Female Species (Brisbane Festival), Blue Bones (Playlab Productions), Viral (Shock Therapy Productions), Straight White Men (La Boite Theatre), and Hot Brown Honey (Judith Wright Centre).


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