Slow Boat by Anna Yen

Slow Boat by Anna Yen

Brotherhood is easy when things run smoothly. But when someone causes hurt, this is where it’s tested.’

To celebrate Victory in the Pacific, six indentured Chinese workers are staging a theatre show at Brisbane’s Bulimba Dockyards.

The men aim to weave an epic tale of brotherhood and resilience, charting their journey from poverty and war in rural China, through hard work on the tiny phosphate-rich island of Nauru, to a hasty evacuation from the Japanese to Australia, and all the challenges that they overcame on the way. However, differing perspectives of critical events in their story threaten to derail this display of unity to become the one thing that could tear them apart.

Blending vaudeville, musical theatre, circus, Cantonese Opera and martial arts, Slow Boat is a play within a play, inspired by the unexpected arrival in Australia of playwright Anna Yen’s father, along with 580 other Chinese men, during WWII.

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Thu 1 Sep – Sat 10 Sep


Thu 1 Sep


Fri 2 Sep


Powerhouse Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse


Approx. 120 minutes including interval


Suitable for 13+.


Contains low-level coarse language, depictions of suicide and violence, multilingual (English, Cantonese and Mandarin).


Non-Linear, Theatre for Social Comment


Anna Yen


Ian Lawson


Therese Collie


Nicolas Ng


Anna Yen


Josh McIntosh


David Walters


Frances Foo


Neridah Waters


Nicolas Ng

Anna Koh


Kiki Chen


Jonathan Chan

Ming Yang Lim

Nicolas Ng

Egan Sun-Bin

Silvan Russ

Julian Wong

Anna Yen

Anna Yen

Anna Yen is a performer, writer, movement teacher and theatre maker.

Anna was a finalist in the Queensland Premiere’s Drama Award 2018 with Slow Boat.  She was a writer / performer in the acclaimed The Serpent’s Table Griffin Theatre / CAAP, Sydney Festival 2014.

Her award-winning play Chinese Take Away was produced by QPAC, and adapted into an SBS commissioned 52minute film by Looking Glass Pictures. Anna toured Chinese Take Away’s film adaptation with performance excerpts, to Asia, Europe and USA.  The script is published by Playlab Theatre.

Performances credits include:

Tower of Babel, Baran Theatre, Metro Arts 2019; Concerto for Harmony and Presto, Debase Productions, Shanghai International Arts Festival 2019; multi-award-winning Monsteria GUSH, Adelaide Fringe Festival 2018 and Wonderland Festival 2017; It All Begins With Love Creative Regions Queensland tour 2015; Electric Dragon Georgie Pinn, FedSq; Waterwheel Installation Igneous JWCoCA; Wicked Bodies La Boite/Zen Zen Zo, Fortune La Boite, After China QUT – Brisbane and Belvoir St; Load-ed Stories QTC-Ed; Rock’n’Roll Circus (now CIRCA) ensemble for 4 years; and The Case of All Things Taiwan. She will be seen as the Tea lady Goblin in Jim Henson Company and Storey Bridge Productions’ The Portable Door on Stan in 2023.

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Anna Yen teaches theatre-making, circus-physical-theatre, in communities, universities, companies, festivals and schools, including the Yeronga State High School – Y Connect Drama Project.  She is a certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, and teaches Awareness Through Movement at Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Her PlayMoves – Movement  Workshops for Performers have been presented in Cairns, Townsville, Magnetic Island, Maleny, Brisbane, Wollongong, Melbourne, Torquay, Hobart and Perth.

Awards include: Creative Partnerships Art and Health Award Qld (Playful Engagement Project), Matilda Awards for Chinese Take Away, and for Best Costume with GUSH’s Monsteria; Bank SA Adelaide Fringe Best Circus-Physical Theatre Weekly AwardMonsteria; and a Churchill Fellowship. 

Anna’s training includes with Monika Pagneux, Philippe Gaulier, Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe, Shanghai Circus School.


A Playlab Theatre production in partnership with Brisbane Festival. Playlab Theatre is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. Slow Boat is also supported by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.

Brutal Utopias by Stephen Carleton premieres at the New Benner Theatre from 18 - 28 May!