Catching the Yellow Wave

Writer Jane Miller and actress Andrea McCannon work on their theatre production of The Yellow Wave. Picture: Damjan Janevski

An epic of 19th century Australian literature is hitting the stage with a helping hand from Footscray playwright Jane Miller.

Miller has distilled Kenneth Mackay’s 400-page The Yellow Wave: A Romance of the Asiatic Invasion of Australia into 70 action-packed minutes.

The saga of love, heroism and sacrifice as Australia is invaded by Mongol hordes features a huge cast of characters in the book and a complex love-triangle.

But on stage, it will be performed by just two actors and narrated by Footscray actor Andrea McCannon.

Miller said boiling the story down for the stage and giving the themes a twist was an enjoyable challenge.

“The story has a real subversive element,” she said.

“The fear of difference or ‘other’ is still very much relevant to society today.”

The production reunites Miller with frequent collaborator, director Beng Oh, who came up with the idea of adapting the work using just two actors.

Miller said the process had been highly co-operative, with much of the work evolving in a room with the director and actors.

The Yellow Wave, part of the inaugural Poppy Seed Festival of Theatre, will run at The Butterfly Club until November 29. Tickets cost $25-$30 via