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Identity battle hits home
Equality fail
Playwright and stand-up comedian Diana Nguyen says she felt “triggered” when she first read Alice Pung’s novel Laurinda, in which teenager Lucy Lam, whose parents are Chinese-Vietnamese refugees, wins a scholarship to a prestigious Australian girls’ school populated mostly by privileged white students.

The story, set in the 1990s, is about Lucy grappling with a sense of self as she falls in with a trio of domineering white girls called The Cabinet.

When thousands of teachers from public and Catholic schools joined forces for the first time in June to stage a mass strike over workloads, salaries and staff shortages, the playwright Angela Betzien marched with them. For a homemade sign made of recycled cardboard, she filched a line from her new classroom comedy, Chalkface, and wrote: “Pedagogy, not pedadodgy”.

Her six-year-old son, Wylder, using his experience as a pupil in a small government school in inner-western Sydney, wrote: “My favourite teacher is Miss Cusack and I support more pay for teachers.”

Steve's essays Bent Man Running published in Growing Up Queer in Australia and Stream drama in Meanjin autumn 2020.
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