Helen Machalias  – Barren Ground

The Street Theatre
15 Childers Street, Canberra
5pm, Friday 29 July 2022
120 minutes

This work is a product of The Street’s First Seen program. It is a contemporary exploration of the asylum seeker experience in Australia, Barren Ground interprets The Tempest’s timeless themes of dislocation, forgiveness and redemption. 

Barbie spoke to Helen Machalias about Barren Ground


‘Barren Ground takes place on the Christmas Island detention centre between 2010 and the closure of the centre in 2018, and merges elements of the plot, dialogue and characters of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with media reports of the Christmas Island Detention Centre and first-hand accounts of the asylum seeker experience within the Australian system.

Machalias’s story interprets The Tempest’s timeless themes of dislocation, forgiveness and redemption through the human stories of this high-profile chapter in Australia’s history.’

Helen Machaliasis a playwright who has participated in The Street’s Hive and First Seen programs to develop Barren Ground, People Might Hear You and In Loco Parentis.  She has been highly commended three times in Sydney Theatre Company’s Young Playwright of the Year Award.

Granaz Moussavi is a member of the Barren Ground team. She is an Iranian-born poet and filmmaker. She has published 5 collections of poetry translated into 9 languages and made several short films and documentaries.

Granaz’s second feature film When Pomegranates Hol  was produced on location in Afghanistan. It was nominated for Best Youth Feature Film in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and is Australia’s foreign language entry to the Academy Awards 2022. 

Tickets: https://www.thestreet.org.au/shows/first-seen-barren-ground-helen-machalias-0