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Single Asian Female play 'shouldn't be revolutionary, but is'

Hsiao-Ling Tang performs during rehearsals of Single Asian Female at La Boite Theatre in Brisbane
Hsiao-Ling Tang, who plays Pearl, rehearses Single Asian Female at La Boite Theatre in Brisbane.

Supplied: Dylan Evans

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It is a breakthrough for the Australian theatre scene, three Chinese-Australian women in three lead roles.

Single Asian Female opens this week in Brisbane, three years after its conception by writer Michelle Law, the daughter of Chinese immigrants.

She said the comedy was not autobiographical but drew on what at times felt like being the only Asian family growing up in her Sunshine Coast community.

The show follows Pearl, a woman born in China who moves to Queensland and after her divorce, continues to run the family's suburban Chinese restaurant.

Alex Lee, Hsiao-Ling Tang and Courtney Stewart during rehearsals of Single Asian Female in Brisbane
(LtoR) Alex Lee, Hsiao-Ling Tang and Courtney Stewart play a family, who live on the Sunshine Coast.

Supplied: Dylan Evans

Her two daughters Zoe and Mei are at crucial points in their lives as they navigate personal relationships and struggle with what it means to be Chinese-Australian.

Ethnic diversity quotas needed: Law

Law hopes her play will make a difference in the industry.

Single Asian Female playwright Michelle Law
Law hopes her work, which she calls political, makes a change.

Supplied: Tammy Law

She wants to see quotas introduced, despite being "controversial", to address race inequality in the arts.

"Ultimately if we're forced to even talk about these difficult conversations, I think it's a good step forward.

"All my work is political.

"I write comedy because I feel like if you get on your soapbox and you're just postulating and ranting people aren't necessarily going to listen to you.

"But if you make them laugh, you've got them on your side."

Theatre full of 'middle-class white guys'

Alex Lee from ABC TV's The Checkout stars as eldest daughter Zoe.

She questions why it has taken so long for a story like this to take the stage.

"It shouldn't be that revolutionary but it is," she said.

Director Claire Christian during rehearsals of Single Asian Female at La Boite Theatre in Brisbane.
Director Claire Christian with Alex Lee.

Supplied: Dylan Evans

"Today still so much theatre is about middle-class white guys."

Schoolgirl Mei is played by Courtney Stewart, who is on the Equity Diversity Committee, and advocates for greater ethnic representation in the arts.

"I feel it's a real watershed moment for theatre in Australia," she said.

"You don't see stories like this, you don't see faces like us taking lead roles in main stage productions, so it's a really important step we are making here in Brisbane to change the culture of theatre here in Australia."

Single Asian Female opens this weekend at La Boite Theatre in Brisbane and runs until March 4.