May 9, 2014


By S. Shatkhidharan

My key project this year as Associate Artist is Rizzy Maharajah’s 18th Birthday Party. It’s an audiovisual work that sways between the live film screening and live music concert forms.

The story centres around a group of boys from Western Sydney navigating their way into adulthood – and learning that friendship, even when undermined by betrayal, can be worth more than revenge.

Rizzy is built out of a long-term collaboration between communities in South-Western Sydney and arts company CuriousWorks, where I am Artistic Director. Rizzy is a work of fiction, but is inspired by real stories from a group of young people who grew up in the areas we’re working in. The work itself is being co-written and directed by Guido Gonzalez, someone who grew up in the area – Guido came up through our community program and now works at CuriousWorks part-time as a professional artist.

We have been engaged in intense pre-production for the film components of the work, and start shooting in a week (eek!). It’s been a fascinating process, balancing the script between accountability to the community and accountability to the story and its dramatic arc. You start out thinking that both factors are working together nicely; after all, that’s why you chose to embark on the project in the first place. Then you have a period where these factors seem to be in competition with each other; diluting and confusing the essential artwork, the essential story at hand. Then, finally, you have a period of development in which you realise that the compromises you have seemingly made between each factor are actually synergistic elements. The piece is that much stronger for finding a way to sit perfectly at the intersection of accountability and aesthetics. It’s a process that can be tiring at times, but its so rewarding. Its what I love about community arts, and its overlap with the contemporary art process in particular. The balancing act forces the art into new directions, new formats and concepts – and the work is better for it.





I’m thrilled to announce here the cast for Rizzy. We’ve managed to find a fantastic ensemble who are  sympathetic – in many cases empathetic – to the kinds of stories and places this art work is centred around. Big shout out to Aimee Falzon, who put in an extraordinary effort securing talented young people from a wildly diverse set of places for our auditions.

Rizzy: Varun Fernando
Helen: Anandavalli
Kylie: Sophie Hawkshaw
Brendon: Jamie Meyer-Williams
Jose: Firdaws Adelpour
Sam: Patrick Uy
Viet: Henry Vo
Alejandro: Cristobal Olguin
Elias: Karim Zreika
Alfredo: Danilo La Grassa
Andrew: Matthew DeOliveira
Martin: Anthony Rodriguez Rojas
Simon: Tom Molner
Tony: Teko Win Win
Jason: Gavin Knewman
Vijay: Ahilesh Satchitananda
Sheriff: Lance Rice

Wish us luck for the shoot… in the next blog we might even be able to share tidbits of footage!

Images: Auditions for Rizzy Maharajah’s 18th Birthday Party. Crew are all from Curious Creators, CuriousWorks’ South-Western Sydney weekly film community program.

Book tickets to Rizzy Maharajah’s 18th Birthday


S. Shakthidharan is the inaugural Carriageworks Associate Artist. Carriageworks will support and collaborate with Shakthidharan over the next three years to undertake a diverse program of professional development and mentorship that will underpin the development of a series of new Australian works. Shakthidharan’s practice focuses on collaboration with some of Australia’s most marginalised communities and the telling of Australian stories from ancient to contemporary migration from South and South East Asia to Australia.