New play “The Sugar House” set in Sydney’s Pyrmont

If there’s one suburb in Australia that epitomises this nation’s transition from working class to middle class, it’s probably Sydney’s Pyrmont.  

For generations, Pyrmont was a heavy industrial peninsula, home to the CSR sugar refinery and distillery, to bustling wharves and rail lines and even sandstone quarries.  It was not until the mid 1990s that CSR finally closed its doors, opening Pyrmont up to rapid urban redevelopment.

For working families in Pyrmont, this change was an enormous source of upheaval.  The stories from this community inspired award-winning Australian playwright Alana Valentine to pen a new dramatic work. It’s called “The Sugar House” – and it’s opening at the Belvoir Street Theatre this week.

Valentine joined Tess to chat about the writing process and working with a brilliant cast led by Kris McQuade. For Valentine, The Sugar House raises questions about how much modern middle-class Australia owes to its working-class past.

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