If you didn’t read Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta in high school, then you probably watched the movie. And if you did neither, then you’re probably older than 35. That’s no diss. It’s just that the award-winning novel and then the Pia Miranda as Josephine Alibrandi film adaptation, adapted by Marchetta herself, has been on high rotation on high school syllabuses. Three decades after it was published, it’s coming to the Belvoir Theatre.
Set in Sydney, the story centres around protagonist Josephine Alibrandi, her mother and her grandmother as well as the Italian-Australian experience. Class, identity, systematic racism and family history form a tangled web in Josie’s life who seeks to find herself and free herself from all that keeps her anchored.
Looking for Alibrandi is also a tragi-comedy, a coming-of-age story and there’s a bit of teen romance thrown in for good measure because who doesn’t fall in love in their final year of high school?
The iconic 90s novel comes alive on stage through Vidya Rajan’s adaptation and is directed by Stephen Nicolazzo (Loaded, Merciless Gods). It stars Chanella Macri, Lucia Mastrantone and Jennifer Vuletic as the Alibrandi women.
“The story has always compelled me because it spoke so directly to the conflict I experienced, socially and internally. I was scared to embrace my identity for fear of not being able to access an Anglo-centric world. Josie was the first character I had ever read or seen on screen that understood what it was like. She made me proud to be a wog and I will thank Melina for creating her every single day.”
The stage adaptation of the 90s novel and noughties film hits the Belvoir Theatre on Saturday 1 October.