Thursday, February 29, 2024


Curated and produced by Charlie Wan – Light/Sound production by Craig Dear

Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre Feb. 16th, 2024  


Charlie Wan welcomes the audience to "Beneath the Dragon Moon"

Established in 2022 by local diversity mover and shaker, Charlie Wan, Monkey King Cabaret is an annual celebration of what it is to be Asian.

Curated, produced and compered by Charlie Wan, an accomplished gender-fluid  burlesque performer and proprietor of the performing arts school,  Subsdance Dance Studio,  “Monkey King Cabaret” aims to provide a showcase for queer, Asian-identifying artists whose talents sit outside the theatrical mainstream.

Performers from the Canberra Prosperous Mountain Dragon & Lion Dance Troupe.

For the 2024 edition, Wan, had  assembled an eclectic collection of artists among them poets, pole dancers , strippers , vocalists as well as the extraordinary Canberra Prosperous Mountain Dragon & Lion Dance Association which commenced the program with a spectacular display featuring two huge Chinese Lions .  

Ravi Oli performing his snake dance.

Well-known Canberra Drag King, Ravi Oli then took the stage to perform an interpretive dance celebrating the fact that he was born in the year of the snake. Sydney entertainer, ASAP Merc drew gasps from the audience demonstrating  her athletic pole-dancing skills.

ASAP Merc demonstrating her pole dancing skills

Canberra poetry slam afficiondo, Andrew Cox  offered 3 poems questioning identity; after which Wan,spectacularly costumed in red, delivered a long meandering monologue explaining her background asexual politics, before launching into a polished strip routine.

Charlie Wan during "Beneath the Dragon Moon" 

Poet Alexander Cox 

After interval Wan again took the stage again, this time in Drag King mode as her alter-ego Charlie Chapstick,  to introduce non-binary artist, Minh Thanh Van who read a long poem before accompanying himself on ukulele for a gentle rendition of pretty song entitled, “Lena”.

Minh Thanh Van performing "Lena". 

Then following an amusing strip-routine by Trey Frenchie, who describes himself as a Doctor Stripper, classically-trained dancer, Kate Tieu performed a gentle flowing dance which allowed her to display her artistry at gracefully manipulating silk fans. 

Kate Tieu 

Escha and Wiz 

Effectively contrasting with this item, an exotically costumed couple, Escha and Wiz, performed an energetic apache-style dance before Wan, unrecognisable  as another alter-ego, Daddy Charles, encouraged the cast back onto the stage for the finale, bringing to  a close a program, which despite its haphazard presentation, offered an intriguing insight into the depth and range of Asian queer theatre in Canberra.


Charlie Wan as Daddy Charles

Particularly interesting with this performance was the thoughtful inclusion of language signer, Lauren Napper- Ferrari who gracefully and good-humouredly signed every performance therefore insuring that hearing-impaired members of the audience were able to enjoy every element of the performance.

Lauren Napper-Ferrari and Charlie Wan. 

                                                                Images by Buda.