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State Library NSW

Send for Nellie

State Library of NSW
State Library of NSW
Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Metcalfe Auditorium, Ground Floor, Macquarie Building

Thursday 15 June from 6pm to 8pm


General Admission: $30Concession: $20Friends of the Library: $20

‘I started in the business when I won an amateur trial in a little theatre in Oxford Street. I was told that they put on novelty attractions as part of the Christmas shows. I couldn’t see that I was a novelty, but it was pointed out to me that my colour was a novelty’. 

So began the career of vaudeville and cabaret legend Nellie Small, who defied social convention to cross-dress as a man, both onstage and off, for more than 30 years. Playwright Alana Valentine is joined by Kween G, Angeline Penrith, Greg Poppleton and a surprise guest singer to discuss (and perform) the lived experience and history of women of colour in Australian entertainment.

Alana Valentine is a Helpmann Award winning dramatist. In 2022 she was co-writer with Stephen Page for Bangarra’s dance opera Wudjang: Not the Past and co-writer with Christos Tsiolkas for Adelaide Festival 22 oratorio Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan. Belvoir presented her work Wayside Bride in repertory in April/May 2022 and in September she was writer on Erth Visual and Physical Theatre’s arc _at the Sydney Opera House. She has a Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies from the University of Sydney and has two plays on the HSC syllabus in NSW, _Parramatta Girls and Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah.

Kween G is a cultural leader and emerging Afro-Australian icon. Hip hop artist, MC, community advocate and curator in 2021 she released, with Lady Lash, the powerhouse track Love For My Sisters, a modern woman warrior anthem produced by Hugh Lake. She has worked for more than 15 years as a producer/presenter and is a qualified trainer in community radio.

Angeline Penrith is a Wiradjuri and Yuin woman who grew up in the Redfern/Waterloo community. Making her acting debut at 12 years of age by opening for ABC’s BlackOut. Angeline has performed in numerous film and television productions, most recently for Belvoir in 2022’s Wayside Bride and Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, at the 2020 Sydney Festival in The Journalist Gene, and in the feature film Mother Mountain. As a community advocate Angeline believes in self-determination and revival of culture which she demonstrates in her MC work for NAIDOC and other community campaigns.

Greg Poppleton is an Australian singer who fell in love with jazz at the age of 3, when he first saw Louis Armstrong on TV. With his authentic 1920s–30s swing-style jazz singing, Greg has made eight albums, and attracted 1.3 million YouTube views. He produced a Radio National program on the Booker T Washington dance club for African American soldiers in Sydney (1942–45), interviewing First Nations Australians who attended. Greg has a new show of 1920s jazz and illusions called Sorcery & Swing and his award-winning Phantom Dancer radio show and blog swings from live 1920s–60s broadcasts, is heard on 2SER Sydney and 30 stations across Australia.



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