22 October, 2022

‘I is Maggie’ an emotional journey

JUTE’s culturally diverse tale, I is Maggie, narrates with grace and heart the story of one Thai immigrant while raising its voice for all minorities and immigrants in the region.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Maggie speaks up
Maggie speaks up

As an immigrant and member of a culturally diverse community myself, I may be biased, but Dennis McIntosh and Saengthien Klamkaew’s ‘I is Maggie’ was an extraordinary play that speaks, yells and sings for those who do not have a voice, and it does it with such power and such tenderness at the same time. 

I laughed, I cried, I felt seen as I had never before in the theatre since arriving in this country, but I know that even if you are a local, you can still relate to Maggie, superbly interpreted by Tivy Siripanich, her youthful and infectious optimism but also her struggles because in the end, her experience is so human and universal. 

A Thai woman living in Australia, Maggie has just gotten a job at an industrial laundry servicing luxury hotels in FNQ. She is excited about this new beginning and is motivated to become the best worker and earn some overtime to send back money to her family in Thailand. 

Maggie and Noong Image: Colin Pett
Maggie and Noong Image: Colin Pett

Reality hits Maggie as she realises that conditions at work are less than optimal; there’s constant discrimination and exploitative practices. The story unfolds as Maggie decides that things will be different for her, so her battle begins. 

The cast was terrific; I also tip my hat to Bodelle De Ronde as Noong and Susan Price as Ruth for being such compelling characters, so flawed yet so human, but everyone suited their role perfectly, and Siripanich’s Maggie is hilarious, lovable and unapologetically her. 

The script was funny and witty but also touching and solemn; it was refreshing to see such a diverse cast, to have the opportunity to enjoy a different language on stage, and to witness the little nuances and details that make part of Thai culture. 

Throughout the play, there are many memorable moments (I cried in a couple of these), like the ‘I is Maggie’ monologue and Noong’s breakdown scene at the factory. These moments helped flesh out the characters, gave them depth and made them relatable.


Fans of the theatre will also fall in love with the set, which captured the feel of an industrial laundry factory so well, its chaos, machinery and the overall environment, which helps your imagination paint even more colours and scenarios. 

One thing that I found quite exciting was that not only the cast but also the creative team was so diverse. 

This story was about Thai culture and was told by a Thai playwright (Saengthien Klamkaew), directed by a Thai director (Pranchalee Khajai), and interpreted by Thai actors (Tivy Siripanich and Bodelle de Ronde). It is empowering knowing that the owners of these stories and their culture get to narrate it their way. 

So if you are visiting Cairns, if you are a local, or if you belong to a culturally diverse community, come and enjoy I is Maggie; this play is not selfish; it welcomes everyone with its relatable characters, charming and witty narrative and touching story that will give you an insight into the immigrant’s experience in Australia. 

For more information and tickets to I is Maggie at Bulmba-Ja Arts Centre, visit


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