A co-production with Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.

Back in the early 1970s a group of pioneering Indigenous theatremakers occupied a dilapidated terrace in Redfern and started the National Black Theatre. The first full-length play they staged was Robert J. Merritt’s The Cake Man. A droll examination of white paternalism from a black point of view, Merritt’s play kicked off a renaissance of art and performance that laid the foundations of contemporary Indigenous theatre.

The Cake Man is at once straightforward and complex. It is about the small details of life in a changing world. Jumping effortlessly from a pre-invasion idyll to the hard scrabble of modern life on a mission in western New South Wales, Merritt’s virtuosic play pings with closely observed portraits of people doing what they have to do to get by. Tucked away inside it is an account of the roots of despair and of the beautiful means of overcoming it.

Kyle J. Morrison is from the new generation of Black theatre. He is the Artistic Director of Perth’s Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. We are teaming up with this great little powerhouse of new and old Indigenous stories to give this forgotten gem its overdue revival.

Robert J. Merritt watched his first opening night under police guard: he was an inmate of Long Bay at the time. The Cake Man is his real testimony.


Luke Carroll
Oscar Redding
George Shevtsov
James Slee

Tim Solly
Irma Woods


By Robert J. Merritt
Director Kyle J. Morrison
Set & Costume Designer Stephen Curtis
Lighting Designer Jenny Vila
Composer & Sound Designer Wayne Freer
Stage Manager Sue Wilkes 

Image Gallery

Production images by Heidrun Lohr




…a show that needs to be seen. It is an important part of our history – both our national and theatrical history. This is a really great production of a play which is in no way easy, for actors or audience. It breaks your heart while making you hope that things can get better.

Jodi McAllister | Australian Stage

Carroll brings his customary charisma to the role of Sweet William. Woods’ Ruby is an exemplar of the backbone of indigenous and all society, while Slee shows himself to be one to watch, an up-and-coming Meyne Wyatt.

Lloyd Bradford Syke | The Daily Review

Fine performance of play with a great history

Jason Blake | The Sydney Morning Herald