On the banks of the Georges River, Radha and her son Siddhartha release the ashes of Radha’s mother – their final connection to the past, to Sri Lanka and its struggles. Now they are free to embrace their lives in Australia. Then a phone call from Colombo brings the past spinning back to life, and we are plunged into an epic story of love and political strife, of home and exile, of parents and children.

Counting and Cracking is a big new play about Australia like none we’ve seen before. This is life on a large canvas, so we are leaving Belvoir St and building a Sri Lankan town hall inside the Ridley Centre, Adelaide Showgrounds. Sixteen actors play four generations of a family, from Colombo to Pendle Hill, in a story about Australia as a land of refuge, about Sri Lanka’s efforts to remain united, about reconciliation within families, across countries, across generations.

We’ve done some big shows before – Cloudstreet, Angels in America. This is big too, but in a different way: it’s a new kind of Australian story. What makes it magnificent is its grand theatrical sweep, and its vision – deeply moving, compelling – necessary, of why we must never flag in the pursuit of an open society.

Co-produced with Co-Curious

Counting and Cracking was made through ongoing collaboration between Belvoir and Co-Curious, and S. Shakthidharan and Eamon Flack – across writing, producing and direction.

Counting and Cracking has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals initiative, managed by the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival

Supported by Macquarie Group Foundation, Naomi Milgrom Foundation, Neilson Foundation, Nelson Meers FoundationOranges and Sardines Foundation, and Belvoir’s visionary Gamechanger donors.

The Thyne Reid Foundation is acknowledged for their support of Belvoir’s Western Sydney initiatives.



Costume & Cultural Advisor Anandavalli
Set & Costume Designer Dale Ferguson
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Sound Designer & Composer Stefan Gregory
Adelaide Musical Director Alan John
Adelaide Sound Designer David Bergman
Associate Sound Designer Jessica Dunn
Movement and Fight Director Nigel Poulton
Accent Coach Linda Nicholls-Gidley
Assistant Director Carissa Licciardello
Associate Artist Suzanne Pereira
Stage Manager Luke McGettigan
Deputy Stage Manager Jennifer Parsonage
Assistant Stage Manager Julia Orlando

Performance Times

Performances will take place at the following times:

  • Sat 02 Mar 7:00pm
  • Sun 03 Mar 5:00pm
  • Tue 05 Mar 7:00pm
  • Wed 06 Mar 1:00pm, 7:00pm
  • Thu 07 Mar 7:00pm
  • Fri 08 Mar 7:00pm
  • Sat 09 Mar 1:00pm, 7:00pm

For information about the Adelaide Festival season and to purchase tickets follow this link.


Ticket Type Price
Full Price $89
RAA $80
Friends  $76
Concession  $72
U30  $45








Presenting Partner



We give our heartfelt thanks to our Producers’ Syndicate of visionary individual’s whose support will make a landmark contribution to Australian theatre.

Visionary Producer
Macquarie Group Foundation
Neilson Foundation
Nelson Meers Foundation

Lead Producer
Patty Akopiantz and Justin Punch
Sophie and Stephen Allen
Doc Ross Family Foundation
Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Oranges and Sardines Foundation
Rob Thomas AM
Kim Williams AM and Catherine Dovey

Major Producer
Max Bonnell
Jane and Andrew Clifford
Sue Donnelly
The Horizon Foundation
Dan and Jackie Philips
John Pickhaver
Mark and Jacqueline Warburton
Shemara Wikramanayake and Ed Gilmartin

Mehrdad and Roya Baghai
Jessica Block
Andrew Cameron AM and Cathy Cameron
The Hand Up Foundation
Ruveni and Craig Kelleher

Anne Britton
Bob and Chris Ernst
Lisa George
Knights Family Jabula Foundation
Lisa O’Brien
Belinda and Steve Rankine
Rob White and Lisa Hamilton

Cast Blogs

Writer's Note: S. Shakthidharan

Ten years ago I was hungry. Hungry to learn about my mother’s homeland. To know my history. So I started on a journey that had no clear end.

I read everything there was to read on the subject. I had conversations with so many gracious and intelligent Sri Lankans from all around the world. I was reeling from the overload, but slowly, very slowly, a story was being born. It was a story about parents and children. About coming together and breaking apart and coming together again – in our families, our governments, our countries.

And this story became something bigger than my own hunger. It became something that had a power. The power to help my mother reconcile with her homeland. To connect people across deep divides. The power to collapse time and join continents.

The story became less about fitting my community into a simple narrative, and more about presenting a group of people in all their glorious complexity. It became less about discovering “the truth” of what happened in Sri Lanka, or what brought us to Australia, and more about understanding the stage as a sacred space where many truths can gather at once.

The stories we choose to believe in underlie all our actions, thoughts and feelings. In Counting and Cracking I hope to provide audiences with a new story to believe in: about Australia, about Sri Lanka. It’s a story in which migrants are not asked to discard parts of themselves to fit in, but instead are asked to present their full selves, to expand our idea of what this country can be. It’s a story of how the politics of division can win the battle, but never the war, around how power is gained in this world. It’s a story in which love may not triumph over adversity, but through sheer persistence and resilience can eventually overcome it. And finally it’s a story about reconciliation: between parents and children, between neighbours and enemies, between your new home and your old home, between society and its institutions.

It’s been quite the ride for Co-Curious and Belvoir, as both companies have utilised their different sets of expertise to make this wildly ambitious dream a reality. Neither company could have done it on its own. Much like the story of Counting and Cracking, the process of making this work proves that real power can be gained when different groups come together to create something new.

Director's Note: Eamon Flack

This is an Australian story. It’s not only an Australian story, but it is definitely an Australian story. Much of it takes place in Sri Lanka: the story of Australia is the story of many places, many people. Ours is a migrant nation on Aboriginal land. At its best it is a land of refuge and new beginnings. With each successive wave of arrivals, from the earliest times to the English boats, to now, the country has changed, and the national story has changed. Counting and Cracking is a new offer to that big unfolding story.

It is about many things, but at the heart of it is the fundamental need every one of us has to connect to each other, the world, the past, and the future. Most of our lives are spent making and nurturing these connections. We do this on every scale of life, in small ways and big ways. The small ways are usually age-old, closely-held things – love, family, language, story, belief, food, home, place, the passage of time from one generation to the next. The big ways are more likely to be newer, more public inventions – the big shared narratives of national identity, political negotiation, economic purpose. Counting and Cracking is about the relationship between the big stuff and the small stuff, and what happens when the big stuff tears apart the small stuff. A language shattered, a family torn apart, a place torn down – these things are fragile. They cannot be taken for granted. We inherit them, they are in our keeping. The big stuff must take care of the small stuff. The small stuff is what matters most. We cannot be a nation or a whole person if we cannot keep hold of these connections. And when a person or a group of people have been torn apart then the only thing to do is to begin again – to revive the old connections, or make new ones. Fortunately, new connections are always possible. New stories are always possible. We mix from here and there, from now and the past. Water and water.

This show is the product of new connections. Bringing it together took an almighty effort by a great coalition of people from many walks of life. Belvoir could not have done this without Co-Curious, and Co-Curious could not have done this without Belvoir. We each had to discover what we did and didn’t know, and what the other knew that we didn’t. Step by step, through days then weeks then years of conversation, we began to see that this show was not just necessary, it was also possible. Then we had to convince a lot of other people that it was necessary and possible. We had to find new partners, new collaborators. Most people were willing – not all, but most. We travelled around Australia. We travelled to London, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur. We spoke to people in Paris, Wellington, Toronto, New York. We travelled all around Sri Lanka, from Colombo to Jaffna to Kayts to Batticaloa. Little by little the coalition of people and organisations grew. Together it has taken our two companies almost six years to bring everything into alignment, and it has only been possible because hundreds of people from all over Australia and around the world have joined in.


Writer S.Shkathidharan, Director Eamon Flack, and Cultural and Costume Advisor Anandavalli describe the mammoth undertaking that is COUNTING AND CRACKING, and the pressing need for theatre that speaks to the multiplicity of Australian and Sri-Lankan Australian experiences.

Writer S.Shakthidharan and Director Eamon Flack, recount the mammoth undertaking of breathing life into Counting and Cracking, over 10 years since it was first conceived. Produced for Belvoir by Sophie Raymond.