fast cars & Tractor engines

“This is an odd, exciting slice of cutting edge theatre... In theory it shouldn’t work, but it really and truly does”
- Daily Telegraph

"This is local narrative that transcends geography, presenting the universality of human experience and slapping down the lie of unbridgeable cultural separation. It’s great fun, and deeply thoughtful” - Sydney Morning Herald

"These stories are continually surprising which makes for compulsive listening. The unpredictable and idiosyncratic vocal rhythms, pitch, and timings of the interviewees produce a magical transformation in the bodies of the performers, who occupy a space somewhere between acting, ‘being’, and possession. This is probably the best performance I’ve seen all year" - David Williams, RealTime #70

Fast Cars & Tractor Engines begins with a story about fast cars and ends with the story of a tractor engine. In between are stories of fighting, courage and survival, as ordinary people share extraordinary stories about the fight of their life. Some of these stories are literally about dodging punches and bullets, while others are domestic fights against change or abuse. Some are youthful confessions of first love versus protective parents. All the stories are inspiring, if not at times confronting, as cultures and ideologies collide.

The performance consists of eight interwoven stories. Mohammed, his brother Ali and their father talk of stealing cars, girlfriends and going all the way for the people they love. Margaret, an Aboriginal woman, grew up in north Queensland and remembers being ambushed by white girls on her way home from school. And then there’s Hilda with her passion for fast cars and money, and Ninh who escaped Vietnam on a boat powered by a tractor engine.

Fast Cars utilises a unique performance technique. Wearing headphones, three actors listen to recorded interviews and speak along to their own personal soundtrack. The actors channel multiple characters and embody real-life stories, word for word, including every cough, stumble and interruption. This creates a curious, hyper-real performance and allows the many quirks and imperfections of human speech to be acknowledged with authenticity.

Fast Cars & Tractor Engines is the first part in a trilogy of headphone-verbatim plays titled Acts of Courage. This collection - which also includes I'm Your Man and Stories of Love & Hate is now available through Currency Press. Order online >>

Produced by URBAN THEATRE PROJECTS in association with BYDS


Director/Creator: Roslyn Oades
Collaborator/Community Consultant: Tim Carroll
Performers: Mohammed Ahmad, Katia Molino and Vico Thai*  
Script Consultant: Andrew Ma  
Video Artist: Fadle El-Harris
Sound Artist: Oonagh Sherrard  
Lighting/Production Manger: Simon Wise
Artistic Consultant: Chris Ryan
Production Stills: Amanda James
*Actor Anthony Wong replaced Vico Thai for the 2006 Western Sydney tour.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous community interviewees who trusted us with their words.


Project Development: the first incarnation of Fast Cars & Tractor Engines appeared as a 15-minute piece for Urban Theatre Projects' Short & Sharp season of short works (2002). Director Roslyn Oades had just returned from London where she had been working with innovative verbatim-style theatre company Non Fiction Theatre and begun her exploration of the headphone-performance technique in performance.

Premiere season: Produced by Urban Theatre Projects in association with BYDS. The original full-length production of Fast Cars & Tractor Engines was presented at the Bankstown RSL in 2005

Touring history: A NSW tour (2006) included Campbelltown Arts Centre, Parramatta Riverside & Bankstown Town Hall

SUPPORTED BY: UTP, BYDS, Arts NSW, Australia Council for the Arts & Bankstown City Council