True West: Hafla

By Antony Makhlouf (curator)

Mar 4, 2023

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Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta presents
True West

A mezza of queer voices from Sydney’s West

Celebrating Western Sydney artists, join us for our special afternoon that celebrates queer and middle eastern culture with music, storytelling, a gathering with a Lebanese inspired high tea, curated by Antony Makhlouf.

For one day only we’re creating an LGBTQIA+ mini-festival at Riverside Theatres, where you can feast on four Sydney WorldPride events in one day.

From Choir Boy, to Hafla, a chilled out salon with pastries and stories, through to The Life Cycle of Blanco for a first look and to wrap it up, Maeve Marsden’s Queerstories. Soak up the atmosphere of Sydney WorldPride Western Sydney style.

Choose your own adventure, spend your day at Riverside or mix and match in Parramatta. Check out our neighbourhood from river to parklands to Eat Street.

Limited Tickets for Hafla
Saturday 4 March
$15 Full
$10 Concession

Tickets for other performances to be purchased separately



Antony Makhlouf  (curator) is a multidisciplinary creative working as a visual artist, television presenter and actor. His commercial works have been exhibited extensively in Sydney, Melbourne, and Beirut. Believing that art should be accessible, Antony also creates commercial art prints stocked across Australia and Asia. He also has multiple murals across Sydney. Antony is known for his television role on Get Arty, teaching art techniques to children on Channel 7. His performance theatre credits include work staged in Sydney and Adelaide, most notably Amphibian (Windmill Theatre Company), Lady Tabouli (National Theatre Of Parramatta), The Sweet Science of Bruising (Theatre Travels) and Omar & Dawn (KXT Bakehouse, Apoc. Theatre and Green Door Theatre). Antony studied at UNSW Art & Design and completed courses with ACTT, The Actor’s Centre Australia and The Actors Hub.


Maissa Alameddine is a vocalist, multi-disciplinary artist and Creative Director of Ensemble Dandana.  She grew up in Lebanon and now resides and works in Sydney.  Maissa is an experienced vocalist and has performed with Arabic music ensembles as well as contemporary and classical Western orchestras, most recently at The Recital Hall and with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Maissa has performed at Phoenix Central, Performance Space, Carriageworks, The Sydney Opera House and The Art Gallery of NSW.

Maissa has been part of the contemporary Arab Australian arts community for over twenty years.  She has produced a series of creative cultural projects in Sydney and is a founding member of Western Sydney-based Arab Theatre Studio (ATS). She is the Creative Director and one of the lead vocalists in ATS’s musical project Ensemble Dandana, a collective who produce Arabic music, deliver workshops and develop new and old sounds through experimental public improvisations.

Mohammad Awad is a Health and Psychology student working in mental health, striving to destigmatise mental health in diverse communities. A writer/artist/musician/poet who’s running out of ways to express himself. Published in an anthology series ‘Arab, Australian, Other’ among writers such as Sara Saleh and Randa Abdel-Fattah as well as The University of Sydney Student Anthology ‘Diversity’. He has been featured in the Daily Telegraph, Honi-Soit magazine, and is a Bankstown Poetry Grand Slam finalist for three consecutive years. Mohammad is a NSW State finalist in 2019s Australian Poetry Slam, taking first place in Western Sydney finals.




Wandi Cao was born in China, based in Sydney. She started to do stand-up comedy in early 2020. She was the NSW Finalist of RAW Comedy 2022 and Champion of JOKE OFF Comedy Competition 2022. Wandi has been on the stage for 20 years as a dancer, actress, model and now she focuses on her brand-new title as stand-up comedian.

In 2023, Wandi will do her debut solo show Rebellious Chinese Daughter at Adelaide Fringe Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This show is about parent relationship, to reveal secrets of Chinese obsession in buying property and having kids, and her life of being a not-come-out-yet invisible lesbian.