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Who Gets to Be Bad?

with Barkaa and Steph Tisdell, moderated by Rudi Bremer

10 March 2024

In the Studio

Sydney Opera House Presents

Talks & Ideas

In theatre and livestreamed

Sure, complex female characters have hit it big lately - but are only white girls allowed to be fabulous failures? Join this incredible panel as they put social expectations in the bin and embrace their inner bad.

Co-curated by Nakkiah Lui

Not only should Black women be able to be hot messes, but they should be celebrated for it.

Madison Dillard, Refinery29

Maybe Blak girls just wanna have fun, too?

The conwoman, the sociopathic girl-boss, the apathetic sad woman, and the femme avenger: pop culture has seen a (BIG) rise in the female anti-hero. Yes - finally, we're allowed to be bad! But most of these characters are white women, leaving Women of Colour as exceptions. 

We've got the best cultural commentators around to explore stereotypes and the social media-driven veneer of flawlessness. If public visibility comes with the burden of being a role model, what are the constraints of Indigenous excellence? Does oppression mean your options are the gutter or a pedestal? Can we please just celebrate the mediocrity of the marginalised - and most of all, who has the right to be 'bad' in a society that expects women to be perfect? 

Sydney Opera House Presents


BARKAA (she/her)

BARKAA is a Malyangapa, Barkindji woman from Western New South Wales, now living in South West Sydney on Gandangara land. Music to BARKAA has been part of her journey to express herself, the truth and issues impacting First Nations people. Her debut album was Blak Matriarchy, so named "in honour of powerful First Nations women who've paved the way for future generations", including her mother. 

Steph Tisdell (she/her)

Steph Tisdell is one of the brightest stars to explode on the Australian comedy scene in recent years. A luminescent presence on stage, her warmth and wit has been a hit with audiences ever since she won the Deadly Funny National Grand Final in 2014. Her award-winning shows sell out wherever she performs and she is fast becoming a ubiquitous presence on mainstream television, in 2021 she made her ‘serious acting’ debut in ABC’s Total Control, she appeared on Ten’s The Stand Up for Christchurch Benefit, a couple of times on Hughesy We Have A Problem, and on multiple occasions as both an interviewee and presenter on The Project. More recently Steph plays fan favourite Phoebe the scholarship scab to workaholic career woman in Amazon Prime's hit show Class of 07. 

Her famous 2019 spot on ABC TV’s Oxfam Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala went viral and as a result, in 2022 she was invited to host the Gala, one of the festival’s highest status gigs. Steph has also performed barefoot stand-up on ABC TV’s Tonightly With Tom Ballard; went on a platonic blind-date with Faustina ‘Fuzzy’ Agolley on ABC Life’s Hey Stranger, where the pair bonded over being mixed race, and performed stand-up to a live audience of a couple of thousand for radio station Triple J. She’s also done stand-up on ABC Comedy Up Late and was a presenter on Australia Talks, an ABC special broadcast in 2019. 

Rudi Bremer (she/her) Moderator

Rudi has been a radio broadcaster since 2012. Having honed her skills at community radio, Rudi initially joined the ABC as a master control technician before returning to her producer roots in 2017. Now the presenter of ABC RN’s Awaye!, Rudi relishes the opportunity to share her love of performing arts, literature and Indigenous languages – like her own, Gamilaraay.

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