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Marlanie Haerewa in My Robot.
Camera IconMarlanie Haerewa in My Robot. Credit: Daniel Grant

A young Derby woman looking to make it big on the stage is one step closer to fulfilling her dream after securing the lead role in a Barking Gecko Theatre Company-produced play.

Marlanie Haerewa has been performing as Ophelia in Barking Gecko’s latest production My Robot, which is now showing to youngsters looking to curb school-holiday boredom in Perth.

My Robot tells the story of Ophelia, a young inventor who moves to a new town and struggles to make friends before eventually constructing a robot to help her cope with the new environment.

Haerewa said the play was all about bravery in moving to a new place, something she completely related to when she moved to Perth from Derby as a teenager.

“My dad is from New Zealand and my mum is from Derby, so my brother and I had the best of both worlds because we have such a big family in both New Zealand and Derby,” she said.

“Moving between those two places and Perth can be challenging, so I guess that’s why I really resonate with Ophelia.

“But knowing that I am in Perth to study and work as an actress with my family’s full support really helps get through each day.”

Haerewa’s passion for the performing arts stemmed from coming across the drama and dance clubs at St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School in Perth.

“I was always a very shy and quiet person; I didn’t like to put my hand up in class. I just wanted to be the quiet achiever,” she said.

“It wasn’t until my parents sent me down to Perth for boarding school, I came across all of these wonderful things that I didn’t have the opportunity to do in Derby, so I thought I’d give it a try.

“Doing a lot of performances at school really boosted my confidence, so after I graduated I saw there was a course at WAAPA called the Aboriginal Theatre Cert IV, so I gave that a go too.

“I did all of the things I loved in that course, so after that I decided to take it further and start studying a Bachelor of Performing Arts.”

During her studies, Haerewa had the opportunity to travel to Singapore to take part in a three-month long intensive course at the Intercultural Theatre Institute earlier this year.

“I was chosen out of about 30 people to attend and there was only five of us that could go,” she said.

“It was a really crazy experience being in Singapore to study but I absolutely loved it.”

After My Robot completes its run in Perth, the production is set to go on a regional tour in August and September, which Haerewa is very excited to be part of.

“It’s so surreal that I will be going on tour,” she said.

“I have no words to explain how grateful I am for this opportunity.

“The team at Barking Gecko are awesome and knowing I will be travelling with these people is very exciting.”

The tour will include dates in Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, Mandurah and Merredin before travelling to Port Hedland and Karratha in September.

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