shopping cart icon

Meet Merlynn Banner


Professionally, what’s your goal?
My goal is to work full-time as an actor/ playwright who gets to create works and characters that make my heart sing! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It was a cheesy but really powerful one. I was 14-years-old and my mother has just been pronounced dead after suicide. I was at the hospital in a state of shock when an Acting teacher at the time, Faith, rang me. Her voice was a river of power and strength that I leant into—all consolations prior to that point seemed devoid of meaning, empathy and effect on me. Faith said to me in her husky voice, "This will make you stronger. I see you. You are strong. Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger." I know it's a cliché saying now but at that time of my life, those words kept me breathing.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?
After my previous one-woman-show, Ma Ma Ma Mad, which was about my mother's suicide and my attempt at it, I was approached by an audience member. My show was at Cybercity 2002: a Chinese restaurant, arcade and karaoke venue. We had a conversation amongst pool tables, fried rice and Canto-pop songs. Despite the chaos around us, we connected. Something incredible happened between us. By end of the conversation he held me, thanked me and told me that he was going to choose living. The implication of what he said hit me, hard. I went home and wept. If all the work for making that show was just for him, it would have been enough.  

What’s your favourite art work?
Too many to name. I yearn for works that make my world stop, demand I reconsider my preconceptions and move me so deeply I feel it in my bones. I lean a lot into visual art and music when I create.

What themes do you pursue?
I once heard that every work we create is us trying to tell the same story in a different way. That could well be true for me! I didn't quite choose these themes but my work seems to revolve around survival and thriving, awakening, sex, female power, Singapore as a country and concept, love and hope. 

How has your practice changed over time?
I'm really young in my practice. But I am definitely more focused now with a stronger belief that I can actually make shit happen. I am also diving deeper into the land of fiction, I'm falling in love with dialogues; my next play will be my first fictional multi-hander.

Why do you do what you do?
It's what my heart, body and soul demands. I just try to listen and follow their longings.
Merlynn Tong is a Chinese Singaporean Actor and Playwright based in Brisbane, Australia. Some of her performances include Viral (2016, Shock Therapy Productions, Gold Coast Arts Centre), Straight White Men (2016, La Boite Theatre), Ma Ma Ma Mad (2015, Wonderland Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse), The Theory of Everything (2015, Brisbane Festival), The Wizards from Oz (2015, Taiwan, Taoyuan International Children’s Festival), Hot Brown Honey (2015, Judith Wright Centre), The C Word (2014, Dir: Todd MacDonald, Metro Arts), American Music Club (2014, Brisbane Festival), The Golden Show (2012, Japan, Dairakudakan Dance Group) and hosting Out of the Box Children’s Festival (2014, QPAC).
As a playwright, she has recently published two of her one-woman shows, Ma Ma Ma Mad (2015) and Blue Bones (2016). Ma Ma Ma Mad is based on the true story of her mother’s suicide and Blue Bones is a semi-auto biography of teenage romance as it blossoms in the bustling streets of Singapore and soon, combusts into a dynamo of domestic violence. Merlynn is currently working with Playlab and Playwriting Australia (Lotus Programme) to create her third play, Hot Wet Void, a sticky journey through the confessions of migrants living in humid Singapore.

BlueBones Web V1

Book Now Button Blue Bones     4 13 May


Facebook Button copy
Twitter Button

Instagram Button


Queensland Government Logo

Playlab is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland     



© 2017 Playlab

PayPal-logo-1-1Aust Post logo