The Wong Side of Life

  “Kindness is For Free” kids workshops


The Wong Side of Life was originally performed as a theatre play in 2013 at The Concourse Theatre, with actors performing alongside puppets, written & directed by Joy Hopwood. It was an Australian drama-comedy musical set in the future – 2101 and is semi autobiographical, with a twist.

Its futuristic theme, combined with retro 80’s icons such as bright fluoros, wild perms and original music, songs written by Joy Hopwood & Roy Nicolson, produced by Paul Wiltshire (Back St Boys, Human Nature, Delta Goodrem & Vanessa Amorosi).

Gone are the days where people used to travel by buses, cars, trains and planes as they now travel by supersonic jet packs. A play that covers issues such as bullying, racism and social inequalities, aimed at children from 5 to adults, has now been revolutionised into a short video form & workshop for schools. The Wong Side of Life workshop is aimed for stage one students (5-7 years)  with great discussion points for children to watch, engage, role play and then create their personalised “Kindness is for Free” cards to exchange with each other at the end of the workshop session.

For school bookings, contact Joy through our Contact Us page.

Kindness Is For Free - Print

What the children made during our workshop sessions


Children making Chinese New Year craft featuring The Wong side of Life.


School children performing with The Wong Side of Life puppets (workshops)



Unity (Peace to The World) Music Video

(part of our anti-racism and anti-bullying initiative)



The Wong Side of Life’s Music Video

(anti-racism and anti-bullying initiative)



The Wong Side of Life’s News

On the 20th of June we launched the “Kindness is for Free” campaign

at Darlington Public School. This is an innovative anti-racism and

anti-bullying initiative directed at school-age children. The kids were

super excited to see The Wong Side of Puppets set up and then to see

them in action on the big screen. They had their mouths open in awe.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 3.36.09 PM

Together we discussed the meaning of racism and bullying and made

popsicle puppets to do some role playing. In the music video Lin

Wong showed that she was very sad and upset but in our plays we

made Lin not act like a victim but instead be strong and brave.

We also did role playing about what to do if we saw a friend being

a victim of racism or bullying.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 4.13.22 PM

In one scene, where it felt safe, a child said, “Leave Lin alone!

Lin come and play with me and my friends.” In another scene,

the child called upon a teacher and the teacher pulled the bullies

and racists aside and asked them, “Would you like it if I behaved

like this towards you? They both said no and then the teacher

encouraged them to make Lin an apology card.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 4.23.45 PM

One of the tools conveyed was to teach the kids that if they are by

themselves and experiencing bullying or racism at school, they can

retaliate with a simple “be strong and stay super” pose and then

bravely walk away and find kind people to play or be friends with.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 3.54.07 PM

The children loved doing this pose. One child said, “I feel like

a super hero doing this!” Another kid said, “I feel so much stronger and


During our discussion a little boy said, “Bullies and racists are not happy

people and they just want to make others sad like them!”

One girl said, “The big cross were making with our arms is like a big NO

to racism and bullying!”

I hope that this will one day be the universal gesture against racism and

bullying. It was a great launch, and so satisfying to see the children

empowered by the activities we did together. I had prizes to give away to

the best listeners, performers and those who behaved kindly towards

each another during the activities, thanks to our sponsor Bendigo Bank & Haribo.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 4.11.52 PM

“Good for teaching children how to deal with bullying, racism and being

resilient!” said Mr Askew (K-2 teacher).

it has been a great start to get the message out into the community. Together

we can put a stop to racism and bullying!

Hashtag: It stops with me! #ItStopsWithMe

Darlington launch

Check out the Wong Side of Life anti-bullying music video 

Joy Hopwood is available to to do 40 minute in-class workshops or 20 minute motivational speeches especially for kids.

Lin Wong DVD




                                                          “THE WONG SIDE OF LIFE” play

An Australian drama-comedy musical set in the future – 2101, The Wong Side of Life is semi-auto biographical with a delightful twist. Puppets and actors play alongside each other in this beautiful love story.

Its futuristic theme is combined with retro 80s icons such as bright fluoros, wild perms and music. Gone are the days where people used to travel by buses, cars, trains and planes as people now travel by supersonic jet packs!

This love story is about two people, Lin Wong and Reece Hart, who hail from very different lifestyles. Lin lives in Sunnyside, your average working-class suburb whereas Reece comes from a showbiz family and is a comedian! He and his mother live in the exclusive suburb of Moonside.

Reece’s mother is a former soapie star who now owns her own hairdressing salon. Her name is Maria Manchester and she is not happy about the relationship as she feels that Lin lives on the ‘’wrong side of the city’’. Lin is also of a different race.

Lin’s father, who is completing his studies as a neurosurgeon, is transferred to China. He moves the whole family there for six months. Lin’s mother is delighted although Lin is reluctant to leave as she will miss her best friend, Michelle and boyfriend Reece.

Reece and his mother eventually have a heated argument about his relationship with Lin; he curses her, wishing she was gone. While the Wongs are away in China, Marie is suddenly diagnosed with bowel cancer. It is terminal. When Marie breaks this news to Reece he is devastated and goes on a drinking binge, drinking Pluto Energy Drinks at the comedy store. Lin’s best friend, Michelle, happens to visit the comedy store and sees Reece having fun with two other girls and decides to tell Lin. The two break up. Cancer soon changes Marie’s perception on life as she confesses to Reece that she was wrong about placing judgements on people and that life isn’t all about money and wealth. She realises “the only time you should ever look down at someone is to hold out your hand to help them up!” Tragically it is not long before the cancer overpowers her and she dies. Reece then reaches out to Lin … will Lin reconcile with Reece, or will they continue to go their separate ways?

A play that covers issues such as bullying, racism, social inequalities and cancer. Aimed at the 8+ to adults demographic.


A theatre show about racism and bullying could easily become preachy and sanctimonious. Thankfully, the Wong Side of Life was anything but. Joy Hopwood tackles this tricky topic with humour and compassion and successfully shows that learning to enjoy difference makes life better for everyone. Engaging, inventive and real!

Christine Long (Freelance Journalist SMH)


’The Wong Side of Life” is a delightful and touching tale of a girl trying to find her place in this hectic world. I can relate to Lin’s journey of hope and being encouraged by her positive friends. There’s a strong message of resilience that will stay with the audience, well after the show is over. I can wholeheartedly recommend it for everyone who wants a laugh and a fun time!’

Oliver Phommavanh
(Author Thai-Riffic, Thai-no-mite, Con-Nerd – Penguin Books)
The Wong Side of Life
Joy Hopwood’s engaging and deeply inspirational play The Wong Side of Life is a nuanced and original examination of themes that adults find difficult to discuss with children, principally racism, bullying and death. Through the use of puppets, a bright and enlivening set design and a sparkling script, Hopwood’s piece is pitched perfectly at a school-age audience. It never speaks down to them while bringing up big and important themes.
Ultimately positive and empowering, The Wong Side of Life addresses children’s concerns with a great degree of sophistication. Hopwood possesses a nuanced understanding of how to convey some of the big and complex emotions we face in our lives to an audience of people who may not yet possess all of the necessary social and psychological skills to talk about them otherwise. This play is, in many ways, a tool to help them bring up these concerns in a way that is non-threatening and self-affirming.
The whole time I watched I kept wishing I had brought my own school-age nieces and nephews along. Not only would they have been stimulated, entertained and excited by the well-paced action, the colourful and innovative stagecraft and the fantastic music; but they would have been introduced to a host of serious and important topics. The play serves as an education every bit as much as an entertainment, and would be an invaluable piece if performed in schools and on children’s television.
Walter Mason
(Author- Destination Saigon – Allen and Unwin)

The Wong Side of Life explores topics including racism, cancer and bullying through the use of cleverly devised interactive human and puppet theatre. While the messages are serious, there is plenty of fun and laughs to be had along the way (and some singing and dancing too).

Jacqueline Harvey

(Best selling author of the Alice Miranda series- Random House)


I really enjoyed and was moved by the production of ‘The Wong Side of Life” The futurist theme, innocent childish jokes and general presentation had us all engaged. Although it was easy to follow, it also raised deeper issues. Therefore it would be good for a parent/ student night. Parents need to discuss these issues with their children. While seeing this quality production, I kept thinking,”My class would love this” Then I thought, “Everyone over 8 years old should see it” Thank you Joy House Productions. Please come into schools, it’s very much part of the curriculum.

Ms Archer, teacher

(Artarmon School)


I had the pleasure of attending The Wong Side of Life and found the performance to be uplifting and emotive. I thought you and the actors did an amazing job in getting across so many life lessons in the one production. You were able to touch on bullying, racism, homelessness, cancer and love, just to name a few.

I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Daniel Strickland

Service Manager- Homeless Support Services    Mission Australia



The Wong Side of Life
We really enjoyed it!

Alex Lykos

President/General Secretary
Bulldog Theatre Company Inc. 9894165
“Entertaining performance, lighthearted and with a few good messages.
The puppets and performers were a nice twist and do have a special ability to
address difficult topics with ease. “
4 out of 5 stars rating
Bryon Merzeo
c/o Theatre Time Sydney
‘Last night I attended the wonderful Joy House Productions ‘The Wong Side of Life’.  I thoroughly enjoyed the performance as did the rest of the audience, judging by the laughter and sighs at poignant moments.  It told the story of Lin Wong’s struggles with racism and bullying, but in a positive and uplifting way.  The concurrent story featuring the death from bowel cancer of another puppet character  was powerful and Joy’s message that cancer does not discriminate and that illness can be a real leveller gave the audience cause for thought.  I loved the line ‘you should only look down on people to help them up’ and think that this was a tangible takeaway message for the audience.  This play has the potential to be adapted for younger audiences – I think that my 7 year old daughter and her friends would love the play, especially as it related to the bullying and racism themes.  The set was simple but effective especially when combined with the lighting and music, which I understand Joy also wrote for the show.  The cast was fantastic and gave justice to what was a truly inspirational and uplifting play about what really counts in life – our relationships with people.
Some other comments I heard from the audience after the show regarding Joy’s performace were ‘Joy is so creative’, ‘amazing play’, ‘Joy should be very proud – writing, directing, producing, prop and puppet maker?! This is an amazing production’.
Michelle Joyce
Mother of two



                                                    “THE WONG SIDE OF LIFE”  TELEVISION SERIES

 The television series is a spin off, based on the play, “The Wong Side of Life,” however the television series is a satirical comedy of the middle class Australian lifestyle, epitomized by its family of the same name- The Wongs. The show is set in fictional futuristic suburbs called Sunnyside  (middle class) and Moonside (upper class) which parodies the western culture, society, television and many aspects of human behaviour, aimed for the 8+ to adults demographic.


                                                                 ABOUT THE CREATOR

Joy Hopwood was a former presenter of A.B.C. television’s “Play School” and was The Cancer Council’s Ambassador for Daffodil Day.

She has appeared as a guest on numerous television shows such as “Good News Week,” “Home and Away,” “G.P.” and “A Country Practice.” Her autobiographical story was included in Black Ink Book’s “Growing Up Asian in Australia” and “Chinese Australian Women’s stories.” In 2010-2012 she co-wrote her piece and starred in Belvoir St Theatre’s sold out show “Stories East and West.” Also in 2012 she was interviewed on A.B.C. radio and S.B.S. news about the importance of multiculturalism and diversity in our Arts and Entertainment industry .

                                                ABOUT THE MUSIC PRODUCER- PAUL WILTSHIRE 

 Record Producer & Songwriter Paul Wiltshire and was historically a Music Production Company specialising in producing and composing quality commercial music for recording artists. Between 1997 and 2008 PLW Produced/Mixed and or Composed tracks on Twelve ARIA #1 Chart topping Albums and Singles (or international equivalents eg. RIAA), including 27 that reached the Top 10 and 41 that reached the top 40 (not including compilations).

Some of the names PLW has Produced and/or Composed are the Backstreet Boys, Human Nature, Vanessa Amorosi, Delta Goodrem, Shannon Noll, Guy Sebastian, Paulini, Marcia Hines, Ross Wilson & Engelbert Humperdinck.


 Cast include: Simon Brook McLachlan (Jersey Boys, History Boys), Ben Hanly (Gangs of Oz), Kathy Luu (Packed to the Rafters) Joy Hopwood (Play School, Belvoir St Theatre) Yanna Black (All Saints) and Aileen Huynh (A Quiet Night in Rangoon).


                                                                      ABOUT THE CAST

Simon Brook McLachlan graduated from NIDA. He starred in “Jersey Boys” Australia and “Boys in the Band,” (Sydney Opera House) and was the lead in “The History Boys,” which played at The Opera House.

Joy Hopwood was a former presenter of “Play School,” and starred in Belvoir’s sold out show “Stories East & West.” She appeared in TV shows-“Good News Week,” “Home & Away,” ”GP” & “A Country Practice.”

Aileen Huynh graduated from WAAPA. She appeared in a supportive role in “The Casting Game,” “Spin Out” (feature films). ABC’s Cleverman” & SBS series “Better Man,” & starred in “Not Suitable for Children,” “Gobbledygook,”& “A Land Beyond the River.”

Kathy Luu has guest roled on “Packed to the Rafters,” “Black Jack” and is the main actress in the feature “Next Door To The Velinskys.” She is also an accomplished photographer, designer & director.

Yanna Black has guest roled in popular Australian dramas such as Home & Away, All Saints and Water Rats and feature films – Danny Deckchair and My Mother India and is also an arts producer and co-ordinator with ABC radio and Frequency Oz + community arts

Ben Hanly studied English Literature & drama at uni. He starred in commercials-Nokia,Toyota,VB & Bing Lee. He was also in “Gangs of Oz 2,” “Swift & Shift Couriers” and films-“Nailed,,” “The Day Hollywood died,””Battle Therapy”&”The Combination.”

Our fundraising calendars. $22 (includes postage and handling)

Profits go towards our production.



The Sydney Morning Herald

Hopwood found many times after Play School that having an Asian face seemed to

work against her getting prime roles on television, although she landed spots on

shows like Home and Away and A Country Practice. “We’re hoping a change will

happen, even though it’s taken 10, 20 years,” she says. “It has to give.”


Sunday Telegraph

“My goal is to make a difference in people’s lives for the better, through my work in the

arts/media/entertainment/education, and as a proud Ambassador for the Cancer Council.”


Manly Daily

“Miss Hopwood lost her mother to cancer last year to bowel cancer, prompting her to

create the play, “The Wong Side of Life.” The play, which has as character with cancer based on

Miss Hopwood’s mother, prompted Cancer Council NSW to make the TV personality an ambassador

for the organisation.”


North Shore Times

“Hopwood, as stage and television actress, is taking that one step further with a

soon-to-be-released production about issues including cancer, social inequalities and racism…”


“The Wong Side of Life,” was also mentioned on ABC radio, 2UE, 2GB, Smooth FM  etc on Daffodil Day




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