Close this search box.


Mandela Mathia is a South Sudanese migrant to Australia. In LOSE TO WIN on the Belvoir stage, he tells the story of his childhood in that war-torn country, his loss of parents, and his coming to Australia.  A team of four NIDA-trained professionals contributed to the production of the solo show. Set and costume design is by Keerthi Subramanyam. lighting design by Kate Baldwin. The dramaturg is Ayah Tayeh. The voice coach is Laura Farrell. Without this superb stage crafting by his NIDA colleagues, his telling of his story might have been less powerful. 

LOSE TO WIN is a tale we can imagine. Australia’s refugees have suffered the horrors of the Holocaust, the Chilean revolution, the American bombing of Vietnam villages and others. What makes Mandela’s tale entertaining and memorable is his big smile, his sense of humour and his easy honesty. For example, his description of what he was told by Australian officials in Egypt about his chances of getting a visa, mostly depending on the Australian political situation, is believable, amusing and told without criticism. It’s that big smile again. He can say something difficult with a grin and we smile back.

He might have added something more about his time in Sydney. He studied at NIDA and was in several TV series.  He was in a short film, All These Creatures, which won the Palm d’Or in the category for short films at Cannes Film Festival. 

Mandela is joined by musician Yacou Mbaye, Senegalese drummer and dancer, who enthusiastically has the whole audience clapping rhythmically before Mandela appears. Then Yacou’s unintrusive occasional drumming moves the story along beautifully. Yacou aims to preserve and share his culture with Australians and he certainly succeeds in this production.

The performance is about 75 minutes. There is strobe lighting, haze and references to violence and death.

LOSE TO WIN is playing the Belvoir Street Theatre until May 19 2024.


Subscribe to our Bi-Weekly Newstetter

Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to receive updates and stay informed about art and cultural events around Sydney. – it’s free!

Want More?

Get exclusive access to free giveaways and double passes to cinema and theatre events across Sydney. 

Scroll to Top