Performer: Candy Bowers
Book and Lyrics by Candy Bowers
Music by Christian Biko
Musical Direction by Candy Bowers and Christian Biko
Additional composition and lyrics in isiXhosa by Tankiso Mamabolo
Director: Candy Bowers
Sound Design: Christian Biko
Costume Design: Ntombi Moyo
Production Design: Candy Bowers
Outside Eye: Emily O’BrienBrown
Stage Manager: Jaime Petersen
Lighting and Sound Operator: Blake Williams
Production Photographer: Teniola Komolafe
Make-up Artist: Anabelle Ussher
Creative Producer: Anthea Doropoulos
Assistant Creative Producer: Anne Cutajar
Do you believe in destiny?
Sweet Mama was born to combat an invisible enemy slowly and painfully eradicating her people.
Armed with ancient knowledge, future technology, and excellent dance moves, Sweet Mama embarks on the greatest battle of her life: to beat the monster from inside her mother’s body.
Writer/creator, lyricist and genre-defying theatre maker Candy Bowers (Hot Brown Honey, Sister She) has delved into the medical, scientific and socio-political nature of the greatest disease disproportionately affecting black and brown people globally, in Australia, and in her own family – Type 2 diabetes.
Utilising her childhood love of sci-fi fantasy, 80’s video games, and character comedy she has created a visually and sonically stunning production to tell a sometimes-heartbreaking tale of self-determination.
With expert help from South African Composer/DJ Christian Biko and Zimbabwean Costume Designer Ntombi Moyo, this afro-futuristic production explores what it might take to break an intergenerational cycle now reaching epidemic proportions.
Bonkers, brilliant, bold, and beautiful, join Candy on an adventure into the human body in a battle against big sugar and genetics, on a quest to bring truth to our inner universes.
Available to Tour
Cabaret, Comedy, Music
Year 7 and up
Theatre (Proscenium), Civic/Cultural Centre, Black Box, Studio, Thrust, Town Hall
Campbelltown Arts Centre
The Drum Dandenong (October 2023 supported by Arts Centre Melbourne)
What They’re Saying
“(The performance) reminded me of my peoples (Aboriginal peoples) journey with diabetes it was very emotional, the closing line I am going to keep referencing, very powerful. It was witty funny and deeply emotional all in one performance. I learnt so much about a disease I and my family have been living with for most of my life” Karen Beetson Deputy Director Aboriginal Health SWSLHD Aboriginal Health Bangala Building Eastern Campus Liverpool Hospital
“Sweet Mama” is a thought provoking and entertaining show that encourages its audience to really think about the effects of diabetes. I walked away thinking about my health in a way I hadn’t been forced to before. Only Candy Bowers can do that!” Chika Ikogwe (Actor/Creator)
“The transformational acting was really exciting. The range of characters explored were dynamic and presented articulately through voice and costume. This was cleverly done.” Catherine McLaren (CAPA coordinator/ Drama Teacher St Patrick’s College Campbelltown)
- POC communities, individuals and families affected by Type 2 Diabetes.
- Schools’ audiences keen to explore the topic – great alignment with health and food studies.
- Cabaret and comedy fans – this is a fun show that tackles a tough subject with brevity and intelligence, and leaves audiences inspired to make change in their world.
- Health and social advocates passionate about health disparities, particularly within black and brown communities.
- Those Interested in Self-Care, Wellness and Social Change – People invested in discussions about self-care, wellness, and healthy lifestyle choices could resonate with the work’s message about understanding our bodies, sugar, and food addiction.
Bold Health Advocacy: Sweet Mama fearlessly explores Type 2 diabetes within marginalized communities, advocating for positive health choices and wellness.
Intimate Personal Narrative: Through the playwright’s own emotional journey, the work offers an unparalleled level of authenticity and connection, drawing audiences into a deeply personal experience.
Multisensory Artistry: Blending theatre, cabaret, music, and humor, “Sweet Mama” provides a multi-dimensional experience that engages intergenerational audiences with lasting impact.
Empowering Cultural Representation: By spotlighting underrepresented voices, the play enriches the cultural narrative and encourages dialogue on vital subjects related to health, identity, and social equity.
Transformative Inspiration: Sweet Mama serves as a catalyst for immediate action, promoting self-care, self-love, and healthier choices, leaving audiences motivated to effect positive change.
About Candy Bowers
Candy Bowers is a radical mischief-maker born of South African political refugees.
The youngest of three talented sisters, Candy was accelerated into coolness by being left in the band vehicle throughout her formative years. Her sisters played in an indie group in the 90’s called SPDFGH and supported the likes of the Breeders, Elastica and Porno for Pyro’s. Mobile phones weren’t a thing back then, so she spent her time practicing Shakespearean sonnets and reading Jane Austen novels, or as she puts it “exploring her whiteness.”
An early lyricist and playwright, her first work “The Rap Nativity” was elevated from School Hall to main street Mall in December of 1993… and she’s been pulling numbers ever since. Of course, Candy’s migrant mum wanted her to use her smarts for good and follow in the footsteps of her badass Statesman Grandfather, Sonny Leon (he has a Library named after him in South Africa y’all), but this chubby-thighed bae had her heart set on a life in the Theatre (cue Gershwin strings).
Candy went on to study acting at NIDA, and consumed the syllabus of almost exclusively white European, American and Australian, mainly cis-male, theatrical giants with some dismay. She graduated with a swag of ethnic stereotypes (sex workers, mamas, old hags) under her belt and hit an industry even more anti-fat and anti-black than she could have imagined.
Good news, Candy survived that systemic BS by vowing to dismantle, blow up and reclaim the all the spaces her booty had been squashed or denied entry.
First stop, Sista She, a queer hip hop comedy act that she created with her musical improv buddy Sarah Ward. Next she launched her solo works Who’s that Chik? and Australian Booty and then her kid’s hip hop show MC Platypus and Queen Koala’s Hip Hop Jamboree. She created Black Honey Company with her big sister Kim Busty Beatz Bowers produced Hot Brown Honey Burlesque.
Her efforts and popular appeal did not go unnoticed and she began to be cast in main stage productions including as Came in Katori Hall’s the Mountaintop for Queensland Theatre Company and the Ring Master/ Vocalist for Circus Oz. Candy was then commissioned to adapt Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Queensland Theatre Company and to create a new work for young people by Campbelltown Arts Centre. Twelve, A Soul Musical from the Streets is ready for a Broadway (come at me) and One the Bear has already toured, C-A-C, La Boite, Arts Centre Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House. In 2016 Candy had her comedy debut on free-to-air TV because Australia finally allowed black Australian women from the African Diaspora on television. (Jokes!!!! there were at least five AWftAD on Aussie TV just never at the same time.)
Candy is currently working on a short form comedy series based on her visual artwork King Shit and Lady Muck and turning One the Bear into an animation series. She has a feature on the boil with Rob Connolly’s Arena Media and does acting when her playwriting royalties run out, which is often.
She writes for SBS voices and has a couple short stories and poems featured in She’s Having A Laugh (Affirm Press), Growing Up African in Australia and Queerstories (Hachette).
Right now Candy is plotting new ways to steal more roles from cis-men because gender is not a thing. She’s trying to catch the attention of Lin Manuel Miranda, Taiki Waititi, Issa Rae, Trevor Noah and of course Lizzo. To be crystal clear, if Lizzo asks her to be a back-up dancer on tour EVERYTHING WILL BE PUT ON HOLD.