Saraid de Silva

INFO

NameSaraid de Silva (she/her)
Born1991
Country of BirthAotearoa
Place of ResidenceTāmaki Makaurau Auckland
EthnicitiesSri Lankan, Pākehā
ArtformLiterature, Podcast, Theatre, Screen
Decades Active2010s, 2020s

ABOUT

Saraid de Silva is a writer based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland who explores the complexity of women — and the myriad connections they can build — through her lens of being a queer third-culture kid from Aotearoa. Born in Kirikiriroa, de Silva has lived in several cities throughout Aotearoa with her mother and grandmother and identifies as Sri Lankan Pākehā (her mother being Sri Lankan Singaporean Indian and her father, Pākehā).

Her grandmother’s appreciation of creativity led her to pursue a career in the arts, which she began by completing a Bachelor of Performing & Screen Arts at Unitec. After graduating in 2012, she started writing and performing in plays, often collaborating with actor Amelia Reynolds. The two went on to write and act in several plays together, including Stomach (2013), The Memory Shelf (2014), and Cult Show (2018).

Stomach (2014) was a story of a friendship between two women told in reverse chronological order; beginning with the demise of their relationship and ending with their first meeting. Both serious and humourous, the work covered everything from eating disorders to the main characters' shared love for Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez. de Silva describes the play as being about “how we ruin ourselves and ruin ourselves for other people.”

In 2018, she wrote and performed Drowning in Milk, a one-woman play where she was the bartender to a crowd of up to 30 people. The theatre imitated the setting of a bar, where she would converse with the audience while serving them drinks. The camaraderie this created allowed de Silva to share the experiences of racism and sexism that she had encountered throughout her life. As James Stevenson wrote in his review of the play, the work highlighted “how it feels to have to deal at the same time with being a human and with not being treated like one.” Drowning in Milk received the Social Impact Award at the 2018 Auckland Fringe Festival, and was later performed at Auckland Museum’s LATE 2018.

After attending Drowning in Milk, de Silva's family members began to share their own experiences of racism and sexism with her, which sparked the idea for a project discussing shared experiences across different generations within immigrant families — birthing the podcast and video series, Conversations with My Immigrant Parents, made with photographer and filmmaker, Julie Zhu.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, de Silva grew frustrated with the lack of work opportunities for actors and the temporary nature of on-stage theatre. This prompted her to pursue her writing career more passionately by enrolling in the Master of Creative Writing Programme at the University of Auckland in 2020.

During her Master's, de Silva worked on her first novel Amma, for which she received the inaugural Crystal Arts Trust Prize. Set across Singapore, Aotearoa, Sri Lanka, Australia and England, the novel focuses on three generations of women in a family who are all dealing with the aftermath of great violence. de Silva began writing this book the year after her grandmother had passed, using it as a way to process the grief of losing her grandmother. Amma is due to be released in 2024.

In 2023, de Silva participated in the Art Omi Fall Writer’s Residency in New York, where she began work on her upcoming second novel. She currently works as a script editor at Shortland Street.

LINKS

Key works / presentations

Theatre

2018 — Drowning in Milk
2018 — Cult Show, co-written with Amelia Reynolds
2014 — The Memory Shelf, co-written with Amelia Reynolds
2013 — Stomach, co-written with Amelia Reynolds

Podcast

2020 — Conversations with My Immigrant Parents, co-produced with Julie Zhu

Novel

2024 — Amma

Key awards

2023 — Art Omi Fall Writer’s Residency

2020 — Crystal Arts Trust Prize

2018 — Auckland Fringe Awards: Social Impact Award (Drowning in Milk)

2015 — Auckland Fringe Awards: Best New Script (The Memory Shelf)

2015 — Auckland Fringe Awards: Tour Ready Award (The Memory Shelf)

Last updated: 29 February 2024 Suggest an Edit

OTHER PHOTOS AND Ephemera

The pink cover of a book titled 'Amma'

Saraid de Silva, Front and back cover of Amma, 2023

Courtesy of Saraid de Silva

[pdf ↓]
Poster featuring a woman behind a bar forcing a smile while the mirror reveals she is pulling the fingers

Saraid de Silva, Drowning in Milk, BATS, 2018

Courtesy of Saraid de Silva