‘Do what you love’: Michaela Burger shares how Greek parents inspired her acting career

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In an exclusive interview with The Greek Herald, Greek Australian actress, Michaela Burger, spoke about her recent award-winning show, A Migrants Son, and her latest show, Driftwood the Musical.

The musical opens at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran, Victoria on May 3, 2023, and focuses on a family’s escape from the Holocaust and how they rebuilt their lives in Melbourne.

A Migrants Son:

Michaela’s grandparents on both her mum and dad’s side migrated to Australia from Chios, Greece during the 1930s. This would be the inspiration behind A Migrants Son – a musical she wrote, created, produced and performed in.

Michaela’s great grandmother with her four children, taken in Greece. Photo supplied.

A Migrants Son is about Michaela’s father, as a child of migrant parents. Although her father faced many setbacks in life, he continued to persevere, supporting their family, his mother and extended relatives well into 76 years of age.

“He never stopped,” Michaela tells The Greek Herald.

She feels her father’s qualities came from the generations before him. Michaela believes the impacts of migration on families drive them to work hard and “turn nothing into something” instead of giving up.

Watching how hard her parents worked growing up, Michaela says it instilled a resilient mindset in her too.

Michaela’s great grandmother and great grandfather with their four children, once they were all reunited in Australia.

“I think it comes from being children, and children’s children of migrants,” Michaela says, “Our grandparents fled Greece and worked themselves to the bone in Australia.”

“For my career, both my parents were adamant that we do what we love. I think, because they struggled when they were younger, they didn’t want the same for their children.”

Michaela’s parents always supported her acting career.

Michaela says, like her, most of the people she knows from her generation, who are children or grandchildren of migrants, have a similar mindset and don’t take what they have for granted.

Driftwood the Musical:

A resilient and creative spirit is evident in Michaela’s career path as she now prepares to perform in Driftwood the Musical. The musical follows the story of Austrian/Australian sculptor Karl Duldig and his artist-inventor wife, Slawa Horowitz-Duldig.

The musical shows their lives pre-war Vienna and their narrow escape from Nazi Austria. After escaping the Holocaust, Slawa invented the foldable umbrella and the story captures how they rebuilt their artistic careers in Melbourne. 

Driftwood the Musical has an abundance of real-life details about the Holocaust because the families were educated and wrote many letters.

It’s clear both A Migrants Son and Driftwood the Musical are stories of families migrating to Australia. However, Michaela shares the differences from her perspective.

Michaela in ‘A Migrants Son.’ Photo: Anne-Laure Marie.

“The families in Driftwood were cultured and educated. They left Vienna because of the threat of people killing them due to their ethnicity—they would have died. Whereas, with the Greeks, for example in A Migrants Son, they left because of the wars, and to have a better life,” Michaela concludes.

“I think it’s a different story in that way.”

Driftwood the Musical is returning to Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel from 3 – 20 May before traveling to Sydney to play in three venues Glen Street Theatre, 24 – 28 May, Riverside Theatres, 31 May – 4 June and Eternity Playhouse, 7 – 18 June. More details at: www.driftwoodthemusical.com.au

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