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Ljubičica – Wild Violet is a heartwarming story of the hope, love and legacy of a Croatian wild flower, starring Josipa Draisma.


A young girl grows up in a remote village in Croatia. At bedtime her beloved grandmother tells her stories of a man sailing the high seas seeking ‘paradise’ for his family. This man – her father – is a stranger to her. When her grandmother suddenly dies, her life is turned upside down. The money her father had been sending dries up leaving her family to survive on scraps. Perhaps her father has found a new wife, a new family? Trapped in a one-roomed house with her mother, sisters and alcoholic grandfather, the wild violets of Croatia become her only comfort in a childhood beset by cruelty, hunger and poverty.


Based on interviews with Josipa’s mother Ivica,  Ljubičica – Wild Violet captures the hardship and absurdities of life in Vrsi, Croatia and the bravery of a father who went on a risky journey across the seas to create a better life for his family.


While considered by some as a common weed, the beauty and resilience of ljubičica, the wild violet, becomes the enduring symbol for Ivica’s journey. 


Ljubičica – Wild Violet stars award-winning performer Josipa Draisma (Best Music Award Sydney Fringe & Best Sydney Comedy Festival Emerging Comedian). Written and directed by 2016 STC Patrick White Award finalist Melita Rowston, accompanied by gypsy jazz trio Michael O’Donnell (Violin/Guitar), Crystal Moloney (Accordion) and Mara Knezevic (Vocals).

"Boldly put, this is the best play that I have seen this Fringe Festival, and is right up there as one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. The singing talent of both Draisma and her supporting vocalist Mara Knezevic are unbelievable. Their a capella songs were a standout of the show. The supporting band members were just as talented on their own instruments, with violinist Michael O’Donnell magnificently featured throughout" - The Buzz From Sydney
"The stories are sentimental, and the songs are romantic. The bitter-sweet show, written and directed by Melita Rowston, strikes a thoughtful balance between biography and entertainment, with surprising variations in atmosphere that help hold our attention. It is ultimately a delightful insight into one of our many migrant experiences, with a special poignancy that seems to arise uniquely from true stories" - Suzy Go See
"From the moment that performer Josipa Draisma enters the stage she is captivating, singing with passion and poise, achieving a hypnotic mastery over the audience" - Theatre Now
"The monologues are beautifully crafted and only matched by the interpolation of evocative songs; the opener, which sees Draisma standing amid swathes of violet petals, being an example par excellence" – Syke On Stage
"The charm of the piece, though, comes from Draisma’s comedic skills as she craftily jumps between the drama and trauma of her story to the child-like humour of how an eternally positive eight-year old girl from a tiny, poor village is looking at the world grow around her" - The Buzz From Sydney
"I’ve never felt so homesick for a country I’ve never seen" - The Buzz From Sydney
"Mara Knezevic provides fine support as the secondary voice of the production. The women’s harmonies together are sublime, and a rare treat for our Anglocentric city. The handsome Gypsy jazz trio The Squeeze Box adds a sophistication and polish to the stage with their sensual and confident accompaniment on accordion, guitar and violin. Draisma’s monologues help the music communicate with our foreign ears, but it is the music that gives soul to the show" - Suzy Go See

"Josipa is nothing if not versatile herself, of course. Actor. Singer. Writer. Comedian. Producer. Even visual artist. The Croatia described is a land foreign in more ways than one. Desperately, almost unbelievably, Pythonesquely poor. It’s not her life, but Rowston’s words and construction are the prism through which we see it. That, through this prism, the tale comes across as disarmingly, palpably authentic (save for finely-judged poetic licence which never veers into the twee or impossibly romantic, so that the piece remains wildly violet, but never purple) is the great achievement of the script" – Syke On Stage

"The real reason why this play is so brilliant, though, is because it is real. This isn’t just an actor performing a part; Draisma is recounting a true story based on her mother’s life. These are stories, songs and emotions that she herself grew up recalling. The honesty of the play is its greatest asset. This is true theatre" 
- The Buzz From Sydney
"Draisma’s performance is a passionate one, and we are swept away by the many beautiful Croatian songs she presents with gusto. Several humorous impressions of characters in her mother’s life are especially effective." - Suzy Go See
"Worth seeing for Draisma’s voice alone" - Theatre Now

"Rowston & Draisma have humanised the migrant experience at a time we need it most" – Syke On Stage





“That was my story. Thank you for sharing your story.”


“It made me think about my own family especially my relationship with my own father.”


“It was one of those stories that immediately connected us to ourselves and to the person sitting next to us. As soon as the lights went up everyone at my table began to chat to each other, strangers chatting and relating to each other. Its amazing how a story like this opens us up and we are willing to share ourselves with people that we didn’t know before.” 


“It was exceptional. Had me in tears.” 



Wild Violet is available to tour in English and Croatian. For more information or touring enquiries contact

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