Black Swan State Theatre Company

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Black Swan State Theatre Company
Address State Theatre Centre of WA, Level 1, 182 William Street
Perth, Western Australia
Production A Streetcar Named Desire; As You Like It; Dust; The Seagull; Laughter on the 23rd Floor; Gasp!; Flood; The House on the Lake

Black Swan State Theatre Company (formerly The Black Swan Theatre Company) is Western Australia's state theatre company. It runs an annual subscription season in Perth at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, tours its productions regionally and interstate, and screens live broadcasts around the state. Black Swan's Artistic Director is Clare Watson; past artistic directors include Kate Cherry; Andrew Ross and Tom Gutteridge.

The Black Swan Theatre Company (1991–2008)

Black Swan's inaugural production was Twelfth Night in 1991. The Australian’s Alison Farmer claimed that the new company "soared triumphant", and that "at last West Australian theatre can be said to have found its own unique way of dealing with the Bard".

Black Swan's founding Artistic Director was Andrew Ross; he held the position until 2003. Black Swan's office and rehearsal room was located at the Old Masonic Hall in Nedlands, and its productions were performed in various theatres around Perth. Black Swan won critical and popular acclaim for both its world premiere productions and locally inspired reinterpretations of international theatre classics. Some of its landmark productions from this period include Bran Nue Dae, Sistergirl, Tourmaline, Corrugation Road (winner of The Age Critics’ Award), The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, Cloudstreet and The Odyssey.

Following Ross’ departure in 2003, Peter Kingston was engaged as Black Swan's acting Artistic Director until the appointment of Tom Gutteridge in 2004.

Black Swan State Theatre Company (2008–)

In 2008, Black Swan was rebranded Black Swan State Theatre Company, an event which coincided with the appointment of Kate Cherry as the company's new Artistic Director.

In 2011, Black Swan became one of two Resident Companies in the new State Theatre Centre of WA (the other is Perth Theatre Company). Since then, all of its productions have been performed there in either the Heath Ledger Theatre or the Studio Underground. In its first year at the State Theatre Centre, Black Swan presented the world premiere of Rising Water, the first piece written by acclaimed Western Australian novelist Tim Winton specifically for the stage. In the same year, Black Swan was the first Australian theatre company to broadcast a live stage performance, when Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Kate Cherry, was broadcast in real time to audiences across regional Western Australia.[1]

Current Artistic Director

Black Swan’s current Artistic Director is Helpmann Award-nominated director, Clare Watson, who was appointed in 2016.

"Clare Watson is highly respected as one of the next generation of Australian artistic leaders and is highly sought after as a freelance director by our colleague state theatre companies.

– Mark Barnaba AM (Chair, Black Swan)[1]

Clare Watson has an impressive directing track record, having worked with Australia's major companies and festivals. As a prolific freelance director she was able to explore and experiment using different directorial styles and metjods – all across Australia. Whilst at the same time holding her previous role as Artistic Director of St Martin's of Melbourne, simultaneously. As Artistic Director Watson lead the transformation of St Martins of Melbourne - from its humble beginnings as a Youth Arts Centre -into a nationally-recognised collaborative company, which worked with major Australian theatre companies and festivals. Watson has also been Resident Director at Malthouse, was part of Melbourne Theatre Company's – Womens’ Directors Program, and held a residency in Brussels (2008).[2]

The previous director, Kate Cherry, had been appointed in 2008 following prior roles at Melbourne Theatre Company , Playbox Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival, Glenn Street Theatre, Oz Opera, Hit Productions, Ensemble Theatre NYC (New York), Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, Massachusetts), American Conservatory Theatre and the California Shakespeare Festival (California).[2]

Some of Cherry’s critical successes include Helpmann and Green Room nominations and awards, as well as a Gielgud Award for Best Emerging Director of the Classics in the United States. She has been the recipient of an NYC Drama League Fellowship and a Williamson Leadership Program Fellowship.

Commissions, programs and past ensembles

Rio Tinto Black Swan Commissions

Black Swan commissions new productions in partnership with the Rio Tinto Group. This partnership has so far produced four mainstage works: Aidan Fennessy’s National Interest (2012), Hilary Bell’s The White Divers of Broome (2012), Hannie Rayson's The Swimming Club (2010) and Kate Mulvany's The Web (2009). A fifth play, The Damned (2011) by Reg Cribb, received its premiere in the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre of WA. Writers currently under commission include Hilary Bell, Damon Lockwood, Caleb Lewis, Suzie Miller, Hellie Turner, and Brendan Hanson and Tim Cunniffe. (Writers Ingle Knight and Tommy Murphy are also under commission for Black Swan having won the Richard Burton Award for Playwriting.)

Resident Artists Program

Black Swan's Resident Artists Program (formerly the Emerging Artists Program) supports up to five emerging artists annually by offering a year-long involvement working on a minimum of two Black Swan productions. The Resident Artists Program provides access to training, funding opportunities, mentoring and state-of-the-art theatre practice in order to facilitate learning and performance.

Emerging Writers Group

Black Swan's Emerging Writers Group (formerly the Young Writers Program) ushers a selected group of writers through a yearlong process of writing and devising a new work for the theatre. Members must complete a full length play by the end of the year. Three completed plays are chosen for full readings by a professional cast; in addition, one play is selected to be part of the Blue Room's ‘Summer Nights’ season the following year.

The HotBed Ensemble (2006–2010)

The HotBed Ensemble was Black Swan's professional development program for emerging Western Australian artists directed by Adam Mitchell.[3] The program included exclusive skills development and workshop opportunities with local, national and international artists, and the opportunity to create original, contemporary work. More than a third of the HotBed artists went on to work in Black Swan's mainstage program.

The HotBed Ensemble produced The Shape of Things (2010), Yellow Moon: The Ballad of Leila and Lee (2010), The Dark Room (2009), pool [no water] (2009), Caucasian Chalk Circle (2008), Portraits of Modern Evil (2008), The Laramie Project (2007), Falling Petals (2006) and Woyzeck (2006). The Shape of Things, Yellow Moon and Caucasian Chalk Circle all received Equity Guild nominations; Caucasian Chalk Circle won two Equity Guild Awards (Best Director and Best Newcomer), and The Shape of Things won five (Best Production, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Design). In 2011, the HotBed Ensemble was replaced by the Emerging Artists Program (now the Resident Artists Program).

Recent awards and nominations

Year Award Production Nominee Won
2017 Matilda Awards, Best Supporting Female Actor & Billie Brown Award

for Best Emerging Artist

Moliere's Tartuffe Emily Weir Yes
2017 Green Room Awards Picnic at Hanging Rock

a co-production with Malthouse Theatre

Ash Gibson Greig (Composition)

J. David Franzke (Sound Design)

2017 PAWA, Best Supporting Actor (Female) Let the Right One In Alison van Reeken Yes
2017 PAWA, Best Music Let the Right One In Rachael Dease, Composition & Sound Design Yes
2017 PAWA, Best Actor (Male) The Eisteddfod Brendan Ewing Yes
2017 PAWA, Best Director The Eisteddfod Jeffrey Jay Fowler Yes
2017 PAWA, Best Mainstage Production The Eisteddfod Yes
2017 PAWA, Best New Work Coma Land

a co-production with Performing Lines

Will O'Mahony Yes

External links

  • Black Swan State Theatre Company
  • Black Swan State Theatre Company Blog


  1. ^
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  3. ^ "Home". Adam Mitchell. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
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