Q&A With: Caitlin Beresford-Ord

Posted by on 11 July 2016 | | 0 Comments


Before you commenced rehearsals in late June, what were you most looking forward to about being involved in The Caucasian Chalk Circle and why?
I was in a production of Caucasian Chalk Circle when I was studying at WAAPA in 1998 and the experience was wonderful. There is so much about the play that demands total commitment as an actor;  physically, musically, intellectually and collaboratively. I was very excited about the prospect of working with a large ensemble again. On a more personal level, I played Grusha at WAAPA and am now playing the Governor’s Wife – I feel as though it’s coming literally full circle…or half circle to be more precise. And there is tremendous reward in that as an actor. I knew also that the opportunity of working with Dr Wang was going to be something unforgettable.
Now that you have commenced rehearsals, how has your focus changed? Is anything challenging you or surprising you?
The biggest challenge and delight has been how much my own process as an actor has had to shift. And it’s great to know that it CAN shift, that how I would usually prepare, rehearse and work to create a character is not fixed, it’s fluid. The physical demands are both challenging and exciting – we’re learning a new physical language and from artists like DR Wang and Chen Tao who are masters of it – it’s an incredible process.
The production demands a lot of physicality from the actors and requires them to take on multiple characters. What steps do you take to prepare for the rigors of rehearsals?
Early to bed, early to rise, early to rehearsal, comprehensive physical and vocal warm up and unwavering focus! We’re being asked to make bold and theatrical choices with very clear delineation between characters and social classes. I have to arrive every day prepared to give Dr Wang as much as possible to choose from – there’s no easing into the day – we have to start with a bang. 
Tell us a bit about the journey of your main character.
My main character is the Governor’s Wife, Natella Abashvili. Her journey is an interesting one as she’s not seen
throughout the main body of the play, although she’s referred to. Her journey is indelibly linked with Grusha’s as
it’s her child that Grusha rescues and takes on as her own. So when she (Natella)  returns to claim the child, it’s
laden with all those huge questions of nature and nurture, of what makes a mother, of rights and entitlement.
Natella is someone who appears to want to be adored and admired, rather than loved; someone for whom the acquisition of power, land, clothes is all important and her child a means of maintaining and consolidating that power. Ultimately, this is what results in her losing him.
Have you learnt anything from this very collaborative rehearsal process so far that is so valuable you will keep it in your bag of tricks forever?
I take something from every production – I’ve never been through a rehearsal process which hasn’t expanded and enriched me as an actor. This process is a wonderful return to a theatrical style and form – every scene change has it’s place, every move on stage is choreographed and meticulously rehearsed. As someone who directs regularly at  high schools and universities, it’s very exciting to watch Dr Wang and see just what is possible on stage, to remind myself that the theatrical boundaries are often so much further away 

To finish our series of Q&As with actors of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, we chatted with actor Caitlin Beresford-Ord. Caitlin has not only performed in Black Swan productions, including As You Like It, The White Divers of Broome and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but she is also a Black Swan Teaching Artist, going to schools and communities to present acting and movement workshops. Caitlin fills us in on Caucasian and the rigorous rehearsal process:   

Media Release: Simon Burke Joins Clinton: The Musical

Posted by on 13 June 2016 | | 0 Comments


Black Swan is pleased to announce that leading actor, singer and producer Simon Burke AO will make his debut performance with the company and join the cast of Clinton: The Musical, from Queensland brothers Paul Hodge and Michael Hodge.
Black Swan has gained the Australian rights to stage this musical and has reunited the creative team from last year’s sell out musical Next to Normal, director Adam Mitchell (Death of a Salesman, When the Rain Stops Falling), Musical Director David Young (Wicked), Set & Costume Designer Bruce McKinven, and Choreographer Claudia Alessi. Joining them will be Mark Howett (Lighting Designer) and Ben Collins (Sound Designer).
“Clinton: The Musical is shameless bawdy fun. Not that I am against fun, but this is outrageous,” said Black Swan Artistic Director, Kate Cherry. “It is also fabulous because it was written by two boys from Brisbane who took their production over to the Edinburgh Fringe to great acclaim and sold out houses. Then it was taken to off Broadway in New York, where it sold out to great acclaim and now to Perth where it will make its Australian debut.”
Clinton: The Musical, features two versions of the former President: WJ Clinton the wholesome, intelligent statesman played by Simon Burke; and the other a randy, charming troublemaker, Billy, played by Mix 94.5 Breakfast presenter/comedian/actor Matt Dyktynski (Extinction, Boundary Street).  
Clinton: The Musical will also see the Black Swan debut performances of 2015 music theatre graduate Megan Kozak as Monica Lewinsky, local cabaret performer Clare Moore (Covergirls) as Eleanor Roosevelt and music theatre star Lisa Adam (Jersey Boys, The Rocky Horror Show) as Hilary Clinton, who also trained at WAAPA with fellow cast member and regular Black Swan performer Brendan Hanson (Next to Normal, As You Like It) as Kenneth Starr, and Luke Hewitt (A Perfect Specimen, Glengarry Glen Ross) as Newt Gingrich.
Following Bill Clinton throughout his turbulent presidential career, Clinton: The Musical, presents a no-holds-barred approach to political satire, dragging every scandalous skeleton out of the Clintons’ closet for the world to see!
Things are going well early in the presidency. With WJ firmly in charge, approval ratings are high and the country is running smoothly. All that changes, however, when Billy lays eyes on history’s most infamous intern: Monica Lewinsky. From that moment on, Billy wants to run the White House and that sets the stage for an outrageous power struggle between the two, contradicting and combating each other with a series of cabaret-style songs. While all this is going on, Hillary Clinton quietly plots to turn this to her eventual advantage...
This hilarious musical is just the antidote we need in the lead up to yet another US Presidential election drama.
Clinton: The Musical is presented in association with the Perth Theatre Trust and plays at Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA from 27 August to 11 September 2016.  
Bookings with or Ph 1300 795 012 or Ticketek outlets, Groups 8+ 1300 364 001. 
Part of City of Perth Winter Arts Festival
Simon Burke AO Biography:
At age 13, Simon Burke made his acting debut in the 1976 classic feature film The Devil’s Playground, winning the Australian Film Institute Best Actor award. He remains the youngest-ever recipient of this honour. Simon recently starred in Foxtel's six-part mini-series Devil's Playground, in which he reprised the role of ‘Tom Allen’, the character he played 40 years ago in the original film. Simon was also Executive Producer of the project, which in 2015 won both the AACTA and Logie awards for Most Outstanding Telefeature or Mini Series. 
Simon has appeared in over 130 stage productions in Australia and the UK. In London's West End he has starred as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music opposite Dame Judi Dench, Georges in La Cage Aux Folles opposite John Barrowman, and in the European premieres of the Australian classics Holding the Man and When the Rain Stops Falling. Simon recently starred in La Cage Aux Folles opposite Todd McKenney for the Production Company, in The Wharf Revue and Mrs. Warren’s Profession for Sydney Theatre Company and played Mr Banks in Disney's Mary Poppins. He is currently touring the country starring as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray the Arena Specacular.
Simon has appeared in countless television productions including Deep Water, Rake, Hustle, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, The Alice, Brides of Christ, Scales of Justice, Water Rats, South Pacific and Grass Roots, and he hosted his own variety series for Foxtel, Studio A with Simon Burke. Also on Foxtel, Simon hosted and co-wrote the Helpmann Awards from their inception in 2001 until 2006 and again in 2012, and for 25 years was one of ABC TV''s Play School's best-loved presenters
His feature film credits include Passion, Pitch Black, Travelling Light and the forthcoming Super Awesome, for which he co-wrote and recorded the film’s theme song Man to Man.
Simon was President of Actors Equity from 2004-2014 and has been a proud member of his union for 40 years. He was made an honorary life member of the MEAA in March 2015.  In June 2015 he was awarded an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for distinguished service to the performing arts as an actor, singer and producer. 

Black Swan is pleased to announce that leading actor, singer and producer Simon Burke AO will make his debut performance with the company and join the cast of Clinton: The Musical, from Queensland brothers Paul Hodge and Michael Hodge.

Media Release: CAST welcomes Labor and Greens arts policy announcements

Posted by on 7 June 2016 | | 0 Comments
Tuesday 7 June 2016
CAST welcomes Labor and Greens arts policy announcements
The Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies (CAST) has welcomed the arts policy platform announced by the Greens on Monday 30 May and the Labor arts launch on Saturday 4 June. 
Both platforms commit to the returning of funding to the Australia Council for the Arts and the abolition of the Catalyst program ensuring the principle of arms-length funding is protected. Labor’s plan to return Catalyst funding to the Australia Council and to invest an additional $20 million per year would reverse the damage done in the 2015 budget but would not return to Labor’s 2013 Creative Australia commitment. CAST welcomes the Labor commitment to additional funding for ABC drama and notes the interconnectedness of the performing arts and screen industries in their employment of artists and arts workers. The companies call on Labor to rebuild its arts commitment to 2013 levels. 
CAST calls on the Coalition to make a renewed commitment to return Australia Council funding to 2013 levels and to abolish the Catalyst program unless additional funds can be found for it.
‘The arts contributes over $4.2 billion to GDP in Australia*,’ the CAST Executive Council said. ‘To ensure that this highly productive industry continues to contribute at this rate, government support at a level that sustains the entire industry is essential.' 
This statement is co-signed by the Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies and the executive management of each organisation.
*Figure from the 2015 Arts Nation report published by the Australia Council for the Arts.


The Language of Angels in America

Posted by on 20 May 2016 | | 0 Comments

“Your problem, Henry, is that you are hung up on words, on labels… AIDS. Homosexual. Gay. Lesbian.” 
– Roy Cohn (Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Act One, Scene 9)
The world of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America can seem like a foreign place today. Loaded with now-uncommon references to Reaganites and McCarthyism, culture wars and Valium, anti-communists and Soviet spies, this distinguished play about American life is a world away from what we know.  
As good plays do, Kushner’s language reflects, and is informed by, the society in which he lived – 1980s New York City. Set during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, 15 years before the new millennium (now a distant memory), so successfully did Kushner capture and equivocate the zeitgeist of the period, he was awarded, among other accolades, the highly-esteemed Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1993).
His Gay Fantasia on National Themes channels the paranoia about the millennia and reflects the anxieties of the time. Littered with references to Mormonism and Judaism, long-dead Republicans and Democrats, Kushner unashamedly fits political and religious discourse into his work. Characters discuss, debate and contest politics, identity, ethnicity, race, religion and homosexuality, and only Kushner’s poetic voice and wicked sense of humour ties it together. The complexities of his portrayal of a society about to combust can make the literal appearance of an Angel seem the most straightforward element in this epic play!
An important piece of theatre, Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches struck a chord that resonates today. Now, as Western Australia’s State Theatre Company brings it to life once again, we must contextualise Tony Kushner’s work and the rich tapestry of his language for a new audience. 
Here are some examples of terms and language in Angels in America, Part One, with definitions: 
AIDS Act 1, Scene 9
A disease of the immune system characterized by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections.
Ethel Rosenberg Act 3, Scene 5
An American citizen who spied for the Soviet Union. 
Feh Act 1, Scene 4
A Yiddish expression defined as something you say when you are disgusted with something.
Goyische Act 1, Scene 1
A term used by a Jew to refer to someone who is not Jewish.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus Act 1, Scene 9
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. 
Jeane Kirkpatrick Act 3, Scene 2
An American ambassador and an ardent anti communist.  
La Cage Act 1, Scene 2
A musical that focuses on a gay couple: Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction, and the farcical adventures that ensue when Georges's son, Jean-Michel, brings home his fiancée's ultra-conservative parents to meet them. La cage aux folles literally means "the cage of mad women". However folles is also a slang term for effeminate homosexuals (queens).
Litvak shtetl Act 1, Scene 1
Litvak are Lithuanian Jews. A shtetl is a small Jewish town or village formerly found in Eastern Europe.
Maudlin Act 2, Scene 8
Self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental.
Mohicans Act 1, Scene 1
An Eastern Algonquian Native American Tribe.
Monolith Act 3, Scene 2
An obelisk column, large statue formed from a single block of stone.  
Mormons Act 1, Scene 2
Most often refers to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) because of their belief in the Book of Mormon, though members often refer to themselves as Latter-day Saints or sometimes just Saints.
Nancy Drew Act 1, Scene 7
A fictional character in a mystery fiction series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer.
Ontologically Act 3, Scene 2
Of or relating to essence or the nature of being. 
Pepto-Bismol Act 2, Scene 7
A brand of medicine claimed to be effective against nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea.
Rabbi Act 1, Scene 1
Originates from the Hebrew meaning “teacher.” In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word rabi meaning “My master”.
Reaganite Act 1, Scene 6
A supporter of Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States and/or policies that he endorsed.
Scion Act 3, Scene 7
A descendant or heir, especially of a wealthy or prominent family.
Schtupping Act 1, Scene 2
Have sexual intercourse with (someone).
Seltzer Act 2, Scene 4
A naturally effervescent of water mineral.
Sid the Yid Act 3, Scene 2
Offensive slang a derogatory word for a Jew.
Sodomite Act 3, Scene 6
A person who has anal sex with another person.
Sophistry Act 1, Scene 9
A subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.
Star of David Act 1, Scene 1
Known in Hebrews as the Shield of David or Magen David; a generally recognized symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism.
The Holy Scriptures Act 1, Scene 5
A collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired God to do so.
Tumesce Act 3, Scene 6
Swollen or becoming swollen.
Utah Act 1, Scene 8
A state in the western United States.
Valium Act 1, Scene 7
A brand of diazepam used as a tranquilizer. 
Yahrzeit Act 1, Scene 1
A candle or called a memorial candle neshama, meaning “soul candle”.
Yid nebbish Act 3, Scene 5
A person regarded as weak-willed or timid.
Zeitgeist Act 2, Scene 7
The spirit of the time, general trend of thought or feeling.

“Your problem, Henry, is that you are hung up on words, on labels… AIDS. Homosexual. Gay. Lesbian.”

Media Release: CAST calls on Federal government to reinstate Australia Council funds

Posted by on 13 May 2016 | | 0 Comments


Friday 13 May 2016
CAST calls on Federal government to reinstate Australia Council funds
The Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies (CAST) calls on the Federal government to formally review its budget cuts to the Australia Council after today’s announcement that 62 arts organisations will be defunded after failing to secure key organisation core funding.
CAST considers these cuts and subsequent defunding of arts organisations to be a deeply concerning outcome that will cause a devastating cultural and employment deficit with widespread and long-lasting impact.
‘These cuts have an impact just as dramatic and negative as the arts industry has feared and will cause irreparable damage across the sector – one that contributes over $4.2 billion to GDP in Australia ,’ the CAST Executive Council said.
Of the 147 small to medium arts companies previously awarded operational funding through the Australia Council, only 85 were successful in the four year funding rounds announced today. Despite 43 new organisations receiving funding, this still leaves 62 organisations with an unknown future including the risk of closure, hundreds of job losses, and an overall increased instability throughout the arts industry as these companies join the many others whose survival balances precariously on a knife-edge.
Small to medium companies are the lifeblood of the theatre sector across Australia and where some of the most innovative new Australian work is generated and presented. They also punch well above their weight in terms of both national and international touring and play a vital role in developing artists and practitioners nationally, including five of the current artistic directors of CAST companies who were significantly supported by the small to medium sector before taking on executive roles at major performing arts organisations.
Likewise, many acclaimed and award-winning co-productions in recent CAST company seasons would not have been possible without collaboration with small to medium organisations. These organisations include Arena Theatre, Barking Gecko, Brink Productions, Chunky Move, Circa, Force Majeure, Griffin, Hothouse Theatre, Ilbijerri, LaBoite, Performing Lines, Playwriting Australia, St Martins Youth Arts Centre, The Blue Room Theatre, Windmill Theatre and Yirra Yaakin.
‘It is virtually certain that a number of the key organisations defunded today won’t survive. While CAST acknowledges that the government’s new Catalyst program might provide funding for some projects that may have previously been supported by the Australia Council, project funding is of little use to a company that has no operational support to exist in the first place,’ the CAST Executive Council said.
Funding cuts at any level of the arts sector have a dramatic flow on effect throughout the industry – from independent artists to the major performing arts companies. In this sudden climate of uncertainty and upheaval amongst the sector, CAST is committed to supporting artists and small to medium companies to help sustain their future and that of Australia’s vibrant cultural landscape.
In doing so, CAST implores the Federal government to show that they recognise and understand the importance of these companies and take prompt action to review and reinstate funds cut from the Australia Council to the small to medium sector and key organisations.
This statement is co-signed by the Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies and the executive management of each organisation.


Friday 13 May 2016

Black Swan Welcomes a New Artistic Director

Posted by on 14 April 2016 | | 0 Comments


Black Swan Welcomes a New Artistic Director
Black Swan State Theatre Company ushers in a new era and welcomes the appointment of its new Artistic Director from 2017, Clare Watson.
Following the announcement in late 2015, that its Artistic Director Kate Cherry, will leave the company at the end of 2016 after 9 years in her post, the company is delighted today to announce Clare Watson as Kate’s successor.
After spending her early years in Perth, Clare comes to Black Swan from Melbourne, where she is currently Artistic Director of St Martins Youth Arts Centre, as well as freelance directing for companies such as Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, State Theatre Company of South Australia and Belvoir St Theatre.  Her latest MTC production of Lungs has received rave reviews from Melbourne audiences, as has her production of The Events, which was staged during the Sydney Festival and Adelaide Festival. Clare has also been a Resident Director at Malthouse Theatre, during Marion Potts’ tenure and part of the MTC inaugural Women Director’s Program.  
Clare’s work has been presented at numerous major Australian Festivals and she has received a number of awards and nominations including Best Director at The Helpmann Awards, Greenroom Awards and the inaugural Best Director award at the Melbourne Fringe.  In 2008, she received a scholarship for a three month residency in Brussels.  Clare has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from The University of Melbourne, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Directing from the Victorian College of the Arts.
Black Swan’s Chair, Mark Barnaba AM said, “We are thrilled to announce Clare Watson as the next Artistic Director of Black Swan State Theatre Company.  After many years of growth and change, led expertly by Kate Cherry, Clare’s appointment will herald in a new era for the company.  Clare has an impressive directing track record and has worked with many of Australia’s major companies and festivals.  Her leadership ability is clearly evident with the work she has been undertaking transforming St Martins Youth Arts Centre into a highly collaborative company that is now presenting work in major festivals and with  major Australian theatre companies.  She 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”.
Clare Watson says “I am honoured and excited to be returning to Perth in the role of Artistic Director at Black Swan State Theatre Company.  I’m excited about working with Natalie Jenkins and the company to continue to present world class theatre experiences for audiences and build on Black Swan’s distinct voice in the national cultural conversation”. 
Clare will shortly commence working with Black Swan as Artistic Director Designate in a part-time capacity, focusing on programming the 2017 season, together with Kate Cherry. She will re-locate permanently from Melbourne in October of this year, after completion of some major projects in Victoria that she has already under way.  Clare will officially take over the reins from Kate Cherry on 1 January 2017.  She will work alongside Executive Director Natalie Jenkins, as Co-CEO.
"The announcement of  Clare Watson as Artistic Director represents the beginning of a new era for Black Swan in its 25th anniversary year,”  WA Culture and Arts Minister John Day said. “This appointment will continue Black Swan’s legacy of delivering an excellent and innovative mix of original Western Australian theatre for local, national and international audiences, while also providing great employment opportunities for the WA theatre sector.”
Black Swan State Theatre Company extends a warm welcome to Clare Watson and looks forward to her commencement with the company later this year.
Please find attached the media release, image of Artistic Director Designate, Clare Watson and a copy of her CV.
For all media Enquiries, please contact Natalie Jenkins, Executive Director, Black Swan State Theatre Company on 08 6212 9301 or email      

Black Swan State Theatre Company ushers in a new era and welcomes the appointment of its new Artistic Director from 2017, Clare Watson.

Creating a Mask: Face Moulds for The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Posted by on 22 March 2016 | | 0 Comments

Last week and over the next few weeks the cast of The Caucasian Chalk Circle are having a bit of face work done, both in Perth and Sydney! The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a collaboration between the National Theatre of China and Black Swan, will feature masks designed by Professor Huaxiang Zhang and worn by cast members throughout the show. These masks are specially designed and created using moulds of the actors’ faces – a process that takes approximately 45 minutes. First, the actor’s face is prepped with Vaseline, especially around facial hair. Then the mould mixture – dental alginate – is applied to the face, covering the eyes but leaving air holes at the nose. Then plaster bandage is layered over to support the alginate. Once completely dry, the mask can be easily removed from the face and voila, you have an exact negative cast of their face. Once all the moulds are completed, a positive cast is taken using plaster. Once all 14 casts are complete, these will be sent to Beijing where they will be used in the creation of the physical masks once the designs are completed.

Meditations on Picnic at Hanging Rock

Posted by on 9 March 2016 | | 0 Comments

Writer Tom Wright, who's adaptation of Joan Lindsay's novel Picnic at Hanging Rock will be presented at the Heath Ledger Theatre in April, wrote a series of meditations on this classic story. Read on for some insight and some musings. 

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