Q&A with: Kylie Farmer [Kaarljilba Kaardn]

Posted by on 11 July 2016 | | 0 Comments


1.      Your debut at Black Swan was in the smash hit The Sapphires in 2010, and you also worked with Black Swan on another hit, The White Divers of Broome in 2012. What have you been up to since we last saw you?
I've been working on inspired translations of Shakespearean sonnets into Nyungar language with Yirra Yaakin (which we performed at the Globe Theatre in London). I landed roles in television programs such as Redfern Now & The Gods of Wheat Street. I also worked as a script and acting coach on a production called Beautiful One Day presented by Ilbijerri and Belvoir, and in between all of those those creative endeavours, I've been involved in major project work at both Screen Australia and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. I've also been working on various community devised theatre pieces with local talent.
2.      The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a big production – a big cast, a huge creative endeavour, and an international collaboration. What is it that drew you to this production? What are you most looking forward to?
I'm super excited to be working with all cast and crew involved in this production - there's so much talent from WA! Initially, the original show concept embracing Chinese culture with Nyungar song was what drew me to the project as I have both Nyungar and Chinese ancestry. The artistic vision has since changed but I'm still thrilled to be on board. I'm looking forward to rehearsing this classic work with the wonderful cast - many of whom I've worked with before - and being back on stage for Black Swan at the Heath Ledger.
3.      You recently had a mould taken of your face for a mask for this production. Obviously as an actor your facial movements and expressions can be a huge part of bringing your character to life, and a mask will hinder that in some ways. Is this a new challenge for you? Are you expecting to change or increase other facets of your performance to compensate?
I love a challenge! Certainly looking forward to exploring all areas of expression through the body and voice to compliment the beautiful masks we'll be wearing. At the moment, I'm just hoping it fits my face comfortably (chuckles).
4.      I believe you met Dr Wang during one of his visits to Perth, as a sort of quasi-audition. Is that right? What was that like? How hard or easy is it to cross the language barrier in a situation like that?  
Actually, I am yet to meet Dr Wang. I've been hearing tales of him being quite fierce in the rehearsal room though, so I'm definitely aiming to bring my A-game. I don't find it hard crossing language barriers. I've loved learning and hearing other languages from such a young age and I've always found other ways to communicate without speaking the language. Perhaps I should bring my Chinese grandfather into rehearsals with me so he can be my personal translator. (smiles)


The Big Top: Then & Now

Posted by on 14 June 2016 | | 0 Comments


The Decline of the Circus and the Big Top Today
Big Top: Then & Now
Once as popular as Hollywood or the NBA today, the circus has undergone a tumultuous journey into modernity. 
By the close of the 19th Century, the equestrian acts that had always been at the heart of the Big Top (including bareback acrobatics and dressage) were soon overtaken by lion tamers, the flying trapeze, jugglers, and clowns. The exhibition of animal and human oddities also became an integral part of the American circus experience. Known as the Sideshow or Freak Show, punters flocked to these living ‘museums’ out of lurid curiosity, gawking and gasping at the people inside.
Mostly suffering from birth defects, the conjoined twins, ‘pinheads’, ‘Living Torsos’ with no arms or legs, and ‘lobster boys’ with split-hands and -feet, were treated as exotic entertainment. One of the medical conditions in Nathaniel Moncrieff’s A Perfect Specimen is hypertrichosis; excessive hair growth over the body. Those with the condition were billed as ‘werewolves’, ‘monkeys’ or ‘bearded ladies.’ 
There was much debate about the morality of ‘parading’ these individuals for profit, but as they were very often ridiculed or cast out by their family and society, the circus was argued to be a place where they could use their misunderstood conditions to make a living, even becoming rich and famous. As the scientific and medical community began to understand these conditions and were able to explain them as genetic mutations or diseases, the popularity of Freak Shows declined and the poor souls that inhabited them were met with sympathy rather than fear.
Eventually, not even landmark figures like P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus fame could will their troupes into profitable ventures. Cost cutting and ever more desperately far-reaching world tours couldn’t keep either the European or American strains of the art afloat, and the arrival of cinema and then television finished them off.  
However, those who proclaim the ‘death of the circus’ have overstated the permanence of its decline, as a selection of contemporary troupes have attracted new audiences and enjoyed rampant success.
The tired, traditional format has been discarded or reinvented into new and exciting incarnations, creating a renaissance of circus as a performing art. With the Canadian behemoth, Cirque du Soleil at the forefront, fresh artistic and commercial attitudes have led to the rise of ‘Cirque’. 
The success of Limbo and La Soirèe, whose polished routines recently wowed Perth audiences during the Fringe World Festival, highlights the ability of the modern circus to enchant audiences. Relegating browbeaten elephants and big cats to be relics of the past, their sleek tents, contemporary music, and cabaret, variety and vaudeville has crafted the circus into a theatrical experience that is sexy, edgy and intense. 
The show must go on…

A Perfect Specimen is the world premiere work by Nathaniel Moncrieff set in the dying days of the travelling circus and freak show. It tells the tragic, true tale of Julia Pastrana, the 'ape-woman', and her husband and manager, Theodore Lent. Once as popular as Hollywood or the NBA today, since Julia Pastrana's time the circus has undergone a tumultuous journey into modernity. 

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.

Catching up with Playwright Nathaniel Moncrieff

Posted by on 10 June 2016 | | 0 Comments

Nathaniel Moncrieff is an emerging playwright in the West Australian theatre scene. As a member of Black Swan's Emerging Writers Group in 2013, he wrote a fantastic play, A Perfect Specimen, that we are proud to present in our 2016 season as part of the Black Swan Lab in the Studio Underground. Directed by Stuart Halusz and featuring a fantastic team of actors and designers, A Perfect Specimen tells the true and tragic tale of Julia Pastrana, the ape-woman. We caught up with Nathaniel to discuss this world premiere production. 

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.”

A Note From Set & Costume Designer Christina Smith

Posted by on 18 May 2016 | | 0 Comments


I first designed Angels in America as a student at WAAPA in 1995. At the time I saw it very much from the perspective of youth – it was a new and contemporary work with so many challenges to solve.
Now 21 years later, I approach it with the eyes of an experienced and somewhat seasoned designer. Whist on the surface it seems now more like tackling a period piece or an established classic (with all the baggage that brings), I have also tried to approach it with the same freshness and excitement I encountered the first time around.  The fact that I have found it just as challenging and relevant now is a testament to the power of the work. 
It is a theatrical piece that calls for an intrinsically theatrical space, an epic that requires the mechanics at times exposed but also concealed. The moments of magic are invested with as much integrity as the moments of realism, and there is an essential need for the piece to flow as seamlessly as possible from one moment to the next. This led to the creation of a formal space captured within the workings of the theatre itself – a clinical white floor and monumental neo-classic ceiling suspended in the black theatre void surrounded by an exposed lighting grid. I wanted to emphasize the journey of the play towards its millennial conclusion - the walls closing in but also the sense of hope approaching from outside the space. 
In a way, revisiting this work at this point in my life very much feels like a bookend of sort: I can see the form this design has taken in a similar symmetry. Back in 2011 I designed one of the earliest shows in the Heath Ledger Theatre, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, also directed by Kate Cherry. I was eager to explore the facilities of this brand new venue and push its capabilities. The response from the audience when the first piece of staging ‘magic’ was revealed was a career highlight. The set for Angels is a distant relative of this first set – the germination of a seed planted all those years ago. 
In subsequent designs I’ve explored other aspects of this venue – the recent production of As You Like It was something of a love letter to the beautifully paneled wooden auditorium that I’d been fighting for years. This design for Angels is in turn somewhat of a ‘breakup’... 
This will be my last design for Black Swan with Kate Cherry at the helm. Kate gave me my first professional design job at Melbourne Theatre Company, 16 years ago, and I still don’t know why she did – I was incredibly young and very inexperienced. She has since given me countless opportunities to design some of the most wonderful stories ever written. She has also through various programs at Black Swan allowed me to pass on the guidance and mentorship she showed me to another generation of young designers. Kate’s willingness to foster new talent and give them opportunities could easily be overlooked amongst her other achievements here at Black Swan – but without it I certainly wouldn’t be designing works like this. I’d like personally thank Kate for the doors she has opened and the journeys we have taken. 
Christina Smith
Set & Costume Designer 

Set & Costume Designer Christina Smith wrote a wonderful note for the Angels in America, Part One programme. Unfortunately we couldn't include her whole note in the programme due to space, so here is the full version: 

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.

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