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. 

How to bring a classic Australian story to the stage

Posted by on 26 February 2016 | | 0 Comments

Matthew Lutton, Artistic Director of Malthouse Theatre and director of Malthouse and Black Swan's coproduction, Picnic at Hanging Rock, sat down with The Guardian to reveal some insights into the world premiere of this stage adaptation. 

New Talent on Stage in LOADED: A Double Bill of New Plays

Posted by on 22 January 2016 | | 0 Comments


ACTOR Hoa Xuande
Though this is your debut for Black Swan, you already have professional credits under your belt.  What has it been like working with Black Swan State Theatre Company?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Black Swan because of the facilities and support staff that go out of their way to make your job easy. And to do a professional gig in a great venue is just a bonus.
How are you finding playing the character of Lewis? What has been challenging about the role?
Playing Lewis has definitely been a challenge as he has required me to dig deep psychologically and emotionally. And because he is a damaged character, he needs to be balanced with a just as complicated public persona, which has been a great journey to try and find.
What aspects of your WAAPA training have you drawn on for this production?
Because we had the opportunity to work with so many different and diverse directors at WAAPA, something that I’ve drawn on from my time there is to be open and trust every new process as it comes.
Can you share with us what an average day in the rehearsal room might look like?
Will, our director, is a very practical director so it was great for me to be able to work on the floor immediately as soon as we started rehearsals. And every day in the rehearsal room we would be running sections of the play or playing and improvising to discover new things.
What is next for you after Tonsils + Tweezers?
I’ll be moving back over to the East Coast, Sydney and trying to audition for a pilot season before travelling to Canada for a few months. The next couple of months will all be about networking and just establishing myself.

Actor Hoa Xuande makes his debut on Black Swan's stage in Tonsils + Tweezers by Will O'Mahony. As part of Black Swan's 2016 Bridging Company, Hoa is one of eight recent WAAPA graduates to take the stage in LOADED: A Double Bill of New Plays featuring Tonsils + Tweezers and Girl Shut Your Mouth. We chatted with Hoa about what his experience has been like. 

Will O'Mahony on Bringing a New Work from Page to Stage

Posted by on 22 January 2016 | | 0 Comments

Black Swan audiences may know Will O'Mahony first as an actor. He started with us in The HotBed Ensemble in 2009 with roles in pool (no water) and The Dark Room. He followed that with Twelfth Night in 2010, Flood in 2014 and, most recently, Glengarry Glen Ross in 2015. Other than Black Swan's stage, Will has also appeared in numerous productions at the Blue Room Theatre. But what some may not know is that Will is also a playwright and director. He was a member of Black Swan's 2014-15 Emerging Writers Program and has won multiple awards for his plays. 

Media Release: Black Swan Farewells Artistic Director, Kate Cherry

Posted by on 11 December 2015 | | 0 Comments


Black Swan State Theatre Company will farewell its current Artistic Director, Kate Cherry after nearly 9 years in the seat, at the end of 2016.
After re-invigorating Black Swan and successfully overseeing the transition into a state theatre company and becoming resident in the State Theatre Centre in 2011, Kate’s role as Artistic Director of Black Swan is drawing to a close. In 2008, Kate was brought in on a 5-year contact to grow audiences. Whilst Kate has been at Black Swan and – in conjunction with moving to the new State Theatre Centre in 2011, she successfully grew subscribers from 716 in 2008 to 2774 in 2014 and directed 16 of Black Swan’s most successful shows, breaking box office records. During her tenure, the company has also increased philanthropic income by 422%. Kate has created links with The National Theatre of China and the Daegu Music Festival in Korea. The company’s current adventure into China has evolved under Kate’s direction.
Black Swan’s Chair, Mark Barnaba AM said, “Kate’s legacy, not only for Black Swan, but also for theatre in Western Australia, will be felt for years to come. Kate has had a significant impact on the theatre sector, successfully re-shaping and re-positioning the company to be one of Australia’s foremost theatre companies and developing annual seasons that audiences and subscribers have been flocking to.”  Barnaba went on to say, “Not only will Kate’s impact be felt by audiences that have loved her work – Western Australia’s artists and Australian playwrights have benefited greatly from her strong focus on artist development and initiatives such as the Rio Tinto Black Swan Commissions.”
During Kate’s time with the company, she has built audiences by programming work that has strong appeal across a broad audience base, has initiated a number of key artist development programs such as the Emerging Writers Group, Resident Artists Program, Rio Tinto Black Swan Commissions and The Bridging Company with WAAPA, which commences in 2016. Black Swan’s General Manager, Natalie Jenkins said, “We will all miss Kate dearly, however she will leave us much to remember her by. We are very happy that she will remain with us during 2016, to celebrate our milestone 25th anniversary year.”
Kate Cherry said, “Having the opportunity to lead Black Swan has been a wonderful journey. I have personally enjoyed the challenges that have come with the position and have embraced facing those challenges head on. It has been a great pleasure to work alongside the Black Swan team and I will miss the daily engagement with Black Swan staff, artists, management and a very generous group of loyal patrons. I rate highly the time I have spent with the Board and the patrons.”
The company will now commence a search, led by Gerard Daniels, for a new Artistic Director, allowing time for a smooth transition between Kate and an incoming AD during 2016 – the company’s 25th Anniversary year.
- ENDS -
Media Enquiries:
Natalie Jenkins, General Manager
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Tel: +61 8 6212 9316  


What's in an Adaptation?

Posted by on 24 September 2015 | | 0 Comments

What goes into writing an adaptation of an existing work? Are there rules to follow, or can you have some creative licence? To get some answers, we went to writer Hilary Bell who adapted The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse, which we are presenting in the Studio Underground starting next week. 

It's all about the reveal

Posted by on 16 September 2015 | | 0 Comments


You’ve worked on a couple of Black Swan projects this year. What have you most enjoyed and why?
Both projects, “Blithe Spirit” and “Extinction”, have had moments of joy and excitement, and with the Quoll’s share of tech week to go it’s too early to say. The moments I always enjoy the most are the collaborative moments early in the process when there is a plethora of possibilities and wild ideas are being thrown back and forth. 
Do you have a favourite scene or “moment” in the play? What is it about it that makes it so special to you?
The first reveal is always a proud moment it’s the first dialogue with the audience, who are so visually engaged these days. Within the play itself there are many great moments. Hannah has crafted some really touching interpretations. The second major reveal (Act 2 Scene 1) is probably the next though…reveals it’s always the reveals.
You travelled for the filming of the nature scenes, how was this experience for you?
The initial site- scoping trip was great. Inspiring. All the things that Piper declares to Dix. Those things that nature supplies you with. Those things that you don’t find in the city. The second trip was stressful, as we only had two days to capture a wide variety of footage that was going to be made or broken by the weather but immense fun and ultimately a success. 
If you could bring back any extinct animal, which one would it be?
Too many to choose from. The thought makes me shudder. It’s easy to choose any of larger, impressive and or charismatic looking species but I think I’d start looking at the less noticeable but at least as intricate insects or invertebrates.  
The show has two distinct sets designs. Tell us about your process for creating the beautiful rainforest scene that we see at the beginning of Act 2.?
Looking at the synopsis of scenes in the early draft it was easy to tell that Rayson had allowed the interval for the design to reveal something special. The trick was to be able segue from set 1 to set 2 smoothly. 

Set & Costume Designer Bryan Woltjen is back, now designing our upcoming production, Extinction. We chatted with Bryan about his work, inspiration and the big reveal. 

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