Our People

Clare Watson - Artistic Director

Clare Watson - Artistic Director

Clare commenced in the role of Artistic Director of Black Swan State Theatre Company in October 2016 and made her directorial debut with Let the Right One In. Her other credits with the company since then include Our Town, Xenides, The Events, You Know We Belong Together and The Torrents. Previously, Clare was Artistic Director at St Martins collaborating with children and teenagers. Her recent work includes I saw the second one hit, Gonzo (Malthouse Theatre) and FITTER. FASTER. BETTER. (Dance Massive, Junction Arts Festival, Malthouse Theatre). She directed the critically acclaimed What Rhymes with Cars and Girls for Melbourne Theatre Company in 2015, which received four Helpmann nominations including Best Director. The production has recently enjoyed a national tour.

In 2014 Clare was Female Director-in-Residence at Malthouse Theatre and she is an MTC Women Directors Program alumna. Her stage credits also include Gonzo, I Heart John McEnroe (Uninvited Guests/Theatre Works – winner Green Room Award for Best Ensemble, and five nominations including Best Director); The Man with the September Face by Kylie Trounson (Full Tilt/Arts Centre); Smashed by Lally Katz (Stables); and Hotel (Melbourne Fringe Festival – winner Best Director). Her mainstage work has also included Lungs by Duncan MacMillan at Melbourne Theatre Company and The Events by David Greig for Malthouse and Belvoir, Sydney Festival and Adelaide Festival.

Clare is a graduate of Directing at the Victorian College of the Arts. She is a trained teacher and worked in high schools in Victoria for 15 years and was also Education Manager at Malthouse Theatre.

Rick Heath - Executive Director

Rick Heath - Executive Director

Rick Heath has over 30 years’ experience in the arts sector both in Western Australia as well as nationally. Raised and trained in Western Australia, Rick joined Black Swan after 12 years as Executive Director at Performing Arts Connections Australia where he delivered a national industry development remit.

As the Executive Director of PAC Australia Rick has been a strong advocate for the Western Australian arts industry. He’s delivered transformational change in the areas of organisational positioning, governance and business operations and has led industry-wide reform in national touring and presenting practice. As a fellow of the Devos Institute of Arts Management in Washington DC of which there are only two in Australia, Rick brings extensive experience in producing and executive leadership as well as a robust global arts network.


  • Francois Witbooi, Chair

    Francois Witbooi has worked as a senior executive in a range of industries across 4 continents. A classically trained concert pianist and winner of the prestigious Fulbright scholarship in 2002, Francois graduated from Columbia University in the City of New York with a Master’s in Arts management before taking up positions at the Arts Council England and the National Foundation for Youth Music UK. More recently he worked in micro enterprise development in a number of communities across regional and remote Western Australia. He is a co-founder of Redspear Safety and was most recently included as a winner of the 40under40, an award which celebrates Western Australia’s leading entrepreneurs under the age of 40. Francois also serves on the board of directors for Aboriginal Choice, a charity aimed at supporting and giving emotional strength to elders in their communities.

  • Felicity Gooding, Deputy Chair and Treasurer

    Ms Gooding is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Minderoo Foundation, a modern philanthropic organisation. Prior to her promotion to Deputy CEO, Felicity was CFO and COO of Minderoo Foundation and Minderoo Group (now known as Tattarang) for 6 years, a time of significant growth for both organisations.

    Ms Gooding is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and a Graduate of the Institute of Company Directors. Felicity has held a number of directorships and is currently director of Poseidon Nickel, the Black Swan State Theatre Company and the Freedom Fund, a London based organisation dedicated to ending modern slavery.

    With over fifteen years’ experience specialising in due diligence, mergers and acquisitions and equity and debt financing across various sectors in Washington DC, Singapore and London. Ms Gooding has held senior positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Diageo Plc Fortescue Metals Group Ltd and Sirius Minerals Plc.

    Ms Gooding is mother to Rosalie and Hamish and passionate about reforming the systems of early education to incentivise women to return to work after having children.

  • Anna Casellas, Company Secretary

    Anna is a partner at national law firm Clayton Utz and holds undergraduate degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Laws from the University of Melbourne. Anna is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

    With almost 20 years' legal experience Anna advises a broad range of clients on all aspects of employment, industrial relations and safety law. Anna also practices in regulatory litigation and compliance with a focus on large financial services.

    Anna leads a number of diversity initiatives at Clayton Utz in Perth and sits on the firm's national diversity and inclusion committee, Momentum, as well as the National Graduate Recruitment Committee.

    In 2020 Anna was voted by peers as WA's Lawyer of the Year (WA) - Employment and Labour Law 2020. Anna also sits on the Council at St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls and is a member of the Law Council of Australia Industrial Relations Committee.

  • Zoë Atkinson

    Zoë Atkinson has worked as a theatre designer nationally and internationally for over twenty-five years. Her experience spans a diverse range of art forms including opera, puppetry, dance, theatre, community arts, museum exhibition and the visual arts. Over the years she has served as a member and chair on many arts advisory boards, committees and funding panels; and has taught design at a variety of institutions, including WAAPA, where she was Head of Design from 2000 – 2002. Zoë has been the recipient of several awards for her work, including a Helpmann Award, several Green Room Awards, and the Young Australian of the Year Award for the Arts. Her relationship with Black Swan began in 2000; and she has since designed thirteen productions with the company.

  • Mimi Packer

    Mimi Packer graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is an accountant and mother of four children. She is on the Board of The Fathering Project and the Australian Bridge Federation Foundation. Mimi is a former director of the PLC Foundation and has been involved with numerous charities including Clontarf Foundation, The Smith Family and Brightwater Care Group. Mimi has been keen supporter of the Black Swan State Theatre Company for many years.

  • Professor David Shirley

    David is the Executive Director of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

    A professional actor with extensive experience in theatre, film, television and radio, David trained at the Arts Educational Schools and at RADA.. The founding Chair of the Conference of Drama Schools Research Forum and a former Co-convenor of the 20th/21st Century Performer Training Group at TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association), David is actively engaged in promoting research initiatives across the HE performer training sector. His own research includes published articles/book chapters related to Stanislavsky and Russian Naturalism, British Actor and Director training, the American Method, the work of Samuel Beckett and Postdramatic Theatre.

    David was formerly the Chair of the Federation of Drama Schools (FDS) in the UK and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

    David is an Associate Editor of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) published by Routledge.

    He is also on the Advisory Board to the Stanislavsky Research Centre.


  • Artistic Reference Group 2021

    Prof. David Shirley (Chair)
    Rob Brookman
    Rick Heath (Executive Director)
    Wendy Martin
    Barry McGuire
    Clare Watson (Artistic Director)


  • Philanthropy Advisory Board 2021

    Mimi Packer (Chair)
    Di Bain
    Andrew Baker
    John Barrington AM
    Anna Casellas
    Rick Heath (Executive Director)
    Lisa Rowley
    Natasha Taylor


  • Finance & Operations

    Sarah-Jane Watkins Director of Finance
    Katie Gugliotta Finance Officer
    Deanna Faust Director of Operations
    Erin Howe Executive Assistant & Office Manager

  • Artistic

    Polly Low Literary Director
    Chantelle Iemma Company Manager
    Ian Michael Artistic Associate
    Julia Hales, Chris Isaacs Resident Artists

  • Production

    Katie Moore Deputy Production Manager
    Les Hickford Workshop Manager
    Ben Green Workshop Administrator & Set Builder
    Stephen Matthews Senior Set Builder & Head Mechanist
    Martin (Marek) Szyler Scenic Artist
    Jordan Lee, Alison Little, Kip Wood-Smith Set & Prop Builders
    Lynn Ferguson Wardrobe Manager
    Jenny Edwards Costume Cutter
    Nicole Marrington Costume Technician
    Jemma Eton, Anna Weir Wardrobe Assistants

  • Development

    Georgia Clark Director of Business Development
    Leah Royle Chief Development Officer
    Cate Creedon Partnerships & Events Manager
    Louise Coomber Development Coordinator

  • Education

    Christie Sistrunk Creative Learning Manager

  • Marketing

    Larissa Somm Director of Marketing
    Irene Jarzabek Public Relations Manager
    Olivia Atley Marketing Coordinator
    Phoebe Tempra Marketing Assistant

  • Ticketing

    Rachel Doulton Ticketing and Data Coordinator
    Linda Pope, Angela George Ticketing Officer