Frequently Asked Questions

We get so many questions from students, which we think is brilliant. But we are pretty busy people in this small team, and we feel bad when we can’t answer your questions in the time frame you need. Please take the time to read the below FAQ’s, and if your questions don'’t have answers here then feel free click here to download our student enquiry form. A staff member will do their absolute best to give you a response, but we can’t promise, so please don’t rely on our answers completely for your work.

The Year of Magical Thinking, 2009. Image by Gary Marsh.Do you have any information on past productions that Black Swan have presented?
Yes, Education, Marketing and Production Departments have information on a selection of previous productions including set/costume designs, programs, teacher's resource kits and stage management information. Contact Alena Tompkins:

Do you have information on the productions and programs that you are running this year?
If you would like one of our current season brochures, call our office administrator on 6212 9300 or email and we will send you one. Alternatively, you can access the information on this website.

How many people work at Black Swan and what are the different departments that make up the company?
Approximately 20 people are employed on a full-time/part-time basis. We employ casual staff as we need them, usually in Production. The Company is made up of Artistic Director, Executive Director, Administration, Accounts, Production, Wardrobe, Marketing, Partnerships, Philanthropy and Education.

Can I have access to the scripts of plays that you are presenting?
There are copyright issues regarding scripts if it is an unpublished script - we will be able to provide you with the agent's details for the playwright. However, if it is a published script then you will be able to purchase it from text and book suppliers (or online).

Does Black Swan have an ensemble of actors?
No, Black Swan contracts actors on a show-by-show basis.

Are there particular theatres that you prefer to use?
Beginning in 2011, Black Swan has performed all of its productions at the State Theatre Centre of WA in Perth, in the Heath Ledger Theatre or the Studio Underground. In 2009 and 2010, we performed our mainstage productions at the Playhouse Theatre and our HotBed Ensemble productions at PICA. However, the venue depends on content and style of play e.g The Odyssey in 2006 required space enough for large scale staging so the Claremont Showgrounds were perfect. Jandamarra needed the space of the Perth Convention Centre. We also tour regionally and use various venues throughout Western Australia.

Do you have any relationships with other theatre companies in WA or other states?
Co-productions sometimes are undertaken by the company. For example The Odyssey was a co-production with PIAF, Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne and the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Co-productions are dependent on the production line-up each year as programmed by the Artistic Director and General Manager. In recent years Black Swan has produced productions with Queensland Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company, and had one of our productions shown in the Brisbane Festival.

What does the Black Swan Marketing Department do?
Marketing includes the promotion of the Black Swan State Theatre Company ‘brand' and the selling of its ‘product', the identification of the company's target ‘markets', researching the wants and needs of our patrons, investigating potential new markets/customers and being aware of as many new marketing tools and trends as possible. This information helps form the marketing ‘strategy' of the Company as a whole and the individual marketing ‘campaigns' for each show.

How are the plays selected?
Plays are selected with many different criteria in mind. Generally, we try to include at least one play that is on either the school English, drama or both set text lists, to give students a chance to see a play they have studied. We need to also take into account our subscribers (people that book three or more plays regularly year after year) and their demographic and psychographic characteristics (age, gender, interests). We like to premiere new Australian works, produce plays that have had recent success on the East coast or overseas, and there is usually a classic in there too.

Does the company have a particular ethos in its choice of plays?
Not really, other than we especially like West Australian stories, but that is not our only focus.

How are the actors chosen?
At Black Swan we work closely with individual directors to cast all of our shows. Black Swan’s Artistic Director, artistic staff and those directors engaged by the Company generally have a good knowledge of local actors.  We also work closely with most theatrical agents in Australia. We usually do not hold general auditions, but local actors are encouraged to invite us to their productions. We do co-productions with other companies as well, and in that case we try to cast some actors from WA and some from the home state of the other company. All cast members are employed on a contract basis, Black Swan does not have any permanent actors on staff.

Who designs sets, costumes and lighting?
The creative designers are chosen a little like the actors. If they are already known to the company they will design for us at some stage if they haven’t already. We keep a close eye on the WAAPA graduates and will invite them to design for us if their work is well received. Some of them are invited over from the East for specific plays, but most often, if a director has worked with a designer before, there will be a trust and safety in working with someone you know can do the job, so you are re-hired. All designers are employed on a contract basis, as Black Swan does not have any permanent designers on staff.

On average how many plays would the company perform?
In 2012 Black Swan produced 6 mainstage productions. In 2013 we will produce 6 mainstage productions in the Heath Ledger Theatre, and 1 studio production in the Studio Underground.

What types of plays are performed (performance styles etc)?
We perform all styles of plays, we do not stick to any one genre or style.

Has the theatre company developed a specific direction or trend?
If you look at our website, you can get some ideas about this from our Artistic Director notes, etc. There is also an archive of all the plays we have ever produced. However, we have gone through many direction changes over the years, it usually depends on each individual Artistic Director’s vision and the changing culture and society of the time.

How is the company funded? 
Black Swan receives income from ticket sales, state and national government funding, corporate sponsorships and private donations.

What are the major expenses of the company?
Producing plays, hiring creatives and actors, building costumes and sets and hiring venues.
How is the company administered?

How does the organisational structure function?

Do you have a production team?
We have a Production Manager and contract all other production staff.

How is the funding allocated to the different areas within the company?
Marketing, production, staff wages, overheads.

What levels of funding are raised from ticket sales/subscriptions etc?
It depends on the popularity of the show.

Do you own your own facilities, etc?
No, we lease our offices and hire the venues we perform in.

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