Black Swan State Theatre Company’s 2022 season of theatre is a celebration and exploration of connection and family. It is called KIN and explores how we are connected as family, from bloodlines right through to a virtual family.
Clare Watson’s final season of curating works for Black Swan will be performed across five theatres and features seven productions. Three plays are homegrown, with thought-provoking and entertaining Western Australian stories from Kalgoorlie to Donnybrook to right here in Perth’s back yard.
Three of the works are international smash hits that have wowed audiences globally on stages from London to New York, and one is an interactive online performance that will bring the stage into your living room.
Clare has been Artistic Director since 2016 and in that time has noted that “gathering audiences and collaborating with extraordinary artists has given me five years of joy and kinship.” She added “we both inherit our kin, and we choose who we gather around us as family, just as we can be chosen.”
“We each carry a narrative within us that comes from our kin. There is a story in us all about how we were loved, and we bring this story with us to our own families, to our friendships, to our workplaces, and to the theatre. In 2022, we are bringing these stories to the stage,” said Watson.
The company is proud to bring home the fiercely political work City of Gold, written by Wongutha-Yamatji man Meyne Wyatt. This semi-autobiographical story puts a family on stage with an unbroken lineage through multimillenia, surviving centuries of colonial violence, and asks us to all take a stand against racism: “offend your family, call it out.”
“This show cuts right to the core of Meyne’s experience as a young black man in Australia. It is unrelenting and honest,” says Director Shari Sebbens (Our Town).
Starring Meyne Wyatt, City of Gold will commence Black Swan’s season, running from 4 to 26 March in the Heath Ledger Theatre and presented in association with Sydney Theatre Company as part of Perth Festival.
The next two productions are by local Western Australian writers and bring us into the homes of families dealing with loss. Both are hilarious, devastating, and deeply relatable.
From the wickedly funny mind of Andrea Gibbs, Barracking for the Umpire is an original, riotous comedy about the fragility of our body, our family, our community, and asks, “what are we willing to sacrifice for the great game?”
Doug Williams is the greatest footballer Donnybrook has ever seen. Hard as flint. Salt of the Earth. But the sure hands of this once great player are starting to fumble the ball.
Barracking for the Umpire features the best of WA talent with Caroline Brazier, Jo Morris, Kelton Pell, Ian Wilkes, and – making her professional debut – Stephanie Somerville. The season runs from 24 Mar to 10 April at the Subiaco Arts Centre and is directed by Clare Watson.
Black Swan’s partnership with The Blue Room Theatre continues with Liz Newell’s Toast – a warm, funny story about the family we’re given and the family we choose for ourselves. After the sudden death of their mother, three sisters are left adrift, wrestling with their loss and each other.
Ringing with harsh realities and a few home truths, this superb locally written story is a love letter to the people who hold our hand in the dark. Winner of the Blue Room Theatre 2017 awards for Best Production and Best Performance, this production has been upscaled to the Studio Underground from 5 to 15 May and is directed by Emily McLean (Animal Farm, Unsung Heroes).
The international smash hit and eight-time Tony Award-winning musical Once, is a modern-day urban love story of a struggling Irish musician on the verge of giving up, and a piano-playing Czech immigrant who reminds him how to dream.
Featuring an outstanding ensemble of multi-talented performers playing instruments live on stage, Once reminds everyone of music’s power to connect us. Once will be performed in association with Darlinghurst Theatre Company at The Regal Theatre from 28 May to 12 June, as we welcome back Director Richard Carroll and Musical Director Victoria Falconer (Oklahoma!).
Clare Watson will direct Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, where we meet the Wingfields, a family trapped in each other’s orbit, held in the slippery grip of memory. This timeless family drama thrust Tennessee Williams into the international spotlight and features a tour-de-force performance by the much-loved Mandy McElhinney (Wakefield, Love Child, Paper Giants).
Watson believes “this production will pique our nostalgia and arouse our yearning. It’s like we’re watching ourselves on VHS in a time when we were a little more glamorous and much more devil-may-care.” This is your grand night out at the theatre.
Connected by wunderkind comedian Lawrence Leung, is a live, online performance that takes place on two sides of a screen – Lawrence’s and yours. Performed over Zoom, this unique interactive comedy gives you the best seats in the house – that is, in your house. Viewers will be guided through mini experiences where the idea of ‘connection’ is explored in increasingly awesome and wicked ways.
Can participants read each other’s minds through a screen? Will complete strangers discover remarkable coincidences? Are we all connected? All you need is an internet connection, a device, and your favourite chair. Three shows only on 16, 17, and 18 September. Tickets are limited for these virtual performances and only available for single ticket purchase.
The co-dependence of mother and child in Ella Hickson’s extraordinary play Oil, is matched by the co-dependence of us all on one of Earth’s most precious and finite resources, in an epic drama that asks: is blood thicker than oil? Spanning 150 years and traversing the globe through Tehran, Hampstead, Baghdad, and then back to Cornwall, Oil is an explosive collision of empire, history and family.
Starring Hayley McElhinney (Doctor Doctor, The Cherry Orchard) with a formidable ensemble of actors under the direction of Adam Mitchell (When the Rain Stops Falling, Death of a Salesman), Oil is an exciting and relevant new work for our time and place and will be performed in the Heath Ledger Theatre from 5 to 27 November.
Membership packages are available now. Single tickets on sale from Tuesday 16 November. For more information, visit: www.bsstc.com.au for details.
Image: Mandy McElhinney stas in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie – photo by Frances Andrijich