YORK – an epic sprawling work of hauntings and history

BSSTC-York-Shareena-Clanton-photo-by-Richrad-JeffersonA West Australian ghost story inspired by 200 years of real accounts, York will be presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA in collaboration with WA Youth Theatre Company in the Heath Ledger Theatre from 17 July to 1 August 2021.

A raw, resonating new work written by two incredibly talented West Australian artists Ian Michael (Wilman Nyoongar) and Chris Isaacs, York bristles with excitement and heart. In development over four years, with a first public reading at the York Town Hall in 2020, this will be the world premiere season of York.

Set on Ballardong boodja, the story takes place around an abandoned hospital in the township of York. It’s a thrilling ride from humour to terror as we wind back time to reveal a dark past.

We first meet a contemporary tree changing couple who move into an old, abandoned hospital building where they soon notice something isn’t quite right. We then find ourselves in 1985 in the very same building where a cub scout troop experience poltergeist-like hauntings.

We travel back further in time to when the building was a military hospital post World War 1, and finally we visit the early years of white settlement and discover the brutal truth – the violence and injustice – of our colonial past. Both in content and form… York is epic storytelling in every way.

As a theatre maker, there are some projects that you work on that change you. They profoundly recalibrate your thinking and make you see the world anew. York is definitely one of those plays,” said Artistic Director Clare Watson.

“The years of development have made me more finely attuned to the whispers of history that emerge from this beautiful country. So many have lived and loved and told stories here before us – there are whispers that emerge from the walls of old buildings, from the trees that have borne witness to multiple generations and from the land itself.”

“The process has been extraordinary in its care, reverence, harmony and deep listening – and I will cherish this experience forever. York is an important and powerful piece of theatre,” said Watson.

Watson with the exceptionally talented Ian Wilkes directs a cast of ten play multiple characters across different eras. The adult ensemble – Shareena Clanton, Isaac Diamond, Jo Morris, Ben Mortley, Maitland Schnaars, Elise Wilson, and Alison Van Reeken are joined by young cast members, Benjamin and Jacob Narkle, and Sophie Quin.

The creative team includes Zoë Atkinson (set and costume designer), Lucy Birkinshaw (lighting designer), Dr Clint Bracknell (composer and sound designer), Polly Low (dramaturg), Julia Moody (voice coach) and Nastassja Norwood (fight director).

York is a fabulously rich and often true story that reminds us that a place holds memories and its inhabitants are bound to hear the echoes of what has gone before. York is a bold, original work that confronts us with our past.

It’s our way of sharing stories that create brave and playful conversations – For you. About you. With you. It’s a unique, funny, and compelling piece of theatre that everyone in Western Australia needs to see.

Heath Ledger Theatre – State Theatre Centre of WA, 174-176 William Street, Perth
Season: 21 July – 1 August 2021 (previews: 17 – 20 July)
Information and Bookings: www.bsstc.com.au

Image: Shareena Clanton – photo by Richard Jefferson