From as far back as I can remember, the colours yellow and black have connoted W.A. for me. The road signs dotted along country trips with Dad… My driver’s manual and RAC member’s card, the same hues. The telephone directory just as its title suggested: yellow pages, black type. The jersey I wore to represent my home state in Little Athletics… you guessed it.
So when I spotted the black-and-yellow cover of the 2020 season program by the State Theatre Company of Western Australia – subtitled Stories from Here – my mind went right back to childhood and my teen years, to growing up in a fledgling state that would soon be growing five times as fast as me.
Despite W.A.’s ever-increasing growth in industries such as the resources and hospitality, there are things I yearn for from back then – for when we were more like babes in woods, and this season’s State Theatre promises to bring much of those good feels back.
The State Theatre Company’s affinity with West Australian culture is set to go far beyond mere aesthetics in 2020.
The season will kick off with Tim Winton’s renowned story, Cloudstreet. In conjunction with Malthouse Theatre and part of the Perth Festival, the production will be hosted at the newly renovated His Majesty’s Theatre. An epic slice of Australian literature – about suburban life in post-war Perth – each performance will run for an epic five hours. Cloudstreet is on from 21 February to 15 March.
From there, the company will travel south to Manjimup which will be the innovative setting for Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Directors Adriane Daff and Katherine Tonkin’s version of this classic play promises to be heartbreaking and hilarious in equal parts, with several characters even coming across as a bit ‘Kath & Kim’. The Cherry Orchard runs from 9 to 31 May.
From 4 to 21 June there’ll be a platter of fresh faces and voices expressing themselves in ‘Unsung Heroes’, a collection of six home-grown stories, directed by Emily McLean and Joe Paradise Lui.
The Company is also thrilled to be hosting its inaugural Maali Festival – a First Nations takeover of the State Theatre Centre to be held during NAIDOC Week on Sunday 12 July and curated by Black Swan’s resident artists Chloe Ogilvie (Yamatji Nhanda) and Ian Michael (Nyoongar).
Then it’s off to York, the oldest inland town in W.A. for a ghost story set in a hospital that will both delight and terrify. Inspired by 200 years of ghost story accounts, the aptly titled York will run from 15 August to 6 September.
The final quarter of the year will see another Australian production sandwiched between two home-stirred renditions of theatrical classics.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm will be given a comedic yet still-poignant overhaul from 3 to 27 September; cult thriller Wake in Fright, which is set in a hell-scary outback, will be presented from 15 October to 1 November; and the wild west gets another good look-in when Oklahoma! plays from 28 November to 20 December.
By New Year’s Eve, West Australian theatre-goers ought to be feeling well fulfilled. And very much patriotic.
For the full program in digital format, click here.
Cloudstreet stage photography by Pia Johnson.