A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

Black Swan is back with a vengeance and a fresh season for its 30th anniversary

Actor Kelton Pell to appear in ‘That Shakespeare Play’.

While Covid has proven to be a major challenge across all work sectors, it is the arts which were first hit hard. But one great thing to come out of the grimness of lockdown and isolation is that we’ve all had the opportunity to rethink what is important to us, one of these things being the need to escape. Another being the need to relate and work well with other peeps.

It appears the Black Swan State Theatre Company has been doing some down-home thinking, too, its program for 2021 promising to deliver on both fronts: escape and relatability.

The program boasts a diverse array of productions that draw on real-life events as well as classic fiction, offering fun nights out and the opportunity to connect with likeminded theatre-lovers.

Subtitled ‘With Love’, this year’s program hopes to re-establish Black Swan’s strong connection to the company’s heritage – one which celebrates 30 years on the stage as we ring in the new year.

Says Artistic Director Clare Watson, “We will bring to the stage old plays in new ways; a bold, original work that confronts us with our past; exciting collaborations with the local WA theatre sector; a contemporary dance work; a free two-day festival during NAIDOC week; and a choose-your-own onstage adventure in which we invite our audiences to vote for the Shakespearean play they would like us to present, [all] in celebration of our 30th birthday.”

George Shevtsov in ‘The Cherry Orchard’.

The 2021 season kicks off with a splendidly innovative take on Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, set in a fictional version of Manjimup, where parties are hosted and champagne flows but debts start to mount. And audiences get to be a real part of the parties and the madness, traversing the Sunset Heritage Precinct from the grand hall to the gumtrees and onto a party in the courtyard, equipped with its very own vodka bar. Yum.

Andrea Gibbs set to bring brilliant animation to ‘Animal Farm’.

Another highlight we’re looking forward to is Black Swan’s comedic take on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, described as “an internet-fast brilliantly sharp adaptation of Orwell’s response to authoritarian government” and “a high-octane satire [that] boils with the potency and emergency of a viral tweet”. Perfect to laugh along with as the world climbs out of the depths of despair shared for the past four years by the Trump administration.

Shareena Clanton to star in the epic, humour-meets-horror telling of ‘York’.

Local stories include Every Brilliant Thing, a funny play about depression (yes, you read right); That Shakespeare Play, where you the theatre lover gets to vote for the Shakespearean classic you’d like to see reworked; and York, an epic piece set on Ballardong Nyoongar country, blending truth-telling with humour and horror to uncover the buried histories that have been built over.

There’s oh-so much more than can be fit here, but do yourself the greatest favour as you climb out of a deflated Covid state, hop online and check out the entire Black Swan program for 2021. There’s something, if not everything, for everyone in here.

Antonino Tati


All photography by Richard Jefferson.

For more information visit www.bsstc.com.au.


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