Black Swan State Theatre Company

Black Swan State Theatre Company (formerly The Black Swan Theatre Company) is Western Australia's state theatre company. It runs an annual subscription season in Perth at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, tours its productions regionally and interstate, and screens live broadcasts around the state. Black Swan's Artistic Director is Clare Watson; past artistic directors include Kate Cherry; Andrew Ross and Tom Gutteridge.

Black Swan State Theatre Company
AddressState Theatre Centre of WA, Level 1, 182 William Street
Perth, Western Australia
ProductionA Streetcar Named Desire; As You Like It; Dust; The Seagull; Laughter on the 23rd Floor; Gasp!; Flood; The House on the Lake


Black Swan's inaugural production was Twelfth Night in 1991. The Australian’s Alison Farmer claimed that the new company "soared triumphant", and that "at last West Australian theatre can be said to have found its own unique way of dealing with the Bard".

Black Swan's founding Artistic Director was Andrew Ross; he held the position until 2003. Black Swan's office and rehearsal room was located at the Old Masonic Hall in Nedlands, and its productions were performed in various theatres around Perth. Black Swan won critical and popular acclaim for both its world premiere productions and locally inspired reinterpretations of international theatre classics. Some of its landmark productions from this period include Bran Nue Dae, Sistergirl, Tourmaline, Corrugation Road (winner of The Age Critics’ Award), The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, Cloudstreet and The Odyssey.

Following Ross’ departure in 2003, Peter Kingston was engaged as Black Swan's acting Artistic Director until the appointment of Tom Gutteridge in 2004.

In 2008, Black Swan was rebranded Black Swan State Theatre Company, an event which coincided with the appointment of Kate Cherry as the company's Artistic Director.[1]

In 2011, Black Swan became one of two Resident Companies in the new State Theatre Centre of WA (the other is Perth Theatre Company). Since then, all of its productions have been performed there in either the Heath Ledger Theatre or the Studio Underground. In its first year at the State Theatre Centre, Black Swan presented the world premiere of Rising Water, the first piece written by Western Australian novelist Tim Winton specifically for the stage. In the same year, Black Swan was the first Australian theatre company to broadcast a live stage performance, when Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Kate Cherry, was broadcast in real time to audiences across regional Western Australia.[2]

In 2017, Clare Watson took over as the company's new Artistic Director.[3]

Commissions, programs and past ensembles

Rio Tinto Black Swan Commissions

Black Swan commissions new productions in partnership with the Rio Tinto Group. This partnership has so far produced four mainstage works: Aidan Fennessy’s National Interest (2012), Hilary Bell’s The White Divers of Broome (2012), Hannie Rayson's The Swimming Club (2010) and Kate Mulvany's The Web (2009). A fifth play, The Damned (2011) by Reg Cribb, received its premiere in the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre of WA.

Resident Artists Program

Black Swan's Resident Artists Program (formerly the Emerging Artists Program) supports up to five emerging artists annually by offering a year-long involvement working on a minimum of two Black Swan productions. The Resident Artists Program provides access to training, funding opportunities, mentoring and state-of-the-art theatre practice in order to facilitate learning and performance.

Emerging Writers Group

Black Swan's Emerging Writers Group (formerly the Young Writers Program) ushers a selected group of writers through a yearlong process of writing and devising a new work for the theatre. Members must complete a full length play by the end of the year. Three completed plays are chosen for full readings by a professional cast; in addition, one play is selected to be part of the Blue Room's ‘Summer Nights’ season the following year.

The HotBed Ensemble (2006–2010)

The HotBed Ensemble was Black Swan's professional development program for emerging Western Australian artists directed by Adam Mitchell.[4] The program included exclusive skills development and workshop opportunities with local, national and international artists, and the opportunity to create original, contemporary work. More than a third of the HotBed artists went on to work in Black Swan's mainstage program.

The HotBed Ensemble produced The Shape of Things (2010), Yellow Moon: The Ballad of Leila and Lee (2010), The Dark Room (2009), pool [no water] (2009), Caucasian Chalk Circle (2008), Portraits of Modern Evil (2008), The Laramie Project (2007), Falling Petals (2006) and Woyzeck (2006). The Shape of Things, Yellow Moon and Caucasian Chalk Circle all received Equity Guild nominations; Caucasian Chalk Circle won two Equity Guild Awards (Best Director and Best Newcomer), and The Shape of Things won five (Best Production, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Design). In 2011, the HotBed Ensemble was replaced by the Emerging Artists Program (now the Resident Artists Program).

Awards and nominations

2013Equity Guild Award for Best ActorArcadiaScott Sheridan
2013Equity Guild Award for Best ActressArcadiaWhitney Richards
2013Equity Guild Award for Best Supporting ActorArcadiaNick Maclaine
2013Equity Guild Award for Best Supporting ActressArcadiaAdriane Daff
2013Equity Guild Award for Best Supporting ActressCat on a Hot Tin RoofCaitlin Beresford-OrdWon
2013Equity Guild Award for Best New PlayThe DamnedReg Cribb
2013Equity Guild Award for Best Supporting ActorThe DamnedGreg McNeill
2013Equity Guild Award for Best Supporting ActressThe DamnedPolly Low
2013Equity Guild Award for Best ProductionWhen The Rain Stops FallingWhen The Rain Stops Falling
2013Equity Guild Award for Best DirectorWhen The Rain Stops FallingAdam MitchellWon
2013Equity Guild Award for Best ActorWhen The Rain Stops FallingSteve Turner
2013Equity Guild Award for Best ActressWhen The Rain Stops FallingJulia Moody
2013Equity Guild Award for Best ActressWhen The Rain Stops FallingAlison van Reeken
2013Equity Guild Award for Best DesignWhen The Rain Stops FallingBryan Woltjen
2013Equity Guild Award for Best DesignThe White Divers of BroomeBruce McKinven
2013Equity Guild Award for Best DesignThe White Divers of BroomeTrent Suidgeest
2017Matilda Awards, Best Supporting Female Actor & Billie Brown Award

for Best Emerging Artist

Moliere's TartuffeEmily WeirWon
2017 Green Room AwardsPicnic at Hanging Rock

a co-production with Malthouse Theatre

Ash Gibson Greig (Composition)

J. David Franzke (Sound Design)

2017 PAWA, Best Supporting Actor (Female) Let the Right One In Alison van ReekenWon
2017 PAWA, Best Music Let the Right One InRachael Dease, Composition & Sound DesignWon
2017 PAWA, Best Actor (Male) The Eisteddfod Brendan EwingWon
2017 PAWA, Best DirectorThe EisteddfodJeffrey Jay FowlerWon
2017 PAWA, Best Mainstage ProductionThe EisteddfodWon
2017 PAWA, Best New WorkComa Land

a co-production with Performing Lines

Will O'Mahony Won


  1. "Black Swan Announces New Artistic Director". Australian Stage Online. 29 October 2007. Archived from the original on 7 November 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  3. "Black Swan State Theatre Company names Clare Watson as new Artistic Director". Daily Review. 14 April 2016. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  4. "Home". Adam Mitchell. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
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