New works, musicals and conversations across time take centre stage in Clare Watson’s first season as Artistic Director.

Western Australia’s Black Swan State Theatre Company has announced its 2018 season, featuring a series of pairings that set contemporary works alongside classic plays in a programme of ‘mini festivals.’ The season is Black Swan’s first with new Artistic Director Clare Watson at the helm.

“Curating the 2018 season we began by asking the question: ‘What should we be talking about right now, as citizens of the world, as Western Australians, as humans?’” Watson said. “We wanted the theatre that you see at Black Swan to catalyse and contribute to the big conversations.”

Julia Hales in Black Swan State Theatre Company’s You Know We Belong Together. Photos © Cameron Etchells

The season kicks off with a world premiere. Watson will direct You Know We Belong Together by Julia Hales and collaborators, in four shows at the Perth Festival with Disability in the Arts Disadvantages in the Arts (DADAA). The play is a deeply personal account of Hales’ experiences of love, and the beauty and complexity of living with Down syndrome. “There will be song. There will be dance. There may even be karaoke,” said Watson.

Alan Little in Skylab.

You Know We Belong Together is paired with Melodie Reynolds-Diarra’s Skylab in August, which will be Black Swan’s first co-production with Yirra Yaakin Theatre. With a cast including Alan Liittle, the sci-fi comedy (it’s being billed as Dreamtime meets Monkey Magic) is set in Esperance, Western Australia, in 1979 and will be directed by Kyle J Morrison.

Igor Sas in Hir.

Taylor Mac’s recent hit Hir, which will be directed by Zoe Pepper (with a cast including Igor Sas, Jack Palit, Will O’Mahony and Toni Scanlan) and Ray Lawler’s classic Australian play Summer of the Seventeenth Doll directed Adam Mitchell (with a cast including Michael Cameron, Vivienne Garrett, Amy Mathews, Kelton Pell and Alison van Reeken) will be paired together in May, in a conversation dubbed The boys are back in town, both works opening with men returning to find things have changed.

Mackenzie Dunn as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme in Assassins.

Watson will direct British playwright David Greig’s The Events in Hit me with your best shot, a conversation that will take place in June and July. With a cast that includes Johnny Carr and Catherine McClements, The Events will feature a different Perth community choir at each performance. The contemporary work, which deals with themes of extremism, gun violence and the healing power of music, will be paired with Stephen Sondheim’s musical Assassins, which will be directed by Hodgman, with a cast including Mackenzie Dunn, Brendan Hanson and Geoff Kelso.

The final pairing for the year explores femininity and the roles and representation of women, and will feature Black Swan’s third premiere for the year, Xenides. A musical devised by Clare Watson and collaborators, Xenides is both tribute and protest, exploring the life of the 1980s game show hostess who was listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the longest serving gameshow host for her 19 years on Wheel of Fortune. The musical will feature a mash-up of ‘80s songs and TV theme tunes along with original music by electronic power-pop group The Twoks.

“Our season in 2018 is designed to encourage compassion and extend empathy and most importantly, to entertain,” said Watson. “We are thrilled to continue to build our community of artists and celebrate exciting collaborations with our small to medium sector colleagues, as well as our national colleague companies, for our audience.”

The Full Season