Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2021

Black Swan State Theatre Company has announced its 2021 season, with several events carrying over from the COVID-19 disrupted 2020 season and an audience-choice Shakespeare to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary.

“We will bring to the stages 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 two-day free festival part of NAIDOC week, and a choose-your-own onstage adventure in which we will invite our audiences to vote for the Shakespearean play they would like us to present in celebration of our 30th year,” said Artistic Director Clare Watson – “a creatively thrilling yet slightly terrifying proposition for a theatre company!”

ShevtsovGeorge Shevtsov in The Cherry Orchard. Photo © Richard Jefferson

The Cherry Orchard

The season opens in February with an Australian take on Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard directed by Clare Watson. The play, which was initially planned for the 2020 season, has been adapted by Adriane Daff and Katherine Tonkin – who will appear on stage alongside Humphrey Bower, Kieran Clancy-Lowe, Michelle Fornasier, Brendan Hanson, Sam Longley, Angela Mahlatjie, Bridie McKim, Ben Mortley and George Shevtsov.

The Cherry Orchard plays 17 February – 14 March


BSSTC collaborates with The Blue Room Theatre to bring Playthings, written and directed by Scott McArdle, to Studio Underground in April and May. The cast includes Courtney Henri and Daniel Buckle as Lucy and Arnold, two 13-year-old outcasts, alongside Siobhan Dow-Hall and St John Cowcher.

Playthings plays 29 April – 8 May

Marrugeku’s Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry. Photo © Prudence Upton

Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry

Dance troupe Marrugeku’s Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry – choreographed by Dalisa Pigram and Serge Aimé Coulibaly (who also directs) – comes to Heath Ledger Theatre in May. The award-winning production grew out of Marrugeku’s partnership with Centre Cultural Tjibaou in Nouméa, New Caledonia, and explores recuperation in the aftermaths of colonisation, with dancers of First Nations, immigrant and settler descent from Australia and New Caledonia.

Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry plays 12 – 15 May

Maali Festival

The inaugural Maali Festival, curated by Ian Michael and Chloe Ogilvie, was set to take place this year, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Named after the Nyoongar word for black swan, the Festival takes place in July during NAIDOC week and will include traditional dance, a return of the play Bindjareb Pinjarra, and music by electronic duo Electric Fields.

The Maali Festival takes place 9 – 10 July

Shareena Clanton in York. Photo © Richard Jefferson


The Maali Festival will also see the opening of another play initially slated for 2020, the world premiere of Ian Michael and Chris Isaacs’ York, returns in 2021. The new play, which will be directed by Clare Watson and Ian Wilkes, is set in and around an abandoned hospital in the township of York, on Ballardon Nyoongar country, and will star Shareena Clanton, Alan Little, Jo Morris, Ben Mortley and Alison van Reeken.

York plays 10 July – 1 August

Every Brilliant Thing

In August/September, Luke Hewitt will star in Duncan Macmillan’s one-man-show about treasuring the little things in life. Every Brilliant Thing will be directed by Adam Mitchell in the Studio Underground.

Every Brilliant Thing plays 25 August – 17 September

Animal Farm

Van Badham’s adaptation of George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm – as a three-hander starring Andrea Gibbs, Alison van Reeken and Megan Wilding – will play in the Heath Ledger Theatre in October. Emily McLean directs.

Animal Farm plays 2 – 24 October

That Shakespearean Play

BSSTC will close out the year with Shakespeare, in a nod to the company’s first production, Twelfth Night, in 1991. This time round, however, the choice of play is up to the audience, who are being invited to vote on the show they would most like to see. Whichever play is ultimately selected, Matt Edgerton will direct.

That Shakespeare Play plays 20 November – 11 December

Season Details

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