Following up her ambitious first season as Black Swan State Theatre’s Artistic Director, Clare Watson has programmed an equally exciting string of plays for 2019. Whereas this year Watson invited audiences to participate in The Conversations – eight plays designed to provoke discussion were grouped thematically – next year is called Where the Heart Is, an exploration of Australian families.

Artistic Director Clare Watson. Photo © Pia Johnson

The year kicks off with Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Our Town, to be presented as part of Perth Festival. A unique theatrical experience, it sees professional actors (Abbie-Lee Lewis, Ian Michael and Shari Sebbens) working alongside members of the community to bring to life the fictional town of Grover’s Corner. Our Town will be directed by Clare Watson.

Our Town‘s Ian Michael. Photo © Richard Jefferson

Following its success earlier this year, You Know We Belong Together returns for an encore season. A personal account of Julia Hales’ experiences as a person with Down Syndrome, it’s a warm and welcoming multimedia experience with dance and song.

Next up is the world premiere of Jane Bodie’s Water, Clare Watson’s first commission as Artistic Director. Set in Western Australia in the near future, this exciting new play follows multiple families born at different times in Australia’s history, determined to create safe passage for their loved ones. To be directed by Emily McLean, the cast includes Richard Maganga and Igor Sas.

It’s followed by Oriel Gray’s 1955 newsroom comedy The Torrents, starring beloved comedian and actor Celia Pacquola. A co-production with Sydney Theatre Company, it’s set just before the turn of the century in the regional Australian town of Koolgalla and follows the enterprising Jenny as she attempts to introduce irrigation into the community. To be directd by Clare Watson, it picks up on contemporary discussions about mining, sustainable futures, and gender and class inequality.

The Torrents‘ Celia Pacquola. Photo © Rene Vaile

First seen at Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre, Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louis Sarks’ adaptation of Euripides’ Medea comes to Perth in this new production by Sally Richardson. Like Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the warring parents are relegated to the background, with attention given to the lives of the two boys who are about to meet a grisly fate.

Nakkiah Lui’s smash-hit comedy Black is the New White will also be seen for the first time in WA next year. Exploring the collision of two families at a tense dinner party, it’s a provocative, laugh out loud look at contemporary race relations in Australia. The cast includes Kylie Bracknell, Tony Briggs, Luke Carroll, Vanessa Downing, Melodie Reynolds-Diarra, Tom Stokes and Anthony Taufa.

Fully Sikh‘s Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa. Photo © Richard Jefferson

The year comes to a close with the world premiere of Fully Sikh, a co-production with Barking Gecko Theatre Company to be directed by Matt Edgerton. Written and performed by Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa (of Australia’s Got Talent fame), it’s a personal account of what it means to be an Australian Sikh woman, with elements of slam poetry.


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Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine