2016: 25 Years Strong

2016 is a significant year for Black Swan, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. We recognise the commitment of a multitude of people in launching a theatre company that was strongly regional in character, but also expressed our place in a national and international theatre world.

Black Swan was established in July 1991 under the Chairmanship of Janet Holmes à Court AC, and founding Artistic Director Andrew Ross. Holmes à Court reflects she was first inspired in creating a new theatre company with Will Queckett and Duncan Ord after seeing Ross’ production of Bran Nue Dae at the 1990 Festival of Perth. In those formative years, Black Swan led the way in promoting Indigenous theatre in Australia, for which it is recognised nationally, working with Aboriginal writers and creatives and producing the work of Jack Davis, Jimmy Chi and Sally Morgan.

Under Ross’ directorship, Black Swan produced a number of critically acclaimed Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian works including: Bran Nue Dae, Sistergirl, Tourmaline, Dead Heart, Corrugation Road, The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, The Career Highlights of the Mamu, Plainsong, The Year of Living Dangerously and Cloudstreet.

Following Ross’ departure in 2003, Peter Kingston was engaged as Black Swan’s acting Artistic Director, until the appointment of Tom Gutteridge in 2004. The same year, Black Swan was given status as Western Australia’s flagship theatre company. Productions during this time include: Zastrozzi, Ruby’s Last Dollar, Uncle Vanya, The Odyssey, The Crucible, Jandamarra and Last Cab to Darwin. With the emergence of Indigenous theatre companies around Australia, such as Yirra Yaakin, the company has grown and developed and found different pathways, both as a niche company and in presenting works of broad appeal.

In 2008, Kate Cherry joined as Artistic Director, and with Chair Sam Walsh AO, saw the company transition to become Black Swan State Theatre Company. Cherry created the Rio Tinto Black Swan Commissions, a new commissioning program investing in WA’s creative future and showcasing the work of both leading and emerging Australian playwrights. As a champion for the support and development of Western Australian artists, she initiated a number of development programs for emerging artists, which continue strongly today, with the creation of The Bridging Company.

Black Swan has achieved accolades for bringing truly Australian stories to our stage with The White Divers of Broome, Boundary Street, National Interest and Extinction. The company has become renowned for re-interpretations of classic works such as A Streetcar Named Desire (which broke box office records), Arcadia and Glengarry Glen Ross. We were honoured to be the first company to produce the trilogy of new works: Rising Water, Signs of Life and Shrine, by international award-winning novelist Tim Winton.

In 2011, Black Swan became a resident company in the State Theatre Centre of WA and in that same year, was the first Australian theatre company to broadcast to the regions a live stage performance, with Cherry’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Black Swan’s live broadcasts to regional WA have become an annual event, complementing our regional touring and community engagement programs. 

Over our 25 years, we have presented more than 180 productions, undertaken numerous co-productions with local and national companies and travelled the breadth of our state, whilst also touring nationally and internationally!  To our subscribers, stakeholders, business partners, donors and audience members, we thank you all and invite you to continue the journey.

See you at the theatre.


Key Milestones: 1991 - 2016

Reflect on some of the significant milestones in our company’s history as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary and look to the future.

July 26, 1991

Black Swan Theatre Company is founded under Chair, Janet Holmes a Court and Artistic Director Andrew Ross

1992 Sistergirl

Twelfth Night


1992 Sistergirl



1992 Sistergirl

Bran Nue Dae




1994 Dead Heart

Dead Heart


Waiting for Godot


Corrugation Road


1997 The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea


Establishment of partnership with Hamersley Iron (part of the Rio Tinto Group)




1999 The Year of Living Dangerously

The Year of Living Dangerously


Black Swan wins State Arts Sponsorship Awards: Outstanding Long-term Committment by a Patron - Heytesbury Pty Ltd, and Best Industry Initiative Patron - Hamersley Iron

2000 Plainsong



Establishment of Be Active BSX Theatre program

Black Swan Theatre and Hamersley Iron win AbaF Business Arts Partnership of the Year


2002 The Career Highlights of the Mamu

The Career Highlights of the Mamu

2002 Copenhagen



2003 - A man with five children

A Man with Five Children


Appointment of Tom Gutteridge as Artistic Director

Company given status as Western Australia's flagship theatre company


Regional Youth Project Operation Pilbara launched sponsored by Pilbara Iron

2005 - The Visit

The Visit


2006 - Red Dog

Red Dog


2007 The Lady Aoi

The Lady Aoi

2007 The Crucible

The Crucible


Appointment of Kate Cherry as Artistic Director


Establishment of Rio Tinto Black Swan Commissions


Black Swan State Theatre Company and RAC WA win Australia Council Young & Emerging Artists Award

2010 The Sapphires

The Sapphires

2010 The Shape of Things

The Shape of Things


Moved to the State Theatre Centre of WA

2011 A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream

2011 When The Rain Stops Falling

When The Rain Stops Falling

2011 Boundary Street

Boundary Street


2012 Arcadia


2012 The White Divers of Broome

The White Divers of Broome


Rio Tinto, Water Corporation and Black Swan win Western Australian Creative Partnerships Regional Award

2013 Shrine



Establishment of the Black Swan Lab

Renewal of Principal Partner Rio Tinto until 2017

2014 A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire


2015 Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross


First international collaboration with National Theatre of China with The Caucasian Chalk Circle 

Establishment of The Bridging Company