Party like it’s 1988 with Black Swan Theatre

Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA has announced additional seats have been released for its production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

Presented in association with Perth Festival, The Cherry Orchard is a wildly Australian take on Anton Chekhov’s comedy of inevitable catastrophe, written by Adriane Daff and Katherine Tonkin.

This immersive experience will see audiences traverse the character-filled Sunset Heritage Precinct in Dalkeith 17 Feb – 14 Mar 2021.

Black Swan Artistic Director Clare Watson says:

Our 2021 Season ‘With Love’ marks the company’s 30th birthday year. Site specific Perth Festival productions were synonymous with Black Swan in our early years. So, it makes sense that our first performance of the year is performed at such an iconic site in Dalkeith, on the banks of the river as part of Perth Festival.

The final play written by Chekhov in his dying days was intended to be his most hilarious comedy. This adaptation takes the story from Russia in the 1880s and replants the orchard to a fictional late 1980s Manjimup in WA. From boom to bust, as the recession hit in 1987 and the America’s Cup put WA on the world stage, Madame Ranyevskaya has to sell up and move out.

Venue capacity is small, so audiences get to experience this production across the Sunset Heritage Precinct, from inside the family home in the former ballroom, flowing through to a sunset picnic under the gum trees overlooking the Swan river, to an outdoor courtyard dress-up party.”

Clare Watson says, This is a radical way of presenting a Russian classic, steeped in Australiana, and promises some great eighties tunes. It’s our way of sharing stories that create brave and playful conversations – For you. About you. With you.

The ensemble cast features Humphrey Bower, Emily Rose Brennan, Grace Chow, Kieran Clancy-Lowe, Michelle Fornasier, Brendan Hanson, Sam Longley, Hayley McElhinney, Bridie McKim, Ben Mortley, Mark Nannup and George Shevtsov, plus two adorable canine friends.

The play . . . 

It’s October 1987; Bob Hawke’s back in, the America’s Cup has put Freo on the map, Kylie’s topped the charts, and the New York stock exchange has crashed and burned, plunging Australia into “the recession it had to have.” For some the heydays of excess are on a rapid decline, while for others the outlook has never been so good.

It’s against this backdrop that we find ourselves in Manjimup Western Australia, where the fate of a grand Cherry Orchard and its accompanying estate are being decided. It’s four in the morning, and Lopakhin, an upwardly mobile property developer and former employee of the household, lies splayed out asleep on the couch. He’s awaiting the return of Ranyevskaya, the owner of the property, who’s just spent 5 years in the eastern states, drowning her grief in alcohol and sex.

The household is on tenterhooks…

Despite her adopted daughter‘s attempts to save the place, the money’s run out, the credit cards are maxed and it seems there’s no option left but to sell.

Lopakhin pitches a plan to save the day but Ranyevskaya and her infantile brother would prefer to just pour another glass of champagne and leave their heads firmly in the sand.

As we sit poised on the cusp of Australia’s bicentennial “celebrations,” beloved family friend Trofimov asks this self-absorbed menagerie of white Australian privilege to examine their claim to land and belonging, and urges them to consider – is there another way forward? Over the course of 5 months, we watch on as hopes and dreams are dashed, and new loves are forged.

This adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s tale of shifting classes and dismantled ideologies is also a celebration of our very human need to make sense and make amends, to connect and feel loved, to dance when you feel like crying, and to stare bravely into the face of a changing world.

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

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