Almost twelve years have passed since Dessein first began working with the Black Swan State Theatre Company (BSSTC), both fledglings in a creative relationship on a flight path across the Australian landscape. Our partnership has resulted in a array of colourful creative visuals culminating as the BSSTC annual subscriber booklet. Here we take you on a journey of closure and new horizons as we farewell Artistic Director, Kate Cherry and welcome in-coming Artistic Directior, Clare Watson in 2017 and beyond and look at the designs that represent the 2017 season.

Image of the Black Swan State Theatre Company booklet cover showing silver foil background.

The 2017 Subscriber booklet has been printed onto foil board usually only used for food packaging to achieve a stunning cover that changes with the light it is viewed in.

Changing Landscapes

Black Swan has always endeavoured to showcase Western Australia’s diverse talent by supporting local actors, play writers, designers, directors and up-coming generations with a programme of equally diverse themes of both the classic and contemporary varieties. So it comes as no surprise that outgoing artistic director Kate Cherry departs BSSTC after nine years with a parting gift highlighting some of the best Western Australia has on offer.

It’s always exciting to hear what the season ahead will include, and so once we heard the 2017 programme was loaded with incredible works to be directed from past, present and future Artistic Director’s, we knew the vision of what was to come was as broad as the colourful landscape we inhabit and the design we were to create to promote it would have to be the same.

The season begins with Once In Royal David’s City, and is followed by the commemorative Anzac story The Lighthouse Girl. The absurdist classic Endgame is next with The Eisteddfod, described as ‘A disturbingly funny fantasy of suburban childhood’ is next on the list.  Coma Land, a psychological thriller is followed by Switzerland where the author of The Talented Mr Ripley (Patricia Highsmith), is the subject of the story. I Am My Own Wife examines the life of a German antiquarian, who survived the Nazi and Communist regimes as a transvestite. Finishing the season, in-coming artistic director, Clare Watson makes her BSSTC directorial debut with the Swedish romantic horror Let the Right One In.
This represents two world premiers, and five plays by Australian playwrights. A fantastic kaleidoscope of colourful and engaging plays set across numerous landscapes that are bound to delight audiences in 2017.

Once in Royal David’s City launches the 2017 season for Black Swan State Theatre Company.

The Lighthouse Girl set in Albany, Western Australia is the birthplace of this ANZAC story.

The contemporary classic EndGame.

Theatre Notes describes The Eisteddfod as “A disturbingly funny fantasy of suburban childhood.”

Coma Land is a magical story celebrating children, difference and the depths of parental love.

Switzerland asks ‘when using words for weapons, how far do you go before it cuts too deep?’

I Am My Own Wife’s Charlotte von Mahlsdorf is described as
“The most singular eccentric individual the Cold War ever birthed.” (Doug Wright)

A stage adaptation of the acclaimed Swedish novel and film, Let the Right One In tells the story of friendship between a boy and a centuries-old vampire.

Dessein is the team behind all the design components that have built the brand of the now the familiar face of Black Swan. Collaborating with the BSSTC marketing manager Maria Sioulas and stylist Chaka Leyla and photographer Robert Frith, the new season is carefully crafted through a series of visual imagery representing each individual play and while it is important these designs depict or are suggestive of the synopsis, it is mutually important for the design to unify the group of plays as the collective season. One way of achieving this in the past has been through a theme – grouping the series through styling, colour themes or captioning. The brief this year was quite the opposite. ‘No themes, all of the plays are distinctly different and they should be conveyed as such.’ OK. So off we went, all the other usual processes remained the same as previous years and the final designs came together (quite nicely, we think), culminating in the subscriber booklet for the year.

Reflecting Ideas

The cover design this year is an abstract interpretation of Kate Cherry’s vision of Black Swan’s longevity in theatre within the Western Australia environment. With limited time available to shoot a custom shot, Dessein turned to Salty Wings, a high-end digital photography agency set on showcasing the natural beauty of Western Australia. The image chosen, an aerial view of Roebuck Bay, Broome does just that. An assortment of colours and textures as the tide ebbs and flows onto the shores of the ancient red rock and sand synonymous to the Kimberly region of Western Australia. Taken to the next step, Dessein coupled with local printer Percival Print to attempt a unique finish not usually associated with conventional publication printing.Using our experience as packaging designers, our attention turned to using a packaging foil board as the replacement cover stock. Printing the image in 4 colour process with a special hard and fast-drying white ink to selective areas onto a silver foil board elevated the Western Australian landscape into an artistic expression of the colour and diversity of our culture and experiences. This distinctively different approach did not disappoint and became the talking point of patrons receiving the subscriber booklet at the initial launch.Although no theme was created intentional, it soon became an obvious an undercurrent of sub scapes existed.A ‘scape’ is defined as a noun or verb; a combining form extracted from landscape, denoting “an extensive view, scenery,” or “a picture or representation” of such a view, as specified by the initial element: cityscape; moonscape; seascape.Perhaps you could say, that in using a landscape, we were actually representing a number of ‘scapes’ from each play. We have a cloudscape, snowscape, streetscape, townscape, waterscape and of course the experience of escaping to a night of theatre. Whatever the view, the Black Swan State Theatre has most definitely taken flight across our state and nation. The bar is set high and we look forward to a colourful season in 2017.