Perth Theatre Company has launched its 2015 season, and we had a chat with PTC Artistic Director Mel Cantwell to gain some further insight into what she calls a “creative, big, exciting program.”



Opening the 2015 season is From The Rubble, based on the stories of journalist Sophie McNeill. It  will be an audio-visually immersive new work, directed by Cantwell and created with Joe Lui, Mei Saraswati, Tina Torabi and Mikala Westall. Cantwell describes McNeill as “a remarkable, brave incredible young Western Australian woman.” She goes on to say, “There’s a lot of imagery and elements of Sophie’s work that really stayed with me or that I felt compelled to explore. A lot of them involved young women in some form and what they wanted to be in this world, what their dreams were, and how they navigate around them, and all the things we take for granted sometimes. That’s the territory we’re exploring at the moment.”




Next will be The Confidence Man, a piece co-written and directed by Zoe Pepper which first premiered in Melbourne in 2013. Cantwell says, “This is really fun. It’s a heist story that involves a bag of money and some guns, you know?” But that’s just the beginning. What makes this show a truly unusual and immersive experience is that the characters are eight audience members who have chosen to participate, and they all wear big masks. “They’re given an audio feed and instructions throughout the piece and they have to act it out. Then the remaining audience who don’t want to be a part of it sit on the perimeter and observe; they have the same audio feed and can choose between character channels. You sit and watch this world come to life.”




Cantwell herself writes and directs The Song Was Wrong about a relationship between a pianist and his muse. She says, “It is exciting for me. It’s a return to what brought me into the theatre in the first place, being a writer/director.” The piece is a bit of a departure for Cantwell, who confesses, “It’s been really joyous to explore love in the rehearsal room. I guess a lot of the work I’ve been doing has been challenging across ethics or moral dilemmas, but I’ve always kept my ear to the ground for that contemporary love story that we can get swept away in. It’s something that we all understand, either that we’re in love, or that we’re looking for love, or lamenting lost love…there’s something about it that’s really beautiful to explore on stage.”




Once again offering immersive theatre for audiences, PTC will be presenting a work conceived by James Berlyn called Yourseven. This will take place in the State Theatre Centre Courtyard and audiences will be guided through the space in a one-on-one performance that Cantwell describes as a “beautiful gentle experience.”  Of one-on-one theatre, Cantwell says, “It can be quite intimidating, but after participating in this piece in a development setting, I came away from it looking at the world a little differently, through brighter eyes. It’s the kind of experience I felt needed to be shared. It’s really lovely.”




PTC’s big finale will be John Steinbeck’s seminal work Of Mice And Men and will star Australian film, television and theatre actor Jai Courtney, along with Luke Hewitt and Steve Turner. Cantwell says, “Jai and I have discussed it for a long time; it’s a role that he felt really drawn to and it’s a work that he and I both felt had a resonance and a timeliness. I feel like in WA we can relate to that idea of the transient workforce, and the friendships we need to fall back on. It’ll be really lovely to see him on stage again, he’s an extraordinary stage actor, not just in terms of presence but in skill.” The performance will also incorporate live music from Perth band Stoney Joe, fronted by Roly Skender.


Cicely Binford