Making history – world premiere Australian play opens in Perth tonight

The White Divers of Broome. Image by Robert Frith
Yutaka Izumihara and Tom O'Sullivan in The White Divers of Broome. Image by Robert Frith

Tonight, history will be made when a brand new Australian play opens at the Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA.

Presented as part of the Perth International Arts Festival and Black Swan State Theatre Company’s first play of the 2012 season, The White Divers Of Broome – written by Hilary Bell and directed by Black Swan’s Artistic Director Kate Cherry – is an epic tale of isolation, non-conformity and survival in a harsh and relentless environment.

Inspired by the book of the same name by author John Bailey, The White Divers Of Broome is a ‘true story of a fatal experiment’. In 1912, Broome was as much Asian as Australian. Thriving on a hugely profitable (and very dangerous) pearl shell industry, it was a frontier town where racial tensions simmered uneasily between whites, Asians and Aborigines.

Coinciding with the national call to promote a white Australia, the Australian Government discovered this one remaining pocket of racial diversity and demanded the Asians pearl divers be replaced with British navy divers. The master pearlers fiercely opposed having to employ white divers and entered into opportunistic alliances with the Asian crews to resist the newcomers.

Hilary Bell’s play The White Divers of Broome is a fast-paced celebration of boom time Broome, its unique beauty, its exotic mix of cultures and the seductive power of its landscape.

Director Kate Cherry describes the piece as “an epic and heartbreaking story, tak[ing] you back to a time when the racial and class relations in the exotic frontier town of Broome were watched by the entire country.”

The White Divers of Broome was commissioned by Black Swan State Theatre Company as part of the Rio Tinto Black Swan Commissions.

Watch out for Courtney J. Pascoe’s review on this week.

The White Divers Of Broome

Opening Night 1 February, 2012 – 7:30pm

Closing night 16 February, 2012 – 7:30pm

Caitlin Beresford-Ord, Kylie Farmer (Kaarljilba Kaardn), Michelle Fornasier, Stuart Halusz, Sean Hawkins, Yutaka Izumihara, Miyuki Lotz, Greg McNeill, Jo Morris, Kenneth Moraleda, Tom O’Sullivan, Ian Toyne

Creative Team: 

Kate Cherry – Director
Bruce McKinven – Set Designer
Alicia Clements – Costume Designer
Trent Suidgeest – Lighting Designer
Ben Collins – Sound Designer
Claudia Alessi – Movement Director
Damon Lockwood – Assistant Director
Jenny Davis – Accent Coach

For more information, visit Black Swan’s website

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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