Black Swan State Theatre Company of Western Australia acknowledges the Whadjuk people of the Nyoongar Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live.

First Nations People have been telling stories on this country for many thousands of years, and we acknowledge their incredible contribution to the cultural and environmental landscape we reside in.


Q&A with Playwright Andrew Bovell

Written by Black Swan State Theatre Company 4 April 2023 3 min

Black Swan welcomes back one of Australia’s most celebrated writers for the stage and screen - Andrew Bovell (When the Rain Stops Falling, Lantana) with Things I Know To Be True, a wonderful, compassionate play about one year in the life of an Australian family – The Prices.

Why did you decide to write Things I Know To Be True?

The State Theatre Company of SA and the UK’s Frantic Assembly approached me to write a new play. We did a workshop with a group of actors and among a number of broad themes we found ourselves exploring our own relationships with our families. I find myself returning to the theme of family in a lot of my work.

I’ve always been interested in the push and pull of love and expectation within families. It provides a complex and rich terrain for dramatic exploration. You grow up wanting to escape your family and when you do you spend the rest of your life looking for a way back.

Did you draw inspiration from your own childhood/life?

I was at an interesting point in my life. My mother had passed away and my youngest child had just moved out of home to begin study in another city. He was the last of my children to leave home. Both of these are significant events in a person’s life. The passing death of a parent and the emergence into the world of a child. They are both farewells of a different kind. It was naturally a time when I was reflecting on my role as both a son and a father.

Things I Know To Be True has been described as a powerful family drama that takes place over the four seasons of the year. What was the significance of each season?

The play is about the cycle of life, the passing of time, change and renewal. The passing of the seasons provided a strong metaphor for its structure. In each season, summer, autumn, winter and spring, the focus shifts to each of the four adult children as they go through a significant transition in

their life. It explores the impact these changes have on the parents Bob and Fran. As the children move toward more certainty about their own identity the parents are becoming less sure about who they are.

Will we recognise the characters in this play?

I hope so. I’ve tried to write about a very typical Australian suburban family as honestly as I can. They go through some big changes over the course of the year. It always amazes me just how much turmoil a family can go through and yet how strong they can remain. The family is very Australian and yet they

have resonated just as strongly in productions in Spain, UK, Germany, the United States and South America. So there is something universally recognisable.

What’s your favourite form of storytelling?

I write mainly for TV and film now but I will always return to writing for the theatre. On the stage, I feel like I can write more freely and with more courage.

Are you excited for the play to be produced back in your home state?

It is the place I grew up in. It is the place that shaped me. The Wheatbelt, the Indian Ocean, the streets of North Cottesloe, UWA – they are the landscapes of my childhood and adolescence. I haven’t lived in WA for forty years and yet I still feel Western Australian and my family goes back for eight generations there. And so yes, whenever I have a play produced in Perth, it is very significant for me.

Things I Know To Be True is showing in the Heath Ledger Theatre from 27 May - 18 June.