James Berlyn creates intimate performance experiences exploring the personal conundra of life.

James Berlyn


“I don’t want to suspend disbelief anymore. I want an authentic exchange. I want work made from a place of authenticity. I don’t want to sit in a black-box theatre pretending it’s winter in 1942, when I’m still sweaty from trying to find a car park in the heat of Perth summer night. ”  

James Berlyn creates intimate, small-scale, self-devised and group devised work which embraces the new, but not at the expense of flexibility, portability, and quality.

Of particular interest to James, and possibly the one area that has remained a constant throughout his work, has been an ongoing investigation into the dynamics of the performer-audience relationship. Specifically, what exchange occurs between these two ‘entities’ when notions of invited participation are introduced into the performance environment.


James Berlyn is an award-winning performing artist and lecturer of more than twenty five years experience. Trained in dance at VCA, he has worked in dance, dance-theatre, theatre and community art across the country and internationally as a creator, performer, director and curator.

James’ hybrid one-on-one theatre work & installation Tawdry Heartburn’s Manic Cures (2009) had had more than 1000 performances at major festivals across the country including Perth International Arts Festival, Brisbane and Sydney Festivals, Ten Days On The Island, WOMADelaide, Enlighten ACT, Melbourne’s Festival of Live Art and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. He is the co-founder of Proximity Festival, Australia’s first and only festival of one-on-one performance, and was a founding co-director of Tracksuit, WA’s adult disability performance company supported by DADAA WA. James is WA’s only accredited trainer for Ausdance’s Skill Set: facilitator and assessor and a core artist with Performing Lines WA.

James recently returned from Europe where he was an assessor for the 2014 Total Theatre Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe. He also created a new solo work in Basel, Switzerland with director Jim Hughes to be premiered in Perth 2015-2016. Other recent highlights include premiering his solo theatre work Crash Course at PICA in 2013 and APACA 2014 and Awesome Festival commissions Dreamstore, Splat! and Twyping. James directed on PIAF’sTenebrae et Lux (2013) and assisted on You Once Said Yes (2014) as well as performing in Sue Healey’s Variant (2012), Sam Fox’s Prompter at Arthouse in Melbourne and as Lord High Executioner in ICW Productions The Mikado (2014). James created the role of Agamemnon in Matt Lutton’s Elektra for PIAF and WA Opera (2012).


“Sweetlife (James Berlyn) is atmospheric, engaging and fun whilst challenging your ideas of yourself; your desires, your priorities, all the things that you do or don’t do towards creating a sweet life. Berlyn has a warm and safe energy, like your favourite Playschool presenter or a good therapist, but in his syrup-filled domain there is also something of Willy Wonka about him – enigmatic and a little bit wicked. Or perhaps it is merely that he allows the space to fill with your own existential anxieties. Whatever it is, it’s plenty of fun.”  (Sweetlife, Proximity Festival 2012)
Arts Hub 

“James Berlyn’s hands move purposefully as he expertly applies lashings of bright nail polish to the hands of his client. Dressed entirely in black, with the exception of a black-and-white pinstriped neckscarf, he looks more like a magician than a beauty therapist as he works on the Kingston Beach foreshore…”
read on 
The Mercury



I Know You're There

In the studio with James Berlyn

Posted: January 11th, 2016