Tao of Glass

Philip Glass & Phelim McDermott

Tao of Glass Wed 19 Feb - Sun 23 Feb Heath Ledger Theatre Wed 19 Feb - Sun 23 Feb Heath Ledger Theatre $25 - $89 + BF
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Wed 19 Feb - Sun 23 Feb at Heath Ledger Theatre, from $25 - $89 + BF

‘Marvellously entertaining and deeply touching.'


A Perth Festival Commission

Phelim McDermott is a master storyteller – a theatrical alchemist and spinner of yarns who has summoned this astonishingly original show about making a show.

Composer Philip Glass and performer-director and Improbable founder Phelim McDermott have worked together on acclaimed opera productions around the world. Now they have joined forces for their most personal collaboration yet.

Tao of Glass takes ten brand-new pieces by Philip Glass and marries them to ten meditations on life, death and Taoist wisdom performed by McDermott with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers. The result is a warm, fun and utterly compelling fusion of music, theatre, puppetry and philosophical musing held together by a highly-personal monologue about the nature of creativity, memory and personal identity.

Part-concert, part-performance, Tao of Glass is a storytelling tapestry, soundtracked by Glass’s mesmerising music and infused with Improbable’s trademark theatricality.
Philip Glass
Writer & Co-Director
Phelim McDermott
Kirsty Housley
Fly Davis
Lighting Designer
Colin Grenfell
Sound Designer
Giles Thomas
Ragnar Freidank
Musical Director
Chris Vatalaro
Assistant Director
Jen Tan
Puppet Designer & Puppet Maker
Lyndie Wright
Puppet Co-ordinator
Sarah Wright
Design Associate
Camille Etchart
Sound Associate
Sorcha Steele
David Emmings, Janet Etuk, Sarah Wright
Phelim McDermott
Jack McNeill
Rakhi Singh
Katherine Tinker
Chris Vatalaro

Philip Glass

Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.

His operas Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten and The Voyage among many others play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theatre and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as The Hours and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, while Koyaanisqatsi, his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since Fantasia. His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music simultaneously.

Phelim McDermott

Phelim McDermott is a founder member and co-artistic director of Improbable. He has won Olivier Awards for both Best Entertainment and Best New Opera, TMA Awards for Best Touring Production and Best Director, and a Critics Circle Best Design Award. He was awarded a National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts fellowship and an honorary doctorate from Middlesex University.

Improbable occupies a vital space in the landscape of UK theatre. At the heart of the company’s artistic practice is improvisation. Whether in performance, rehearsal or development they use the practice and philosophy of improvisation in the process of creation (even when working on classic plays or operas).

Improbable uses improvisation to create remarkable shows, support and nurture artists and the arts sector as a whole, and to facilitate social change. They see improvisation in all its forms as a tool for social change. It is a deeply democratic art form that fosters a sense of community and empowerment amongst its participants and audiences alike and, in an age of increasing digital complexity, is determinedly live. They believe that society needs a cultural shift that puts creativity at the heart of everyday life.

Improbable has staged epic spectacles like Sticky, which was seen by over 250,000 people; theatrical classics like The Tempest at Northern Stage and Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre; pure impro shows like Lost Without Words at the National Theatre and improvised puppetry like Animo in studios across the country; operatic triumphs like Satyagraha and Akhnaten at the English National Opera, London and the Metropolitan Opera, New York; devised pieces like Still No Idea at the Royal Court and Opening Skinner's Box in the UK and US; and Through The Door and Permission Improbable which nurture improvisation cultures grown by female and non-binary performers. Their shows are live events encouraging conversation between them and their audience.

Improbable also runs Devoted & Disgruntled, an ongoing conversation about the future of the performing arts; and the International Institute of Improvisation, connecting improvisational practices in the arts, sciences, economics, mathematics and design from across the world. Improbable is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.

Time & Location

Wed 19 Feb - Sun 23 Feb

Wed - Sun, 7pm

Heath Ledger Theatre, 174 - 176 William Street Perth / Yandilup


2hrs 20mins including interval

  • Premium

    • Adult: $89
    • Friend: $80
  • A Reserve

    • Adult: $79
    • Concession: $75
    • Friend: $71
  • B Reserve

    • Adult: $59
    • Concession: $56
    • Friend: $53
    • Student: $25
  • C Reserve

    • Adult: $39
    • Concession: $37
    • Friend: $35
    • Student: $25

Eligible for package discount

Buy tickets to 3 or more events and save 10%

  • Auslan interpreted performance Thu 20 Feb
  • Captioned & audio described performance and tactile tour Fri 21 Feb

Contains coarse language, adult themes, smoke and haze effects

Connect Events

Post Show Q&A

Thu 20 Feb

Stay in your seats after the performance to hear from creators and artists in a Q&A session.

Community Partner

Production Partner

Thank you


  • Supported by Steinway & Sons
  • Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Improbable, Perth Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Carolina Performing Arts - University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in association with Naomi Milgrom AO. Produced by Manchester International Festival and Improbable.


  • Tristram Kenton

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