The Newest Arts Venue in Perth

The newest arts venue in Perth has a long history with abandonment and ‘voiceless-ness’.

First established in 1904 as Claremont Old Men’s Home, Sunset Hospital, renamed in 1943, was built as a hospital and an aged-care facility, to house men who were unable to support themselves in their old age, often agricultural and pastoral workers, gold prospectors or former convicts.

Overlooking the Swan River, mid-way between Perth and Fremantle, Sunset offered respite to those without family or care, much to the consternation of its neighbours. The site consists of original hospital wards, mortuary, kitchen, and an infirmary, built out of limestone blocks.

The Sunset Heritage Precinct was heritage listed in 1997 and has recently commenced a full restoration.


The world premiere of Cat Hope’s opera Speechless, 26 Feb – 3 Mar, will take over the Sunset Heritage Precinct as part of the 2019 Perth Festival, filling every corner of the old hall with the multi-instrumental 30-piece Australian Bass Orchestra, a choir of 30 community singers, and four of Australia’s most versatile soloists.

Speechless is a contemporary opera created as a personal response to the 2014 Australian Human Rights Commission report ‘The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention’. Through a vocal language beyond words, Speechless is Hope’s musical exploration of the impact on those rendered speechless through political means.

Speechless reimagines the space in a new way – transforming a derelict old men’s home, into a creative hub, exploring notions of voicelessness and displacement, and offering music as a way to grapple with complex, difficult problems. As composer Cat Hope says “We all love music – it has an incredible abstract power that we often respond to emotionally – I want to see if I can leverage that to help us consider dilemmas in a new way, and reinforce qualities of empathy, participation and elation.”

Sunset hall where the world premiere season of Speechless takes place.


26 FEB – 3 MAR 2019
$25-$49 (+BF) TICKETS

This 2019 Perth Festival World Premiere season is designed specifically for the new Sunset Heritage Arts Precinct.

Find out more about Speechless and book tickets now from Perth Festival.