Nurturing, developing and touring
Amazing Independent Theatre.

Critical Stages Touring’s goal is to make outstanding live theatre accessible to audiences throughout Australia. Our vision is to enable regional communities to have the same access to high quality theatre as metropolitan audiences, and to foster a sustainable and diverse national independent theatre sector. We support outstanding theatre artists to achieve their touring ambitions and regional presenters to achieve their audience development goals

Since 2005, we have partnered with presenters and artists around Australia to deliver outstanding independent productions engaging audiences from Bundaberg to Bunbury and beyond.

We broker relationships, connecting artists with presenters – whether they be festivals, small or large performing arts venues, or a much-loved community hall. We bring people together to create unforgettable experiences. We support our artists’ ambitions to breathe new life into their work and build sustainable practices, and we help our presenters foster a love and passion for the performing arts in their local audiences.

Through forums, mentorship and residencies, we also work closely with industry to provide opportunities to exchange ideas, start and continue vital conversations, build skills and resilience, and establish networks across the performing arts spectrum.

What we Do

Every year Critical Stages:

  • Presents at 100+ regional, remote and metropolitan locations across Australia.
  • Performs to tens of thousands of audience members.
  • Employs over 60 performers, technicians and creative artists.
  • Engages young, emerging and regionally-based artists in skills development workshops, masterclasses, forums and Q and A’s.
  • Supports venues, presenters and communities around the country to engage new and existing audiences.
  • Mentors NSW-based independent artists through year-round sector development initiatives.


We do this in order to support audiences and artists by:

  • Increasing access for regional audiences to diverse and innovative new performances;
  • Developing opportunities for regional artists to engage in meaningful exchange with touring artists;
  • Engaging new audiences in unique theatrical experiences;
  • Providing professional employment opportunities for outstanding independent  artists;
  • Building a strong and inter-connected, healthy, diverse and vibrant national theatre sector.

Chris Bendall

Director & Chief Executive Officer

Chris has been CEO of Critical Stages since 2014. An award-winning creative producer, director and dramaturg with experience working professionally all across Australia, he has won the WA Equity Awards for Best Director (2009 & 2011) and Best Production (2011) and his production of The Magic Hour was a finalist for The Drover Awards' Tour of the Year (2014). Previous positions include: Artistic Director of Deckchair Theatre (2008-2012); Artistic Director Theatre @ Risk (2001-2007). Awards include the Queen’s Trust Australia & Foundation for Young Australians Centenary Grant (2001) and the George Fairfax Memorial Award for Theatre (2003).

Rebecca Meston

Producer - Programming

A graduate of the University of Sydney (English and Performance Studies) and alumni of PACT, Rebecca is a theatre maker and producer. She has had her work performed at This Is Not Art, Metro Arts, Format Festival, Brisbane Festival, Queensland Theatre Company, Vitalstatistix and the Adelaide Fringe. Her most recent work, developed with the support of Arts South Australia, is Hits of the 70s, 80s and 90s. This show reimagines the mythology of Australian rock music through the 70s, 80s and 90s from a female perspective. Following developments with inSPACE, Vitalstatistix and HotHouse Theatre, her show Drive was programmed for Theatre Works in June 2019 and has now been published by Australian Plays Transform. In 2018, Rebecca presented If you can learn to fake authenticity you’ve got it made in the shop front window of artist-run-initiative FELTspace Gallery. In 2015, Rebecca was awarded first prize in HotHouse Theatre’s Solo Monologue Competition for Last of the Corsetières. Rebecca’s other works include The Reunion and Suburban Boulevard (with Daniel Evans), Click Tease, Fantasy Project Gary, Ebony Starling and Tracksuit Girl. Prior to Critical Stages, Rebecca was the Funding Programs Coordinator at Carclew, the Honey Pot Marketplace Manager at Adelaide Fringe, and in 2011, was the Project Manager of the Australian Theatre Forum in Brisbane.

Melanie Carolan

Senior Producer

Mel joined Critical Stages in 2017. She was previously Associate Producer at Griffin Theatre Company, where projects included Angus Cerini’s "The Bleeding Tree", directed by Lee Lewis (Winner of the 2016 Helpmann Award for Best Play); Alana Valentine’s "Ladies Day"; and Justin Fleming’s "The Literati", a co-production with Bell Shakespeare. Prior to that, Mel was Griffin’s Administration & Program Coordinator where she oversaw the delivery of Griffin Independent and delivered the Griffin Ambassadors education program. Mel has also worked for Merrigong and has produced at the Old Fitz and PACT.

Bernadette Fam

Creative Producer

Bernadette is a multidisciplinary artist working across theatre making, directing, writing, dramaturge and creative producing.

As an artist, Bernadette is passionate about exploring the intricacies of identity, belonging and cultural connection in Australia’s current socio-economic landscape. Her recent credits include: directing the Young Artist Ensemble for Q Theatre, assistant directing Lady Tabouli (National Theatre of Parramatta/Sydney Festival) and Young Frankenstein (Hayes Theatre 2021). Writing credits include: Mother (Commission for the Annual Youth Theatre Festival – Q Theatre), Fight or Flight (Intersection: Beat - ATYP) and tutaj/ هناك (here/there). She recently was Dramaturg for By The Grace Of (Antipodes Theatre’s Winter Development Retreat), Diary of One Who Disappeared and Fumeblind Oracle (Sydney Chamber Opera/Sydney Festival) and is currently undertaking an dramaturge mentorship underneath Jane Fitzgerald. She was awarded the 2019 Create NSW Young Creative Leaders Fellowship. Bernadette is the Artist in Residence at PYT, Fairfield and the Associate Creative Producer of Green Door Theatre Company.

Kylie Richards

Finance Manager

Kylie is a finance manager with 10 years experience working with arts and culture organisations.

Judy Reardon

Production Supervisor

Judy is a twenty-year veteran of venue, production, and stage management. Judy has helped bring some of the nation's best productions, and companies, to stage, most recently Erth Visual and Physical Theatre, Sydney Festival's Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, and My Fair Lady at the Sydney Opera House.

Robbi James

Marketing & Audience Engagement Manager

Robbi is a marketing and engagement whizz with over 15 years experience bringing audiences together with the products and productions they love. At CST you'll also find him leading many of our digital projects. He is a passionate advocate for inclusion and diversity in entertainment, having completed his thesis in the subject for his Masters in Arts Management at the Sydney Opera House/AIM. He is also one half of the producing team behind Rogue Projects.
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Mark Thomas (Chair)

Chris Drummond (Deputy Chair)

Rohan Astley

Claudia Rowe

Georgia Burke

Van Athukorala

Robert Love OAM

Artistic Advisory Panel

Julian Louis (NSW)

Katrina Douglas (NSW)

Dino Dimitriadis (NSW)

Guy Boyce  (WA)

Julian Hobba (WA)

Elena Carapetis (SA)

Richard Watts (VIC)

Daniel Clarke (VIC)

Jo Thomas (QLD)

Our Partners

Critical Stages Touring is supported by Create NSW on multi-year funding, and by the Australia Council for the Arts through Playing Australia as one of only four companies nationally awarded National Touring Status. It is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with DGR status and on the Register of Cultural Organisations. The company is based at The Arts Exchange at The Rocks in Sydney and lead by Chris Bendall, CEO, alongside a Board of Directors.