Independent theatre producers, artists and companies


Our national playwriting and performance program returns in 2021 with eight new writing commissions to be selected from across Australia. Premieres December 2021.



A new digital broadcast platform supporting the independent theatre sector will launch in 2020 with new direct-to-digital projects, streams of existing work, and adaptations of stage works for digital audiences everywhere.



We host several forums a year bringing together theatre makers and arts leaders to discuss vital topics, share resources, network, and unpack the big issues facing the independent sector.



Every few months we host theatre forums for the NSW independent theatre sector. These are opportunities for the sector to gather, network and talk about the current big issues facing independent theatre artists. Our next forum is:


6pm AEDT, Monday 15th November

Join us for our final Indy Theatre Forum for 2021 as we bring together three theatrical powerhouses for a chat about visions for the future of independent theatre in Australia.

Critical Stages Touring’s Chris Bendall will host this inspiring hour of conversation with guests Kerri Glasscock (CEO & Festival Director, The Sydney Fringe), Kathryn Osborne (Executive Director, The Blue Room Theatre, WA), and Simon Abrahams (Melbourne Fringe)
We’ll be comparing our experiences re-opening, life behind and beyond border closures, and exploring how we think the industry, and our artistic practice, has changed. The panel will explore the ways the industry has evolved in the past year, what we hope to keep, and what we think will change in the year ahead.
This online event is open to all, hosted on Zoom. Registration is FREE.
There will be time for a short Q&A at the end of the forum. Have a question ready now? Let us know when you register via Eventbrite.
Register for the next Indy Theatre Forum - Nov 15th



Just when we thought 2021 might be different it serves up even more surprises, and it’s been a challenge for creative artists and theatre makers. Keeping productive, feeling creatively nourished, and finding motivation has been harder for many of us. But there are some good things we can do to find the positive and potential right now.

Special Guest Speakers:

  • Dr Julie Crabtree
  • Psychologist Simon Ward
  • Matthew Kelly and Richard Higgins – The Listies
  • Producer/Designer Lauren Peters

We’ll be unpacking some useful tools for navigating uncertainty, talking about what it’s like finding motivation to make and connect during periods of isolation, and strategies for adapting to change, keeping creative, and keeping creating. It’ll be a frank and fresh hour of discovering some of the ways we can use our inherent strengths to keep problem-solving, innovating, and discovering our creative spark.

This online event is open to all, hosted on Zoom. Registration is FREE. There will be time for a short Q&A at the end of the forum. Have a question ready now? Let us know when you register via Eventbrite


We hosted a conversation and Q&A with regional arts leaders at ArtState Wagga Wagga to talk about an incredible year of change. What kind of future do we want and need for our work? How can we use this period of recovery to reshape our practices in terms of sustainability and community engagement? It was a chance to unpack how artists have managed in regional NSW throughout 2020; how covid-19 has affected artistic practice, delivery, and audience development; and what the future looks like as venues open their doors.

Watch the forum on-demand and free now in The Screening Room


September 2020

One of the biggest opportunities 2020 has presented is the time to critically analyse the impact live entertainment, theatre and touring has on the environment. The future must be kinder on the environment, so how can theatre-makers contribute in positive ways through their work, practice and administration. We’ll be speaking with a leader in the greening entertainment movement, and dedicating this extra forum opportunity to learning a little more about how we can begin to fold green practices into our future.

Special Guest Speakers:

Listen to the forum on Soundcloud

Watch the forum in the CST Screening Room


Special Guests Speakers:

  • Berish Bilander – Green Music Australia
  • Jens Altheimer – Independent Producer/Performer
  • Time Watts – The Last Great Hunt
  • Gemma Pepper – Side Pony Productions
  • Rosie Dwyer – Regional Arts Victoria

Listen to this forum on Soundcloud


Special Guest Speakers:

  • Clare Bartholomew and Dan Tobias from Salvador Dinosaur (VIC)
  • Imogen Gardam from Griffin Theatre Company (NSW)
  • Sian Roberts & Adriane Daff from the Last Great Hunt (WA)
  • Kip Chapman from Hackman (NZ)
  • Nathan Sibthorpe from Counterpilot (QLD)

Listen to the Forum on Soundcloud
Watch the Forum in the CST Screening Room


Special Guest Speakers:

  • Adam Deusien, Artistic Director, Lingua Franca
  • Sally Blackwood, Arts NW Director
  • Caroline Dunphy, Co-Artistic Director at Belloo Creative and a current Artistic Associate at NORPA.

Listen to the Forum on Soundcloud


No recording available


Listen to the forum on Soundcloud


Special Guest Speakers:

  • Kerri Glasscock, Founding co-director, Old 505 Theatre & Sydney Fringe Festival CEO
  • Suzanne Millar, Co-Artistic Director, Bakehouse Theatre / Kings Cross Theatre
  • Cath Dadd, Executive Producer Performing Arts, Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith.
  • Chris Bendall (Moderator), Director & CEO, Critical Stages.

Listen to the forum on Soundcloud


Listen to the forum on Soundcloud

Come To Where I Am – Australia

After a successful first season in 2020, Critical Stages Touring is thrilled to announce the return of this national playwriting initiative, produced in partnership with Paines Plough Theatre Company. The project will provide professional outcomes for eight artists from around Australia, giving voice to their experiences during this extraordinary time, and audiences the opportunity to travel virtually through their stories.

The program is based upon Paines Plough’s Come to Where I’m From, an exceptionally successful project that has engaged more than 170 playwrights since 2010 with invitations to write and perform short plays about their home towns and the places that shaped them.

The first international edition of the program, Come to Where I Am – Australia has been seen by thousands of viewers in over a dozen countries, and we’re delighted to be producing a new season of the project in 2021.

We invited Australia-based writers to create a new 10-minute story that can be made into a short video postcard, read or performed by the author. The story could be autobiographical, fiction or non-fiction, and should reflect what is special to them about the character of the place that they call home.

The eight successful story pitches will receive a $1500 writer’s fee, dramaturgical support from Paines Plough, and technical and editing services from Critical Stages Touring.

The works will premiere as two volumes, each with a livestream produced by CST, in December 2021. They will then be featured as on-demand videos in the Screening Room, Paines Plough website, and our social video channels.

We’ve selected writers from every state and territory with an aim to find pieces that highlight regional and rural experiences alongside writers from our urban and suburban communities.

Come to Where I Am – Australia is supported by the NSW Government through CreateNSW, and the Australian Government through the RISE (Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand) fund, and the Australia Council for the Arts, it’s arts funding and advisory body.


Regional Touring Residencies

Critical Stages Touring is proud to be supporting the development of new theatrical experiences for regional touring and presentation through our new Regional Residency program. Four wonderful new works have been selected and matched with a regional partner in NSW.

The productions, each at various stages of development, will undertake a week-long residency at a matched regional or rural location, with residencies running from March 16th through to April 30th. Each has been selected for their ingenuity, artistic merit and exploration, and for their potential to connect with and engage regional communities. The program is an exciting new extension of Critical Stages Touring’s commitment to discover and develop outstanding independent theatrical experiences for audiences everywhere.

We would like to thank Create NSW for their support of the project.


2021 Regional Residencies

The Lighthouse at the End of the World
Scott Parker & Matriark Theatre
A new work for families using micro-puppetry, digital media and live music.

JoJo Zhou and Bernadette Fam
A new play inspired by the school strikes for climate movement.

The Oyster
Phil Spencer and Julian Lanarch
A new interactive and participatory comedy.

Little Things Matter
Debra Keenahan and Katrina Douglas
A new work extending the short film of the same name for the stage.



Hosted here on the Critical Stages Touring website, the CST Screening Room and CST Digital will support artists to create new direct-to-digital projects for audiences to enjoy, stream existing work that is ready to be seen, and work with independent artists to adapt their work for digital performance outcomes. It will also host the video stories produced for our new playwriting and performance program Come to Where I Am – Australia.

The first broadcast is planned for late July 2020.

The initiative is one response by Critical Stages Touring to the rush of live productions streaming across YouTube and social media, many of which have been offered for free to audiences with little or no compensation for the artists involved. CST Screening Room projects will provide professional paid opportunities to broadcast their work in line with relevant industry awards.

The platform is another way Critical Stages Touring continues to support access to theatre for audiences while the industry begins recovering and developing plans for welcoming people back into venues. Digital consumption of live performance has grown exponentially during 2020, and the screening room will be a vital new channel for independent artists to be discovered and enjoyed by Australians everywhere, including remote communities where physical touring is challenging even when we are able to travel.

How to get involved…

Expressions of Interest for the CST Screening Room will open in mid-June 2020. Critical Stages Touring will be seeking independent digital engagement projects across three categories:

  • High quality filmed performances that are in need of a distribution platform;
  • Live performance works that were to be performed over this period and can be ready to be filmed with minimal re-rehearsal for distribution in a digital format;
  • Original digital performance projects, especially those that could involve a future live performance outcome.

For more information please email us at

Stage & Stream


Critical Stages Touring regularly publishes lists of streaming theatre, cabaret, arts education and artist opportunities that are happening online. Beyond being a ‘best of’list, the Stage & Stream posts are designed to highlight independent artists and companies from Australia and New Zealand, along with a curated list of international streams when space permits. The list is published in various formats and also sent as a regular EDM to our national subscriber base.

The project was one of the responses we initiated to support artists in engaging audiences online in their work during the coronavirus crisis.

You can read the latest lists on our blog here:

And see the regular weekly Highlights list on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Want to be listed?

If you have something going online soon there are two ways to get involved:

  1. send a message to our Marketing and Engagement Coordinator Robbi James at or
  2. complete the google form.

The list is open to anyone, anywhere, but we are especially keen to hear from independent artists in Australia and NZ, and those streaming accessible performances of theatrical works and cabaret.


What we are looking for in touring productions:

  • New Australian work that is innovative, of outstanding quality and with clear and demonstrated audience appeal.
  • Contemporary Australian text-based drama, contemporary music theatre or cabaret theatre works.
  • Original cross-disciplinary works for family audiences.
  • Productions where thematic material or narrative content is relevant to regional audiences.
  • Outstanding and original independent artistic voices.
  • Live performance experiences where there is the opportunity for a unique and original strategy for participation and engagement especially for regional audiences.
  • It must be a work of outstanding quality in all areas, especially in terms of performances, writing and direction.
  • It must have received strong critical and/or audience acclaim.
  • If the work has already premiered you must have strong production imagery, video footage that is suitable for promotion on social media and local television, plus strong reviews. Vox pops of audience reactions are ideal.

Potential productions should be able to fulfil the following:

  • It must be a work of outstanding quality in all areas, especially in terms of performances, writing and direction.
  • It must have received strong critical and/or audience acclaim.
  • If the work has already premiered you must have strong production imagery, video footage that is suitable for promotion on social media and local television, plus strong reviews. Vox pops of audience reactions are ideal.
  • We are particularly keen to support works from First Nations writers, performers and producers and those of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.
  • We are interested in work that is innovative and original in content or form, and that advances the form of theatre.
  • We are interested in work that has a strong and considered approach to community engagement – ie how are you going to engage a regional audience in this work? Are there original ways that you can interact with audiences around the themes of the production, offer Q and A’s or masterclasses, use local artists in your work or more. Are you interested in any form of residency in regional Australia, involving local communities in the development of a new work while you are on the road?
The Listies - two funny men with humorous looks on their faces stand next to a hand-painted sign reading Riche's Funny Joke, Rated 'S', for stupid'.

What to do next – Invite Us!

If you think you have a show that is perfect for touring with Critical Stages Touring, we’d love to hear from you. Do invite us to see your show and give us plenty of notice. We try to see as much as we can, but do make sure you take great archive video and production photography while its on in case we can’t make it along.

With thanks!

Chris Bendall, CEO
Melanie Carolan, Creative Producer