A Message to Our Artists

The team at Critical Stages Touring are all still working, albeit remotely, over the coming weeks. We have had to cancel or postpone some of our upcoming events, but are planning to be on the road again later in the year as soon as it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, we are working hard to support all of our artists through this difficult period, keenly aware of the challenges facing independent artists at this time. There are multiple groups that many of you have already joined online to support each other, which is terrific to see the sector come together at this time.

If you haven’t yet discovered these Facebook Groups we recommend visiting…

Australian Artists During Covid-19

Australian Actors Community Group

Arts Tasker Skill Sharing Group During Covid-19

All the conversations we have been having with artists and presenters across the week gives us cause for hope and optimism that as soon as this crisis is over our wonderful performing arts sector will come through, and we’ll do this by working together.

We also want to draw your attention to the support being offered by the MEAA at this time to support actors who have lost work (https://www.meaa.org/) and to log lost income here at  (https://ilostmygig.net.au/).

Also do check out the emerging streaming options including www.socialdistancingfestival.com to consider whether to stream your own work ,or just to be able to connect with ‘live’ performances.

Do please keep an eye on the Department of Health website for the latest information and health updates.

Live Performance Australia are lobbying the federal government hard for a support package for the performing arts sector. You can read the latest update here and lend your support to the campaign.

Finally, Support Act Wellbeing Helpline 1800 959 500 – is a free, confidential service, available 24/7 to anyone who works in the performing arts. Please don’t hesitate to use this service if you feel you need wellbeing support.

A message from the Critical Stages Touring team

Audience 33 by TEDxADL

The performing arts sector is heading into uncharted territory over the coming months.

We know that our often fragile sector is looking and feeling even more precarious at present. But I also know that we will weather this storm.

It’s a struggle of course when, as a sector, we are used to the answer to community crises being to come together and share stories. Right now, that’s impossible for some of us and I know that the decision to close venues temporarily has been a very difficult one. But what we need to do right now is genuinely ensure we are focused on looking after ourselves as well as the well-being of our staff, our communities, our artists and our audiences.

Over the last 24 hours we’ve had many conversations with colleagues around the country, and the calm and measured responses we’re hearing have filled us with confidence for the future of our sector, even in the face of the weekend’s dramatic and escalating announcements. We also want to make a special point to thank everyone who has been especially conscious of the impact that this crisis is already having on independent artists and their livelihoods.

Currently the majority of our touring for 2020 takes place after June, so at present we are continuing with our plans. This is being done in consultation with venues and artists, and we’ll ensure that any changes to these plans will be broadcast as early as possible.

In the meantime, we are all here to support you in whatever way is necessary. Our teams’ hours are not affected at present, so we’re still here to assist where we can while still preparing for our upcoming tours.

At present, our team is reducing our presence in the office with some staff working remotely over the coming weeks. We’re putting a number of measures in place that mean you can still get hold of us when you need to, and it’s as close to business-as-usual  as these times can allow.

With thanks and very best wishes from all of the Critical Stages Touring team.

Image: Audience 33 by TEDxADL

Celebrating Women’s Voices this International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating the amazing creative minds behind the works that Critical Stages Touring is taking across Australia in 2020.

From heartbreaking drama and powerful verbatim theatre, to inspiring children’s programs and show-stopping cabaret, 88% of the work on our stage this year has been written or co-written by women. It is their words and experiences that have helped shape what you will see, and we couldn’t be prouder to be taking their voices to communities across Australia and beyond.

So this year, we celebrate International Women’s Day by celebrating these inspiring women, and we hope to see you in the audience of one of their works this year! (pictured L-R above)

Jane Bodie – Lamb (Red Stitch Actos’ Theatre)

Michaela Burger – A Migrant’s Son

Lauren Clelland – I Want to Know What Love Is (The Good Room)

Caroline Dunphy – I Want to Know What Love Is (The Good Room)

Christy Flaws – Fort (Asking for Trouble)

Amy Ingram – I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You and I Want to Know What Love Is (The Good Room)

Katherine Lyall-Watson – Rovers (Belloo Creative)

Joanna Murray-Smith – American Song (Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre)

To all of these women, and the countless more creating places for us to understand our world and our place in it, we say ‘thank you’.

Work With Us: We’re looking for a Production Supervisor

Critical Stages Touring is searching for a passionate and self-motivated production or technical manager, experienced in regional touring, to take on the Production Supervisor position.

This is a permanent part-time position, at one-day per week with additional opportunity to take on production or stage management roles on touring productions.

As Critical Stages Touring’s Production Supervisor, you will be responsible for supporting the Producers and Production Teams on a busy program of annual touring, across primarily regional Australian destinations. You will be supervising production requirements across the company’s busy repertoire of and advising on selection of future tours.

This is a flexible role, with the capacity to work around existing schedules including touring, and will especially suit someone already working in other part-time or freelance capacities within the Australian performing arts sector.


  • High level of experience working in a stage, technical or production management role in the performing arts;
  • Experience working in regional touring ideally in an Australian context;
  • Knowledge and understanding of the Australian performing arts sector. 


  • Experience or high level of knowledge in a technical discipline in the performing arts (ie lighting or sound).

Please contact us for full position description prior to applying for the role by emailing info@criticalstages.com.au 

Applications close 5pm, 28th February 2020. 

A Short Message About the Bushfires

As we return to the business of theatre in 2020 the Critical Stages team would like to take a moment to acknowledge the devastating fire events of this Summer, and extend our heartfelt best to all of those who have, and continue to be, affected.

As a touring theatre company we find so much of our planning involves pouring over maps and routes across Australia. It has been heartbreaking and at times terrifying to look at these same maps through the lens of this national tragedy.

We are so fortunate to be welcomed into regional communities around the country, and this gratitude becomes ever more acute when we think of how many of our friends and partners have been at the forefront of the fires.

We hope that you are all safe, that the coming months bring respite, and that the process of repair and rebuilding is a swift one for all of you.

Here at Critical Stages Touring, we’re about to kick off a big year of bringing communities together for great entertainment, and we’ll be talking about that very soon. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for support if you need it. Whether it’s a friendly chat about theatre, an ear to hear your concerns, or some other way we can help support your community, please let us know.

Chris & the CST Team.

The Critical Stages Wish for the Holidays

Thanks to all of our audiences, artists, supporters and presenters, it has been an amazing year for Critical Stages Touring.

We’ve connected 100 communities around Australia with 7 diverse critically-acclaimed productions, supporting over 60 arts professionals to deliver 165 performances to 25,000+ ticket holders from Katherine to Kangaroo Island and Bunbury to Broken Hill.

We’ve inspired audiences to take a chance on great independent Australian theatre and engaged with original workshops, installations and performance opportunities that have brought new faces into venues across the country.

And we’ve continued to be a passionate and proactive advocate for our sector. Through creating events that bring together theatre professionals to help build resilience, to the great success of our artist and producer residencies in 2019, we’ve helped shape a more robust and responsive national theatre community, helped bring new stories to the stage, and kept vital conversations going.

As we head into what will be our most ambitious year ever – with no less than ten wildly exciting new works to tour – we hope you’ll give us the best gift we could receive for the holidays… your support.

We are a not-for-profit charity. Please consider a tax deductible donation in your name, or the name of an arts-obsessed loved one, before 25th December. Your donation will ensure our ability to connect communities across Australia with great theatrical experiences and the artists and stories behind them.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season and all the very best for 2020,

Chris & the Critical Stages Team

Donate Today Via Paypal

Donate Using our Downloadable Form




Connecting Communities: From Left: Tom Flanagan (Kaput!) runs an impromptu tumbling class for kids in Wilcannia NSW / NORPA creates an unforgettable Festival of Love with local artists for The Good Room’s I Want to Know What Love Is / a true crime book swap travels to 13 cities with L’amante Anglaise / Naomi Price hosts a singing workshop with students in Rockhampton who later perform at Lady Beatle / Bundaberg posts messages of love across the city for I Want to Know What Love Is.


Creating Experiences : From Left: The Good Room’s I Want to Know What Love Is / Tom Flanagan in Kaput! / Otto and Astrid meet fans at Eurosmash / Rob Meldrum and Jillian Murray meet their likeness on tour with L’amante Anglaise / The cast of Sunset Strip take questions at HotHouse Theatre Albury / Lady Beatle wraps a massive 32 city national tour in Horsham.


Supporting Industry : From Left: Chris hosts the 2019 Performing Arts Exchange in Queensland / CST’s first artist forum in Parramatta with Riverside Theatres / The Listies make a splash at Showcase Victoria / Critical Stages receives the 2019 Drover Touring Legend Award / We take our artist forum to regional NSW for the first time at Artstate Tamworth.

Indy Theatre Forum @ Artstate Tamworth

A group of about 25 people sit in a circle of chairs around 4 panelists

Critical Stages Touring next Indy Theatre Forum will be presented at ArtState Tamworth on October 31st, in partnership with Theatre Network NSW.


We know that artists working in regional areas are producing great work, and that they often do it with very different support and without the networks we sometimes take for granted in urban centres. While all indy artists have lots in common, there’s an awful lot more we can learn from arts makers and presenters who aren’t city-based, especially in a time of arts uncertainty.

We invite arts makers and theatre professionals to come talk to other independent theatre practitioners, producers, and industry experts about the challenges and opportunities of working as a regional artist in NSW. Hear stories of success (and frustration), share your own experiences, make new connections and discover who and what is out there to support you in your practice.

The forum will be hosted by Critical Stages Touring CEO Chris Bendall who will lead the conversation with three exceptional panelists:

Sally Blackwood is a director and performing arts leader based in Quirindi, Kamilaroi country, on the Liverpool Plains, producing major new performance work locally and internationally. Sally is a passionate advocate for connecting individuals and enriching communities through engagement in arts and culture, with an exceptional history of work for women and diversity, particularly in the field of opera. Sally was an Australia Council Arts Leadership participant in 2017/18 and is currently serving on the board of ArtsNW.

Adam is a theatre maker and cultural leader with over 15 years experience in interdisciplinary performance, scripted theatre and major arts events. As Artistic Director of Bathurst-based interdisciplinary performance collective Lingua Franca, he has worked extensively with Local Stages presenting work in regional Australia, nationally and internationally. Adam understands how to create capacity for both emerging and professional regional artists. He was the 2018 Artistic Director and Director of the Arts Program for ArtState Bathurst.

Caroline is the Co-Artistic Director at Belloo Creative and is currently an Artistic Associate at NORPA, bringing over 25 years of experience as an actor, director, theatre maker and educator to our panel. Caroline’s work has included the multiple award-nominated Hanako for Brisbane Festival and Motherland for which she received a best director nomination. In 2019 Caroline began a residency at Queensland Theatre with Belloo Creative.

Participants will also have the opportunity to hear from Theatre Network New South Wales (TNN) reporting on their Health of the Sector survey. This recent survey reflects over 200 responses from across the NSW sector with over 40% from independents. TNN is keen to connect with you at this event to better inform their 2019 State of Theatre Report and future programming. TNN will also provide an update on their future direction and plans.

The morning kicks off at 10.30am with a little networking and refreshments before the forum at 11am. We’ve timed it so you’ll have plenty of time for lunch before the Arts On Tour’s Salon at 2pm.

UNE Peel House, Downstairs Lecture Room, 24 Fitzroy Street, Tamworth

Thursday 31st October

A full recording of this forum is available to listen free on Soundcloud.

Critical Stages Touring Wins the 2019 Drover Touring Legend Award

Critical Stages Touring, Australia’s national touring theatre company, has been honoured with the prestigious Touring Legend Award at the 2019 PACA (Performing Arts Connections Australia) Drover Awards.

The Drover Awards recognise excellence in the field of regional touring. There are three award categories: Tour of the Year, Performing Arts Centre of the Year, and Touring Legend.

The Touring Legend Award recognises an outstanding contribution to performing arts touring in Australia, and is determined by expert industry professionals sitting on the PAC Australia Board of Management. It recognises Critical Stages’ ongoing commitment and success in delivering outstanding independent theatre and performances to the millions of Australians who live in regional locations.

Established in 2003, Critical Stages Touring’s goal is to make great Australian live theatre accessible to audiences everywhere. Over the last 16 years, the company has supported artists’ ambitions to take their work beyond metropolitan borders, and the regional presenters to foster a love of local live performance in their communities.

In 2019 alone, Critical Stages Touring has toured 7 productions to over 100 different towns, cities and communities in Australia, New Zealand and China.

Helen O’Neil, President of PAC Australia said “the board has recognised the major role Critical Stages plays in the touring landscape in Australia; not just in supporting producers and artists and delivering high quality work to stages across Australia, but also their commitment to improving the way touring happens in Australia now and into the future.”

Critical Stages Touring CEO Chris Bendall accepted the award at the annual PACA conference, held this year in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.

“Thank you so much to Helen O’Neill, and to the whole Board of PAC, for acknowledging the work we do and have been doing for the past 16 years.” Chris said, “this award is testament to the hard work that the whole marvelous Critical Stages Touring team share, our belief in supporting fabulous artists, and the commitment we have to connecting presenters and audiences everywhere with outstanding theatrical experiences.”

Next Indy Theatre Forum – Second Life in The Indy Sector – 8th Aug 2019

Two people are seated on bar stools in front of a small audience who are seated on cafe chairs.

We’re taking the Indy Theatre Forum West to Riverside Theatres!

Where do you go after a run has finished? How do we think beyond our premiere season to plan a future for our work?

Join us in Parramatta for a conversation with industry experts, independent artists and producers about how to give your production a second life. Looking into and beyond touring, we’ll be talking about the opportunities that are out there to bring back your show once the lights have gone out and it’s all bumped out and packed away.

Find out who can help you get the show back on its feet, where you could take it, and what advantages there are creatively to revisiting and redeveloping your work with return seasons.

Following the forum, join us for a performance of Still Life With Chickens, by D. F. Mamea, produced by Auckland Theatre Company. Riverside Theatres have generously created a forum discount of just $30 per ticket to the show (the forum is still free), redeemed with a discount code that will be sent to you with confirmation of your registration. Please book your tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Special Guest Speakers TBA

DATE: Thursday 8th August 2019
TIME: Arrive at 6pm for networking drinks, Forum 6.30-7.30pm
OPTIONAL: Performance of Still Life with Chickens, starts 7.45pm
VENUE: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, Corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
RESERVE YOUR SEAT Via the Riverside Theatre booking page

Help Us Take Great Theatre To Communities Everywhere this EOFY

You may not know that Critical Stages is in fact a not-for-profit charity. We’re very small but we do a lot, supporting artists and audiences around Australia all year. In 2019, we are producing 7 Australian tours to 100 locations with 165 performances engaging over 60 artists and tens of thousands of people attending a great independent production they may not have had access to without us. All this and our small core team is super lean (just 3.0 FTE). We’re a true not for profit spending all we can (and more) on our artists, because we love what we do.

Each year our artists travel from Bundaberg to Bunbury and beyond, and this year we’re also heading international and visiting New Zealand and China. All this before our ambitious 2020 season arrives with no less than 10 incredible new productions hitting the road.

That’s why this EOFY we’re asking if you’d be willing to support our work with a tax-deductible donation.

Your contribution ensures our ability to support the outstanding independent artists you love to tour their shows to new audiences, and you’ll also be helping us contribute to a stronger national theatre industry through our work representing artists and producers at industry events and markets, and through vital programs such as our artist residencies and independent theatre forums.

We know there are many, many other important causes to support at this time of year, but if you can remember us too that would mean a lot to our small team, our artists and the communities we work so hard to bring great theatre to. Please consider a donation before 30 June.

In return, we promise to keep doing what we’re doing, and keep doing it better all the time.

You can support us today via our Paypal Giving page at https://bit.ly/2WtZ7FU

Or click over to https://criticalstages.com.au/support-us/ and download the donation form.