Regional Touring Residency Update – Debra Keenahan and Katrina Douglas in Cowra NSW

The final project of four NSW Regional Touring Residencies saw Debra Keenahan and Katrina Douglas travel to Cowra, and the town’s newly reinvigorated Cowra Civic Centre, to work on Little Things Matter. This deeply personal new stage piece extends the film of the same name, currently on display at Sydney’s MCA, into an intimate and powerful one-woman show exploring Debra’s lived experience of dwarfism. The project invited Paul Prestipino and Robert Brindley to collaborate.

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RISE Fund Enables Critical Stages Touring’s Regional Reactivation Program

Today’s announcement by The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Commonwealth Minister of the Arts, sees an additional $25M in support shared by no less than 66 leading arts and entertainment organisations nationally. For Critical Stages Touring it means an extended and ambitious regional touring and reactivation program can be realised, bringing outstanding independent theatre to communities everywhere.

“Critical Stages Touring is extremely grateful for this support from the federal government at this crucial time of rebuilding for performing arts companies such as ours.

This grant will provide vital funding to enable us to tour outstanding new work created and performed by diverse Australian independent artists across regional Australia, including THEM by Samah Sabawi, I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You from The Good Room, The Bottle Collector from Asking for Trouble and more.

It will also enable us to continue supporting artists to create exciting new digital projects for our Screening Room further enhancing the reach of our work.” Chris Bendall, CEO & Director, Critical Stages Touring.

This announcement sees a diverse range of companies, festivals, and productions receive the support of the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund. These include the Byron Writers Festival, Barking Gecko’s regional residencies for young people, Queensland’s BigSound Australian music conference, and Illuminate Adelaide to name a few.

We congratulate everyone listed!

To see the full list of recipients visit:

Regional Touring Residency Update – Phil Spencer and Julian Lanarch in Junee

The third of our four Regional Touring Residencies saw writers Phil Spencer and Julian Lanarch head out to the small town of Junee in NSW’s Riverina region (just North of Wagga Wagga), to work with Director Scarlet McGlyn on a new family dramedy – a heart-warming new story described as a philosophical conundrum neatly wrapped in a farce. The performance team included the incomparable Simon Burke, Holly Austin, Julia Robertson, and Jeremi Campese, and we’re thrilled with how their week in the country turned out.

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Regional Touring Residency Update – JoJo Zhou in Bathurst

Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre hosted emerging playwright JoJo Zhou for a development of Sunlit, a new play inspired by the school strikes for climate change that inspired the nation in 2019. Weaving poetry, humour, and science, Sunlit employed three young local performers, under director Bernadette Fam, to bring to life a story set in a future of rising oceans, mystery, and responsibility.

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Regional Touring Residency Update – Scott Parker & Matriark Theatre

Our regional Touring Residencies are now underway, with the first of four works enjoying a week in the country with one our regional partner communities.

Over one week in March, we matched award-winning children’s storytellers Matriark Theatre with the Laycock Street Community Theatre in Gosford.  Lead Artist Scott Parker worked with four artists to complete a development of his play, The Lighthouse at the End of the World.

Combining micro-puppetry, digital media, and live music, ‘Lighthouse’ explores the things we can learn from those often overlooked in the name of progress. A showing of the work was performed at the theatre on March 20th.

From Scott Parker…

“We couldn’t have had more perfect weather for our residency at Laycock Street Theatre in Gosford. As the rain kept coming the theatre began to feel like our own little lighthouse sanctuary, keeping us safe from the storm outside.

The Lighthouse at the End of the World celebrates the value, stories and skills of our elders. The show tells the story of the final tasks of an old lighthouse keeper before she is replaced by an automatic bulb. It features a magical lighthouse, fantastical adventures, tiny puppets, a record player, live camera feeds, and a huge storm.

The challenge has been telling a story with an older central character in a way that would engage younger audiences. Thankfully, Laycock Street Theatre were able to bring together just such a test audience, who braved the storm that night with their parents and came to provide feedback on the work.

We were able to show about 20 minutes of work and the response was great! The audience loved the central characters and expressed a desire to see the rest of the show right there and then. They picked up a bunch of little ideas and images we’d hidden in the work and even drew our attention to some things we hadn’t noticed.”

The Regional Touring Residencies are one of the ways Critical Stages Touring is contributing to a vibrant, resilient, and exciting independent theatre sector. The productions, each at various stages of development, will undertake a week-long residency at a matched regional or rural location, with four such projects set to complete their developments before April 30.

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. It has been made possible with funding from the NSW Government’s RESTART fund through Create NSW.

For more information about the works in development, or the Regional Touring Residencies program, please contact our Marketing and Engagement Coordinator Robbi James.

Picture below: Images from the development of The Lighthouse at the End of the World at Laycock Community Theatre in Gosford NSW.

Announcing the 2021 Regional Touring Residency Recipients

A landscape of grassplains, hills and trees is photographed at dawn. The words 'regional touring residencies' is superimposed over it.

We’re thrilled to announce the four theatre makers who will benefit from fully-funded developments of new theatrical experiences, to be completed in partnership with regional venues across New South Wales. 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.

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Lamb – Jane Bodie’s Acclaimed Australian Story on Tour

Lamb – Jane Bodie’s critically-acclaimed play about family, the land and being the one who stays.

“It’s simply beautiful storytelling” Australian Stage 

After a sell-out Australian premiere season that was extended due to popular demand, the critically-acclaimed production of Jane Bodie’s Lamb returns for an eight-city tour along Australia’s East Coast throughout February and March 2021.

Directed by Green Room Award winner Julian Meyrick (Angela’s Kitchen, Hinterland), Lamb is a touchingly beautiful play charting two generations of a farming family, with original songs by Mark Seymour (Mark Seymour and the Undertow, Hunters and Collectors).

Spanning 40 years of life on an Australian sheep farm, Bodie’s bittersweet story explores the world of three siblings born onto their parents’ property. It’s the story of lies and secrets kept, of loves lost and opportunities missed. Told with subtlety, song and humour, it’s an intimate portrayal of one family’s experience of rural life.

Brigid Gallacher, Emily Goddard and Darcy Kent. Images by Robert Blackburn

Chris Bendall, CEO of Critical Stages Touring, “This is such a beautiful and moving new play by one of our finest playwrights, Jane Bodie, and we are so thrilled to be giving the work a further life through its regional tour this year,” he said, “It’s a really engaging fusion of drama and music, with celebrated composer Mark Seymour having written new songs specifically for the play in a unique collaboration with the playwright. We’re particularly pleased that the work has been included in the VCE Drama Syllabus for the year and are looking forward to introducing upper secondary students to this brilliant new play.”

Originally developed through Red Stitch’s INK program, Lamb is one of the latest plays from multiple-award-winning writer Jane Bodie, whose most recent works include Savages, Tell Me You Love Me (2019 Lysicrates Prize Winner), and Water (Black Swan Theatre Co).

This latest production reunites original season stars Brigid Gallacher with Emily Goddard, joined by new cast mate Darcy Kent (Pop-Up Globe 2020, Venus in Fur, The Antipodes) in the role of Patrick/Frank.

“sinks deep into your skin and remains well after you leave… on of the most moving and fascinating pieces of theatre that has played on a Mlebourne stage this year” Theatre Press


25 February
Frankston Arts Centre

27 February
Portland Arts Centre

2 March
Dubbo Regional Theatre

4 – 6 March
The Q – Queanbeyan PAC

9 March
Wagga Wagga Civic Centre

12 – 13 March
Q Theatre – The Joan Penrith

16 March
Shirley Burke Theatre, Kingston Arts