CST Commissions 9 New Stories for Come to Where I Am Australia Season 2

A composite image made up of small square headshots arranged in a three rows of 7.

After a rigorous selection process, nine new stories about the places we live have been commissioned for a second season of Come to Where I Am – Australia, the exciting writing and performance initiative from the UK’s Paines Plough and Critical Stages Touring, Australia’s national touring theatre company.

The nine works come from across the country and represent a mix of rural, regional, suburban and metro experiences from a diverse group of authors. The stories will be produced as 10-minute video postcards, performed on location by the writers, in the region they are writing about.

Highlights include Michele Lee’s Real Housewives of Coburg, a gently humourous riff on the international reality franchise; a fire-fighting action adventure set in the secret valleys of the Blue Mountains for Erica Brennan’s Jurassic Bark; and Māori antidisciplinary artist Daley Rangi’s Brutal offers up a caustic lyrical monologue on Perth’s socio-architectural homogeneity, uncovering the smouldering truth hidden in the shadow of a WA sunset.

This year’s successful writers receive a $1500 writer’s fee, dramaturgical support from Paines Plough and Critical Stages Touring, plus technical and editing support to produce their video. The finished works will be featured across two livestream special events broadcast over Facebook and YouTube, before living on in the CST Screening Room and on the Paines Plough website.

Paines Plough launched the original Come To Where I Am in response to the pandemic in the UK. The 2020 Australian season was the first international partnership, and the program has since gone on to produce 50+ short plays across the UK, Australia and Europe.

The original season of Come to Where I Am – Australia was watched by over five thousand viewers across four volumes, with the livestream events introducing Australia and the UK to fifteen stories created by sixteen writers. The production underpinned the expansion of Critical Stages Touring’s digital initiatives, and the company has continued to develop digital theatrical experiences, including digital touring and education opportunities for regional and remote communities.

The project is based on an exceptionally successful program from UK project partner Paines Plough. Since 2010 Paines Plough have engaged more than 180 playwrights with invitations to write and perform short plays about their home towns and the places that shaped them, distributed globally through their smartphone and tablet app – Come to Where I’m From.

Chris Bendall, CEO of Critical Stages Touring said, “I am so very much looking forward to sharing these unique stories from around Australia. With so many of us spending far more time at home than we ever have before, and with money returning to home towns we left long ago, these pieces reflect the rich and complex relationships we have with where we live.” Chris continued, “in a time where much of our live performance touring has been put on hold, this project is an immensely rewarding opportunity for all the writers involved as well as the audiences who will get to experience these stories from their own homes”

Charlotte Bennet and Katie Posner, Joint Artistic Directors of Paines Plough, said “We are once again blown away by the terrific talent from the writers we have had the pleasure working with on the Come To Where I Am project. It has been a really special experience working with Critical Stages Touring, and also gaining an insight into the lived experience of writers who are continually reflecting on what home means to them. As a new writing company, the opportunity to continue to transcend borders is hugely important to us and we are so excited to have collaborated on this project.”

The first volume of Come to Where I Am – Australia – Season 2 will premiere on the Critical Stages Touring website, social channels, and on the Paines Plough YouTube channel on 1st December 2021. Volume two will premiere on 8th December 2021.

The successful writers are:

  • Peter Beaglehole – Clarendon, SA | Kaurna country
  • Erica Brennan – Blue Mountains, NSW | Gundungurra & Darug country
  • Tasnim Hossain – Canberra, ACT | Ngunnawal country
  • Michele Lee – Melbourne, VIC | Kulin Nation (Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri)
  • Anna Loren – Sunshine Coast, QLD | Kabi Kabi and Jinibara country
  • Socratis Otto – Sydney, NSW | Gadigal country
  • Daley Rangi – Perth, WA | Whadjuk Noongar boodjar
  • Nicholas Vagne – Jindabyne, NSW | Ngarigo country
  • Cassandra-Elli Yiannacou – Traralgon, VIC | Gunaikurnai country

Critical Stages Touring Presents Livestreamed Reading of Tony Kushner’s HOMEBODY/KABUL

By special arrangement with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, Critical Stages Touring will present a livestreamed reading of Homebody/Kabul, featuring Simon Burke and a stellar Australian cast this October. Presented over two nights this rehearsed reading will be raising funds to support two charities providing life-saving community support and programs in Afghanistan – the NY/Kabul-based Women for Afghan Women and Australian-based Mahboba’s Promise.

Read More

An Ambitious Year of Recovery and Renewal

Critical Stages Touring, Australia’s national touring theatre company, is thrilled to be embarking on a diverse year of storytelling on the country’s stages, driving much needed activity and employment in a creative industry heavily impacted by COVID-19. The full season and program was launched last night at a small industry gathering at The Arts Exchange Sydney, and online via YouTube and Facbook Live.

Read More

Our Future is Full of Possibility

Critical Stages Touring is Australia’s national touring theatre company. Each year we tour outstanding theatrical productions to audiences right around Australia, helping to make live theatre accessible to audiences everywhere, especially in regional, rural and remote Australia. In 2019, we toured no less than 7 original Australian shows, reaching new audiences in over 100 different towns and communities right across Australia, China and New Zealand.

We need your support to help us build an exciting new future for our artists and our audiences. This is a time of great change for the performing arts in Australia. Travel and touring will need to be reimagined now not only in response to Covid-19, but also as we consider the world we want to create on the other side – one that considers a reduced carbon footprint and better care for our environment.

We have been busy adapting to digital audiences over the past few months, reshaping our website for digital connection, taking our successful independent theatre forums online, and producing a popular weekly ‘Stage and Stream’ update about online performances and arts opportunities. We will soon be launching our new CST Screening Room, where we will be streaming new digital performances from across the independent sector.

We are particularly proud of our latest initiative: Come To Where I Am. Our usual model of performance involves touring artists to perform for audiences in regional Australia. At this time, we are inverting that model, taking advantage of the interest from audiences in digital platforms to bring stories from regional Australia to the rest of Australia.

Come to Where I Am is inspired by a project from UK touring company Paines Plough. With their support, we are bringing this program to Australia, engaging theatre-makers around the country to create short works about their home town. These works will be streamed from July into the CST Screening Room, with the opportunity for live performances once our theatres reopen.

As a very small not-for-profit organisation, each year we rely on the generosity of people like yourself to make our vision possible. If you are in a position to help, we would love you to consider supporting this new project. At the moment we have enough to support 7 projects from around Australia, just one artists per state or territory. Each dollar you give will go towards further commissions, more artists supported, and more stories from around the country. $1500 supports a whole new commission.

Your donation is tax-deductible and will be used to support our artists, as well as supporting access to exciting contemporary performance for audiences around Australia. Donations can be made quickly and simply today via the button below or the downloadable form.

I’m very much looking forward seeing you in a theatre foyer for one of our productions again very soon. With very best wishes,

Chris Bendall
CEO Critical Stages Touring

Donate today via PayPal

Stage&Stream – Weekly Streaming Theatre Links – March 27

Every Friday the Critical Stages Touring team will be posting links to streaming opportunities and performances from artists. It’s our little round-up of what’s available online now and over the coming week. Tell us what you’re up to, or if you’ve found something everyone should know about. Whether its a concert from a couch fort, or a thrilling monologue from under a neighbours hills hoist, we want to know about it. There’s no restriction on genre, it can be paid, free or by tips, live or on-demand, with a preference for work in Australia or New Zealand.

Have something? Send your show details, including performance times and links, along with a hero image, to robbi@criticalstages.com.au .

Stage And Stream Links

Friday 27th March

    To celebrate World Theatre Day (that’s today!) at noon Abbey Theatre will be partnering with the Royal Court Theatre and The Space to make Cyprus Avenue, the film adaptation, available to watch for free on their website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.
    YouTube – On-Demand – Free
    Unfortunately along with the rest of everything in life, Brownsmart Theatre Darwin’s 2020 Season of Away by Michael Gow was cut short. Kyle Walmsley, who charmed you in CATS! by One Man and CHICAGO by One Man, will perform the whole show from his 2 bedroom unit in Nightcliff. Expect laughs.
    5.30pm Darwin / 7pm AEDT – Free
    FACEBOOK LIVE – https://www.facebook.com/events/784309632093600/
    Sydney-based improvised theatre troup Upper Crass Theatre Co are live-streaming every night until March 29th. 2 whole hours of imrpovised madness from the same group that brought you Improvised Ibsen.
    7.30pm AEDT – every night until March 29th – Free
    TWITCH – www.twitch.tv/uppercrasstc

Saturday 28th March

    Join cabaret artiste and star of ‘A Migrant’s Son‘, Michaela Burger, for some grown up cabaret direct from her the sequin cave itself. Music, banter and plenty of glitter. This regular series of live-stream cabaret is a place we can all tune into to forget the troubles of the world. And she’s fabulous.
    8pm AEDT – Free but please consider a donation or tip!

Sunday 29th March

Monday 30th March

    Premieres Monday 30th! Hosted by Emily Who and produced in association with Sydney’s Rogue Projects, The Aussie Kids Couch Concert brings together 10 fabulous children’s entertainers from across Australia for a song-filled hour of fun in your living room, and some of it from theirs! Line up includes The Beanies, Cheeky Tunes, Lizzy Loo, Penny Pom Pom, B Minor Music and Van Serano to name a few. Purchase or rent on-demand with all proceeds going to the artists.
    On demand – $11.95 to purchase, $5.95 to rent
    VIMEO – www.vimeo.com/ondemand/kidscouchconcert
    Matt’s weekly live event was performed at Brisbane’s BackDock Arts. Every week a new lot of storytellers spew forth their most entertaining stories for your delight or disapproval. Join host Matt Young (TBS’s WRECKED, original Australian cast of THE PRODUCERS) for the livestream then listen to his podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Twitch or where ever you listen to podcasts.
    7pm QLD / 8pm AEDT – Free
    INSTAGRAM LIVE – www.instagram.com/thestorychunder

Tuesday 31st March

    This online collective record a zoom group performance every week and invite you to a global weekly watch party every Tuesday – this week it’s Curtain Call by Alicia Badger performed by Iley Jones, Alex Fenner, Shannon Collard, and Alicia Badger. Also scheduled is Dead Mother’s Numbers by Warren Paul Glover performed by Virginia Gray and Anna Soprano.
    7pm AEDT
    FACEBOOK LIVE – www.facebook.com/HomeTheatreArts/

Wednesday 1st April

    Michaela Burger hosts alive-streamed show just for little ones who love a story. Classic nursery rhymes are brought to life by one of Australia’s most experienced cabaret artists.
    11am AED – Free, please consider a donation or tip!

Thursday 2nd April

On-Demand & Regular

    Poetry In Action are a non-profit organisation that tour poetry performances to schools around Australia, NZ, Hong Kong and the UAE. They have professionally recorded all of their performances so they are available online to stream from the into your home or classroom! Their writers and directors have created four performances in line with the curriculum for Years 5-12. If you are interested in booking a digital performance, check out www.poetryinaction.com.au or email them at info@poetryinaction.com.au.
  • Sequin Sessions – as above, every Wed, Sat, and also Sundays at 3pm AEDT for sing alongs for the little ones.
  • Upper Crass Improv – as above, 7.30pm AEDT every night until March 29th.
  • Streamed Shakespeare – new show weekly, Sundays at 10;30am AEDT


    From Thursday 2 April, a number of productions previously screened in cinemas globally as a part of National Theatre Live will be made available to watch for free. The first will be Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden. All the productions will be free and screened live every week and will then be available on demand for seven days on the NT’s YouTube channel.
    Thursdays 7pm (UK) / Fridays 6am AEDT – Free
    YouTube – NT Channel
    Berlin’s Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz is one of the world’s most celebrated theatre companies, and now you don’t have to be in Berlin to get a taste of why. Every night, starting at 6.30pm Berlin time and running until midnight, a different play from their vaults will stream. There’s too much to highlight here – get over and see what’s in store!
    6.30pm Berlin / 4.30am Sydney – Free
    Watch Theatre Du Chatelet’s production of Parade via their online magazine. Paris’ acclaimed theatre and opera house are putting a host of former prodcutions up on their magazine and YouTube channel during the iso period. And it’s Free!
    On-Demand – Free (please consider donating)
    Lincoln Center’s new portal enables families and communities to keep the performing arts front and centre. From major productions to concerts for kids, New York’s famed arts instutition is bringing their world online for us all to enjoy. This week’s shows include Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (Metropolitan Opera)
    Various Times (New York) and On-Demand – Free
    The streaming performance service has flung open the vault and everything is FREE to stream until the end of April .That’s scores of incredible live performance captured for your iso enjoyment. Dance, spoken word, drama, physical theatre – it’s all there and on-demand.
    On-Demand – Free with code (on homepage)
    Geffen Playhouse will offer free access to BroadwayHD for 30 days,  where they’ll be curating shows from their past every Wednesday. This week’s catalog included Geffen’s stagings of A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, starring Jane Kaczmarek and Alfred Molina; Thom Pain (based on nothing), with Rainn Wilson. Keep an eye on their Facebook page every Wednesday (USA) to see what will be on offer every week.
    On-Demand – Free with Subscription
    This is an online pay-what-you-can theatre event, and all proceeds will be distributed to participating artists. Thirty PLAYWRIGHTS will write one original monologue each. Thirty DIRECTORS will be matched with a script and one of thirty ACTORS to rehearse via teleconference, culminating in a live event streaming worldwide.
    Every Friday (USA) at 6.30pm PDT and Saturday 12.30pm Sydney – Free
    FACEBOOK LIVE – www.facebook.com/events/1417131878461230


    In the coming weeks/months, Tooth and Sinew will be facilitating readings, play developments and industry roundtables online using that pandemic saviour, Zoom. It’s aim is to be a relaxed inclusive space where artists can stay in practice, learn new skills and meet future collaborators. Wehter you’re a writer, director, actor, or designer – get in touch with them now! If you have a burning porject idea – get in touch with them now: email them at toothandsinew@gmail.com and start a conversation!
    At Home Arts Festival (University of Melbourne) is a digital space for finding community and sharing your art while social distancing or self-isolating. They have a weekly online meetup every Friday and are also asking for submissions for their Thursday streamed events: www.athomeartsfestival.com/submit/
    This online collective are creating work collaboratively through the week culminating in readings and works that performed via live-stream every Tuesday. They’re looking for directors and actors now for weekly streamed performances. Get involved at http://tiny.cc/HomeTheatreArts