Independent theatre producers, artists and companies

COME TO WHERE I AM AUSTRALIA

Produced in partnership with Paines Plough (UK) #CTWIA will engage playwrights from around Australia to write short works about the places that have shaped them, to be produced as short films now, and live performances in future.

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CST SCREENING ROOM

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.

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INDY THEATRE FORUMS

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. Next forum: Zoom, 24th Aug, 6pm.

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Come to Where I Am Australia

Critical Stages Touring’s usual model of delivering theatrical experiences involves helping artists to travel and perform for audiences right across the country, especially in regional Australia. At this time of restricted travel and gatherings we are seeking to invert the model, take advantage of the growing interest from audiences in digital platforms to bring stories from regional Australia to everyone.

Come to Where I’m From is an exceptionally successful project from UK touring company Paines Plough. Since 2010 they have engaged more than 160 playwrights with invitations to write and perform short plays about their home towns and the places that shaped them. We are very excited to announce that Critical Stages Touring is partnering with Paines Plough to create an Australian edition of this project – Come to Where I Am Australia.

So, we’re inviting Australian-based writers to create a new 10 minute story that could be made into a short video postcard –a snapshot of what it is like to live in their part of the country. They may be autobiographical or new works of fiction. Writers will then, ideally, perform the new work themselves for the video postcard, although we will have the option to engage actors to read the works where necessary.

We anticipate the works will be filmed at a partner performing arts centre or community venue near to the artists’ home and ultimately streamed on Critical Stages Touring’s website via our new digital channel, captioned to enhance accessibility, and housed on the Paines Plough website alongside the UK playwrights. Once gathering restrictions are lifted we also intend to stage a live performance of the works at venues around the country.

A mock road sign points to the right. The placename text has been replaced with "What do you see when you think of home?"

The project will provide professional outcomes for seven regional artists from around Australia, giving voice to their experiences over this extraordinary year of bushfires and Covid-19, and provide a snapshot of their experience living in regional, rural or remote parts of the country.

It will provide audiences with access to new streamed Australian performances, giving them the opportunity to access new writing from playwrights they may not know, sharing original and important stories from regional and rural Australia. Lastly, we believe this project will have long-lasting interest as an online artistic record of this extraordinary year and a digital map of regional Australia for audiences around the country, and around the world. Come To Where I Am will invite audiences to travel, virtually, at a time when visiting these communities is impossible.

We can currently support 7 writers for this first roll-out of the project and are currently raising funds to grow the project further over the coming months so that we can reach far and wide around Australia, both in terms of artist interest and audience engagement.

Project partners also include: Regional Arts WA, Country Arts SA, Artback NT, Regional Arts NSW, and Regional Arts VIC. We are proud to have their support.

Critical Stages Touring will pay a fee of $1500 per writer for their works. Should you choose to perform the work yourself, an additional fee will be payable as per relevant awards, and we will cover costs for any travel and touring for any live performance outcomes.

If you are interested in supporting the project in any way, please head here to support our campaign. For every $1500 raised Critical Stages Touring can support a playwright to create and record another playwright and another story.

EOIs closed at midnight, Monday 25th May, 2020.

CST SCREENING ROOM

A NEW DIGITAL PLATFORM FOR INDEPENDENT  ARTISTS

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 info@criticalstages.com.au

Stage & Stream List

SUPPORTING ONLINE PERFORMANCES

Every Friday Critical Stages Touring publishes a list of streaming theatre, cabaret, arts education and artist opportunities that are happening online over the coming week.  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.

The project is one of the responses we are initiating to support artists in engaging audiences online in their work during the coronavirus crisis. Donation links also take audiences directly to donations for that project and we encourage our email subscribers to watch and donate with a weekly update EDM that goes out to hundreds of viewers.

You can read the lists on our blog here: www.criticalstages.com.au/news/

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 robbi@criticalstages.com.au 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.

Forums

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 forums are:

PLEASE NOTE NEW DATES…
MONDAY AUGUST 24th 2020
6PM – 7PM

RE-IMAGINING THE FUTURE OF TOURING

There’s no doubting that touring, venue presentation and audience engagement is entering a very new phase. For independent producers with touring ambitions the landscape can be more confusing than ever. With differences in policy between states, territories, and venues themselves, we now have more to consider than ever before. Join us for a chat with arts makers and industry leaders to unpack what the future of touring in Australia looks like right now. What are the pros and cons? What is it we need to plan for? Where are the real opportunities? and how can we build sustainability and environmental care into this brave new touring world?

Special Guests:
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

Register for free via Eventbrite and join us via zoom to unpack how these arts leaders are approaching the future of touring in Australia and beyond.

REGISTER VIA EVENTBRITE

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 5TH 2020
@ ARTSTATE WAGGA WAGGA

2PM

REGIONAL ARTS PRACTICE IN A NEW WORLD

We host a conversation and Q&A with regional arts leaders to talk about an incredible year of change. It’s 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. We ask, ‘what kind of future do we want and need for our work, and how can we use this period of recovery to reshape our practices in terms of sustainability and community engagement?’

PREVIOUS FORUMS

CREATIVE PRACTICE IN THE DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT (May 2020)

Shaped from feedback and suggestions from artists around the country this zoom-enabled forum recapped the things we’ve learned so far about theatre in isolation, before settling in to hear from arts makers and leaders about how they’re managing creative practice right now.

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

LIFE AS A REGIONAL INDY THEATRE ARTIST (October 2019)

Delivered at Artstate Tamworth. 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 when based in urban centres. While all indy theatre artists have lots in common, there’s an awful lot more we can learn from artists, presenters and producers who aren’t city-based, especially at a time of arts uncertainty.

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

SECOND LIFE IN THE INDY SECTOR (8th August 2019)

Where do you go after a run has finished? How do we think beyond our premiere season to plan a future for our work? Critical Stages hosted 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. We talked about 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.

PITCHING YOUR PROJECT (3rd June 2019)

Whether it’s over coffee, in an elevator, at a market, or in a written EOI, at some point we all have to pitch our creative project to a prospective theatre company, artistic director or venue. Come and listen to experts talk about what makes the perfect pitch and maybe even test out your pitch on your peers.

Listen to the forum on Soundcloud

WORKING WITH PRESENTERS (December 2018)

For our final Indy Theatre Forum for 2018, Critical Stages hosted a special forum to discuss the relationship between artists and venues. How does a venue choose its programming? What curatorial policies exist at some of Sydney’s key independent theatre powerhouses and how do they approach choosing works for their audiences? What makes for an original and compelling season of work? How can artists interact and collaborate with venues and festivals?

Guest panelists : 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

FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES (April 2018)

You got the show up and it was a huge success, now there’s talk of a tour. But how do you make it happen? This forum was a lively conversation unpacking all the acronyms across the complex world of national and international touring, giving you a rundown of the who, what and where of supporting second lives for theatre and the lowdown on the festival circuit. Join Critical Stages Director Chris Bendall and Programming Producer Penny Watts for a conversation designed to equip you with all the tools you need to get your show packed up and traveling!

Listen to the forum on Soundcloud

Productions

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

Residencies

ARTIST & PRODUCER RESIDENCIES

Are you sick of working from home?

Here at Critical Stages Touring we are throwing open our doors and inviting you to share our office as a creative and administrative space. We look for a dynamic and driven NSW-based independent producer, company, collective or theatre maker to join us as a resident for a period of 12 months.

The residency provides free working space, infrastructure, support, and mentor advice, drawing on the collective knowledge of professional producers and arts administrators. Use us as a sounding board to help you get your next artistic project up and running or in taking your company to the next level.

Current Residents:

 What we are offering:

  • Access to office infrastructure – internet, photocopying, fax, phone, stationary supplies, kitchen facilities, meeting facilities;
  • The residency will be active from May to December 2019 
  • One on one mentoring to look at company planning – long and short term, marketing strategy, publicity and touring potential;
  • Regular networking opportunities with other residents and industry guests to share resources and knowledge;
  • Limited access to our meeting rooms (which can double as small rehearsal spaces), plus office biscuits and much more…!

Previous residents’ feedback:

“The camaraderie from both Critical Stages and our fellow Residents has broadened our networks and made us feel included in the independent arts sector.” (Crack Theatre Festival)

“We found the residency useful for throwing around ideas with peers in an environment that was more collegiate than competitive.” (Arthur Theatre Company)

“It has been great for our management team to have a regular space to work in and this has had a profound affect on our productivity and professional practice.” (Matriark Theatre Company)

Want to know when the next round opens? Email us at info@criticalstages.com.au and we’ll add you to our Artists news list.