Critical Stages began in 2005 as an initiative of Darlinghurst Theatre Company under the direction of Glenn Terry, born from the desire to find further life for outstanding productions from across the independent theatre sector. Successful productions were being resourced directly by independent artists and only reaching limited audiences in small metropolitan venues. Critical Stages developed a model to assist the development of these artists and their productions by providing infrastructure and support to use touring as a pathway to allow these works to expand their audiences and their creative potential.

In 2005 and 2006, the Critical Stages team travelled extensively throughout Australia to meet with independent artists and presenters alike to develop the model and launch the initiative to the industry. Critical Stages was established as an initiative of Darlinghurst Theatre Company, with core funding initially from Arts NSW and then as a triennial initiative funding from the Australia Council from 2009-2011.

Critical Stages has grown to become Australia’s leading producer of touring theatre from the independent theatre sector. In the past five years it has toured fourteen productions by some of the country’s leading independent theatre practitioners, including Craig Ilott, Michael Futcher, Kim Hardwick, Peter Houghton, Julian Louis, Toby Schmitz, Drew Fairley and Kate Smith, Stephen Lloyd-Helper, The Escapists, Finucane & Smith; to regional and remote audiences across the country.

In 2011 Critical Stages separated from Darlinghurst Theatre Company to form as a separate not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with a dedicated management staff and board of Directors.

Over 120 artists have been engaged on Critical Stages touring productions, with over half engaged as touring cast and crew, traveling to perform in over 90 towns from Darwin to Launceston, Karratha to Lightning Ridge to a total audience of over 80,000 attendees.

Credit: The Kursk by Sasha Janowicz, A Critical Stages and Matrix Theatre Production, National Tour 2009

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