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Welcome Season 2023 - Foreword by Dianne Toulson

2022 saw a great number of successes for us, hosting over 450 artists and 14,000 audience members across 42 productions, our inaugural First Stories Program, the delivery of our exceptional Associate Artists program, the re-introduction of our self produced and presented works lead by our in-house directors Steven Mitchell Wright (MEDEA: Out of the Mouths of Babes), Briony Dunn (The Human Voice) and Kitan Petkovski (No Ball Games Allowed) while also being nominated for 12 Green Room Association Awards and winning 5.

We expanded our community with the newly formed neighbourhood group Friends of Theatre Works, we had investors in the Explosives Factory through our Transformers program and secured patronage for the Associate Artists through our Guardian Angels. We formed a new and exciting partnership with Coll Arts. This year we also secured $1,000,000 for capital works and the redevelopment of our site - which will make a tremendous impact to our grounds, facilities and the way our space interfaces with the street and the greater St Kilda community and this isn’t even all of it. We did a lot.

We did all this with 8 staff, of which I am the only person on full-time. We did a lot. We do a lot, we do a lot on a little. 2023 will be no different.


2023 is jam-packed with new perspectives explored through stories and theatrical experiences that haven’t been heard or experienced before and familiar stories told in new ways.

From Australian classics to brilliant new Australian works and collaborations with artists from around Australia and the world. We will continue with our professional and industry development programs, strengthen our relationships with the local and artistic communities, and deepen our investment in the future of Australian theatre artists and theatrical practices.

I’m excited to say that in 2023, I will be seated in the director chair for the very first time. After a career spanning umpteen years as a producer, manager, programmer and mentor - it will put me on the other side of the process and it will give me deeper insight and understanding of the creative process and the huge commitment made by artists to make work happen.

You, our audience and community will be introduced to new artists co-presenting works with us for the first time and reunited with many who already have a strong relationship with us. Plays by Michael Gow, Patricia Cornelius, Andrew Bovell, and works by Susie Dee, Born In A Taxi, Marcel Dorney, The Danger Ensemble and Lab Kelpie just to name a few. It’s an exciting year ahead.

From the outside, it might look crazy but Theatre Works is an organisation that attempts to give as many artists as we can a go but this isn’t about quantity over quality. It’s both. It’s about access to opportunity - we, as an organisation, understand how difficult it is to get work up, how few spaces and opportunities there are available to artists at all stages of their career and creative endeavours. At Theatre Works we try to provide pathways for artists to achieve success based on their own metric, be that commercial, experimentation, audience building, future proofing - what have you and we try to do that while balancing a program that keeps our organisation fiscally buoyant and culturally innovative. We need to balance new works, new plays, new processes, classic voices, experimentation, established and early career artists AND we need to ensure that we can keep our staff employed and our doors open into the future.

We understand that to the casual observer that it may just appear that we have a tremendous amount of things happening, but internally they all align with different streams and values for us as an organisation. We have begun to communicate that externally this year with the introduction of our presenting streams, BY THEATRE WORKS, WITH THEATRE WORKS, FRESHWORKS and AT THEATRE WORKS.

This year we formalised our programming procedures with an Artistic Directorate of myself, Steven Mitchell Wright, Briony Dunn, Kitan Petkovski, Brittanie Shipway and Adam Gardner, we went through a rigorous process - assessing all of our applications, grading them in accordance with our values and mission statements and then began to assemble a matrix that also takes into consideration our expenditure, box office needs and audience wants. After all of that is done we begin to play calendar tetris and the communication with the artists begins. It’s a massive puzzle and it takes time and sometimes sheer determination to make it all fit but we’ve almost completed it.

It has been an honour to craft this season with these outstanding theatre-makers, a season full of works created for and about the world we live in today. We cannot wait to bring the last piece of the puzzle to the table and that piece is you, our audience and community.

Dianne Toulson

Executive Director


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