New Kid in Town: National Theatre of Parramatta

It is not every day that a new Australian theatre company opens its doors. Sadly quite the opposite has been happening over the last decade, with many theatre companies closing down because of lack of funding. However, after many years of planning, Australia’s newest theatre company, National Theatre of Parramatta, was launched today, 19 November 2015, at what will be its venue of residence, Riverside Theatre.


National Theatre of Parramatta aspires to be a major contributor to the nation’s artistic landscape, “putting the nation on stage”, in all its diversity and complexity. The company’s four directors are all arts professionals with a wealth of creative and cultural experience, both in Australia and abroad. Their aim is to raise the profile of performance and engage the imagination and creativity of audiences from Western Sydney, right across the nation, and ultimately internationally.

The inaugural season, which will commence in April 2016, bursts onto the scene with rich, bold, contemporary works that draw their inspiration from community, valuing the undervalued, remembering the forgotten, and telling the untold. Based in Western Sydney, rather than the city centre, like the larger, established performing arts companies, Parramatta Theatre Company will shine a light on the ‘real’ Australia, with stories of the streets of Western Sydney and of our proud Aboriginal heritage – as well as some of the not-so-proud events in that history.

Below are a selection of stage plays to anticipate in 2016:

A fitting opener, Swallow, by Olivier award-winning playwright, Stef Smith, is a powerful, fearless production. It received rave reviews during its world premiere season at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Kate Champion, founder and former Artistic Director of Force Majeure, will direct this Australian premiere.

Simultaneously at the tipping point between self-destruction and self-acceptance, three strangers influence each other’s lives in unforeseeable ways. Shared states of vulnerability and defiance connect their fates and influence each other’s ability to re-enter the outside world. Hard hitting yet humorous, Swallow explores questions of identity, heartbreak and hope with vivid, poetic intensity.

Jane Harrison’s Stolen is a collection of experiences from survivors of the Stolen Generations. It will be directed by one of the nation’s great performance makers, Vicki Van Hout.

It tells the story of five Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families and brought up in a repressive children’s home. Segregated from their community, the children begin their journey ‘home’ after their release. The poignancy, pain, and desire for a different life is seen through the children’s own eyes, as they struggle to make sense of a world where they have been told to forget their families, homes and culture.


In October, National Theatre of Parramatta will hold the inaugural storytelling festival, Telling Tales. Using traditional and alternative spaces, Telling Tales will celebrate the glorious complexity and diversity of Western Sydney, sharing the stories of its people with yarns, anecdotes, personal stories and imaginary tales set in a performance context.

Telling Tales will include:
• Who Speaks For Me – a multi-lingual, multi-generational storytelling work about language – the hilarious consequences of misunderstanding it, and the nuances that are lost in translating it.
• A History of Maps and Squares – One hundred years ago, red and blue crayons in hand, British diplomat Mark Sykes and French counterpart François Georges-Picot met over a map and set about redrawing borders in very straight lines. The effects of the colonial carve-up resonate into the present, as history finds meaning in the tradition of ‘theatre of the absurd.’


Alicia Tripp

Alicia is a seasoned arts and music journalist, as a former critic for the ABC Limelight magazine and State of the Arts. She has a degree in Media & Communications, English and Music from the University of Sydney.