Established in 1966, Arena is one of Australia’s longest-running producers of theatre for young people. Arena’s longevity is a testament to our ongoing investigation of the central question "What is the role of performance for young people in today’s world?" Over almost-fifty-years the responses to this question have ranged from our modest beginnings performing school holiday shows, to our current incarnation as a leader in contemporary theatre practice.
In 2008 we launched an online history project detailing every Arena production between 1966 and 2008, based on archival materials and candid interviews with past Artistic Directors.
If you would like to read The Arena Story please email email@example.com to have a copy sent to you.
- Performances reach over 64 000 people
- 15 world premieres, along with 12 return seasons of new Australian work
- 24 local seasons and 6 regional Victorian tours, including partnerships with Melbourne Theatre Company, Arts Centre Melbourne, Malthouse Theatre, Arts House, Footscray Community Arts Centre, ArtPlay and Regional Arts Victoria
- Seasons at 5 major Australian festivals - including the Melbourne Festival, Come Out Festival (Adelaide), Perth Festival and 16TH ASSSITEJ World Congress & Festival (Adelaide)
- 13 interstate tours including venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Riverside Theatres Parramatta.
- 3 international tours and creative collaborations, including the Prudential Children First! Festival in Singapore, Contact Theatre in Manchester and New Visions New Voices at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.
- Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon world premieres at Sydney Festival, followed by seasons at Melbourne International Comedy Festival and AWESOME Festival (Perth).
- Cautionary Tales for Children enjoys a sold out season at the Sydney Opera House.
- Arena travels to Tokyo to undertake a creative development with Japanese Company Stringraphy Ensemble.
- Trapper undergoes further creative development ready for world premiere at the Arts Centre Melbourne in 2017.
- East Gippsland Workshop Program doubles in size, expanding to include primary schools in the Orbost region. Students create Artificial Intelligences using live animation software.
- First creative development of Air Race takes place, with support from Melbourne Theatre Company.
- Arena moves from home of nine years on Dryburgh St, North Melbourne to share offices with St Martins Youth Arts Centre in South Yarra.
- Cautionary Tales for Children (Mobile Version) enjoys seasons at SummerSalt Outdoor Arts Festival & Melbourne International Comedy Festival
- Marlin tours to Bleach* Festival on the Gold Coast.
- The Sleepover premieres at Arts Centre Melbourne
- Arena undertakes an Extended Schools Residency with St Anthony's of Padua Primary School in Melton South, working with students to create Point of View - a site-specific work using augmented reality technology
- Arena collaborates with Present Tense Ensemble on Common Ground - an engagement program working with SEDA Arts students culminating in a performance outcome at Footscray Community Arts Centre
- East Gippsland Workshop Program continues with a new workshop built upon augmented reality technology created for the Extended Schools Residency delivered to four remote schools
- Further creative development of mainstage work Trapper
- Launch of new giving program Friends of Arena
- Development of Sunny Ray & The Magnificent Moon for premiere at Sydney Festival in 2016
- Marlin premieres at Melbourne Theatre Company, Christian Leavesley's first show as Artistic Director.
- The Marlin Expedition, the first in Arena's new program of immersive works, premieres at Arts Centre Melbourne with a sold out season.
- Marlin wins Drama Victoria Best Performance by a Theatre Company for Primary Students.
- The Marlin Expedition visits Footscray Community Arts Centre and again plays to capacity crowds.
- Arena begins creative development on new show Trapper.
- Arena pilots a new group work experience program.
- Arena conducts 5 workshops with regional schools in far East Gippsland.
- Arena continues to partner with SEDA Arts, workshopping concepts for Trapper and offering work experience during Marlin rehearsals.
- Arena welcomes new Artistic Associate Jolyon James and Program Coordinator Alexandra Macalister-Bills.
- Slide Night continues with new forum Animating the Inanimate presented as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week.
- Arena hosts independent company The Sally Collective for studio residency program Inside 130.
- Cautionary Tales for Children has its world premiere at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre, before touring for four weeks around Australia
- The House of Dreaming continues its tour with major festivals, travelling to the Perth International Arts Festival in February
- Preliminary works begin on new Artistic Director’s first production with Arena, Marlin
- Starchaser by Lally Katz wins the 2013 AWGIE for Children's Theatre
- Cautionary Tales for Children nominated for the 2013 Helpmann Award for Best Presentation for Children
- Arena continues to develop workshops with students at Westall Secondary College, supported by The Newsboys Foundation
- Arena continues our partnership with SEDA Arts, to facilitate a series of independent productions from students.
- Slide Night, Arena's curated program of industry forums premieres with Theatre and Physics of the Future
- Arena hosts three independent theatre producers as part of the studio residency program Inside 130
- The House of Dreaming opens with a world premiere season at the Melbourne Festival
- Cautionary Tales for Children has two creative developments: at Arts Centre Melbourne's Carnegie 18 New Music Theatre program and with the Kennedy Centre's New Visions New Voices program in Washington DC. Also recieves Playwriting Australia funding for a 2013 regional tour.
- Starchaser opens with a world premiere at Arts Centre Melbounre.
- Moth selected for the Theatre Studies Units 4 playlist and tours regional Victoria.
- Arena participates as industry partner in a pilot of a new alternative VCE arts education program, SEDA arts.
- Arena recieves Arts Victoria Extended School Residency funding to develop The Exile Project with Westall Secondary College, and are also shortlisted for a Tesltra Connecting Up grant to support the involvement of ipads in the project.
- Moth's writer Declan Greene wins 2011 Australian Writers' Guild (AWGIE) award for Theatre for Young Audiences
- Moth wins three 2011 Green Room Awards: for Best New Original Writing for the Melbourne Stage, Lighting Design and Sound/Composition. Is nominated for a further four for Best Production, Best Director, Best Female Actor, Best Male Actor
- Moth is nominated for a 2011 Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work
- Cautionary Tales for Children, based on the verse by Hilaire Belloc, is selected for the New Visions/New Voices script development program at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from 14-20 May 2012