Small independent theatre – the keeper of dreams

Carolyn Bock, as Catherine, in the e-baby 2015 premiere at Chapel Off Chapel, with direction and dramaturgy by Anna McCrossin-Owen.

The sum was 314 pounds – 314 pounds of hope.

That was the modest distribution sum I received this quarter from publishing and licensing agent David Waters at Stagescripts in London, which licences my play e-baby for productions in Europe and the USA.

It was a delightful surprise. I had thought that Talking Horse Productions the small production company in Columbia, Missouri, which had applied to produce e-baby during Covid-19, had been defeated by the virus.

But no, Talking Horse ( – like many small independent theatre companies – remains optimistic, if not for 2021, then later.

So does Les Antonietes Teatre in Barcelona, Spain (  Les Antoinetes has secured the rights to e-baby for five years in the hope that it may be produced post Covid. Their plan is to translate the play into Catalan and tour the Catalan territories. If that’s successful, it will be translated into Spanish for further productions.

A production of Uked! – The first play-along ukulele musical, which is licensed with David Spicer Productions, was also planned by Libretto Productions in New Zealand this year, but cancelled.

While Covid-19 has decimated the theatre industry, it has been surprising and gratifying to find that these small independent companies – often with no government support – are still working valiantly towards the future.

This is often the only way that the work of independent playwrights like me can be seen.

I produced e-baby myself in 2015, and Uked! – The first play-along ukulele musical in 2019, as well as numerous small plays in the past decade, so I know how challenging producing can be in the best of times.

I’m also grateful to Stagescripts and small independent publishing and licensing companies like them, as well as Australian Plays Transform, who have struggled on despite lack of income.

It’s great to see main stage companies in Australia getting back on their feet, using their creative skills to develop work despite Covid restrictions, and I’m excited to attend their shows.

But it’s community theatre that gave me my start and independent theatre that is keeping me going.

So this is a shout out to encourage all theatre lovers to support their local independent and community theatre companies during this difficult period by attending shows and donating where possible.

It is often the smaller companies who take the risk to produce new work, showcasing stories that are not always championed by main stage producers.

As Adam Brietzke, Artistic Director at Talking Horse said: “It’s a tough time for all involved in art. We’re all in this together.”