Totem Short Plays is a structured skills development program for Central Australian writers, directors and actors. Through workshops, mentoring and artistic engagement, the program will generate content for a short play festival staged at the Totem Theatre in 2019. Totem Short Plays is open to Central Australian writers, directors and actors at all levels of experience.

Phase 1 Kick-Starting Short Plays July 2018 (completed) A public workshop with MaryAnne Butler
Phase 2 Script Development August - October 2018 (in progress) Short play scripts submitted and selected plays developed through mentoring and workshops with Sandra Thibodeaux.
Phase 3 Acting and Directing January - March 2019 Public acting & directing workshops; directors apply to direct a play that has been developed in Phase 1 & 2, those selected are mentored by Drew Fairley.
Phase 4 Staging Plays March - July 2019 Auditions and rehearsals for cast and crew; technical workshops and mentoring to present plays at the Totem Theatre Short Play Festival.

Current Phase - Phase 2: Script Development

Totem Short Play Scripts Selected! Congratulations to the eight central Australian playwrights whose ten-minute scripts have been selected for the next phase of the Totem Theatre Short Play Program. The selected plays are:

Fang – Parker Black

Untitled – Marilyn Cavenagh

A Family Portrait – Jo Dutton

Lady Haha goes to Rehab – Bianca Gonos

No Spanish Mackerel! – Biddy O’Loughlin

The Mission – Kristy Schubert

Wrecks – Betty Sweetlove

Alcoota Passion – Michael Watts

The selection panel was thrilled by the quality and number of submissions received and about the diversity of the selected plays. Thanks to everyone who submitted and we look forward to workshopping and presenting the new works.

The script development intensive will take place in late October with playwright Sandra Thibodeaux.

The plays developed as part of this process will be produced and staged in 2019. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode in the Totem Theatre Short Play Program!

October Workshop Session dates (for selected scripts only):

Sandra Thibodeaux – Biography

Sandra Thibodeaux is a playwright and poet. She has written over a dozen plays that have been staged as part of festivals across Indonesia and Australia, and broadcast on Radio National. Her latest plays include A Smoke Social, The Age of Bones, Mr Takahashi (and other falling secrets) and The Lion Tamer. Sandra has twice won the NT Literary Awards for her plays, and has been short-listed for both the Patrick White and Griffin playwriting awards. The Age of Bones was nominated for a prestigious Green Room Award (Melbourne) for Best Ensemble, and is currently being adapted for the screen.

Phases 3 & 4

Between 6- 8 plays that have been developed through Phases 1 & 2 of Totem Short Plays will be staged in 2019 by a team of directors and actors at Totem Theatre’s Short Play Festival.
Selected plays will be licensed to the Totem Theatre Short Play Festival 2019 for staging. Selected scripts may be paid a one-off licensing fee determined by Totem Theatre, however this is dependent on future grant funding and cannot be guaranteed.

Playwrights can apply to be part of the Direction & Staging phase but are not guaranteed a place. Selection criteria for Phase 3 & 4 will be provided during delivery of that Phase.
For more info and any questions please email

The Totem Theatre Short Play Program has been made possible by an Arts Development grant from ArtsNT

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