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 Short play scripts submitted and selected plays developed through mentoring and workshops with Sandra Thibodeaux. APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN: SUBMIT YOUR SCRIPT HERE
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

Up to 10 plays will be selected for the short script development mentoring and workshops phase of Totem Short Plays.

Playwrights of selected scripts will receive mentoring with Sandra Thibodeaux that consists of two 1 hour one-on-one sessions and 3 group workshops in Alice Springs in late October. All workshops and one on one sessions are optional. However we will allocate your place to other play writers if you do not take advantage of these skill development opportunities.

Scripts submissions are due September 16 and selected scripts will be announced October 1.


Session dates:

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.

How to Apply

Submissions of short play scripts from playwrights from novice to professional are open August 6 – September 16. Submit your script via the form HERE

Ensure you have read the Conditions of Entry and Selection Guide here

NB: If you have a gmail account, scripts can be uploaded directly into the form, all others should be emailed to Please note you MUST still fill out an application form. If you have trouble accessing the internet please contact us.

Key Dates

Script Submissions Open - August 5
Script Submissions Close - September 16
Winners Announced - October 1
Workshops - October 20, 21 & 27

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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