State Theatre Company of South Australia

The State Theatre Company of South Australia (STCSA), formerly the South Australian Theatre Company (SATC), is South Australia's leading professional theatre company, and a statutory corporation. It was established as the official state theatre company by the State Theatre Company of South Australia Act 1972, on the initiative of Premier Don Dunstan.

Many of the performances are staged at the Dunstan Playhouse and Space Theatre at the Adelaide Festival Centre. As of 2019 the artistic director is Mitchell Butel. Notable actors, writers and directors, working with the Company have included Patrick White, Neil Armfield, Ruth Cracknell, Andrew Bovell, Judy Davis, Gale Edwards, Mel Gibson, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sharman, Hugo Weaving, Elena Carapetis and John Wood.


The South Australian Theatre Company (SATC) was established in 1965 under the artistic direction of John Tasker. Tasker directed 10 plays before clashing with the Board and leaving in 1967.[1] Actor Leslie Dayman took over from Tasker and Peter Batey followed Dayman.

The date of establishment as the state theatre company dates from the State Theatre Company of South Australia Act of 1972,[2][3] an initiative of then Premier Dunstan. The name of the company was changed to its current name in 1978[Note 1] as a reflection of this Act.[4] The director of the company in its inaugural year was George Ogilvie.[5]

In 1974, the SATC became the inaugural resident theatre company of the Adelaide Festival Centre, performing mostly in The Playhouse (later The Dunstan Playhouse and still the company's primary venue), and was the first state theatre company in Australia to hold its entire operations in one purpose-made building.[5]

In 1977, Magpie Theatre was established as a theatre in education (TIE) branch of STCSA, for young people. After 20 years and numerous productions,[6] it was terminated in 1997, partially due to loss of funding after reconstruction of Arts SA.[5]

Under the artistic direction of Jim Sharman, the company was renamed Lighthouse from 1982–1983, operating as an ensemble theatre company with twelve actors: Robynne Bourne, Peter Cummins, Melissa Jaffer (replaced in 1983 by Jacqy Phillips), Alan John, Gillian Jones, Melita Jurisic, Russell Kiefel, Stuart McCreery, Robert Menzies (replaced by Robert Grubb), Geoffrey Rush, Kerry Walker and John Wood.[5]

The company was subtitled Australian Playhouse from 1996–1997 during the tenure of Chris Westwood, the Company's first female Executive Producer, appointed in 1993.[7] She aimed at presenting only Australian works until the end of the century; however, she resigned at the end of 1997.[5]

The Board reported to Arts SA (later Arts South Australia) from 1993 until 2018, when it started reporting directly to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.[3][8]


As of 2019, the Company's administration offices are based at the Lion Arts Centre, on the corner of Morphett Street and North Terrace, Adelaide.[9]

The company's main venue is still the Dunstan Playhouse, but it also uses the Space Theatre, the Royalty Theatre in Angas Street, Adelaide, Her Majesty's Theatre in Gouger Street, the Odeon Theatre in Norwood, the Matthew Flinders Theatre at Flinders University and the Keith Michell Theatre in Port Pirie, South Australia.[9]


Associate Directors

  • Michael Hill (2006 - 2008)
  • Geordie Brookman (2008 - 2010)
  • Catherine Fitzgerald (2011)
  • Nescha Jelk (2013–2016)

New works

Shows which have been developed by and/or have had their world premiere at STCSA include:

In addition, the company supports new work through its annual Young Playwrights' Award (formally Young Guns competition) for writers under 25, offering dramaturgy and a professional reading to the winning script, and the Jill Blewett Playwright's Award for the Creative Development of a play script by a South Australian Writer, presented at Adelaide Writer's Week during the Adelaide Festival.


  1. Although as of 2 August 2019, the About page, History section, cites 1980 as the date of the name change, quoting a 2004 work, the State Library of South Australia catalogue shows several works attributed to the STCSA name from 1978, and notes here that the entity "appears to be operating under State Theatre Company name from August 1978".


  1. Leask, Margaret. "Tasker, John Howard (1933–1988)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. First published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012. Australian National University. National Centre of Biography. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  2. "State Theatre Company of South Australia Act 1972, Version: 12.5.2011" (PDF). 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. "State Theatre Company of South Australia Act 1972". Government of South Australia. Attorney-General's Dept. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  4. "South Australian Theatre Company : [ephemera collection]". State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  5. Milne, Geoffrey (2004). Theatre Australia (un)limited: Australian theatre since the 1950s. Australian playwrights ; monograph no. 10. Series editor Veronica Kelly. Retrieved 2 August 2019 via State Theatre of South Australia: About.
  6. "Magpie Theatre Company". Ausstage: The Australian Live Performance Database. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  7. "A head full of new ideas". 1 December 1993. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  8. "About arts and culture". South Australia. Dept of the Premier and Cabinet. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  9. "Venues". State Theatre of South Australia. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  10. Smith, Matthew (18 December 2018). "Mitchell Butel named new artistic director of State Theatre Company". ABC News.

Further reading

  • Ward, Peter (1992). A singular act : twenty five years of the State Theatre Company of South Australia. Adelaide : State Theatre : Wakefield Press. ISBN 1-862-54273-2.
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