Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Malthouse Theatre

ProjectMalthouse Regional Performance Projects

Amount$75,000 over three years


ProgramPast Programs | Arts and Culture

This grant was approved under our previous grants policy
Supporting Indigenous Victoria Providing a platform for, and challenging mainstream conceptions of, contemporary Indigenous performance
Building organisational capacity Enabling the development of an extensive network of relationships across artistic and community groups in Victoria
Extending opportunity Commissioning new works from regional Victorian artists
Collaboration and partnership Working with individual artists, regional community groups, clubs and venues, and Vic Health

Exploring relationships between theatre practitioners and regional communities

A new pilot for Malthouse Theatre provided professional opportunities to create innovative work derived from the specific interests of different communities in regional Victoria

Image Malthouse Theatre

Malthouse Regional Performance Projects (MRPP) engaged with regional communities to express the diversity of Australian experiences on to the stage. The pilot project took place over three and a half years, evolving as it developed.


  • Project activities developed from the early extensive regional ‘meet-and-greet’ by Malthouse Theatre’s key staff and additional core theatre and production professionals, to commissioning and active support of regional playwrights to produce locally relevant stories, through to the evolution of the acclaimed Indigenous productions Walking into the Bigness and Blak Cabaret .
  • The model evolved flexibly from an individual artist-based approach to one that more actively engaged regional communities.
  • Richard Frankland’s autobiographical work Walking into the Bigness was a mainstage production of Season 2014 and was included as a 2014 VCE playlisted play.
  • Blak Cabaret built connections and challenged racial stereotypes. With leveraged funding from VicHealth, it performed across regional Victorian communities and in Melbourne, opening Malthouse Theatre’s 2015 season.
  • There were numerous outcomes: performers gained skills through professional development; additional employment opportunities were generated for all performers; fractured communities were drawn together through the performances; workshops were facilitated with Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth; a Shepparton Indigenous sports club staged their own Blak Cabaret a year after participating with the program.
  • While Blak Cabaret encountered obstacles arising from fixed ideas of Indigenous performance, Malthouse Theatre discovered that prolonged and active engagement with stakeholders enabled these challenges to be overcome.


"Jason Tamiru (Producer, Blak Cabaret) said he wanted audiences to laugh, cry, think, and maybe feel a little uncomfortable. And even come away enlightened. He’s succeeded in bucket-loads." Liza Dezfouli, Australian Stage