Patch Theatre Company

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Patch Theatre Company is an Australian theatre company performing works for young audiences, based in Adelaide.

In its 45-year history, Patch Theatre Company has produced 105 new works and performed to 1.8 million children and their families nationally and internationally.

Over the last five years, Patch has performed at fourteen international children's festivals in Korea, Japan, Singapore, USA, New Zealand and Canada and been featured regularly at the Sydney Opera House and Victorian Arts Centre. In 2008, the company’s work was presented in New York City at the prestigious New Victory Theater on 42nd Street, again in 2010 and 2015.

The company has presented six consecutive national Playing Australia tours in six years, and has been awarded for the second time National Touring Status by the Australia Council for the Arts.

History[edit]

Patch Theatre Company was founded in 1972 by Morna Jones, a performer and television producer who had worked extensively with children during her career. Morna established Little Patch Theatre in an old farmhouse in High Street, Brighton and its theatrical mainstay was puppetry. Over the years, the company's name changed from New Patch Theatre to Patch Theatre Company.

In 1977 Patch became a general grant company of the Australia Council for the Arts. Later, the company received regular assistance from the State Government through the Youth Performing Arts Council.

Following the appointment of Christine Anketell in 1986, Patch's repertoire diversified and its audience base was extended. For the first time the company toured extensively throughout South Australia and Victoria. The company also undertook its first international tour performing in Japan as part of the Okinawa Festival. During her seven years as Artistic Director, Christine developed a relationship with the Adelaide Festival Trust, which saw the realisation of large-scale adaptations of children's literature as well as developing its extensive non-metropolitan tours to schools and community centres. Highlights included Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge which had seasons at Expo'88 in Brisbane and the Malthouse in Melbourne, The Secret Garden which headlined the Canberra Festival and Gillian Rubinstein's Space Demons.

Dave Brown joined the company in 1992 and he continued to foster the Adelaide Festival Centre relationship with a co-production of Victor Kelleher's The Red King in 1993.

In 1994, Patch moved from its base in the Community Centre in Tarlton Street, Somerton Park, to become a part of the Pasadena High School campus. Further co-productions with the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust continued with Gillian Rubinstien's Galax Arena and Each Beach in 1995 and 1997 respectively and the innovative Tripple J collaboration, Respectable Shoes in 1996.

Dave's work reflected his strong interest in exploring new conventions for the use of music in theatre with Respectable Shoes and the Beatlesque pop-opera Kookookachoo. He also explored the sharing of culture through theatre with the Indigenous Australian works Rak Awin and Tjijiku Inma followed by the Vietnamese Australian work - The Boy and the Bamboo Flute - which was performed by the company until 2006.

From 1998 to 200[clarification needed], Patch returned to the puppetry roots of its early years led by Artistic Director, Ken Evans. The Adelaide Festival Centre Trust and Come Out '99 presented Ken Evans' and Jonathan Taylor's Visible Darkness, a collision of Film Noir, contemporary dance, puppetry and illusion.

In 2000, Patch underwent a reinvention when Dave Brown returned to the Company and set about developing a repertoire of in-theatre productions exclusively for 4-8 year olds and their families.

Dave adapted eight stories by celebrated children's author, Pamela Allen, producing Who Sank the Boat? a magical work that set the scene for the emergence of Patch Theatre as one of Australia's most respected children's theatre companies. Collaborating with leading artists, Dave Brown developed a deep understanding of Patch Theatre’s audience and in particular, an artistic knowledge expressed through the style, process and form of his works, creating award winning works including Emily Loves To Bounce, Me and My Shadow, and The Moon's A Balloon.

2015 marked another significant chapter in the company’s history as Dave Brown stepped down as Artistic Director after two decades and handed the creative reigns to Naomi Edwards. Naomi’s vision for Patch Theatre seeks to evolve the company’s world-renowned theatre-making and presenting frameworks by strengthening the artistic expertise of our particular audience through collaboration with leading scientists and educators and collaborating with children in the creation of new works. She is bringing to the company new initiatives designed to connect the work of a theatre company to the classroom and the home and amplify its impact.


Patch Theatre Company is funded by the Government of South Australia through Arts SA and the South Australian Youth Arts Board and by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, Its arts funding and advisory body.