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news / opinion 28.12.2017 Words:Ashlee Robertson
Artwork: Lukas Benson

Navigating the Canberra theatre scene


The theatre scene is one of Canberra’s best-kept secrets. To the uninitiated, theatre is something only found in bigger cities, but Canberra has one of the liveliest theatre scenes in the country. With a number of venues and organisations showcasing a variety of professional, independent, community, and amateur theatre from a diverse range of genres, including; plays, contemporary, classical, experimental, interpretative, musical theatre, cabaret, improve, live art, and even puppetry, Canberrans are spoiled for choice. To say there’s a different show available to watch each night of the week would be an understatement.


The Canberra Theatre Centre
is easily Canberra’s biggest and best-known venue. Hosting a long list of professional Australian and international productions (most recently Mamma Mia, Dracula, and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice) theatre-goers can prepare to have their socks blown off by the calibre of productions on display.

Just south of the border, The Q Theatre in Queanbeyan boasts the most amount of leg room for patrons in the region. Regarded as the premier entertainment facility in the city of Queanbeyan, the Q auditorium gives theatre goers the perfect combination of grand stage and intimate atmosphere, treating locals to productions all year round.

Smith’s Alternative Book Store provides an intimate setting to view local amateur and independent shows. Doubling as a café and seating less than 50 people, you’ll be up close and personal with the raw underground theatre Canberra has to offer.

The Street Theatre
showcases a variety of independent, contemporary live performances made right here in Canberra. Regularly showcasing original ACT theatre work as well as developing original Australian performance works, The Street Theatre presents the very best of what the local industry has to offer.

Gorman Arts Centre/Ainslie Arts Centre
has been described by locals as ‘Canberra’s creative heart’. 
Hosting Canberra’s largest collective of professional artists and arts organisations. The two centres support creative development across a variety of theatre arts including dance, music and literature. With a labyrinth of performance and rehearsal spaces, you can view or take part in theatre to your heart’s content.

The Canberra Community Theatre
scene is booming with several locations available in all corners of the city including Erindale Theatre, Belconnen Theatre, Tuggeranong Arts Centre and Gungahlin College Theatre. You don’t have to travel far to see or participate in original and classic performances from the local community.

Collective Theatre
is a newly established theatre company, made up of recently graduated Year 12 students from colleges across Canberra. These Student, united by their passion for theatre, came together to produce and perform Adam Gwon’s ‘Ordinary Days’ at Belconnen Theatre over the 7-9 Canberra 2017. The calibre of the performers was phenomenal, and I truly believe that we will be seeing some of these young people in big roles in the future.


Ribix Productions
is a youth-led company that I currently producing original theatre for Canberra audiences. They are currently rehearsing for their second major production ‘Foxes’ an original musical written by Rachel Pengilly and Shannon Parnel, to be performed by a cast of 28 at Belconnen theatre in early 2018. Ribix was also a winner from Stir Season 3.



With so many new theatre organisations popping up every day, it’s hard to keep count. Many organisations even offer classes, training, behind the scenes development and other opportunities to be involved in the theatre.

Ickle Pickle Productions has a reputation for developing original shows, providing Canberra audiences and performers with the opportunity to see new and innovative productions, as well as the classic theatre pieces we all know and love.

Specialising in music theatre, The Canberra Philharmonic Society delivers semi-professional productions, combining the experience of professional directors, choreographers and musicians with the talents of Canberra’s amateur performers.

Tempo Theatre is an amateur/community theatre organisation that prides itself on allowing people from all walks of life and levels of experience to simply ‘have a go’. Tempo Theatre provides an environment where newcomers are trained in all aspects of theatre and Canberrans are entertained in new and exciting ways.

With over 400 students taking part in programs on a weekly basis, The Canberra Academy of Dramatic Arts is overflowing with new talent for audiences to sink their teeth into. With students graduating on a half-yearly basis and their own theatre on campus, locals can enjoy regular performances showcasing a variety of talents and skill levels.

The Canberra Repertory Society is one of Canberra’s oldest theatre organisations, with over 500 productions under its belt since its conception. Staging 6 major productions each year at their own ‘Theatre 3’, Canberra Theatre-goers will be treated to a high-quality variety of contemporary and classical theatre works.

With such a large variety of shows to choose from, the Canberra Theatre scene is ready to be explored by all those who are willing.

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