Established in 1966, Arena is one of Australia’s longest-running producers of theatre for young people.

Arena’s longevity is a testament to our ongoing investigation of the central question “What is the role of performance for young people in today’s world?” Over more than fifty years the responses to this question have ranged from our modest beginnings performing school holiday shows, to our current incarnation as a leader in contemporary theatre practice.

In 2008 we launched an online history project detailing every Arena production between 1966 and 2008, based on archival materials and candid interviews with past artistic directors.

If you would like to read the Arena story, you can download below.

Performances reach over 500 000 people
world premieres
149 world premieres of original Australian work, attracting numerous award nominations and winning 7 major awards.
local seasons
Over 170 Melbourne seasons and over 80 regional Victorian tours, including partnerships with Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Theatre Company, Arts Centre Melbourne, Malthouse Theatre, Arts House and Footscray Community Arts Centre.
major Australian festivals
Seasons at 9 major Australian festivals - including the Melbourne Festival, Sydney Festival, Dream Big Festival (Adelaide), Perth Festival and the 16TH ASSSITEJ World Congress & Festival (Adelaide)
international tours
15 international tours and creative collaborations, including tours to major festivals in the US, UK, Japan, Singapore, China, Taipei and New Zealand
interstate seasons
42 interstate tours including seasons at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Riverside Theatres Parramatta.

Robot Song wins Best Presentation for Children and Young People at the Helpmann Awards

Air Race enjoys a sold out run at the Darwin Festival

Robot Song tours to WA, SA, NSW and VIC

Air Race has its world premiere in Bendigo, making it the first Arena production 100% produced in Bendigo

Sunny Ray & The Magnificent Moon performs at the Assitej Artistic Gathering in Beijing, China.

Robot Song premieres in Bendigo to critical acclaim before being booked for a 22 venue national tour.

Trapper tours to the Sydney Opera House

Arena settles into it's new home at The Engine Room in Bendigo.

Arena announces it will relocate to Bendigo to take up residence in The Engine Room Theatre, supported by Creative Victoria

Trapper world premieres at Arts Centre Melbourne and receives Green Room nominations for Best Ensemble and Best Lighting Design.

Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon programmed for four seasons, including a tour to New Zealand and two interstate tours to New South Whales.

Arena's East Gippsland Workshop Program is a key case study in Australian Research Council project Creative Convergence, undertaken by the University of Melbourne.

Arena hosts Caroline Horton and Emily Goddard as part of our International Residency Program.

Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon world premieres at Sydney Festival, followed by seasons at Melbourne International Comedy Festival and AWESOME Festival (Perth).

Cautionary Tales for Children enjoys a sold-out season at the Sydney Opera House.

Arena travels to Tokyo to undertake a creative development with Japanese company Stringraphy Ensemble.

East Gippsland Workshop Program doubles in size, expanding to include primary schools in the Orbost region. Students create Artificial Intelligences using live animation software.

First creative development of Air Race takes place, with support from Melbourne Theatre Company.

Arena moves from home of nine years on Dryburgh St, North Melbourne to share offices with St Martins Youth Arts Centre in South Yarra.

Cautionary Tales for Children enjoys seasons at SummerSalt Outdoor Arts Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Marlin tours to Bleach* Festival on the Gold Coast.

The Sleepover premieres at Arts Centre Melbourne

Arena undertakes an extended schools residency with St Anthony's of Padua Primary School in Melton South, working with students to create Point of View, a site-specific work using augmented reality technology

Arena collaborates with Present Tense Ensemble on Common Ground, an engagement program working with SEDA Arts students culminating in a performance outcome at Footscray Community Arts Centre

East Gippsland Workshop Program continues with a new workshop built upon augmented reality technology created for the extended schools residency delivered to four remote schools

Launch of new giving program Friends of Arena

Development of Sunny Ray and The Magnificent Moon for premiere at Sydney Festival in 2016

Marlin wins Drama Victoria Best Performance by a Theatre Company for Primary Students

The Marlin Expedition, the first in Arena's new program of immersive works, premieres at Arts Centre Melbourne

Marlin premieres at Melbourne Theatre Company, the first production under new Artistic Director Christian Leavesley

Arena welcomes new Artistic Associate Jolyon James

Cautionary Tales for Children has it's world premiere at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre, followed by a 4 week national tour

House of Dreaming performs at Perth International Arts Festival

Starchaser wins an AWGIE Award for Best Children's Theatre

Cautionary Tales for Children nominated for a Helpmann Award for Best Presentation for Children

Arena hosts 3 independant theatre producers as part of the studio residency program Inside 130

Cautionary Tales has a creative development at the Kennedy Centre, Washington DC

House of Dreaming opens with a world premiere season at the Melbourne Festival

Starchaser has its world premiere at Arts Centre Melbourne

Moth selected for the Theatre Studies Playlist and tours regional Victoria

Moth wins AWGIE Award for Best Theatre for Young Audiences

Moth nominated for 2011 Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work

Moth wins 3 Green Room Awards: Best New Original Writing fr the Melbourne Stage; Best Lighting Design; and Best Sound/Composition.