20 year milestone shows independent theatre’s struggle

An independent remount of a work first staged 20 years ago reveals struggles faced by artists since then.
two actors on stage, one male and one female, looking concerned and upset

Go back 20 years, to 2001. WA-based independent performing arts director and producer Sally Richardson (then in her early thirties) has just launched her new company Steamworks Arts. She wants to stage Sydney playwright Alana Valentine’s new work Savage Grace – a hard-hitting play about ethics and religion with HIV AIDs as its backdrop.

Richardson knows two young actors (Humphrey Bower and Gibson Nolte) who can bring the work to life. She gets a grant to present the work at Perth’s Blue Room Theatre, and the show is a hit. It goes on to tour nationally – to Sydney in 2003, and Melbourne in 2005.

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ArtsHub's Arts Feature Writer Jo Pickup is based in Perth. An arts writer and manager, she has worked as a journalist and broadcaster for media such as the ABC, RTRFM and The West Australian newspaper, contributing media content and commentary on art, culture and design. She has also worked for arts organisations such as Fremantle Arts Centre, STRUT dance, and the Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub of WA, as well as being a sessional arts lecturer at The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).