ActNow Theatre was founded in 2007 by Edwin Kemp Attrill, the company’s current Artistic Director. He and two high school friends wanted to create a street theatre performance about (then) Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks. Driven by an ambition to explore issues around injustice and oppression through theatre, Edwin formed the original ActNow ensemble with members of Urban Myth Theatre Company (where he was a member of the senior ensemble) and Amnesty International. This ActNow ensemble presented highly visual performances in public spaces, with a guerrilla approach to its unscheduled appearances and the agitprop content of the work.
In 2009 ActNow broadened its vision and began to create works for the stage, presenting a number of plays by established and emerging writers. At this time, ActNow also began to devise and present interactive, issues-based productions which have become the hallmark of its output.
Heavily informed by the work of Brazilian theatre director Augusto Boal (see Artistic Philosophy and Practice), the first of these issue-based productions was Expect Respect, a project designed to provide legal information about rape and sexual assault for young people. Developed in partnership with the Legal Services Commission of South Australia, Expect Respect also heralded a new model for ActNow’s activity.
Since then ActNow has committed to targeting specific need by collaborating with non-arts organisations to create artistically engaging work which illuminates current issues, outside the confines of conventional theatre forms and modes of presentation.
- ActNow Theatre forms as a street theatre ensemble working with young people and responding to political issues.
- ActNow begins presenting annual theatre for RightAct, a social change conference.
- ActNow presents its first staged work, The Revolution Starts, written by two young emerging playwrights.
- ActNow begins queer adaptation of A Midsummer Nights Dream.
- ActNow presents Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, which The Sunday Mail later describes as the 2010 Best Independent Theatre Production.
- ActNow partners with Legal Services Commission of South Australia to develop Expect Respect! An interactive performance about the legal implications of rape and sexual assault.
- ActNow completes its final theatre work for RightAct.
- ActNow is commissioned to develop a performance about young people’s perception of success for the Don Dunstan Foundation.
- ActNow completes the 68th performance of Expect Respect!
- ActNow takes a new strategic direction to partner with non-government organisations, schools, and community groups.
- ActNow develops The Clock in partnership with RiAus and tours to regional areas.
- ActNow develops Forum for Consent for University of Adelaide Student Union and presents in International White Ribbon Day conference in Sydney.
- ActNow develops Speak Out and tours to regional areas in partnership with Feast Festival.
- ActNow partners with Gay Mens Health and Feast Festival to provide a series of Queer Youth Theatre workshops in development for a new piece exploring safe sex and healthy relationships.
- ActNow partners with Legal Services Commission and Youth Education Centre to conduct a series of workshops with young people at risk of entering, or who have entered, the youth justice system in development for a new piece exploring young people and the criminal justice system.
- ActNow partners with Reconciliation SA to create an interactive performance addressing racism
- ActNow partners with ExpressWay Arts for How to Survive A Zombie Apocalypse (In Christies Beach)
- ActNow holds residency at Largs Bay Primary School, through Carclew Artist In Schools Program
- ActNow conducts residency at Hallet Cove High School in partnership with Marion City Council.