The Trustees of the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation (ACTF) and Regional Arts Victoria are delighted to announce the 2019 Joan and Betty Rayner ACTF Commission is awarded to regionally based artist Mark Penzak with his heart-warming new production ‘Toro and Rose’.

‘With a Japanese theme, ‘Toro and Rose’ demonstrates that despite times of unrest between nations, international cross-cultural friendship does prevail. In the words of the Trustees, this production is “so Joan and Betty”. Joan and Betty Rayner, after whom this Commission is named, were world-wide lifelong performers who left an enduring legacy on children’s theatre in Australia,’ says David Weil, ACTF Trustee.

This unique opportunity provides artists with support to create theatre for children and young people, contributing generously to the landscape of work produced in this niche field. Commission recipients also gain experience in regional schools touring through Regional Arts Victoria’s Arts & Education program.

Arts & Education Manager, Pippin Davies, says, ‘Regional Arts Victoria works with schools across the state to offer a diverse range of arts learning experiences for young people. Our programs compliment learning areas and capabilities of the Victorian Curriculum, covering a range of art forms.’

‘We encourage young people to participate in the arts as creators, makers and audiences, and strive to reduce access barriers to high quality and innovative arts programs. One contribution to this is the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation’s commission.’

‘We look forward to supporting Mark through the development of his new work 'Toro and Rose'. Mark is a gifted storyteller, and the new work weaves historical and intercultural themes that are sure to inspire young people’s understanding, joy and wonder in the arts and humanity.’

It is through this generous support from the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation, that Regional Arts Victoria is able to support programs for children and young people.

Joan and Betty Rayner

Joan and Betty Rayner

The Australian Children’s Theatre was created by sisters Joan and Betty Rayner in 1948. Joan and Betty were seasoned performers, touring across Australia and the world. Countless Australian children were introduced to the pleasures of live theatre by attending the widely acclaimed drama, music, mime and puppet productions of the Australian Children's Theatre. The performances were always lively, engaging and uplifting; and did much to build bridges of love and understanding between people from different cultures and traditions. The Australian Children's Theatre also enabled outstanding international artists and companies to perform to delighted audiences in Australia.

Joan Rayner established the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation (ACTF) to keep alive the aims of the Australian Children's Theatre.

The ideals of the Foundation are:

  • to foster in children a widening interest in the arts and humanity

  • to foster understanding between people of different countries and cultures, including the telling of Indigenous stories

  • to use theatre to explore and present stories from around the world including those of recent arrivals to Australia

The ACTF continues to be a strong supporter of theatre for young children across Victoria and they will be commissioning or supporting the creative development of a new performance work, to the amount of $20,000.

Applications for 2019-2020 are now closed.