In 1996, during a period that saw the demise of many regionally based theatre companies in Australia, the board of the Murray River Performing Group decided that the structure which had carried the Company through its first sixteen years was no longer the most effective way to achieve the aspirations and goals of the Company. Local audiences were now wanting to see a kind of theatre that looks beyond local issues and a company that can produce and present work of the calibre found on the main stages of major cities.
The mission of the newly formed HotHouse Theatre was to challenge the immediate and wider communities with locally produced, high quality, professional theatre. The role of Artistic Director was expanded into an Artistic Directorate of (initially) 12 key individuals – a mix of local arts workers and others from state capital cities. There was an enthusiastic response from a number of prominent industry professionals who happily made the commitment to attend planning and programming meetings and to represent the interests of the Company in the wider theatre world. They became effective advocates for HotHouse and were active in liaising with funding bodies and producers on behalf of the Company. Since this beginning the Artistic Directorate has featured an eclectic mix of skills in directing, writing, dramaturgy, design, choreography, music, composing, performing, programming, strategic planning and arts advocacy.
Over the years HotHouse Theatre has developed a coherent and focussed theatre practice and built a formidable reputation nationally as a small to medium theatre company that produces and presents high quality shows and provides valuable services to the industry and the local community. In addition to the yearly Subscription Season of plays there is a HotHouse Drama School, a Co-Commissioning Program, the ‘Month in the Country’ artists residency program, the Generate Schools Festival, the Technical Theatre Training program and the venue hiring of the Butter Factory Theatre.