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Monkey Baa
Celebrates 25 Years

Monkey Baa was formed in 1997 by Eva Di Cesare, Sandie Eldridge and Tim McGarry. All three had recently graduated from Drama Schools around the country.  

Eva recalls that she first met Tim about 27 years ago, when they were working on an independent production at the Wayside Chapel Theatre in Sydney. Not long after that Tim introduced Eva to Sandie, as they were working together at the time.  The three of them quickly formed a very deep friendship and soon found agreement that theatre for young people was an important but neglected sector, and that young people deserved to experience the same level of quality that adult audiences were used to. They also agreed that remote and regional young people were missing out. And so, Monkey Baa Theatre for Young People was born.   

The first production the Monkey Baa team decided to adapt for the stage was Tim Winton’s hilariously naughty The Bugalugs Bum Thief.  It was Sandie who came across the novel,  and finding it hilarious soon had Eva and Tim equally excited. The three of them set about adapting the novel for the stage.  By 1998, they were ready to perform. They didn’t start out in theatres but actually began by touring into schools. They rented a long wheelbase van (well five of them actually, they kept breaking down) and over the months of touring they broke down many times. Tim remembers with the sort of humour that comes only after many years, how they had to call the rental company and explain why they’d broken down in Bega when they’d agreed to the condition that they’d only be driving the van in metro Sydney!  The trio lugged a brightly coloured, heavy wooden set into classrooms, libraries, and community halls and performed to over 15,000 young people in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. 

After five months on the road ‘The Bugalugs Bum Thief’ was performed in its first theatre venue at Glen Street Theatre in Sydney, on the 21st June 1998.  With the support of Greg Randall and Amanda Buckworth at Glen Street Theatre, Monkey Baa got its break! 

Sandie joked that at first, they didn’t really know how long Monkey Baa would last, thinking maybe a year, but then year after year young audiences kept engaging with their work and somewhere along the way they realised that they were actually here to stay.  

Monkey Baa has now delivered more than 30 regional tours to over 135 communities, engaged more than 1.5 million young people and had 5 international tours.  

In 2017, Tim departed the company for new horizons and in 2021, Eva became the company’s sole Artistic Director with Sandie continuing to collaborate with the company as Artistic Associate. 

Monkey Baa’s goal though and reason for being has never changed – to empower young people wherever they may live, to shape and navigate their lives through inspirational theatre and creative experiences.  Since 1997 we’ve visited Australia’s biggest cities and some of the most remote towns.  We've sailed our sets over the Pacific to engage with young people in many states of the USA. We have developed our works closely with so many young people and are committed to working with them. We recognise that they are the voice and the audience not of the future, but of right now.

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