Plays written by Melbourne dramatists have been part of the city’s flourishing cultural life since the days of 19th-century melodrama and the ‘new’ theatre of Esson’s Pioneer Players. The Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC), La Mama Theatre and the now closed Pram Factory have all historically fostered playwriting in Melbourne.
Joining MTC as professional companies now are Hothouse, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Malthouse, and Red Stitch, who all program new Australian theatre writing as well as hosting discussions and development of new Australian works.
Melbourne's independent theatre scene is represented at such places as Chapel off Chapel, fortyfivedownstairs, La Mama Theatre, Northcote Town Hall, and Theatre Works. Both the Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival is full of fresh new Australian playwriting.
Melbourne is also blessed by outstanding independent new script companies like MKA, Melbourne Writers Theatre, Rawcus, Sisters Grimm, Union House Theatre and, supported through Melbourne Theatre Company, the NEXT STAGE program. The Pop Up Playground combine theatre with game play and are an innovative highlight of Melbourne's performance scene.
Theatre for the young is also well-represented through the world-class Arena Theatre Company and Polyglot Theatre. St Martin’s Youth Theatre provide an excellent season of work created by young people.