Riverland Youth Theatre (RYT) enriches the lives of young people in the South Australian Riverland and Mallee through creativity, theatre and play. For 37 years we have been making art with and for our community, empowering children and young people as artists, learners and doers.
Our artistic program includes
- Weekly classes, both in-person and online
- School holiday programs
- Special projects
- Opportunities for parents/carers to interact creatively with their children
- Classes in schools
Professional development for artists and educators
Our well-being program includes:
- ‘3rd Place’: offering times for young people and adults to come together in our space without expectations or structured lessons
- Pondi: our fortnightly Aboriginal Youth Group
- 1-2-1: mentoring, art and play for children and young people who thrive outside of group settings
- Art Therapy (2023, term 2)
- Life Toolkits (2023, term 3)
RYT is deeply embedded in and responsive to the needs of our Riverland community. Our team works closely with children, parents, councils, community groups and local organizations to ensure that we listen to the needs of the Riverland and respond with creative, accessible, and diverse offerings.
A short history of thirty-six years
When Riverland Youth Theatre was established in 1985 in Barmera, it was the only regional youth theatre in South Australia. Mildura’s Sunraysia Daily wrote of the company’s establishment that Barmera “had a youth unemployment problem and subsequentially a lot of young people wandering around the town. The theatre was established to provide some of those young people with an interest.” (April 23, 1987). Under the guidance of the founding director, Martin Christmas, the company grew fast and worked hard. The Border Times wrote of a sell-out performance in 1989 that RYT “has come a long way since the first performance in Pinnaroo Institute 3.5 years ago, when the company was new and only 26 people bothered to come to the Institute and see what they were all about.” (9 August 1989) By 1988, RYT had presented nine productions, and many of which explored the history of the region or serious social issues experienced by young people. RYT was incorporated in 1995 and our founding board chairperson, John Dawes, is still a member on our board today.
One of the best things about a youth company turning 36 is the way in which RYT is a part of the community here in the Riverland. We are our own extended family. Children of RYT alumni are in our classes as participants and tutors, wedding photos have been taken outside our office and a hunt through our archives will turn up Christmas letters, countless thank you notes and baby announcements. Alumni describe RYT as “a second home” and “a safe space where you could be yourself” and praise RYT for the way in which it “proactively dismantled access barriers,” and created “opportunities for leadership but also (had) lots of entry points to drop in.” We hope to continue to live up to this wonderfully rich, welcoming and accessible heritage for many years to come.
Molly started out as our membership officer and has become the indispensable second half of RYT. Molly is an organiser, maker, marketing guru and Fleur-wrangler.
Admin Assistant/Games Guru
Jay(He/Him) is a games aficionado and passionate about supporting neurodiverse kiddos. He Loves working one-on-one with children or creating Game Day Spectaculars for the community. He believes that everyone deserves a safe space to be themselves. Also likes to complain when Fleur tells him to stop working and go home.
Artist/Queer Support Captain
Jess is our Artist in Residence and Queer Support Captain, and has had a relationship with RYT since 2009. They help connect us to other community projects and groups; They provide peer support for our diverse participants; They are the self-appointed Hype-Them in any given situation.
Jenna is our replacement Molly, while Molly is on leave busy making and looking after a new human. Jenna is a mum of two and is great at building pillow forts, doing homemade science experiments and is passionate about child lead play. She is not intimidated by banking, HR, or training volunteers and loves working with children of all ages.
Banjo is Jenna’s +1. He loves balloons, his big brother Harry and RYT’s music and movement classes. When anyone at the office needs a confidence boost or a slightly damp set of keys, he is there with a round of applause and a big dribbly smile. Don’t be surprised if he joins in meetings or adds a few extra letters to the end of an email.
I.T. and Bookings
Melanie is the IT Wizard of the office and loves integrating tech into anything. She also is an avid member of the LGBTQ+ community, and wants to make RYT a fun and safe space for all children.
Melanie also comes up with new ideas all the time for things to do, so don’t be surprised if new things get added to the events list.