What was meant to be a 40th anniversary year of celebration for Melbourne’s Theatre Works turned into an annus horribilisbefore it even started. In August 2019, it was among the most prominent arts organisations cut off from Australia Council funding.

When 2020 began, the team at this theatre venue and incubator was “wondering how we were going to survive,” says General Manager Dianne Toulson. “Then COVID hit and we realised, like all artists and arts companies – especially the independent ones – that we had to get creative and seize the opportunity to evolve.”

Theatre Works' Glasshouse Theatre Works’  Glasshouse. Photo © Andrew Bott

While the St Kilda theatre has been dark for most of the year, there were numerous proverbial light-bulb moments about how to respond to the new and volatile reality. The biggest bright idea for creating a COVID-safe environment began with the concept of a glasshouse inside a theatre. Evolving into a theatre-in-the round setting with private Perspex booths, it becomes a reality today when Theatre Works’ Glasshouse is unveiled.

“Glasshouse is what happens when you give a...