APT was established in 2021 through the consolidation of two organisations, Playwriting Australia (working in play development) and Australian Plays (working in play publication, promotion and licensing).
This consolidation – a direct response to a changed and changing environment – was the key recommendation of the independent REĂ Review into play development in Australia. There were 130 submissions to the Review.
While new, APT has emerged from a rich, shared history dating back to the 1970s.
Playwriting Australia, established in late 2006, was itself the result of a merger between two organisations, the Australian National Playwrights Centre (ANPC) and Playworks. Established in 1973, the ANPC developed Australian plays. Its annual National Playwrights’ Conference became a cornerstone of the industry, offering development and showcase opportunities for many notable new plays. Playworks emerged in 1985 out of the Playing With Time festival held at Sydney’s Wharf Theatre, and identified itself as the national women’s performance writing network. In 2006 the Australia Council for the Arts consolidated its investment in script development into a single, new organisation, which became known as Playwriting Australia.
Australian Plays, the trading name of the Australian Script Centre, grew from an initiative of Barbara Manning and the Salamanca Theatre Company in Hobart called the Salamanca National Script Resource Centre. Initially, it was a distribution service for playwrights writing for theatre-in-education. It ran successfully from 1979 through the 1980s, before separating from the Salamanca Theatre Company in 1993 to become the Australian Script Centre. The centre's collection rapidly grew to include all styles of play and radio scripts. In 2008 it launched its e-commerce site, AustralianPlays.org, which became the key online catalogue of Australian plays.
Notably, Australian Plays archived a collection of 1,157 plays that were distributed in manuscript form by the Australian Script Centre during its 30-year history but subsequently withdrawn from the online catalogue. In 2008, the collection was assessed by the National Library of Australia’s Community Heritage Grants program to be a collection of national cultural significance. So, in 2009, it was placed into the care of the National Library, where it is available for research purposes.