Artistic Director – The PaperBoats


The privilege of being Artistic Director of Patch Theatre Company for 20-years allowed Dave Brown to develop a distinctive philosophy and practice of professional theatre-making for children.

Across those 20 years, Dave co-conceived and directed twenty-eight original, devised works for 4 to 8 year-old children, ten of which have toured internationally in the US, Canada, Singapore, Korea, China, Japan and New Zealand and fourteen of which have toured nationally in extensive Playing Australia tours.

Dave’s work has been featured in 10 seasons at the Sydney Opera House, 2 seasons at the New Victory Theatre on Broadway in New York and 2 seasons at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.

Included in his repertoire of Patch Theatre work are a National Helpmann Award winner, an International Victor Award winner, six National Touring Drovers Award winners and a the National Touring Legend Award.

In 2015, Dave received the Mickey Minor Lifetime Achievement Award for Sustained Excellence from IPAY – a leading international membership organization supporting the performing arts for young audiences in North America.


In 2020 Dave was inducted into the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Walk of Fame alongside Lisa Sontag and David Suchet.

Dave Brown joined Patch Theatre company in 1992 and fostered the Adelaide Festival Centre relationship with a co-production of Victor Kelleher‘s The Red King in 1993.

In 1994, Patch moved from its base in the Community Centre in Tarlton Street, Somerton Park to become a part of the Pasadena High School campus. Further co-productions with the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust continued with Gillian Rubinstein’s Galax Arena and Each Beach in 1995 and 1997 respectively and the Triple J collaboration, Respectable Shoes in 1996.

Brown’s work reflected his interest in exploring new conventions for the use of music in theatre with Respectable Shoes, the Beatlesque pop-opera Kookookachoo, the interactive VJ Live Concert Narrative, Sharon Keep Ya Hair On! and rock-concert narrative, the Fastest Boy in the World.

He also explored the sharing of culture through theatre with the Indigenous Australian works Rak Awin and Tjijiku Inma, followed by the Vietnamese Australian work, The Boy and the Bamboo Flute, which was performed  internationally by the company until 2006.

After a two year hiatus from 1998 to 2000, Brown returned to the company and set about developing a repertoire of in-theatre productions exclusively for 4-8 year olds and their families. He adapted eight stories by celebrated children’s author, Pamela Allen, producing Who Sank the Boat?, a magical work that set the scene for the emergence of Patch Theatre as one of Australia’s most respected children’s theatre companies. More works inspired by Pamela Allen books followed – Mr McGee and the Biting Flea and A Lion in the Night. Collaborating with leading artists, Dave Brown then created numerous award winning poetic, non-verbal visual theatre works including Emily Loves To Bounce, Me and My Shadow, and The Moon’s A Balloon.

In 2015 Brown stepped down as Artistic Director, with Naomi Edwards taking over the role, followed two years later by the beginnings of Geoff Cobhams prodigious reign.


n 2016, after 20 years as AD of Patch Theatre, Dave founded The PaperBoats partnership platform with the support of an Australia Council Fellowship, this venture representing a new phase in his  investigation into creative processes, co-creation and devised theatre.

The PaperBoats is an international partnership platform for theatre-makers and presenters interested in pioneering new ways of CONNECTING and CREATING around the devising of extraordinary new works for early childhood audiences

The PaperBoats activity is the subject of this website whilst The PaperBoats’ philosophies are outlined on a separate website:

 In 2019, Dave presented a keynote presentation to the TYA/USA Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, USA outlining  the philosophies and practice of The PaperBoats across it’s frist 4 years of evolution.

The video of the presentation is available to watch below. 

The PaperBoats’ most recent highlight was an ArtsSA Ruby Award for Outstanding Production for Young Audiences 2022 for its latest work, Seven Little Wonders.