NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival 2018

Category: stage 289

New Brunswick’s premier theatre festival for emerging playwrights begins July 26 in Fredericton. 

Matt Carter

For nearly two decades, Fredericton’s NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival has been championing new voices in New Brunswick theatre. By offering a stage and a wealth of resources for new and emerging playwrights to shape, develop and have their work performed by an impressive cast of actors, the festival has become an integral part of New Brunswick’s theatre ecology and a hotbed for emerging theatre talent.

This year’s festival lineup is a great example of what makes NotaBle Acts so special. With a total of 16 plays spread across various city venues, both established and unconventional, the 2018 edition brings together some of the region’s most recognized theatre artists for 10 days of live performances.  

Len Falkenstein has been a driving force behind the festival for several years now, reviewing submissions, negotiating sponsorships, securing venues, and scheduling performances. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As one of the city’s most passionate and inspiring theatre artists, not to mention an accomplished director and published playwright, Falkenstein has been doing the heavy lifting for NotaBle Acts for some time, often choosing to take part in readings or directing a play in addition to his administration work.

This season, Falkenstein will be returning to the NotaBle Acts stage for the first time in seven seasons as one of four actors featured in the festival’s Main Stage production of the Dylan Sealy play, The Dangers of Geothermal Heating.

“It’s a real hoot with this particular play and the company we’ve assembled for the show,” said Falkenstein. “It’s a hilarious play and the cast is brilliant, with sharp direction from Lisa Anne Ross.

“Beyond that, it’s a bit overwhelming,” he said. “I don’t act often, with opportunities not being that many since I direct so much, so it’s a challenge akin to using a different part of your brain or different muscles. And overwhelming as the person who is usually running the festival to still be doing that – though in a reduced capacity – while taking this substantial creative role too.”

The Dangers of Geothermal Heating is this year’s festival Main Stage production. Set to take place at the Fredericton Playhouse July 26-28, the play features and incredible cast of Fredericton theatre artists and a few returning guests.

Along with Falkenstein, the cast includes Fredericton theatre veteran Jake Martin who is now based in Toronto, as well as Solo Chicken/Bard in the Barracks alumnus Kira Chisholm.

Anna Chatterton is the fourth member of the cast. An award-winning Toronto-based actor and playwright, Chatterton was the 2016 recipient of the Toronto Theatre Critic’s Award for Best Supporting Actress and was also last year’s NotaBle Acts’ playwright in residence.

With light design by Chris Saad (technical director – Black Box Theatre, STU), set design by Mike Johnston (technical director – Memorial Hall, UNB) and Solo Chicken Productions founder Lisa Anne Ross directing, The Dangers of Geothermal Heating features one of the most impressive cast and creative teams of any production in NotaBle Acts’ history.

“The play is a bit of a cross between a sitcom and a horror movie,” said Falkenstein. “It’s really very clever as well.”

The Dangers of Geothermal Heating, written by Dylan Sealy, is a great example of the festival’s valuable role in supporting emerging New Brunswick playwrights. The play first appeared as a reading as part of the festival’s 2016 lineup and has since received continued development and dramaturgy.

“We’ve been thinking about it since it was featured as a reading as part of our 2016 festival,” said Falkenstein. “It got a really great response and I think many of us who were there for the reading are looking forward to seeing it on the Main Stage this year.”

NotaBle Acts’ 2018 lineup includes an amazing mix of work by new, emerging and established playwrights with performances and readings taking place throughout the city including a site-specific play by celebrated author and columnist R. M. Vaughan, a reading of new work by former Frederictonian Alex Donovan, and a play about a cunning art thief who has his eyes set on work at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

There will also be readings of work new plays by this year’s NotaBle Acts middle and high school playwriting competition.

“Showcasing emerging and more established theatre artists is the best thing about NotaBle Acts,” said Falkenstein. “We’re by no means the only ones responsible for giving opportunities to young artists to help them hone their craft, but our festival really came first as a theatre festival dedicated exclusively to nurturing and developing young talent, and the ripples and spinoffs that have come from all the plays and festivals over the years have been incredible. We like to think we had a pretty important role in the success of these young artists, but they’ve also gotten where they are on their own talent and initiative.”

For a complete rundown of this year’s festival offerings including performances at Cafe Beaverbrook, Memorial Hall, Renaissance College, Picaroons Roundhouse and walking tour of performances in the downtown district, visit

Notable Acts Theatre Festival 2018 begins July 26 and runs through until August 4.

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