Theatre New Brunswick Announces Playwrights for Fall Festival

Category: stage 98

Theatre New Brunswick’s upcoming Fall Festival of New Plays will feature in-development work from twelve New Brunswick playwrights.

Theatre New Brunswick is making a significant investment in its future. Beginning this October, the Fall Festival of New Plays will provide twelve new, emerging and established New Brunswick playwrights with a range of support to help get their next script off the ground. 

Participating playwrights will receive professional dramaturgy and direction through online conferencing, as well a full cast of actors to bring their stories to life. Using various social media platforms to host interviews, readings and discussions, this eight week event will provide audiences with the rare experience of seeing plays move through the development process from initial drafts to stage-ready works of theatre. 

“Twice a week, beginning in October, we’ll do readings from the scripts we are developing. Audiences are welcome to tune in to these readings to get a glimpse at what is on the minds of some of the region’s artists. It is a rare opportunity to participate in play creation” said TNB Artistic Director Natasha MacLellan. 

The festival’s featured playwrights are Norm Foster, Ryan Griffith, Jena McLean, Abby Paige, Len Falkenstein, Alex Rioux, Caroline Coon, John Barlow, Liam Browne, Kirsten Alter, Jean-Michel Cliche, Samaqani Cocahq-Natalie Sappier and special guest Vern Thiessen. 

“We had forty submissions to consider for inclusion in this festival. It was truly staggering, and leads me to believe that we have tapped into a real need: developing stories by New Brunswickers. The plays we received were incredibly varied in styles, genres and length and included large-scale musicals, comedies, plays for young audiences and a plethora of post-apocalyptic stories. And the writers are a diverse group as well. We received submissions from well-established playwrights, first-time playwrights, young playwrights, and actors-turned-playwrights. It’s very exciting,” she said.

Top L-R: Abby Paige, Alex Rioux, Caroline Coon and Jean-Michel Cliche. Middle L-R: Jena McLean, John Barlow, Kirsten Alter and Len Falkenstein. Bottom L-R: Liam Browne, Samaqani Cocahq-Natalie Sappier, Norm Foster and Ryan Griffith.

In addition to supporting the development of twelve new scripts by New Brunswick born or based artists, guest playwright Vern Thiessen will join MacLellan for a public discussion exploring the changes a script goes through in the development process. Using his own in-development script Bluebirds as a template, Thiessen will explain the important role dramaturgy and staged readings can play in the shaping of a final script. 

“Vern will open up his writing process for TNB audiences by sharing with us how and why he considers changes to his scripts,” said MacLellan. “He’ll show us script samples and talk about feedback he was given and how he uses that feedback to improve his plays. This will be a fun online cocktail party (BYOB!) where we’ll talk about writing and new play development. This interview will set-up the framework for the festival, giving an in-depth overview of the process we’ll undertake over the fall.”

All playwrights who submitted to the festival will receive financial support for the further development of their work. In addition to the twelve featured playwrights, all other playwrights who submitted a draft will be given the opportunity to participate in a workshop offered through Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre. The writers behind the three musicals submitted will receive dramaturgy by Adam Bazier, Artistic Director of The Confederation Centre in Charlottetown.

“The focus of the festival is to open up the process of playwriting and to share the creation process. It is less about product and more about process,” said MacLellan. “This is the first step in a new chapter for TNB. Going forward, we plan to commit to the regular development of new plays from this province with the end goal of seeing more diversity in the voices that make it onto stages in New Brunswick.”

Event dates and a complete festival schedule will be posted on tnb.nb.ca on September 25. 

Learn more about the playwrights involved in the festival. 

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