PGC - Women's Caucus
May 8, 2014

 Hello All,
 
Prepare to tuck in.  There’s a lot on offer in the May 2014 Women’s Caucus newsletter.  Included:
 
  • A reminder about the upcoming AGM and the Women’s Caucus Meeting in Montreal;
  • Caroline Azar’s article on the 50/50 initiative and Canada’s recipients of that honour: Prairie Theatre Exchange, Shameless Hussy Productions, and Factory Theatre;
  • An interview with Belfry Theatre’s Artistic Director, Michael Shamata, and Artistic Associate, Erin Macklem, by Joy Fisher;
  • An introduction sent to us from Bettyjane Wylie on an exciting new mentorship program launched by CSARN - Canadian Senior Artists' Resources Network; 
  • Calls and other news which may be of interest to members;
  • Member News.     
 
Our June publication will feature Rita Deverell’s interview with Ken Gass on his new Canadian Rep Theatre.
 
 
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PGC Conference and AGM in Montreal, Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1
Coming soon! The Women’s Caucus Meeting is scheduled for May 31st from 10am to noon at Théâtre de Quat'Sous, 100 av des Pins E.   We’ll be discussing an exciting new initiative during this session.  To register go to:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K5HC8QX
 
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A reminder to please contact me at sallys@axion.net if you would be interested in:
  • Sharing  Writing Tips and/or Prompts with your colleagues;
  • Writing for ‘Voices’, an initiative begun last year where members have a chance to share memorable writing-related experiences or ideas and issues relating to playwriting: the good, the bad, the ugly, and Who-Knows-What-Else.     
 
As always, if you have questions, ideas for articles you’d like to write, research you’d like to undertake and/or present, a blog or article you’ve discovered and wish to share in the Women’s Caucus Newsletter, or what you will, please contact me at sallys@axion.net.  This is your newsletter. 
 
The deadline for submission to the June 2014 Newsletter is Friday, May 23, 2014.  Thank you.
 
A reminder:  calls for submission are published regularly in CanScene - PGC’s Membership Newsletter – and, therefore, those published in the Women’s Caucus newsletter will continue to be more specific to our membership.
 
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We Hope You Qualify: an article by Caroline Azar

 
The International Centre for Women Playwrights’ (ICWP) 50/50 Applause Award names recipients representing Canada in 2013: FACTORY THEATRE, PRAIRIE THEATRE EXCHANGE and SHAMELESS HUSSY PRODUCTIONS.

The ICWP is an organization that was formed in 1988 to support women playwrights around the world and bring attention to their work.
 
The 50/50 Applause Award came to fruition as a tacit and creative response to addressing systemic inequity in playwriting.  What was primarily experienced as a trend from observations was confirmed by a mastodon-sized 2009 study, Emily Glassberg Sands’ Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender: An Integrated Economic Analysis of Discrimination in American Theater. Sands’ findings illustrated outrageous numbers, telling a sad and true tale of a world that sees 18%, of female playwrights produced.
 
Broadway reflects a mere 8%.
 
In the summer 2012, ICWP Co-Chairs Elana Gartner and Rebecca Osborne collaborated with a team of volunteers who activated an initiative, acknowledging companies who produce 50% female Playwrights in their seasons. The 50/50 Applause Award was first launched in 2012, bestowing five theatre companies in the USA for meeting the equitable platform. The 2013 awards went to 29 theatre companies in five different countries (USA, Canada, Norway, Italy, India). In Canada, out of the 100 companies assessed, three companies made the prestigious list: Factory Theatre (Toronto, ON), Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg, MB) and Shameless Hussy Productions (Vancouver, BC)
http://www.womenplaywrights.org/50-50applauseawards
 
Co-Chair Gartner, also a published playwright, reflects a generous spirit with the plain facts that speak to the gender gap in playwriting produced. Her passion and excitement is infectious, seeing the bump in the road as something interesting to tackle. “And so,” Gartner asks: “What is a smart response? The best way to address this disparity is with patience, a good attitude and no accusations. What needs to be emphasized here is that this initiative does not compromise quality and talent. The awards’ creation should not diminish plays by men that deserve to be produced. Yet, for the theatres which do produce female playwrights work, the 50/50 holds them up for other companies to follow. Also, the news of the recipients should stimulate female playwrights to reach out to those particular pipelines. This award is not for theatres whose mission is to produce women playwrights because they’ve already drunk the Kool-Aid. It makes more sense to reach out to those who are thirsty.”
 
This process was a quick turnaround acting on the heels of shared intuitions and digesting recent quantifiers like the provocative and aforementioned Sands report. (See link below)
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/theater/Openingthecurtain.pdf
 
The origin of the feminist species has been treading in deep pools of equity bias, societal/political rights, fair/equal pay and treatment since the word
feminism was built. At this juncture, neutrality is certainly required in the dissemination of such problems, insofar that reporting about the societal politics of theatre-making in a ‘non-theatrical way’, eradicates high emotions, preferring to focus upon germane discriminations still present.  An oncoming fourth wave of feminist thought champions delving into our real day-to-day dramas, without a speck of pity, bringing us all reparation without resentment.  This tone gets things done with the energy going to the right places.
 
The 50/50 Applause Award team are inspired and organized, promoting an openness that invites everyone to the party without feeling ashamed for something that still occurs in many cultural hubs.  This is not about preferential minority-based treatment or as some might call a ‘feminist handout’.  It is about achieving simple math and looking at all the aspects that deter this, including aspects perhaps women are naturally accountable for, as in life milestones like family planning, as well as intrinsically poor self-promotion and networking abilities sidetracked by the consistent role of caretaking.
 
The process is as follows: 1) an email is sent out.  ICWP’s 2013 Co-Chair Deborah Magid focused on Canada and found this site useful to carry on with her outreach.
www.theatrecanada.com/centres/theatres.shtml
 
Magid emailed every company in Canada, totaling close to 100. 2) The recipients are listed in as many relevant journals to elevate this acknowledgment. And finally, 3) the recipients are awarded a customized designed logo changed yearly (like a progressive housekeeping seal of approval). The companies are encouraged to use the logo in their seasonal paper and virtual marketing. The management, maintenance and outreach necessary powered by the enthusiastic and consistent ICWP Volunteer Committee is a thing of great import. So far, as far as raw materials are concerned, it is not a big cost to give a cue to awareness and necessity of gender parity in Theatre.  The importance becomes crucial where the award invites artistic directors to think about their choices in an open-ended and mindful way.
 
On May 1 2014, for a three-week period, the 50/50 Applause Awards will grow to become more of a global initiative, also involving unsolicited nominators: Like YOU. Anyone can now nominate a company that meets the quota. This should open the floodgates and widen the forum. To qualify, the company cannot be recognized in a festival-based capacity nor be a recognized company who already has a female run mandate. 
http://www.womenplaywrights.org/press-releases
 
And what of our Canadian recipients? The representatives for the winning Theatre companies waxed positively of their playwrights and the necessity of the award’s existence, while also managing a degree of awkwardness to being honoured for doing something that, for them, feels like second nature.
 
Iris Turcott - Company Dramaturge, Factory Theatre, Toronto, ON.
“Factory is honoured to receive the 50/50 Award and we are proud to be in such good company with all the other deserving and illustrious recipients.  Not only did Factory program three extraordinary female creators in the 12/13 season – Nina Lee Aquino, Amy Lee Lavoie, and Veda Hille – our 13/14 season saw 3 world premieres by women – extraordinary works by Beth Graham, Priscila Uppal, and Lindsay Cochrane again exceeding the 50/50 balance. Although, not yet announced, our next season will also include four female artists in our line-up.  Factory continues its long tradition of developing and producing relevant and resonant voices, and we believe in the long investment of artists and support this through a number of formal developmental programs including our resident creation group “Natural Resources” and “Factory Wired”, our festival of work in progress.  These two programs have also met the 50/50 challenge in the past three seasons. Our commitment to quality, equity and diversity truly reflects our complex culture and community and we will continue to nurture the power and specificity of female voices that ring so clear and true in our vast country.”
www.factorytheatre.ca/playwrights/play-development/
 
Robert Metcalfe - Artistic Director, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Winnipeg, MB.
“Winter culture here is only a part of the dynamism. We are 780,000 people and most everyone goes out a lot and sees theatre and connects, feeding vibrancy that intersects all modes of performance from traditional to experimental to punk rock – what have you.  The friendships born of this community include the artists and the subscriber base, and all that congregates this cultural connective tissue.” 
 
It all started with an email Metcalfe received from the ICWP 50/50 Applause Award that he found provocative, but never confrontational: “We hope you qualify” and that challenge stood out to him. “It reminded me that what was causal or commonplace in regards to the choosing of work, was still an ordeal. I’m not an award type of guy and I am not even strident that it has to be women’s work, however I am strident that it has to be good work and so it happened that in the last 2 years, women playwrights dominated the season even above the 50% status. I guess we more than qualified.” The Brink by Ellen Peterson, This is War by Hannah Moscovich and The Swearing Jar by Kate Hewlett. “Is it deliberate when we do look at our mandate? Sure, we discuss parity but it’s more for aesthetic balance, for example, I like to pair up female directors with male playwrights. But I do not want to be a poster child for equality because it is truly about the work.”
 
At the time when PTE was assessed positively for the 50/50 Applause Award, there were seven theatrical premieres in town and all the works were by female playwrights. By design, all the theatres pitched in on a concept-group marketing piece, capitalizing on a Group of Seven slant, which was charming as it also created a deeper synthesis within the community. “What is also fun is the Women’s Caucus at the PGC have a cool award elevating Artistic Directors recognizing female theatre creators, being the Bra’ D’Or Award and I believe past recipients have been Andy McKim, Racheal Ditor, Brian Quirt, Hope McIntyre, Katrina Dunn, Eric Coates, Andy McKim, Philip Akin, and Robert Metcalfe.”  www.pte.mb.ca/about/playwrights.htm
 
Renee Iaci – Artistic Director, Shameless Hussy Productions, Vancouver, BC.
“Telling provocative stories about women to inspire the hand that rocks the cradle to rock the world is our mission.” Shameless Hussy produces and creates theatre with both female and male playwrights – “What we’re looking for are stories with a female protagonist. The emphasis is squarely on female-driven narratives.” Their shows highlighted during the season awarded by the 50/50: SonofaBitch Stew: the drunken life of Calamity Jane, written by Brianna Peterson and the hussy collective, and DISSOLVE written by Meghan Gardiner, which the hussies premiered at CBC Studio 700, which is now on tour. 
 
The company ascribes to a punk suffragette revisionism, full of wild abandon, telling women’s stories with a hot and high passion, visceral and physical in style as opposed to a lot of text based sociopolitical discourse found in feminist-based theatre. They are determined to bring their brand of historical and contemporary feminist insights to schools and theatres in both large and small towns, most of which would normally not receive such invigorating performance. SH performances most often are presented by community arts groups and they perform in spaces that are not their own – they arrive, set up, re-block, perform and engage with their audiences – and then travel onto the next town like something out of a Tom Robbins narrative about traveling cowgirl troubadours.
 
“We continue to work hard to overcome financial obstacles to producing women’s stories, which are sadly lacking in theatre today – as in many other aspects of society. For us a mention like this is a conformation that others are committed to righting this wrong and a terrific encouragement for us to be bolder than ever in the coming years.”
www.shamelesshussy.com/the_company/index/articles5.php
 
Factory Theatre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, and Shameless Hussy Productions show such resolve in their mandate for the good work they nurture, especially in the support of a female voice. It is important to note that what is applied beforehand constitutes the essence of gender parity. This begins with all three companies’ Playwrights’ units and/or creation groups. These groups practice equity by nature and therefore also by design, as that commitment is intended to bloom work towards production. Missions like the 50/50 Applause Awards might very well proclaim a future where parity in this field soon becomes the norm.
 
The presence of the 50/50 mention reminds us to re-investigate how we do what we do and who we are in our work in getting our work out there. It takes clear minds like all those mentioned in this account, and those who have named the gap, acting with grace and resolve.
 
Bio, Caroline Azar

Caroline Azar is a Playwright, Director and Coach who was a co-founder of the seminal post-punk group Fifth Column.  Carolineazar.com
 

 
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Interview with Michael Shamata, artistic director and Erin Macklem, artistic associate,respectively, of the Belfry Theatre
 
Joy Fisher is a graduate of the writing program at the University of Victoria and has been a member of the Playwright's Guild of Canada since 2013.


 
Located in a picturesque 19th Century heritage building in Victoria, B. C., the Belfry Theatre began producing plays in 1976. Since then, the Belfry has produced more than 230 plays, including 158 Canadian plays, and has staged more than 33 premieres.

The Belfry’s stated mission is to produce theatre that “generates ideas and dialogue, and that makes the audience see the world a little differently.” This mission was demonstrated recently by its production of Proud, by actor/playwright Michael Healey, a political romp focused on a prime minister who very much resembles Canada’s current prime minister. The Belfry’s production was the third nationwide (the first was financed by Healey and a crowd-funding campaign after Healey’s home theatre gave the play a pass).

According to Artistic Director Michael Shamata, the Belfry’s main focus is on Canadian work, including premiere productions, recently premiered plays and scripts from the canon of Canadian classics. The Belfry produces up to 12 plays per year: one or two summer productions, a four or five play Mainstage series, and SPARK, its mid-winter festival of innovative and alternative work from across Canada.

About you:
  • Please tell our readers a bit about your background. When did you come to the Belfry as Artistic Director? What theatre experience preceded that move? What has most shaped your esthetic sensibility and sense of mission?

I came to Victoria just over six years ago, following about 10 years as a freelance director based in Toronto. Prior to that, I was the Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, and before that, the AD of Theatre New Brunswick, which is based in Fredericton and, at that time, toured every production to seven other towns and cities across the province.

I consider Bill Glassco to have been my mentor for Artistic Direction, and John Hirsch to have been my directing mentor. My esthetic developed to a large extent through my many years of working with designer John Ferguson, who believes that a stage set is a platform on which the play can take place. That thinking led me to a somewhat minimalist approach to theatre. As for my sense of mission, I know that I find it more rewarding to run a theatre such as the Belfry, with a narrower mandate, than a traditional regional theatre. The limitations are liberating, and the clear mandate makes it easier to take a position and create an ongoing dialogue and journey with the audience.

Mainstage series:

The current season’s Mainstage productions have included a Canadian classic, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), by Ann-Marie MacDonald; the premiere of Home is a Beautiful Word, collected and edited by Joel Bernbaum; the North American premiere of A Tender Thing by British playwright Ben Power; Proud, by Michael Healey; and Equivocation, by American playwright Bill Cain.
  •  Apart from an intentional thematic link to Shakespeare in most of them, what was it about each of these plays that made you decide it was right for the Belfry?
I always say that the perfect Belfry play is engaging and entertaining, and is a play with ideas. Our audience likes to leave the theatre with something to think about and talk about. They are interested and curious.
 
  • Equivocation is a co-production between the Belfry and Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. In your experience, are there benefits for playwrights in co-pros? Are there disadvantages, e.g., fewer playwrights whose plays are produced?
For a company the size of the Belfry to partner with Bard on the Beach for a Shakespeare-related play like Equivocation makes good sense for everyone. The playwright benefits from a more fully realized production, and the long run allows the actors to grow and become more solid and centered. With regard to the fear that fewer playwright will be produced: in all co-productions, I would hope that both partners have a passion for the play on which they are collaborating. Bard and the Belfry were both interested in producing Equivocation, and might easily have produced two separate productions – as opposed to two different plays by two different playwrights.

New Play Development:

According to your website, new play development is an integral part of the Belfry’s mandate. This season, for example, saw the premiere of Home is a Beautiful Word, a verbatim theatre piece developed from interviews about the issue of homelessness in Victoria which were collected and edited by Joel Bernbaum.
  • In what ways did the Belfry assist in the development of this play?
The Belfry commissioned Joel to create this piece of theatre. We provided accommodation and an office to work from during the times when he was conducting interviews and/or when we were in workshop with the piece. We had three workshops, and then two public readings during the 2013 SPARK Festival, and another at one of the service organizations that addresses the needs of the disadvantaged. One later workshop looked at how we were going to put Home Is A Beautiful Word onstage.
  • How do you decide which plays you are going to develop and which ways you are going to assist?
In most instances, our involvement with play development begins with the playwright. Either the Belfry approaches a writer about creating a play for us, or we are approached by a writer who is interested in developing an idea, or has a script that is already in progress.
  • The Belfry also has an “Incubator Programme.” Can you describe how this program works?
I am actually in the process of rejigging the Incubator Programme. Currently, independent companies in Victoria apply to the Belfry because there is some aspect of their work that they would feel might benefit from some mentorship, or there is an artistic path that they would like to explore for the first time. The incubation period is two years, culminating in a run during the SPARK Festival. The re-conception of the programme is based on a development model being used at the Theatre Centre. It would see us inviting three companies to be in-residence at the Belfry, and one of those three projects would likely be invited to participate in the SPARK Festival two years later. The aim of this new concept is to remove the pressure for a company to come up with a performance-ready piece of theatre, as opposed to allowing the companies the freedom to explore without a deadline.

*PLEASE NOTE: As Michael went into rehearsals for Equivocation, at his request I have answered some of the remaining questions, noted in italics. – Erin Macklem, Artistic Associate


The Spark Festival:

The Spark Festival, scheduled for the last two weeks in March, has been described as a “Festival of new plays and ideas.” It includes a mixture of events including full productions of a variety of plays, new play readings, a crop of “mini-plays,” and professional development workshops.
  • How did this festival begin and develop and what do you look for when planning this event?
Prior to Michael, “The Festival” (having no other name than that) presented shows from across Canada over a roughly six-week span of time with no set or consistent schedule from one season to the next. Michael wanted to generate more of a vibrant and, well, “festive” energy and so he gave it a name (the SPARK Festival) compressed the period of time into two weeks, with presentations in both the Stewart Main Stage and the Studio theatres simultaneously. We commission local theatre companies to create preshow “miniplays” (inspired by the Tarragon “office plays”); programme play readings (often of work in development, or work with ties to the Belfry or Victoria playwrights); host professional development workshops with visiting artists; and throw a huge party halfway through the festival (the Midway Party). With all of these activities being packed into two weeks, the building does take on a decidedly celebratory energy.

In terms of what he looks for when planning SPARK – to quote his Welcome Message in this year’s SPARK brochure: “If the Belfry produces contemporary work all year long, why do we need the SPARK Festival? Because there is a lot of extraordinary work being created by independent theatre companies across this country, and we want audiences in Victoria to have the chance to experience some of it.” There are no hard and fast rules in terms of planning, but these shows tend to be more edgy than what might be programmed on the main stage; they are often shorter plays, plays that might appeal to a younger audience demographic. To, again, quote Michael’s Welcome Message: “We live on the edge of the country, and we want to stay on the cutting edge, too.”

 
  • What is the best way for a playwright interested in having his/her work included in the Spark Festival to approach the Belfry? Or is this Festival by invitation only?
Although often programmed by invitation, Michael accepts pitches for plays that have been produced and the production is extant (these are presentations and not Belfry productions). Archival videos, media packages, letters of support are useful. Most useful is the opportunity for him to see the show in person, though, of course, this is not always an option. If a playwright has a play being presented at a festival such as SummerWorks, alerting Michael to this would be great.


Submitting Scripts:

The Belfry’s web page includes the following information regarding submitting scripts:

We accept submissions from Canadian writers.

In an endeavor to best serve the greatest possible number of playwrights, please submit a one page script description. Please include the following:
  • Your name and contact information,
  • A brief synopsis of your play,
  • A description of your play’s previous development/workshop/production history,
  • A cast breakdown (how many in cast, men/women, any doubling).

Please attach the first two scenes of your play (not the whole document).

We receive many script submissions every year and it sometimes takes us several months to read them. We are not always able to provide dramaturgical feedback.

Fax or email submissions will not be accepted.
Please mail to:

Script Submissions

c/o Artistic Associate
1291 Gladstone Ave
Victoria, BC
V8T 1G5

 
  • Approximately how many new scripts come across your desk each year? Roughly what percentage of these come from male playwrights, from female playwrights, and from gender-mixed collaborative teams?
This season, to date, we have had +/- 50 scripts submitted to us in whole or in part. We have not tracked the scripts by playwright gender.
 
  • As a follow-up to the last question, consider this: The Playwrights Guild of Canada surveys the number of productions of plays by Canadian men and women in each province. In the 2012/2013 year, in British Columbia, only 24.5 percent of the productions were of plays by women playwrights, well behind all the other areas of the country except Atlantic Canada (17.5 percent). Canadian women playwrights were well-represented in the Prairie provinces (Manitoba, 59 percent; Saskatchewan, 56 percent; and Alberta, 35 percent), and fairly well represented in Ontario (34 percent) and Quebec (30 percent). How does the Belfry’s record compare? Why do you think so relatively few plays by Canadian women make it to the stage in British Columbia?
Belfry’s record of plays by Canadian men and women in 2012/13:
Mainstage – 2 men (1 of these was translated by a female), 1 woman
Festival – 1 man, 2 women, 1 gender-mixed writing team
Readings – 1 man, 2 women

Belfry’s record of plays by Canadian men and women in 2013/14:
Mainstage – 3 men, 1 woman
Festival – 3 men (representing 2 plays, one of which was a two-man co-writing team), one gender-mixed collective creation
Readings – 1 woman, 1 man


As far as why so relatively few plays by Canadian women make it to the stage in BC, I can only speak for myself (this is Michael again). Programming a season is a balancing act that involves many factors. Gender is certainly one of the things I keep in mind. However, the plays themselves, what they say, and how they work together as a series must ultimately take precedence. One season there were actually more female writers than male writers.
 
  • When a submission is made in accordance with your guidelines, what process do you follow in evaluating it?
We will email the playwright to let them know we have received the script, but that it will likely be some time before we are able to read it. As far as evaluation goes, Michael and I will share scripts with one another that we feel might be a good fit for further development or future exploration. We ask ourselves “is it a good fit?” both logistically in terms of the size of our theatre, our available resources – as well as artistically; will it ignite our Belfry audience’s imaginations?
 
  • How soon after a playwright submits a script do you want to get a follow-up call/email and do you prefer a call or an email?
One month – email.
 
  • If you decide you’d like to see a full script, how soon after a playwright makes a submission can s/he expect to be contacted?
Best not to have expectations. We do our best. We do not have a Literary Manager or equivalent, we have only Michael and myself and while we consider script submissions to be very important, we are only able to read them as our time permits. In the past two seasons we have made it a priority to increase programming and to expand our outreach and engagement activities. This has meant even less available time for script reading.
 
  • Is there anything else you would like our member playwrights to know about the Belfry that would assist them in submitting scripts that will suit your needs?
An awareness of our repertoire and resources is helpful – eg. it is unlikely we will be able to produce a play with a cast of more than 10. We generally have more time to read plays in June and July and less time in September, February and March.


Content:
  • What is the single most important thing you are looking for in a new play?
Michael says, “An idea that excites me...that I can take away and think about.”
Erin says, “Thought, craft, and risk, working in concert. Hmm, that sounds like the single most important three things I’m looking for, doesn’t it. What I mean is that a play that expresses a high level of those three things will leave an impression on me, and stay with me rolling around in my mind long after I’ve read it. That’s what I’m looking for.”
 
  • What play(s) did you read/see last year that really excited you?
Michael says, “Terminus (Mark O’Rowe), The Valley (Joan MacLeod), This is War and Other People’s Children (both by Hannah Moscovitch)”

Erin says, “Exia (Meg Braem), Tour (Naomi Sider), How to Disappear Completely (Itai Erdal)”


Audience:
  • What is the demographic of your audiences? Gender? Age?
Our audience is generally between 50 and 70 years of age, predominantly white, and is comprised of more women than men.
 
  • What plays have been popular with your audiences?
Most popular at the Box Office:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Michael Shamata (Belfry production 2012);

When I Was a Kid by Shayne Koyczan (presented at SPARK Festival 2012);

2 Pianos 4 Hands by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt (Marquis touring production 2011);

Mom’s the Word Remixed by Linda Carson, Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard and Deborah Williams (presentation of Arts Club production 2011);

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Music and Lyrics by William Finn, Book by Rachel Sheinkin (Belfry / Arts Club co-production 2010);

The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard (Belfry production 2009);

Brilliant! The Blinding Enlightenment of Nicola Tesla by Electric Company Theatre (Belfry production 2008).

Plays that people are still talking about:

Home Is A Beautiful Word, compiled and edited by Joel Bernbaum (Belfry commission and premiere production, 2014);

Proud by Michael Healey (Belfry production, 2014);

Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet by Ann-Marie MacDonald (Belfry production, 2013);

And Slowly Beauty... by Michel Nadeau, translated by Maureen Labonté (Belfry production of English-language premiere, 2011);

Red by John Logan (Belfry production, 2012);

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Michael Shamata (Belfry production 2012);

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Music and Lyrics by William Finn, Book by Rachel Sheinkin (Belfry / Arts Club co-production 2010)
.
 
  • The Belfry’s free B4Play presentations have grown in popularity so much the public is advised to come early to ensure they’ll be able to get in. Is there a role for playwrights in these presentations?

Yes! If the playwright is available they will certainly be included in this event, as we have done in the cases of Bruce Ruddell (Let Me Call You Sweetheart) and Joel Bernbaum (Home Is A Beautiful Word).
 
  • The Belfry also schedules Afterplay discussions during the run of its plays. Have these yielded valuable information for playwrights as well as for the production company?

Our Afterplay facilitators are asked to submit a report after each event, detailing the main discussion points and comments from the audience participants. This document is copied to other staff internally, and, in the case of Let Me Call You
Sweetheart
and Home Is A Beautiful Word, the reports were also cc’d to the playwrights at their request. I cannot speak for these playwrights, but I imagine it could be useful to hear responses from audience members directly after having seen the show – for instance hearing if the same questions come up again and again.

We ask that members of the creative team (actors, directors, writers) don’t attend the Afterplay events in order to let the audiences freely express their thoughts without skewing them towards praise or criticism based on artists in attendance. Because of this, for better or for worse, Afterplays might provide feedback playwrights may not otherwise receive as it is anonymous and unsolicited and offered as a direct response to having just seen the play, as opposed to the intentional dramaturgical feedback from peers. Playwrights are welcome to receive Afterplay reports or not as is their wish.

 
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News of A New Program from Canadian Senior Artists’ Resources Network submitted by Bettyjane Wylie

A new agency called CSARN - Canadian Senior Artists' Resources Network - has been created in response to the stated need found in the Senior Artists’ Research Project which indicated the strong desire of senior artists to continue contributing in their chosen art form.  Through CSARN, different types of mentorship are being offered. Each mentor will be paid for their time.  Private donors have agreed to provide funding for the payment to mentors for the first three years.  

The program is now up and running under the co-direction of Joysanne Sidimus and Deborah Windsor. Seeded financially by Janis Nielson and additionally supported by the Trillium Foundation, Lynda Hamilton, Joan and Jerry Lozinnski and other private donors, many distinguished artists from a variety of disciplines are lending their knowledge and wisdom to a new generation of Canadian performing and creative artists.  More than 245 mentor and mentee applications were reviewed and inaugural matches were made in the disciplines of dance, music, theatre, visual art and writing.  All mentorships officially began on March 1, 2014.

"Our program underlines the value of a lifetime of professional artistic practice and experience.  It provides a wonderful opportunity for emerging artists to draw on a rich treasury of knowledge," said Elise Orenstein (CSARN Chair) when she announced the first ever CSARN mentorships.

The program is being piloted in Ontario for the first and second year, and the intention is to go national in the third year.  A mentor is defined as a trusted counselor or guide. Mentors and mentee will be matched appropriately from lists of artists, organizations and communities. They will meet in person or by phone to develop individualized programs. Consult the website (www.csarn-craac.ca) for further details. 

On a personal note from Bettyjane:
I am one of the mentors in the inaugural flight and am actually being paid to guide, teach and encourage a younger wannabe writer at the beginning or near the beginning of his/her career.  We have only just begun and it's challenging for both of us.
 
You know that line from Rogers and Hammerstein's The King and I?  "If you become a teacher, by your pupils you'll be taught."  Well, it's true.  In the course of preparing for my mentee, I am reminding myself of lessons long since learned, and perhaps half forgotten, that bear repeating. Best of all, of course, is that passion is returning. There's a line in the diary of Florida Scott Maxwell, kept during her 82nd and 83rd years, wherein she chides herself for her passion: "I am too frail," she writes," for moral fervour." But it's not true.  Never too frail.  Never too old. God grant me my marbles.
 
Bio, Bettyjane Wylie
                                   Betty Jane Wylie is a published author of plays (puppet and stage), poetry, screenwriter (TV and film), and, books. Her plays (36 plays and musicals) have been produced in theatres world wide! She has about 40 books published - non-fiction, biography, drama, cooking, self-help, financial planning for women. Ms. Wylie has been named a Woman of Distinction by the YMCA, has received an honorary doctorate by the U of M, and was awarded an Order of Canada in 2003.  Winner of the 2013 Stegner Grant, Ms. Wylie is from Toronto.
 
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News and Opportunities
 
Nominations for IWCP 50/50 Applause Award for Play Writing Gender Parity are OPEN!

Contact:  Elana Gartner/Kris Bauske
Phone: 01-407-461-7627
Email: awards@womenplaywrights.org
web address  http://www.womenplaywrights.org
 
(The World) – In celebration of women playwrights everywhere, the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) is accepting nominations for the 50/50 Applause Award for the 2013-2014 theatrical season (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014)!  The nominations window closes May 21, 2014.
 
Eligibility requirements:
• At least 50% of the plays produced during the year must be the work of female playwrights.
• At least 50% of the total number of performances during the July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014 window must be the work of female playwrights.
• Complete award criteria are listed on this Web page:
  http://www.womenplaywrights.org/award
 
Anyone is welcome to nominate a theatre for consideration. Complete the simple nomination form on the ICWP website. Once nominated, theatres will be asked to provide information confirming eligibility. A committee of volunteers will verify all information, and the award winners will be announced in September 2014.  When Tweeting, use #ICWP5050. Look for us on Twitter @ICWP.
 
Thank you for supporting ICWP and women playwrights around the globe!  Visit the ICWP website to learn more about the many talented women writing for the theatre whose plays can be included in an upcoming season!  Be a 50/50 Applause winner next season!
 
Nightwood Theatre Seeks Managing Director
Application Deadline:
May 08, 2014
Start Date: Jul 07, 2014
Salary: TBD
City/Town: Toronto
Term: Full-time

Nightwood Theatre produces essential theatre by women, including original Canadian plays and works from the contemporary international repertoire. We advocate for women, provide a training ground for emerging talent, promote diversity and engage artists in play development and theatre production.

The Managing Director is responsible to ensure that programming, production and all revenue generating activities satisfy the financial requirements of the Company. The incumbent will provide direction and guidance to those individuals responsible for operational production and revenue generation. The Managing Director ensures that budgets are developed and achieved, that sponsors and donors are adequately courted and that the day-to-day administration, resources and oversight are managed effectively. The Managing Director shares with the Artistic Director the mandate to envision new and interesting ways to stimulate outreach via festivals, training, fund raising for donors, audience and artists. The Managing Director reports to the Board of Directors.
For more information regarding specifics: www.nightwoodtheatre.net
 
Girls Write Now Call for Mentors (September, 2014-June, 2015, New York, NY) – Seeking passionate writers, teachers, and leaders who have at least two years of professional writing experience and are dedicated to guiding the artistic, academic, and professional aspirations of young women. Girls Write Now pairs high school-aged girls with professional writers in weekly one-on-one mentoring sessions, monthly group workshops, and special events throughout the school year. Download and complete application from website and submit along with a resume and two writing samples (8 pages maximum).
Girls Write Now, 247 West 37th St., Ste. 1800,
New York, NY 10018,
T: (212)336-9330, 
mentor@girlswritenow.org,
http://www.girlswritenow.org/get-involved/be-a-mentor/
Deadline: June 1, 2014
 
Canadian Woman in the Literary Arts Call for Essays: any topic pertaining to the literary arts by Canadian female writers of any genre. Accepted essays will be published on the CWILA website and receive a $150 honorarium. Submissions should include a bio (50 words) and either the complete essay or a short description (250 words) of the proposed work, all in PDF format.
Deadline: ongoing
http://cwila.com/~cwilacom/call-for-essays/

Hopegrown Production is a new theatre company dedicated to staging new works featuring dynamic female characters and seeking playwrights interested in developing and workshopping scripts featuring two young females (18-25).
info@hopegrown.ca or www.hopegrown.ca
 
 
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Member News
 
AWARDS, PRODUCTIONS, READINGS, AND WORKSHOPS
If you have received an award, have been short-listed for an award, have published a play or scenes from a play and/or have a production, reading or workshop coming up, please let me know at sallys@axion.net and I’ll be sure to include it in the next newsletter. 
 
Reminder:  next deadline for submission is Friday, May 23, 2014. Please limit your news to the details, i.e., a brief description of your project with websites or contact numbers for additional information.  See below for examples.   Please note that I can no longer publish member news that is forwarded in long press releases or posters.  I simply don’t have the time to rewrite submissions.   Thanks. 
 
BELATED EVENTS
Nicolle Nattrass read from her one woman play, Mamahood: turn and face the strange, on Friday May 2nd, 8 pm in Victoria at Kaleidoscope Theatre in their "Family Festival". A PGC/Canada Council reading.  www.nicollenattrass.com
 
An excerpt from Joy Fisher's play-in-progress, Writing as a Kind of Magic, was included in "Scene and Heard" presented by Island Playwrights on April 26th at James Bay New Horizons in Victoria, B.C.
 
An excerpt from a new work by Holly Jonson was read in Victoria at the Island Playwrights’ "Scene & Heard" event, Saturday, April 26th at James Bay New Horizons.
 
Lisa Coleman-Brown’s one-act play, 2 Guys on a Wall, which had a public reading at the Sudbury Theatre Centre’s Playwrights’ Junction’s Terminus evening in February 2013, was published this April in Laurentian University’s Literary Journal SULPHUR IV
Contact: English Arts Society eas@laurentian.ca.
 
 
MAY 2014
Meredith Taylor-Parry’s script Survival Skills, which won first Place in the New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest 2013, receives a five week production at 13th Street Repertory Company in NYC April – May 2014.
 
Mieko Ouchi’s first play, the Governor General nominated The Red Priest (Eight Ways to Say Goodbye) enjoys a 10th Anniversary production at Alberta Theatre Projects in Calgary April 29 to May 17, 2014.  Winner of the Carol Bolt Prize, the play is directed by Vanessa Porteous, Artistic Director at ATP and the original dramaturg on the play when it premiered in 2003.  Check www.atplive.com for complete details.
 
Aviva Ravel’s powerful new play, Swinging on a Star, takes us on a journey where a young man attempts to overcome his handicap so he can live a normal life. He searches for meaning with humility and warm-heartedness, offering us touching insight into the human condition. Bing Crosby supplies the music, Rena Cohen directs, and Stephen Orlov performs in the one-man tour de force. Presented at the Eleanor London Library of Cote St. Luc on May 1st at 7 p.m.  Information: 514-485-6900.
 
Bettyjane Wylie has a mentee. Canadian Senior Artists’ Resources (CSARN) has launched its first practical effort to bring seniors back into the fold with a mentorship program. Bettyjane is one of the mentors engaged for six months in the inaugural flight and actually being paid to guide, teach and encourage a younger wannabe writer at the beginning or near the beginning of his/her career.  
 
A workshop and public reading of Sally Stubbs’ And Bella Sang with Us, being published by Scirocco Drama this Fall, is featured as part of the BC Buds Spring Arts Fair at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver, Sunday, May 11th at 2 p.m. For more information about And Bella Sang with Us and the BC Buds Spring Arts Fair, contact the Firehall:  www.firehallartscentre.ca
 
XOXO: The Relationship Show, a comedy cabaret about dating and relationships by Meghan Chalmers & Franny McCabe-Bennett premieres at SpringWorks Festival in Stratford, Ontario this May. Show dates and times here:
http://www.springworksfestival.ca/shows/xoxorelationship.htm
 
Penn Kemp’s new full-length play, *Heart P'arts*, being developed, thanks to an OAC Theatre Reserve Grant, will be read on May 23 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at London Public Library Central Branch.  http://creativeagelondon.ca/creative-age-festival/.  
The reading is sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Playwrights Guild.
 
Christine Foster's new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories,  "Just So!", will be seen at the Brighton Fringe in May and at the First Annual Kipling Festival in July.
http://www.newworksofmeritplaywritingcontest.com/2013.html
 
UPCOMING
Jennifer Wise, winner of the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition, receives a workshop/reading of her play The Girl Rabbi of the Golden West in Toronto, September 14th: http://www.mnjcc.org/arts-culture/theatre/canadian-jewish-playwriting-competition/228-the-canadian-jewish-playwriting-competition
 
 
I hope to meet many of you in Montreal! 
 
All the best,
 

Sally & Rosie
Sally Stubbs, Chair
Rosie Fernandez, Deputy Chair
sallys@axion.net

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