Alumnae Theatre's 2014 New Ideas Festival to Kick Off March 12

Alumnae Theatre's 2014 New Ideas Festival to Kick Off March 12

This year's New Ideas Festival of 15 new plays promises to be an exciting and eclectic mix ranging from dystopian drama to royal shenanigans.

The 26th annual New Ideas Festival (NIF), a three-week, juried celebration of original writing, works-in-progress and experimental theatre, will take place from March 12 to 30 with a different program of plays each week and staged readings on Saturdays at noon. "New Ideas is a crucible for new plays, some of which have gone on to full productions elsewhere," says Carolyn Zapf, NIF co-artistic director. "This year we have several that are must-sees for avant-garde Toronto theatre-goers."

One to watch from this year's Festival is Radical, which tells the story of Dr. Vera Peters, a pioneering clinician at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital, who convinced the medical community in the 1970s that lumpectomy and radiation in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer was just as effective as mastectomy. "Dr. Peters is an unsung hero," says playwright and oncologist Charles Hayter. After its development through the NIF workshop process (with NIF co-founder Molly Thom as dramaturge), Radical is slated for the Fringe Festival this summer.

Those who enjoyed Joan Burrows' Willow Quartet, published this year by Playwrights Canada Press, will want to give her feedback - a NIF tradition - on early scenes from her new play, Brockfest. Opening with a madcap celebration of "not being American" anymore, Brockfest tackles the tricky issue of the U.S. government coming after dual citizens in Canada for back taxes.

Returning to the Festival this year are Pomme J-Corvellec, visiting from Sweden, and Steph Ouaknine, who are collaborating as director and projection designer on Andrea Scott's new play, Better Angels: A Parable, showing the experience of a young African woman brought to Canada as a domestic worker. Andrea's play Eating Pomegranates Naked, a NIF 2012 reading, was staged at SummerWorks in 2013.

Other returning artists to this year's Festival include Nicholas Sgouros, Taylor Marie Graham, Anne MacMillan, Norma Crawford and Carol Libman, playwrights; Pam Redfern, Janet Kish and Brett Haynes, directors; Razie Brownstone, Andrea Lyons and Sheila Russell, actors. Sheila won a best-actress award in 2012 when the NIF production of It All Leads to the Lemon Scene by Pamela Winfrey went on to play at the New York Avant-Garde Festival.

The Festival is pleased to attract emerging theatre artists such as playwrights Alexandra Watt Simpson, Pit Sublime (her Surviving Speares appeared in the 2013 Fringe Festival) and Marissa Spada, Elsa and Marigold; and directors Nina Kaye, Zoë Erwin-Longstaff and Jill Harper. Many of the Festival's actors, theatre technicians, stage managers and designers come from Canada's premier theatre programs.

The 2014 New Ideas Festival's 15 new works range in length from 10 to 60 minutes. The Festival's artists get to show off their theatre chops to a broad audience of enthusiasts and loyal fans of the Alumnae Theatre, established in 1919. Over the years, many Canadian theatre artists have honed their skills on our stages, including Kelly Thornton, Mallory Gilbert and R.H. Thomson.



Wed., March 12 - Sunday, March 16 (8 p.m. Wed - Sat; Sat. & Sun matinées 2:30.p.m.)

Reading: Sat., March 15 at noon. Talkbacks after Saturday reading and matinée.

Be Careful, There's a Baby in the House by Nicholas Sgouros /
directed by Sean Speake
Elsa and Marigold by Marissa Spada / directed by Janet Kish
I'm Still Here by Ramona Baillie / directed by Dahlia Katz
In a Time of War by Anne MacMillan / directed by Brett Haynes

Reading - Saturday, March 15 only:

Royal Seasons by Norma Crawford / Directed by Nina Kaye


Wed., March 19 - Sunday, March 23 (8 p.m. Wed - Sat; Sat. & Sun matinées 2:30.p.m.)

Reading: Sat., March 22 at noon. Talkbacks after Saturday reading and matinée.

The Living Library by Linda McCready / directed by Stacy Halloran
Better Angels: A Parable by Andrea Scott / directed by Pomme J-Corvellec
The Shimmering Odessa Building or Whatever by Judith Upjohn /
directed by Zoë Erwin-Longstaff
Brockfest by Joan Burrows / directed by Eric Benson

Reading - Saturday, March 22 only:

Radical by Charles Hayter / dramaturged by Molly Thom / directed by Darcy Stoop


Wed., March 26 - Sunday, March 30 (8 p.m. Wed - Sat; Sat. & Sun matinées 2:30.p.m.)

Reading: Sat., March 29 at noon. Talkbacks after Saturday reading and matinée.

Airport Tale by Carol Libman / directed by Carys Lewis
Would You Do It Again? by Rebecca Grace / directed by Sandra Banman
Simprov by Laurence Klavan / directed by Stephanie Williams
Pit Sublime by Alexandra Watt Simpson / directed by Pamela Redfern

Reading - Saturday, March 29 only:

Rotating Thunderstorm by Taylor Marie Graham / directed by Jill Harper

For complete show descriptions, cast and crew bios, go to Find us on Facebook and Twitter @AlumnaeNIF.

New Ideas Festival 2014 Details

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours (including intermission) for each weekly program (4 plays)

Talkback after the Saturday matinée.
Saturday readings approx. 1 hr each + Talkback.

Opening Nights: Wednesday, March 12, March 19 and 26, 2014

Performance Dates: Wednesday, March 12 - Sunday, March 30, 2014

Schedule: Wednesday - Saturday 8:00 p.m.

Saturday Reading at noon (followed by a Talkback session);

Saturday matinée at 2:30 p.m. (followed by a Talkback session);

Sunday matinée at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: Wednesday - Sunday (evening or matinées) $15 per week

Saturday Readings PWYC

Festival Pass (1 ticket for each week) $40

Location: Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street, 3rd floor Studio, Toronto

(SW corner of Berkeley and Adelaide St. East)

Box Office: Purchase tickets online at

OR reserve a seat at 416-364-4170 (box 1) then pay cash only at Box Office.

Tickets for the Saturday readings are only available for in-person cash purchase.

Box Office opens one hour prior to each performance.

Related Articles

Toronto THEATER Stories | Shows  BWW Toronto  BWW Toronto

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...