Ergo Arts Theatre Launches Its First 'Ergo Pink Fest'

Ergo Pink Fest is a 3-day theatre festival in Toronto (March 23-25, 2018), conceived and hosted by Ergo Arts Theatre (EAT) that gives voice to female and non-binary identified playwrights, providing them a unique platform to showcase their work. The festival, being held at the Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw Street, brings together director Diana Leblanc, winner of Governor General's Award for Lifetime Achievement; award-winning playwrights and dramaturges Beverley Cooper and Marcia Johnson; and actors like The Shaw Festival's Patrick Galligan, and Laura Schutt, past member of Stratford Festival and star of the Mirvish Production The Railway Children, to nurture the development of seven new plays.

The plays in the festival tell stories of women and non-binary characters, and meet the three requirements of the Bechdel-Wallace Test: 1. The script must feature at least two women/non-binary people, who both have names; 2. These two people talk to each other; 3. They talk about something other than a man.

"The idea for the festival came to us when we read the 2015 Equity in Theatre study by the Playwrights Guild of Canada," says EAT Artistic Director, Anna Pappas. "It said that the greatest disparity in gender equity happens in the playwright category. Some progress has been made since then, but there is much more work to do. Using the Bechdel-Wallace Test as a jumping-off point seemed like a high-concept way to put out a call for plays by, for, and starring women and non-binary artists. I am so excited by the response, and the work so far has been totally inspiring. We can't wait to make this an annual event. If we can help develop 7 or 8 plays a year, maybe we can truly participate in moving the needle."

The 7 plays chosen for the festival have been written by talented female Canadian playwrights. Ranging in background and experience, these writers are young women debuting their first piece of writing, to veterans of the theatre, TV, and film. Ergo Pink Fest provides each playwright with three sessions with a professional dramaturge, three workshops with actors and a director, and, finally, a public staged reading. Each play will be presented once during the festival, from Friday March 23 to Sunday March 25.

There are two featured playwrights at the Festival: Claire Ross Dunn (Degrassi, Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Nastasia Pappas-Kemps, whose work was part of the Ergo Arts Theatre 2017 development season.

Dunn's play is based on Thomas Hardy's 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. It is a full-length play that refocuses the story on its women. When a young, volatile hay-trusser in 1819 Wessex gets drunk and sells his wife and daughter for five guineas like chattel, he sets in motion a chain of events that leads not to the women's enslavement, but to their hard-won emancipation. Pappas-Kemps' play, Manners, tells the story of a privileged and spoiled daughter of an Earl. She finds herself falling for a humble "footman" with a secret, and the two are forced to confront the societal barriers standing in their way.

The five other plays take us around the world - Greece, Ireland, France and America - and bring historical events to us, all from the viewpoint of the women involved.

A highlight for all participating playwrights has been the opportunity to work with some of Toronto's top talent: Beverley Cooper (Innocence Lost, upcoming @ Soulpepper) and Marcia Johnson (Binti's Journey @ Theatre Direct; Courting Johanna @ Blyth Festival; and Late @ Obsidian Theatre) are the festival's dramaturges; Anita La Salva (The Stones Project @ Caminos Festival 2015), Diana Leblanc (winner of Governor General's Award for Lifetime Achievement) and Sue Miner (Pea Green Theatre Group) are directing the 7 plays; and many talented actors, including Catherine Fitch (Murdoch Mysteries, Street Legal, Road to Avonlea), Marium Carvell (Radiant Vermin), Stuart Clow (Factory Theatre, CanStage, Theatre Passe Muraille), and Sergio DiZio (Flashpoint), will be performing the readings during the festival.

Details are currently being finalized for a panel discussion and a keynote speaker event to enhance the experience for both audience and artists. Information on these activities will follow shortly.

General Admission tickets are now on sale on the Ergo Arts Theatre website (http://www.ergoartstheatre.com/showtimes-tickets) using the "Pay What You Want" pricing system. There are 4-play and 7-play passes available as well. Patrons are encouraged to buy early, as there is limited seating. All performances are being held at the Small World Music Centre in Artscape, 180 Shaw Street, Studio 101.

EAT would like to thank the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University and The Toronto Arts Council for their generous support.

About Ergo Arts Theatre

Ergo Arts Theatre, established in 1992, is a group of dedicated artists who strive to promote creative thought and innovative expression through the performing arts. Their goal is to make the art of theatre accessible to all - to be a part of a collective artistic experience that will enhance the way we think and live.

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