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Tarragon Theatre to Host 2016 Play Reading Week This Spring


We invite you to join us for Tarragon's annual Play Reading Week, an exciting celebration of plays-in-development by the talented playwrights associated with the theatre. See the latest works from Tarragon Playwright-in-Residence Erin Shields (co-written with comedian Rob Baker), RBC Emerging Playwright's Competition winner Cliff Cardinal, celebrated actor and playwright Rick Roberts, and the Tarragon Playwrights Unit: Donald Woo, Jenna Harris, Philip McKee, David S. Craig, and Step Taylor.

This year these plays will be directed by Andrea Donaldson (Associate Artistic Director at Tarragon) and Tamara Bernier-Evans (Assistant Artistic Director at Tarragon).

Among others, they will feature* actors John Cleland, Steve Cochrane, Maria Dinn, Beau Dixon, Sarah Dodd, Jakob Ehman, Greg Gale, Natalia Gracious, David Jansen, Diana Luong, Daniel Maslany, Ali Momen, Thomas Olajide, Emily Piggford, Anand Rajaram, Sabryn Rock, Lisa Rydre-Cohen, Cliff Saunders, and Jenny Young.

Tarragon is home to one of the longest-standing and most acclaimed play development programs in Canada. Many of the plays featured in Play Reading Week evolve into full productions as part of Tarragon's seasons, and on to receive national exposure.

Play Reading Week runs from May 24 - June 4, 2016 in Tarragon's Workspace. Admission is free, and no reservations are taken. Readings begin at 8pm and doors open at 7:30pm. Arrive early to claim your seat!

*Featured actors subject to change.

Schedule of readings:

Tuesday, May 24: Boomers by Erin Shields & Rob Baker
Wednesday, May 25: Le beau deluge (the wonderous reckoning) by Donald Woo
Thursday, May 26: Orestes by Rick Roberts
Tuesday, May 31: Maria Gets a New Life by Cliff Cardinal
Wednesday, June 1: Pose by Jenna Harris
Thursday, June 2: The Pryce Academy by Philip McKee
Friday, June 3: Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia by David S. Graig
Saturday, June 4: Tibb's Eve by Step Taylor


Tuesday, May 24, 8pm
Boomers by Erin Shields & Rob Baker

We are obsessed with you, Boomers. With your confidence, ambition and ingenuity; with your determination to stay young and your unparalleled nostalgia for your youth; with your unrelenting hope for a better world and your unwavering faith in capitalism. All stories seem to be extensions of your stories, all fictions spring from your fictions, and all accounts are yours. It's all a little much. So we're taking a moment to ponder - if it's okay with you - what our stories may be.

Wednesday, May 25, 8pm
Le beau déluge (the wondrous reckoning) by Donald Woo

When the heir to a respected and long-standing Quebec-based aerospace company attempts to overthrow his domineering mother in order to save the troubled business, he exposes his family and himself to public humiliation and complete ruin, and so he must seek to preserve their honour and legacy at any cost.

Thursday, May 26, 8pm
Orestes by Rick Roberts

Euripide's tragic tale of madness, murder and revenge is wildly re-imagined for the
Internet Age.

Tuesday, May 31, 8pm
Maria Gets a New Life by Cliff Cardinal (RBC Emerging Playwright's Competition winner, 2015/16 season)

Maria Grace, single mom, has perpetrated a terrible crime and is a wanted fugitive. After 3 months of living as a prostitute and evading police, she ducks into an empty house. As the authorities close in, Maria has one hour to give her children a weirdo's guide to living in a fucked up world. If she succeeds, this will be the day "Maria Gets a New LifeŠ"

Wednesday, June 1, 8 pm
Pose by Jenna Harris

Joanie's just started high school and is not doing so well.
Joanie's mother Sharon is completely at a loss.
Joanie's new tutor RachelŠseems to be okay. And then there's Carly. Carly has also just started high school and is having the best time ever!

Pose is a play about the power of being liked.

Thursday, June 2, 8pm
The Pryce Academy by Philip McKee

The Pryce Academy is an experimental musical set in an elite private school for privileged boys. A new curriculum, meant to teach the boys about what it means to try to live in the 21st century, spurs the students to decide that the most exciting and ethical way to try to make money is to make a hit musical. This seems like a particularly good idea as there is an exceptionally talented African-Canadian student who has just arrived at the school on scholarship for music. The Pryce Academy embodies and satirizes the tropes of capitalism in the theatre in order to look at the catastrophic effects of structural inequality in local communities and world economies.

Friday, June 3, 8 pm
Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia by David S. Craig

Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia re-imagines the classic Greek comedy by Aristophanes as a sex strike, not to stop a war, but to save a planet. Set in a future world where humans have had to adapt to huge climate changes, Lysistrata and her friends desperately invoke the Goddess Gaia, Creator and Mother of Earth. But the Goddess is furious at the destruction of her planet and threatens the entire human race with a watery death at dawn unless the men can be persuaded to become Earth Defenders. The men refuse. Comedy ensues.

Saturday, June 4, 8pm
Tibb's Eve by Step Taylor

After seven years away, Trevor returns to his teensy hometown in rural Newfoundland on what happens to be Tibb's Eve: an old island tradition the night before Christmas Eve that is definitely full of booze, drugs, and distractions, but may also contain traces of otherworldly magic, mischief, and transformation. On this seductively chaotic night, in the middle of nowhere, Trevor will either face the consequences of his choices, or utterly abandon life as he knows it.


Rob Baker is a three-time Canadian Comedy Award winning actor, writer and improviser. He is an alumnus of the legendary Second City, where he co-wrote and starred in four critically acclaimed shows, and also assistant-directed their smash hit Meme-ing of Life. He co-created and starred in the sitcom Guidance, which aired on Bite TV. He has developed numerous projects for DHX Media, including the satirical news program Current Afairs and the CBC original series Body Buds. He currently has projects in development with Pier 21 Productions and Amaze Productions. Recent TV highlights include Man Seeking Woman and Dad Drives. He has performed at JFL 42 as part of Mantown (CCA Best Improv Troupe 2013) and can be seen regularly with Bonspiel! Watch for Tonight's Canceled, a sketch show he's directing, at Fringe 2016.

Erin Shields is a Montreal based playwright and actor. She won the 2011 Governor General's Award for her play If We Were Birds, which premiered at Tarragon Theatre where she is currently a playwright-in-residence. If We Were Birds has been widely produced and translated into French, German, Italian and Albanian. Erin is co-Artistic Director (with Andrea Donaldson) of an independent theatre company, Groundwater Productions, which produced Beautiful Man at The SummerWorks Festival 2015. Erin's version of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea was part of The Shaw Festival's 2015 season. Her play for young audiences, Mistatim, is currently touring North America with Red Sky Performance. Upcoming: The Millennial Malcontent at Tarragon Theatre, Instant on tour with Geordie Productions and two musicals with Acting Up Stage. Erin has been nominated for numerous awards including the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the K.M. Hunter Award and five Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

Donald Woo is a Chinese French-Canadian playwright who was born and raised in the Montreal area. He is honoured to have been a member of this season's Playwrights Unit at Tarragon Theatre as well as the Cahoots Theatre writers unit, the Hot House. Donald is developing, with fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company, Three Years Eight Months (éOîNóÎî å¬åé), a trilogy of plays concerning the Canadian experience in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong during World War II.

Jenna Harris is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts theatre conservatory program in New York City. She is a playwright, actor, dancer, devised theatre creator, and is the Founder and Artistic Producer of Discord and Din Theatre. As an actor, Jenna has worked in the United States and Canada, and in both theatre and film/TV. Jenna's arts education and teaching background includes teaching dance at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Tech and the 92nd Street Y in New York, and in Toronto at numerous theatre schools. As a writer, Jenna has written everything from radio shows to animated shorts, webseries to feature films, site-specific work to full-length plays, and is also the Editor-in-Chief of City Voices: A Book of Monologues by Toronto Artists. In January 2015, Jenna's play Mine had its premiere at the Next Stage Theatre Festival in Toronto. In addition to the Tarragon Playwrights Unit, Jenna is a member of the Thousand Islands Playwright's Unit, and was part of Studio 180's inaugural IN DEVELOPMENT program.

Cliff Cardinal's play Stitch debuted in SummerWorks 2011, winning both The Spotlight Award for Performance, as well as Theatre Passe Muraille's Emerging Artist Award for the script's notable artistic impression. For Huff, about the wondrous lives of three brothers caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and struggling to cope with the death of their mother, Cardinal won the Buddies in Bad Times Vanguard Award for Risk and Innovation at SummerWorks 2012 and The RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwright Award. Huff recently completed a National Tour including presentations at The Push International Performing Arts Festival, The Magnetic North Theatre Festival and the Pivot Theatre Festival, and closed the studio season at the National Arts Centre in May 2014. Another play of Cliff's, Maria Gets A New Life, debuted at SummerWorks 2013. "This captivating tale of an off-grid mother solidifies Cardinal as one of the most talented and intriguing writers in the country." -NOW MAGAZINE. Cliff graduated from the playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. His music project: Cliff Cardinal and The Skylarks recently released their debut album: This Is Not A Mistake.

Rick Roberts is an actor, director and playwright based in Toronto. He played Donald D'Arby in the series Traders, for which he was nominated for a Gemini Award. In 2012 he was played Jack Layton in the CBC biopic Jack, alongside Sook-Yin Lee as Olivia Chow. Jack garnered him the Canadian Screen Award and an ACTRA Award for Best Actor. At Tarragon he has been seen on stage in An Enemy of the People, The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, Molière, John and Beatrice, Rune Arlidge; and as playwright: Mimi, or A Poisoner's Comedy (co-written with Allen Cole and Melody A. Johnson); as director: Miss Caledonia. Other theatre credits include: Belfry Theatre (Proud), Stratford Festival (Zastrozzi), Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company (Tuesdays with Morrie), Citadel Theatre (Julius Caesar), Canadian Stage/Citadel Theatre (Fire), Theatre Columbus (The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine, Hotel Loopy), Necessary Angel (The Piper, Inexpressible Island, King Lear, Hysterica Passio); and as playwright: Fish/Wife, Kite, Convergence Theatre (short pieces for AutoShow, The Gladstone Variations); as director: Soulpepper (A Midsummer Night's Dream). Film & TV credits include Whizbang Films mini-series (ZOS: Zone of Separation), Global (Traders), CBS (L.A. Doctors), Next Films (Jonestown: Paradise Lost), Bruce McDonald (Pontypool), CBC (Republic of Doyle, An American in Canada, Jack, Book of Negroes, This Life), Rhombus (Zoom), Still Mine, Foxfire, HBO Canada (Sensitive Skin), Netflix (Between).

Philip McKee is a Toronto based director and writer. He collaborates with other artists to create original performance work that is subversive, intimate and vital. Subjects have included: war; the psychodrama of kinship; aging and senescence; capitalism and desire; privilege and structures of inequality. Work in the theatre includes: Bloody Family (The Theatre Centre), LEAR (World Stage, Harbourfront Centre/The Magnetic North Theatre Festival), Don't Try New Things (Flowchart Dance Series), Child Psychologist (SummerWorks Performance Festival), King Doubt (SummerWorks Performance Festival), Founders Day Party (Suburban Beast), Old Hag (Tanztage/Sophiensaele), Brothers (SummerWorks Performance Festival), Foster Child Play (SummerWorks Performance Festival), La Voix Humaine (Monument National). Philip frequently Co-directs with Rose Plotek. Other collaborators are Clare Coulter, Tanja Jacobs, Ishan Davé, Liz Peterson, Amy Nostbakken, Norah Sadava, James Bunton, Holger Schoorl, Amy Chartrand, Kate Whitehead, Jordan Tannahill, Alicia Grant, Jeremy James, and Alex Napier. Philip is a graduate of The National Theatre School of Canada, where he is now an instructor for their Acting and Directing Programs. Philip is a member of the Playwrights Unit at Tarragon Theatre, and is the 2015/2016 Canadian Stage RBC Emerging Artist Program: Director Development Residency participant. He is also the Urjo Kareda Resident Artist at Tarragon Theatre for 2016/2017.
David S. Craig is a Montreal born, Toronto based theatre artist. As a playwright, he has written 29 professionally produced dramatic works including the hit comedy Having Hope at Home and the internationally acclaimed Danny, King of the Basement which has been seen by over half a million people in North America alone. Other successful plays include Double Trouble which was recently nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, Smokescreen, which has been translated into five languages, his award-winning adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's The Fan and his adaptation of Michel Ende's The Neverending Story. His one-man show Napalm the Magnificent was performed extensively over a ten-year period including a commercial run at the John Houseman Theatre in Manhattan. Mr. Craig has won The Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production (three times), the Chalmers New Play Award (three times), the Rideau Award, The Canada Council Prize, The Writer's Guild Prize for Radio Drama and a Harold. In 2014 he was awarded the Barbara Hamilton Award for Artistic Excellence from the City of Toronto.

Step Taylor is a playwright and actor from Chapel Arm, NL by way of Fredericton, NB whose work has been staged across Canada. Recent credits include The False Neighbour in Saint John, NB (North of Maine 2015); Model Wanted (2014), The Station (2013), and Sorry, Melon (2012) in Fredericton (NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival); Chapel Arm in St. John's (Mindless Theatrics 2014); companion pieces The Heel and Screwjob at Gladstone Hotel in Toronto (Code White 2014); and V-Cards in Montreal (Wildside Festival 2014). The False Neighbour received the Gladys Cameron Watt Award in the 2015 Ottawa Little Theatre's National One-Act Playwriting Competition, and Model Wanted won the 2013-14 RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights' Competition. Taylor is a graduate of the NTS Playwriting program (2013), and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia (2010), and his BA from St. Thomas University (2007). He is also an Artistic Associate of the Newfoundland-based theatre company Mindless Theatrics.

Tarragon Theatre is one of Canada's most important arts institutions. For 45 years, Tarragon Theatre has created, developed and produced new plays by home-grown artists as well as significant works from the world stage, vitally contributing to the important legacy of a Canadian culture. Since its founding, over 190 works have premiered at Tarragon and over 500 scripts have been created and workshopped, receiving 34 nominations and 11 wins for the Governor General's Literary Award. Tarragon received the 2012 Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts in recognition of producing and developing leading edge and thought-provoking Canadian Theatre, both nationally and on the world stage. Richard Rose has been the Artistic Director since 2002. For more, visit

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