As part of Her Side of the Story, a conversation about the female perspective on stage on May 13-14, Imago Theatre will be profiling Canadian theatre artists and companies that are promoting the female perspective and diverse voices in theatre.
Nightwood Theatre is the oldest professional women’s theatre company in Canada, and is known for producing and developing plays by and about Canadian women. Located in Toronto, Ontario, it was founded in 1979 by Cynthia Grant, Kim Renders, Mary Vingoe, and Maureen White. Currently the company is helmed by Kelly Thornton and Beth Brown.
It produces, on average, three plays per year while fostering a variety of mentorship programs and development of new works. They are host to several theatre festivals, including FemCab, an annual celebration of International Women’s Day, and the Groundswell Festival, which showcase new work by Canadian women.
Mandate and Mission
Nightwood Theatre forges creative alliances among women artists from diverse backgrounds in order to develop and produce innovative Canadian Theatre. We produce original Canadian plays and works from the contemporary international repertoire. We advocate for women, provide a training ground for emerging talent and engage artists in play development and theatre production. We make theatre that is relevant, that awakens a new perspective, and promotes empathy and a deeper connection to our humanity.
Nightwood’s overriding vision is to be the gateway, propelling women to the top of their craft in Canadian Theatre.
- Nightwood Theatre promotes artistic innovation and diversity of expression.
- We operate with a firm belief in women’s equality and use theatre to challenge stereotypes and social assumptions about gender, race and sexuality.
- We believe theatre is a communal experience wherein differences can be shared and celebrated.
- We are driven by creative exchange not exclusivity.
- We see mentorship as essential, sharing knowledge with emerging talent, and seeding a new generation of female artists in Canada.
- We think theatre should be entertaining but also believe in its ability to challenge society
- At the very core we believe theatre is a tool of empowerment, both for the individual and for the collective as a whole.
In support of its mission, Nightwood Theatre offers a wide array of mentorship and internship opportunities with the goal of fostering the development of young female theatre artists, and to create a network between established and emerging theatre artists.
28 years ago, Nightwood Theatre founded the Groundswell Festival, a national play development program for new plays by women. It also runs two youth programs focused on training young playwrights. ‘Write from the Hip,’ which is now in its 14th year, is a year long mentorship program in which participants complete a completed script for a staged reading. ‘Bursting Out!,’ which began in 2004, is a theatre training program for girls aged 12-16.
In 2008, they also created a formal internship program – dedicating positions in design, directing, production and administration- to young theatre artists with the goal of growing a community of artists. Many interns return to paid positions at the company.
“Write from the Hip”
Write from the Hip, Nightwood’s emerging playwriting program, is in its 14th year. Write from the Hip is a series of workshops, mentoring and hands-on seminars in writing skills and professional play development, specifically designed for emerging playwrights looking to develop and write a full-length play. Each participant completes a full-length play over the course of a year. The play is then workshopped and staged in a public reading series. Participants meet bi-weekly for the first four months, and then have sessions throughout the year leading up to the final staged reading. Past mentors have included: D’bi Young, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Judith Thompson, Claudia Dey, Morwyn Brebner, Florence Gibson, Iris Turcott, Marjorie Chan and Lisa Codrington. In the past Write From The Hip directors have included Yvette Nolan, Weyni Mengesha, Jennifer Tarver and Nina Lee Aquino. “