Write Now! 2016 – Oct 23: the plays + writers + directors

As mentioned in the post dated Sept 23, Write Now! is an annual writing challenge spearheaded by Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Play Development group (NPD).  Company members who accept the challenge must write a 10-minute play over a specific weekend, having been sent the “challenge ingredients” on Friday evening.

write-now-2016-imageThis year, the event’s producer Anne MacMillan, a playwright and actor, devised the challenge: to write a detective story based on this poem (the famous first line was penned William Wordsworth in 1802; the rest is by Annie!):


In Prose or in Verse


I wandered lonely as a cloud

Spouting ancient poetry aloud

When all at once I saw a sight

which filled me with a sense of fright

An old trunk by the river’s edge

Floating by a single shoe

A glove with blood tipped fingers

Lying half covered on the ground

All under a weeping willow tree

No one else around to see

When a smiling stranger appeared

from behind a high earthen mound

Upon seeing me, frowned.


Annie shares that one of her favorite romantic poets is Wordsworth, and especially his “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, which reminds her of her father – a photographer – and a photo he took of daffodils under the oak trees in the beautiful Botanical Gardens in  Glasgow.  “When I was a schoolgirl I would sometimes walk home through the Botanical Gardens after school,” she said.  “You could hear the Kelvin River rushing, there were weeping willow trees – their fronds in the river… It was, and still is, a magical place.”

So those memories of the willow tree by the river wound up in the poem, combined with Wordsworth, and became the Write Now! Challenge.

16 writers accepted the challenge on Friday, October 14, and 13 submitted their scripts by the Sunday noon deadline on Oct 16.  These plays will be presented as staged readings; actors (some not yet cast!) have not memorized the scripts, and will only have one or two rehearsals.  Here are the writers / plays / directors – note that this list is in alpha order; not in performance sequence:

Teresa Bottaro – No objects from the past are allowed to stay directed by Laurie Williams.

Barbara Brown /Rhona Bennett – Finding Amy in four scenes directed by Nina Kaye.

Norma Crawford – L & D                        directed by David Suszek.

Judith Fiori – Poetic Justice                  directed by Stacy Halloran.

Connie Guccione –  Road Less Travelled  directed by Aleksandra Maslennikova.

Stacy Halloran – If you come to a fork in the road directed by Kat Horzempa.

Krystyna Hunt – Out of the Past            directed by Rebecca Grace.

Nina Kaye – The Magician                     directed by Jennifer McKinley.

Donna Langevin – Dear Professor         directed by “Present Conductor”.

Carol Libman – At Peace by the River   directed by Kelsey Laine Jacobson.

Tina McCulloch – The Last of Tuesday  directed by Sandra Burley.

Jennifer McKinley – Dark and Deep        directed by Carina Cojeen.

Morna Wales – Worthy Words              directed by Pat McCarthy.


Write Now! Staged readings take place 2 – 4:30 pm on Sunday, Oct 23 in the Studio at Alumnae Theatre.  There will be an intermission, with refreshments available.  PWYC admission; no reservations required.

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Amicus Fundraiser at Whistler’s

Our friends at Amicus Productions are having a FUN-draiser on Monday night. Great opportunity to support Toronto theatre, and witness some talented folks getting their classics on! PWYC admission.

Amicus Productions, Toronto's Most Engaging Community Theatre

On Monday, October 17th please join us at Whistler’s Grille (995 Broadview Ave.) for a fantastic night of music and laughter in support of our upcoming season.  
Watch as contestants go up against each other for the title of SHAKESPEARE IDOL, enjoy a unique reading of Jane Austen’s finest writing in DRUNK AUSTEN, and listen to a variety of MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT throughout the night!
Doors open at 6pm — Show begins at 7pm
Tickets: PWYC at the door ($10 suggested)


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Andrea Irwin in “Toronto, Mississippi” at The Box, Oct 20 – Nov 6 (Panfish Productions)

Alumnae Theatre Company member (and newsletter editor!) Andrea Irwin  is performing in Panfish Productions’ presentation of award-winning Canadian playwright Joan MacLeod’s drama Toronto, Mississippi.  It will be staged October 20 – November 6, 2016 at The Box (89 Niagara Street, Toronto), directed by Kitty Laki.

Panfish Productions present Joan MacLeod's "Toronto, Mississippi" (Oct 20 - Nov 6, 2016)

Panfish Productions present Joan MacLeod’s “Toronto, Mississippi” (Oct 20 – Nov 6, 2016)

Bloggergal asked Andrea a few questions…

Q:  How did you get involved with this show and Panfish Productions?

A:  Quite simply, I saw the posting on the CAEA [Canadian Actors Equity Association] e-drive and submitted right away. A strong role for a woman over 30? I’m on it! The show also spoke to me as it deals in part with an individual who is developmentally delayed. I have a family member who happens to be developmentally delayed and can relate to many of the challenges and rewards faced by the characters in the show.


Q:  Tell me about the character you play in Toronto, Mississippi.

A:  Maddie is real. She purports to being solid as a rock; she has to be as a working single mom to a teenager with special needs, BUT she’s inextricably drawn to King…yes, her boozing, womanizing, Peter-Pan of an ex-husband. At the same time, she’s best friends with her boarder, Bill; ostensibly the “perfect” match for Maddie and a dedicated father-figure to Jhana. I think she’s at her wit’s end with her life as she knows it…it’s a helluva challenge being the Responsible Adult and it has worn her down.


Q:  Who are your co-stars and their characters?

A:  Peter Nelson plays King, Maddie’s ex-husband, father of Jhana.  A touring Elvis impersonator…he loves the ladies and they love him. He’s a part-time dad, but he truly does love his daughter.

Kayla Whalen plays Jhana, 18-year-old daughter of King and Maddie, struggling to be an independent young woman (establishing a work-life and love-life) but with the added challenge of achieving independence with special needs.

Yehuda Fisher plays Bill, boarder in Maddie and Jhana’s home. He connects with Jhana in ways that Maddie can’t. He’s become family…but he doesn’t want to “play” Dad, he wants to be dad to Jhana and a romantic partner to Maddie.


Thanks, Andrea!

For some background info, here’s a link to playwright Joan MacLeod’s website: http://www.joanmacleod.com/index.html


And this is the link to Facebook event for Panfish Productions’  presentation of Toronto, Mississippi at The Box:


Tickets: $25 reg (Tue – Sun); $20 students/seniors/artsworkers.
Monday tickets: PWYC.  Purchase tickets via Panfish Productions website http://www.panfishproductions.ca/

Showtimes:  Oct 20, 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 31, Nov 3, 4, 5 @ 8:00pm.
Sundays – Oct 23, 30, Nov 6 @ 2:00pm.

FYI – This is a full 2-act play – running time approximately 1.5 hrs including a 15-minute intermission.  The Box (89 Niagara St.) is a small venue with limited seating.

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New Ideas Festival 2017: Call for Directors

Never-before-produced short scripts have been submitted, and 15 selected for Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival in March.  new-ideas-2017-imageNow it’s time for interested directors to apply!  Once you’ve submitted your application (and the deadline is next Friday, Oct 14), you’ll be given access to read the scripts.

Here’s the official notice:


Alumnae Theatre Company invites non-union directors to apply to direct one of the 15 plays (running time 10 to 40 minutes) for New Ideas Festival (NIF) 2017, our 29th annual three-week juried festival of new plays, works-in-progress, and experimental theatre to be held from March 8 to 26, 2017.


Important dates:

  • Oct. 14, 2016: Deadline to apply to direct one of the New Ideas Festival plays
  • Nov. 5, 2016: (MANDATORY) Creative Exchange: directors meet playwrights
  • 6, 7, 8, or 9, 2016: (MANDATORY) Attend your play’s cold reading on one of these dates
  • Jan 4-8, 2017: (MANDATORY) Attend Festival auditions according to casting needs
  • , Jan. 30, 2017: Rehearsals begin
  • March 8 – Sun. March 26, 2017: New Ideas Festival. Each show runs one week.


NIF provides the following:

  • Stage managers, technical crew, and front of house staff
  • Festival auditions presenting a large pool of actors
  • Rehearsal space, performance space
  • Promotional materials and publicity
  • Access to Alumnae Theatre’s wardrobe, props, and sets
  • A collaborative process with the playwright to continue developing a new work with actors and a dramaturge (if requested)
  • A supportive place for directors to experiment and hone their skills
  • Production guidelines and mentorship that get all the plays and dozens of performers successfully from audition to rehearsal to stage.


New Ideas Festival does not pay fees, royalties, or a box office share to participants.

Alumnae Theatre Company retains creative discretion over the festival as a whole. The focus of the festival is script development, so technical requirements for the plays are kept to a minimum. NIF is an exciting opportunity to work one-on-one with a playwright to develop a new work.


If you are interested in directing a play in the New Ideas Festival, email newideasfestival@gmail.com by Oct 14, 2016.  Please make the subject line “Director Application (your name)” and provide a directing CV or paragraph description of your experience. You will receive further details once you have submitted your application.


As our industry has far fewer female directors, women directors are especially encouraged to apply.

Alumnae Theatre Company ▪ 70 Berkeley Street ▪ Toronto, ON ▪ M5A 2W6


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Write Now! is coming Oct 23… Stay tuned.

Write Now! is coming!  The annual challenge spearheaded by Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Play Development group (NPD) sees company members take on a weekend project: to write a 10-minute play based on a subject or prompt that they only receive on the Friday evening.  The finished scripts must be electronically submitted by noon on the Sunday.

A week later, the plays (having been assigned directors and actors) are presented as free staged readings before an audience.

This year, the challenge/subject/prompt will be revealed to participating writers  on Oct 14, and they must  turn in their scripts by Oct 16.

The *free* readings will be in the Studio on Sunday, October 23 beginning at 2 p.m.

Stay tuned!

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Audition notice for “The Gut Girls” (2016/17 Retrospective Choice)

Back in our 1997/98 season, Alumnae Theatre Company staged British writer Sarah Daniels’ 1988 dramedy about the young women who worked in the bloody ‘gutting sheds’ of Victorian London, The Gut Girls.  It was directed by Jane Carnwath, and performed in the intimate 3rd floor Studio space, complete with realistic pig carcasses, spewing intestines.

gut-girls-image Nineteen years later, as part of the Countdown to our 100th season – the company hits the century mark in February 2018! – we present The Gut Girls as our Retrospective Production of the 2016/17 season.  This time, it will be played on the Main Stage, directed by Maya Rabinovitch, and I don’t know about the pig carcasses!

Here’s the audition notice:

The Gut Girls

By Sarah Daniels

Directed by Maya Rabinovitch

Performance dates: January 20 – February 4, 2017

Surprisingly funny and hard-hitting, this beautifully written piece follows the fortunes of the brash and proud working-class “gut girls”.

When the gutting sheds are shut and their way of life disappears, the girls must try and find a place in the new world order of late Victorian London.

Alumnae Theatre Company seeks:

6 women (ages 15-60)

2 men (ages 20 – 60)

 To play multiple roles in this sharp comedy about rotting meat and workers’ rights, where Margaret Thatcher meets Victorian England.

Please note: all actors must be able to perform with a formal and/or cockney British accent.  The ability to sing is an asset.


All interested applicants should email gutgirls.alumnaetheatre@gmail.com or leave a message on the Alumnae audition line at 416-364-4170, xtn 3.


Wednesday October 5th –  6:30 – 10pm

Saturday October 8th –  10am – 5pm

Callbacks: Sunday October 9th – 10am – 5pm



Alumnae Theatre: 70 Berkeley St. (SW corner of Berkeley & Adelaide), Toronto


Please prepare a 2 minute monologue. You may also be asked to read from the script.

Please read the play before auditioning. Reading copies are available at the 5th floor Performing Arts desk of the Toronto Reference Library.

All auditioners must bring a photo and résumé to the audition.


Alumnae Theatre is a non-professional theatre company which encourages diversity in its membership and casting.  Please note that this is a non-union and non-paying engagement.

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Love & loss, assumptions & perspectives in sharp, touching, painfully funny This

life with more cowbell

this-1-marrelljane-icecream-lowres Audra Yulanda Gray & Amanda Jane Smith in This – photos by Bruce Peters

Alumnae Theatre Company opened its 2016-17 season with Melissa James Gibson’s This, directed by Rebecca Ballarin, on the Mainstage on Friday night. I caught the matinée yesterday afternoon.

Four college friends, now in their late 30s, share life, love and loss in this poignant, sometimes wacky tale of relationships, and navigating life’s changes and chaos. New parents Marrell (Audra Yulanda Gray) and Tom (Andrew Batten) struggle with sleepless, sexless nights while their friend Jane (Amanda Jane Smith) deals with being a widow and single mom. Meanwhile, their single gay friend Alan (Michael Harvey), whose exceptional memory has earned him a career as a mnemonist, is itching for a new job. Marrell’s attempt to set Jane up with French doctor Jean Pierre (Christian Martel) at a dinner party has an unexpected outcome and, coupled with various…

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