Hamilton Fringe preview (ish): Sinners & saints in Sister Annunciata’s Secret

Nonnie Griffin in Sister Annunciata’s Secret at Hamilton Fringe, July 14 – 24, 2016.

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sister a's secretDuring Toronto Fringe this past week, I bumped into Nonnie Griffin at the Tarragon, where I learned that she’s taking her solo show Sister Annunciata’s Secret (which premiered almost six years ago at The Annex Theatre) to Hamilton Fringe for a run at the Staircase Café Theatre Main Space. The Hamilton Fringe show is produced by Baby Gumm Productions and directed by Darren Stewart-Jones.

I attended a performance during Griffin’s Annex Theatre run, and covered the show for Alumnae Theatre’s blog. Griffin gave a compelling and powerful performance, and the show has been tweaked since its original production for running time.

Hamilton Fringe runs July 14-24 and Sister Annunciata’s Secret runs July 15-24 (see the show page for various dates/times). Highly recommended. Check out the trailer:

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New Ideas Festival 2017: Call for Scripts is now!

Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival (NIF) is an annual, three-week juried festival of new plays, works-in-progress and experimental theatre. Each week features a different program of up to four plays, as well as a workshopped reading on Saturday at noon. The 2017 festival, NIF’s 29th season, will run from March 8 to 26, 2017.

New Ideas Festival 2017. Image/design by Suzanne Courtney.

New Ideas Festival 2017.
Image/design by Suzanne Courtney.

NIF offers dramaturgical support, rehearsal and production space, technical support, access to Alumnae Theatre’s costume and props collections, publicity and sold-out houses.

When to Submit:

Send them now!  The deadline for submissions is September 5, 2016 (September 15 for members of Alumnae Theatre Company). Preference will be given to Canadian scripts and scripts with challenging roles for women of all ages. NIF welcomes voices from diverse communities.

  • Scripts must be original works that have not been previously performed outside of a workshop;
  • Scripts may be in any genre or style, but preference given to Canadian writers and scripts with good roles for women;
  • There are no geographical restrictions to submissions, but please see THINGS TO NOTE re: playwright availability & involvement;
  • Maximum running time 40 minutes. One act of a full-length play may also be accepted for production.  Submissions longer than 40 minutes will be considered for a one-time staged reading to showcase the script development accomplished during the rehearsal period;
  • Each playwright may submit a maximum of two scripts;
  • Scripts or proposals should be submitted electronically in PDF or Word format to NIFscripts@gmail.com. Submissions are read ‘blind’, so there must NOT be any identifying information on the script pages;
  • Please include a cover page providing: play title; • list and description of characters (including age); • short play synopsis.
  • Send a separate contact page with the play title, playwright’s name and contact information, and a short bio (75 words or less).
  • Scripts which do not conform to these guidelines will not be considered.


  • There is no fee to submit to or participate in New Ideas Festival. Playwrights will not be paid a royalty or any share of Box Office receipts.
  • NIF does not provide feedback on submissions.
  • Expect confirmation of receipt of your script within 2 weeks.
  • The lineup of New Ideas Festival 2017 will be announced in early November 2016.
  • ‘Creative Exchange’ (think Speed Dating for chosen playwrights and potential directors!) on Nov 5.
  • Cold readings of all the chosen plays, Dec 6-9.
  • Playwrights must be available (Skype is an option) for the Creative Exchange and for at least one of the December cold reads dates.
  • Playwrights help choose the director for their script, and may be as involved as they wish in casting and rehearsal process.
  • Performances and most rehearsals will take place at Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley St.) in Toronto.
  • Future productions must include a program note: “First performed at Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival, 2017”.


See our website at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/submission-calls.html for more info.

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Audition notice for “THIS” (June 20, 22, 23)

‘Tis true, summer has barely begun, but just in time for Summer Solstice, comes the auditions for the first production in Alumnae Theatre Company’s 2016/17 season, This by Melissa James Gibson.    The production will be directed by Rebecca Ballarin, who directed a staged reading of Kristen Shepherd’s play Curved in Alumnae’s New Ideas Festival back in March.  She has also directed new works for InspiraTO, New Voices (Ryerson), the Edmonton Fringe, and U of T Drama Fest, and is the co-creator and director of Toronto-based drag queen Pearle Harbour.  Rebecca “likes to explore the complexities and contradictions that define the human experience”.

Poster by Suzanne Courtney

Poster by Suzanne Courtney

Canadian-born/New York-based playwright Melissa James Gibson is also a prolific TV writer – for the popular Netflix series House of Cards, and the award-winning series The Americans.  Her play This is described as an “un-romantic comedy”.  It opened off-Broadway in 2009, and had its Canadian premiere in 2011.


By Melissa James Gibson

Directed by Rebecca Ballarin
Performance dates:  Sept 16 – Oct 1, 2016

“…why are you sitting in the almost dark?’

‘It’s the human condition Jane in case you haven’t noticed’…”


A raw, unapologetic glimpse into the lives of five friends approaching middle-age and grappling with where they’ve found themselves and what could, or should, come next. Absurd and honest, Gibson’s script sits on the edge between comedic and deeply painful, revealing the grit underneath the surface of her characters and their relationships, and lying bare the imperfections and insecurities that make them (and us) human.
Jane – (F) Caucasian, 38 years old. Widowed one year ago, mother to a nine-year-old daughter, poet and teacher, met Marrell, Tom, and Alan in college; she is struggling with how to grieve, and how to reconcile how she is perceived by her friends and how she sees herself and her actions.

Marrell – (F) African-American, 38 years old. Married to Tom, new mother, jazz singer/songwriter, met Jane, Tom and Alan in college; particular, a Type-A personality, she idealizes Jane’s past marriage and has mixed feelings about her own. *Please note that actors auditioning for this role must be able to sing. Ability to play piano is an asset.*

Tom – (M) Caucasian, early 40s. Married to Marrell, new father, woodworker/craftsman with a “close-but-never-a-cigar business”, worked at the college that Jane, Marrell, and Alan attended; impulsive, laidback, stubborn, he is grasping at straws.

Alan – (M) Caucasian, Jewish, 40. A mnemonist, met Jane, Marrell and Tom in college; astute, blunt, and cynical – the most outwardly self-aware of the friend group, he feels stuck and wants more.

Jean-Pierre – (M) French (France), late 30s, performers of any ethnicity are encouraged to audition. An acquaintance of Marrell’s, a ‘doctor without borders’ who is in America for a brief stint before returning to work in Africa; progressive, worldly, alluring. *Please note that this role will require a French (France) accent.*

Mon June 20; Wed June 22; Thu June 23  (2-5pm and 6-9pm)

CALLBACKS:      Saturday, June 25 (1 – 5pm)


To request an audition, please send your headshot and resume to ATCauditions@gmail.com by Sunday, June 19.

Please indicate whether you are a member of Alumnae Theatre Company.  All members will be seen.  Those selected to audition will be contacted.

Rehearsals will be evenings and weekends beginning in July


Alumnae Theatre Company encourages diversity in its membership and casting.

Please note this is a non-union and non-paying engagement.

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Audition notice for “Outside Mullingar” (Toronto Irish Players)

Toronto Irish Players logoThe Toronto Irish Players are holding auditions in late June for their fall production, which will be on the Main Stage of Alumnae Theatre.  Outside Mullingar, described as “an Irish Moonstruck”, was nominated for Best Play at the 2014 Tony Awards.



By John Patrick Shanley

Directed by Harvey Levkoe

Produced by Susan McQueen

 AUDITIONS: SUNDAY, June 26 (1-6pm) and MONDAY, June 27 (7-10pm), 2016


REHEARSALS: Start SUNDAY, August 28, 2016 – TUESDAY/ THURSDAY/ SUNDAY schedule, with some table work in August

PERFORMANCES: OCTOBER 20 – November 5, 2016 at The Alumnae Theatre, Toronto

 OUTSIDE MULLINGAR is a compassionate, delightful work about how it’s never too late to take a chance on love. Anthony and Rosemary are two introverted misfits straddling 40. They have spent their entire lives on cattle farms in rural Ireland. Rosemary lives right next door to Anthony and is determined to have him, while watching the years slip away. With Anthony’s father, Tony, threatening to disinherit him and, a land feud simmering between their families, and Aoife, her mother as mediator, Rosemary has every reason to fear romantic catastrophe. But then in this very Irish story with a surprising depth of poetic passion, these yearning, eccentric souls fight their way towards solid ground. Their journey is heartbreaking, funny and ultimately, deeply moving.


CHARACTERS & AGES TO BE PLAYED (Accents are not needed at auditions):

TONY, 75 Bullying, tough-love father to Anthony. Easily provoked to anger & stubborn. Lives with a great deal of resentment and bitterness.


AOIFE, 70 (Eo-fuh) Nurturing and protective mother to Rosemary and surrogate mother to Anthony. Plays the role of mediator between Anthony and Tony.


ROSEMARY, 39 Anthony’s powerful, feisty neighbour with a clarity of vision. She knows what she wants but getting it is complicated. Inherited her father’s stubbornness. Determined to have Anthony, she fluctuates between despair and hope.


ANTHONY, 42 Painfully shy, a joyless farmer who is torn about staying, while listening to the voice that tells him to “go.” He has stopped noticing anything outside himself and lives with the fear of rejection and failure.


TO BOOK AN AUDITION – Contact Judith Levkoe at  levkoejudith@sympatico.ca and indicate your preferred audition date, time and the character for whom you wish to audition. Attach your resume with contact number & a recent head shot. Alternately, call Judith at 416-214-4770 and provide the above info as well as your email address.

 LOCATION – Auditions and rehearsals will be held at Kimbourne Park United Church, 200 Wolverleigh Blvd, one black north of the Coxwell Subway Station exit, and east of Coxwell.


PREPARATION – If the Director does not know your work, prepare a 2-minute monologue. Read the play before your audition as there will be readings from the script.

SCRIPT- A copy of OUTSIDE MULLINGAR will be available upon request.

 PLEASE NOTE: Toronto Irish Players (TIP) is a non-profit, non-Equity community theatre group. Participants are not paid, and union members (ACTRA/Equity) cannot be used. If cast, it is required that you join the Toronto Irish Players group.

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Big Ideas 2016: Free readings of full-length plays, May 9-15

Yes, the “official” season of Alumnae Theatre Company is over, but the playwrights of Alumnae’s New Play Development group (the NPD) have a bonus treat for you:  this year’s edition of Big Ideas.  Big Ideas image & wordsFrom Monday May 9 – Sunday May 15, head up to the 3rd floor Studio to see readings of 10 full-length plays-in-progress.  All FREE (but donations much appreciated).

Give your feedback on these developing works, and you may see these titles show up in New Ideas Festival (March) or FireWorks (November) in a year or two!
Here’s the lineup of Big Ideas 2016 – please note the different start times:

Mon May 9 8:00 pm Bargains in the New World

In New France, the colonists make bargains with God, the devil and each other to fit into or escape the king.

Donna Langevin
Tue  May 10 8:00 pm Shattered Dreams on St. Helena

Napoleon feared one person, and now she has come to haunt his dreams in exile as he dictates his memoir.

Kristine Greenaway
Wed May 11 8:00 pm Into The Abyss

A drama based on historical figures in Niagara Falls, including daredevils, circus showmen and female impersonators.

Nina Kaye
Thu May 12 8:00 pm *A Very Different Place

“You can’t go home again,” so said Thomas Wolfe.  But if you chance it, what you’ll find – is a very different place.

Carol Libman
Fri May 13 8:00 pm The River Flows Both Ways

Margaret Laurence, faced with yet another move, packs up mementos from her lifelong search for acceptance and belonging – a “tribe” and a home.

Jane Carnwath
Sat May 14 2:00 pm Where The Heart Is

Irish matriarch Mairead confounds, confronts and comforts her family.

Mary Barnes Amoroso
Sat May 14 3:15 pm They All Get Off The Bus

Unexpected happenings on a family farm in the 1970s.

Anne MacMillan
Sat May 14 8:00 pm **Yeats in Love

The love story of W.B. Yeats & Maud Gonne: a poet and a firebrand.  He is obsessed with her. She is obsessed with Irish freedom.

Anne Tait
Sun May 15 2:00 pm Run, Father, Run

The collision of a priest who can’t allow himself to be human, and a woman who can’t allow herself to be loved.

Lynda Martens
Sun May 15 7:00 pm A Little Happiness

Madness, murder and medical ethics are all themes of this complex and compelling drama.

Ramona Baillie


*a short version appeared in New Ideas Festival 2010

**a short version appeared in New Ideas Festival 2016 – video trailer by Nicholas Porteous: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8PrSod97-k&feature=youtu.be

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Directors Call for FireWorks 2016

The last production of Alumnae Theatre Company’s  2015/16 season, August: Osage County, winds up its  run tomorrow.   FireWorks 2016 imageAnd already plans are underway for the 2016/17 season:  the scripts have been selected for FireWorks series in November, and now it’s time for directors to apply!  Deadline is April 27 – read on.


FireWorks, born in 2013, is Alumnae Theatre Company’s annual festival of new full-length plays which were developed at Alumnae – either through the company’s New Play Development group of playwrights (the NPD) or having received dramaturgy in Alumnae’s New Ideas Festival.  FireWorks is a collaborative process where playwrights and directors work in partnership throughout the design, audition, and rehearsal stages.


 Deadline for director submissions:  April 27, 2016

Director interviews: May 16, 18, 19

Auditions: September 6-10, 2016

FireWorks 2016 production dates: November 9 – 27, 2016

 Interested directors – please send your resume and a note of which play or plays you wish to apply for to:

fireworksATC@gmail.com with subject line FW16 call for directors. Those selected for interviews will be provided with the link to the scripts and asked to prepare a detailed proposal.


There are 3 plays in this year’s lineup – here are the details:

 The Creases in My Sari by Sindhuri Nandhakumar

Mahesh and her mother Rani are Tamil refugees who have been living in Toronto since Mahesh was a child – she has no memory of Sri Lanka, is thoroughly westernized. She meets Chanaka, a Sinhalese post-doc student, here to complete his studies. They fall in love, plan to marry despite the conflict between Tamils and Sinhalese in their native land. Praveen, a Tamil, is a lifelong friend of Mahesh – she regards him as a brother.


None of these young people is political – initially. But Praveen becomes increasingly radicalized as the increasing violence in Sri Lanka affects them all. Rani learns of Chanaka’s military family, and it would appear the marriage is impossible. But Rani has her own story of guilt and lost love. Praveen, by now committed to violence, goes to Sri Lanka on a mission, where his fate is unknown. Mahesh and Chanaka recognize the dire implications of the extremism around them, and that their love is too important to them to give up.

A moving, often funny tale, full of vivid, nuanced characters with a timely, powerful story.  The immigrant experience of the Sri Lankan in Toronto, in all its variety and contradictions – “What’s the real capital of Sri Lanka?  Scarborough” – is explored with humour and sensitivity.  An earlier version of this play was presented as a staged reading in New Ideas Festival 2015.

Characters:  3m, 2f, all Sri Lankan. Multiple settings


Inked Heart by D.J. Sylvis

Everybody has secrets.

Ed’s a gifted tattoo artist who runs a successful parlour. He also has aspirations of being a successful painter, and is busy preparing for an upcoming show in a local gallery. He puts on a brave face and tells no one that his marriage is disintegrating.

Josie, his smart-mouth goth-girl apprentice, has dreams of her own: to be a tattoo artist in her own right.  But Ed limits her to looking after the shop and the equipment, rarely lets her wield the needle, and refuses to give her a tattoo himself. Their relationship is spiky – it only emerges slowly how much they care about each other.

Bette, a customer whom Josie calls “hippie grandma”, has her own agenda. Turns out she is a grandma – Josie’s – and after hanging around the parlour on the pretext of acquiring an elaborate tattoo, Bette finally comes clean to Josie, hoping thereby to reconnect with her alienated daughter, Josie’s mother. The gallery curator, Angela, is deeply invested in the success of Ed’s show. She bolsters his confidence and offers sympathy and support as his marriage crumbles, all the while battling her own demons. And then there’s Guy, the drunken frat boy who’s won a tattoo on a bet.  He lurches and stumbles through the events that surround him, with little understanding of what’s going on, and no interest in anything outside himself.

Snappy dialogue, irresistibly engaging characters, a plot full of surprises, slapstick humour, and some surprising insights into the complexities of human nature – and the art of the tattoo. An earlier (and shorter) version of this play – then titled An Inked Heart – was presented in New Ideas Festival 2010.

Characters:  2m, 3f. One major set – the tattoo parlour. One minor set – the art gallery


Motherland by Kristine Greenaway

Davit (late 20s) is a young Armenian, striving to make a living in his economically depressed country. Genuinely talented as a musician, he earns a precarious living with a string of small jobs – radio jingle-writer, voice-over artist, singer-songwriter, usher. He lives with his mother, Ana, and he longs for financial independence, and freedom to be a man.

Ana (50s) his mother, is charming, witty, intelligent. She is also terrified of being left alone. Though she was once a librarian, she lost her job some time ago and has never taken another one. Now she never leaves the apartment. The relationship with her son is close, teasing, affectionate. But when he finds love and the prospect of making it on his own, she becomes increasingly desperate to keep him with her.

Line (early 20s) is an extremely competent project manager at a film bureau. Colourful, free-spirited and ambitious, she is impressed by Davit’s talent, and wants to manage his career as an actor-musician. She’s working for a renowned German film director who would almost certainly cast Davit. The future looks bright – romantically and professionally. The problem is that he’d have to leave Armenia.

The battle lines are drawn: Ana vs. Line for Davit. The battlefield: the cramped apartment that Ana and Davit share. Ana knows his vulnerabilities and plays on them skillfully, invoking history, tradition, Line’s sketchy past, her own desperate fear, and of course, guilt. The action reaches a climax that is both horrific and inevitable.

Arman (25) is Line’s friend, who allows them to use his apartment to be together. He’s gay, perceptive, sardonic. Also observing the action is Haroun, an aspiring television producer and Davit’s confidant.

A powerful story, with vivid, complex characters against a background of struggle between tradition and progress. Full of music, traditional and contemporary.   This play was developed through Alumnae Theatre Company’s NPD group.

Characters:  3m, 2f. Set:  Ana’s apartment, and a space where Davit works and plays – offices, bars, etc.


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Casual cruelty & family secrets in ferociously funny, devastatingly poignant August: Osage County

Review of “August” – running to April 23.

life with more cowbell

_DSC5303 Marie Carriere Gleason (foreground), with Paul Cotton, Kelly-Marie Murtha, Melinda Jordan, Pearl Ho & Andrew Batten – photos by Bruce Peters

Alumnae Theatre Company cordially invites you to attend a family gathering at the home of Beverly and Violet Weston in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Alumnae opened its production of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County on the mainstage last night. Directed by Victoria Shepherd and featuring a talented ensemble, this is family dysfunction at its grittiest, no holds barred best.

When the Weston family patriarch (Thomas Gough) goes missing, middle daughter Ivy (Andrea Lyons) – the only child who stayed in town – rallies the family around her ailing mother Violet (Marie Carriere Gleason). Violet’s sister Mattie Fae (Carol McLennan) and husband Charlie (Rob Candy) are the first to arrive, and we get a sense of the estrangement that underpins the family dynamic. The Weston’s oldest daughter Barbara (Kelly-Marie Murtha) is the…

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