Category Archives: New Ideas Festival

New Ideas Festival 2015 – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Hey, writers!   Time to dust off that short script that’s never been produced, or get cracking on finishing the one you’ve got in the works. The deadline to submit to Alumnae Theatre’s 27th annual New Ideas Festival is September 5, 2014. The Festival runs from March 11-29, 2015. New Ideas is a juried, 3-week festival which focuses on script development, and offers playwrights dramaturgical support, free rehearsal space, publicity, and sold-out houses.

Playwrights are encouraged to participate in the whole production process, from choosing a director and cast to attending rehearsals and revising their work as it comes off the page.

Anyone from anywhere can submit a script, but must adhere to the instructions detailed below. No submission fee.


–           Scripts must be original works that have not been previously performed (outside of a   workshop).

–           Scripts are read “blind” – the writers’ names should not appear on script pages.

–           Any genre or style is acceptable.

–           Maximum running time 40 minutes.

–           Submissions longer than 40 minutes will only be considered for a one-time staged reading.

–           Completed scripts which are chosen for New Ideas will receive 6 performances.

–           Playwrights are not permitted to act in or direct their own script.

–           Deadline to submit:   September 5, 2014.



Scripts or proposals should be submitted electronically in PDF or Word format to

Please include a cover page with the script/proposal, providing the play title, a list and description of characters (including age), and a 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). NIF does not provide feedback on submissions or return scripts.

NIF will confirm receipt of submissions within two weeks, and scripts/proposals will be sent to the NIF reading committee. The 2015 festival lineup will be announced in early November, followed by cold reads of all chosen plays in early December.

Preference will be given to scripts that include challenging roles for women of all ages. NIF welcomes voices from diverse communities.

These instructions can be also be found on AUDITION NOTICES tab of our website


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NIF play “It All Leads To The Lemon Scene” is finalist at New York Avant Garde Arts Festival!

A delightful* short play which premiered in Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival in March, It All Leads to the Lemon Scene, has been selected as one of four plays in the finals of the New York Avant Garde Arts Festival (organized by Variations Theatre Group and playing at the Hudson Guild Theatre, June 14-23)!  

The play has been performed three times so far (Round One, Wild Card Night, and Semi-Finals).  The competition for Round One is judged by both a jury and audience picks. As the Alumnae team was from out of town, they didn’t win the audience pick, but were chosen by the jury on “Wild Card Night” to advance to the Semi-Final round. And now  Finals are on Saturday night (June 23)!  The grand prize winner will come from the four audience/judge selections, and the winning play will receive a prize of $1000.

Big congratulations to playwright Pamela Winfrey (who’s from California, and submitted her play to New Ideas – a little festival in Canada – without really expecting anything to come of it!), director Lynn Zeelenberg, AD/SM Brett Haynes, and actors Sheila Russel and Stefannie Flannigan.

See for details on the New York Avant Garde Arts Festival.

* Full disclosure:  Lemon Scene was probably my favourite of all 15 plays in New Ideas this year.  And it got a lot of very positive feedback from other audience members too.

Fingers crossed for Lemon Scene  on Saturday!

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The courage of actors

David Suszek, who directed me in a New Ideas Festival play (Eve’s Prayer by Kelsey Blair) last year at Alumnae Theatre and also performs standup comedy, has a funny and insightful blog called On Being A Stagewhore.

A link on Facebook sent me to his latest post, titled “The Courage Of Actors”.   Check it out – definitely worth reading.  Actors will recognize themselves, and directors should take note!


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New Ideas Festival 2012 – Call For Submissions

It’s that time of year, folks.  As summer steams toward fall (I know, I know:  let’s not rush it),  the producers of New Ideas Festival 2012 are sending out the Call for Script Submissions.  Deadline is September 15, 2011.

Two big changes this year:

– a $10 reading fee (per script) will be charged for submissions received from playwrights who are not members of Alumnae Theatre Company.

– scripts may be submitted electronically (in Word or pdf format) to  Snail mail or hand delivery (3 copies) still acceptable, of course.

Other than that, the usual criteria still apply:  plays must run no longer than 45 minutes, and – most important – MUST NOT HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY PRODUCED.  The festival is called “New Ideas”, after all.  The whole point is that these shows will be world premieres.  Download the complete Call for Submissions document at .  Read it carefully!




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New Ideas: week three reading

The reading this week, Moon and Murna (Act II) (by Betty Jane Wylie, dir. by Jeanette Dagger), began with an extremely amusing, informative & brisk recap of Act I (“Previously on Moon and Murna… and that’s what you missed on Moon and Murna.”), which ended with Murna braining Moon with a wine bottle, knocking him unconscious.

At the beginning of Act II, Moon is still unconscious and tied to a chair & when he comes to, Murna’s intentions become increasingly apparent as she proposes a game of Bingo, with Moon as the caller and her as the player – using various pharmaceuticals in place of chips, which she pops throughout. Murna doesn’t want to die alone – & Moon is her captive audience. She continues to challenge him as he attempts to convince her to untie him, but to no avail.

In the end, Moon’s chair topples over & while he lays there on his side, Murna collapses into her chair – unconscious? Dead? He manages to set off her personal alarm & yells for help as the lights go to black.

During the talkback that followed, we learned that Wylie was inspired by Douglas Coupland’s book Generation X; the large margins allowed for copious note-taking & the play is her rebuttal. This was Dagger’s first time directing a staged reading – & she chose to have the actors up on their feet (as opposed to a directed reading where the actors read from music stands). The number of props in the script prompted a decision to go props-free, as well as mime-free, with the read stage directions kept to a minimum. Casting was important for the older woman/younger man dynamic – & actors Brenda Somers & Conor Hefferon were exceptionally good. Aside from being a response to the Gen X cohort phenomenon, Wylie, an older woman herself, is also interested in the place of older women in the world – & in telling their stories.

Actors’ choices were also discussed, especially Somers’ decision on when Murna picks her candidate at the food bank & when she realizes that Moon is the right one for her purposes. As her plan unfolds, Murna challenges Moon continually, pushing him along a journey of testing boundaries & self-discovery.

This generational clash is thought-provoking, funny & touching – & I’d be very interested to see this play produced. Photo courtesy of Jeanette Dagger: Conor Hefferon and Brenda Somers.

After the talkback, I joined Ed Rosing & the GuineaPigging painting team on the main stage. We finished earlier than expected, so I was able to see Two Weeks in Normandy a second time. And I love it all over again.

And that, my friends, is a wrap for New Ideas 2011.

I’ll be continuing to help with painting on GuineaPigging (thanks to co-producers Tabitha Keast and PJ Hammond for the great snacks yesterday!) – and will be back soon with more fun and games on this last wacky show of the season.

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New Ideas this Saturday – important TTC info

Hey again – this just in from Marketing/Promotions Director Tina McCulloch:

IMPORTANT TRANSIT NEWS: For those coming via TTC to the theatre on Saturday (March 26), please note that the Yonge/University/Spadina subway line will not be running in either direction between Bloor and Union this weekend. If you usually travel on the Yonge line to Alumnae Theatre, you’ll need to find a different route.

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New Ideas: week three opening

 The mini-snow storm lsat night didn’t scare too many away from this opening & we had a decent house, considering. A very strong program this week: four plays on love and loss.

Letting Go (by Neale Kimmel, dir. by Joanne Williams) features actors, Sarah Cody & Robin Cunningham as young couple saying goodbye at a Union Station. He’s going to Vancouver to pursue his dreams, but she wants to stay in Toronto and can’t do a long-distance relationship. And they’re really having trouble saying goodbye. Razie Brownstone does the VIA Rail announcer voice-over & plays an older woman who witnesses some of the couple’s struggle. Can’t say more than that ‘cuz I don’t want to give away the fun. Very funny & charmingly poignant too. Nicely done!

From Here to There and Back Again (by Rosemary Doyle, dir. by Cliona Kenny) first appeared in the TTC-themed Write Now readings; playwright Doyle refers to it as a very short two-act play. Actors Justyne Escujuri, Matt Jensen, Maciek Kaciak, Aine Magennis & Anne Shepherd are all Queen street car passengers, drifting off into their own thoughts, & also flirting & interacting in some unexpected ways with each other. We see them several months later & get a glimpse of how some of the relationships have changed. I really liked this play when I first saw it & it was a pleasure to see again. Amazing ensemble work from the cast.

Elegy for a Lost Bookmark (by Nicholas Sgouros, dir. by Valary Cook) features actors Darren Harris & Sarah Williamson (Williamson was in the Alum production of She Stoops to Conquer & Sgouros also appeared in Frances and Marybeth in week one). A man searching a beach for his lost bookmark encounters a woman lounging & reading, & the two make a connection based on their love of books. A lovely, thoughtful piece, with some nice work from the two actors.

Two Weeks in Normandy (translated/adapted from Villégiature by Henry Meilhac by David Nicholson, dir. by Anne Harper) features Linzee Barclay (who was featured in Cabbagetown Theatre’s No Sweetheart Required) & Derek Perks (last seen at Alum in The Real Inspector Hound). Have to steal from the program notes on this one: “How does a 1950s Parisienne tell a man his wife has left him? Maybe the same way he breaks the news about her husband…” My fav of the festival. This play is stylish, with hilariously funny dialogue & some very sexy moments – Barclay & Perks have amazing chemistry.

Shouts to Food Goddesses Sandy Schneider and Bev Atkinson (who also catered the week one opening) for the great eats, & to PJ Hammond & Kay Montgomery on box office, & Danielle Landry on bar. Bumped into Kaitlyn Riordan (Hay Fever) and theatre blogger Sam Mooney, both there to see the show – & both big fans of the Alum. Check out Sam’s review from Mooney on Theatre:

I’ll be back soon with the scoop on Act II of Moon and Murna (the noon reading this Saturday).

There’s still a chance to catch the festival & I highly recommend reserving in advance – the festival draws big crowds & tends to sell out. For more info & to book tix, please visit the Alumnae website:

p.s. – this is post #200, folks. Woo hoo!!!

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