Tag Archives: staged readings

Big Ideas 2017: FREE readings of full-length plays, May 11-1

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.  Over the course of a week, Thursday May 11 – Thursday May 18, head up to the 3rd floor Studio in Alumnae Theatre to see staged readings of 5 full-length plays-in-progress that are being dramaturged in the group.

These readings are FREE (but donations much appreciated!); no reservations required.  Give your feedback on these developing works, and you may see these titles show up in the company’s New Ideas Festival (March) or FireWorks (November) in a year or two.

Here’s the lineup of Big Ideas 2017 – all events start at 8pm in the Studio.   Enter via the front door (70 Berkeley Street) as usual.

Thursday, May 11:     THE BAY, by Liz Best, directed by Ramona Baillie.

Synopsis: Two high school students spend a few months at a seniors’ residence to complete their community service hours.


Kathleen Allamby – Claire

Lucy Brennan – Tessie

Razie Brownstone – Hannah

Daryn Dewalt  – Pat

Seanna Kennedy – Felice

Carol McLennan – Barbara

Ian Orr – Morris

Robert Ouellette – Jed

Steven Pereira – Daniel

Kate Shroder – Emilia

Susan Q Wilson – Helen


Friday, May 12:         VERITAS, by Lynda Martens, directed by Kelsey Laine Jacobson.

Synopsis:  The dramatic true story of a Father’s quest for the truth after his son died under mysterious circumstances at the Royal Military College of Canada in 2003.  With an ensemble cast of nine actors playing over thirty characters, the play features actual text from a public inquest into the death.


Adam Bonney

Chris Coculuzzi

Roxanne Deans

Nick Eddie

Melinda Jordan

Amy Meyers

Steven Pereira

Rob Prince

Mike Vitorovich


Saturday, May 13:     KILL WOMAN, by Judith Fiore, directed by Pat McCarthy.

Synopsis:  On a beautiful Spring afternoon, a professor of poetry and English literature is out for a walk. She is facing a serious and life-threatening situation, and she happens to come upon an unkempt woman who is also dealing with a terrible problem. With humour and compassion, they explore what their lives have amounted to.


Lisa Lenihan – Unkempt Woman

Clara Matheson – Professor


Wednesday, May 17:    I AM AWAKE, by Anne MacMillan, directed by Ara Glenn-Johanson.

Synopsis:  A gothic paranormal story in early mid-19th century of a young Irish girl who has to escape her traumatic first employment as a lady’s maid through a forest with wolves, is thrown out by her parents who feel disgraced, saved by her grandmother and the nuns, is sent to Canada for a new beginning again as a lady’s maid, only to run into an evil other-worldly master, a helpful ghost who tries to save her and a young man who is keen to take her fishing…


Lucy Brennan – Grannie

Michael-David Blostein – Elgin

Sheila Charleton – Apparition Mary

Claire Keating – Mary

Emmet Leahy – Harry

Frans Robinow – Wagoner

Ronak Singh – Gatekeeper

Morna Wales – Nun


Thursday, May 18:     WHERE TRUTH LIES, by Carol Libman, directed by Claren Grosz.

Synopsis:  What happens when a long-held family secret is secret no longer?  Does anyone really know where truth lies?


Kathleen Allamby – Martha

Martha Breen – Cathy

Paquito Hernaci – John

Jamie Johnson – Peter

Tina McCulloch – Karen

Mike Vitorovich – Andre.


Check out Alumnae Theatre Company’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AlumnaeTheatre/, and also our website at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/  for news of our upcoming 100th season starting in October!


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Filed under 2016/17 season, NPD readings

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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Filed under 2016/17 season, NPD readings

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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Filed under 2016/17 season, NPD readings

New Ideas Festival – Week One & Daylight Saving reminder

Alumnae Theatre Company’s annual New Ideas Festival is wrapping up its first week tomorrow.  Week Two begins Wednesday March 16, and Week Three begins Wednesday March 23.  Each week features a completely different slate of brand-new short plays, and audiences pay $15 for an evening (or matinee) of entertainment.   The 4 short plays programmed each week have a total running time of 90 – 120 mins, plus a 15-minute intermission.  Even if you come to see one particular play, audience members are expected to stay for the whole program.

Performances of the weekly lineup are Wed – Sat at 8pm, with 2:30 matinees on both Saturday and Sunday.  Each Saturday’s matinee is followed by a Talkback with writers and directors of that week.

New Ideas Festival also includes Saturday staged readings at noon: a longer play (approx. 50 minutes) followed by a Talkback with writer and director.  Admission to the readings is PWYC; no reservations necessary. Week Two reading (March 19) is Curved by Kristin Shepherd, directed by Rebecca Ballarin.  Week Three reading (March 26) is Omission by Alice Abracen, directed by Michela Sisti.

Here’s a sample of the plays and performers from Week One:

Cathie Nichols and Glenda Romano in Stuck by Stacey Iseman, directed by Kelsey Laine Jacobson.  New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Cathie Nichols and Glenda Romano in Stuck by Stacey Iseman, directed by Kelsey Laine Jacobson. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.

Lindsey Middleton and Anne Shepherd in Prayers to St. George by Andrew Lee, directed by Meg Moran.  New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Lindsey Middleton and Anne Shepherd in Prayers to St. George by Andrew Lee, directed by Meg Moran. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.



















J. Todd Colley, Adam Bonney, Martha Breen, Amanda Jane Smith, Barbara Salsberg, and Nora Jane Williams in The Council by Deanna Kruger, directed by Claren Grosz. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

J. Todd Colley, Adam Bonney, Martha Breen, Amanda Jane Smith, Barbara Salsberg, and Nora Jane Williams in The Council by Deanna Kruger, directed by Claren Grosz. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.










Stacey Iseman, Laura Piccinin, and Laura Meadows in This Will Be My Last Transmission by Natalie Frijia, directed by Zita Nyarady.  New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Stacey Iseman, Laura Piccinin, and Laura Meadows in This Will Be My Last Transmission by Natalie Frijia, directed by Zita Nyarady. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.










And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s a review of the Week One shows from the most excellent Life With More Cowbell:  https://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/connection-dissension-and-endurance-in-new-ideas-compelling-week-1-program/

You’ve heard of “How To Fringe”?  Well, here’s How To New Ideas:  Hold seats and pay cash ($15 each) on arrival by e-mailing  reservations@alumnaetheatre.com or by phoning 416-364-4170 Box 1 .  OR purchase your tickets online at https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=atc13 for a small service charge.

Remember, if you’re planning to attend tomorrow’s 2:30 matinee, the clocks SPRING FORWARD one hour tonight.

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Filed under 2015/16 season, New Ideas Festival

New Ideas Festival – Call for Directors

The script submission deadline was SaturdNew Ideas 2016 imageay, so now… Calling non-union directors! Apply to direct any one of the 15 short (10 – 40 mins) plays in the upcoming New Ideas Festival (NIF) 2016. It’s Alumnae Theatre Company’s 28th annual juried festival of new plays, works-in-progress, and experimental theatre, running March 9 – 27, 2016.


Important dates:

  • Oct. 5, 2015: Deadline to apply to direct one of the New Ideas Festival plays.
  • Nov. 14, 2015: (MANDATORY) Creative Exchange: directors meet playwrights.
  • Dec 8, 9, 10, or 11, 2015: (MANDATORY) Attend your play’s cold reading on one of these dates.
  • Jan 6-10, 2016: (MANDATORY) Attend Festival auditions according to casting needs.
  • Feb 1, 2016: Rehearsals begin.
  • March 9 – Sun. March 27, 2016: New Ideas Festival. Each show runs one week. Staged readings have one performance on a Saturday at noon.

 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 5, 2015. 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.

For more info on New Ideas, please visit http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/new-ideas-festival.html

The lineup will be listed once plays are selected and programmed.

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Filed under 2015/16 season, New Ideas Festival

Tech week for New Ideas Festival: It all comes together now…

The 26th annual New Ideas Festival opens March 12, and Tech week starts tonight!  Each of the 12 plays in the Festival’s weekly program get a 2-hr slot in which to work out their lighting and sound cues, and crucial timing issues (entrances, exits, props, etc.).   It’s kinda like the Fringe, except this is part of Alumnae Theatre Company’s season, not  independent productions.

The magic happens courtesy of the Festival’s Technical Director Bill Scott and the lighting operators – Alia Koster (for Week 1) and Armand Baksh (for Weeks 2 and 3).  Sound cues like music, ringing phones or doorbells, etc. are created by the individual shows, and operated by that show’s stage manager.

The whole thing is scheduled and overseen for Alumnae Theatre Company by the Co-Artistic Directors & Producers of the New Ideas Festival, Pat McCarthy, Jennifer McKinley, and Carolyn Zapf, with Associate Producer June Rogers.

The 12 short plays in the weekly program have 6 performances each:  Wed – Sat at 8pm, plus Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30.  Each night (or matinee), your ticket admits you to ALL FOUR short plays scheduled on that night (or matinee).  So you may come to New Ideas  especially to see your son/sister/spouse/friend’s play, but will also see three others – and you’ll be their first audience, because every script considered for New Ideas is a world premiere.

In addition to the weekly lineup, there are also three longer plays (around 60 mins each) that receive one staged reading – at noon on each of the Saturdays.   In Week One (Sat March 15), the reading is Royal Seasons  by Norma Crawford, directed by Nina Kaye.  It’s a look at the fateful romance between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  The Week Two (Sat March 22) reading is Charles Hayter’s Radical – another inspired-by-true-events play (directed by Darcy Stoop) about a dedicated clinician in the 1940’s and her efforts which led to the revolution of treatment for breast cancer.  Week Three’s reading (Sat March 29) is Rotating Thunderstorm by Taylor Marie Graham, directed by Jill Harper, in which a modern family in Huron County survive a tornado’s aftermath.

New Ideas Festival 2014

New Ideas Festival 2014

Visit our website www.alumnaetheatre.com for more info, synopses of everything, and bios of the writers and directors.  You can also purchase tickets or passes online for the weekly programs.  No online purchases or reservations for the staged readings, which are Pay-What-You-Can at the Box Office (cash only) unless you have a Festival Pass.

For breaking news, progress reports, anecdotal tidbits and photos, check out the Facebook event New Ideas Festival 2014 (https://www.facebook.com/events/216620838509362) and follow us on Twitter @alumnaetheatre.  Search for #NIF2014.

See you in the Studio, March 12 – 30!

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Filed under 2013/14 Season, New Ideas Festival 2014

Big Ideas 2013, May 8-12 : the casts & synopses

Starting  on Wednesday May 8, the Studio at Alumnae Theatre will be a hotbed of activity. If you are interested in seeing a play from its first reading, and giving feedback to the writers, this is for you.  Admission is FREE!

Big Ideas is a series of staged reading:  works-in-progress from the award-winning writers of Alumnae Theatre’s New Play Development group.  There will be short plays as well as full-length plays; check the lineup for schedule & synopses.

The scripts will be read by actors who have had only a few rehearsals with a director.  For many writers, this will be the first time they’ve heard the script aloud.

Big Ideas logo
The Lineup:

(Wed May 8 @ 8pm) I AM MARGUERITE by Shirley Barrie, directed by Molly Thom.

1542: Marguerite de Roberval is abandoned by her brother on a deserted island in the Strait of Belle Isle for daring to choose love over duty. Two and a half years later, haunted by the phantoms of those who have abandoned her, half-starved and half-mad, she sees a ship anchoring off the island. Rescue is possible, but…. is the prospect of returning to France more terrifying than another cold winter alone in the New World?

CAST: Paul Babiak, Dorothy Kelleher, Carys Lewis, Wendy Springate, Laura Vincent, Mike Vitorovich.

(Thu May 9 @ 8pm) FORGIVENESS by Mairy Beam, directed by Victoria Shepherd.

Lara struggles with a deep-seated anger towards her mother who suffers from schizophrenia. When she returns home, armed with a PhD in Biomedical Science, she disrupts the carefully orchestrated life her sister Chelsea and her mother have built together. The sisters have very different ideas of how best to help their mother, and each other. Their mother has her own ideas. Forgiveness and anger strive for the upper hand.

CAST: Lionel Boodlal, Andrea Brown, Tina McCulloch, Cathy McKim, Carol McLennan, Jeff Orchard.

(Fri May 10 @ 8pm) YOU HAVE TO EARN IT  by Ramona Baillie, directed by Jane Carnwath.

Will Betty ever earn her long overdue promotion? Her reach for the top is frustrated by a philandering boss, a scheming new employee, a wacky mail room clerk and a friend with a hidden agenda—a madcap roller-coaster of a play paying homage to the screwball comedies of the 1930s.
CAST: Matt Brioux, Andrea Brown, Chantale Groulx, Seema Lakhani, Joshua Mott, Lara Mrkoci, Derek Perks, Laura Vincent, Mike Vitorovich.

(Sat May 11 @ 2pm) IN A TIME OF WAR by Anne MacMillan, directed by Marianne Fedunkiw.

World War II. The bombing raids up the Clyde have begun. A Glasgow family manages to live their lives after a near hit with a bomb and dreadful loss of life nearby. Amidst the darkness of war, two young girls find much to occupy them, making secret spy plans with Grandpa. The realities of war intrude.

CAST: Scott Dermody, Karina Rammell, Olivia Reid, Frank Robinow, Marisa Ship,Tara Wosik.

(Sat May 11 @ 2pm) WAITING FOR KATRINA by Donna Langevin, directed by Pat McCarthy.

New Orleans August 2005. Hurricane Katrina is gathering strength and threatens to engulf the city. To stay or to go? Charlotte is determined to remain in her home at all costs while Dora, her estranged daughter from Toronto, has a crucial agenda of her own. Time is running out as the battle of wills escalates.

CAST: Kwaku Adu-Poku, Elisabeth Feltaous, Kerri Henman, Aileen Taylor-Smith.

(Sat May 11 @ 2pm) BROCKFEST by Joan Burrows, directed by Maria Popoff.

All Kitty wants to do is not be an American anymore! But her July 4th celebration is hampered by a sword- wielding husband dressed as Isaac Brock, her annoying younger brother and his partner who just happen to drop by, and the arrival of her sister, a cloistered nun who has taken a vow of silence. Who knew patriotism could cause such havoc?

CAST: Liz Best, Daryn Dewalt, Chris Irving, Mary Joseph, Brandon Moore.

(Sun May 12 @ 2pm) THE YEAR MY FATHER BECAME A SAINT by Linda McCready, directed by Brenda Darling.
Bernie is an alcoholic who has embarked on a journey to become a better man. When he opens a butcher shop in the mid-1970s at a time of high inflation, he hires his two teenage children to work in the store. Customers come and sometimes go, as Bernie struggles to connect with his children, make a go of the shop, and slay his own particular demons.

CAST: Paul Babiak, Jamieson Child, Scott Clarkson, Marianne Fedunkiw, Roselyn Kelada-Sedra, Lisa Polivka, Michael Sherman, David Suszek.

May 8 – 12, 2013 • Alumnae Theatre, 3rd floor Studio • FREE admission

For more information visit our website


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Filed under 2012/13 Season, NPD readings