Canada’s First-Ever National Queer and Trans Playwriting Unit

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Zee Zee Theatre, in partnership with a consortium of Canadian theatre companies, has announced the establishment of Canada’s first-ever National Queer and Trans Playwriting Unit. Starting today, 2SLGBTQ+ emerging and mid-career theatre makers from across Canada are invited to submit applications by July 5, 2022 for consideration in the new mentorship and play creation program.

Canada's First-Ever National Queer and Trans Playwriting Unit

Canada’s First-Ever National Queer and Trans Playwriting Unit

The selection process will see five artists announced in September 2022 to participate in a 10-month process, during which they will receive living wage compensation and one-on-one mentorship as they write a new work. The developed plays will be performed live and streamed online in September of 2023.

Canada's First-Ever National Queer and Trans Playwriting Unit

In addition to Zee Zee Theatre, the national consortium members include the frank Theatre (Vancouver), Gwaandak Theatre (Whitehorse), Theatre Outré (Lethbridge), Persephone Theatre (Saskatoon), Theatre Projects Manitoba (Winnipeg), Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Toronto), Native Earth Performing Arts (Toronto), Imago Theatre (Montreal), and Neptune Theatre (Halifax).

“Art has the power to elevate voices and ideas that can change the world. Now, more than ever, the arts sector needs to prioritize those who have been systematically left out of the conversation,” says Cameron Mackenzie, Zee Zee Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director.

“The impacts of this project will be far reaching and numerous: For the playwrights, it offers growth, stability, and a national platform for their voice and stories to be heard. For the consortium companies, it creates a new body of work and connects them with vital queer and trans communities. For our sector as a whole, it offers new representation and reflection in ways that are meaningful and non tokenizing.” 

The inspiration for the Queer and Trans Playwriting Unit occurred when Zee Zee Theatre identified a gap existing in the Canadian theatre ecology. Seeking programming for their own season led to countless conversations with curators, producers and presenters across the country who were consistently struggling to find works emerging from and representing queer and trans communities. The underrepresentation of such works in the Canadian theatre canon means that the 1 million Canadians who belong to the 2SLGBTQ+ community (Source) do not have adequate opportunities to see themselves, their lives or their families reflected on stage. 

To rectify this, Zee Zee Theatre resolved to lead the charge in building the first-ever National Queer and Trans Playwriting Unit that establishes a new model for play creation and dissemination, leading to more equitable representation of 2SLGBTQ+ artists and stories on Canadian stages – ultimately strengthening the bonds of professional artists and collaborators across the country, while furthering equality for all queer and trans people. 

The process began with gathering a cross-regional consortium of 10 queer and non-queer, intersectional producing companies who all share a common ethos and belief that investing in diversity benefits the entire community. Representing the full geographic spectrum of Canada’s coasts and the north, they have issued a call for submissions welcoming artists to learn about and submit for this opportunity by its July 5, 2022 closing date.

The consortium will act as a selection committee in identifying five emerging and mid-career artists to participate in the unit, which will be run virtually across Canada. Each selected artist will be paid a living wage for the 10-month program, during which they will work as a collaborative cohort and with an assigned dramaturg mentor in a one-on-one relationship.

At the end of the 10-month process, each artist’s play will be produced as a staged reading by one of the consortium members – while the other companies will offer streaming access to their communities. The consortium will then commit to full productions or further development of all five of the new scripts generated in the unit.

Key dates: April 27, 2022 Submissions open; July 5, 2022 Closing date; Artists will be notified by September 1st, 2022; Unit begins October 3rd, 2022; Developed plays will be performed live and streamed online September of 2023.

Follow Zee Zee Theatre for info and updates.

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