Yukon Theater hopes national search for playwrights will attract Northern and Indigenous talent

Ten Canadian theater companies have come together to create the country’s first queer and transgender playwriting unit, and Colin Wolf hopes the project will have a meaningful northern and Indigenous voice.

Wolf is the artistic director of Gwaandak Theater in Whitehorse, one of the companies that signed on to the project.

“It’s really important that these transnational projects, which claim to be national, actually include people from all over the country,” Wolf said.

The project aims to fill a gap in queer and trans stories in Canadian theatre. Zee Zee Theatre, a Vancouver-based company, will lead the project.

“Art has the power to elevate the voices and ideas that can change the world,” Cameron Mackenzie, Artistic and Executive Director of Zee Zee Theater said in a press release. “Now, more than ever, the arts sector must prioritize those who have been systematically excluded from the conversation.”

The project is aimed at emerging or mid-career playwrights, though Wolf stressed that anyone who identifies as 2SLGBTQ+ and is interested in the idea should pitch their name.

The 10 theater companies involved will then select five finalists, who will receive a decent salary for the 10 months of the program, and benefit from creative support and direction.

“Gwaandak really hopes that we can secure Northern, Indigenous, Queer and Trans submissions so that we can take a brand new Northern Indigenous and Queer play through the development process and into full production,” Wolf said.

“The impacts of this project will be far-reaching and numerous,” Wolf said.

“For playwrights, it provides growth, stability and a national platform for their voices and stories to be heard,” Mackenzie said.

“For the companies in the consortium, it creates a new body of work and connects them to vital queer and trans communities. For our sector as a whole, it offers new representation and reflection in meaningful, non-symbolic ways.”

“Country Map, Star Map” by Gwaandak Theatre. The Gwaandak Theater hopes that a new national search for playwrights will lead to the selection of indigenous writers from the North. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Companies involved in the project include Frank Theater (Vancouver), Theater Outré (Lethbridge), Persephone Theater (Saskatoon), Theater Projects Manitoba (Winnipeg), Buddies In Bad Times Theater (Toronto), Native Earth Performing Arts (Toronto), Imago Theater (Montreal) and Neptune Theater (Halifax).

The deadline to apply is July 5, and more information can be found at zeezeetheatre.ca

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