Theatre Calgary has launched a festival that will highlight new writers across southern Alberta and help develop their work towards a next step opportunity.
For its inaugural year, the Page to Stage New Works Festival will focus on the works of three LGBTQ2S+ writers.
Zach Running Coyote is one of the curators of the Page to Stage New Works Festival and says this year’s theme gives underrepresented LGBTQ2S+ artists a platform to tell vital stories “that reflect the vibrant and ever-shifting landscape of Albertan identity.”
The Artistic Director of the event, Stafford Arima echoes that sentiment.
“Even though the pandemic has halted regular performances on our stage, it has not stopped writers from needing a place to be able to share their stories, their visions, and their experiences with the world,” Arima said.
“This festival gives them an opportunity to accelerate and deepen their practice as theatre creators,” Running Coyote added.
Because of the COVID-19 regulations, the three chosen artists will read and present their scripts online for audiences.
“It’s an opportunity to get to engage to work with an audience as well as with artistic leaders across the country and one of the three works that we read, we’ll commission it as a full production,” Running Coyote said.
Theatre Calgary chose three plays out of more than 50 submissions and will be given an online reading performance from March 20 to 21, 2021.
Sharanpal Ruprai is one of the three writers who have been chosen and applauds Theatre Calgary for recognizing the need for more diverse storytelling.
“If we keep doing the same old story, theatre loses its audience, we lose our motivation to write,” Ruprai said.
“But I think now — in the next wave of playwrights and poets and arts in Canada — there’s going to be a substantial move towards diverse stories.”
Sable Sweetgrass Katoiyissa is a transgender storyteller who has also been chosen to showcase her work.
“I am excited to work with the actors, the director and the theatre companies… and the cherry on top is the performance at the end, so I’m really excited,” Katoiyissa said.
Matthew Oliver Van Diepen, the third playwright chosen for the Page to Stage festival, said they dream about queer love being more openly represented onstage.
“I always think about what’s that next generation, how do we support, what do we put in place for those writers going forward,” Ruprai added.
“I hope other theatres take (Theatre Calgary’s) direction and lead in Canada in providing support, for playwrights, for actors – for everyone to be comfortable with these stories, to tell these stories.”
More details on the event and online performances can be found on Theatre Calgary‘s website.