A Compelling Investment in Building a Vital Community

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A Compelling Investment in Building a Vital Community

The Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 1:30pm

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For the 10th consecutive year, Enbridge is proud to sponsor Alberta Theatre Projects playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays. The Festival, now in its 27th season has been centre stage for Canada’s emerging and most celebrated playwrights to unveil their newest plays.

Opening night of last year's Enbridge playRites Festival shone the spotlight on internationally celebrated playwright Carole Fréchette’s original play, Thinking of Yu (translated by John Murrell) — its English-language world premiere. The powerful play revolves around the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The story weaves the distant scene of oppressive politics with the personal lives of its three main characters. The French-language production premiered in Paris just days before its Calgary debut and is headed towards international critical acclaim. Calgarian audiences were fortunate to be the first in the world to see it in English.

A brief history of the Enbridge playRites Festival

Appreciative audiences throng to The Enbridge playRites Festival to be entertained, provoked and inspired. And around the country, producers, theatre artists and theatregoers follow the unfolding occasion. The plays often take on a life of their own — as with Thinking of Yu — going on to national and international productions, often in multiple language translations.

Throughout the years, with more than 100 new plays produced, the Enbridge playRites Festival has entered into the lexicon of events that shape our national arts and culture environment.

“The Enbridge playRites Festival has made a space for itself,” says Vanessa Porteous, Artistic Director of Alberta Theatre Projects. “It began as an effort to correct what was happening on Canadian stages, which was that mostly already-established playwrights were being produced. Then-artistic director, Michael Dobbin wanted to launch new plays. To this day we remain the only festival in Canada that premiers four new plays at once.  The festival is unique and has transformed the dramaturgical landscape in Canada.”

Festival helps develop audiences for plays

Michael (Mikey) Northey and his colleagues at Green Thumb Theatre have experienced first hand the benefits of the Enbridge playRites Festival, in terms of the development of their plays, and with the daunting job of exposure, too.

The Vancouver company is at the Enbridge playRites Festival for the second time. The first play Green Thumb Theatre developed with the festival premiered in 2001. The Shape of a Girl, written by Joan McLeod, has since been translated into at least eight languages, has received significant accolades, and has been produced around the world.

“We’re hoping for that with this one,” Mikey says of Ash Rizin, a hip-hop musical about a graffiti artist. Like The Shape of a Girl, the play appeals to younger audiences, not always the most lucrative market, making it more difficult to get produced.

“The Enbridge playRites Festival is helping to develop new audiences for theatre,” Mikey says. “We really appreciate them coming on board for this show. They’ve gone out on a limb to produce it and that’s what we need.”

Continue reading about Enbridge's investment in theater arts in Canada.