Photograph of a sculpture from the Festival Theatre gardens.

THE FOERSTER BERNSTEIN NEW PLAY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

AN INCUBATOR FOR CANADIAN PLAYWRIGHTS

The Stratford Festival commissioned its first play in 1958 and since that time has commissioned or developed about 100 new plays, translations and adaptations. Currently the department focuses on (but is not limited to) ambitious, large-cast plays that articulate the great themes of classical theatre, as well as plays that feature a female point of view or reflect the cultural diversity of Canadian life. 

There are at any given time about twenty-five projects in active development in The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program. 

The current roster includes work by such artists as:

  • Renellta Arluk
  • Mitchell Cushman
  • Ned Dickens
  • Erin Fleck
  • Nick Green
  • Rob Kempson
  • Rosa Laborde
  • Paul Ledoux and Allen Cole
  • Cole Lewis
  • Jordi Mand
  • Anne-Marie Macdonald
  • Hannah Moscovitch
  • Rebecca Northan
  • Steven Page and Daniel MacIvor
  • Morris Panych
  • Elyne Quan
  • Jason Sherman
  • Verne Thiessen

PLAYWRIGHTS RETREAT

The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program offers an annual Playwrights Retreat, held in the fall of each season. Writers from across Canada are given a home away from home in Stratford, a place to write both in solitude and in the company of fellow writers and theatrical artists who can provide support and dramaturgical feedback. Almost 100 playwrights have attended since its inception in 2008.

The Retreat is by invitation only.


We don’t accept, and won’t read, unsolicited manuscripts. However, our Director of New Plays, Bob White, welcomes letters of inquiry about specific projects. Please contact him by email. We ask for a description of the work, plus any background on development to date. A brief bio is also helpful. If we feel the project might be appropriate for further consideration, we’ll ask the playwright to submit a draft. We consider only material by Canadian playwrights. 

Participation in the Retreat is by invitation only. Playwrights may indicate their interest by contacting Bob White. 

Support for new play programs at the Stratford Festival is provided through the generosity of Rita & Rudy Koehler, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and Kelly & Michael Meighen. The Festival gratefully acknowledges the Canada Council’s support of its new play programs.

RECENT NEW PLAYS ON STAGE

Over the past decade, the Festival has produced 15 new Canadian plays, which it either commissioned or supported through development:

  • Mother's Daughter by Kate Hennig (2019)
  • Paradise Lost by Erin Shields (2018)
  • Brontë: The World Without by Jordi Mand (2018)
  • The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig (2017)
  • The Breathing Hole by Colleen Murphy (2017)
  • Bunny by Hannah Moscovitch (2016)
  • The Last Wife by Kate Hennig (2015)
  • The Thrill by Judith Thompson (2013)
  • Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor (2012)
  • Hirsch by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson (2012)
  • Wanderlust by Morris Panych and Marek Norman (2012)
  • The Little Years by John Mighton (2011)
  • King of Thieves by George F. Walker and John Roby (2010)
  • Moby Dick by Morris Panych (2008)
  • Shakespeare's Universe by Peter Hinton (2008)

The Festival has commissioned and premièred the following new adaptations or translations since 2014:

  • Wajdi Mouawad's Birds of a Kind, Translated by Linda Gaboriau (2019)
  • Eduardo De Filippo's Napoli Milionaria!, Translated by John Murrell, based on a literal translation by Donato Santeramo (2018)
  • Jean Giraudoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot, Translated by David Edney (2017)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Adapted by Nicolas Billon (2017)
  • Olivier Kemeid's The Aeneid, Translated by Maureen Labonte (2016)
  • Henrik Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman, Translated by Paul Walsh (2016)
  • Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Physicists, Adapted by Michael Healey, Translated by Birgit Schreyer Duarte (2015)
  • Michel Marc Bouchard's Christina, The Girl King, Translated by Linda Gaboriau (2014)

RETREAT PARTICIPANTS

2019 Particpants

Marcus Youssef (British Columbia)
Christine Quintana (British Columbia)
Katherine Cullen (Ontario)
Norman Yeung (Ontario)
Phoebe Tsang (Ontario)
Sarena Parmar (Ontario)
Falen Johnson (Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation)
Sina Gilani (Ontario)

2018 Particpants

Carmen Aguirre (British Columbia)
Leanna Brodie (British Columbia)
Sunny Drake (Ontario/Australia)
Diane Flacks (Ontario)
Ryan Griffith (New Brunswick)
Frances Koncan (Manitoba / Couchiching First Nation)
Rose Napoli (Ontario)
Jovanni Sy (British Columbia)

2017 Participants

George Boyd (Quebec)
Erin Brandenburg (Ontario)
Jason Maghanoy (Ontario)
Robert Motum (Ontario)
Debbie Patterson (Manitoba)
Pamela Sinha (Ontario)
Darrah Teitel (Ontario)
Julie Tepperman (Ontario)

2016 Participants

Beth Graham (Alberta)
Jeff Ho (Hong Kong / Ontario)
Rosa Laborde (Ontario)
Ciarán Myers (Ontario)
Hannah Rittner (Ontario)
Andrea Scott (Ontario)
Quelemia Sparrow (Musqueam Nation / B.C.)
Meghan Swaby (Ontario)

2015 Participants

Reneltta Arluk (NWT)
Leah-Simone Bowen (Ontario)
Brandon Crone (Ontario)
Sébastien Heins (Ontario)
Alon Nashman (Ontario)
Alex Poch-Goldin (Ontario)
Kat Sandler (Ontario)
Colleen Wagner (Ontario)

2014 Participants

Jessica Anderson (Ontario)
Briana Brown (Ontario)
Rob Kempson (Ontario)
Jordi Mand (Ontario)
Mieko Ouchi (Alberta)
Jeff Pitcher (Newfoundland / British Columbia)
Beatriz Pizano (Ontario)
Michele Riml (British Columbia)

2013 Participants

Keith Barker (Métis / Northwestern Ontario)
Trina Davies (British Columbia)
Erin Fleck (Ontario)
Amiel Gladstone (British Columbia)
Don Hannah (Nova Scotia)
Amy Lee Lavoie (Ontario)
Tracey Power (British Columbia)
Bobby Theodore (Ontario)

2012 Participants

Meg Braem (Alberta)
Matthew Heiti (Ontario)
Daniel Karasik (Ontario)
Kevin Loring (Lytton First Nation / British Columbia)
Bryden MacDonald (Nova Scotia)
Haley McGee (Ontario)
Janet Munsil (British Columbia)
Elyne Quan (Ontario)

2011 Participants

Catherine Banks (Nova Scotia)
Michel Marc Bouchard (Quebe)
Sean Dixon (Ontario)
Linda Gaboriau (Quebec)
Hiro Kanagawa (British Columbia)
Colleen Murphy (Ontario)
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Ontario)
Eugene Stickland (Alberta)
Kenneth T. Williams (Saskatchewan)

2010 Participants

Amiel Gladstone (British Columbia)
Edwige Jean-Pierre (Ontario)
Greg MacArthur (Quebec)
Joan MacLeod (British Columbia)
Conni Massing (Alberta)
Andrew Moodie (Ontario)
Anusree Roy (Ontario)
David Yee (Ontario)

2009 Participants

Tara Beagan (Ntlaka’pamux / Alberta / Ontario)
Lisa Codrington (Manitiba / Ontario)
Paul Dunn (Ontario)
Florence Gibson (Quebec / Ontario)
Anosh Irani (India / British Columbia)
Daniel MacIvor (Nova Scotia / Ontario)
Stephen Massicotte (Alberta)
John Murrell (Alberta)

2008 Participants

Robert Chafe (Newfoundland)
Marjorie Chan (Ontario)
Wanda Graham (Nova Scotia)
Simon Johnston (British Columbia)
Daniel Karasik (British Columbia)
Sunil Kuruvilla (Ontario)
Michael O’Brien (Ontario)
Erin Shields (Ontario)