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Will Mike Payette, Joelle Peters, and Sheree Spencer read past the first scene?

Find out what directors and dramaturgs look for in play submissions. 


PGC is thrilled to announce that The Stratford Festival is hosting The First Scene Challenge for the second year. The first scenes of five submitted plays will be read by actors from the Stratford Festival. Come out to this encouraging and fun event to hear Mike, Joelle, and Sheree discuss what makes an enticing first scene. This event will include a Question & Answer! Don’t miss this opportunity to get some sweet tips that could give you an idea or two on how to elevate your play. 


This is a free event to members, non-members and the general public.


Register now to attend The First Challenge!


October 2nd, 2023 @ 1pm EDT

Lobby of The Festival Theatre, Stratford Festival

55 Queen St, Stratford ON N5A 6V2

About the Panelists

Mike Payette is a director, educator and actor who has appeared at some of Canada’s finest theatres.  He haas worked with some of the country’s finest theatres including The Citadel, Vertigo, Banff Centre, Geordie, Repercussion Theatre, Segal Centre, Centre, The Grand, Factory Theatre, Neptune, and the National Arts Centre, among others.  Directing credits include Cockroach and Paint Me This House of Love (Tarragon), Blithe Spirit (Shaw Festival), Harlem Duet (Black Theatre Workshop), Another Home Invasion (Tableau D’Hôte Theatre), Hosanna (Centaur), Around the World in 80 Days, Virginia Wolf, The Paperbag Princess, and Reaching for Starlight (Geordie), Venus, Burning Vision and Indecent (National Theatre School), Sensitivity (Obsidian Theatre/CBC Gem, as part of 21 Black Futures), Choir Boy (Canadian Stage/Arts Club Theatre), the Quebec premiere of Héritage – A Raisin in the Sun (Théâtre Duceppe) along with the national tours of The Tashme Project (Tashme Prod/Centaur/Factory/Firehall) and Lorena Gale’s Angélique (BTW/Tableau D’Hôte/NAC/Factory/Obsidian).  Mike is a two-time Montreal English Theatre Award (META) recipient and was the co-founding Artistic Director of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre and past Assistant Artistic Director for Black Theatre Workshop.  He was also Artistic and Executive Director of Geordie Productions in Montreal before becoming Artistic Director for Tarragon Theatre in 2021. 

Joelle Peters is an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) playwright and actor from Walpole Island First Nation in Southwestern Ontario. A graduate of Seneca College’s Acting for Camera and Voice Program, Joelle has appeared on Shoresy (Crave/Hulu), in the film In Her City, and has performed across the country in many theatres and festivals. She is also the Interim Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts. In 2020, Joelle was named the Siminovitch Prize Protegee by Laureate Tara Beagan. Joelle’s plays include Frozen River (co-written with Carrie Costello and Michaela Washburn, winner of the Sharon Enkin Plays for Young People award), Niizh (premiered at Native Earth Performing Arts, nominated for 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards), and do you remember? (commissioned by Burnt Thicket Theatre for the We Treaty People audio series, supported by Punctuate!/Pemmican Playwrights Unit). 

Sheree Spencer finds creative balance as a Producer, Stage Director and Performing Artist with a strong passion for interdisciplinary art expression. Born in Toronto with Barbadian heritage, Sheree is currently based in Toronto and works with live-music theatre company, Volcano as the company producer, with current projects including Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha Opera and The Book of Life. Notable performer credits include: Unknown Territory in the Piece of Mind Festival (2014), Jesus Christ Superstar at Hart House (2015), Last Night At The Paradise in the 2015 InspiraTO Festival, the 2015 Pan American Closing Ceremonies and Persephone at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival. Recent producing credits include TD Emerging Producer of the Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival 2016 and Associate Producer of Luminato Festival’s 2022 Artists In Residence Program As a freelance director, her credits include: Assistant Director for Gould’s Wall with Tapestry Opera (2022), the World Premiere of Musique 3 Femmes’s contemporary opera Plaything in Berlin (Sept 2022) and its Canadian Premiere at Opera McGill (in Nov 2022). She will be directing A 1000 Night’s of Cleopatra with Opera Queens (Aug 2023), Sanctuary & Storm with ReNaissance Opera & Vancouver Opera (Nov 2023) and is ecstatic to be working on Aportia Chrpytych in the hybrid capacity of Associate Producer/Assistant Director which is produced by the Canadian Opera Company with the world premiere scheduled for June 2024 in Toronto. 

Scenes Read by Actors of the Stratford Festival

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