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Residency: The 50th Banff Playwrights Lab

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
November 13, 2022
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Celebrating 50 years of supporting playwrights and theatrical storytelling!

Since its launch in 1973, The Banff Playwrights Lab has provided an inspiring, interdisciplinary, and inclusive environment to work on your play while surrounded by performing artists from across the country and around the world. We are proud to gather on Treaty 7 territory to create, share, and explore theatrical storytelling.

The 50th edition of the Playwrights Lab in 2023 invites applications from playwrights and theatre makers examining issues, topics and stories related to land (sky/water); for example, through Indigenous lenses (sovereignty, history, displacement, ceremony), or in relation to climate, migration, ecology, borders, refugee crises, or environmental justice. The Lab supports writers and plays that tell stories not commonly told on Canadian stages; stories that embrace outrage and wrestle with wild ideas and images; and pursue challenging, multi-disciplinary, provocative approaches to telling stories.

What does the program offer?

Ten Canadian writers will be offered a two-week residency at Banff Centre. You may invite a collaborator to attend for up to four days to work with you on your project; this may be a dramaturg, director, digital creator, actor, designer, musician, choreographer, or translator. We encourage writers to consider inviting a non-theatre artist or individual essential to their creation process. Details of your proposed collaborator should be included in your application.

The Lab’s dramaturgical team will support these projects throughout the Lab. Optional online sessions (pre or post-program) may be offered to you as a community resource and way to stay in touch.

This program provides 100% scholarship, with a travel allowance included.

The Retreat

You will also have the opportunity to be considered for The Retreat, a two-week winter residency from February 26 to March 12, 2023. The Retreat offers two playwrights the opportunity to focus specifically on the writing for their individual project, within one of the Leighton Artists Studios. The Lab Director and Dramaturg will be in attendance for part of The Retreat to consult with the selected writers, but this is not a dramaturgical process – the focus is on writing and creation. No production support is available. Please indicate your interest at step 3 of the application process.

Note: The 2023 Lab will not include a company of actors.

50th Anniversary

As the Lab reaches its 50th edition in 2023, we will be marking the occasion with celebratory videos - including this welcome from our faculty!

We’ll also be introducing an Apprentice Dramaturg position to help nurture the next generation of Canadian dramaturgs; and updating and making the Lab’s archives more accessible to the national and international performing arts community.

Who should apply?

Artists who are exploring theatrical form, risk-taking, and asking questions about our society. We value strong storytelling, diversity (in form, discipline, culture, and community), beautiful language, bold experimentation, and collaboration. We seek artists who demand that theatre have social and political impact, and who are writing plays that seek to challenge and change our world. We invite participants developing new works for both adults and young audiences to join us in a dynamic conversation about storytelling and contemporary performance as we push Canadian theatre into the future.

Applications are open to Canadians and Permanent Residents only, under the Jay Treaty in North America; Indigenous candidates are also encouraged to apply. We welcome artists from all communities who are exploring land-based dramaturgical and creation practices, and encourage applications from artists working with Indigenous languages, incorporating multiple languages, and those working on projects with little or no language to apply. Please note, The Banff Playwrights Lab is conducted in English.

Those creating works that bridge theatre/dance and indoor/outdoor spaces; and projects whose goals reach beyond the theatre space to changing practices, systems and communities. As we consider the forms of new work that playwrights have engaged in during the pandemic, we want in particular to acknowledge and examine approaches to storytelling that combine live and digital components.

We invite playwrights to consider this year’s focus on land when preparing their application. However, this is not mandatory – all applications will be considered equally by the adjudication committee regardless of whether they address this focus area.

For full details on vaccination requirements, masking, safety protocols, and COVID related policies please visit: 



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