New Play Development

Artistic programming is not simply a wide open field into which we drop fresh cut flowers, no matter how brilliant their petals…instead, it is a place where the hardiest stalks begin from roots deep below the ground. That’s where we start.

The Blyth Festival is hugely proud of its success in developing and producing new Canadian plays.

We have shepherded projects by celebrated and award-winning playwrights like Anne Chislett (Quiet in the Land, 1981; Another Season’s Harvest, 2006) and Michael Healey (The Drawer Boy, 2000; The Nuttalls, 2009), local and first-time playwrights like David Scott (There’s Nothing in the Paper, 1997; Ballad of Stompin’ Tom, 2006) and Denyse Gervais Regan (The Thirteenth One, 2005), as well as new works by Beverley Cooper and Paul Ciufo, both finalists for the Governor General’s Award.

Before a new play can make its debut on stage it demands endless attention from the playwright, as well as from the creative team that provides direction and encouragement each step of the way. The Blyth Festival New Play Development Program is designed to work closely with playwrights to prepare their scripts for full-fledged production at producing theatres, not exclusively for production at the Blyth Festival.

“It’s important to blow apart a process, or to singularize a process…Playwrights are wildly idiosyncratic creatures, and I think a process has to be wildly idiosyncratic in response” Gil Garratt

Due to the volume of submissions, the Blyth Festival does not accept unsolicited scripts.

However, the tenacious among you will likely want to submit anyway, or try to find a way to make contact and convince us to solicit a script from you. At the Blyth Festival, we applaud tenacity…truth be told, it’s what we’ve built the whole place on.

So, inquire away, but please be deliberate and discerning; before you submit an innocent query, please thoroughly consider the following and make it, all of it, an integral part of your pitch:

Why are you submitting a piece to the Blyth Festival?

What do you know about the Blyth Festival?

How does your work speak to Blyth’s mission and mandate?

What does your play offer the Blyth Festival’s audience; why do they need to see it?

What shows have you seen here? Or, what shows from here have you seen elsewhere?

Which artists from Blyth’s past/present do you admire/respect?

Much of our work to date is now in print; What works from the last decade at Blyth would you say your work aligns with? Or meaningfully contrasts against?

What does your play specifically offer to the discourse surrounding rural life and/or notions of nationhood and country?

Before submitting your project, please address these questions directly with the artistic director. Honestly, the more thoroughly you can answer these questions, the more likely we are to consider your work.

OAC Theatre Creators Reserve Program 2017/18

Blyth Festival is pleased to announce that it has again been invited to participate in the Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre Creators’ Reserve program. Designed to provide funding directly to Ontario playwrights and playmakers, the Theatre Creators’ Reserve is a third-party recommender program, administered by the Ontario Arts Council. Through this program, a select number of Ontario’s professional theatres are given the opportunity to recommend writing or creation grants to professional theatre artists who apply. The minimum grant recommendation is $1000 and the maximum is $5000.

In addition to the OAC Theatre Creators’ Reserve application form, please send a description of your project, a writing sample, and a bio or resumé to:

Gil Garratt
Artistic Director, Blyth Festival
PO Box 10, Blyth, ON N0M 1H0

The description should include a synopsis, or an outline of the play’s possible direction; it should also articulate the aesthetic of the play (Is it realistic? Is it site-specific? Is it a song-cycle? etc?)

More importantly, your submission should clearly and passionately articulate WHY you want to create this work, and WHY Blyth is a place that should engage in its fostering.

The entire description need not exceed a single page. Decisions will be made based on artistic interest and connection to Blyth’s mandate and mission. If you have any questions, please contact Gil Garratt at the Festival: 1.877.862.5984.

Theatre Creators’ Reserve program guidelines and applications are available on the OAC


Submissions will be accepted by the Blyth Festival until the deadline, January 8, 2018.

Photo Credits:

Gil Garratt in The Last Donnelly Standing by Gil Garratt, Paul Thompson, & Beth Kates
Design by Beth Kates
Sophia Walker & Marcel Stewart in The Wilberforce Hotel by Sean Dixon
Set & Costume by Joanna Yu, LX Steve Lucas
Gil Garratt, Patricia Hamilton, Sam Malkin,  & Lisa Norton in A Killing Snow by Paul Ciufo
Gil Garratt, A Killing Snow by Paul Ciufo
Anita La Selva, Catherine Fitch in If Truth Be Told by Beverley Cooper
Set & LX by Steve Lucas, Costumes by Shawn Kerwin, Projections Beth Kates
Lana Carillo & Steph Sy in Prairie Nurse by Marie Beach Badian
Set by Eric Bunnell
Photos by Terry Manzo