Write from the Hip

Write from The Hip is a year-long script development program designed to support new writers through mentorship, one-on-one dramaturgy, developmental workshops and readings, all working towards the completion of a full length play. We look for female-identifying playwrights who are emerging in their careers. There is no age limit, though you are only eligible if you have never received a professional production. You may apply with a script at any stage in development.

Please note: We accept applications from all regions. If you are accepted into our WFTH unit, we do ask that individuals attend the culminating day long workshop and public presentation as part of our Groundswell Festival in person if possible. Some meetings throughout the year can be attended using Skype/Facetime technology, but some travel may be necessary (such as the Groundswell Festival). Submissions are now closed for the 2019-2020 season.

Nightwood Theatre has a long history of producing socially relevant, provocative theatre. Our vision is to be a gateway for women in Canadian Theatre, propelling them to the top of their craft. Nightwood Theatre embraces cultural, racial and sexual diversity.

The Write From The Hip Program is generously supported by RBC Foundation.


Meet our 2019-20 Write from the Hip Program Playwrights:

Clockwise from top left:
Rachel Mutombo, Natalie Liconti, Phoebe Tsang, Shelley Hobbs, Pesche Nepoose, Erum Khan and Bilal Baig

Bilal Baig
Bilal Baig is a queer, trans-feminine, muslim playwright and theatre-maker. Writing credits include: Khwaja Sera (in development at Buddies in Bad Times), Kitne Laloo Yahan Pey Hain (as part of RARE Theatre’s Welcome to my Underworld), Eraser (RISER Project, co-written with ensemble), blue eyes killed him without blinking (developed through Factory Theatre’s The Foundry program), Undecided (co-written with the Queer AF Collective) and Acha Bacha (TPM/Buddies). Outside of theatre, Bilal facilitates story-making workshops with youth from under-resourced communities in Toronto through an organization called Story Planet , and facilitates anti-Islamophobia workshops across the GTA with the Rivers of Hope Collective .

Photo of Bilal Baig by Celeste Midori.


Shelley Hobbs
Shelley M. Hobbs is a cis-female hearing-impaired lesbian cancer survivor who plays hockey. She recently retired as a lawyer for a government agency that protects the rights of incapable adults. Shelley writes plays about chosen family and the harsh choices that need to be made to survive trauma. Her previous work includes A Good Death (AKA Theatre, 2018); Happy Family (Toronto Fringe 2017); and two plays developed through the Ergo Arts Pinkfest program: The Sister Op (2018) and Monkey Wrench (2019). Shelley lives in Toronto, Canada, with her wife, Joan Jamieson. She is thrilled to be part of Write From the Hip.

Photo of Shelley M. Hobbs by June Meaney.



Erum Khan is a film and theatre maker. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The University of Toronto.  Select projects include: Writer/performer for Noor (The Aga Khan Museum/Generous Friend); Co-creator/performer for زبانکی پتھر/patthar ki zabaan (Rhubarb Festival); performer & assistant director for Concord Floral (Theatre Centre, Canadian Stage, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival); filmmaker for Banjaare ka ghar (Toronto Independent Film Festival).

Photo of Erum Khan by Melissa Sofi.

Photo of Natalie Liconti by Chris Borges
Natalie Liconti is a Toronto-based performer, producer and playwright. With an interest in site-specific and interdisciplinary performance, her work explores camp, popular culture, and dystopia/utopia. Curated festival credits include: Printemps Numérique Festival 2015, the Wildside Festival 2019, ZH Festival 2017, and Calm Down, Dear Festival 2018 (Camden People’s Theatre: London, UK).

She has also worked behind the scenes at festivals such as Just for Laughs, JFL42, the Rhubarb Festival – and is currently undertaking a year-long Festival Direction mentorship with SummerWorks Performance Festival 2019 and Progress International Festival of Performance and Ideas 2020. Natalie also co-wrote/co-created/co-produced a Revry Originals short digital series. Her work in film and television can be seen on major networks such as CBC, Global, Revry – and soon Freeform and Netflix.

Photo of Natalie Liconti by Chris Borges

Rachel Mutombo
Rachel Mutombo is an award winning actor, and writer who thrives at the intersection of race and gender. Her life experience as a Congolese-Canadian (DRC) heavily influences her artistic practice. Rachel is a graduate of John Abbott College’s and the National Theatre School of Canada’s acting programs. Some recent acting credits include: Antigone (Young People’s Theatre), School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian Theatre/Nightwood Theatre), Selfie (Young People’s Theatre). Rachel’s writing has been published on Intermission Magazine as well as CBC. She is incredibly excited to be a part of this year’s WFTH cohort and officially write her first play.

Photo of Rachel Mutombo by Tim Leyes.

Natalie Liconti
Pesche Nepoose  is a Cree multidisciplinary artist from Edmonton Alberta, currently residing in Toronto. She graduated her fourth and final year at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. While now working as a full time actor, she has also gained skills in stage managing and playwriting. Pesch was in the film By These Presents: Purchasing Toronto for Jumblies Theatre, directed by Ange Loft and filmed at the Fort York historical site. She also spent 8 weeks this summer working with Jill Carter on a devised piece called the Encounters at the Edge of the Woods. This was the first play performed by Indigenous cast at the Hart House Theatre in its whole 100 years.

During her time in school, she formed the collective Out of Sync along with two of her classmates. Their first project, S.O.S. Saving Our Sovereignty, was performed at the Paprika Festival in May 2018. The second show was part of the Weesagachak Begins to Dance Festival 31 in November 2018. The inspiration for the piece came from witnessing the depression and suicide among Indigenous youth on and off the reserve. Pesch is also writing her one woman show titled Flying Home, which focuses on addiction and identity.

Photo of Pesche Nepoose by Shaun Benson


Phoebe Tsang
Phoebe Tsang is a Hong-Kong born Chinese, British and Canadian poet, author, librettist and playwright. Her writing is characterized by lyricism and rhythmic sense, derived from her background as a professional violinist. Her libretti have been commissioned and premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Sinfonietta, Continuum Contemporary Music, Tapestry Opera, and Hamilton Philharmonic. Honours include the 2019 Stratford Playwrights Retreat, 2018 Gros Morne Playwrights’ Residency, and Tapestry Opera’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory in 2016. The author of Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse (Tightrope Books, Toronto), she is a recording artist with Off record label (Belgium). http://www.phoebetsang.com

Photo of Phoebe Tsang by Sullivan Hismans.



Our 2019-20 Write from the Hip Program Director: Donna-Michelle St. Bernard

Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (aka Belladonna the Beast) is an emcee, playwright, dramaturge and agitator.  Her work has been nominated for the Siminovitch Prize, Governor General’s Literary Awards, SATA, Herman Voaden Playwriting Award, Enbridge PlayRites Award and Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play.  She has been engaged as a dramaturge for Pink Pluto, Native Earth Performing Arts, Factory Theatre, lemonTree creations and Humber College Drama Program.  DM is the artistic director of New Harlem Productions, emcee in residence at Theatre Passe Muraille, playwright in residence at lemonTree creations and coordinator of the ADHOC Assembly.

Photo of Donna-Michelle St. Bernard by Graham Isador.


2019-20 Write from the Hip Program Associate: Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野

Photo of Teiya Kasahara by Michael Barker
Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) is a genderqueer, multi-disciplinary performer/creator, and first-generation Nikkei-Canadian settler of Japanese and German roots thankful to make Tkarón:to their home. Teiya comes from a background of over a decade of singing both traditional and contemporary operatic roles across North America and Europe, most recently praised as “a force of nature” by the Toronto Star for their portrayal in FAWN’s Pandora. Their new initiative to centre equity-seeking artists, Amplified Opera (co-founded with director Aria Umezawa), launched publicly this October with the inaugural concert series AMPLIFY. Performances this season include The Wager (Theatre Gargantua),Symphony Spooktacular (Toronto Symphony Orchestra), the title role in Madama Butterfly (Windsor Symphony), Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. (Buddies), assistant directing All the Little Animals I Have Eaten (Nightwood), Beethoven 9 (Kingston Symphony), and the world premiere of their operatic-inspired play The Queen In Me (Amplified Opera/Theatre Gargantua) in 2020. Teiya is a co-founder/member of Queer AF Collective, founder/head coach of the Vocal Dōjō, an apprentice with RAW Taiko Drummers, and is a graduate of Generator’s Artist Producer Training, the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, and the University of British Columbia. For more info visit www.teiyakasahara.com or follow @teiyakasahara.

Photo of Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 by Michael Barker.

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