Readings and events are entirely free. If you have the capacity, please consider making a tax-deductible donation in support of the future of feminist art.

This November our annual
Groundswell Festival spotlights brand new works from our Write From The Hip playwright’s unit (WFTH), sharing selections of new plays from Anahita Dehbonehie, Celia Green, Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野, Breton Lalama, Kitoko Mai and Nikki Shaffeeullah. Nightwood also delivers a closer look at dramaturgy and play-pitching with two free, ASL-interpreted professional development workshops curated and hosted by playwright and WFTH Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. Join us as we celebrate creation, conversation and community at our 36th annual Groundswell Festival!

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Please note: the Groundswell Festival ran from November 10-17 and registration for live events has now closed.
All recordings of select readings and workshops are still available to view from their show page until November 26th.

Please click here for the Groundswell Festival Accessibility Video.

THE 2021 GROUNDSWELL Readings and Workshops

Written by Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 
Directed by Aria Umezawa
Starring Deborah Drakeford, Luka Kawabata, Tetsuro Shigematsu and Rae Takei
Stage directions read by Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野
Sound design by Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野, Heidi Chan, and Aki Takahashi
Music performed by Heidi Chan and Aki Takahashi

夜 YORU is a multidisciplinary work that collides at the intersection of binary gender expectations, and eastern and western cultures and musical forms. Hana (they/them) yearns for a connection to their late Japanese father who died over a decade ago. When an unexpected downsizing of their mother’s house prompts a sudden trip back to their childhood home, Hana can’t avoid the internal reckoning that awaits, not only forcing them to grapple with their past, but with their present and ultimately their future.

Created, choreographed, and written by Celia Green
Directorial support from Bilal Baig
Outside eye Jess Dobkin
Starring Bilal Baig, Augusto Bitter, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Ericka Leobrera with a special appearance from Andrea Werhun
‘Sexy Donald’ dance choreographed in collaboration with Andrea Werhun
‘Sexy Donald’costume and makeup by Andrea Werhun
Music and vocals by Amy Nostbakken

SOWWY is a boundary-breaking performance work that combines movement, text, and music to investigate cycles of apology and violence through the lens of gender. The world of this piece is distorted, chaotic, and beautiful. Feelings are at the forefront, and characterization is woven with crystal clear movement. SOWWY features a cast of trans and gender non-conforming performers who move, speak and moan their way through the messiness of gendered violence, forgiveness, and remorse.

Deconstructing Dramaturgy Workshop
This event will have captioning and ASL Interpretation available

Get an inside look at the dramaturgical process and learn the kinds of questions that can provoke a deeper exploration of a work-in-progress. For this session, Write From The Hip (WFTH) Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard will share her writing and Nightwood’s Artistic Director Andrea Donaldson, former WFTH Program Associate Faly Mevamanana and current WFTH Program Associate Max Fearon will share their dramaturgical questions and process. Join us as we demystify the sometimes elusive role of the dramaturg and empower attendees with a handful of the tools necessary to do the work.

Betty’s House
Written by Nikki Shaffeeullah
Directed by Diane Roberts
Starring Raymond Ablack, Michelle Mohammed, Adele Noronha, Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, Navtej Sandhu and Jesse Wabegijig 
Stage directions read by Rosalind Goodwin
Please note: this recording is a selection of the full reading and not all cast members appear.

Betty’s House weaves together the stories of three women from the same bloodline, in three different lands impacted by colonization, in three different states undergoing major political shifts, across 200 years: Rabia, on an indentured labour ship departing Calcutta, India in 1853; Betty, in Guyana as it begins to undergo the messy process of decolonizing from Britain in 1953; and Zahra, a queer activist in Tkaronto in 2053, navigating a Canada that has just legally abolished prisons. 

Written by Breton Lalama
Directed by Sedina Fiati
Starring Xavier Lopez, Allister MacDonald, Natasha Negovanlis and Neta J Rose 
Stage directions read by Gus Monet

“Good morning. You have 201 days til the end of the world. Have a nice day.” The world is ending, and the countdown is on. But hasn’t your world already ended? Everyday, a million times?

Pitching Your Play Workshop
This event will have captioning and ASL Interpretation available

Learn how to create an impactful pitch package for your play. Join Write From The Hip Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and 2020 WFTH playwright Shelley M. Hobbs for this active work session offering some prompts and structure for sharing your work with producers, presenters and beyond.

Messy: a Chaotic Black Femme Rage Musical 
Written by Kitoko Mai
Directed by Sedina Fiati
Starring Alia Ettienne, Maryan Haye and Djennie Laguerre
Stage directions read by Jahnelle Jones

Messy: a Chaotic Black Femme Rage Musical is a musical, a play, a scavenger hunt, a concert, and a group therapy session playing with ideas of mental health, lineage, queerness, and public persona. As the piece continues to develop, Kitoko is asking questions about form and content, playing with social media to interrogate the role of the audience and further blur the lines between fiction and reality, character and autobiography.

Written by Anahita Dehbonehie
Directed by Marie Farsi
Starring Frank Cox-O’Connell, Qasim Khan, Ahmed Moneka, Tahirih Vejdani and Bahareh Yaraghi
Stage directions read by Rahaf Fasheh

Soraya takes place over the course of a winter evening at the home of a Canadian history professor, Neil and his half-Persian wife Tara.  A surprise guest shows up just before a small gathering to celebrate his promotion. Over the course of the evening the tensions between the different cultures build until they can’t anymore, and each of the five characters is forced to grapple with the question: who do we save and why?

Studio Workshop-in-Progress
During the 2021 Groundswell Festival we have been delighted to welcome Nightwood’s OAC Creators-in-Residence Sadie Epstein-Fine, Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野, and Colleen Snell as they develop their newest play Sugar Plum at The Ernest Balmer Studio. These workshops are not open to the public, but be sure to keep an eye out for more from this exciting new work.

Sugar Plum is about Olivia and Connor, the star dancers of their ballet school, as they prepare for the annual production of The Nutcracker. Olivia, cast as the Nutcracker, is struggling with always being cast in male roles; Connor, cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy, does not feel like she can live up to the role. As rehearsals progress Olivia begins to find comfort dancing in the male role and feels more like herself than she ever did wearing tutus and pointe shoes. Connor realizes she can never dance the role like the Sugar Plum Fairies before her. Their story is told by the Corps de Ballet.

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