As Canada’s foremost feminist theatre, Nightwood provides an essential home for the creation of extraordinary theatre by women* (it should be noted that our organizational understanding of women* extends beyond the limitations of cis-womanhood). Founded in 1979, Nightwood Theatre has created, produced and toured award-winning plays that have garnered Dora Mavor Moore, Chalmers, Trillium and Governor General’s awards. The company is helmed by Artistic Director Andrea Donaldson and Managing Director Naz Afsahi, whose leadership has received public acclaim for artistic excellence, the successful training and development of emerging female talent, and their on-going advocacy around gender equity.
Nightwood’s commitment to new play development has led to the creation of plays as diverse as Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by the acclaimed playwright and novelist Ann-Marie MacDonald (Canadian tour and Chalmers, Governor General’s and Trillium Awards), Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears (Dora, Chalmers and Governor General’s Awards), Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots by Monique Mojica (currently in curricula for Aboriginal Studies across North America), The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God by Djanet Sears, The Danish Play by Sonny Mills, China Doll by Marjorie Chan, Calpurnia by Audrey Dwyer and Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) by Rose Napoli, among others. Nightwood is known for partnerships with local, national and international partners, bringing the most vital feminist works – by our nation’s most important voices – to the stage.
Each season, Nightwood produces several full productions in Toronto’s most beloved mid-sized theatre venues, and produces The Groundswell Festival, an annual festival of new works. In its early days, we produced FemCab, Nightwood’s notorious annual celebration of International Women’s Day, which has grown into an event reclaimed by dozen plus next generation artists who participate in Nightwood’s Innovator Program and has been aptly retitled Fempocalypse.
As with our Young Innovators Program, Nightwood provides training and support to next generation artists, recognizing that those critical years after theatre training are the times that shape the theatre artist one becomes. Now in its 14th year, our annual emerging playwrights program Write From The Hip has become a key milestone for women playwrights. In it, four to seven writers meet and write over a year, each creating a full-length play that is professionally read at The Groundswell Festival, our annual festival of new works. Additionally, we host community gathering points such as Nightwood’s Community Choir and our patriarchy smashing FEMINIST UNCONFERENCE to unpack all things feminist in theatre.
Nightwood Theatre’s incredible history has had a massive impact shifting the weight of what’s produced, and what key artists are at the helm of projects, and while still we see only 31% of plays by women, with less than 0.5% of plays by trans women, we continue to fight for parity in our industry. Our office, or rehearsal halls, including our production tables are armed with the finest artists our city has to offer. We create inclusive, intersectional spaces that seek to insert humanity into how we work, which includes our longstanding commitment to the five-day rehearsal work-week, placing humanity and care at our work’s centre.
We believe that feminism serves everyone – and that when we centre those most vulnerable we have a greater chance at lasting change. We’d love for you to join our circle.
Photo of Banuta Rubess in This Is For You, Anna.
Photo of Maureen White and Ann-Marie MacDonald in Smoke Damage.
Photo of Tanja Jacobs in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet).