New Play Creation in English-Speaking Canada (2004 – 2009)

SSHRC Standard Research Grant Project

This research project, supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant, was designed to examine and critique the perception, fostered by several decades of writing by both scholars and practitioners, that, even granting the differences of opportunity afforded by a range of issues such as culture, class, education, and sexual orientation, there exists a commonality of experience for a diverse population of dramatists in this Canada. Specifically, this shared experience relates to the established and systematic structures and processes utilized across a broad section of developmental and producing theatre organizations.  This perceived commonality is problematic, however, in that the pervasive standardization of structures and strategies  of new play development—developmental dramaturgy—that it presumes would seem to contradict the very sorts of cultural and social distinctions that can be so significant on other levels and at other stages of production and reception.

In an attempt to navigate this perceived incongruity, the project conducted an in-depth national survey, and I traveled from one side of Canada to the other, visiting many of the most influential Play Development organizations in the country. Ultimately, the study was designed to examine the ways in which Canadian developmental dramaturgy can be seen to reflect the complex set of economic, industrial, political, and aesthetic conditions that combine to determine, within flexible but finite parameters, what is “possible” in Canadian professional theatre.

Sample Publication from Creative Spaces:

Developing Nation: New Play Creation in English-Speaking Canada. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2009.