Banff Playwrights Colony

The Retreat: March 9 - March 21, 2015
The Colony: April 2 - April 21, 2015

Application deadline: September 17, 2014

Program Information

Faculty: Brian Quirt - Program Director, Jani Lauzon - Senior Playwright in Residence, Jenna Rodgers - Associate Dramaturg,
Guest Artists: Wang Chong - Playwright (China), Joanna Garner - Playwright (US), Liz Engelman - Dramaturg (US), Bryony Lavery - Playwright (UK), Ruth Little - Dramaturg (UK), Michael Greyeyes - Playwright - Signal Theatre, Yvette Nolan - Director - Signal Theatre, Jason Rothery - Playwright - Upintheair Theatre & The Only Animal, Kendra Fanconi - Director-Upintheair Theatre & The Only Animal,
Participants: trey anthony - Playwright, Bruce Barton - Playwright, Erin Brubacher - Playwright, Robert Chafe - Playwright, Marjorie Chan - Playwright, Ins Choi - Playwright, Rachel Ganz - Playwright, Ryan Griffith - Playwright, Kate Hennig - Playwright, Michaela Jeffery - Playwright, Anita Majumdar - Playwright, Janet Munsil - Playwright, Jeff Ho - Playwright,

"The Banff Playwrights Colony is an incredible gift for a writer...the gift of time, care, support, camaraderie, and above all a space of your own to confront and explore your work with an intensity we cannot manage at home. To dive deep and know you will emerge for air among friends."
Mieko Ouchi

About The Banff Playwrights Colony

The Playwrights Colony has since 1974 offered Canadian playwrights a powerful and inspiring environment to work on their plays amidst the natural environment of The Banff Centre while surrounded by performing artists from across Canada and around the world. The Colony celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013 by launching components to accompany its long-standing spring playwrights retreat. Demonstrating renewed commitment to The Colony by The Banff Centre, the new Colony approach offers playwrights a broad range of opportunities to develop their work, from a pure retreat experience focused solely on writing, to the fellowship of its centerpiece spring Colony. To read more about the 2014 Colony, please visit the Banff Centre Blog.

Each year The Colony addresses a broad theme and invites playwrights to consider it when making their application. In 2015 The Colony will explore playwright-driven interdisciplinary works. All applications will be considered; those with an interdisciplinary component will be of particular interest to the adjudication committee.

The Colony is committed to hosting a dynamic conversation about storytelling and contemporary theatre during each creative residency and invites all accepted participants to push Canadian theatre into the future. The Colony seeks artists who are asking questions about our society, who are challenging form, who are taking risks, and seeking a safe place where they can take their play to unsafe places they could otherwise not reach.

Please see the Program Details page for: frequently asked questions, history of the Colony, and past participants.

 The Colony in 2015

"The Playwrights Colony at The Banff Centre was pretty much playwriting Nirvana for me! Exactly the right mix of comfortable accommodation, good food, wonderful landscapes, the most delightful selection of bright, funny, thoughtful playwrights to be either serious with or have fun with.”
Bryony Lavery

The 2015 Banff Playwrights Colony will comprise two components: The Retreat and The Colony. All applicants will be considered for The Colony. The Retreat is available by invitation only. (See Other Colony Activities below for additional information.)

Eight Canadian writers will be accepted into The Colony, and offered a two-week residency at The Banff Centre. Each writer may invite a collaborator to attend The Colony for up to four days in order to work on their project. For example, that collaborator could be a dramaturg, director, actor, designer, musician, choreographer, or translator, or a non-theatre artist considered essential to the creation process. This may be especially valuable for playwrights exploring this year’s interdisciplinary theme; for example, the collaborator might be an aerialist or a sound artist, or an instrumentalist. A company of six actors will be available to read scripts aloud and explore texts on their feet, subject to availability. International writer/dramaturg teams selected by The Colony Director will also be in residence to work on new plays and provide their perspective on theatrical creation beyond Canada. The Colony staff will include the Director, the Senior Playwright in Residence, and the Associate Dramaturg.

The Colony looks for artists committed to using the theatre to make a difference, to telling unique and outrageous stories, and embracing innovation and ideas. We value strong storytelling, diversity (in form and community), beautiful language, bold experimentation, and collaboration. We seek artists who demand that theatre can have social and political impact, and are writing plays that seek to challenge and change our world. We want to support writers and plays that tell stories that aren’t commonly told on Canadian stages, that embrace wild ideas, images, and individuals, and are inspired by and seek to convey a sense of outrage.


The Banff Playwrights Colony is interested in Canadian writers at all phases of their career, and in theatrical projects of all kinds. Please note that The Colony’s focus is text-based works, and it is primarily a creative retreat for writers and their core collaborators. However, the definition of ‘text-based’ is very broad, and The Colony will consider applications by theatre artists working in collaborative teams, including devised scripts and other alternative play creation methods. We will also consider playwright/translator teams; please submit artistic statements in English. The Colony is focused on individual creators rather than companies. If you are interested in a company residency, please see the Theatre Arts Residencies page.

Applicants must be available for two consecutive weeks during The Colony period, April 1 - 22, 2015. Only one application per artist.

Note: The Colony is unable to accept applications for projects that have been declined in previous years. Applications are open to Canadians and Permanent Residents only.

Selection Process

All applications will be reviewed by the Colony Director, Senior Writer in Residence, and Associate Dramaturg and additional adjudicators as required. Invitations to attend the Colony will be extended by mid-December 2014, and the selected writers announced in February 2015. Final decisions are made by the Colony Director. In addition to a script, we require an artistic statement from each applicant (see How to Apply), which will assist the selection team in determining the projects best matched to this year’s Colony. 

What the Banff Playwrights Colony Provides

The Colony provides each writer with return transportation to The Banff Centre, single accommodation at The Banff Centre for two weeks, and a full meal plan for two weeks. The writer has access to The Banff Centre including its recreation facilities. The writer may invite a collaborator of his/her choice to attend the Colony to work on the project; the Colony will provide that individual with return transportation to The Banff Centre (scheduled in consultation with the Colony Director), single accommodation for up to four nights, a full meal plan, and access to the Centre’s facilities. The acting company will be available for at least one half-day session to work on each project. The Colony hosts events each week to encourage discussion and debate, and to ensure that writers are able to network with other writers. The Colony will encourage interested writers to attend performances and activities presented by other disciplines at The Banff Centre during their residency.

Acknowledging the Banff Playwrights Colony

In recognition of The Colony’s contribution to the development of each writers’ work, writers are required to include The Banff Centre’s logo and credit on the title page of all future readings, workshops, productions, recordings and publications of their projects. This requirement, and other details of The Colony, are detailed in a letter of agreement signed by each participant.


If you have questions about The Colony, please see the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Program Details page. If you have further questions, please email

Other Colony Activities

The Banff Playwrights Colony is in the process of establishing three new components: The Retreat, The Workshop and The Showcase. Each program will invite playwrights to The Banff Centre for up to two weeks, including travel and accommodation. The Retreat was added in February 2013, and has become a permanent part of The Colony’s annual activities.

The Retreat includes a Leighton Artists' Colony writing cabin to enable each selected playwright to focus on an intensive, individual writing process on a specific project. The Retreat is available by invitation only; all Colony applicants will be considered. Please do not call or email to participate in The Retreat. The Colony Director will be in attendance for part of The Retreat to consult with the selected writers, but this is not a dramaturgical process; the focus is on writing and creation. The Retreat may be offered in tandem with an invitation to The Colony. Participants will be encouraged to connect with artists and activities occurring during this period as part of The Centre’s programming in other disciplines. Dates: March 9 - 21, 2015.

The Workshop will be established in 2015/16, subject to funding. The Workshop includes a residency at The Banff Centre, and the ability to invite up to two core collaborators to work on the project with the writer. The Colony will provide an acting company to explore the project in detail. The Colony Director will be present to facilitate the process and consult dramaturgically when appropriate.

A third component may be established in 2016, subject to funding: The Showcase will be a week-long workshop of a recent Colony project. The process will culminate in a public concert-style reading during the Banff Summer Arts Festival.

The Banff Playwrights Colony is a partnership between The Banff Centre and The Canada Council for the Arts.




Above photo: Mieko Ouchi and Pamela Sinha at the 2014 Colony. Courtesy of The Banff Centre

All programs, faculty, dates, fees, and offers of financial assistance are subject to change. Program fee subject to applicable taxes. Non-refundable fees and deposits will be retained upon cancellation. Any other fees are refunded at the discretion of The Banff Centre.