Banff Playwrights Colony

The Colony: April 11 - April 30, 2016

The Retreat: February 15 - February 27, 2016

Application deadline: September 16, 2015

Program Information

Faculty: Brian Quirt - Program Director, Jenna Rodgers - Associate Dramaturg, Marcus Youssef - Senior Playwright in Residence,


The Colony offers Canadian playwrights an inspiring environment to work on their plays while surrounded by performing artists from across the country and around the world. Each year The Colony addresses a broad theme and invites playwrights to consider it when making their application. In 2016, all applications will be considered but those investigating theatrical form and/or incorporating interdisciplinary elements 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 residency and invites all participants to push Canadian theatre into the future.

What does the program offer? 

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 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. A company of six actors will be on site to read scripts aloud and explore texts on their feet, available for at least one half-day session to work on each project. International writer/dramaturg teams selected by The Colony Director will be in residence to work on new plays and provide their perspective on theatrical creation beyond Canada. The Colony staff includes the Director, the Senior Playwright-in-Residence, and the Associate Dramaturg.

The 2016 Playwrights Colony has a second component called The Retreat, a two week residency to enable each selected playwright to focus on an intensive, individual writing process for a specific project. The Retreat includes a Leighton Artists’ Colony writing studio. 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 is by invitation only but all Colony applicants will be considered. The Retreat may be offered in tandem with an invitation to The Colony. Retreat dates: February 15 - February 27, 2015.

Who should apply? 

The Colony seeks artists who are asking questions about our society, challenging form, taking risks, and seeking a safe place where they can take their play to unsafe places they could otherwise not reach. 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 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 best suited to scripts that have at least reached the first draft stage of creation.

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



How to Apply


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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.