Banff Playwrights Lab

The Banff Playwrights Lab was created by playwrights Tom Hendry and George Ryga in the early 1970s. Celebrating its 50th season in 2023, the Lab has sustained its founding principles of focusing on playwrights and developing new works away from the pressures of a producing theatre.

Each year the Lab welcomes Canadian playwrights and their collaborators, providing each writer with a residency tailored to their specific needs with the goal of nurturing, challenging, and inspiring the next phase of their work. The Lab also includes international writers, theatre makers and guest artists through partnerships with organizations from across Canada and beyond.

To mark the Lab’s 50th edition, the Playwrights Lab will be hosting the 2023 LMDA International Dramaturgy Conference convened by the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. We are delighted to welcome this gathering of dramaturgs, writers, academics, literary managers and much more to Banff from June 22-25, 2023.

We’ll also be introducing an Apprentice Dramaturg position to help nurture the next generation of Canadian dramaturgs; and updating and making the Lab’s archives more accessible. 

Welcome text in a variety of languages.

Playwrights Programs

Directors Letter 2023

The Banff Playwrights Lab offers Canadian playwrights an inspiring, interdisciplinary, and inclusive environment to work on their plays while surrounded by performing artists from across the country and around the world. The Lab supports challenging, multi-disciplinary, and provocative approaches to telling stories. We are proud to gather on Treaty 7 territory to create, share and explore theatrical storytelling.

Each year the Lab welcomes 10 Canadian playwrights and their collaborators, providing each writer with a residency tailored to their specific needs with the goal of nurturing, challenging, and inspiring the next phase of their work. 

The 50th edition of the Playwrights Lab in 2023 invites applications from playwrights and theatre makers examining issues, topics and stories related to land (sky/water). We welcome artists from all communities who are exploring land-based dramaturgical and creation practices. We want to support writers and plays telling stories not commonly told on Canadian stages; stories that embrace outrage and wrestle with wild ideas, images, and individuals.

The Lab accepts applications in English and French only, though we are open to receiving projects that reference or incorporate any and all languages. We encourage artists working with Indigenous languages and those working on projects with little or no language to apply.

The Lab seeks artists who are exploring theatrical form, taking risks, and asking questions about our society. We value strong storytelling, diversity (in form, discipline, culture, and community), beautiful language, bold experimentation, and collaboration. We seek artists who demand that theatre have social and political impact, and who are writing plays that seek to challenge and change our world.

Brian Quirt
Director, Banff Playwrights Lab

Playwrights Stories

The Playwrights Lab is the kind of gift that unfurls as it spans time. Working among peers, on lands of such incomparable beauty, lifts the impetus to write beyond our bravest expectations. The place and people weave into process, not only for the works touched on at the Lab, but into future works and ways of being. Much like ceremony, the nourishment this intensive time offers spreads through the arts ecology, strengthening the imagined and actual worlds we create within. 

Tara Beagan, Senior Playwright in Residence, 2022

Contact Us

For questions about the department and what we offer, please contact:

Email: arts_info@banffcentre.ca
Phone: 403.762.610