Celebrating 50 years of supporting playwrights and theatrical storytelling!
Since its launch in 1973, The Banff Playwrights Lab has provided an inspiring, interdisciplinary, and inclusive environment to work on your play while surrounded by performing artists from across the country and around the world. We are proud to gather on Treaty 7 territory to create, share, and explore theatrical storytelling.
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); for example, through Indigenous lenses (sovereignty, history, displacement, ceremony), or in relation to climate, migration, ecology, borders, refugee crises, or environmental justice. The Lab supports writers and plays that tell stories not commonly told on Canadian stages; stories that embrace outrage and wrestle with wild ideas and images; and pursue challenging, multi-disciplinary, provocative approaches to telling stories.
What does the program offer?
Ten Canadian writers will be offered a two-week residency at Banff Centre. You may invite a collaborator to attend for up to four days to work with you on your project; this may be a dramaturg, director, digital creator, actor, designer, musician, choreographer, or translator. We encourage writers to consider inviting a non-theatre artist or individual essential to their creation process. Details of your proposed collaborator should be included in your application.
The Lab’s dramaturgical team will support these projects throughout the Lab. Optional online sessions (pre or post-program) may be offered to you as a community resource and way to stay in touch.
This program provides 100% scholarship, with a travel allowance included.
You will also have the opportunity to be considered for The Retreat, a two-week winter residency from February 26 to March 12, 2023. The Retreat offers two playwrights the opportunity to focus specifically on the writing for their individual project, within one of the Leighton Artists Studios. The Lab Director and Dramaturg 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. No production support is available. Please indicate your interest at step 3 of the application process.
Note: The 2023 Lab will not include a company of actors.
As the Lab reaches its 50th edition in 2023, we will be marking the occasion with celebratory videos - including this welcome from our faculty!
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 to the national and international performing arts community.
Who should apply?
Artists who are exploring theatrical form, risk-taking, 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. We invite participants developing new works for both adults and young audiences to join us in a dynamic conversation about storytelling and contemporary performance as we push Canadian theatre into the future.
Applications are open to Canadians and Permanent Residents only, under the Jay Treaty in North America; Indigenous candidates are also encouraged to apply. We welcome artists from all communities who are exploring land-based dramaturgical and creation practices, and encourage applications from artists working with Indigenous languages, incorporating multiple languages, and those working on projects with little or no language to apply. Please note, The Banff Playwrights Lab is conducted in English.
Those creating works that bridge theatre/dance and indoor/outdoor spaces; and projects whose goals reach beyond the theatre space to changing practices, systems and communities. As we consider the forms of new work that playwrights have engaged in during the pandemic, we want in particular to acknowledge and examine approaches to storytelling that combine live and digital components.
We invite playwrights to consider this year’s focus on land when preparing their application. However, this is not mandatory – all applications will be considered equally by the adjudication committee regardless of whether they address this focus area.
For full details on vaccination requirements, masking, safety protocols, and COVID related policies please visit: www.banffcentre.ca/covid-19-measures
Your program fee includes a single bedroom on the Banff Centre campus for the duration of your program.
Get connected with other artists on campus and focus on your projects in a creative environment while we take care of the day-to-day essentials.
Using a credit-based system to dine on campus, our flexible meal plans allow you to select meals according to your own needs during your stay.
The Full Flex meal plan includes $58 credit per day, equivalent to breakfast, lunch and dinner at our buffet service.
A financial award towards your travel costs to and from Banff. Regional maximums apply.
Enjoy special artist rates for ticketed performances or complimentary access to events.
Play readings and other activities may be available during the program.
Playwrights will be offered a work space suited to the nature of their creative projects.
Fees & Financial Assistance
Application fee: $65 ($35 for applicants who identify as Indigenous)
*Lab participants will receive 100% scholarship to cover the program fees, plus a travel allowance to help with expenses
Application fees are not refundable.
*Regional maximums for travel expenses apply.
Banff Centre will issue official tax receipts for eligible tuition fees and financial assistance and awards as required by the Income Tax Act. You will receive a T2202 (Tuition and Enrolment Certificate) for eligible tuition fees paid and a T4A (Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income) for applicable financial assistance and awards.
How to Apply
No more than two pages outlining:
• Your project status, what you would like to accomplish at the Lab, what you are striving to achieve with the story, and your developmental goals.
• Whether there is a collaborator you wish to attend the Lab, and their name, relationship to the project, and availability.
– please address the relationship of your project to the Lab focus on land;
– include a list of readings, workshops and presentations, plus relationship with play development centres and/or producing companies or collaborators;
– if previously produced, articulate why you are returning to a developmental/writing process on the project.
- please note if you are available and want to be considered for The Retreat (February 26 to March 12, 2023).
Note: You may apply with written materials as outlined, or with a video (maximum duration of 7 minutes), or a combination of written/video materials. Please have any written material ready to submit as a single PDF document. If including video, please ensure you include any video elements in a single file.
Acknowledging the Banff Playwrights Lab
In recognition of the Lab’s contribution to the development of each writers’ work, writers are required to include Banff Centre’s logo and credit on the title page of all future readings, workshops, productions, recordings, and publications of their projects.
All applications will be reviewed by the Lab's dramaturgical team, and additional adjudicators as required. The Lab does not provide feedback on applications. Please be aware that this is a highly competitive national program that often receives 100-plus applications.
Invitations to attend the Lab will be extended by February 1, 2023, and the selected writers announced in March 2023. Final decisions are made by the Lab Director.
- Applications are open to Canadians and Permanent Residents only. Under the Jay Treaty in North America; Indigenous candidates are also encouraged to apply.
- We do accept plays that are commissioned by other theatres or producers; however, you must obtain written permission from the commissioning organization stating that they support your application.
- We will consider projects that have been produced. The writer, however, must make a compelling case for a process of revising the project based on what they gleaned from the production, with the goal of making the play more prepared for future productions. A produced project is defined as a project that has been reviewed by critics. We do consider plays that have had a previous workshop, or developmental opportunities.
- We will consider plays that are already scheduled for a production. Please include information on the production, including dates and creative team. In your artistic statement, please articulate your developmental goals for the project prior to rehearsal.
- The Lab is unable to accept applications for projects that have been declined in previous years.
- Applicants must be ages 18+ at the time of the program start date.
Please ensure that you have reviewed these important FAQs about Banff Centre before applying.
All programs, faculty, dates, fees, and offers of financial assistance are subject to change. Program fee is 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. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.