A first-of-its-kind new play development model & virtual reading series.
Zee Zee has identified a gap that exists in the Canadian theatre ecology. Time and again we see a lack of queer and trans plays being produced on stages across Canada. What started as a four year hunt for our own programming purposes led us to country-wide, conversations with many other artists and producers who all share the view that as curators, producers and presenters of theatrical seasons it is a challenge to find queer and trans focused work.
To rectify this Zee Zee has establish this new model for play creation and dissemination, in order to ensure more equitable representation of 2SLGBTQ+ artists and stories on Canadian stages, as well as strengthen and deepen the bonds of professional artists and collaborators across the country, while ultimately furthering equality for all queer and trans people.
We have gathered a cross-regional consortium of eight other very specific queer and non-queer, intersectional producing companies that have a shared ethos and believe deeply that investing in diversity in their programming is vital for the health and wellness of their entire community. These companies are both from smaller communities as well as major centres from Canada’s North to the Maritimes. They are helping to disseminate the call for submissions ensuring a wide array of artist learn about this opportunity and they will act as selection committee for the Unit.
It will see five, emerging & mid-career artists gathering in the first ever, entirely queer, virtual playwriting unit and they will be paid fairly to write a new play. It will result in a canon of new Canadian intersectional plays being developed ready for production.
At the end of the 10 month writing unit each of the 5 plays will be produced by one of the consortium and will be streamed to the other 8 communities that the consortium work from. The entire consortium will help promote these hybrid virtual/ in-real-life play reading series over three weekends.
The consortium will then commit to full productions or further development of all 5 of the new scripts generated in the unit.
It’s well known that seeing ourselves reflected back to us helps develop a healthy sense of self. What we see on stage reinforces that sense of having a place in society, while at the same time this healthy portrayal of everyday queer and trans people trying to live happy lives to the fullest tells others that our life and our story matters. Conversely not seeing ourselves reflected does have negative impacts on our mental health and wellbeing – absence is not neutral but in fact entirely detrimental.
As we’re discovering during these “unprecedented” times, fair and equal representation of intersectional diversity is on many people’s and organization’s minds. As arts leaders and members of Canada’s queer community we feel a responsibility to not only demand but also assist in advancing the cause for more time and space for queer and trans inclusion in seasons and on stages across the country, whether the company is queer mandated or not, not only for queer and trans artists but for queer audiences too. Visibility and representation are political.
In this new age of Zoom, mobility is an issue but distance is not. This project will connect artists and audiences from across Canada under one goal: To advance the status of queer and trans folks in Canada through art.
After reviewing 241 applications, the Consortium has invited the following artists into the unit:
Tyra Ashauntie Gill (Yukon)
Smokii Sumac (British Columbia)
Elio Zarrillo (Manitoba)
Nathaniel Hanula-James (Ontario)
Robyn Vivian (Newfoundland)