Photograph of a sculpture from the Festival Theatre gardens.



We are committed to developing and producing new Canadian work that complements and enhances our focus on what is traditionally defined as the classical repertoire.

While we’re open to all forms – drama, comedy, adaptations, musicals and family-friendly fare – we’re especially interested in ambitious, large-cast plays that articulate the great themes of classical theatre. We also favour plays that feature a female point of view and offer sizeable opportunities for female actors, and that reflect the cultural diversity of life in Canada today.

Although Shakespeare lies at the core of our programming, we are unlikely to be interested in new work inspired by his plays or that might be defined as a “new take on” or a “revisioning of” the original texts.

At any given time, we are developing and supporting about 15 new projects. This includes seeding of first drafts, commissions, dramaturgical feedback, readings and in-house workshops. We put the playwright at the centre of the process, actively participating in the development of his or her work.

Playwrights Retreat

Each year, we invite up to eight playwrights to spend three weeks at the Festival in September. Free to work on any project of their own devising, they can receive dramaturgical feedback if they wish, attend our performances and meet with members of our artistic staff. They receive an honorarium, plus travel and accommodation costs.

We offer this opportunity to artists from across the country, from diverse communities, and at all stages of the playwriting life: emerging writers, mid-career practitioners and senior artists. Since its inception in 2008, the Retreat has hosted more than 50 writers.

The Laboratory

A crucible for artistic innovation and exploration, the Stratford Festival Laboratory has a direct influence on the works you see on our stages each season. It is through the Lab that we develop new plays - such as this season's Mother's Daughter and Birds of a Kind - and experiment with diverse approaches to staging the classics. The research and development work we undertake in the Lab is the essential catalyst for our company's creative growth.

We don’t accept, and won’t read, unsolicited manuscripts. However, our Director of New Plays, Bob White, welcomes letters of inquiry about specific projects. Please contact him by email. We ask for a description of the work, plus any background on development to date. A brief bio is also helpful. If we feel the project might be appropriate for further consideration, we’ll ask the playwright to submit a draft. We consider only material by Canadian playwrights. 

Participation in the Retreat is by invitation only. Playwrights may indicate their interest by contacting Bob White. 

Support for new play programs at the Stratford Festival is provided through the generosity of Rita & Rudy Koehler, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and Kelly & Michael Meighen. The Festival gratefully acknowledges the Canada Council’s support of its new play programs.