Stage Door News

Toronto: Nightwood Theatre’s 2020 Groundswell Festival goes digital

Monday, October 26, 2020

This November Nightwood’s Groundswell Festival goes digital, offering an invitation inside the creative process with readings of brand new works from our Write From The Hip playwright’s unit, led by Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, as well as opportunities to gather for provocative conversations and workshops. This season’s festival, designed for Zoom by Michelle Tracey, will share new plays and conversations from Bilal Baig, Shelley M. Hobbs, Erum Khan, Rachel Mutombo, Pesch Nepoose and Phoebe Tsang, public conversations with Deaf-led collective SPiLL.PROpagation and national arts advocacy collective AD HOC Assembly, as well as free professional development opportunities for playwrights and artists. 



November 10–20, 2020 

All offerings will be available for ten days after the first presentation

Readings are free or by donation available at

Several accessibility measures will be available throughout the festival. For more details on these measures and to learn more about the programming and how to view it visit


Tuesday, November 10

6pm ET - Refusal by Shelley M. Hobbs

Directed by Andrea Donaldson

Cast: Dalal Badr, Diane Flacks, Armon Ghaeinizadeh, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Nancy Palk, Bahareh Yaraghi and Jenny Young

A war correspondent has become overwhelmed by a career that she both loves and detests. She struggles to reconcile the unequal risks of who is telling what may or may not be the truth. Refusal seeks to address white and class privilege in reporting, its impact on those depicted in the reports, and the emotional costs of suppressed anger and grief in the tellers of "truth".


Wednesday, November 11

6pm ET - Better by Rachel Mutombo 

Directed by Maiko Yamamoto

Cast: Christine Horne, Melissa Langdon, Bria Mclaughlin and Emerjade Simms 

In this not too distant future, men have tightened the reins on their control of society. Sent to a sanctuary for misguided souls by their husbands, brothers or fathers when they’ve stepped out of line, five women navigate the harsh reality of a world that is no longer safe for them. 

Thursday, November 12

6pm ET - in conversation with Erum Khan and excerpts from All my forgotten dreams

Directed by Maiko Yamamoto

Cast: Jani Lauzon, Joelle Peters, Beatriz Pizano, Heath V. Salazar and Arlen Aguayo Stewart

Marooned in the "after" with no idea when they'll return to "before", All my forgotten dreams shifts between characters wrestling with isolation, silence and restlessness in the wake of a new world. At once lush and sparse, this live theatrical hybrid film dwelling in a digital dystopia is a speculative future that mirrors our present moment with searing truth.


Friday, November 13 

6pm ET - Death of a Father by Phoebe Tsang

Directed by Andrea Donaldson

CastAllegra Fulton and Caroline Toal

The ambitious mayor of a small coastal town sacrifices the safety and reputation of his teenage daughter for his political campaign. Twenty years later, his estranged daughter and her mother reconnect at his sparsely attended funeral. This modern retelling of an ancient Greek myth examines the consequences of domestic abuse and parental betrayal.


Monday, November 16

1pm ET - "Know What You Don’t Know" with AD HOC Assembly 

Cole Alvis and Yvette Nolan of AD HOC Assembly in association with Nightwood Theatre will lead a workshop to engage participants in their pursuit of equity within their arts practice and/or organizations. The focus will be on how to know what you don’t know in supporting Indigenous, Black and culturally diverse artists, audiences and communities.


Tuesday, November 17

6pm ET - The Bridge by Pesch Nepoose

Directed by Cole Alvis

Cast: Joelle Peters

A young Indigenous woman grapples with loss, love, longing and loneliness in this personal and poetic one-woman-show. The Bridge offers a searching meditation on suicide and memory.

Content warning: self-harm and suicide 


Wednesday, November 18

6pm ET - A Conversation with SPiLL.PROpagation 

Founded in 2009 by a group of Deaf and not-Deaf artists, SPiLL’s mission is to infuse art practices with sign languages and to produce critical art and creative research. SPiLL’s work is rooted in a theoretical framework of the practice of deconstructing phonocentrism (decentralizing spoken and written languages in favour of sign languages and the visual experience).

Thursday, November 19

6pm ET - in conversation Bilal Baig touching on their play blue eyes killed him without blinking

Bilal Baig discusses art, social justice and accountability through the lens of their newest work blue eyes killed him without blinking.


Friday, November 20

6pm ET - A Conversation with Theatre’s Feminist Foremothers

Pioneering voices in the feminist theatre community come together to discuss the past and future of Anti-Oppression in the Canadian theatre ecology. Voices at the table include Margo Kane and Diane Roberts.