Stage Door News

Toronto: Nightwood Theatre presents the 2021 Groundswell Festival

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

This November our annual Groundswell Festival invites the audience to get creative, offering a six-day, interactive digital retreat to generate ideas and spotlight brand new works from our Write From The Hip playwright’s unit (WFTH). Inspired by the success of Nightwood’s Creatryx Writing Room, this season’s festival offers a unique opportunity for folks to hear selections of new plays from Anahita Dehbonehie, Celia Green, Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野, Breton Lalama, Kitoko Mai and Nikki Shaffeeullah, learn more about each artist in an intimate conversation hosted by Artist/Activist-in-Residence Sedina Fiati, and then have the option to delve into a writing session of their own with a prompt inspired by the piece. Nightwood will also serve up a closer look at dramaturgy and play-pitching with two free professional development workshops curated and hosted by playwright and WFTH Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. Join us as we celebrate creation, conversation and community at our 36th annual Groundswell Festival!


November 10–17, 2021

Readings and events are free or by donation at

All festival events will be offered online and will available to view until November 26th. For more details about the programming and how to view it visit

Tuesday, November 10, 1-2pm ET

夜 YORU (or, WHEN THE NIGHT BECOMES ON SOUND) by Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 

夜 YORU is a multidisciplinary work that collides at the intersection of binary gender expectations, and eastern and western cultures and musical forms. Hana (they/them) yearns for a connection to their late Japanese father who died over a decade ago. When an unexpected downsizing of their mother's house prompts a sudden trip back to their childhood home, Hana can't avoid the internal reckoning that awaits, not only forcing them to grapple with their past, but with their present and ultimately their future.

Wednesday, November 11, 1-2pm ET

SOWWY by Celia Green 

SOWWY is a boundary-breaking performance work that combines movement, text, and music to investigate cycles of apology and violence through the lens of gender. The world of this piece is distorted, chaotic, and beautiful. Feelings are at the forefront, and characterization is woven with crystal clear movement. SOWWY features a cast of trans and gender non-conforming performers who move, speak and moan their way through the messiness of gendered violence, forgiveness, and remorse.

Wednesday, November 11, 3-4pm ET

Deconstructing Dramaturgy Workshop

Get an inside look at the dramaturgical process and learn the kinds of questions that can provoke a deeper exploration of a work-in-progress. For this session, Write From The Hip (WFTH) Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard will share her writing and Nightwood's Artistic Director Andrea Donaldson, former WFTH Program Associate Faly Mevamanana and current WFTH Program Associate Max Fearon will share their dramaturgical questions and process. Join us as we demystify the sometimes elusive role of the dramaturg and empower attendees with a handful of the tools necessary to do the work.

Thursday, November 12, 1-2pm ET

Betty’s House by Nikki Shaffeeullah

Part science fiction, part unconventional family saga, Betty's House weaves together the stories of three generations of women to explore the impacts of indentured labour, incarceration, and abolition, on land, bodies, and relationships.

Monday, November 15, 1-2pm ET

Last Show on Earth by Breton Lalama

The world is ending, and the countdown is on. What matters when nothing else will ever matter again?

Monday, November 15, 3-4pm ET

Pitching Your Play Workshop
Learn how to create an impactful pitch package for your play. Join Write From The Hip Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard for this active work session offering some prompts and structure for sharing your work with producers, presenters and beyond.

Tuesday, November 16, 1-2pm ET

Messy: a Chaotic Black Femme Rage Musical by Kitoko Mai

Messy: a Chaotic Black Femme Rage Musical is a musical, a play, a scavenger hunt, a concert, and a group therapy session playing with ideas of mental health, lineage, queerness, and public persona. As the piece continues to develop, Kitoko is asking questions about form and content, playing with social media to interrogate the role of the audience and further blur the lines between fiction and reality, character and autobiography.

Wednesday, November 17, 1-2pm ET

Soraya by Anahita Dehbonehie

Soraya takes place over the course of a winter evening at the home of a Canadian history professor, Neil and his half-Persian wife Tara.  A surprise guest shows up just before a small gathering to celebrate his promotion. Over the course of the evening the tensions between the different cultures build until they can't anymore, and each of the five characters is forced to grapple with the question: who do we save and why? 


As Canada’s foremost feminist theatre, Nightwood Theatre is driven by artistic excellence, advocacy, and the successful training and development of artists that self-identify as having lived experience touched by womanhood – this includes but is not limited to trans, cis, Two-Spirit and non-binary folks. Founded in 1979, Nightwood Theatre has created and produced award-winning plays, which have won Dora Mavor Moore, Chalmers, Trillium and Governor General’s Awards.