Storytelling with Steam Whistle

In place of the 14th annual Next Stage Theatre Festival, Toronto Fringe will be presenting The Next Stage Community Booster. This four-day event will be a boost of energy, ideas, creativity, and friendship for those enduring an isolated pandemic winter.

We will feature digital performances from acclaimed indie artists, livestreamed conversations on urgent topics, online workshops that focus on mental health and self-care, and (if permitted by public health) socially distanced outdoor gatherings for small groups.  The event will take place from January 21 – 24, 2021 online at and potentially with limited capacity outdoors.  More programming details will be announced in December. 

Storytelling with Steam Whistle

“Evening at Home” Package

In partnership with long-time Fringe supporter Steam Whistle Brewing, Fringe will present an evening of home entertainment for audiences this winter. Premiering on Thursday, January 21 and running until Sunday, January 24, this digital storytelling series will feature a group of local indie artists. 

Artists may apply to become one of our Steam Whistle Storytellers, to present a 10-15 minute solo performance that will be edited together into an at-home package for viewers. Some performance examples include: storytelling, stand-up comedy, spoken word or performance poetry. 

Toronto Fringe actively prioritizes applications from Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour communities, 2SLGBTQ+ identified persons as well as Deaf, Mad and disability-identified persons.  
Selected artists will be invited to film their offering at Steam Whistle Brewery in Locomotive Hall, with audio/visual and technical set up covered and supported by Fringe and Steam Whistle. All you need to bring is your self and your story. 

When the series premieres in January, the filmed stories will be part of a larger package that includes food and beverages that audiences may have delivered to their homes, courtesy of Steam Whistle Brewing.

Possible In-Person Performances

If public health guidelines permit, the event will be scaled up to include a socially distanced, outdoor, live storytelling event. Happening on Friday, January 22 and Saturday, January 23, the in-person event will take place at Steam Whistle’s outdoor Pilsner Patio, around five cozy grilling stations. During the performance, audiences will be seated and offered a curated menu of food and drinks from the team at Steam Whistle. Audience capacity will be extremely limited, with four-person bubbles permitted around each station. It will be a cozy, intimate winter gathering for theatre lovers this winter. 

Details of the Program

Artist Compensation: Each artist selected to participate in the Storytelling with Steam Whistle event will be offered an artist fee of $250 CAD for creating and filming their 10-15 minute piece. If an in-person offering is possible, artists will also receive $50 for each performance. Revenue from ticket/package sales will go towards supporting the Toronto Fringe.

Cost to Apply: There is no cost to apply. 

Filming: Each artist will be asked to create a digital version of their piece, filmed on location at Steam Whistle Brewery in The Roundhouse. Filming will take place in early January. All social distancing rules that apply to film sets will be adhered to. Please note that amplification, lighting, and other tech needs may be limited or not be available so use your creativity.

Accessibility: The filming space is physically accessible, as is the greenroom space indoors with accessible washrooms. If an in-person event is possible, the outdoor performance area is also physically accessible. The at-home package will include a transcript of the stories and video captions. 

Accommodations: If you would like to discuss accommodations to the application process, please let us know and we would happily modify any of the stages above to meet your needs. Please reach out to Festival Management Intern Suzanne Wilkie ( to discuss.

Eligibility: This program is open to artists from the Greater Toronto Area. There are no further qualifications – you may be in any phase of your career (emerging, established) and use any mode of storytelling. The geographical restriction is in place for two reasons: 

  1. With public health in mind, to not encourage travel from one jurisdiction to another. 
  2. To ensure that the selected artists are able to access the filming/performance location easily. 

Application Deadline:  Applications are now open and will close Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 5pm. Please click this link to fill out the application form. Artists will be notified of their acceptance into the series by Friday, December 11.  

Click here to apply

Application Materials: If applying, please submit the following via the form linked to above:

  1. A bio/CV as a PDF
  2. A brief statement about your performance

If you have questions, please let us know. Reach out to Festival Management Intern Suzanne Wilkie ( to discuss your project.