Next Stage

The Next Stage Theatre Festival will be entering its thirteenth season in 2020!

Thank you to everyone who filled in our Community Feedback survey. It was extremely valuable to us as we made plans for Next Stage 2020.

In 2020 we will be returning to the Factory Theatre from January 8-19th and we are looking for submissions to the Main Stage Series and the Studio Stage Series. The distinction between these two spaces has already been organically happening at Next Stage over the last few years, and we’ve decided to be clearer about what each space can offer to the artists, the audience and the industry we will be inviting.

Main Stage Series

The Main Stage Series will feature fully realized productions. These will be pieces ready to be picked up for the ‘next stage’ by other companies or venues, to showcase writers, directors and actors. These pieces will be open to an audience and to the industry.

Studio Stage Series

For the Studio Stage Series, we are looking for work that is still in development, seeking feedback, perhaps involving Q&As with the audience. These productions are ready to be seen by audiences and industry alike, but also have elements that may still be in development. 

What are we looking for?

We are looking for experienced producers, and as of last year you no longer have to have been a main producer at a CAFF (Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals) Fringe in order to be eligible. But we would like to know your relationship to Fringe or similar producing work and why you think Next Stage is the best place for your work.

As always we are looking for new works but are also interested in reworked projects, original adaptations and remounts but productions of work by notable playwrights or of the ‘classics’ are not eligible.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed. Shows in the 2020 Festival will be announced in fall of 2019. Successful applicants will be notified in late July 2019.


The History of Next Stage

NSTF was founded in 2008 by the then leaders of the Toronto Fringe, Chuck McEwen and Bridget MacIntosh. It was created to encourage indie artists and artists who had previously been a primary contact for any CAFF member festivals to move beyond the summer festival model and showcase their work to a wider audience, including discerning artistic decision makers who could be interested in programming their shows on main stages across the country.

Finding its home in January at Factory Theatre, it quickly became the premiere winter theatre event in the city, filling in a void that the after-holiday season had created. At the time there was not much else happening, although that has certainly changed over the last few years, with more companies starting their seasons earlier, and independent companies producing their work in spaces across the city.

There were four shows programmed in the Studio space and four shows in the Mainspace, and over the years there has nearly always been a musical and a dance show, along with theatre and comedy.

In 2012 Morro and Jasp suggested doing a piece in the small bar to the side of the Factory Mainspace and thus the ‘Antechamber’ was born. Over the years the Antechamber has been home to a multitude of 30 minute shows. This year we will be doing something a little different with that space. Details to be announced soon.

Over the last 12 years there have been many shows that appeared at previous Fringe Festivals as well as many new works by established indie theatre artists who have demonstrated the passion and tenacity to take their work to the next stage.

In 2018 we removed the caveat that you had to be a primary contact of a CAFF Festival and allowed anyone to apply. We recognized that as the Fringe is a lottery not everyone will have had a chance to perform in one and therefore would also not have the opportunity to apply to Next Stage.

A jury of industry experts evaluate the submissions. We will let all applying companies know if they were successful shortly before the deadline for project grants (OAC and TAC level) at the beginning of August.

Get ready to laugh and cry

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