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April 16 to June 19


Alumnae Theatre was fortunate to receive a generous grant from Canadian Heritage that is allowing us to embrace a non-traditional format for our 34th annual New Ideas Festival. 

​Whether you’re on stage, in workshops, or in the audience, NIF 2022 is your vehicle to try, watch, or become something new.

​Brenda Darling, Festival Executive Producer


Alumnae Theatre’s Berkeley Street entrance and the Mainstage Theatre are wheelchair accessible.
​There is a wheelchair-accessible restroom on the ground floor.
​The 3rd floor walk-up Studio Theatre is not currently accessible.

New Ideas Festival Executive Director

BRENDA DARLING worked 7 years at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto, journeying from actor to general manager. She founded MythMakers, which provided production and management support to 80 companies over its 5 years of existence. She spent 13 years as administrative producer of 4 different international festivals—World Stage, Harbourfront Children’s Festival, Festival de theatre des ameriques, and Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival. She created her own short films and worked on others.
On ATC’s mainstage, Brenda directed The Trip to Bountiful (2020) and Stepping Out (2016). For the New Ideas Festival, she directed shorts and co-produced for 3 seasons. She has been a board member and president. She launched Cyber Reads during the pandemic. This online script workshop series has rehearsed and presented 90 top international and Canadian scripts featuring ATC directors and ATC actors.
Brenda is married to the good man she met when she was 16, has 2 wise daughters, 1 special daughter, a Kenyan godson and 5 inspiring grandchildren.

Media Relations

For Media requests about New Ideas Festival 2022,
please contact
Sue Edworthy, Communications, Sue Edworthy Arts Planning
For all other inquiries, please contact Brenda Darling, Executive Producer


New Ideas Festival (NIF)

NIF was founded in the late 1980s by Molly Thom and Kerri MacDonald as “a laboratory to develop new talent and new theatrical ideas.” Since then, NIF has played and continues to play a role in playwright and script development, and has also provided opportunities for many Toronto directors, actors, stage managers, and technicians at an early stage in their careers.

Many practicing theatre artists over thirty years have participated in the festival, including Florence Gibson, Dave Carley, Emil Sher, Michael Redhill, Mark Brownell, Sue Minor, Brian Quirt, Wayson Choi, Clem Martini, Shirley Barrie, Jordan Hall, Erin Shields, Norman Yeung, Andrea Scott, and Rose Napoli, to name just a few.

The scripts: often they only ever have one production, especially the very short ones. But some have gone on to other theatres and festivals, further development, and a longer life.

For example, Theory, by Norman Yeung, which began as a workshopped reading in NIF 2010, was later produced at SummerWorks 2010 and Alumnae’s FireWorks 2013, received several readings at various theatres, and won the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition in 2015.

Theory was programmed as part of Tarragon’s 2018–19 season.

Other recent NIF plays that have been subsequently produced elsewhere include Better Angels: A Parable by Andrea Scott (SummerWorks 2015); Radical by Charles Hayter (Toronto Fringe 2014 and FireWorks 2015); The Creases in My Sari by Sindhuri Nandhakumar (FireWorks 2016); and, This Will Be Our Last Transmission by Natalie Frijia, Surrender Dorothy by Liz Best, and GASH by Caitie Graham (FireWorks 2017); and Omission by Alice Abracen (Alumnae Theatre Company 2018).

However, NIF is not just about developing individual plays, but also serves as a stepping stone in the development of the playwrights and other theatre artists, who need opportunities to test their playwriting, directing, acting, or technical skills. Established playwrights have tried out first drafts at NIF, and emerging artists have gained experience that has helped them move on to the professional theatre world.

From Carolyn Zapf ‘s 2018 article, “New Ideas Festival – Thoughts on Turning Thirty”.


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