New Play Creation

Odyssey is committed to developing new Canadian work. Our New Play Creation Program lets writers work in a supportive environment to create original plays and have them professionally produced.

About the Program
Director and Dramaturg: Laurie Steven (Odyssey’s Artistic Director)

Resident Dramaturgs: Janet Irwin and Eleanor Crowder

Odyssey provides program participants with a high level of creation support, including dramaturgical advice, writing tutorials, and design consultations, as writers move towards a production of their work on our summer stage. Odyssey’s is the only new play creation program in Canada specifically focused on physical theatre art forms, including mask, clown, and non-verbal theatre. The program has taken 24 original works, translations, and adaptations through from creation to full production.

Eligible Participants

  • Open to all professional theatre creators, which includes: playwrights; collaborative creators; translators and adaptors; and small companies looking to co-produce.
  • Creators should apply with a project they would like to develop and have considered for production as part of Odyssey’s Theatre Under the Stars
  • Projects must incorporate a physical theatre form, which may include: mask, clown, Commedia dell’Arte, international forms of dance-theatre, bouffon, puppetry, and non-verbal theatre.

Suitable Projects

Projects must be suited to an outdoor production on Odyssey’s summer stage in Strathcona Park. That means:

  • Generally a cast size of 6-8;
  • A running time of approximately 120 minutes;
  • Modest set requirements (given that sets are built to withstand the elements)
  • Minimal lighting requirements (given that the performance begins in daylight and that ambient light prevents a full blackout).

How to Apply

We do not accept unsolicited scripts. Instead, applicants are invited to submit a project treatment to Artistic Director Laurie Steven. Project treatments should include:

  • A covering letter detailing why the artist wants to participate in our program and why their project is a good fit for Odyssey’s Theatre Under the Stars stage;
  • A five-to-seven page project description that provides:
    • A brief plot summary;
    • Two-to-three-line descriptions of each character that indicate their story arcs;
    • A statement of the theme;
    • A description of the style(s) of the play;
    • A note on the project’s current state and work done to date;
    • A list of staging requirements, including a breakdown of actors needed.


  • A C.V. for each of the principal creators;
  • A five-page script sample of the proposed work; (For collaborative creations and non-verbal work, please submit a scenario and a description of your creation process.)
  • Optional: an artistic example consisting of a video link showcasing your work, no longer than five minutes.

What does Odyssey provide?

Participants enter into the program on a three-year commitment. In that time, Odyssey provides:

  • Two rounds of extensive dramaturgy per year on new drafts;
  • One-on-one tutorials with a dramaturg up to once a year on a specific topic related to the creation;
  • A design consultation to help creators maximize design elements in their work;
  • Discounted rates on all artist training workshops;
  • Assistance and support with applications for funding from granting agencies, including Playwright-in-Residence programs.

When a play is approaching a production-ready state, Odyssey will organize and finance a workshop. Royalties are paid to the creator(s) upon production of the work.

NB: While the program is geared towards creating works for Odyssey’s stage, acceptance into the program does not guarantee production. It is at the Theatre’s discretion whether projects are ready for a workshop or full production.

What is expected of participants?

Participants are expected to meet annual creation goals set out collaboratively by the creator(s), the dramaturg, and the Theatre. Creators are expected to submit two drafts of their script per year for feedback.

Past Projects:

Previous new plays produced by Odyssey through this program include:

  • Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia by David S. Craig
  • The Financier by Alain-René Lesage – translated and adapted by Laurie Steven and Joanne Miller
  • They All Do It by Janet Irwin
  • A Guy Named Joe by Laurie Steven
  • Bungsu and the Big Snake by Lib Spry
  • Turandot by Laurie Steven and Lib Spry
  • The Diplomat by Kim Selody

To read about projects currently in development through this program click here.

Resident Dramaturgs

Janet Irwin has over thirty years experience in the theatre, working as director, playwright/librettist, producer, dramaturge, consultant and teacher. She has written plays for GCTC, Odyssey Theatre, Upper Canada Playhouse and the NAC. As a director, she has worked with companies like the NAC, GCTC, Easy Street Productions, Upper Canada Playhouse, Opera Lyra Ottawa, the Manitoba Popular Theatre Alliance, Third Wall Theatre, Deluxe Hot Sauce and CanPlay Productions. She is a former Dramaturge for NAC/GCTC’s Playwright Unit and former President of Theatre Ontario. For Odyssey, Janet directed The Barber of Seville and wrote They All Do It.

Eleanor Crowder has been making theatre in Ottawa for 40 years. She is an award-winning actor, director, playwright, producer, and core member of Bear and Co. As a writer, her work is known across the country; her plays A World of Stories and Momma’s Boy continue to tour extensively. Recent directing credits include: Monstrous (undercurrents festival, b.current’s Rock, Papah, Sistahz festival); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (GNAG Theatre) The Glass Menagerie, The Taming of the Shrew (Bear and Co.). Skin Songs is her newest work, in development with Lola Ryan and Sarah Waisvisz.