“We’re pleased to see the future of 10×10 in the hands of a premier theatre company who will continue to welcome a diversity of artists from all levels of experience to work together on a project that engages our community through sharing our Northern stories on stage,” said Winslow.
The project connects local playwrights, directors, and actors to offer a unique opportunity for theatre creation in the region. Writers are invited to submit a 10-minute play for consideration and other interested candidates are invited to apply for director roles. An adjudicating committee then selects 10 plays and matches each to a director. The scripts are workshopped over the course of several months and then cast with local talent before culminating in a staged production.
10×10 grew out of the popular success of the 10 by 10 Playwrights’ Showcase, the brainchild of Janis Swanson of the community theatre troupe Rob MacLeod’s Capitol Players. The first showcase premiered to a sold-out crowd in 2013, and the project has enjoyed ongoing success in the Thunder Bay community every year since. Events were staged at various venues around the city over the years, including the Prince Arthur Hotel and the Finlandia Club before moving to the Magnus Theatre stage in 2018.
“One of the first community events I attended when I came to Thunder Bay was the 10×10 festival at the Finlandia,” said Magnus Theatre artistic director Thom Currie. “I was amazed at the diversity of work and the commitment to play creation in this community. Everyone at Magnus Theatre wishes to acknowledge the leadership team of Cathi Winslow, Sheena Albanese, Jelena Psenicnik, Jessica Krasnichuk and Nicholas Palinka, who have devoted years to the festival. 10×10 would not be what it is today without their hard work and tireless efforts. They will always be at the heart of 10×10 history.”
Winslow says that during her tenure, she and her team worked to build connections and friendships between artists from all the unique groups in Thunder Bay in an effort to further develop theatrical skills and to engage with audiences in a memorable way. She says that the decision to move 10×10 under Magnus Theatre’s creative direction will allow the project to continue to grow with the full weight of professional theatre behind it.
Magnus Theatre has a strong reputation for premiering the works of Canadian playwrights such as Drew Hayden Taylor, Emil Sher, Paul Ledoux, David Young, Eleanor Albanese, Tomson Highway, and Norm Foster. The theatre has also enthusiastically supported the next generation of Canadian playwrights, striving to give new and aspiring writers a platform for their voices to be heard and their works to be shared. Since the company’s founding 50 years ago, Magnus Theatre has endeavoured to offer a space for local writers to gather and inspire each other, mandating new play development as a pillar of the theatre’s activities.
The 10×10 initiative will be integral to Magnus Theatre’s new play development mandate and will be produced by the Theatre in Education department headed by Jordan Blaxill, himself a long-time 10×10 participant.
“We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Magnus Theatre is taking on the stewardship of the Thunder Bay 10×10 Festival,” says Blaxill. “10×10 is an important part of the arts landscape here in Thunder Bay, and everyone at the theatre is excited to be part of this next phase in the festival’s evolution.”
“Theatre creation is vital,” says Winslow. “Northern artists and audiences represent a wide range of diverse cultural experiences and theatre offers us a place to come together.”
The upcoming 10×10 Festival will take place on the Magnus Theatre stage from June 13 to 18, 2022, with public performances on June 17 and 18. Ticket sales for the showcase will be announced at a later date. Magnus Theatre is currently inviting those individuals interested in directing to submit their applications by 11:59 pm on March 2. No previous directing experience is required, but experience in theatre and/or film is an asset (a theatrical resume is helpful, but not essential). Interested directors will be contacted and sent a timeline of key dates to ensure availability as well as a form requesting further information.
Magnus Theatre is also inviting play submissions by 11:59 pm on March 13. The guidelines stipulate that each writer submit one single ten-minute work. The play may have up to five actors, with minimal use of props, lighting, and set.