William Anderson’s Father Francis attempts an exorcism on Danni, played by Whitley Dunn, to remove demon Nicole Potvin (from left) in ‘Dispossessed, or Danni’s Inferno’ by local playwright Sean Enns at the 2019 New Waves Festival. This year’s festival is taking place online. (Bulletin file photo)

William Anderson’s Father Francis attempts an exorcism on Danni, played by Whitley Dunn, to remove demon Nicole Potvin (from left) in ‘Dispossessed, or Danni’s Inferno’ by local playwright Sean Enns at the 2019 New Waves Festival. This year’s festival is taking place online. (Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre announces New Waves Festival lineup

Two-day event to feature online staged readings of plays by four area playwrights

Western Edge Theatre’s New Waves Festival is back but this year the event highlighting the work of area playwrights is coming to a virtual stage.

Today the local theatre company announced the lineup for this year’s online edition of New Waves. The festival will feature staged readings of plays by Nanaimo playwrights Gordon McInnis, Jenna Morgan and Daniel Puglas, as well as Charlie Whelton from Qualicum Beach. The readings will be streamed live from the Harbour City Theatre on Feb. 6 and 7.

“It’s, we think, a happy medium between doing something entirely on Zoom, which I think people have had enough of for now, and we can better capture something like a theatre experience by live streaming using four cameras from an actual theatre,” Western Edge executive director Frank Moher said.

McInnis’s Benefit follows an older actress and a young musician making a connection backstage at a fundraiser, I Feel Everything by Morgan is about a woman who takes a pill to experience emotions for the first time, Puglas’s Mourning in Room 243 is about a family gathering in a motel room after a funeral and Curling Season by Whelton involves a retired filmmaker coming to terms with her husband’s dementia and her own mortality.

“These are all really strong plays,” Moher said. “By nature a new play’s on it’s way to being a finished play, but these are all … really accomplished scripts already.”

Western Edge artistic associate Brian March chose the plays from a pool of about 20 submissions. He said they’re well-written and likely to appeal to Western Edge’s audience.

“I’ve been impressed by the quality of the writing and I believe they’re almost stage ready,” he said. “I know some of the playwrights have done a number of drafts of the plays already and they’re if not there, they’re very close to certainly being staged.”

McInnis has acted in Western Edge productions in the past but this is his first time working with the theatre company as a playwright. The remaining playwrights all have connections to VIU. Whelton, whom Moher calls “a longtime Western Edge supporter,” and Puglas, one of Western Edge’s new artistic associates, have both taken Moher’s script-writing classes, while Morgan is enrolled in the school’s theatre program.

“[Morgan’s] a brand new arrival at Western Edge with her play, which is wonderful,” Moher said. “One thing the festival is doing is bringing a whole bunch of new talent and actors and writers to Western Edge including a lot of young ones. That makes me really happy.”

WHAT’S ON … Western Edge Theatre’s New Waves Festival takes place online on Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 available online or by phone at 250-816-6459.

RELATED: Western Edge’s New Waves Festival brings new plays to Harbour City Theatre


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