Playwright Participation is Paramount for PARC

Playwrights Atlantic Resource Center’s U-Compete playwriting competition hopes to bring a new wave of playwrights to the Canadian theatre scene

For the first time in its history, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Center (also known as  PARC) is hosting a playwriting competition for young adults.

PARC is a service organization that offers support, advocacy and aid towards the development of Canadian scripts. They assist with the creation and promotion of new work for the stage from Atlantic Canada (as well as Canadian works from outside of the region), as well as connect emerging and established playwrights with dramaturges to develop their pieces, host playwriting workshops, organize showcasing opportunities across the country and help members gain exposure and expand their network. They also support the artistic journey of dramaturges from across the country. Now, PARC is shifting their focus to welcome young playwrights with their brand-new playwriting competition, U-Compete.

U-Compete is a new playwriting competition that is open to all current post-secondary and high school students from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Participants will submit a short script to PARC, and a winning script will be selected from each Atlantic province. Each winning script will receive a rehearsed public reading on PARC’s Facebook page. After this, one script will be selected as the overall winner, and a professional dramaturgical session will be awarded to the successful playwright. All participants will also be invited to participate in a playwriting workshop with PARC’s Artistic Associate, Santiago Guzmán.

Nova Scotia-based director and dramaturge (A person who serves as an editor and analyst for a script) Pamela Halstead, one of the organizers of the events, has been serving as PARC’s Artistic Director since 2018. The role of the artistic director is to be the spokesperson for the organization, as they report to the Board, set the artistic direction of the organization; developing, budgeting for, planning and coordinating the play and playwright development programs and provide leadership to the organization and it’s staff.

Halstead believes that the competition is not only a way to help represent the available resources to young playwrights, but a way to kickstart the writing journeys of young artists. 

“PARC is a tremendous resource, and so often, young playwrights don’t know that such a thing exists. We’re getting the word out that PARC is an organization that has services that can help them.” Said Halstead. “Whether they become a producing playwright in the Canadian theatre scene or beyond is less important to me than whether they… write!“

The competition is being hosted in part by PARC’s newly-appointed Artistic Associate, Newfoundland-based playwright, actor and director Santiago Guzmán, whose role is to support Halstead while bringing inclusivity and diversity to the organization and it’s membership. Within the first six months of being in the role, Guzmán has already launched two initiatives: Let’s Talk, a monthly meeting for BIPOC playwrights to share their experiences and explorations as BIPOC artists, and Uno a Uno, a one-on-one session for playwrights who have disabilities, are BIPOC and/or who are members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to connect with Guzmán to discuss their works and careers as artists.

“I’m trying to create a safe space for BIPOC playwrights across the four Atlantic provinces to just touch base with each other, talk about the things we’re exploring in our writing, but also, a way to see one another and feel like we’re not alone, especially as BIPOC playwrights. I feel like within our journey we struggle a lot trying to explain what our writing is all about, and what are the stories we’re trying to tell, and why they’re important, so it is always great to be able to be in a room with like-minded people.”

Guzmán hopes to bring a new generation of playwrights to the limelight, letting them know that PARC is available to help them on their creative journey. As a recent graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland, he feels close to the university experience and hopes that the U-Compete competition will connect with post-secondary students in Atlantic Canada, giving them access to its many programs and allowing their talents to be seen and heard. 

“Since I graduated not so long ago, I feel like I am really close to that experience, especially since I never intended to become a playwright.” Said Guzmán. “If I had known a little bit about the support that an organization like PARC did for playwrights across the four Atlantic provinces, it would have been an easier transition.”

If you are interested in participating in the U-Compete competition, please check out this release to learn more about the competition, how to submit, and deadlines associated with the competition. The deadline to submit scripts is February 1st.

Hannah Lucas
Hannah Lucas is a contributor to the Argosy.