NotaBle Acts is a theatre company dedicated to the development and production of new plays by aspiring and established New Brunswick dramatists. This focus can be seen even in our name; yes, the capital N and B in NotaBle Acts stand for New Brunswick!
The NotaBle Acts Theatre Company (NB Acts) was founded in the fall of 2001 and incorporated in July of 2002. The company’s mandate and artistic mission statement is as follows:
- To enhance the theatrical calendar in the City of Fredericton, and beyond;
- To mentor, develop, and produce the work of New Brunswick playwrights;
- To develop, mentor and diversify the community of theatre practitioners who choose to call the Province of New Brunswick home.
NotaBle Acts is unique in the province as the only English-language theatre company whose mandate is devoted exclusively to developing and producing new plays by writers from the province. The festival is also a home for new and alternative drama in a city that has traditionally had few non-mainstream offerings. We are proud to mentor emerging actors, directors, designers, and technicians, and to take some steps towards addressing the longstanding problem of the lack of opportunities for New Brunswick theatre professionals to work in their home province.
History and Accomplishments
In its first season in 2002, NotaBle Acts staged a four-day summer festival that included the premiere of two new full length works, a professional mainstage production of a New Brunswick play from the repertoire (Don Hannah’s Fathers and Sons) and stagings of five new ten-minute plays selected by way of a playwriting contest. Since then, the company’s activities have expanded steadily. NB Acts now operates year-round with a summer production season which culminates in our annual festival, which takes place over two weeks in late July-early August. The festival typically features 12-16 new plays annually, presented as a mix of full productions, workshopped productions, and readings.
To date, we have showcased over 200 new scripts, ranging from ten minutes to full length, by over 100 emerging and established New Brunswick playwrights, in the form of full productions, workshopped productions, and readings. It seems safe to say that most of these plays would not have been written, and certainly not staged for the public, without the opportunities that the company offers. While other English-language companies in the province are producing new work by writers in the province, NB Acts is the only one of these companies committed to full-length professional productions of new NB plays that are “alternative,” experimental, and risky.
A majority of the plays we present are the results of our popular annual province-wide playwriting contest. The contest was expanded to include a category for one-act plays in 2003, and in 2005, in response to the growing number of excellent scripts the contest was attracting, the festival added a play reading series in which contest runners-up receive public readings. In 2006 the company partnered with Theatre UNB to create Bard in the Barracks, a popular annual outdoor Shakespeare production that acts as a fundraiser for NB Acts. In 2008, the company added a winter play reading series, which in 2011 was folded into an annual spring Playwrights’ Cabaret hosted by Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre. In 2011, festival programming was expanded to include a series of commissioned site-specific works, and the success of this series led to the creation of a new category for site-specific works in our contest in 2013. See the tab above for more information on our annual Playwriting Competition!
NB Acts has also hosted productions of new plays by other companies from the province. These productions have often taken the form of genres not frequently represented at our festival, including musicals, dance-theatre works, theatre for young audiences, and translations.
Another major accomplishment of the company is that, to date, seven of the sixteen mainstage productions staged at the festival over the years have been published. This is an impressive figure given the relatively small number of plays published in Canada each year. Also of note, since 2004, three emerging playwrights whose early works premiered at NB Acts have been awarded one of the two annual seats in the National Theatre School of Canada’s playwriting program, a disproportionately high number given New Brunswick’s tiny share of the country’s population.
Our Place in the Local/Regional Theatre Ecology
NotaBle Acts has formed key local partnerships by collaborating with virtually every other major theatre company in New Brunswick in recent years.The company has also employed and mentored hundreds of professional and student actors, directors, designers, stage managers, and technicians, building a loyal following and strong feelings of support and goodwill in the broader provincial theatre community.
Our company has built a national reputation by hosting actors, directors, and playwrights with national profiles as guest artists. NB Acts has a long-standing practice of hiring some of Canada’s top directors for our feature productions. These directors have included Kim McCaw (The Cave Painter by Don Hannah, 2012), Mary Vingoe (Alden by Rick Merrill, 2011), and Emma Tibaldo, (Model Wanted by Step Taylor, 2014; Demolitics by Ryan Griffith, 2010; Lifedream by Herménégilde Chiasson, 2007; Lutz by Ryan Griffith, 2005).
NB Acts has also hosted a playwright/dramaturg in residence annually since 2010, and has welcomed a series of renowned Canadian playwrights in the position, including Vern Thiessen (2020), Rob Kempson (2018), Mieko Ouchi (2013), Colleen Murphy (2012), Don Hannah (2011), and Jenny Munday (2010). Our emerging writers have benefitted enormously from top-notch mentoring by some of Canada’s leading dramaturgs, while the dramaturgs in turn have been impressed with our company and the quality of our writers, establishing our festival’s residency as an attractive position among the nation’s playwriting community.
The activities of NotaBle Acts are managed by a volunteer Board of Directors whose membership includes local professionals with expertise in production, marketing, fundraising, finance, and volunteer development. Len Falkenstein, playwright and Director of Drama at the University of New Brunswick, has been the company’s Artistic Director since 2009, and prior to that served as co-Artistic Director with Ryan Griffith and Colleen Wagner. Contract administrative and technical staff are hired annually for the summer production season, including some hired through federal and provincial student summer employment programs.