2022-2023 AMPLIFIER: a fully supported exploratory creation process for playwrights


We are thrilled to announce that Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal (PWM), LA SERRE – arts vivants (LA SERRE) and the Conseil des Arts de Montréal (CAM) are currently accepting applications for the English-language edition of Amplifier. 

This program offers sustained dramaturgical and artistic support to one working playwright* residing on the island of Montréal. This includes dramaturgical consultation, a creation workshop, a creation production residency, followed by a laboratory presentation.

The program aims to support the artistic practice of theatre artists who identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), Black, POC,  racialized including 1st or 2nd generation immigrant artists (as defined in the Conseil des Arts de Montréal’s glossary) working creatively in one of Canada’s official languages. Additionally, it seeks to foster dialogue between Montréal’s English- and French-speaking theatre communities, as well as intercultural exchanges and greater representation for culturally diverse artists within the theatre community and on Montréal’s stages.

In order to support artists writing in French and artists writing in English, CAM and La Serre offer this program alternately with the Centre des auteurs dramatiques (CEAD) in French, and with PWM in English. This edition is intended for artists creating in the English language. PWM is an English language minority company, therefore the work with PWM will take place in English and the application must be completed in English. Please refer to the Program Presentation (PDF) for more details about what this partnership includes, eligibility criteria and other conditions. Board Members of CAM, PWM and La Serre are not eligible to apply.

 * This is an opportunity for professional playwrights as defined in the Conseil de Arts de Montreal glossary: “An individual with a professional artistic practice who possesses the necessary experience and knowledge to develop this practice. This includes self-taught individuals as well as those who have studied art. This person is recognized in their artistic community (artists working in the same artistic tradition), creates, carries out or publishes works of art, is dedicated to their artistic practice and is generally paid for their work.”


PWM logo


Founded in 1956, the Conseil des arts de Montréal identifies, supports and recognizes excellence in the professional creation, production and dissemination of the arts.

To remain in tune with the organizations and collectives it serves, the Conseil relies on its knowledge of the communities, its innovative skills, and its ability to bring the city’s artists and financial partners together.


Founded in 1963, Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal (PWM) is a nationally-mandated theatre creation and development centre based in Montréal. PWM is led by a team of experienced dramaturgs and arts administrators. With a focus on dramaturgy, its mission is to collaborate with artists in the development of new works of theatre and performance. PWM gives artists the opportunity to create and experiment, dream and take risks. Its collaborative process draws on the team’s unique experience and is tailored to the artist’s individual needs. 

At PWM, playwrights, dramaturgs, translators, directors, performance makers, and theatre companies across the country find a creative accomplice willing to invest deeply in the development of meaningful work. Through PWM’s programming and activities, individual artists and companies meet and make new connections. By fostering these artistic connections, PWM acts as a community hub for theatre-makers in Montreal and beyond.

PWM has a deep commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. PWM’s staff have read and reviewed the progress of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada as well as the UNDRIP, and are committed to working towards adapting recommendations into the organization and its programming. PWM regularly partners with Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), Black, POC, racialized (including recent immigrants), 2SLGBTQQIPAA+, neurodivergent, and disabled artists and organizations as well as artists living with chronic illness and/or chronic pain in its programming while continuing to work to deepen its practices and address systemic issues throughout the organization.

PWM operates a 2,000 square foot creation studio and shared office space, equipped with theatre lighting, sound and digital equipment. Click here for accessibility information for our office and creative studio space: https://www.playwrights.ca/accessibility-contact/


LA SERRE is a structuring incubator for the improvement of the conditions under which emerging artists carry out their work in live art. It accompanies them in the expansion of their work, from the creation process to encounters with the public. It helps artists develop their autonomy, organizational maturity and artistic independence. LA SERRE acts as an activator of collaborations between artists and local, national and international partners, as well as artists from various artistic disciplines and other areas. Artistically, LA SERRE favors projects that establish evocative links between art and society, and facilitate connections between different disciplinary fields and sectors.


The recipient of the program will receive a project creation grant of $13,000 from the CAM over two years, along with numerous services provided by PWM, LA SERRE, and CAM. This is a one-time, non-renewable grant.

The program takes place over two years, and support is provided as follows:


$3,000 creation grant for a new theatrical creation

30 hours of dramaturgical collaboration with Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal

9 hours of script workshopping offered by Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal

A staged reading with actors at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal


$10,000 creation grant for production

50 hours of production and management mentorship by LA SERRE–arts vivants

60 hours of free access to the Conseil des Arts de Montréal’s studios

Presentation of two performances in lab format

One-year subscription to Machinerie des arts.


To apply, please complete the online application form. Refer to the Program Presentation (PDF) for all details about this partnership. During the application process, you will be asked to include the following documents in PDF format:

An excerpt of a previously written theatrical work in English (10 pages maximum);

An excerpt of the project (10 pages maximum);


Only the required documents will be forwarded to members of the evaluation committee.

Applications will be evaluated by representatives of the CAM, PWM and La Serre. Projects will be evaluated based on merit, feasibility, and impact on the artist.  

PWM is strongly committed to supporting a wide range of cultural identities and lived experiences. We strongly encourage eligible applicants who also identify as 2SLGBTQQIPAA+, d/Deaf, neurodivergent, disabled, living with chronic illness and/or chronic pain to self-identify in their application if they are comfortable doing so.

The deadline to submit applications is October 27, 2022 at 11:59PM.


If you have any questions about the eligibility of your application or your project, or the program in general, do not hesitate to contact us. 

Please address questions to Fatma Sarah Elkashef, Artistic Director of Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal, at sarah@playwrights.ca. If you have any questions regarding accessibility, or require assistance with this application, please contact Heather at accessibility@playwrights.ca.

A Practice Is Born

by Liam Zarrillo

The storytelling process has arrived at a fascinating and complex intersection. Historically speaking, stories and stages have seen a devastating lack of representation of folks who come from marginalized or barrier-facing communities. (This has been both in terms of characters in stories, as well as the artists crafting the stories themselves.) It appears that we are now reckoning with this reality and want to do something about it.

But what do we do? Who do we need to see in stories and on stages? Who has the right to include such characters? Surely the answer cannot be: one may only craft characters that resemble one’s exact lived experience. No, it is necessary for us to be writing stories that are reflective of life. Real life. And real life is diverse.

For myself, from this aim towards authenticity and accountability, a new professional and artistic role was borne. It falls under several titles, depending on the project/project’s phase: that of cultural consultant, experiential consultant or cultural dramaturg.   

For over a year, I have been working in this capacity on a play called O Death by Scout Rexe. This play has received support from several different companies across the country, and has been championed for years by Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal.

Picture of Liam Zarrillo, Scout Rex and Susil Sharma

While I had worn the hat of cultural consultant before coming on board O Death, it is through my experience working on this project that I have begun to truly shape and hone my practice.

Given that O Death is a queer wok, it makes perfect sense that our time together has followed a queer process. A “queer process” can be defined in endless ways, as what makes it “queer” is subjectively defined by the participants themselves. As someone who identifies explicitly as a “queer theatre artist”, my definition of a queer process is one that is inclusive of, but extends beyond solely contemplations on gender & sexuality. I consider a queer process to be one that exists without any rigid pre-existing boundaries or structures. One that is constantly interrogating norms and is flexible and open to redefinition and rearticulation. It is reflective of and responsive to the needs of those involved in an ever-evolving way.

Because my experience working on O Death through PWM has been held inside of this queer context, I have had the space to experiment with and perform this new role in a myriad of ways. O Death tells the story of a trans musician (James) and his queer femme sister (Caddy) hit with several significant obstacles as their music careers are about to take off. I was initially brought on to have some chats and dig in on the authenticity of James’ character. Since then, I have had countless thoughtful sessions and conversations with the playwright. I have read several drafts. I have fed back and been heard. I have been encouraged to bring my dramaturgical experience into my role, allowing for dialogue not only about the authenticity of the trans character, but how his experience fits into his narrative journey. This non-exhaustive list just scratches the surface of such a formative process. 

And now, when I sit down with playwrights or artistic directors to discuss a new cultural consultant contract, I am able to articulate how I work, what I can bring to the table, and offer them options about how we might proceed. The number one goal being inviting in, consensual teaching, healthy boundaries and whatever most serves the story and project at the given moment.

This intersection of authenticity meets accountability is complicated, it is nuanced. I do not believe there is one hard and fast, objective answer or solution to the challenge. There is so much to be mindful of when interacting with the lived experiences of others. We need to ensure we are not taking up space that should belong to others. It is not our right to tell the stories of others, when folks can and should be given the opportunity to tell them for themselves.

I do believe it is our responsibility, however, as arts makers to consider this challenge of diversifying stories and stages, and how we might rise to meet it. There might be no “overcome” in a world as entrenched in problematic and oppressive systems as ours… but I do believe that there is “try”. There is “listen”. There is “do better than the last time.”  There is actively working towards the kind of change we want to see. 

Liam Zarrillo is a theatre artist, educator and consultant based on Treaty 1 territory.

They love and live to agitate, investigate, experiment and uncover. They work with many theatres & companies in Winnipeg and beyond as a playwright, actor, director and cultural dramaturg.

Upcoming works for Liam include The Outside Inn (co-written with Sharon Bajer) premiering at Theatre Antigonish this fall and Volare premiering at Prairie Theatre Exchange this coming spring.

They will also be performing in Daniel Thau-Eleff’s Narrow Bridge, premiering at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre in early 2023.  

APPLY NOW: Experimentation in Digital Creation

Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal is introducing a new micro-residency program focusing on digital dramaturgy.

Applications are now closed.

Building upon months of online workshops, and various forms of digital theatrical experimentation, PWM is excited to introduce our new micro-residency program: Experimentation in Digital Creation!

This program is open to any theatre project that has digital elements to explore— whether the plan is to present them virtually, in-person, or disseminated in a hybrid-fashion (partly online and partly in-person).

We will be inviting selected artists from across Canada to experiment with us for 3 to 5 days, depending on the needs of their project. Residencies will take place at some point between January and August 2022.

Artists will will have access to our studio, equipment, and PWM’s dramaturgs— including digital dramaturgs and multi-media creators potatoCakes_digital, who are leading this exciting project!

Together, we will create a digital dramaturgy process centred on our resident artists and their exploratory questions. 

PWM promotes equity and encourages applicants to indicate if they self-identify as belonging to one or more equity priority groups: women, racialized persons, 2SLGBTQQIPAA+, Indigenous persons, refugees, recent and first-generation immigrants not belonging to the dominant cultures in their areas, d/Deaf persons, neurodivergent persons, disabled persons, emerging artists, persons living with chronic illness, persons living with chronic pain, if they feel comfortable doing so.

This program was created for folks who are interested in experimenting with new digital art forms. The projects are ideally in the early to mid-stages of development and are in a place to benefit from exploration with different tools and form.  

PWM is a versatile blackbox studio equipped with:

  • Video Equipment (Cameras, switcher, projectors)
  • VR equipment (Vive Pro2 & Oculus Quest 2)
  • Lighting
  • Podcasting microphones
  • Virtual conferencing
  • Greenscreen
  • Other equipment will be sourced by PWM depending on each project’s individual needs

For our full tech rider and available equipment, click here.

Given the knowledge-sharing component of this initiative, prospective participants should be aware that there will be documentation of the digital dramaturgical process that will be shared publicly on our website.


To apply, please complete the online application form. During the application process, you will be asked to include the following:

  • A description of the project (max. 500 words);
  • An artistic statement in relation to the integration of digital tools;
  • The names of the project’s collaborators, and their creative disciplines;
  • The stage of the work in progress;
  • Your dramaturgical questions being investigated, or what you are investigating;
  • The technologies you are presently using for the project (if any);
  • The technologies you wish you had access to for this project (if known);
  • The knowledge gaps (if you know them) in relation to transforming the work to a digital platform;
  • Any documentation you deem appropriate to the project, sending video files as links.

Audio or video applications are welcomed.


Young Creators Unit 2021-22: Now Open For Applications!

Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal is excited to once again be calling for all emerging storytellers under the age of 30 to apply for our YOUNG CREATORS UNIT (YCU)

Applications are open to new and emerging artists. Participants will receive a customized work plan that includes bi-weekly workshops, one-on-one mentorship, grant writing support, and networking opportunities.

PWM strongly encourages applications from Indigenous artists (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), racialized artists (including racialized recent immigrants), members of the 2SLGBTQQIPAA+ communities, Deaf artists, disabled artists, neurodivergent artists, and artists living with chronic illness and/or chronic pain. For questions about accessibility, please contact Jesse Stong at accessibility@playwrights.ca.

Due to the current circumstances of the pandemic, the YCU will only be supporting a maximum of 10 artists*, with a program that will start in October online (over Zoom), and then hopefully shift into smaller live groups/workshops. Group workshops will take place bi-weekly on TUESDAYS FROM 2PM-5PM. The program will run from October 19th 2021 to May 20th 2022  

*Because we only have limited spots this year, please only apply if you are available for this weekly timeslot, and committed to your project/attendance/participation.

how to apply

Send a one-page application to jesse@playwrights.ca by October 9, 2021. You will receive a response by October 12, 2021.

Your application should include:

  • A brief bio of yourself, and your experience (if any) as a storyteller/creator.
  • A brief description of the work you would like to develop, or a list of some ideas.
  • One paragraph on why you would like to join the unit, and what you hope to get out of it.

Please email jesse@playwrights.ca with any additional questions, or for support with the application if needed. 

Learn more about the YCU

2021-2022 PWM + MAI joint support for artists* interested in working with a dramaturg

Applications are now closed.

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The Artist

Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal and MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels) are thrilled to announce that the PWM + MAI  Joint Support for Artists will feature Jamila ‘Jai’ Joseph with her work Wild Roots!

Learn more about Jamila and her project here.

The call

Applicants can apply to more than one partnership program at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal, but can only be the recipient of one partnership program.

PWM is an English language minority company and therefore the work with PWM will take place in English. The application must be completed in English.

Artists who have already applied to the MAI’s artist support program Alliance can also apply to this partnership program, but CAN ONLY BE THE RECIPIENT OF ONE MAI ALLIANCE ALLOCATION AT A TIME.
We are thrilled to announce that PLAYWRIGHTS’ WORKSHOP MONTRÉAL AND MAI (MONTRÉAL, ARTS INTERCULTURELS) have joined forces again to Bring back our joint support program for artists* interested in working with a dramaturg! 

The following artists are eligible to submit proposals: Indigenous artists (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), racialized artists (including racialized recent immigrants), members of the 2SLGBTQQIPAA+ communities, Deaf artists, disabled artists, neurodivergent artists, and artists living with chronic illness and/or chronic pain.

*We accept applications from artists in theatre, performance, dance, circus, interdisciplinary arts and visual arts (with a performance component) if they are interested in collaborating with a dramaturg from theatre and performance.

PWM logo

Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal (PWM) is a national new creation centre for theatre and performance led by a team of dramaturgs and arts administrators. While playwriting has been at the core of what we do for over 50 years, our work now strives to include devised and interdisciplinary forms of creation. In addition to seeking collaborations across diverse artistic practices, we are strongly committed to supporting work which reflects a wide range of cultural identities and lived experiences. 

Hosting 10-15 artists, collectives and companies per year, MAI’s Alliance program is a unique artist support initiative conceived for practitioners from all fields who encounter systemic and structural obstacles. The program strives to eliminate barriers to their full participation in the arts by offering financial allocations and guidance that are adapted to the learning and creative needs and desires of each participant. 

What is dramaturgy and what do we do? 

Dramaturgy is an exploration of all the elements that make a work, how they are brought together to create meaning, and what the process for developing that work might be. PWM primarily works on projects that centre text and narrative but also on pieces where text and storytelling are not the primary components or concerns.

PWM’s work centres around the artist and our dynamic collaborative process is tailored to meet the needs of their project. We listen deeply to understand who an artist is, what they are making and how they want their work to evolve. We offer feedback and reflection through questions and conversation and often accompany the artists from draft to draft or iteration to iteration. We work one-on-one, but also through workshops and residencies.

PWM understands that the work of playwriting and performance making is not created in a vacuum, but that it interacts with society. Theatre can be impactful, and therefore PWM considers not only how a piece is made and by whom, but also its effect and meaning beyond the walls of its creation studio.

Refer to the Artist’s guide (PDF) for more details about what this joint mentorship includes, eligibility criteria and other conditions.


Personalized project coordination support

$5,000 fund allocation (refer to “MAI’s allocations: How they work” for more information)

Training and collective reflection opportunities

Access to the MAI rehearsal studios

30 hours with a dramaturg, including a 20-hour residency

The PWM + MAI joint support for artists* interested in working with a dramaturg is not a grant program. It offers an allocation of funds  ($5,000) for the artists to establish mentorships and collaborations, supporting their learning and creation process (for example, to work with a mentor, a sound designer, a choreographer, a grant writer, or other experts and collaborators). Please see the toolbox’s document ‘MAI’s allocations: how they work’ for more information about what is eligible and ineligible.

project supported by the City of Montreal, the Government of Quebec, and the Canada Council for the Arts
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Working Online: What We Learned

With the onset of COVID-19, Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal quickly shifted gears to move its operations online in order to maintain the safety of the organization’s staff, artists, and audience. In the time since, we’ve learned a few key things as a dramaturgical centre, and want to share our findings with you. This is a fairly broad overview, and as time and resources permit, we will be adding to this blog post. 

Online day by day: maintaining community.

Staying connected while upholding a sense of community was a priority very early on. The PWM’s team was lucky as we had just started using Slack regularly, which facilitated the transition to working from our separate homes immensely. While not working together from the same physical space continues to have its challenges, the continuity of regular day-to-day real-time exchanges between staff was ensured. A regular morning and evening check-in for staff via Slack was also quickly established in order to keep consistent lines of communication. While attendance at these check-ins is not mandatory, they have been a pleasant way for employees to not only discuss work-related topics, but also to connect on a personal and social level. For employees who appreciate sharing a social space together, these daily check-ins have been a fantastic way to encourage a sense of community, regardless of one’s level of active participation. And like most theatre companies, we also held weekly Zoom staff meetings to keep projects and planning moving forward. 

Unexpectedly, working remotely has brought a sense of freedom for some. As dramaturgs, we no longer felt constricted to meeting with artists on a schedule predetermined by availability of the creation studio. We finally released ourselves from the deep-seated feeling of our work needing to be witnessed by others, in order for it to be real.   

We did however recognize that working remotely created anxiety in other areas of operation. It became harder to distinguish urgent work from time-sensitive work. Whether this feeling of anxiety was/is due to inhabiting the same space for both work and personal life, or because we are experiencing a recurring perspective when speaking to others (i.e. a head in a box), or simply because it’s all more complicated to juggle everything all the time – the truth is – it’s been overwhelming.  Our unverified conclusion: shifting your physical space makes it easier to separate events and compartmentalize tasks. 

Digital staged readings: a very different beast from live play readings!

Providing our audience with quality digital staged readings has been a giant learning experience. Engaging a virtual audience is very different from engaging an in-person audience. Visual aesthetics and design inevitably have an important role in engaging an on-line audience for a play reading, which is not a primary concern for in-person, in-process play readings. The camera has a crucial role in the overall storytelling process, and it must be considered. The camera is the portal to the audience, With this in mind, setting aside adequate time to rehearse with a camera, film, review, film again, and edit more is absolutely crucial. Be mindful of incorporating accessibility prep into your timeline of tasks, closed captioning needs to verified and edited. 

Digital workshops: preparation is crucial

Over the last year, PWM learned a lot about the inner workings of running a successful digital workshop. While the experience was not without challenges, we had the pleasure of reaching artists from far and wide! Our platform of choice is Zoom, because it is easily available, fairly simple to navigate, and quite stable.

Development workshops: We have found that  a successful workshop via Zoom requires a clear but simple instruction guide for participants. We created a tutorial that used screenshots and graphics, instead of text. This became a great tool to help participants less acquainted with Zoom understand how to download and manipulate the software. Moreover, we offer the option of a scheduled tutorial before the workshop if an individual requires further assistance. It is a great way to ensure that all participants have access to what they need to be comfortable. Moving forward, we plan to include a video tutorial.

Scripts are sent as PDFs and, we suggest, using a split screen Zoom option so that participants can view the active speaker while following the script with minimal interruptions. 

We have found that workshops should be capped at four hours per session. We generally found that energy levels waned past that length. Lastly, emphasizing the importance of good headphones with an external mic doesn’t hurt!

Exploring practice sessions: In setting up our professional development digital workshops, we have discovered that a crucial step involves integrating the facilitators/invited artists technical and/or software preferences. If the facilitator does not have experience using digital platforms, we introduce them to the programs we use: Miro, Zoom including breakout rooms, gather.town, wonder.me). Connecting workshop facilitators with technical staff, in our case, potatoCakes_digital, ahead of time and offering training sessions has ensured that the workshop runs smoothly and with confidence. When requested, the sessions receive unlimited technical support by potatoCakes_digital.

When planning an online workshop we have found that using more than one platform helps to break up the day. Frequent breaks throughout the workshop are also a great way to retain the attention, engagement, and overall morale of the participants. However, it remains difficult to engage participants for more than five hours at a time, even with interactive elements.

Include a longer time for introductions in the online workshop’s schedule. This is an important step in ensuring trust and comfort. See this link for useful ideas on how to set up healthy Zoom environments from Offers and Answers.com. 

The little things we learned working online

A lot of us are now well versed with working online. But, if you are exploring working creatively online for the first time, below are a few things we learned along the way. We hope there is a thing or two in there that will be useful to you! In no particular order:

  • Have your webcam ready, facing you directly in a space that is well lit, and not backlit;
  • It is best to use a neutral backdrop that is not distracting when workshopping a play with actors;
  • Ensure that you are in a quiet room. It’s best if you are not near an open window;
  • Use earbuds/headphones with an external microphone if possible;
  • If you are using earbuds with integrated microphone, avoid wearing clothes that interfere with your mic;
  • Use a hard line Ethernet cable connection for your internet and do not use Wi-Fi (if possible). If you live in a home with multiple internet users, ask if it is possible to be a lone user. If someone in your home is streaming while you are on Zoom, it may make your internet connection unstable; 
  • Consider changing it up! Integrate interactive activities, and regular breaks. 

Creating with Digital Technology

In the coming months, potatoCakes_digital will be filming our studio set up so anyone interested can access information on the equipment we determined necessary to take us through isolation and into a hybrid model. We are committed to offering greater accessibility to our programming.

In addition, we will be launching the Digital Dramaturgy Initiative Website, created in partnership with PTC, MAP and Blyth Festival. The website will showcase a number of digital experiments initiated by theatre artists in Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver. The site will feature case studies, presentations by digital experts, and process documentation collected during our DDI residencies. The purpose of the DDI residencies is to explore and expand our collective vocabulary around artistic interactions with digital technology.  

PWM has also been holding community consultations with seven incredible artists, working to identify specific actions to expand accessibility to our programming, our digital platform, and physical space. The gathering of knowledge will be shared with the theatre community in early fall.

PWM would like to thank the following funders, who, without their support, we would not have been able to adapt to the digital sphere in the way we have. 

This initiative is funded by the Foundation of Greater Montreal covid-19 collective fund and the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

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