The Plain Site Theatre Festival, now in its fifth year, continues to make waves as a platform for emerging queer playwrights, providing a unique space for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the local theatre scene. Founded and curated by Alex Rioux, a Saint Thomas University alum, the festival is dedicated to promoting diversity, inclusion, and visibility within the theatre community.
The festival’s vision and mission center around creating a safer space for emerging 2SLGBTIA artists and students to pursue their craft, with the support and guidance of established artists. Rioux’s original concept of mounting small site-specific plays around campus has evolved into a thriving event that showcases emerging talents and facilitates connections between those talents and established professionals in the industry.
“My hope is that as the festival grows it becomes a jumping off point for queer theatre makers in New Brunswick looking to get their work produced and workshopped,” said Rioux.
This year, the festival received a boost with a small committee, including playwright and dramaturge Jena McLean and theatre artist Lucas Gutierrez-Robert, who joined Rioux to review and discuss submissions. While the number of submissions was smaller this year, the committee’s involvement allowed for thoughtful discussions on the plays and their potential for growth with dramaturgical support.
One of the main challenges faced by the festival is its specific focus on the thespian demographic within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. However, the commitment of the artists who participate in the festival, according to Rioux, has been inspiring. The festival aims to empower queer creatives and provide a launching pad for their work in the predominantly straight-dominated spaces.
Engaging with the local community and promoting diversity and inclusion are key aspects of the festival’s ethos. Rioux emphasizes creating a space where queerness is the norm, fostering an environment where queer creatives feel seen, respected, and embraced. By creating works for queer people, performed by queer people, the festival strives to empower and inspire a new generation of theatre makers.
While highlighting the strengths of this year’s submissions as some of the strongest ever, Rioux expressed excitement about fully mounting these plays in the coming year. Looking ahead, they envision bringing more professional productions to the festival and exposing students to the work of established artists, particularly those based in the Atlantic region.
In terms of organization, Rioux is actively working on securing funding from external sources to ensure the festival’s sustainability and growth. Collaboration with organizations such as Black Box Productions and Solo Chicken Productions has been crucial in providing support and resources for the festival’s development thus far.
As the festival evolves, Rioux emphasizes the importance of measuring success by the growth of the artists’ experience and their artistic challenges. The positive feedback from audiences is significant, but the true impact is witnessed in the artists’ pride in their work and the festival serving as a stepping stone for building strong creative relationships.
For more information and announcements from the Plain Site team follow their social media @plainsitefest on Facebook and Instagram.