Ontario NTS DRAMAFEST History

Beginning in 1946, with just three plays, the Festival now has approximately 350 entries annually. It began as an idea generated by founder Ken Watts and has flowered into the remarkable annual event we now call the Ontario National Theatre School DRAMAFEST. For thirty years, until her death in 1981, Ken's wife Ann worked tirelessly with her husband organizing and maintaining the Festival. After his wife's death Wayne Fairhead and Ian Waldron were co-opted by Watts to be his Executive Assistants. Both had served on the Toronto and Districts' Festival Committee for a decade. Watts appointed Fairhead Executive Coordinator of the Festival in 1986, and when he retired in 1991, Fairhead became Executive Director.

Supporting Canada's next generation of theatre practitioners

The strength of the National Theatre School DRAMAFEST is rooted in its many dedicated teachers and community members across the Province, who work to ensure that each District Festival is truly a celebration of theatre in their local community. More than 12,000 students and their dedicated teachers are involved annually in the celebrations, garnering some 500 Awards. These include four (4) $3000 Ken & Ann Watts Memorial Foundation Scholarships and four (4) $500 Bursaries awarded to graduating students pursuing a career in the performing arts. As well two (2) $500 Bursaries donated by John Bennie in honour of his late wife Marjory are given for Technical Achievement.


Support for emerging Playwrights

The festival encourages the writing and development of original scripts and upon his appointment as Executive Director in 1991, Fairhead introduced a Playwriting Award for the 1992 season. The recipient of this Award receives a Bursary of $500. As well, to honour student and teacher writers, he and the late Mira Friedlander edited an anthology of five original scripts entitled CONCRETE DAISY AND OTHER PLAYS for the 45th Anniversary of the Festival. They created Volume 2 for the 50th Anniversary. In 2010 FESTIVAL VOICES: Plays by Students and Teachers for the Sears Ontario Drama Festival was published by Playwrights Canada Press, edited by Fairhead and Jane Gardner of the Carousel Players.

ART APART | Urgent support for emerging artists amid COVID-19 crisis

Because physical distance shouldn’t mean total isolation, the National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) is allocating $60,000 in support of emerging artists (as 80 grants of $750). These funds will be granted to theatre artists in training, or artists who have completed a theatre training program within the past five years, to present a piece of art online.

Apply online: https://ent-nts.ca/en/art-apart

Please note that the School's activities are suspended until May 1st. Subscribe to the newsletter to find out about the latest developments regarding the crisis.