The Play’s the Thing: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Brave New Play Rites

(originally posted March 7, 2016)

Go For Broke by Mikiko Galpin, BNPR 2015, directed by Lisa Goebel. From left: Zac Scott (as Soldier 2) and Brett Willis (as Harry Sato)

When Professor Bryan Wade first landed in the Creative Writing Department in 1986, he had a simple idea: get playwriting students to write short plays as part of their course. Then, find a theatre space. Recruit a few directors and audition some actors. Take those plays off the page and onto the stage, and invite the public to attend. There is no better learning experience for an emerging playwright than to witness their own work in production in front of a live audience.

Thirty years and close to 500 produced plays later, Wade remains the heart and driving force behind the successful festival. Second and third productions of BNPR scripts have been staged in New York, Toronto and Scotland. Many of the festival’s alumni have gone on to become prominent members of Vancouver’s artistic community.

Auntie/Rebecca and Uncle/Ben by Kamila Sediego, BNPR 2015, directed by Jake Prins. From left: Jessica Parsons (as Rebecca) and Jeremiah O’Driscoll (as Jake)

The BNPR Festival has found a home in some of Vancouver’s most cherished and iconic theatres such as The Vancouver Little Theatre on Main Street, Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island and Presentation House in North Vancouver. At UBC, the festival has been staged in the original Dorothy Somerset Studio, the ballroom at the Graduate Student Centre, the Asian Centre auditorium, Telus Studio Theatre at the Chan Centre, Frederic Wood Theatre and the new Dorothy Somerset Studio.


With Associate Professor Bryan Wade, festival Founder and Faculty Producer, rehearsal clips from Ode to a Camping Trip by Fraser Sutherland, directed by Dale MacDonald and featuring Shauna Griffin (“Anna”), Raeanne Lee (“Tam”) and Bailey Kaye (“Melanie”).