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Published by yorkregion.com

NewMarket National 10-minute Play Festival to hit the stage in July

2-day festival is expected to attract thousands to Newmarket's downtown.


WHATSON May 12, 2017 by Teresa Latchford  Newmarket Era

NewMarket National Play Festival

Artistic director, Michael Halfin and director, Emma McGreeghan, arrange actors and plays into pods at the Old Town Hall. With hundreds of cast applications and 65 auditions, the task wasn't easy. - Susie Kockerscheidt/Metroland

Professional theatre will grace the stages of Newmarket this summer with the launch of the NewMarket National Play Festival.


From the mind of retired Huron Heights Secondary School regional arts program co-ordinator Michael Halfin, and produced in partnership with the Town of Newmarket, the festival will bring professional theatre for the entire family to the town he loves.


“I had been retired for about eight months but this idea was rattling around in my head,” he said. “I knew I just had to make it happen.”


Drawing on the theme of a text book he co-authored that included short plays and monologues from all across Canada, he decided to launch a nation-wide, 10-minute play competition for playwrights.


“It is 10 minutes of real life, one moment like when a husband and wife realize their marriage is over. It has a real power.” -Michael Halfin, NewMarket National Play Festival Artistic Director"

He received submissions from every province except one and submissions from as far as Beijing, Mexico and Ireland from Canadian citizens living there. The directors reviewed the submissions with the writer’s name redacted and selected 24 scripts that will be featured at the festival.


“It’s quite remarkable,” Halfin said. “We conduct a national play writing competition, get a mountain of submissions from all but one province in Canada and around the world, and three young playwrights in our own backyard crack the top 24.”


A Love in Vein by Mount Albert’s Callum Worsley, The Dilemma by Thornhill’s Joel Pettigrew and Borne and Razed by Newmarket’s Trevor Curran made the cut.


The festival will feature the 10-minute plays in pods, which makes it great for any age," Halfin said. "For the YouTube generation and families with young children, it’s the perfect length of time to hold their attention."


“The great thing about 10-minute performances is you are engrossed in the moment right at the beginning, you don’t have to wait for it,” he added. “It is 10 minutes of real life, one moment like when a husband and wife realize their marriage is over. It has a real power.”


But the festival isn’t just the plays. It is designed to be an entire experience. Volunteers will be directing those arriving by bus including a historical tour of the Tom Taylor Trail, merchants will be offering 10 per cent discounts, specially priced Festdelicious restaurant offerings with appearances by performers, entertainment between show times at Riverwalk Commons, pop-up galleries on Main Street, Newmarket Recreation Theatre Camp performances at Riverwalk Commons and actor talk backs following select performances.

Newmarket wins people’s choice award for

Greatest main street in Canada

Newmarket’s historic Main Street is the winner of the 2016 People’s Choice Great Street award handed out by the Canadian Institute of Planners.  Join us in Newmarket this summer and find out why we say, "Go for theatre; Stay for Play!"