Home | Contact Us

Playwright Unit

Eastern Front Theatre is committed to outreach programs that raise the public’s awareness of Atlantic Canadian theatre.  We also seek to assist artists in their professional and artistic development.  We work to achieve these goals in a number of ways.

Playwright Unit

Eastern Front Theatre’s Playwrights Unit is a professional support network for Nova Scotian playwrights. The aim of the Unit is to bring together writers to share their progress on current works and receive feedback from their peers. 

While the written pieces are not specifically being developed for Eastern Front, some works may receive readings at Eastern Front’s Stages Theatre Festival.

Eastern Front Introduces 2017 Playwright Unit

Eastern Front Theatre is pleased to announce that the 2017 Playwright Unit is now selected and there are NINE talented writers set to spend a year under the guidance of writer/director/actor Shelley Thompson. Thompson is EFT’s Playwright In Residence for 2017 and part of her duties, aside from creating a brand new play herself, includes organizing the Unit.

Thompson is looking forward to being inspired by these nine committed, talented individuals. "Having been in the playwrights unit myself, I know that bouncing your material off others propels it forward,” she explains. “The creative challenges faced by your colleagues makes you turn a different gaze on your own material.”  

“The mutual support, the empathy provided as playwrights deal with finding and telling one's truth is invaluable.  I'm so looking forward to being in the room with these 8 writers!"

This year’s Playwright Unit participants are:

  • Sam Horak
  • Katerina Bakolias
  • Kim Parkhill
  • Laura Burke
  • Andrew Chandler
  • Sarah Jane Blenkhorn
  • Amy Groening
  • Dan Bray
  • Liz Richardson                     

Throughout the year, Thompson will gather the Unit to work on their plays. In the middle of the year, the Unit will have the opportunity to have a small segment of their work read by a team of actors, as part of Eastern Front Theatre’s Stages Theatre Festival.

“The Unit represents everything we believe in at Eastern Front Theatre. Our mandate is to nurture and encourage Atlantic Canadian stories, by Atlantic Canadian artists, with an emphasis on the creation of new plays,” says Artistic Producer Jeremy Webb. “To have eight writers participating is phenomenal. To have them working with Shelley will benefit everyone involved.”

For more information, please go to www.easternfronttheatre.com or e-mail info@easternfronttheatre.com.

Eastern Front Theatre's Writer in Residence 2017

Shelley Thompson trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (UK), the screenwriting lab at the Canadian Film Centre (2015) and recently (2016) was one of eight female writer/directors selected for the Women In the Directors Chair (WIDC) Program.

Work as an actor included: The National Theatre (UK), Adelphi and Whitehall Theatres, (West End), numerous UK regionals, Shaw Festival, The Neptune, The Globe and more in Canada.  Television/film includes eleven season of Trailer Park Boys (Barb Lahey) and six seasons of ITV- UK’s Mike and Angelo (Ritaand the cult film Labyrinth with David Bowie.

Playwriting includes: A Kind of Faith (2004 - an Acadian odyssey), Leaving Wonderland (2015). For children: Belinda the Bicycle Witch, Bluenose Billy and Lost and Found.  Presently (2017) playwright-in-residence for Eastern Front Theatre, Halifax Nova Scotia, developing an all female production about the Dieppe invasion of 1942 -  A Bloody Jubilee - in association with Northern Broadsides Theatre (UK).

Screenwriting/direction includes the short DAWG (2015) which played family film festivals across North America. Her new short, Bats, premiered at the Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax,Sept 2016) and has played festivals throughout the Maritimes to date.  Her feature project The Benefit  was one of four chosen by the Atlantic Film Festival for their Script Development Program 2016 to develop/pitch at the festival,  and her feature Dawn, Her Dad, and the Tractor has been supported by the Canada Council for development.

Based in Halifax/Dartmouth, Thompson is parent to singer/songwriter T. Thomason, and a champion of LGBTQ issues.

Twitter: @ThompsonShelley


Katerina Bakolias is a Halifax born and raised actor who recently delved into the world of playwriting. Her first written piece, Re-taled, was staged this summer in the Atlantic Fringe Festival. Re-taled explored the comedy and misadventures that often ensue when working in retail. Katerina completed her BA in Acting and History at Dalhousie University and played many roles at Dal including, Masha (The Seagull), Duckling Smith (Our Country’s Good), and Meton (The Birds). She has most recently performed as Kate (Seminar) with Kick at the Dark Theatre and is very excited to be part of EFT’s Playwright Unit.


Liz Richardson trained at the York University Theatre Program and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (UK). Work in the UK includes: Whitehall Theatre, Donmar Warehouse and Lyric Hammersmith (West End), two seasons with the Bristol Old Vic and in numerous regional theatres. Work in Canada includes: the Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage in Toronto and seven seasons at Neptune Theatre. Film and television includes: Masterpiece Theatre, Ladykillers, Tales of the Unexpected, Max Headroom (UK), Warbrides (CBC), Margaret’s Museum, Haven, Black Harbour (NS).

Writing includes: Lyric collaboration for Fascinating Aida singing trio which she co-founded and dramaturgy for Jack Klaff- leading solo performer (UK). She co-wrote W(O)OF with Mary-Colin Chisolm and in 2012 her one-woman show Going On, was selected as one of four plays for Eastern Front’s SuperNova Festival. The show has been performed in Halifax, Mexico, upstate NY, Vancouver, Stratford, Seattle and Toronto. She has co-written another play S.P.I.N, which is still in development and is delighted to be joining such talented folk in the playwriting unit for support in working on her first full length play, Daniel.

Liz has studied and taught many meditation programs in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition in Canada, New Zealand and Chile and completed a three year retreat in 2010. 

Kim Parkhill is a Halifax-based artist who principally performs and creates for the theatre, among many other things. She has toured with productions through the Maritimes and to Germany. She is a member of ACTRA, CAEA and PARC and is a former associate director of DaPoPo Theatre, with whom she co-created/contributed writing for ten of the company’s original productions. As playwright, credits include: A Good Death (Neptune Studio Theatre, Halifax), Warp & Weft (co- created with Lizon Richard, Atlantic Fringe, Halifax), Phaedra’s Bed (Atlantic Fringe, Halifax), The Again Walkers (Ibsen Bites, LunaSea Theatre, Halifax), Tom-Tom, die TraumWerwerter (Winter's Journey, Halifax), And Then Nothing Happened (in development).

Amy Groening began her career as an actress in her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba working on such projects as Century Fox's GOON and Space Channels TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL.

Amy now splits her time between Atlantic Canada and Toronto, ON and has been busy working on numerous feature films and television shows. Her most recent projects include the NBC Universal pilot HORIZON, eOne feature TEEN LUST, a recurring character on CW’s REIGN as well as a leading role on CW’s comedy BACKPACKERS. Amy is thrilled to be working on her first feature in Atlantic Canada, HALLOWEEN PARTY with Northeast Films. Additionally she is beyond excited to beginning her work with the Eastern Front Theatre’s Playwriting Unit.

Sam Horak is an emerging director, playwright and theatre creator. Horak runs a small indie theatre company called Rolling Bold Productions with the focus on creating Queer and Feminist theatre with a rock n roll twist. Horak recently directed and produced Rocky Horror at North St. Church, SIT ON MY FACE at Queer Acts (2016) and at the Company House, Atlantic Fringe Festival (2015) winning the “Fringiest fringe award” and “5th for best box office”.   Horak also directed Sissydude, a dandy rock musical with Trrrash productions in 2013, and in 2012 at Queer Acts theatre festival, winning a bronze medal for best theatrical production in the Coast “Best of" awards.  Kitchen, a dirty rock tale is Horak’s first full-length script and is what allowed her to find her passion for writing. After taking part in PARC’S Playwrights Colony, Horak is ever so grateful to be accepted into the playwright’s Unit with Eastern Front theatre, receiving another opportunity for feedback with the guidance of Shelley Thompson.

Sarah Jane Blenkhorn is a writer, performer and teacher. She has studied theatre, technical production, Western history and teaching English as a second language. Sarah worked in the Halifax theatre and film industries for more than a decade before going to Japan to teach English for eight years, immersing herself in modern daily life and traditional culture there. She has worked collaboratively and individually on plays, as well as her own poetry and nonfiction. In 2016, following her return to Halifax, she wrote and performed Rabbit Moon, a one-woman play, for the Atlantic Fringe Festival, where it was received warmly.

Dan Bray is a multidisciplinary artist based in Halifax and holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto. As a playwright, his work has been produced by the Villain's Theatre, Taboo Theatre, and Lions Den Theatre. His adaptation of the elizabethan tragedy, Arden of Faversham, garnered him a Merritt nomination for "Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian Playwright," and two of his original plays won "Best Playwright" and "Best All Ages Show" in the Atlantic Fringe. He's tremendously grateful to be included in the playwrights unit and working with Eastern Front.

Andrew Chandler is an actor, director, producer and playwright from Halifax, NS.  He holds a BMus in Percussion and a diploma in Musical Theatre Performance from Sheridan Institute.  As an actor he has performed with Two Plans and a Passion Theatre Company, Ship’s Company Theatre, Shakespeare by the Sea, Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre, DaPoPo Theatre, Lion’s Den Theatre, and a number of independent productions.  He is the artistic producer of Kick at the Dark Theatre Company, and starred in their 2015 Merritt-Award winning production The Story of a Sinking Man by Morris Panych.  As a playwright, he has co-written several plays including Going Down (with Ann Doyle), Stay At Home Dead (with Dorian Lang, Jonny Thompson, and Claire St.-François) and the Musical So… What About Love? (with Garry Williams and Amy Reitsma).  He has written short plays for Up the Hill Theatre productions and Once Upon a Theatre collective. 

Laura Burke is a writer and actor with a background in performance poetry. She debuted her first play, Voices, in San Francisco in 2011.  Since then, she has shown her work in every province between Newfoundland and Manitoba.  Produced by The Doppler Effect, Heartwood premiered at the Mayworks Festival in 2013, then played at Neptune Theatre’s Open Spaces in 2014.  Laura performed an excerpt from her play, Iris at the 2015 Soloicious Festival, and in 2016, her script proposal for Mad Ones was awarded support and collaboration from Eastern Front Theatre at the Stages Festival Pitch It Event.  She looks forward to working with all of the fine folk at the 2017 EFT Playwright’s Unit, where she will develop Mad Ones – a play about love, madness and identity set in 1730.  


Now in its 24th season, Eastern Front Theatre is a Halifax based theatre company that commissions, develops, produces, and presents plays that explore and celebrate the human condition in relation to our place in the world. We champion Atlantic Canadian artists and stories about Atlantic Canada. Eastern Front Theatre strives to stimulate, entertain, and challenge our audience with theatre that is provocative, innovative, and of the highest standard.

Eastern Front Theatre is proud to work with Theatre Nova Scotia, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, and our Print Media Sponsor The Coast. Eastern Front Theatre is generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, Arts Nova Scotia, and the Halifax Regional Municipality.


EFT has received funding for the creation of Shelley Thompson's new play, 'Bloody Jubilee' from the Department of Communities, Culture & Heritage. We are incredibly grateful.

Playwright Unit 2018

To apply to be part of the 2018 Playwright Unit, write to Artistic Producer Jeremy Webb (jeremy@easternfronttheatre.com), including:

* a sample of your playwrighting (a previously-written full script, if you have one)

* a resume

* a brief synopsis or description of the play you wish to work on as part of the Unit

Deadline to Submit: November 1st, 2017


Student Matinee Performances

Bring your classroom to Eastern Front Theatre!

Eastern Front Theatre’s student matinees entertain, educate, and foster a lifelong appreciation of live theatre.  Student matinees are closed to the public and can include a question and answer period following the performance with members of the production team.

An Eastern Front school matinee is wonderful value and a great opportunity to engage students through an alternative medium.

Teachers are invited to Preview Nights to meet our staff and watch the production for free prior to bringing students to the show.


Chasing Champions by Jacob Sampson: 10am, April 26th, 2017 (Wednesday)









For show descriptions, matinee dates and times, please contact Jeremy Webb at (902) 466-2769 or admin@easternfronttheatre.com.

Please note matinees are presented without language or content editing.

© EFT Eastern Front Theatre 2016

Canada Helps
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!