Curtains Up!

On April 4th Nakai Theatre invites theatre lovers, supportive friends or simply the merely curious to attend their 24 Hour Playmaking Cabaret, held at The Deck at the High Country Inn.

The event, which has been held for nearly 25 years, revolves around Nakai’s 24 Hour Playmaking Challenge, which took place March 11 to 12. The challenge gave a writer or a group of writers 24 hours to either create a new theatre piece or work on an existing piece, with a dramaturge available to help smooth out the creative process. At the end of the 24 hour period, the writers could submit their work for judging and it is from these works that writers will present.

“This is a modest, intimate event,” says David Skelton, Nakai Theatre’s Artistic Director. “People always have an excellent time when they’re there… sometimes you see pieces where you say ‘that’s an interesting concept’ and then there are some where you kind of go, ‘oh, maybe they need a little bit more work,’ but it’s always fun.”

Playwrights will read five to seven minute excerpts from their pieces, not the whole work. The plays are not performed or produced at this time. Skelton says he expects about seven readers, based on previous years, and about 60-70 “very supportive” audience members at the event.

A top play is selected, as well as two runner ups and a people’s favourite, but there are also other awards and prizes, such as “the best use of the optional mandatory,” says Skelton, which is a theme or item Nakai has given all playwrights to include in their piece during the challenge. There is also a popular award called “Larry’s Last Line,” in which Liberal M.P. Larry Bagnell arrives at the event to read out the last line of a play.

“It’s so fun. (Bagnell’s) schedule is so furious that he never knows when he will actually arrive (at the event)… so he just shows up, everything is interrupted and he reads the last line and hands out some parliamentary swag,” Skelton says.

While the event is very light-hearted and casual, the 24 Hour Playmaking Challenge and the Cabaret are really staging grounds for new Nakai Theatre productions, and many of the plays the company has presented in the past have been born from these events, Skelton says.

Some of the works are selected for Nakai Theatre’s annual Homegrown Festival and from there some go on to be commissioned by Nakai, which means writers are paid to work on their plays and eventually see them produced.

“There have been some really beautiful pieces come out of this event,” says Skelton. “What’s really neat is that you will see some of these plays later. You can see the plays at different stages of growth, and that’s fascinating. That kind of development, that kind of growth, it’s really very exciting.”

Doors open for the 24 Hour Playmaking Cabaret at The Deck at 7 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Entry is by donation. There will be food and drink available for purchase. For more information on this event and on the 24 Hour Playmaking Challenge, go to

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