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Experience 6 plays in 60 minutes at Newmarket's National Play Festival

Ticket holders can experience four different play 'pod' themes at this year's festival
July 22, 2019
Teresa Latchford

Four themes, 24 plays, 10 minutes each.

Newmarket’s National 10-minute Play Festival, presented by BMW Newmarket, is back for a third consecutive year. The festival now spans seven days from July 22 to 28 with all performances taking place at Newmarket’s Old Town Hall, 460 Botsford St. in the historic downtown core.

“The Town of Newmarket is excited to host the Newmarket National Play Festival as it is a showcase for regional voices and diverse perspectives written for Canadians by Canadians,” Mayor John Taylor said. “This festival provides residents and visitors the opportunity to come together and celebrate creative Canadian expression, fitting for our vibrant and thriving arts and culture scene.”

The festival sponsors a national playwriting competition, from which 24 scripts are selected for production. The plays are then divided into pods, connected by a unifying theme, where audiences will encounter a different theatre experience with six different plays in just 60 minutes.

This year’s pod themes include stand OUT, you TURN, end RUN and after LIFE.

Each pod of six plays is $20 per ticket.

The festival was launched in 2017 by arts enthusiast Michael Halfin, a former drama teacher and writer, with the aim of creating a national platform for Canadian playwrights and professional performance opportunities for veteran actors and emerging theatre artists. Where many summer theatre festivals reinterpret works of yesteryear, this festival provides a stage for contemporary storytellers to express, explore and experiment with diverse ideas.

The festival plays form the core of this weeklong event, which features many free activities such as Pay What You Can staged readings of plays in development with NNPF, coffee chats with actors and directors, playwright readings and guided tours of an art exhibition created by the Newmarket Group of Artists that explores the festival’s four pod themes for 2019.

New this year is a two-day Ten-Minute Play Writing Workshop, July 22 and 23, for $25 per person and a seniors-focused matinee at 2 p.m. on July 25 featuring pastries, light refreshments and a sit-down visit with actors and directors.

Festival ticket holders can also take advantage of special discounts and merchant offers on dining and shopping nearby.

The town will also be hosting the crowd-pleasing Busker Festival presented by Bell on Saturday, July 27, from noon to 10 p.m. on Main Street. Come and be amazed by incredibly talented and unique international street performers who will provide free, one-of-a-kind entertainment for the whole family. What a great way to enjoy time between play pods. Visit to learn more.

A full listing of events, activities and special offers can be found on the NNPF website.

For more information and for a full list of the plays and performances, visit