Next Stage Theatre Festival Preview

Toronto Fringe's Kelly Straughan on hosting 12 days of the best indie theatre in Canada at Factory Theatre

Now in its seventh year, the Next Stage Theatre Festival (NSTF) is a beloved winter tradition for arts lovers in Toronto. Running January 8 to 19 at Factory Theatre, the Toronto Fringe produced NSTF is a platform for Fringe artists to showcase their work to a wider audience, including decision makers who could be interested in programming their shows on main stages across the country. 

This year's lineup includes a variety of styles and genres, including musicals, political dramas and an urban dance show. Featuring an eclectic mix of veteran artists and up-and-coming talent, NSTF is the place to be this month. Tickets are affordable at $10-$15 per show. Passes are also available ($48 for a four-play pass, $88 for an eight-play pass). Did we mention they have a heated beer tent?

Here, we chat with Toronto Fringe Executive Director Kelly Straughan about what audiences can expect from NSTF 2014.

Theatromania: The 2014 NSTF lineup includes musicals, political dramas and an urban dance show. How would you describe this 12-day indie theatre event in a few sentences?

KS: NSTF features some of the best artists and companies on the Fringe circuit. It’s an exciting festival and the caliber of work is second to none.

Theatromania: The 10 shows in the festival are selected by a panel of industry experts. What criteria must a production meet in order to fit the festival bill? Does the Toronto Fringe always try to program a variety of genres?

KS: Yes. We try to program to a variety of genres and styles. Our patrons take in multiple shows and we want to give them a varied experience. The primary applicant of a project must have participated in a CAFF member festival before, though they are not required to apply with a prior Fringe production. A jury of industry experts evaluates applications for the readiness of the project and its participants to take advantage of the professional opportunities offered by the festival; the artistic content of the project and clarity of vision; the degree to which the piece expands, challenges or reconsiders its genre.

Theatromania: Tell us about the McAuslan Beer Tent. What can audiences expect to find inside this time around?

KS: Friendly staff, amazing volunteers, our box office and BEER! It is like being on a sunny beach, but without the beach part, or the ocean. But it’s toasty warm! On Saturday Jan 11th from 8pm-11pm we are throwing a January is the new July party in the heated beer tent. Join NSTF staff, artists and audience members for free desserts and beer samples of McAuslan’s Cheval Blanc.

Theatromania: Is there anything about NSTF that not many people know about?

KS: We are surprised that some people still don’t know it is produced by the Toronto Fringe!

Theatromania: What are your goals for NSTF 2014?

KS: For people to have a great time and take in as many shows as possible…and to beat all box office records!

The Next Stage Theatre Festival runs from January 8 to 19 at Factory Theatre. Visit for more information, including a full schedule of shows and showtimes, and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Tue, 2013-01-08 - Thu, 2013-12-19


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.