Plain Site Theatre Festival prepares for third-annual presentation

Alex Rioux is the founder of the Plain Site Theatre Festival, which aims to promote and foster queer visibility. (Submitted: Alex Rioux)

The third-annual Plain Site Theatre Festival is calling on playwrights to submit scripts for the March 2022 line-up.

The LGBTQ2IA+-oriented festival aims to promote and foster queer visibility within the St. Thomas University and greater Fredericton theatre community, said STU graduate and Plain Site founder Alex Rioux.

“[Writers] have an opportunity to present their work and a chance to collaborate with other artists who are sort of at the top of their fields.”

Rioux said that Liquid Works Theatre Festival and UNB’s Pink Lobster Film Festival are the only queer art celebrations he can name.

He said even though there are LGBTQ2IA+ friendly programs within the theatre community, more queer narratives and perspectives are needed on stage.

“I feel like there is a bit of a disparity, which is funny, because there’s a lot of really talented queer [theatre] artists, but not necessarily the shows that show it,” he said.

The first festival in 2019 focused on establishing itself without performances and consisted solely of workshops and staged readings. Stage performances weren’t part of the festival until last year.

Rioux said that while theatre at STU is inclusive, when it comes to choosing shows they wish to present, directors gravitate towards classics or fan-favourites.

A lot of the time, classic scripts exclude queer voices, and the ones that do typically deal with heavy or dark subject matters, which can sometimes be ‘intense’ for students, Rioux said.

“I wanted this festival to act as a way to foster more positive stories, where kids could come in and not worry about being traumatized by the material,” he said.

This extends to behind the scenes as well. Rioux says there’s an “instant comfort and ease” that happens when queer people are working together — one that he has not always experienced in other spaces.

The theme of 2022’s line-up is “coming out.” Rioux said this theme is universal to all audiences with people preparing to re-emerge from lockdowns.

“We have walls that we put up to keep ourselves safe, but when it’s time and we’re able to bring those walls down, it can be a process to really start dismantling them,” he said.

The festival is preferably looking for single or two-person plays. Submitters are welcome to be experimental or write something more traditional.

Rioux expects there will be more entries before the Nov. 20 deadline, as submissions always “pile-up” right before the cut-off. He said everything can be done virtually because “if travel is an issue, then we will make it not an issue.”

He said the festival has a great pool of collaborators and created a strong reputation for itself. As a result, the festival is attracting more directors this year than previous years.

“Each director is able to bring their own unique vision to a script, which will just really enrich the whole process and the players themselves,” he said.