About Us

Exploring the boundaries of theatrical storytelling

Nightswimming is an award-winning Toronto-based dramaturgical theatre company with a national mandate focused on researchcreation and performance through commissioning and developing new Canadian plays, musical works and dance. Our activities fall into three categories:  Research includes exploratory work such as our Pure Research program; Creation includes commissioning playwrights and developing Canadian plays and dance works; Performance brings our new works to the stage in Toronto and on tour across Canada.

Established in 1995 by dramaturg Brian Quirt, Nightswimming explores new forms and creates powerful, moving and beautiful works of performance. Through those new works, we are devoted to advancing the field of dramaturgy – the exploration of theatrical stories and how they are told – and play development in Canada.

In collaboration with founding Producer Naomi Campbell, her successor Rupal Shah, and current Producer Leslie Haller, Brian has commissioned and developed more than 30 projects. To date 23 of those projects have been produced in more than 65 runs at theatres and festivals in Toronto and across the country from Victoria to Whitehorse to St. John’s.

Nightswimming commissions, develops and workshops these projects but generally does not produce them. We seek out established performing arts companies as partners in an extended developmental process leading to premiere productions by our partner companies.

We are committed to conducting ground-breaking research in our field, and to supporting artists from across Canada through our Pure Research program.

Our critically acclaimed plays-in-performance explore challenging theatrical forms and emotionally rich stories with bold visual style. We commit to long-term relationships with our writers and provide them with the tools they need: substantial commissions; readings and workshops; high calibre actors; research; colleagues from the areas of design, choreography and music; on-going dramaturgical support; and a developmental process that is ideally suited to their requirements. We believe our commitment to research, creation and performance inspires these artists to create some of their best work.

Please join us – as audience, patrons and colleagues – as we search for unique ways to tell powerful stories.

Why Nightswimming is Unique

Nightswimming is a creative laboratory committed to commissioning and creating projects through a comprehensive artistic process culminating in performance. We give artists invaluable space in which to create, free from the pressure of most deadlines. Our time and resources are devoted to creating and developing each work through a custom designed process from inception to premiere, and to establishing partnerships for every project to ensure each reaches as broad an audience as possible.

We have worked with established artists such as playwrights Carmen Aguirre, Judith Thompson and Colleen Wagner and choreographer Julia Sasso; award-winning novelists like Anosh Irani, Jane Urquhart and Michael Redhill; and committed to artists such as Anita Majumdar, Andy Massingham, Jordi Mand and Jordan Tannahhill at key moments in their careers. .

Nightswimming offers these talented artists the rare opportunity to create a new piece through a substantial commission. We surround them with the best collaborators in the fields of theatre, dance, design and music and the means to create their dream project.

A Commitment to research and dramaturgy

Nightswimming’s Pure Research program – in association with the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and SFU Contemporary Arts – challenges artists from across Canada to investigate new ideas in dramaturgy. We provide space, money and resources for studio-based research into provocative theatrical questions of form and performance.

Educational Partnerships

Nightswimming is committed to mentoring students, providing internships to emerging artists and producers, and has established partnerships with many theatre training institutions and university programs.

City of Wine A major project from 2006-2010 was Ned Dickens’ seven play cycle City of Wine, which we developed through an innovative partnership with eight theatre training institutions across Canada.

Recognized by our Peers

Since 1995 Nightswimming has been recognized with 4 Governor General’s Award nominations, 7 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, 19 Dora Award nominations and 8 published scripts. Artistic Director Brian Quirt has twice received the Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Dramaturgy in North America, as well as three Dora Award nominations.

Nightswimming’s works have been premiered and presented at Canada’s leading theatre companies (including Tarragon, Factory, Theatre Passe Muraille, National Arts Centre, The Cultch, Arts Club Theatre, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Centaur Theatre, Banff Centre, and many more), toured the country to more than 20 venues, and appeared at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, ATP’s playRites Festival, Canada Dance Festival, Summerworks Festival, Rhubarb Festival and Harbourfront’s World Stage and World Moves Dance Series.

Playwrights in Residence:

Ned Dickens, Catherine Hernandez, Martin Julien, Jordi Mand, Anita Majumdar, Andy Massingham, Jordan Tannahill, Colleen Wagner

Artists supported through the Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre Creators Reserve 2008-15:

Kawa Ada, Thom Allison, Kate Alto, Rehan Ansar, Liza Balkan, Neema Bickersteth, Jay Bowen, Erin Brubacher, Kate Cayley, Ben Chiasson, Ned Dickens, Fraser Elsdon, Alex Fallis, Emily Farrell, Susanna Fournier, Noam Gagnon, Michael Greyeyes, Ame Henderson , Nada Humsi, Ravi Jain, Beth Kates, Bryce Kulak, Rosa Laborde, Djennie Laguerre, Amy Nostbakken, Jordi Mand, Andy Massingham, Emilie Monnet, Motion, Thomas Olajide, Emily Pearlman, Laura Pharo, Liz Poundsett, P.J. Prudat, Carlos Rivera, Laara Sadiq, Suba Sankaran, Pamela Sinha, Katie Sly, Jordan Tannahill, Jacob Zimmer, Evan Webber




Avon Macfarlane

Jane Miller

Colin Rivers

Lisa Rapoport