The National Theatre School of Canada recently announced its winter/spring Pay What You Can season of performances, and 12 shows will be produced by the Class of 2020 this year. For all NTS productions, audiences pay what they think by giving the amount of their choice in the identified boxes after the show (online donations are also possible). This is a way to make theatre more accessible while building new audiences for the future generation of performers and theatre artists.

“Student shows have always been affordable. It’s never been about selling tickets but having people come and experience the development of these young artists,” said Gideon Arthurs, CEO of the National Theatre School of Canada. “These audiences are able to engage with the content in a slightly different way and see professional theatre with people who are still in training.”

The results of the Pay What You Can program have been successful so far, which is why they are continuing with it this year.

“We did have more people because of it. Last year we did it and had a 50 per cent increase in the people coming,” Arthurs explained. “It’s interesting because the value per person went below $10 but overall the money went up. We had many more people and increased revenues overall.”

A few of the upcoming shows include:

Nell Gwynn — Feb. 25-29

This play by Jessica Swale explores the life of Nell Gwynn, an eminent Restoration actress and mistress to King Charles II. With the Restoration period as its backdrop — which saw theatres reopening after an almost-two-decade-long ban in England and women were allowed to act on stage for the first time – the play delivers humour and a feminist perspective. Krista Jackson directs the graduating students in Acting, Production Design and Technical Arts, and Set and Costume Design.

365 Days/365 Plays — Feb. 26-28

Alisa Palmer, Artistic Director of the English section of NTS, directs the Second-year Acting students in 365 Days/365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks. Thirty scenes from this monumental work by Parks, written every day for a year, were selected for this production.

New Words Festival 2020 — Apr. 28 — May 2

For every student in the English section, the training culminates with the New Words Festival, which showcases two new plays by the graduating playwrights, directed by the graduating directors, with the work of graduating students from the Acting, Production Design and Technical Arts, and Set and Costume Design programs.

This event provides different learning opportunities for the production and design teams, as both plays are presented in the same venue with a short changeover time for set elements. The New Words Festival run culminates with the graduating ceremony.

For more information on the NTS, which is located at 5030 St. Denis Street, visit

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