Retreats in Full Swing

In March we hosted our first Gillespie House Playwrights Retreat of 2024. It went so well, we’re already planning for the next one!

Last month Driftwood hosted its first playwrights retreat of the season at our partnered Bed & Breakfast, The Gillespie House. We were joined by Ellen Denny (playwright, The Great(er) Maple Syrup Heist), Deivan Steele (playwright, Children of the Black Water), and Ahmed Moneka (playwright, The Onion Cellar). For one peaceful week in the County – away from day to day life – these playwrights got to explore bold new ideas, take leaps and strides in their work, and share in each other’s pursuits.

All week, we were inspired by our guests’ processes. Deivan’s routine of writing with the sunrise, Ellen’s piano playing drifting through the halls, and reading aloud The Onion Cellar chapter (from Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum) with Ahmed. It was such a unique pleasure having these artists in our space, and we are so excited for what comes of their work. 

This is River, with her World Theatre Day poster (made with her dad, Jeremy).

“Something magical happens when artists inhabit this house,” says Artistic Director (and Gillespie House co-owner) Jeremy Smith, “there’s a vibrancy and joy that just fills the space. It encourages me to rediscover that creative spirit as well – like the one we all have when we’re kids. And it was particularly special to have the house overflowing with that energy on World Theatre Day (March 27).”

But enough about us! Read on to learn more about the experience from the playwrights themselves. 

“Everyday during my residency at Gillespie House, the warm hospitality cultivated a feeling of support and joy. Our days were full of quiet focus and our evenings full of inspiring conversation. Having on-site dramaturgical support deepened my understanding of my project and gave me a lot to digest moving forward. A truly special week in a beautiful setting.”

– Ellen Denny, GHPR March 2024

“The Gillespie House Playwrights Retreat is all about enabling playwrights to do their best work, and the folks at Driftwood are exceptional at supporting the process of every individual. The gifts that GHPR gave me weren’t just time and space to work, but also a lovely introduction to a beautiful corner of Ontario, flexible support for all kinds of projects, and an invitation to really become part of the family for a week. When Driftwood says their vision is about ‘Good people sharing great stories’, nowhere is it better exemplified than this productive, collaborative, and heartwarming experience. I can’t say enough just how much I recommend GHPR to any playwright looking to kickstart their story with a wonderful team.” 

– Deivan Steele, GHPR March 2024

For those of you who may have missed it – or who need the extra nudge – our call for submissions to the June Gillespie House Playwrights Retreat (GHPR) is still open! We’re looking for emerging and established playwrights who are developing new works that are epic or mythic in nature (whatever that means to them). From June 3rd – 7th 2024, selected artists will be invited to stay at The Gillespie House where they’ll receive; full accommodation, complimentary breakfasts, a travel stipend within Ontario, access to dramaturgical support, and an honorarium of $500.00. The deadline to submit is Thursday April 18th, 2024 at midnight.