Playwrights Unit

The Playwrights Unit focuses on the process of developing a script for the stage, and building a career as a playwright. Playwrights bring us a project they are passionate about, whether it is a clearly outlined idea for a play, a full-length draft ready to be workshopped, or anything in between. Participants will learn about: character development, scene structure, creating honest dialogue and sustaining tension in writing, along with administrative skills — including grant writing, crafting playwright resumes, and how to pitch your project to a theatre. Celebrate the explorations, discoveries and risk-taking of this year’s Playwrights Unit during this work-in-process sharing. 30 minute excerpts from three bold, multilingual new works in development will be read. Don’t miss it!

Merlin Simard

Merlin Simard

Merlin Simard (she/they/iel/elle) is a performer, playwright, dramaturge, and screenwriter originally from Tio’tiá:ke/Mooniyang (Montréal), now based in Tsí Tkarón:to (Toronto). As a performer, Merlin has worked with Factory Theatre, Stratford, Crow’s, Outside The March, Buddies In Bad Times, Talk is Free, Toronto Dance Theatre, and many more. She has also acted on Grand Army (Netflix) and This Life (CBC), as well as in the short film Poils Anyways (Fittonia Inc.), which she also wrote. Her artistic practice focuses on themes of access, gender euphoria, technology, and multilingual performance. Merlin is currently developing several projects spanning across theatre, TV, and VR in both English and French. <3 @hussy4hussy |



I was part of this playwrighting unit in 2018 under the care of Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho) & Polly Phokeev. I wrote my first play called FEAR OF MEN. As someone with English as an additional language, I didn’t even know it was allowed. Up to that point, people were more preoccupied with the way I spoke English than the actual stories I had to tell. Paprika, though, did not give a shit. As the facilitator of this program, I also do not give a shit. I hope you don’t give a shit too. 

Writing plays can be hard. Like, really hard. It’s not just writing words on a google doc and thinking wow i am SO So SOOOOO super funny and, also, emotional. Really, writing can be scary. pleasant. sexy. transformative. isolating. delicious. burn you out. an embodiment of the messy. a version of the truth. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

Mercedes, Ameer and Mina are really brave for writing the plays you are about to hear read. Truly, we are all so lucky that they decided to tell their stories. *cue applause*

Today, you will hear works that flow between English, Spanish, Farsi and Arabic. It’s ok if you don’t understand all of it. Actually, I sincerely hope that you don’t. 

Today, you will hear stories of diaspora, birth, occupation, love, death, sex, liberation and all of the terrible good stuff that makes our lives juicy. 

We have laughed SO much during this unit. So much precious fun even if the earth is burning. We have held our stories close to our hearts and are now sharing them with you. Thank you for choosing to listen to them. You being here means a lot to all of us. 


Thank you to Miriam and Karishma at Why Not for welcoming us into your homes. To Augusto Bitter, Payam Saeedi, and Sam Khalilieh for being amazing mentors to Meche, Mina and Ameer. To Nikki Shaffeeullah for trusting us with Rabia. To Bilal and Paprika’s team for supporting me in my first year as a facilitator of this program. To all the trans girls in my life. Thank you, Merci and Miigwetch. 

Merlin Simard, Facilitator of Playwrights Unit 2023/24