Playwrights Unit


The 23/24 Playwrights Unit focuses on the process of developing a script for the stage, and building a career as a playwright. We ask that 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. Paprika accepts playwrights at all stages, from first-time playwrights to already-produced! Three 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. Many playwrights have gone on to have their scripts staged as full productions at Paprika and beyond as a result of the development support they received in this program.

We welcome playwrights at all career stages, from first-time playwrights to those already produced! We encourage new artists and artists located in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) in the first few years of their practice to apply. The Playwrights Unit public readings and some of the unit’s meetings will take place in person in Tsí Tkarón:to (Toronto).


Merlin Simard

Playwrights Unit Facilitator 2023/24

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 |

Training Days + Company-Wide Meetings

We bring together all program participants for monthly Training Day sessions, starting with a Company-wide Orientation in November 2023 and finishing with a Post-Festival Debrief in May 2024.

Workshop topics ranging from accessibility design, to how to plan your festival tech, a Technical Theatre Workshop with an introduction to stage management and theatre design, and building a career in the arts. These workshops are held online and in-person, and are a chance for participants to meet and work with one another (and find future collaborators!).


Support You Receive


Toronto + Online

COVID-19 Considerations

The health and safety of participants, facilitators, and staff is our greatest priority. We encourage all Paprika participants, staff, facilitators and guest artists to maintain regular vaccinations, including additional doses/boosters. Masking during group sessions will be discussed and decided upon by each program. Masking will be optional for all company meetings, and no one will be discouraged from wearing masks. Paprika will continue to provide KN95 or N95 face masks (or equivalent) upon request. Masking and rapid testing of all artists and staff will be required throughout Paprika’s tech week in May 2024. 


Paprika seeks to lower barriers for all its programs. This year, we are offering transportation support when requested, food and snacks at program events, as well as a $1,200 participant honorarium. 

Company-wide Training Days take place in venues accessible to folks using mobility devices.The Paprika Festival tech and performances will take place at Native Earth Performing Arts’ Aki Studio, which is fully accessible for artists and audiences.

Paprika advocates for gender inclusive washrooms, and will negotiate for gender inclusive washroom signage whenever possible. We use and respect people’s pronouns. Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, LGBTQ2SIA+, Women, Trans, Non-Binary, Newcomer, Immigrant, Fat, Mad and Neurodiverse people are welcome.

Internet and a smartphone, tablet and/or computer are required for participation in Paprika’s programs. Our programs are not accessible to Deaf or Blind artists at this time. Group meetings can be recorded and shared internally to accommodate schedule conflicts and emergencies with prior notice to the program facilitator and Paprika staff. 

Playwrights Unit group meetings will be held online leading up to in-person tech and festival.