New Ideas Festival Reading Series

Watch Me DrownMirage: The Arabian Adventures of Gertrude Bell

March 10, 17, and 24, 2018 at noon on the Mainstage – PWYC

Week 1: March 10, 2018

WATCH ME DROWN by Liam Salmon

Dorian paints a painting that calls something from beyond the grave. The painting forces Macy, Lauren, and Tom to confront the traumatic death of their friend Angeline, who drowned in a swimming pool eight years prior.

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LIAM SALMON, Playwright
Liam Salmon is a queer playwright based out of Edmonton, Alberta. He was a member of the Edmonton Citadel Young Playwriting Company and the Citadel Playwright’s Forum, where he wrote/workshopped many of his plays. His work has been performed at the New Works Festival, Nextfest, the Edmonton Fringe, the Citadel Theatre, and most recently at Newmarket, Ontario, as part of a ten-minute play festival. He’s currently studying playwriting in his final year at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal. His graduating play will be performed at the end of the year in May. (

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Evelyn Long is a new director and dramaturg from Calgary, Alberta. She attended the Randolph College for the Performing Arts and, immediately after graduating, turned her focus to directing and dramaturging feminist works. Her latest show, Hexen by Caleigh Crow, received rave reviews in the Toronto Fringe and is in the works to become a full length musical. Other credits include dramaturgy for The Weavers at Randolph College, Alive by Roy Hamilton III, and Bang Bang Shoot Em Up by Bob Wiseman. Directing and producing: Girls, Girls, Girls: A Celebratory Girl Band Cabaret, Home Town Glory, and Cabra Kedabra by her own theatre company, The Creation Coffin.  

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Week 2: March 17, 2018


In 1913, English archaeologist Gertrude Bell returns triumphant from an arduous journey to the Fortress of Hayyil deep in the Arabian Desert. An extraordinary woman is poised to play a decisive role in the future of Mesopotamia, with lasting repercussions for the Middle East today.

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LAURIE FYFFE, Playwright
A playwright, actor, dramaturg, and artistic director of Evolution Theatre, Laurie Fyffe directed Evolution’s production of The Home Show for the 2017 Ottawa Fringe. Her plays have been produced at the Tarragon and Factory Theatres, and SummerWorks Festival, Toronto, and the Blyth Festival, with short plays at InspiraTO and the Short & Sweet Festival in Sydney, Australia. From 2014 to 2017, Laurie was managing artistic director of Ottawa StoryTellers. She received her MA in Theatre/Dramaturgy from the University of Ottawa (2010), and teaches scriptwriting at Algonquin College’s School of Media Design. (Photo of Laurie Fyffe by Annette Hegel.) 

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MONA ZAIDI, Director
Mona Zaidi is an award-winning writer/director with a diverse background in film, theatre, animation, and interactive media. Her 2017 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III was awarded “Best Film” at the 2017 Shakespeare Film Festival, chosen by five-time Academy Award nominee Sir Kenneth Branagh. Mona’s most recent project is a series of hybrid film/stage productions adapted from the masterworks of world literature.

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Week 3: March 24, 2018

ANIMAL by Romeo Ciofli

Raina Shepherd has lost her grip on reality following a recent tragedy. When her brother Daniel and son Griffin come to her aid, what unfolds is a number of searing revelations from their pasts that rock this fragmented family to the breaking point.

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ROMEO CIOFLI, Playwright
Romeo Ciofli is a graduate of York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. His screenplay Play Ball was a winner of the Kairos Prize in Screenwriting and was optioned by Pâté Productions. Screenplays Who Is Molly Steele? and The Great Surrender were finalists in the Chronos Prize in Screenwriting. His plays include OverTime (Toronto Fringe), Blue (The Village Playhouse) and Stillborn (Annex Theatre). He has written and directed seasonal theatrical productions, creating shows from the ground up. Romeo is the artistic director of Studio Speranza. On his website (, he blogs about writing and productions of his work. 

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LIZ BEST,* Director
Liz Best is an actor, director, and playwright. She has appeared in commercials, film, television, and theatre in Canada and the United States, including two seasons on City TV’s Meet the Family, for which she was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Female Performance in a TV series. She has directed for Scarborough Players, Encore Entertainment, Alumnae Theatre, and Marion Abbott Productions. Liz’s play The Bay was performed at Alumnae’s Big Ideas 2016, and her play, Surrender, Dorothy was part of Alumnae Theatre’s Fireworks Festival 2017. 

*Liz Best appears with the permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.

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JANE MILLER, Dramaturg
Jane Miller’s career as an actor, singer, and composer spans thirty+ years. Highlights include touring her solo show, Disco Goalie, to sold-out houses across Canada, and two Dora nominations as a performer. She participated in multiple play-development workshops with Nightswimming, which led to her work in Blue Note (Harbourfront HATCH), Lake Nora Arms (SummerWorks), A Wolf in the Voice, and These Are the Songs That I Sing when I’m Sad, which premiered at Boca Del Lupo in Vancouver, February 2017, and is returning there March 2018. ( Jane directed and dramaturged Romeo Ciolfi’s Blue (Village Playhouse) and Jane Moffat’s Gink (Toronto Fringe).

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