Skip to main content

What to Expect at… the 2022 Next Stage Festival

A reimagining of the program image for the 2022 Next Stage Theatre Festival. A blue butterfly flies up towards the left corner of the page.
/By / Jan 19, 2022

Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered! Intermission’s Insider Intel articles showcase one theatre at a time to give you all the information you need before your visit.

This week: Toronto Fringe Festival’s 2022 Next Stage Theatre Festival

What is the Next Stage Theatre Festival?

Each January since 2008, the Next Stage Theatre Festival has offered performance lovers an intimate, cozy festival experience. Next Stage is the curated sister event of the summer Fringe, where approximately 10 shows are programmed by a jury of industry professionals. Next Stage artists are on the cutting edge of “indie” theatre and are creating urgent, exciting work. Patrons can expect to see artists at Next Stage who are about to hit the mainstream – Next Stage artists frequently break out into CBC, Mirvish, Broadway or Netflix hits within a year or two of appearing at the festival.

The slogan for the 2020 Next Stage Theatre Festival was “theatre with 20/20 vision,” a nod to the new decade and the various explorations and discussions created by the artists in the festival. It saw the highest audience capacities of all time, with shows in the Studio Theatre selling at 93% capacity, and shows in the Mainspace Theatre selling at 65%. Next Stage continues to offer independent artists and companies the opportunity to connect with audiences through a wide variety of artistic mediums, continually returning and transforming to suit the times. There’s something for everyone in this year’s exceptionally strong and eclectic mix of artists and shows: humour, music, innovation, and vulnerability from artists with strong and clear voices, who are ready for their next stage.

What kind of theatre can you expect?

The 15th iteration of the Next Stage Theatre Festival has gone Digital!

The 2022 Next Stage Theatre Festival will present exciting and expansive digital offerings, including dance, musical theatre, gaming, stand-up comedy, traditional theatre and more. Next Stage welcomes a curious audience who are ready for fun, satirical and challenging shows with themes around identity, aging, and desire.

Where can you watch the shows?

Previously planned as a hybrid in-person and digital festival, the Festival will now be completely online in compliance with the Government of Ontario’s recent move to Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. Find the full schedule and purchase tickets here.

Tickets prices

Tickets are $15, and festival passes are available for $50. For more information on how to buy passes and individual show tickets, check the festival website.


Next Stage is committed to making their events as accessible as possible, with a variety of features to allow all audiences to enjoy this year’s digital offerings.

  • Transcripts: Audio pieces are accompanied by PDF transcript documents that are compatible with screen-readers
  • Captions: Live digital events will have auto-transcribed captioning. Pre-recorded videos will have Closed Captions
  • Screen Readers: All published PDFs will adhere to best practices for accessibility and will be compatible with screen-readers

Some shows in the series offer additional access options. To learn more about Accessibility at Next Stage and the Toronto Fringe Fringe, visit the Access Measures page on their website.

Artists you might recognise

The Next Stage Theatre Festival will feature many notable artists and companies across various artistic disciplines. Stand-Comedy Night will feature Juno Award nominee Monty Scott. Award-winning dance company PointeTango heats up the screen with Tango in the Dark featuring music from Payadora Tango Ensemble. For a complete overview of this year’s offerings, visit the festival website.

Workshops and Classes

The Next Stage Theatre Festival offers two exciting workshop opportunities for youths:

  • Raising the Curtain: How to Craft a Career in the Arts
  • No Pressure Networking

Both programs offer a low-pressure, educational environment for young artists and arts lovers to learn more about the industry and deepen their appreciation of the arts! Register for the free digital programs here.

This year’s festival:

The poster for

The Complex

From It's Not a Pivot Productions

The Complex is a unique, immersive online theatre experience where no two shows are the same. Taking place in the digital world of a environment, participants must work together to select one of the Prospects to be society's future leader. This audience-led event is a fun and exciting new way to experience theatre and allows participants to interact as much or as little as they want.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

Heart of a Dog

From Nowadays Theatre Company

Heart of a Dog is a comical adaptation by Mohammad Yaghoubi, based on a novel of the same name by the classic Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. Previous productions in Iran struggled with censorship, but now living in Canada far from the harassment of the censorship bureaus, Yaghoubi can pursue his creative vision and direct this piece any way he sees fit. In this English premier, the most crucial change is that the main character (the dog) will be performed by a woman, which would not be possible in Iran, where a woman's body is a political matter.

*Please note that the anticipated release for this show is in late January.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

Saving Wonderland

From Gamiotics Studios

Wonderland is in trouble and it's up to the entire audience to save it! Powered by Gamiotics (the future of interactive entertainment), join your fellow audience members to play as Alice in this fantastical re-thinking of the popular classic. Harnessing the power of your phone, you'll interact with beloved characters, work together to solve mind-bending puzzles, and search for missing gears from the White Rabbit's watch to save Wonderland! In Saving Wonderland, numerous possibilities lead to multiple potential endings, and every screening is different as your choices determine what happens live and in real time.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

She's not Special

From HomeMadeIt Productions and Pressgang in Association with Pandemic Theatre

She's Not Special combines musical theatre and comedic storytelling to explore the pressures of Black Excellence. As a Black Muslim Woman (a triple threat!), creator Fatuma Adar is on a mission to free you from the clutches of exceptionalism and teach you how to relish in the joys of mediocrity. Co-directed by Adar (Playback's Artist to Watch) and Graham Isador (The Beaverton, VICE). Adar's music has been described by CBC Arts as ”...equal parts Bo Burnham stand-up set and Pharrell Williams club jam.”

*Please note that the anticipated release for this show is in late January.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

Stand up Comedy

From Comedy Records Live

Finally! Here's your chance to catch the best from Toronto's stand-up comedy scene all on one show. Enjoy an evening with hilarious hometown Comedians Nick Reynoldson, Todd Graham, Adrienne Fish, Efthimios Nasiopoulos, Dena Jackson, and Monty Scott with special guest hosts! The Comics from Comedy Records Live are award-winning professional Stand-Up Comedians with Canada's highest comedy accreditations including Just for Laughs, JFL42, Crave, SIRIUS XM, & MTV. You can find their Comedy Albums topping the charts on iTunes & GooglePlay and see them headlining at festivals across North America.

*Please note that the anticipated release for this show is in late January.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

Stories of a Dish

From Nautanki Bazaar

A global pandemic may have struck, but we have a person who's just stuck! He wants to win the world over with his cooking, but will he be able to learn how to? He's got to face isolation, earn acceptance and most importantly, get groceries delivered! Will he find the secret recipe to happiness? A culinary theatrical journey awaits.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

The Sunglasses Monologue

From The Sunglasses Monologue Collective

Created, written, directed and performed by Vivian Chong, The Sunglasses Monologue is a memoir of Vivian's life. Through storytelling, comedy, and original songs, Vivian shares her journey coming out from a coma, and losing her sight which ultimately led to the reinvention of herself as an artist. The show addresses some of the hard truths of life: facing fears head on, forgiving and letting go of ex-lovers, self-acceptance and reinvention. In this firsthand retelling of her story, Vivian shows that there is always the choice to choose again and that it is possible to discover freedom from within.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

Tango in the Dark

From PointeTango

Award-winning dance company, PointeTango, heats up your screen with Tango in the Dark, an original hour-long dance film created during the COVID-19 pandemic. PointeTango's sultry duo will wow you with fantastic lifts, exciting spins and the passion of Argentine tango with a unique twist: tango on pointe! Using original music composed by the Payadora Tango Ensemble, as well as contemporary and traditional themes, your senses will be delighted by an award-winning show that lights the way through the shadows and mysteries of Buenos Aires and tells a story of two dancers moving to the rhythms of the city night.

*Please note that the anticipated release for this show is in late January.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

The poster for

Ursa: A Folk Musical

From The Uncommon Folk Collective

What happens when a small-town Ontario teenager runs off into the forest in search of adventure? Why, she meets an anxious bear in the midst of an identity crisis, of course! Combining the joys of a folk concert with the timeless wisdom of a folktale, Ursa: A Folk Musical weaves a whimsical story of star-crossed friendship. This unforgettable exploration of the anxieties and euphorias of young adulthood is full of fresh and surprising folk tunes performed by a live band.

*Please note that the anticipated release for this show is in late January.

Image courtesy of Next Stage

Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson

Jessica is a former associate editor at Intermission, as well as a writer, classically-trained actor, and plant enthusiast. Since graduating from LAMDA in the UK with her MA in acting, you can often find her writing screenplays and short plays in the park, writing extensive lists of plant care tips, or working on stage and screen (though she uses a stage name). Jessica freelances with various companies across Canada, but her passion lies in working with theatre artists and enthusiasts.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


What to Expect at… Dream in High Park 2023

Looking for information about Canadian Stage's 40th annual Dream in High Park? We’ve got you covered, with everything you need to know about this year's shows!

By Jessica Watson

What to Expect at… the 2023 Ottawa Fringe Festival

Looking for information about the 2023 Ottawa Fringe? We’ve got you covered, with everything you need to know about this year's festival!

By Jessica Watson

Backstage Pass: Tarragon Theatre’s Heather Caplap

We chatted with Heather Caplap about puppets, programming, and what’s new in Tarragon’s education and community engagement department.

By Jessica Watson

What to Expect at… County Stage Company

Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered, with everything you need to know about County Stage Company!

By Jessica Watson

What to Expect at… GCTC

Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered, with everything you need to know about Ottawa's GCTC!

By Jessica Watson

What to Expect at… Stagecoach

Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered, with everything you need to know about Stagecoach!

By Jessica Watson