NOW: Monday, May 18th 11:59pm EST

National Call for Submissions


Outside the March is thrilled to launch the second incarnation of our Forward March new work commissioning stream, THE TD FORWARD MARCH PROGRAM. With the support of TD Bank Group we’re seeking submissions from playwrights and creators across the country who want to develop original immersive theatrical experiences. 

Artistic Director Mitchell Cushman describes the TD FORWARD MARCH PROGRAM as “the incubator of OtM’s future creative identity.” “As the world grapples with the uncertainty and precarity of the global pandemic, the need for human connection and communal experiences has never been greater,” he says. “During this time of crisis, and with the support of our partners at TD, OtM is committed to developing the next generation of immersive theatre artists and projects – so that when audiences are ready to congregate again, we will be there to entertain, challenge and immerse them.”   

Building on the success of our 2016 Forward March program, we’ll fund the development of a slate of new projects over our ‘20/’21 season and beyond. We’re enthusiastically seeking to support artists who identify within marginalized communities (ethnicity, cultural background, orientation, gender, class, and/or abilities) to immerse our audiences in a richer diversity of immersive experiences. 

We’re delighted to welcome OtM Associate Artist Jeff Ho as Program Curator; as a playwright, dramaturg and performer, Jeff brings with him a wealth of new play development experience. “I’m excited about working with OtM to identify exceptional immersive stories that speak to the rich cultural fabric of our country,” he says.

As we celebrate our 10th Anniversary as an organization, we’re looking to catalyse new collaborations, new forms and new stories that will shape the future of Canadian immersive theatre well into our second decade.

Read more about our vision for the future of immersive theatre with our recently released OtM-IFESTO 

About The TD Forward March Program

In 2015 our inaugural Forward March call for new work received 250 submissions from across the country. We were thrilled to commission and develop four innovative immersive theatrical experiences from new generation artists who have now become established voices in their field—OtM fans will remember 2016’s “Pop-Up Experience”, a roving workshop presentation of all four projects in garages across Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood. Supported projects included: Dr. Silver, a Celebration of Life by Anika and Britta Johnson (which received its World Premiere in 2018 co-produced by OtM and The Musical Stage Company); A Community Target by Robert Motum (which received its World Premiere in 2018 as part of the “Passionate Players” community theatre program co-produced by OtM and Convergence Theatre); The Golem’s Mighty Swing adapted by Marcus Jamin (which received its World Premiere in 2019 co-produced by OtM and The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre); and Adventures by Gillian Clark (set to premiere in Nova Scotia next year). 

Commissioning Fee + Support

The TD FORWARD MARCH PROGRAM will provide a $5000 commissioning fee to each selected creator to develop a first draft of a new immersive show over our ‘20/’21 season. Each participating creator will work in close collaboration with a “Co-Conspirator” (dramaturge/outside eye) hired by OtM and selected in conversation with each artist’s needs. The first year of the program will culminate in the summer of 2021 with The Pop-Up Experience 2.0: a site-specific public presentation of the commissioned pieces.

For each of the selected playwrights/creators, we’ll also provide:

Access to desk and studio space at “The Arcade,” OtM’s open-concept office and studio.

Access to external support as necessary: we’re enthusiastic about supporting works that draw from/speak to a specific cultural (ethno-cultural, economic, ability, gender, orientation) community, and we’ll work with each creator to provide additional support (cultural consultant, connections with related community groups, accessibility tools, etc.).

Producing and Partnership Support: OtM will take the reins in producing the Pop-Up Experience with no producing weight on the artists’ shoulders. And we’ll actively work with you to identify additional partners and opportunities for your project. Past Forward March projects, for example, participated with The National Art Centre’s “The Collaborations” program and the Banff Playwrights Lab, and benefited from producing partnerships with The Musical Stage Company, The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre and Convergence Theatre.

Travel support for nationally-selected commissions.

Who Should Apply

We’re seeking submissions from playwrights and creators who are passionately curious about immersive experiences. We strive to create memorable and communal work for all kinds of audiences, including those who may not normally find themselves at the theatre. In the projects we support, we’re working to prioritize and emphasize marginalized voices across the full spectrum of diversity (ethnicity, cultural background, orientation, gender, class, and/or abilities). With that in mind, we are strongly considering submissions from artists who self-identify within marginalized communities and new generation artists (under 30) and are eager to work with you to realize your imagination and project in full colour. 

Though we’re interested in text-based projects, we’re also deeply curious about applicants from interdisciplinary forms: do you have a knack for puppetry? A background in dance? Did you run away to the circus? We’d love to hear from you!

Importantly, we’re seeking projects at an early stage of development. That means you’ve advanced beyond the purely conceptual phase and have some (can be very basic) tangible work to show (some pages written, storyboard sketches, etc.). We’re interested in supporting new projects and artists who, either because of who you are or the nature of the project, haven’t yet found a home for your piece. If the project—not you, your project—has already received a bunch of workshops and grants, or is being programmed on a major stage next season, it’s probably too far along in its development for this call.


  1. A) Artist Statement 

–  A one-page PDF (max 300 words) including your name, email, phone number, gender pronouns and any self identifications you think we should know about. 

– We’d love to hear about you. Here are some questions to jump start your imagination, feel free to answer as many of these as you feel applicable: what brought you to this moment? Why are you curious about large scale immersive experiences? What are your dominant art forms? How does your identity inform your art-making? How does OUTSIDE THE MARCH and FORWARD MARCH align with your art making?

  1. B) Proposal (ONE of the following)

– Please submit a one-page proposal outlining an idea for a project you would like to develop with us, including a description of how you envision the project unfolding in an immersive and/or site-specific way.


– If writing a proposal isn’t your jam, we get it, there are so many ways to articulate your ideas. Feel free to create a short video (max three minutes) that shows us your idea and how you imagine it in an ambitious immersive setting. 

A few things to keep in mind about your written or video proposal:

We want to support projects that align with Outside the March’s artistic values (see our recently released OtM-IFESTO. In thinking about whether your project could be a strong fit, consider our past programming. ‘Now,’ you say, ‘that’s confusing, because every OtM show is so new and different!’ Well, shucks, it’s true we do try to approach every project with a unique approach to telling that story. But there are a few throughlines that are worth keeping in mind. Most of our shows are:

“Immersive” and/or “Site-Engaged”
We don’t make immersive and site-engaged work for its own sake: first and foremost we want to support compelling, vital storytelling. That being said, often we find that “immersing” our audiences beyond the traditional proscenium theatre model can help tell those stories—and sometimes that means engaging with a venue’s specific history, geography and/or architecture. Not all of our projects are site-specific, but most of them are immersive in one form or another.

Ambitious in scope and vision
Many of our projects are ambitious in some way. Often that means they’re large-scale in terms of cast size, runtime, location, design etc. But even our smaller-scale productions have larger-scale dreams. We leave it to you to interpret what “ambitious in scope and vision” means for your project.

Narrative Driven
We’re deeply interested in engaging disciplines beyond theatre, but there’s no getting around the fact that many of our projects are steeped in a narrative, text-based practice. Even 2019’s The Tape Escape, our escape-room inspired experience, had a text-based, narrative backbone. Your project can be entirely script-based or it can use text in other ways (poetry, spoken word, devised work, etc.). Or, it can mostly avoid text—in that case, knowing that immersive work that’s grounded in a narrative is what we’re good at, think about how OtM’s practice can enrich your project. 

All, some, or none of the elements above can speak to your project. Above all it’s worth considering (and telling us!): why is Outside the March an appropriate partner to help develop your piece? 

  1. C) C.V.

– Please send us an up-to-date Artists CV!

  1. D) Script/Writing Sample (max 5 pages)

– We would love to read a writing sample from you. Ideally it’s related to your proposal, but it could also be something else you’ve worked on that gives us the best sense of who you are in relation to text. 


Work Sample (max 3 minutes)

If your work is interdisciplinary, or primarily non-script based, you are welcome to submit a video/audio recording of no more than 3 minutes that shows some sort of relationship between your dominant medium and narrative.

All applications will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of members of OtM’s core artistic team: Mitchell Cushman, Griffin McInnes, Jeff Ho, Michelle Yagi, Sebastien Heins, Anahita Dehbonehie, Lindsay Junkin. Select applicants will engage in a second stage of conversation with OtM, where we may ask for more material. 

      SUBMISSION DEADLINE:  MONDAY, May 18th 11:59pm EST

      SUBMISSION CHECKLIST (in ONE .pdf file):


  • Artist Statement (300 Words max)
  • One Page Proposal OR Video Proposal (3 min. max)
  • Artist CV
  • Writing Sample (5 pages max) OR Work Sample (3 min. max)


Please submit your application as a SINGLE .pdf with subject line “FORWARD MARCH”, to Jeff Ho at forwardmarch@outsidethemarch.ca. 

If your application includes media (video, audio, etc.), please include appropriate links and passwords to your files hosted online (Youtube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, whatever.). DO NOT send whole media files or download links (Dropbox, WeTransfer). Links must remain active for at least three months from submission date.

If you’re new to applications like this, or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email Jeff. We will work with you so that we can best support you in your submission, towards how you envision your work, your art, or your imagined project.

Immersive Theatre in the Age of COVID-19

Exceptional immersive experiences are made possible by you—our artists, audiences and supporters. Like many in our industry we’re apprehensive about the future, we’re actively monitoring COVID-19’s effects on our sector and the ways we can  connect remotely. But we believe right now, during this time of isolation, is the time to dream about how communal experiences can bring us together again. We invite you to join us in imagining what the future of live experiences can be. 

Your health and safety is paramount to us at this time. For additional information regarding COVID-19 and guidelines to help keep yourself and others healthy, we recommend learning more through Toronto Public Health, the Government of Canada and the World Health Organization.  


On May 7, 2020 Outside the March hosted a live Q&A about the program over Zoom.
To watch a recording of that session, click here

Q – How will support for National Artists proceed during this time of COVID?

A – We will follow all public guidelines and safety measures, and whenever it is safe to fly again, follow the proper procedures to keep artists safe. Generally, from the experience of our first iteration of Forward March, our national commissions worked remotely, anyway. Adjustments to pairing up creators with a co-conspirator may involve pairing up within locale. We will adapt as we go. 

Q – Can co-writing teams / collectives apply?

A- Yes, co writing partners and collectives can apply together, note that the commissioning fee remains the same. 

QWhat is the specific target demographic? Can older artists apply?

A – We are strongly encouraging artists from marginalized communities to apply, as that is a priority of the company. We remain open to artists from all walks of life, with an idea, to apply! We acknowledge that emerging is a very broad definition, and that even a senior visual artist, for example, may be an emerging voice in the theatrical realm. Anyone that may be newer to theatre, and not by age, would be considered an emerging artist in this context. 

Q – Do we need to have a written budget for the application?

A – No. For this initial step of the application, we are mainly curious about your idea, and what you plan to create. 

Q – Can I apply with a power point presentation?

A – Yes, we are very open to alternative ways of showcasing your project idea, or your work as an artist, feel free to write to Jeff Ho and we can work out what works best for you, and what best represents your application. 

Q – How will the public presentations work, or immersive theatre happen, if there is no vaccine by Summer, 2021?

A – We will adapt as we go. If the developmental phase needs to stretch to 2-3 years instead, or whenever it is safe to gather again, we will do so. Our commitment is to your idea, to you as an artist, and the commitment to see your project go from conception to realization, whatever the time frame may be.  

Q – What does early stage development mean? How much development can my piece have had?

A – No workshops, no public presentation of this piece. Ideally, very early stages of an idea. We’re looking to seed projects, and to collaborate with you to ignite your ideas.  

Q – How many will be selected?

A – We have intentionally kept this open, as in our last call, we announced we would commission three projects, and ultimately commissioned four new works. It is important to note that we found a way to support various other applications, that were not commissioned, through various means or avenues of support. Some projects that felt like Forward March was not the exact fit for, still ended up as productions through OtM.. This program is a fantastic way for us to meet you, and your ideas, and we are thrilled for this opportunity to encounter the wide spectrum of talent across our country. 

Q – As a national candidate, can the piece be presented/ produced in the community I’m from, too?

A – As OtM is a Toronto based theatre company, we will initially plan to produce here in our community. We will strive to connect with producing partners and other arts organizations in your community to realize a presentation/production there too, but our priority is too have them presented in Toronto, first. 



Join the OtM team! We’re always looking for volunteers to assist with our many events and productions throughout the year.

Volunteer roles include:

  • Ushers and ticket takers at OtM productions and events
  • Wait staff and bartenders OtM’s annual gala and other special events
  • Greeters and coat check staff at OtM events
  • Delivery of advertising and marketing materials
  • Various production-specific needs

Volunteers will also be entitled to a complimentary ticket for an Outside the March production.