Call for Pure Research Applications

Pure Research

Toronto 2023/2024

in partnership with

Nightswimming is pleased to announce that Pure Research will continue to foster innovative performance research through long-term partnership between Nightswimming and Tarragon Theatre.

Performance research is a vital component of a creative performing arts ecology. Both companies are committed to ensuring that this important initiative offers artists a unique opportunity to explore new ideas and approaches.

Key Details

Application Due By: 11:59 PM (EST) Thursday June 15, 2023

Research Residency: August 2023 – March 2024

Studio Experiments: January 22 – February 3, 2024 (in-person at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto)

Research Reports Submitted: March 31, 2024

Resources Provided: 

  • $5,000 fee for lead researcher
  • $2,500 budget for artists and materials
  • studio space for up to three days

About Pure Research

Pure Research (PR) provides studio space, money, dramaturgical support and resources to artists who are pursuing provocative theatrical questions in any performing arts discipline. It is designed to foster research and experiments that are not specifically linked to the creation or development of new work. We want you to tell us what you don’t know, and how you might be able to explore your performance research ideas through a Pure Research residency with Nightswimming and Tarragon.

What does that mean?

If you have a question about performance and creation, and can pose it in terms of an experiment, then we’re interested. In the spirit of enriching the performance research ecology, we’re most attracted to performance research ideas that have not been explored before or are being explored in new ways.

Researchers invited to a PR residency commit to:

  • Undertaking a dramaturgical process in collaboration with Nightswimming and Tarragon to design and develop their research experiments prior to the studio sessions.
  • Providing a full report within two months of completing their experiment(s), that will be posted on Nightswimming’s website and disseminated nationally by Tarragon.
  • Participating in artist gatherings (Fall 2023) at the Tarragon to discuss their process with staff and creators currently engaged with both companies. Researchers may be invited to present their findings (Spring 2024) to an invited audience at the Tarragon.

We are particularly interested in:

  • Artists who view performance research as a long-term process that will advance your artist practice, rather than as a short-cut to production.
  • Explorations of the unknown and attempts to use in-studio performance research to examine questions that have not been explored before.
  • An artistic spirit of inquiry around text, technology, form, style and/or production elements.

As you write your application, please consider the following: 

  • The question(s) you’re asking and what you want to learn from them.
  • The questions that intrigue us tend to begin with ‘How…?’ or ‘In what ways does…”, rather than with ‘Why…?’ or “Can…?” For example, a 2023 project asked the question,
    ‘How does giving audience members control of theatrical lighting and sound reshape the performer / audience relationship?’
  • Has someone examined this research question already? And if so, how are you advancing the investigation of this topic/methodology/technology?
  • Practical details such as:
    • Timeline (of what you are planning to explore)
    • What do you need to prepare (for example: research, watch, participate in) during the residency period from August – December to help serve your time in the studio?
    • What are you going to do during the three days in the studio?
    • How do you imagine exploring your questions and testing your ideas through a series of experiments? (You don’t need the final version but how do you plan on answering the question you’re asking? What steps of experimentation will you take?)
    • People who will be involved in the exploration.
    • Expenses and equipment required. Does anything need to be rented or sourced?
    • How do you plan on documenting the process?
    • Relevant support material. Is there text or prior research that will help the adjudicators understand the context of your proposal?

Note: Please be honest about what you know, what you don’t know, what you want, and what you’d like to achieve through these experiments. Remember that it is NOT a developmental workshop for a new performance piece.

Applications from artists throughout Ontario are welcome, but Pure Research is unable to provide travel or accommodation for selected projects at this time.

We welcome applicants of every identity, and especially encourage folx who identify as Women, Gender minorities, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQ+, Non-binary, d/Deaf, Mad, Disabled/People with Disabilities, and/or Neurodiverse to apply.

Explore projects from past sessions that span the spectrum of disciplines, technologies and design by visiting

How to Apply

Please email your application to
by THURSDAY JUNE 15, 2023 at 11:59 PM EST with “Pure Research Application” as the subject line.

Attach a single PDF containing the following, in this order:

  • a cover letter introducing yourself, defining the proposed research, and outlining specific questions and goals (maximum 1 page)
  • a project description including how you intend to use the studio time and an estimated budget (maximum 2 pages)
  • bio or c.v. of principal artist-researcher and a list of collaborators, if known (maximum 3 pages)
  • do not send videos, press clippings, photos, programs, press kits or folders

Applicants must be available in Toronto during the Studio Experiment weeks of January 22 – February 3, 2024. The adjudication team will be present during that period in January 2024 to observe, participate and offer dramaturgical support and assistance.

The Pure Research Adjudication Team is: Nightswimming Artistic Director Brian Quirt, Producer Gloria Mok and Associate Dramaturg Nathaniel Hanula-James with Tarragon Artistic Director Mike Payette, Associate Artistic Director Myekah Payne and Creative Producer Justin Miller.

If you have any questions about the application process, the application itself, or have any specific accessibility concerns regarding applications, including applying in a non-written format (i.e. as an audio or video file), please feel free to contact Gloria Mok at:

NOTE: short-listed applicants may be asked for further information and/or paid a fee to develop a more detailed proposal before making our final decisions.

Applications will be accepted by email only.
All applicants will be informed of results by July 31, 2023. We thank everyone who applies for their interest, but only selected applicants will be contacted.

Nightswimming is a dramaturgical company dedicated to exploring the boundaries of dramaturgy and performance. We commission and develop new works of theatre, dance and music.

Tarragon Theatre is Canada’s home for groundbreaking contemporary plays. Tarragon’s mission is to create, develop and produce new plays and to provide the conditions for new work to thrive.

We look forward to reading your application.

A PDF copy of this Call for Pure Research Applications can be downloaded here.