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March 25, 2017

The Master Playwright Festival – ChristieFest


The 17th annual Master Playwright Festival proved to be another successful event as thousands of murder mystery enthusiasts flocked to venues across Winnipeg to celebrate the life and work of Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, selling more than a billion copies in both English and foreign languages. Nicknamed the “Queen of Mystery,” Christie is best known for her literary talent and famous works like Murder on the Orient Express and The Mystery of the Blue Train.

The 17th annual Master Playwright Festival highlighted her extensive body of work, which includes 66 detective novels, 150 short stories and 19 plays. The Mousetrap, which opened in London’s West Theatre in 1952 has been the longest continuously running play in history. Running for 64 years with more than 26,000 performances, it shows no signs of ending any time soon.

Plots come to me at such odd moments, when I am walking along the street, or examining a hat shop…suddenly a splendid idea comes into my head.
Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

With 13 participating companies, ChristieFest 2017 drew 16,297 patrons to 105-ticketed performances. This year included six free events, which attracted 369 people to be captivated by Christie’s mysterious and murderous work.

The events included lectures and film screenings such as Murder She Said and Death on the Nile. Popular shows like Clue At The Museum, The Hollow and And Then There Were None quickly sold out. In total, 16,666 people engaged in the 19-day festival, which highlighted amazing talent from Winnipeg’s theatre community.

The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.
Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

About the Festival
In the winter of 2001, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre chose to honour Samuel Beckett at its first annual Master Playwright Festival. The Master Playwright Festival provides opportunities for both professional and emerging artists from a variety of organizations and independent companies to produce work under the umbrella of a larger festival. It also provides patrons with an opportunity to thoroughly immerse themselves in the work of a playwright who may not have a regular home on Winnipeg stages.

The inaugural event involved 15 Beckett works by 10 local companies in eight venues. Since then, Royal MTC has presented the works of 16 master playwrights: BrechtFest (2002), PinterFest (2003), AlbeeFest (2004), TremblayFest (2005), O’NeillFest (2006), StoppardFest (2007), MametFest (2008), MillerFest (2009), ChurchillFest (2010), StrindbergFest (2011), ShawFest (2012), SondheimFest (2013), ChekhovFest (2014), CowardFest (2015) and AyckbournFest (2016).

The 2018 Master Playwright Festival will feature Irish-American playwright John Patrick Shanley. His extensive body of work includes an Oscar and Writers Guild of America award for Moonstruck and Pulitzer Prize for Doubt.

As part of ShanleyFest, Outside Mullingar will take the Tom Hendry Warehouse stage from February 1-17. Set in the Irish farming community of Killucan, a nasty land feud and rivalry has set the Reillys and the Muldoons apart. Rosemary has known her neighbour Anthony since she was a child, but misunderstanding and sorrow have kept them apart. Don’t miss this Tony-nominated play where Shanley hits the sweet spot with comedy and tragedy.

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