Irresistible Neighbourhoods

Imagining hopeful futures

Irresistible Neighbourhoods is a multi-year radio play development project centered on themes of climate and sustainability, which nurtures both emerging and established playwrights to imagine alternative visions for the neighbourhoods they call home.  

Seeking to contrast the predominance of dystopian climate narratives, which ring alarm bells about the state of our planet but often leave audiences paralyzed with despair, Irresistible Neighbourhoods encourages commissioned artists to ask ‘what if?’ instead. Guided by bespoke dramaturgical teams addressing different aspects of the work, the artists are asked to bring the full scope of their imaginations to the task, offering audiences more hopeful visions of what our lives might be like as we move closer to the ecological transition. This project reconsiders the role of the artist in the climate crisis, not as a communicator of climate imperatives, but rather as an agent of imagination, gently cultivating a shift in the fundamental values underpinning our relationship with the natural world. 

The project was conceived by Artistic Director Nina Lee Aquino in collaboration with Judi Pearl, Associate Producer, Artistic Programming and Environmental Projects, bringing together Nina’s commitment to new play development with Judi’s work on artistic approaches to environmental sustainability.  

Read more about our research and commitment

  • nina-headshot
    Artistic Director, English Theatre Nina Lee Aquino
  • judi-pearl-photo-by-andrew-alexander
    Associate Producer, Artistic Programming and Environmental Projects Judi Pearl
  • Dramaturg Ric Knowles
  • vicki-300x300
    Climate Dramaturg Vicki Stroich

Volume 1 Ottawa 2044

The Future Is Hyper-Local

An NAC English Theatre / NAC Digital Experiences and Design Co-production 

In September 2023, we asked emerging local playwrights to walk through their neighbourhoods and offer possible futures in the form of a radio play. Over the past several months, the selected playwrights have been working closely with Climate Dramaturg Vicki Stroich and Dramaturg Ric Knowles to help them bend their narratives towards more imaginative ideas of climate justice.  

Welcome to Irresistible Neighbourhoods: Ottawa 2044

  • sanita
    Playwright Sanita Fejzić
  • Playwright Lily Polowin
  • Playwright Seth Thomson
  • Playwright Kel MacDonald

Volume 2 Walking on Water

An NAC English Theatre / NAC Orchestra / NAC Digital Experiences and Design Co-production 

For the second volume of Irresistible Neighbourhoods, English Theatre and the NAC Orchestra join forces as part of the NAC SPHERE Festival to present an intriguing double bill of live radio dramas offering glimpses of imagined futures for two neighbourhoods in Canada, and their evolving relationship with water. 

Playwrights David Yee from Toronto and Berni Stapleton from Newfoundland and Labrador, 2023 Siminovitch Prize laureate and nominee, respectively, collaborate with composers Chris Thornborrow and Duane Andrews to craft compelling stories about their selected Canadian locales. As climate challenges prompt us to shift our thinking from ‘what is’ to ‘what if,’ these gifted artists share hopeful visions for their communities, inviting us to consider what might make our own neighbourhoods… irresistible.  

These audio commissions will be recorded in front of a live audience, radio play style, featuring actors, musicians and live foley sound effects. Join us on a journey through the places we call home, where the first step in creating regenerative futures is having the courage to imagine them. 

  • david-yee
    Playwright David Yee
  • christ-t
    Composer Chris Thornborrow
  • berni-s
    Playwright Berni Stapleton
  • duane-a
    Composer Duane Andrews

Volume 3 More Irresistible Neighbourhoods coming soon!

Stay tuned for exciting ideas currently in development for Volume Three, when the series will expand to include other disciplines and other regions. Details coming soon!