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UNB director of drama will receive Playhouse award, debut new play

Author: Hilary Creamer Robinson

Posted on Oct 23, 2023

Category: UNB Fredericton

Len Falkenstein accepting his award from Tania Breen, Vice-President of the Fredericton Playhouse's Board of Directors.

Len Falkenstein accepting his award from Tania Breen, Vice-President of the Fredericton Playhouse's Board of Directors.

This evening, Oct. 23, Len Falkenstein will receive an award for nearly 25 years of contributions to the Fredericton theatre community, but it is not a lifetime achievement award that means he is slowing down. In two weeks, he has a new play being staged, a testament to a supportive local theatre community, he says.

“In some places [the theatre community] can be competitive and egotistical. One of the things I love about theatre in Fredericton is the support between people and companies,” said Falkenstein, an award-winning playwright and director of drama at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).

Falkenstein, who will be bestowed the annual Playhouse Honours award for his contributions to theatre in New Brunswick on Oct. 23, is also in the midst of rehearsals for his first professional stage production, Wood Buffalo, at the Fredericton Open Space Theatre, Nov. 8 to 12.

“To receive [the Playhouse Honours] is humbling. It means a lot. It’s a very special distinction. I’m joining an elite company in terms of people who have helped build the arts community here in Fredericton. It’s a great honour.”

The open and collaborative nature of the New Brunswick arts community has, in large part, helped nurture Falkenstein’s career; he has written and directed over 100 plays and worked to turn a stage-shy Fredericton into a vibrant hub for writers, actors and producers.

Joining UNB as director of drama in 1999, Falkenstein saw great opportunity in the province’s creative landscape. He helped launch NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival, which supports the development and production of new plays by known and emerging New Brunswick dramatists. He has also been instrumental in bringing Shakespearean works to downtown Fredericton each summer with Bard in the Barracks.

“I’ve been able to do new things and have found a very receptive community willing to go on the ride,” Falkenstein said. “I’ve had the chance to create new opportunities for myself and other people. I’ve been able to create a career of doing art.”

He credits friends and colleagues for their support throughout the years, including John Ball, acting associate dean of arts and executive member of the Fredericton Playhouse board of directors.

“I’ve worked with Len for 24 years as a member of his department, as an actor in many of his shows, and I’ve seen almost every production he’s put on here,” said Ball. “I have been so impressed by his work ethic and the vision he has brought to the performing arts community.”

Ball credits Falkenstein with fostering many new playwrights throughout the years and setting the bar high for Fredericton theatre artists and audiences.

“He makes amazing theatre,” said Ball. “It’s exciting to see him recognized.”