About the playwrights
“I wanted to write since Miss Day, my grade 7 teacher, said to me, ‘You could think about becoming a writer, Nicola.’ … and me at the ripe old age of 14!! My heart leapt. But for 40 years I have lived the life of a very fortunate actress. Now, at 65 and with a profound loss behind me, I am going to try to walk that narrow plank. Two children’s storybooks first, The Inside Outside Dog and Has Anyone Seen Jerry. And then… gulp… a play.”
Dave Deveauis an award-winning writer whose work has been produced across North America and in Europe. He is the Playwright in Residence for Zee Zee Theatre, who premiered his critically acclaimed plays Nelly Boy, Tiny Replicas, My Funny Valentine (Sydney Risk Prize, Jessie Nomination, Oscar Wilde Nomination – Dublin), Lowest Common Denominator, and Elbow Room Café: The Musical (with Anton Lipovetsky). His plays for young audiences were commissioned and premiered by Green Thumb Theatre and continue touring: Out in the Open, tagged, and Celestial Being (Jessie nomination) His first screenplay Us in Nine Months, (based on Tiny Replicas), will shoot this year with Sociable Films. His newest YA play, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, premieres in Toronto this season with Roseneath Theatre. He is represented by Marquis Literary.
Ashleigh Giffen is an emerging artist connecting her roots (Indigenous and Icelandic) to her work. Ashleigh was raised on Squamish territory, but is traditionally from the Kahkewistahaw and Waywayseecappo territories on her mother's side. In high school, Ashleigh participated in the Arts Club’s LEAP program. Her play Kamwatan Nipe follows a journalist who interviews an Indigenous community where a woman was murdered. Following Kamwatan Nipe, Ashleigh was commissioned in her first year of University to write a companion piece following her first story. She hopes to challenge the western structures of plays, and explore the multi-dimensional journeys and histories of her people, while using epistemologies to showcase deep time and ancestral knowledge. Ashleigh is in her second year at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, majoring in Indigenous Studies.
Jenn Griffin is a Vancouver-based actor and playwright. She was awarded the Sydney Risk award in 1999 for best emerging playwright following the successful production of her first play, Drinking with Persephone. Jenn's most recent play, The Long Call was selected as one of five plays for the Advanced Works by Women series and received a public reading in 2016. Jenn has been nominated for, and has received, several Jessie awards as both a writer and a performer.
Anosh Irani has published four critically acclaimed novels: The Cripple and His Talismans, a national bestseller; The Song of Kahunsha, which was an international bestseller and a finalist for CBC Radio's Canada Reads and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; and Dahanu Road which was nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize. His play Bombay Black won five Dora Mavor Moore Awards including for Outstanding New Play, and his anthology The Bombay Plays: The Matka King & Bombay Black was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Drama. The Matka King received a Jessie Award nomination for Outstanding Original Script as did his latest play, The Men in White. His latest novel, The Parcel, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, was longlisted for the 2017 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and is currently longlisted for the 2018 Dublin Literary Award. It was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail, National Post, the CBC, The Walrus, and Quill & Quire. Irani teaches Creative Writing in the World Literature Program at Simon Fraser University.
Mark Leiren-Young, who has a background in pretty much everything—journalism, television, comedy, theatre, and film—is without a doubt one of the most talented, multi-disciplinary voices in Canada” (National Post). Mark’s latest play, Bar Mitzvah Boy, premieres at Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre in March. His play Shylock was featured last season at Bard on the Beach and a Czech translation is in rep at Prague’s Divadlo Na Jezerce until 2019. His book The Killer Whale Who Changed the World won the 2017 Science Writers and Communicators Award. He wrote and directed the short documentary The Hundred-Year-Old Whale, which is playing in festivals throughout North America. He also hosts the Skaana podcast @skaana.org. More on Mark at: www.leiren-young.com @leirenyoung
Michele Riml is a critically acclaimed playwright from Vancouver. Her plays include Under the Influence, Poster Boys, RAGE (winner 2005 Sydney Risk Award), Souvenirs, On the Edge, and The Amaryllis. Two of her plays produced by the Arts Club, Sexy Laundry and Henry and Alice: Into the Wild (a silver commission), have become international hits with ongoing productions in Canada, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and the USA. Her plays for young audiences have been widely produced and translated and include The Skinny Lie, The Invisible Girl, and Tree Boy, recently published by National Geographic. She is currently completing Miss Teen, a full-length dramatic comedy, which will have its Canadian premiere in 2019 at Shadow Theatre in Edmonton. She is represented by Colin Rivers at Marquis Entertainment in Toronto.
Michael St. John Smith is an experienced writer, established film actor, and former advertising creative director. He has written several commissioned screenplays and three stage plays including the Jessie-nominated Best Original Play Slaying Dragons, and The Bridge for Pi Theatre and CBC (with Michele Riml). His original screenplay, Archangel (co-written with William Gibson), was launched at ComiCon 2016 in San Diego as a comic book series by IDW. He wrote an expanded audio-play version of the series for Amazon Audible to be produced in March 2018. Michael also created and facilitates “The Ring”, an interactive screenwriting workshop for writers and actors. He graduated from Harvard University with honors in English Literature.
Sherry Yoon has directed and co-created more than 35 productions, including Fall Away Home, an intergenerational site-specific production in the forest of Stanley Park; Photog., a large-scale show that toured Canada; and, most recently, Expedition, an iterative piece that explores climate change though the lens of future historians. During her tenure as artistic director of Boca del Lupo, the company has received numerous awards, including the Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, Jessie Awards for Outstanding Production, Design, Actor, Ensemble, and the Critic’s Choice Innovation Award. Yoon’s productions have toured festivals and venues across Canada, Europe, and Mexico. Current projects include Red Phone, a participatory performance between two phone booths that has launched the 3.7% initiative: an advocacy group for ethnically and culturally diverse female artists. Her most recent directing credits include: Shylock at Bard on the Beach and King of the Yees at the National Arts Centre.
Deborah Williams is an actress, producer, playwright, director, and has worked on stages across Canada for over 30 years. She is one of the creators/stars of the Mom’s the Word trilogy, seen by 1.4 million people in 19 countries. Williams is an associate artist at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria. As a playwright, she is known for the musical Broccoli and Butterflies, Driftwood (Axis Theatre), and Taking Off (Belfry). She is Co-Artistic Director of “The Flame,” a monthly sold-out storytelling event with satellites in Surrey, New West, Summerland, and Victoria. She teaches storytelling through the Arts Club, is a community activist, gardener, and knitter.
Marcus Youssef’s plays—about half of which were co-written with friends and colleagues—include Winners and Losers, Leftovers, Jabber, How Has My Love Affected You?, Ali & Ali and the aXes of Evil, Everyone, Adrift, Peter Panties, King Arthur’s Night, Chloe’s Choice, and A Line in the Sand. They have been performed in dozens of theatres or festivals across North America, Australia, and Europe. Marcus is the recipient of the 2017 Siminovitch Prize. Other awards include: Canada Council Staunch-Lynton Award, Rio-Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, Chalmer's Canadian Play Award, Seattle Times Footlight Award, two Arts Club Silver Commissions, a Governor General’s Award nomination, and the Vancouver Critics' Choice Award. Marcus is Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre and co-founded the artist-run production studio PL1422. He is Editorial Advisor to Canadian Theatre Review, a Canadian Fellow to the International Society of Performing Arts, and recently finished a stint as Senior Playwright in Residence at the Banff Centre Playwrights Lab.