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Playwrights' Gym

Green Thumb Theatre’s Playwrights’ Gym is a paid 4-week writing intensive lead by Green Thumb Artistic Director, Rachel Aberle. The Playwrights’ Gym provides time to study and develop skills specific to creating for Theatre for Young Audiences — with a particular focus on work that tours to schools. This unique program features cohort and one-on-one meetings, self-paced writing time, and guest speaker sessions.

2022 Call for applications: February 2022

Read on to learn more about the 2021 Playwrights' Gym program participants!

Issiah Bull Bear

Issiah is a mixed Blackfoot/Punjabi multidisciplinary theatre artist, originally from Treaty 7 territory, Mohkinstsis (Calgary, Alberta) belonging to the Siksika Nation. He is forever thankful to live, learn and exist on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Issiah currently studies at Studio 58, where he has completed two years of the curriculum under Courtenay Dobbie, David Hudgins, Kathryn Shaw and Wendy Gorling. His previous credits include: Legally Blonde (CAST Program), A Few Good Men (Simply Theatre), TomorrowLove (Studio 58), I, Myself, Am Strange and Unusual (Studio 58). He is incredibly excited and grateful for the opportunity to learn about the craft of TYA with Green Thumb Theatre.

Ashley Cook

Ashley Cook is Metis and Saulteaux from Pine Creek First Nation and a 2nd generation urban Indigenous woman, wife and mother currently based in Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg. She recently graduated with honours from the acting program at Studio 58 in Vancouver and has been acting in theatre since she was a teen when she got her start touring TYA shows to local high schools in 2007. At Studio 58 her short play Labour Pains was staged in 2018. She was also a recipient of the David Pritchard Award for Outstanding achievement in Stage Management for her work on Mortified (Studio 58). She now is based in her traditional territory in (Wanipigow) Winnipeg and continues to write and act for stage and film, aiming to nurture her practice and bring theatre shows and training to the youth of her community and beyond.

Alisha Davidson

Alisha is a 2nd generation Jamaican-Canadian currently residing on the unceded ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Alisha is a graduate of Canterbury Arts High School (Ottawa) and Studio 58 (Vancouver). She’s co-facilitated creative drama classes with the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama and Art’s Express. In Spring 2019 she completed the Creative Character Development Through Clown intensive where she learned the fundamentals of Pochinko clown intertwined with bio-kinetic impulse training. In 2020 she participated in Rumble Theatre’s Director’s Lab Unit. Alisha does the occasional dance project with Kinesis Dance and is a poetry mentee at SFU's The Writer’s Studio. Alisha strives to grow as a performer and writer with a desire for her artistic practice to ultimately align with what she believes to be her life’s calling - a future in counselling therapy and somatic practice under a decolonized and anti-racist lense. Recent theatre credits include: Mx (2021 remount) The Cultch, Mx (2019) *2019 Fringe New Play Prize & Cultchivating the Fringe Winner, The Nomadic Tempest (2018) Caravan Stage Company and Hacked: The Treasure of the Empire (2015) Caravan Stage Company.

Laura Anne Harris

Laura Anne Harris grew up in the backwoods of East Sooke, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, where her only friends were the wind and the wild rabbits her cat Pearl were about to capture. After graduating from the University of Victoria, Laura went on to work as a theatre artist for fourteen years working as a solo performer, playwright, and director. Her plays took her to Bangkok, Thailand, Toronto, Ontario, New York City, and to small American towns like Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In 2015, Laura moved to the US first working as a TTY Relay Operator for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. By glimpsing into the lives of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing callers, Laura wrote about her experiences in her newest solo show: Destiny, USA. She toured Destiny, USA across Canada in the summer of 2019 and held its professional debut at the Spark Festival at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria, British Columbia.

In 2019 her play Red/Rouge was shortlisted for the Flying Start Program, which led to a workshop reading with Touchstone Theatre. In May of 2020, she graduated with a Master of Fine Art in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

Hannah Johnson

Born and raised in so-called Vancouver, Hannah has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She graduated from Studio 58 once upon a time and is delighted to be participating in this year’s inaugural Playwrights’ Gym after what she’s calling the world’s longest sabbatical. Hannah has wanted to work with Green Thumb ever since Patrick McDonald directed a one act play she wrote as a student, and she is beyond grateful to Rachel and her team for their support in realizing this dream. Hannah is currently living, learning, working, planting, writing, and creating on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation.

Katie Voravong

Katie is grateful to have the privilege to live and work on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

Aside from being an alone couch-potato during this past/ongoing pandemic period, Katie has worked on projects with companies such as the Chop, JK JK, and the frank theatre, and is whole-heartedly humbled to now be a part of the Playwrights' Gym with Green Thumb. Katie is an acting graduate of Studio 58.

Thank you to my dear Mom, for trusting in my potential much more than I ever do—to Anita Rochon and Jimmy Hong, for being so kind and encouraging with my artistic endeavours—to Georgia, for being the backbone of all the behind–the–scenes work during this process, and to my fellow playwright peers, for letting me learn and make art alongside you, and for letting me be witness to your talent.

Rachel, I truly would not be here if it weren’t for you. Thank you for continuously looking out for me, for this gift of an opportunity, and for taking me under your wing with this program. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Our thanks to RBC Foundation: Emerging Artists Program as well as Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia for their support.

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