THE PLAYWRIGHTS LAB
Building on seven successful seasons of The Forum, The Playwrights Lab is a place for theatrical experimentation, bringing four playwrights together over the course of the theatre season as they develop and create their own individual new play project. Its focus is on creating innovative, large-vision projects that speak to a wide audience and reflect a diverse approach.The Lab is generously supported by the Eldon & Anne Foote Fund for Excellence at Edmonton Community Foundation.
Jessy Ardern is an actor and playwright. She has a particular interest in the adaption of mythology and classic literature for the stage. Jessy studied English Lit at the University of Winnipeg and has a BFA in Acting from the University of Alberta. Selected writing credits include Prophecy; The Fall of the House of Atreus: A Cowboy Love Song; The Hound of Ulster; Harold & Vivian Entertain Guests and Queen Lear is Dead. Jessy has received two Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards for her work as a playwright. Her first feature film as a screenwriter, Connecting Flights, was filmed in Edmonton and released in 2021. She’s extremely excited to be working on a large-scale interactive piece with the Citadel Playwrights Lab and her collaborators at The Fox Den Collective!
Mac Brock (he/him) is a Regina-born Edmonton-based artist with the softest spot for queer prairie magic. Past productions include Tracks, Dry, and Boy Trouble, which received a Sterling nomination for Outstanding Fringe Production. He has contributed plays to the Saskatchewan Playwrights’ Centre’s Spring Festival, Tiny Bear Jaws’ Holiday Microplay Celebration, Found Festival’s Secret City, and Citadel Theatre’s Horizon Lab (with collaborator Salem Clarke). When he’s not typing for stories, he’s doing it as an administrator or consultant with organizations like Edmonton Fringe Theatre and the Edmonton Heritage Council, or as Managing Producer of Common Ground Arts Society. Upcoming: A new production of Boy Trouble (playwright); Tune to A (producer) at Expanse 2022 by Carly Neis, Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks, and Cameron Kneteman; and a first edition of podcast Disabled as Folk (producer) by Carly Neis and Laurel Carter. You can also check him out on stage at Rapid Fire Theatre!
Arun Lakra is a Calgary-based playwright-slash-doctor who gravitates to complex, cerebral, science-heavy, idea-based material, meaningful on both a personal and societal level. Not this year folks! After the pandeminsanity of the last couple of years (take that Webster!), it’s time to have some fun! Bored historians may one day call this “Lakra’s Light Period” (his mood sadly not his mass). Because this year, he’s embarking on a mission to create laughter, twists, tingles, and fun with a strict zero tolerance policy for heavy or dark. To kick off his Year of the Heist, Lakra’s new play, Fortunato Heist, will open at the Bloomington (Indiana) Playwrights Project in March. And he can’t wait to work with the brilliant artists at Citadel on Broadway Heist (is it a comedy or is it a heist?!), which he hopes will one day bring laughter and gasps to Alberta audiences. @arunlakraOU arunlakra.com
Jovanni Sy is a Calgary-based playwright, director, and performer. He served as Artistic Director of Gateway Theatre (Vancouver) and of Cahoots Theatre (Toronto). He has collaborated with theatre companies across Canada and abroad. Jovanni’s one-man play, A Taste of Empire, was nominated for two Dora Awards. It was subsequently translated into Cantonese and performed by Derek Chan. A Tagalog version (Lasa ng Imperyo) is being developed by Carmela Sison. Jovanni’s award-winning play Nine Dragons premiered at Vertigo Theatre in 2017; a prequel titled Kowloon Bay is currently in development. Jovanni (and co-writer Leanna Brodie) received a co-commission from the Stratford Festival and the Banff Playwrights Lab to develop Salesman in China, a bilingual dramatization of Arthur Miller’s 1983 visit to Beijing to direct a Mandarin translation of Death of a Salesman.
Reneltta Arluk is Inuvialuit/Dene/Cree from the NWT. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line, this life experience gives Reneltta a unique cultural and artistic lens to work from. Reneltta authored Thoughts and Other Human Tendencies with Bookland Press, available in English, French and Cree. Publications: Inuit Quarterly, ArcPoetry Magazine and Climate Change THEATRE ACTION. Plays: TUMIT, a radio adaptation of I Count Myself Among Them by Richard Van Camp and Pawâkan Macbeth dedicated to Frog Lake, AB. Pawâkan Macbeth is currently being workshopped at the Stratford Festival. As part of Citadel’s THE LAB, Reneltta will be writing about Tookoolito, the Inuk woman guide and translator to Charles Francis Hall.
Beth Graham is an Edmonton playwright and actor. Her plays include: Pretty Goblins, The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble (shortlisted for a Governor Generals’ Award, received the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award), and Working It Out (Sterling Award). She is also a co-creator of The Drowning Girls, a play that has been produced nationally and internationally and will be produced again this fall at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa.
Darrin Hagen is an award-winning playwright, composer, author and drag artiste, and the Artistic Director of Guys In Disguise. He has spent 20 years compiling stories of Edmonton’s LGBTQ history, beginning with the release of his stories of the underground drag community, The Edmonton Queen. Other plays by Darrin include BitchSlap!, Tornado Magnet, Witch Hunt at the Strand, With Bells On, and The Empress & The Prime Minister. He has been inducted into the Q Hall of Fame Canada and the Edmonton Queer Hall of Fame. In 2005 he was named one of 100 Edmontonians of the Century, and in 2017 was named one of Alberta’s 25 Most Influential Artists in the last 25 years. To the best of his knowledge, he’s the only drag queen on that list. He was one of the official Cultural Ambassadors of Canada’s 150 Celebrations, and is currently serving as Writer In Residence for Edmonton Public Library for 2018.
KENNETH T. WILLIAMS
Kenneth T. Williams once Googled “Kenneth Williams” and he got a million hits about “famous dead gay British playwrights.” He didn’t want anyone to think he was British or dead, so he added his middle initial to his professional name. Now his name sounds like Tennessee Williams with a lisp. Go ahead. Sound it out, you know you want to.
Kenneth T. Williams is a Cree playwright from the George Gordon First Nation in the Treaty 4 Territory. He is the first Indigenous person to earn an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Alberta, where he now teaches in the Drama Department. His plays In Care, Café Daughter, Gordon Winter, Thunderstick, Bannock Republic, Suicide Notes, and Three Little Birds have been produced across Canada.
He tweets about drama and Indigenous peoples under his handle, @feralplaywright. He lives in Edmonton with his partner, Dr. Melissa Stoops, and their hamster, The Grand Duchess Minnie Blackbear, and their cat, Augustus Caesar McFuzzyboots.
THE DRAMATURGY LAB
The Citadel was excited to announce the creation of a new program focusing on Dramaturgy for Large Scale Productions for Edmonton theatre artists in 2021. The Dramaturgy Lab is a program to support artists whose experience levels span from emerging to established, who would like to build their dramaturgical knowledge with a particular focus on dramaturgy of plays being produced in large spaces. Program participants span artists who self identify as dramaturgs already, but also artists who have emerging experience as dramaturgs or artists who are established in another area of theatre and who are crossing over into dramaturgy.
David Van Belle
Elena Eli Belyea
Zach Running Coyote