Our Fantastic River Valley Instructors…
Jacob Banigan is a world-class improviser from
Edmonton, currently living in Austria. He worked as Artistic Director of
Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre for ten years, curating Theatresports, The Nose
Bowl, Improvaganza and Chimprov. He is also a lifelong member of Fringe
Festival favourite Gordon’s Big Bald Head, occasional member of Die-Nasty, and
sometime writer for CBC’s The Irrelevant Show. Jacob tours Europe and
North America teaching and performing award-winning improvised theatre with
Theater Im Bahnhof, English Lovers and Rocket Sugar Factory. Jacob is excited
to be a part of YouthWrite again!
Spontaneous Combustion - Improv is the art of instant
story creation. It is a direct path from inspiration to appreciation. Use
time-honoured techniques and new experiments to unlock your natural
storytelling skills. Improv deals with setting, epoch, characters, forward
momentum, scene building, story structure and a thousand other elements ... so
that a great journey may be begun with a single step. Come and test your
Marty Chan writes plays for adults and books for kids. He's worked for CBC Radio and Canadian television. As a writer for young people, he’s best known for his Marty Chan Mystery Series. His hit plays include The Bone House, Maggie's Last Dance, and Forbidden Phoenix. He has been a professional writer since 1988. Marty's latest novel is The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon Gate.
Thrill Your Reader: Suspense Writing - Want to inject some tension into your writing? Suss out some suspense? Marty Chan reveals the secrets to writing stories that keep your readers on the edges of their seats. Learn how to scare your readers, raise those goosebumps, shiver those timbers!
Natasha Deen is an award-winning author and was the 2013 Regional Writer in Residence for the Metro Edmonton Library Federation. She has written everything from fantasy to comedy, non-fiction to inspirational novels. When not working on her stories, she loves laughing at grammar jokes, inhaling disgusting amounts of chocolate, and wrestling her dogs and cats for possession of the warm spot on the couch.
BUT IF YOU ACT NOW… - Think writing’s either fiction or non-fiction? Story or essay? Join Natasha for a week of dissecting commercials, questioning media images, creating your very own ad campaign, and seeing how the lines between fact and fiction blur!
is the award-winning author of the children’s novel series Wrush, which began as a bedtime story when his daughter was six. Now he visits schools across Canada and the US, sharing his stories and workshops. Tyler is also a photographer, and a budding filmmaker with an untitled project presently in production at the National Film Board of Canada. He’s currently working on a new novel series for young adults.
Write A Fantasy Story That Would Blow Harry Potter's Socks Off (if he read it) -
Ever wanted to write your own fantasy story, but not sure where to begin? Learn the "Fantasy Blueprint" every young author needs to write his/her own Harry Potter. We'll explore the key elements to good fantasy writing, the importance of developing magic, world-building, point of view, and much more in this fun workshop especially designed for those with a passion for fantasy.
Francis Mayrand started his dance career at the age of fourteen in Montreal area where he was born and raised. He has been part of many groups, Les Pieds Légers de Laval, Reel et Macadam and Zéphyr . After many festivals and tours in Québec and Europe, he decided to pursue a full-time dance artist career. His love for traditional music, dance and choreography continue in Alberta, where he offers a residency artist program for schools, founded and directed the group Éfèmer. Francis is also currently dancing with the company Vinok Worlddance.
Body Beats - Throughout this workshop, explore different kinds of rythyms influenced by many cultures such as French Canadian, Hungarian, Romanian, Irish and South African (Gumboot). The goal is to provide an a cappella beat that will properly showcase the emotions derived from your writing. This course is back by popular demand!! Don't forget your rubber boots for gumboot fun!
Tololwa M. Mollel writes books for the young and is author of seventeen titles. He also writes short fiction and creative non-fiction for adults. When he isn’t writing (or reading!) he tells stories. Or he performs them in theatre. Or he tells and performs them, anywhere. Tololwa likes nothing better than to do this in combination: write, write for performance, and perform. His newest book is From the Lands of the Night.
Drinking from the Stream of Life's Memories - Through writing and in storytelling in the session, share a small drink – sweet, bitter-sweet, or sour – from a stream of your life’s memories. Sharing right along with you, Tololwa Mollel will inspire you to work on a snippet from your life’s memories, in writing, writing for performance, or in a combination of writing and storytelling or story performance. Your choice!
Barbara North is an award-winning stand-up comic, writer, and comedic TV reporter and radio personality. She has created, written, and starred in several national comedic television shows, including CBC TV`s Army Brats and A Total Write-Off! She was a writer-intern on the final season of CBC TV’s Royal Canadian Air Farce and the female character announcer for Teletoon. Barbara co-hosts the TV series Press 2 Play! and performs stand-up on stages across Canada, including on Just for Laughs. Her one-woman stage comedies include My Incredibly Screwed-Up Sisters, Everything I DIDN’T Need to Know I Learned in Grade 9, Sex and the Prairies, and her recent, Why Didn't Oprah Tell Me??
Susie Moloney is an award winning writer of humour, horror fiction, a screenwriter, and columnist for Vitamin W. The author of four novels and a new collection of short fiction, Moloney has been compared to such writers as Jane Smiley, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King and Dave Barry. Her novels have been published all over the world, translated into multiple languages and optioned for film and television. She divides her time between Canada and New York City.
Blue Pencil Café - Work one-on-one with our resident expert on your work-in-progress. Get expert tips, constructive feedback, and industry insights for your writing. Sign-up at camp for this excellent editorial experience.
Zen and the Art of Comedy Writing - You’ve got a quirky sense of humour – but how do you bring it to life? Learn from an award-winning stand-up comic, and comedic television writer how to uncover and use your sense of ha ha to write for pleasure, profit, or publication. Discover the basics of humour writing in creating characters, stand-up and comedic narrative. Discover the comedy writer’s tools and how to use the ‘comedy pyramid’ to bring your own unique humour to life on the page or stage. Plus, learn how to not let worry, self-doubt or even ‘bombing’ get in your way! This course offers laughs, learning and a little bit of zen.
Jeff Page is a professional actor, director, writer and teacher who writes for stage, radio and film. His stage plays include Love Letters from the Unabomber and The Granite Man and the Butterfly. He also co-wrote The Specialists, a CBC radio serial, and the screenplay for When the Pig Looks at the Matchbox, an acclaimed short film. In 2009, Jeff received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Alberta. He currently teaches drama at U of A's Augustana Faculty.
Eye Say - YouthWrite's VERY popular class is back! Create a unique world of vibrant characters and dramatic, suspense-filled situations through guided improvisation. Activate your imagination in collaboration with others. Embark on a written exploration of this extraordinary world and the characters you invent. Writing and drama in wordplayful combination!
Jan Taylor is a freelance playwright, director, dramaturge, educator and theatre producer in the Edmonton area. Playwriting credits include book and lyrics for the family musicals: Alberto the Dancing Alligator and The Wizard that Was… or Was Not and direction/scripting the collectively created pieces:Tales From a Laundry Basket, and many others. In the works, with composer Richard Link, is a new play with music for children and families, A Stone Folktale Project. Jan is currently the Artistic Director of Kompany Family Theatre.
The Play in Play - Stir a heaping handful of drama games together with a dollop of fun and a sprinkle of imagination. Let the mixture ferment and rise until it can be shaped into a sequence of words and actions. Take those words and actions and create new drama games. Repeat. Set your imagination free! Dare to discover that you are a dramaturge (and/or perhaps a thespian)!
is one of Canada's best known playwrights. He's had plays presented in over a dozen countries, in sixlanguages, including three plays Off-Broadway. In 2003, he won The Governor General's Award for Drama, the highest honour for a playwright in this country. He lives in New York City. Some of his plays include Einstein’s Gift
, Lenin’s Embalmers, Shakespeare’s Will, Bird Brain and Vimy. He loves working with teenagers and is thrilled to be returning to YouthWrite in 2014!
Daily Drama - Everyday, something extraordinary happens in your life. Everyday you read or see something that is unbelievable, exciting, terrifying or death-defying. Everyday you experience emotions: anger, jealousy, happiness, rage, love. Whether you're using your own personal stories, or ones you've seen on TV or read about online, Vern will help you adapt life's Daily Drama.
David Wilson (B.Mus, M.Mus) is a Singer, Conductor, Voice Teacher, Yoga Instructor, Breath Therapist, and soon-to-be-author. He is recognized across Canada as a leading authority on the use of yoga and breath therapy to aid singing, acting, playing instruments, and writing. David currently teaches for MacEwan Theatre Arts, Edmonton Musical Theatre and the University of Alberta. At his Edmonton studio David offers Professional Voice Lessons, Functional Vocal Transformation, Empowerment & Confidence Training and Body, Breath & Voice Integrative Therapy. He tours regularly and is TICKLED to be returning toYouthWrite! He is currently working on publishing The Wilson Technique: Yoga for VoiceBook/DVD set.
Connecting Body, Breath & Voice - Creative Flow for the Writer - Explore a series of artistic and fun activities; experience the empowering direction these take your writing. Movement, breathing, meditation, drama games, yoga and vocal exploration will lead you to increased confidence, awareness, and creativity. Create a text-driven musical soundscape performance, written and performed by YOU, geared toward listening, community and team building. Bring instruments!
Spyder Yardley-Jones is an international artist whose shows have caused controversy with his thought-provoking images. Spyder has been teaching cartooning, painting and illustration for a decade as Artist in Residence through the Edmonton Welsh Society in Edmonton schools. Formerly an educator at the Art Gallery of Alberta, he now instructs through MacEwan University's Continuing Education program. Spyder illustrated the picture book, In the Graveyard and the graphic novel, Jamie's Got a Gun, and has been teaching at YouthWrite for seventeen years. In addition to all of this, Spyder works as a preparator, installing shows at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
A Mad Hatter's Inventions and Playful Little Abominations - Draw, paint, glue and build a whimsical little invention from found objects and parts. Bits and pieces o' this and that - put it all together, and you'll have the stuff of fantastical or steampunk worlds. Construct a steam-powered heart or three-dimensional ectoplasmic terminator worthy of any SF story. Create visual and literary delights that would dazzle any mad hatter or scientist!
Special Guests & Evening Entertainers:
Colleen Brown is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who is currently based in Edmonton, Alberta. Fresh off recording sessions in Los Angeles and Halifax, she’s just released Direction 1: Major Love, and will be releasing a series of EPs throughout 2014 focusing on themes of love, fate and psychic retooling. Her previous albums, Dirt and Foot in Heart, were praised by critics nationwide. She’s appeared on CBC’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi, and most recently, she sang and danced as her (Rita Hayworth inspired) alter-ego Gilda Brass for the Art Gallery of Alberta’s ‘Rip Roarin’ Refinery’ - for which she was guest Artistic Director.
Angela Flatekval was lead to YouthWrite via a vast and varied creative life. From choirs and cheerleading in high school; the Arthur Murray years; Theatre Arts at Grant MacEwan; working with local companies (such as The Mayfield and Workshop West); founding, producing and performing with the independent theatre company The Unconscious Collective; through to now parenting and working with the wee-est of artists as a Kindermusik educator, expression through movement and physicality has been second … perhaps even first… nature. It is an exciting endeavour to have the opportunity to assist in the development of new work and an honour to nurture those just learning to use their ‘voices’.
Mary Pinkoski is an award-winning spoken word poet from Edmonton. She is currently Edmonton's Poet Laureate. In 2013 she placed third at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championship. In 2011, she won the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word national slam championship as captain of the Edmonton slam team. She was also voted Most Valuable Poet of that festival. In 2008 Mary was the winner of the national CBC Poetry Face-off. When not performing across North America, Mary leads workshops for youth and adults. She is currently creating a full-length spoken word show called Land in the Veins.
Anna Marie Sewell served as Edmonton's Poet Laureate from 2011 - 13. Among her major Laureate projects, she directed A Poetry Map of Canada. Anna Marie’s book Fifth World Drum (Frontenac House, 2009), was shortlisted for 4 awards and won rave reviews across Canada. This spring, Anna Marie opened for poet/musician Joy Harjo at Edmonton Poetry Festival, and directed a Roots Jam with Joy and 6 local artists. In June, Anna Marie toured Toronto and Calgary. In Toronto, she was a featured guest of the famed ArtBar, and in Calgary, she shared a stage with the amazing Kris Demeanor (Calgary’s 1st Poet Laureate), who introduced her to more of Calgary’s finest poets.
And this summer's Super Supers:
Elena Belyea (SUPER SUB) is a playwright, performer, and poet currently entering her third and final year the Playwriting Program at the National Theatre School of Canada. She was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, where she has been producing work from the past 8 years, including co-founding the Common Ground Arts Society's Found Festival in 2012 (where she also wrote and performed the shows Home Video and White Night, in a residential garage and back alley at night, respectively), acting as Found Festival Producer in 2013 and 2014, adapting and directing a 15-person production of Allen Ginsberg's Howl at the University of Alberta, along with writing & acting in numerous shows at Edmonton's Fringe Festival and Nexffest. This summer marks her FIRST YOUTHWRITE EVER. She is counting down the days to scribblin' along with all a' y'all, especially Gail!
Rebecca Collins joins YouthWrite in her inaugural year as super. She is overjoyed to be welcomed into such an amazing program! Rebecca recently graduated from the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Alberta with a Major in Drama and Minor in Social Studies. Last summer she worked with youth from across the globe during an International Congress held in Northern Ireland where the group focused on social justice through the performing arts. Rebecca loves to write, sing, act, watch Downton Abbey, and work with youth. Her interests include: historical media, performing, photography, nature and travelling. She is thrilled to join Gail and the YouthWrite team this summer and can’t wait for the shenanigans to begin.
Charlotte Cranston a long-time Youthwriter-turned-super, is delighted to be returning to camp for her second summer as a super. By day she works as a lifeguard, first aid instructor, and library volunteer; by slightly later in the day she is a poet, an improvisor,and a swimmer. She is a member of the Spoken Word Youth Choir, a professional spoken word troupe founded at Youthwrite. Her studies at the University of Alberta have taken her as far as Italy, where she developed her love of lattes, museums, and travel writing, though her heart will always be with poetry. She is currently pursuing a degree in sociology and dreams of changing the world through writing, sweetness, and mental health advocacy. She loves cats, bunny rabbits, Earl Grey tea, princesses, Gail and YouthWrite.
Olivia Latta began writing in junior high, but found herself taking a break while she attended Victoria School of the Arts. After directing her first play in the school's PlayWorks festival, she volunteered for the CommonGround Arts Society and co-founded her first production company, Mischief Managed. Along with fellow co-founders, the company produced two five-star shows--Polite Boys, Feast--for the Edmonton Fringe Festival. She then became a technician at Rapid Fire Theatre and a resident hand at Avenue Theatre. But after returning from Montreal where she studied creative writing at Concordia University, Olivia wanted to involve herself in the writing scene. Intro: YouthWrite! She is beyond excited with how quickly she's been welcomed into the family and for the opportunity to be involved in this year's camps and to bask in the sunlight that is Gail.
Kevin McCann was born and raised. Growing up in Edmonton, he was immersed in music and theatre, attended Victoria School, and after graduation, the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC. Kevin loves music, and during his school years received training in classical guitar, piano and voice. He had many wonderful experiences, from competing in local music festivals to singing "Bring Him Home" with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. Kevin is currently a proud member of the adult jazz choir Joy Spring in Edmonton with Gail. Although he doesn't have much writing experience, Kevin is an avid reader, and has been inhaling fantasy novels since he knew they existed. He is obscenely excited to start his first year with YouthWrite and can't wait to meet and learn from amazing people! Kevin was asked not to mention his adoration for Gail, due to its overwhelming nature.
Morgan Moffatt is extremely excited to be joining YouthWrite and is very grateful to Gail who invited her to be a part of such a fantastic camp. Having discovered the joy of fine arts as she attended Ross Sheppard High School, Morgan pursued a Bachelor of Elementary Education (minoring in Fine Arts) at the U of A. Being a recent graduate, Morgan was fortunate to work part time at the same elementary school as Gail! When she isn't working her butt off tutoring (and working multiple jobs) Morgan likes to spend her time hiking and being outdoors as much as possible, spending time with Gail.
Caleb Nelson was born in small-town Wetaskiwin and grew up on his parents' farm. Singing is a natural expression for Caleb, as his family atmosphere has been described as a re-incarnation of the VonTrapps on more than one occasion. While attending the University of Alberta, Caleb joined the Madrigal Singers as a classical tenor while also playing trumpet in the U of A and MacEwan collaborative jazz bands. With his passion for voice and other instrumentation, Caleb co-founded the a cappella men's group, 6 Minute Warning. In addition to pop-vocals, he continues his classical career, singing in Pro Coro Canada. In 2010, Caleb began working as a recording engineer for Edmonton’s Wolf Willow Sound editing dialogue for TV shows and video games. He's established a home studio to perform on more instruments, write and record original songs, as well as encourage other artists. Caleb’s skill set extends from voice and trumpet to piano, guitar, bass, and will continue to grow as he dedicates more time to his craft. He is so excited to be returning once again to YouthWrite, and is looking forward to working with Gail, whom he loves!
Noel Taylor is a teacher, writer, performer and has been involved with YouthWrite for 7 years now! He counts down the days to YouthWrite every year using an array of horsehair-strung counting beads! Noel has the fabulous job of running the Theatre Department at W.P. Wagner High School in Edmonton! He performs with Hey Ladies at the Roxy Theatre Network every theatre season. As well as performing music in local rock and roll bands, he performs spoken word poetry with his best friend Nicholas! While doing all of these lovely things, Noel still finds the time to love Gail the most out of any other supervisor.
Lester Thomas is an aspiring dancer, actor, YouTuber & guitarist. His affection for the arts started in high school, where he discovered one of his deepest passions, dancing, and he was ironically taught by one of Gail's most respected past university students. He has performed in numerous dance showcases & In 2011, Lester performed at Gail's book launch for her book, Chance to Dance for You, which told the story of her book, through dance. He has also recently started working with Chan International, an acting & modelling agency. Lester enjoys working out, reading, playing guitar, hiking & making Instagram/ YouTube videos. Lester is very excited to be a part of the YouthWrite team & looks forward to building new relationships & creating memories with everyone, especially Gail whom he adores.
Joe Vanderhelm is a teacher of math, science and drama after having earned his BEd from the U of A, where he had Gail as a professor. Joe Vanderhelm is the associate artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre. Joe Vanderhelm has improvised around the world including: Frankfurt, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Atlanta and Edmonton. Joe Vanderhelm is a lover of games both board and video. Joe Vanderhelm is proud to return in a supervisory role for his 9th summer of YouthWrite. But most importantly, Joe Vanderhelm loves and worships Gail Sidonie Sobat, probably the most.
Gail Sidonie Sobat is a multi-award-winning author for children, teens and young adults. She is the creator and coordinator of YouthWrite and the director of SWYC (Spoken Word Youth Choir), in addition to being an instructor of creative writing and communications at MacEwan University, a teacher and a singer. Jamie's Got a Gun (illustrated by Spyder Yardley-Jones) is her most recent YA graphic novel and her eleventh book. Gail adores the supers even more than they adore her. YouthWrite is one of her deepest passions.