YOUthRiot is one of the many programs at APN. It’s a creative writing program for LGBTQ2+ youth where they free their voice and speak their truth. Zane, was a typical 15 year old trans youth; shy, scared and suffering depression. They came to YOUthRiot in 2016. The week before the final presentation, Zane didn’t feel like they had anything to present, which is to say, they didn’t think they had anything to say. Minutes before the final presentation Zane said, “I want to do my piece”. The lights went down, Zane entered and began to recite their own poem, “Bathroom Blues”. Two lines in the nerves caused Zane to have to stop. They had forgotten the next line. Zane’s peer group leapt on stage, hugged Zane, breathed together and gave Zane the space to start over. The piece starts with Zane talking about the terror of going to the bathroom at school, facing the stares, invalidation, and the whispers that they are forced to endure. The poem ends with:
” I am more than just my genitals/I’m an artist, a poet, a student, a leader/A great son, a good friend/And I’m done with hating myself for being me!”
A five minute poem led to a ten minute standing ovation. Zane, who believed their story wasn’t important, changed the minds and hearts of 100 people who heard Zane’s truth and triumph.
Alberta Playwrights’ Network exists to nurture Albertan playwrights and provide support for the development of their plays. APN promotes the province’s playwrights and plays to the theatre community, while building and fostering a network of playwrights through education, advocacy, and outreach.
Since our inception in 1985, APN has developed and nurtured well over 1000 playwrights and their work. In 2018 we provided development resources, education, development, and advocacy to over 100 playwrights in the development of 90 new plays. Our programming also provides employment opportunities for actors, directors, and designers. In 2018 we provided over 200 employment opportunities for other professional theatre artists.
In the past five years APN has assisted 30 playwrights (at all levels) in moving their work from creation to production…from the page to the stage. There are producing companies across the country with play development programs, dedicated staff and resources who cannot claim the same level of success as our organization.
APN has a variety of programs and services that we offer our membership:
ACT ONE – one on one script analysis and feedback
WORDSHED – script reading program with professional actors and directors
RBC Emerging Artists Mentorship Program – emerging playwrights receive a 6 month mentorship with a professional playwright (generously funded by the RBC Emerging Artists Program)
YOUthRiot – an 8 week creative writing program for LGBTQ2+ youth. This program culminates in a public presentation of work by the participants read by professional actors.
Alberta Playwriting Competition – an annual competition to select the best unproduced play by an Alberta writer. The competition has run annually for 53 years.
Advocacy – assisting playwrights in marketing and shopping their work to producers nationally and internationally.
We are small and nimble organization devoted the the individual development of each one of our members. We endeavour to cater and provide the necessary resources and technology for the best outcome of all our members.
We are a non-profit, charitable organization. We receive public money from a variety of arts funding organizations, which accounts for about 1/3rd of our operating budget. We are funded by membership dues, revenue for services, and private and foundation support.
Our major funding priority is for the YOUthRiot program. This is the only program we offer that is completely free to the participants. The program costs $10,000 annually to operate which covers everything (staffing, materials, space rental, professional instructors and artists, advertising). The program has capacity for 10 to 12 individuals and with a donation of $1000.00 you can create a safe space for a marginalized teen to find their voice.
Why is this program important? LGBTQ2+ youth are still one of the most marginalized and ostracized groups in our country.
These stories deserve an audience and these voices deserve to be heard.