MTYP is delighted to announce Governor General’s Award-winning playwright, and accomplished actor and arts educator Vern Thiessen as its new School Director. An internationally known artist who has devoted much of his thirty-year career to arts education, community engagement, and innovative outreach strategies, Mr. Thiessen joined MTYP on June 6.

“I’ve been a passionate advocate of theatre education my whole career,” says Mr. Thiessen. “It’s an absolute thrill to return to my hometown and serve one of the best TYA companies in the world. I can’t wait to get started!”

“Over the course of his career, Vern has proven his commitment to both artistry and arts education,” says MTYP Artistic Director Pablo Felices-Luna. “I am delighted to have such an accomplished colleague and ally joining the team at MTYP; we are happy to bring him home. I am looking forward to working with him to make our classes, workshops and youth performance companies even better for young people in our province.”

Vern’s commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and anti-racism is evidenced throughout his career and artistic practice and well aligned with MTYP’s values. His career demonstrates a strong appreciation for the value of partnerships and sharing of knowledge. This was exemplified at Workshop West Playwrights Theatre (Edmonton, AB), where Vern created a writing program, taught in French, English, and Arabic, delivered in Edmonton schools and with partners in Indigenous communities. While at People’s Light in Malvern, PA, he brought together a dozen diverse writers to work with various businesses, community centres, and historical organizations from five different counties. Vern also spent seven years teaching with Epic Theatre Ensemble in NYC, working with underserved Black and Latinx students in Harlem and the Bronx.

Vern oversaw the drama department at Lakeland College (AB), producing, directing and teaching classes, and was an educator/mentor with YouthWrite (AB) for over 10 years. A past President for the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Writers Guild of Alberta, Vern also served as the Literary and Multi-Disciplinary Arts consultant for the Province of Alberta for three years, where he was involved in creating arts policy for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Vern’s contributions to the Canadian arts sector have been further recognized with awards such as the University of Alberta Alumni Award of Excellence and the City of Edmonton Arts Achievement Award.

Vern is married to best-selling novelist and screenwriter Susie Moloney. MTYP is thrilled to welcome them home to Winnipeg and have Vern lead the MTYP School to future successes.