Close-up photo of a white Arts Club coffee mug and script.
Donor Funded


The Emerging Playwrights’ Unit (EPU) is an annual program designed for playwrights in the early stages of their careers, who will each spend the yearlong residency writing a new play. A cohort of four playwrights is selected circa July or August to spend a year in residence with the Arts Club (from September to August). Playwrights attend monthly meetings to receive dramaturgical input, to discuss ideas around playwriting and dramaturgy, and to share and reflect on each other’s writing. The development process also includes a workshop with professional actors and culminates in a staged reading. EPU playwrights receive a stipend for participation and tickets to Arts Club productions staged during the residency. All meetings are in-person (there is no virtual component).

The program is designed for artists who are in the early stages of their career (or who self-identify as an emerging artist), who have chosen playwriting as a focus, and who reside in the Greater Vancouver area. The ideal applicant has received at least one non-professional production (co-op, fringe, independent, or community) of their work but probably not yet a professional one.

For more information, contact the program director, Stephen Drover, New Works & Professional Engagement, at


Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Bonnie Mah
Sydney J. Risk Foundation in honour of Hiro Kanagawa


Edith Coates Edith Coates
Edith Coates is a queer and trans playwright based in Vancouver. Previously, she was the Level 3 student for the Arts Club's 2022 LEAP intensive, and her plays have been produced by the IGNITE! Youth Festival at The Cultch, Telling It Bent at the Frank Theatre, and the UBC Players Club. She likes to write about queer and trans identity and what it means to be a member of Generation Z (i.e., a "Zoomer"). Some say she has a dry sense of humour. Outside the theatre, she is a software developer at the UBC.

Jessie Liang Jessie Liang
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Jessie Liang has appeared in theatrical and television shows including Netflix's The Night Agent and Virgin River, The CW's Supergirl, and Arts Club's 2020 touring production of Kim's Convenience. More recently, she was the assistant director for Redbone Coonhound (Arts Club) and co-director for A Life Sentence (Vancouver Fringe). Jessie's play, Surrender, was workshopped as part of vAct's 2022 MSG Lab program and then presented at Ruby Slippers’ Advance Theatre Festival in early 2023. She's thrilled to have another opportunity to work on this story! You can connect with her: @jessieliang21

Sydney Marino Sydney Marino
Sydney Marino is a Vancouver-based playwright, director, and educator. Her playwriting credits include Unravelling (Or Festival), Scrappy Campers (Killarney Theatre), Siren Song (Brave New Play Rites), Deal with the Devil (Brave New Play Rites), and 49th and Kerr (Killarney Theatre). She has developed work in the LEAP Playwriting Intensive, PTC Block A Cohort, and Story Theatre’s Writer’s Room. Currently, Sydney has TYA work in development with Story Theatre and with Killarney Theatre, where she is also the Artist in Residence. She is also an educator, instructing playwriting courses at the Arts Club. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from UBC. Sydney is excited to develop new work in the Emerging Playwrights' Unit.

Jiejun Wu Jiejun Wu
Jiejun Wu (she/her) is an emerging writer and arts administrator based in Burnaby, on the unceded territories of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples. She received her BFA from UBC with a double major in English Literature and Creative Writing. Her previous works have been presented as part of UBC’s Bryan Wade Brave New Play Rites Festival and Momentum 180’s The Parallel Project. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, going on hikes, and buying yarn she’ll never use.


Francis Dowlatabadi Francis Dowlatabadi (he/him)
Francis is a Persian-Canadian artist dedicated to work that gives voice to unheard stories and attempts to uplift humanity. Francis's previous credits as a playwright include An Empty Home (rEvolver Festival), The Parallels Project (Momentum 180), and My Roommate Ahriman (Rumble Theatre). Selected credits as an actor include Alex in The Bibliomancer (Ruby Slippers Theatre), Omar in The Frontliners (rEvolver Festival), and Capitano in Love, Lust, and Lace (Gas Pedal Productions) He holds a BFA in Acting from UBC, where he was awarded the John Emerson Memorial Scholarship for promise in musical theatre.

Jessica Lemes da Silva Jessica Lemes da Silva (she/her)
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Jessica received her B.A. in Music (oboe performance) from the University of Miami. She shifted gears to study Sound Design for visual media at the Vancouver Film School, which led to sound work at Skywalker Sound in California, on feature films such as Beowulf, Iron Man, and Despicable Me. Jessica shifted gears again to focus on writing for stage and screen, exploring themes of belonging, building chosen families, and bridging the worlds of queerness and religion. In 2014 her short play Donors was an official finalist in the New York Screenplay Contest. Jessica holds a creative writing certificate from SFU’s The Writer’s Studio, and she is grateful to write, teach, and live with her wife and two children on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Listen to her most recent work, Sacred Hearts (2021), wherever you get your podcasts.

Mida Maleki Mida Maleki (they/them)
Mida is an Iranian queer person of colour living on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people. They are a singer, actor, and playwright, focusing on the stories of people like them (queer Iranians) that are either overlooked or told in voices that aren't their own. Mida has been a part of multiple playwright programs, including Frank theatre's Telling It Bent, the Arts Club’s LEAP, and Sky Theatre's My Home Is a Suitcase, showcasing their one-person show in the IGNITE! Youth Festival, where they had the opportunity to write, act, and direct.

David Volpov David Volpov (he/him)
David is a graduate of UBC's BFA Acting program, where he was the proud recipient of the Jessie Richardson Scholarship. He has since expanded his disciplines to writing and producing, and follows every urge to create stories that are deeply important without taking themselves too seriously. A past participant of PTC’s Block A program, his writing credits include Civil Court (Or Festival), The Minimum-Wage Dame (Eternal Theatre Collective), and the upcoming Murder of Method: A True Crime Story (Promethean Theatre). David is currently the executive director of Promethean Theatre Company, where he facilitates opportunities for emerging theatre artists.