Group photo of two rows of smiling people with their arms around each other.
Donor Funded

LEAP Playwriting Intensive

LEAP—Learning Early About Playwriting—is a free and interactive program for young people (ages 16–25) in the B.C. Lower Mainland who are interested in playwriting. Over 180 students have been mentored through the creation of original dramatic works since the program’s inception in 2006. Participants learn the basic principles of playwriting, share their work with classmates, and provide feedback for one another in a safe and supportive environment. Students also receive feedback from theatre professionals and have their plays workshopped and presented to the public in staged readings.

LEAP is a full-scholarship program, and it is 100% funded by donors and sponsors. There is no cost to students.

Instruction is offered at three levels: Level 1 students are mentored through the creation of a short-form play (10 minutes); Level 2 students write one-act plays; and one Level 3 student is supported through the creation of a full-length play.

For more information, contact Hila Graf, Education & Community Engagement Manager, at

Watch this short video that documents the journey from classroom to workshop to reading.


LEAP sponsors Diamond Foundation, RBC Emerging Artisits Project, Grosvenor and Beech Foundation

Connor, Clark & Lunn Foundation
Kate Dahlstrom
The Hamber Foundation
Irma & Marvin Lamoureux
Lohn Foundation
Marin Investments LTD
Alan & Gwendoline Pyatt Foundation
River Foundation
Rix Family Foundation
Art Vertlieb & Bev Briscoe

The LEAP program seeks young people interested in creative writing for the theatre who are passionate, engaged, and inquisitive storytellers. We’re looking for young artists with distinct voices who are looking to develop the skills that will allow them to explore new stories from unique perspectives, whether they be based on personal experience or created narratives borne out of curiosity and imagination. We are excited by the possibility of helping young playwrights create and develop their unique stories.

The facilitation at LEAP draws from a script-based theatre creation model with the individual playwright at its centre. At the same time, we encourage applicants who take a range of approaches to process, form, and structure.

This level is geared toward writers with very little or no experience and the course provides an introduction to some of the basic principles of playwriting. Absolutely no previous playwriting experience is required—just a passion for writing and a curiosity about the possibilities of writing for the theatre. Level 1 students will be mentored through the creation of a short-form play about 10 minutes in length. There are 10 spots available for this level.

This level is for students with some playwriting experience who want to deepen their process and practice with a small cohort of playwrights. (Applicants do not need to have completed Level 1 in order to qualify for Level 2.) The writing schedule is more intense for this level and students are expected to continue to generate material for their play throughout the program’s duration. Level 2 students each write one-act plays, which are usually between 20 and 40 minutes in length. There are 4 spots available for this level.

This level is for a single student with a considerable amount of experience as a playwright. This experience can take many forms, including being self-taught, receiving mentorship from other artists/cultural practitioners, and/or receiving formal education. This placement is ideal for a young passionate playwright who is committed to theatre creation and who is poised to emerge onto the professional stage. The successful Level 3 candidate is mentored through the creation of a full-length play.


We encourage applications from equity-seeking writers, including (but not limited to) those who are Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, Trans, gender-diverse, Intersex, Queer, Neurodivergent, D/deaf, and Disabled/have lived experience of disability (including mental health disability).

We use a non-prescriptive feedback model, which respects each writer’s self-determination. Since our meetings will bring together people with different relationships to privilege and oppression, we will collaboratively create community care and accountability guidelines. The facilitators will consult participants about their access needs and strive to adapt the program accordingly. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Accessible and gender-neutral washrooms
  • Sighted-guide assistance
  • A PSW is welcome; advance notice is requested so we can adjust numbers based on COVID-19 safety protocols
  • Wheelchair-user friendly spaces
  • Program materials in an accessible format
  • Relaxed environment in class and chill out zones in the building
  • ASL services are not currently offered during classes

We are always learning and evolving in our accessibility journey, and would love to continue the conversation about other access needs that may help support your learning, engagement, and participation. Contact us at with any questions and suggestions you may have.


Shawn Macdonald/Instructor and Program Leader
Shawn Macdonald Shawn (he/him) has been the Program Leader for LEAP since 2007. He is a theatre artist with over 30 years of professional experience. Shawn is an award-winning actor and playwright who is passionate about theatre creation in its many forms. In addition to his work with LEAP, Shawn was also the Artistic Associate at Green Thumb Theatre for seven years, where he facilitated large-scale devised theatre creations with youth. As an actor, playwright, or director, he has worked with most of Vancouver’s professional companies including the Vancouver Playhouse, the Arts Club, Touchstone, Gateway Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Ruby Slippers, Pacific Theatre, Theatre Replacement, ZeeZee Theatre, PTC, Realwheels, Boca del Lupo, among others. He is the recipient of five Jessie Awards. Born in Quebec City to Irish/Scottish/Acadian parents, Shawn is a settler who has been living on beautiful unceded Coast Salish Territory (Musqueam/Squamish/Tsleil-Waututh) since 1988.

Veronique West/Instructor
Veronique West Veronique West (she/they) is a non-binary settler of Polish descent, based on the stolen, ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Their work, informed by their lived experience of madness, spans artistic creation and facilitation, as well as mental health peer support and advocacy. Their personal and collaborative projects have taken various forms, including performance, sound art, community conversation, virtual reality, and web-based storytelling. They have facilitated programs on writing, devising, multimedia performance creation, and Mad Arts. Veronique has also been an eating disorder peer support mentor, a crisis responder, and will be a mental health workshop facilitator at post-secondary campuses next spring. In their life and work, they seek to collaboratively build processes and relationships where bodyminds across various intersections can thrive.

2021–2022 SCHEDULE

The program will take place in person at the BMO Theatre Centre. We will adjust our learning spaces as needed to meet the latest PHO requirements.

Launch & Orientation: November 6, 12–4 PM


Level 1 (all 7–9 PM)
Nov 15, 22, 29
Dec 6, 13
Jan 17, 24, 31
Feb 7, 14 (one-week break), 28
Mar 7

Level 2 (all 7–9 PM)
Nov 16, 23, 30
Dec 7, 14
Jan 18, 25
Feb 1, 8, 15 (one-week break)
Mar 1, 8

Level 3
The Level 3 student will meet monthly with the LEAP leaders beginning in November. Meetings may be added based as needed. The Level 3 student will also be offered a workshop of their first draft with professional actors in January 2022.

These are devoted rewriting sessions in a quiet environment with the focused energy of your cohort. The LEAP leaders are available for feedback on new material and coaching, if required.

Mar 26, 12–4 PM
May 7, 10 AM–PM

Professional actors are at your disposal to read your play and provide feedback using the model that has been developed as part of the program.

Level 1
Apr 9 & 10: 10 AM–6 PM

Level 2
Apr 16: 10 AM–6 PM

Level 3
Apr 23: 2–6 PM

Three nights of staged readings of the LEAP cohort plays!

Level 1
May 13: 10 AM–10 PM

Level 2
May 14: 10 AM–10 PM

Level 3
May 15: 2–10 PM