Vern Thiessen

Plays by Vern Thiessen



Apple – (1M 2W) Andy is in trouble. Downsized from his job, his marriage in crises, he looks to a mysterious young woman for salvation. But when his wife becomes seriously ill, Andy must make a choice: care for an estranged wife, or run away with a woman he knows little about. A haunting tale of sex, secrets and the second chances.

Einstein’s Gift – (5M 2W) A scientist who enhances life with his work and knowledge but discovers that knowledge in the wrong hands brings death. The ideal of science “to serve humanity” is shown in sharp contrast against the reality of political will, nationalism, and war. Chance, pride, ego and passion collide in this piece based on the life and work of Noble Laureate Dr. Fritz Haber, who risked everything for a country that never accepted him, but used his work to murder millions.

Lenin’s Embalmers – (7M 1W) Russia. 1924. Two scientists are assigned an impossible task: make Vladimir Lenin live forever, or face death. Based on a true story, Governor Generals Literary Award-winning playwright Vern Thiessen brings us a dark comedy that brings to light the resilience of the human spirit, ever-changing war games, and the importance of always having vodka on hand.

Shakespeare’s Will – (1W) The play sheds light on unexplored aspects of Anne Hathaway’s life by looking through the eyes and heart of a woman who spent a lifetime with and without the great poet. This work is a celebration of a life unbowed by tragedy and unapologetic in the face of public scorn.

Wuthering Heights – (7M 5W; flexible casting) Based on Emily Bronte’s famous novel, this stage adaptation is dark, ghostly, violent and sensual.

Of Human Bondage – (7M 4W) is an epic tale of lust, obsession, and the pursuit of beauty.

Bello – (3 Actors, any gender) – Little Bern, a young orphaned farm, taken in by his aunt and uncle, pines for the life he used to have. One day, on his way to school, he sees a mysterious ramshackle barn, and is told it is the home of Old Nettie, who everyone in town fears and calls a witch. But when a huge snowstorm hits, and Little Bern is lost, he is saved by none other than Old Nettie. Terrified at first, Bern must face his fears and confront the person he is most afraid of. Much to his surprise, he discovers she is not at all the person he thought her to be, and much more like him than he ever imagined!

Pugwash – (6 Actors) – In the hottest days of the Cold War, the homey residents of the tiny fishing village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia could never dream that their remote little community would unexpectedly become the meeting place for a mysterious team of world-renowned scientists. Secrets and clashes of culture are inevitable. But what happens over the course of those three days will change the world forever.


Vern Thiessen’s plays have been seen across Canada, the US , Asia, and Europe, including Shakespeare’s Will, Apple, Einstein’s Gift, Blowfish, The Resurrection Of John Frum and Vimy.

Thiessen is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Outstanding New Play, The City of Edmonton Arts Achievement Award, the University of Alberta Alumni Award for Excellence, The Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition, and the Governor General’s Literary Award, Canada’s highest honour for playwriting. He has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.

He has served as Playwright in Residence at Workshop West Theatre (where he founded the Playwrights Garage program), and the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. He is a Past President of both the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. He is a member of both The Ensemble Studio Theatre and Epic Theatre Ensemble in New York City. Thiessen lives with his partner, horror novelist Susie Moloney, in New York City.

* Please note that some titles are handled by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing and Please ask if you don’t see a particular play.