The MSG Lab is VACT’s annual new play development program in association with Playwrights Theatre Centre. Facilitating the creation and development of new theatrical work by emerging and mid-career Asian Canadian artists, this program is our commitment to the next generation of Asian Canadian theatre-makers. The MSG Lab showcases stories from the Asian Canadian points of view, and develops new Asian Canadian work to a professional level for future production opportunities.

Call for Submissions

Applications to the 2018 MSG Theatre Lab is now open.  Selected applicants will be offered 5 months of development support, including: a $500 stipend, professional dramaturgy, workshops, and a public presentation at the end of the process.

Application Deadline: Friday June 30, 2017

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Must be a resident of Canada (study/work permits, permanent residency, or citizenship);
  • Must be an emerging or professional theatre artist as recognized by peers;
  • Must be available for at least 3 dramaturgical meetings and 2 workshops between August 2017 and January 2018 (detailed schedule to be set by playwright and dramarurg); and
  • Must be available for a workshop presentation in January 2018.

Submission Checklist:

  • A cover letter (2 pages maximum) discussing the rational behind your proposed project, including but not limited to: What is your project about? What is your vision for this project? Why this particular project now? Why the MSG Lab? Why do you want to work with VACT? What are your expectations of this process?
  • Curriculum vitae of the applicant;
  • A brief work plan of the entire project, including development history (if applicable);
  • A current draft, a collection of scenes, or a detailed sketch of the proposed project, with numbered pages;
  • A title page with your name and contact information;
  • $20 submission fee (please mail cheques to Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre at 1411 Cartwright St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R7).
  • Submit your files in PDF format (here's how)
  • Email your completed application package to by June 30, 2017 (we only accept email applications)

Submissions are read by a panel of curatorial staff and guest artists. Shortlisted candidates may be contacted in mid-July for a follow up interview. Decisions will be made by end of July.

If you have any questions regarding the application process or your eligibility, contact associate artistic producer Derek Chan at

We look forward to reading your submissions!

2017 MSG Lab Playwrights

Manami Hara - With Courage and Humility


How I started writing the piece.

Jane Heyman, a dear friend, colleague and mentor said to me 4 years ago "I have a project I want to do with you" and told me about this Japanese consulate general in Lithuania during WW2.  She continued on quietly "Because of him my brother and I are alive".  I was immediately intrigued by her personal story.  Mr. Sugihara issued transit visas against his country's order to save the lives of Jewish people.  And Jane's parents were one of  5000 people who got the transit visas, fled Nazi occupied Europe and survived the Holocaust.

Jane heard about a production "Sempo Sugihara" written in Japanese.  My Journey with this project began by translating and adapting the play into English.  For 3 years it rested and lingered in my brain and heart.  At times I was discouraged that the journey was over but believed that it was waiting to be reborn with a renewed vision and purpose.  Well here I am now burring myself deep into these beautiful, complex, extraordinary characters again.  I'm terrified and thrilled for the journey ahead.

Leslie Lum - Geomancer


I started Geomancer many years ago focusing on Qian Xuesen, the Chinese silkworm missile scientist, who was deported to China during McCarthyism, and his Jewish Hungarian mentor Theodore Von Karman, considered the father of aerodynamics, who came to America because of Nazism.  It was just recently that Iris Chang (Qian's biographer) who also wrote the Rape of Nanking and fought to disclose its cover-up in Japan, became central to the piece.

My short fiction and poetry was published in Canadian Literature, Wascana Review, Asian Week, The Antigonish Review, Into the Fire, and Asian Pacific American Journal and anthologized in The Map is the Heart, Canadian Short Fiction, Pomegrante and the Wascana Review Thirty Year Retrospective.   I am currently also working on a novel entitled Cat Country.

Loretta Seto - The Ones We Leave Behind


Although I've been writing stories since I can remember, my foray into playwriting began in 2007 when, acting on an impulse to broaden my writer's repertoire, I applied and was accepted into PTC's Block M (for monologue) workshop.  Although having written prose and screenplays for years, I quickly learned that playwriting was a humbling endeavour that, to this day 9 years later, still keeps me fascinated with its unique intricacies and challenges.  Now having written and produced two plays (Why Weight? and Dirty Old Woman), I'm working on another piece with the incredible support of VACT's MSG Lab and the dramaturgical assistance of PTC's Kathleen Flaherty.

The Ones We Leave Behind (working title) tells the story of Abby Chung, a recent hire at the Public Trustee who has been tasked with finding next-of-kin for people who have passed away seemingly without any family or relatives.  Her first field assignment brings her to Beatrice, an elderly woman who has died alone with no one coming forward to claim her.  As Abby uncovers more about Beatrice's solitary life, she begins to question her place in the world, her own relationship with her isolated elderly mother, Sylvia, and what it really means to be alive in the face of one's own mortality.  Exploring themes of death and family legacy, the play ultimately offers a message of hope in finding connection to others, while reminding us of our human fragility.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with VACT once again (VACT co-produced Dirty Old Woman which had a sold-out run at The Cultch this past April) and am excited to be able to present my work at a staged reading next February.  Thank you to Donna Yamamoto, Bahareh Shigematsu, and everyone else at VACT for supporting Asian-Canadian theatre artists and bringing their stories to the stage!