John Lazarus

“The amazing John Lazarus… has written some fantastic plays…”

– Mark Leiren-Young, theatre critic, the Vancouver Sun, 2012

John Lazarus has been an award-winning Canadian playwright since 1970, and a renowned teacher of playwriting since the early 1990s. He is also known as a screenwriter, critic, and essayist.

John was born in Montreal in 1947. He attended the Acting program of the National Theatre School, graduating in 1969, shortly after which he moved to Vancouver. He spent 30 years in Vancouver, building a career as a playwright, theatre critic and teacher; he also worked as an actor, screenwriter and advertising copywriter. In 2000 he moved to Kingston, Ontario, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the Drama Department of Queen’s University.

John’s plays have been produced across Canada and the United States, and in England, France, Germany, Italy, Israel and Japan. His first professionally-produced play, the one-act Babel Rap, was for many years the most frequently produced play written in Canada. With his Dreaming and Duelling, he became the first Canadian playwright to be produced by the Shaw Festival. His Village of Idiots has won numerous awards in its different incarnations as a stage play, a CBC Radio mini-series and a National Film Board cartoon. He continues to write new work that gets produced across the country. He has had three new plays produced in the last four years, and his latest, The Grandkid, is slated for its second production, at the Gateway Theatre, Richmond, B.C., in April of 2014, and for publication by Playwrights Canada Press.

As a teacher, primarily at Vancouver’s Studio 58 and Queen’s University, and also at Vancouver Film School and the National Theatre School, John has taught playwriting and screenwriting to thousands of students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers as playwrights, screenwriters, and collaborative creators of devised theatre. However, he says that his primary goal is not necessarily to train professional writers, but to teach a version of the creative process to students of all kinds.

As a screenwriter, John wrote for a number of television programs; as a critic, he wrote for 12 years for various media outlets in Vancouver, primarily CBC radio; and as an essayist and commentator, he has written for the Kingston Whig-Standard and the Toronto Globe and Mail, and is currently a blogger with the Huffington Post. He is also well-known in Ontario as an adjudicator of high-school and community drama festivals.

He currently lives in Kingston, Ontario, with his wife Lin. He has two daughters and three granddaughters in Vancouver.


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