The Edge Project

The Edge Project is a collective creation designed, written, and performed by over 75 high school students from lower mainland schools. Mentored by a team of professional theatre artists, the students present their entirely original show reflecting the views and voices of their generation.

The Story
Shawn Macdonald, Green Thumb Theatre, September 10, 2013

What’s fantastic about The Edge Project is that it not only functions as a meeting place for students from a wide variety of backgrounds who might never otherwise connect, but it also give a direct and uncensored voice to teenagers. What  I’ve found in my three previous Edge experiences is that if you give creative control to a group of young people, even as many as 100, and start with the assumption that they are all already creative, the results are amazing. Without fail, even with limited theatre experience, the students end up creating something thought-provoking, dynamic and hugely entertaining.

We first developed The Edge Project back in 2008 when Artistic Associate Courtenay Dobbie worked with four high schools from the Lower Mainland to create an incredibly ambitious and unique theatre experience for almost 100 high school students. The Edge project was developed as our outreach and community-building project, and since its inception we’ve worked with 10 schools and over 375 performer/creators.

I don’t think it’s very hard to imagine how exponentially our world has changed in the past ten years. Technological innovations alone have really changes the way we think and interact, so it’s clear that young people are growing up with a whole different set of perceptions about the world, and completely different ways of processing information, and there is a lot of it. It seems clear to me how important a piece like The Edge Project can be because it creates a dialogue that needs to happen.

What is it like for you? How does it feel to grow up now? How much is the world changing?

The Edge Project asks these questions, and the collective voice of these young people channeled into a unique theatre experience, provides the answers.

Source: The Edge Project Diary

The 2013 Edge Project 5
Shawn MacDonald, Artistic Associate, Green Thumb Theatre

2013 is the fifth year that Green Thumb has produced this unique performance event and my fourth year leading this intense creative process. Each year my understanding of teenagers and their lives deepens and grows, and each year I’m humbled by how much of themselves they give to this process, how beautifully they collaborate and how much they care about each other.

This year we’re working with Hugh Boyd Secondary in Richmond, Windermere Secondary in East Vancouver, and Windsor Secondary in North Vancouver. The schools have already gathered for one of our All Schools Creation Jams this past June, where we brainstormed on thematic content which we’ll use as a creation guide for the first six weeks of the process. As content becomes more fleshed out and developed, we’ll move into the rehearsal process and work really hard to get our big show ready for opening night on the 12th of December.

Building this show is not easy, – for any of us. I visit the schools and create and rehearse during drama classes. Once a month the entire ensemble of roughly 70 students meets and devises the group scenes. Then they come together for a few evenings here at the Roundhouse to rehearse the technical aspects of the show, and then it is opening night.

Just to put things in perspective I spent 80 hours in the schools from mid-September to now. During that time the students wrote scenes, mad decisions around the kinds of themes they wanted to explore, rehearsed and directed and rewrote and polished. In the professional theatre, a cast would rehearse for around 144 hours, and that’s on a play that’s already written. I doubt very many professional companies could accomplish what these artists do in the short amount of time they have.

This year, I made the decision to allow the process to be more student-driven than ever. Under the guidance of their excellent teachers, these teenagers took ownership of the material, made hard group decisions, and created a show that is in their voice and reflects their taste and interest. More than ever, the Edge Project is about them.

What I learned this year is how much they care, and how invested they are in saying something, and how much it matters to them to be heard. Even more strikingly, I noticed how much they care about each other, how much help they offer, and how unconditionally they accept one another.

So much of our efforts as adults seems to be focused on getting teenagers to be better, not to be cruel to one another, and to treat each other with respect. After working with these amazing people in the Edge project 5, I’m glad to say that it is I that am learning those lessons from them.

The Edge Project 5
A Green Thumb Theatre project
in partnership with the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre

The Green Thumb Theatre Story

Green Thumb Theatre creates and produces plays that explore social issues relevant to the lives of children, youth and young adults. We provide theatre that celebrates the language and stories of today’s generation and culture to stimulate empathy, debate and critical thinking.

Green Thumb Theatre is a professional theatre organization, using professional actors and designers with a fully professional staff to develop and produce original Canadian plays. Green Thumb believes in the empowerment of youth and that the theatre can play a fundamental role in this function. In 38 seasons of touring and main stage productions, Green Thumb Theatre has performed over 15,000 times to 4,000,000 people in every province and 2 territories in Canada, 36 states in the U.S., Ireland, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Broadway.

Original productions by Green Thumb Theatre have subsequently been staged by 200 theatre companies worldwide and translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Danish, Hebrew and Japanese.

Source: Marjorie Dunn, M.Ed., English, Theatre and Film Arts, Windsor Secondary School, North Vancouver – Read the PDF

Green Thumb Theatre

Creative connections

Community Connections – exploring the power of the arts – exploring theatre for ideas and ideas for theatre – the art of creating community  – creating a centre for the arts – exciting creative community – creating possibilities as a community

Community Contributors

The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre Story

In September 1996, the Roundhouse Advisory Committee, composed of neighbourhood representatives, heritage supporters, members of the arts community and Park Board staff, undertook a retreat to work through a vision for the Roundhouse. The following is the result of those discussions.

Our mission

To celebrate diversity of people, values, ideas, and activities through three key ideas.

The Roundhouse as Project

All of us who work or play or socialize at the Roundhouse will be active participants in an evolving project to find new and creative ways to integrate the arts, community culture and sports.

The Roundhouse as Oasis

The Roundhouse is located in the centre of one of the largest urban experiments in history, transforming a few hundred acres of mostly vacant lots into one of North America’s densest and most diverse urban sites. The Roundhouse will be an oasis in the centre of this dynamic mix, enabling people to use their creativity and energy at whatever level to rejuvenate themselves and to be better equipped to face a blizzard of challenges and opportunities around them.

The Roundhouse as Connection

The Roundhouse exists to identify and serve the needs of widely divergent communities. To do this the Roundhouse must reach out to the places and situations where those communities feel comfortable. These relationships will grow into Roundhouse programs through sponsorships, partnerships, and our own productions.

As a centre for community cultural development and a community source for recreational activities for all ages, we thrive on exploring issues, on taking risks, on being cutting edge. We strive to bring people together in new ways to explore what is important to them. Through stretching our boundaries and challenging our perceptions we endeavour to build community and in our own way to make the world a better place. We invite you to join us.

Source – The Roundhouse Community Arts and recreation Centre

Creative ideas

The Roundhouse Story Project
Telling it like it was – Showing it like it is

We are creating an exciting series of short films celebrating the varied and often tumultuous history of the Roundhouse in the Yaletown neighbourhood of Vancouver, British columbia. Our goal is to save a part of Vancouver’s past that was very nearly lost.

Time takes its toll

So much of Vancouver has met with destruction through raging fires or willful demolition. Our architectural heritage is slowly fading away. Now time is taking its toll. Very few former Roundhouse employees are left who used to work at the original Roundhouse when it was a major railway terminus in Canada. Capturing their stories and the history of the Roundhouse on film preserves this vital link in Vancouver and Canada’s history for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

Telling the story

The art of storytelling lies in the ability to capture the listener’s attention and take them on a journey, and the reward is discovering that the ending was worth the time listening. The Roundhouse’s story is definitely worth the time: it is 125 years of muddy train yards, shiny metal, sweating men and a few women, foiled demolition, and grand dreams.

The Roundhouse today is only a small portion of the enormous works yard that used to exist all along False Creek, but key elements still survive. Digital media will bring the history of the Roundhouse in our Yaletown neighbourhood alive, told to us with photos and artifacts and directly from those who worked in the train yard before it was abandoned.

Source: The Roundhouse Story Project

Creative Connections


The history of Yaletown

Once the city’s warehouse district, Yaletown is today a revitalized part of the city and a “trendy” place to live, work, and do business. The area north of Pacific Boulevard, between Nelson and Drake Streets, is home to a mix of art galleries, retail stores, restaurants, office and residential developments.

Like many areas of Vancouver, Yaletown’s early days were shaped by the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1887. Yaletown acquired its name when the railway moved its construction equipment and repair shops from Yale in the Fraser Canyon to the railway’s western terminus of Vancouver.

The next 20 years saw many sawmills and shingle mills locate on the north side of False Creek. By the turn of the century, business was booming throughout B.C. and Vancouver had become the wholesaling centre for western Canada.

In 1900, the City laid out streets and planned a new eight-block warehouse district near the original Yaletown. The new Yaletown, the one most commonly recognized today, is bounded by Nelson, Homer, Drake and Pacific streets and was a convenient and cheap point for the processing, repackaging and warehousing of goods. In the late 1920s, Vancouver created its first city plan and Yaletown was zoned for commercial and light industrial use. Although the city expected more warehouses to be built, the advent of truck trailer transport prompted many industries to move closer to major highways. By the 1950s, so many homeowners had sold to factories and shops that the Central School at Dunsmuir and Cambie was forced to close.

The area was home to little more than parking space until the late 1970s and 1980s when young urban professionals discovered that Yaletown’s old warehouses were convenient, inexpensive and attractive. Today, former industrial buildings, warehouses and working-class houses have been transformed into offices, restaurants and trendy nightspots. Loft-style residences also proliferate.

The heritage significance of the old Yaletown truck loading docks and their characteristic overhanging canopies has been recognized by City Council as a unique architectural feature identifying the area. Pedestrian traffic, outside seating and other active uses are recommended for these areas.

Source:  The History of Yaletown – Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre

Creative connections – creating connections with our heritage – creating a future for our heritage


In The Edge Project: Good to Go, a Green Thumb Theatre project designed, written, and performed in creative collaboration by drama class students from three Vancouver area high schools and presented by the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, the turning point in the story of the heroic journey was the insight that the most selfish act was to give up.

In The Intent to Live, Achieving your True Potential as an Actor, Larry Moss writes “In acting, the worst thing to be is indifferent…if your character doesn’t care, why is he in the room? There is no drama if he really doesn’t care. You have to care! I’ll put that in bold letters: YOU HAVE TO CARE, YOU HAVE TO IMAGINE, YOU HAVE TO TRIGGER, YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOURSELF, YOU HAVE TO BE INTERESTED, CURIOUS, PASSIONATE.”


Director’s Notes for The Edge Project
The Intent to Live
Green Thumb Theatre
The Edge Project: Good to Go
Push Festival
Learning Early about Playwriting

Push Festival Introduction – Film

What we could do