Sunday February 27, 2011


Theatrically Speaking

Author Marty Chan's classrooms are his stage

Craig Hill/Photos submitted by Wanda Lindsay


Marty Chan engaged the St. Mary's Grade 4 and Grad 4/5 students in exercises to help them learn about writing "details" when writing in general.


ne the busiest Canadian children's authors, Marty Chan, was touring local libraries and made a whistle stop in Yarrow to share "lively and funny stories and played a interactive game to teach to explore writing in detail."

Author Marty Chan's readings aren't really readings per se, they're more like mini stage plays where he interacts with the kids and the classroom is his stage. Chan, an accomplished book author, dramatist and screenwriter, was at Yarrow Library to have some fun with the St. Mary's School  kids. He injects his own unique brand of humour into a learning experience.

Chan wrote on his blog about the visit to Yarrow that "Today was a rough one. I woke up with a bit of food poisoning and had to rush to the first presentation at Yarrow. Thankfully, the bus was delayed and the kids showed up ten minutes after I did. They were an awesome bunch."

Librarian, Wanda Lindsay told The Voice in an e-mail last week that it was great to have the accomplished writer at the Library Tuesday.

"The student's loved Marty's creative and interactive activities & role-playing," said Lindsay. "Marty was sharing his story about how his childhood and how they inspired his writing of his books."

"Some of these students will begin the Reading Link Challenge March 2 & 3 at St. Mary's and Marty Chan's book, The Mystery of the Mad Science Teacher" is one of the books being read by students participating," said Lindsay adding that later "The winning teams from the two-days will compete at the in-library Challenge at the Yarrow library."


One of Chan's film credits includes The Orange Seed Myth (1997) directed by Deborah Day.


In another blog, Chan wrote from the airport before flying home to Edmonton after the whirlwind Feb14-25 library tour, that "Today, I was at a school in South Delta and a school in Ladner. Both presentations were awesome. The kids had great questions and proved to be great eyewitnesses. Big thumbs up to the students who drew their own versions of the book cover. Also, thanks to both schools for the incredible welcome signs."

Chan hopes that people will see The Forbidden Phoenix, a martial arts musical show  written by him and originally produced in October 2008 from the book by Chan that was "loosely based on the experience of the Chinese immigrants brought to Canada to work on the railroad in the 1800s. The enthralling story weaves together elements of history, diversity and environmentalism."

Meet Marty courtesy of


Raised in Morinville--a small town north of Edmonton, Alberta--Marty Chan is a playwright, radio writer, television story editor, and young adult author. Much to the chagrin of his mother, he doesn't include engineer on his resume. He attended a year of the Engineering Program at the University of Alberta, but received the Dean's Vacation (a quaint way of saying "don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out").

After a year, Marty returned to the U of A and graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (English Major/Drama Minor). He fell into improv comedy when he joined Edmonton Theatresports, but his paralyzing stage fright resulted in "penguin arm" acting, forcing him to abandon performing and take up writing.

His signature play, Mom, Dad, I'm Living with a White Girl, has been produced across Canada, published three times, and broadcast as a radio drama. The stage play won an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Best New Work and the Adams Chinese Theatre Award at Harvard University. In October 2004, the play had a successful Off Broadway run in New York.

Marty was a regular contributor to CBC Radio Edmonton from 1994 to 2000. His weekly commentary series, The Dim Sum Diaries, recounted his misadventures as the only Chinese kid in a small prairie town. These weekly commentaries were adapted into a half-hour television program (The Orange Seed Myth) which won a Gold Medal for Best Television Pilot at the Charleston World Film and Television Festival, and earned Marty a Gemini nomination for best writing in a children's program.

In 2004, Thistledown Press launched Marty's first young adult novel, The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, which has become a hit with young readers across Canada. Resource Links magazine rated listed it as one of the BEST BOOKS OF 2004 for grades 3 to 6.

Marty was the first playwright in residence at the Citadel Theatre. He also served as Chair of the Edmonton Arts Council and taught playwriting at the U of A. He received an Arts Achievement Award and a Performance Award from the City of Edmonton. He also earned a Horizon Award from the University for his contributions to theatre. However, his mother still wishes he stayed in Engineering.

Currently, Marty resides in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their two cats, Buddy and Max.

Fore more information and to see his schedule of events visit: 

Photo below.

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