Director Ian Leung and playwright Diane Conrad in discussion during rehearsals.

Athabasca's Going Unmanned

Athabasca’s Going Unmanned is a multi-media play developed by Dr. Diane Conrad, an Associate Professor of Drama/Theatre Education at the University of Alberta. The script, which explores how participatory drama can contribute to the education of incarcerated youth, is the end result of many workshops held with youth offenders at a prison facility in Alberta, and the narrative is partially inspired by the stories of those involved.

The CCTC provided dramaturgical support for Athabasca's Going Unmanned beginning in the summer of 2009 and managed its first production, which took place in February 2010.


Playwright: Diane Conrad

CCTC Dramaturg

Dramaturg: Kim McCaw


Currently seeking productions.  Contact Diane Conrad.

A newly hired Program Director in a youth jail tries to implement Native, art and drama programming in an effort to reach the juvenile detainees at the prison.  In doing so, she must contend with resistance from her associates and a jailbreak plan hatched alongside her new programmer's exploration of escape as a theme in her drama exercises with the inmates.
Other Details
Principal Cast:    
Female: 2
Male: 4
Val: white, age 30-35
Eileen: Cree, mid-40s
Jim: white, age 30-ish
Randy: Metis, age 17
Wesley: Cree, age 17
Stan: non-aboriginal, age 17

NB: additional performers are required to play Amy, various news reporters and anchors, people on the street, polices officers and a politician, among others, in video projection segments.

Place: A youth detention centre
Time: The present

Special Requirements:

The script calls for pre-recorded video segments involving the principal and other performers.

Running time:
Runs approximately 120 minutes plus intermission.

The World Premiere of Athabasca's Going Unmanned ran from February 17-19, 2010 in the Arts Based Research Studio in the Education North Building on the University of Alberta main campus with the following cast and production team:

Director: Ian Leung (Courtesy CAEA)
Dramaturg: Kim McCaw
Stage Manager: Dawn Friesen
Set, Lights and Costume Designer: Daniela Masellis
Videographer: Clinton Carew
Sound Designer: Clinton Carew

Val: Melissa Thingelstad
Eileen: Darlene Auger
Jim: Eric Nyland (Courtesy CAEA)
Randy: Cole Humeny (Courtesy CAEA)
Wesley: Sarain Waskewitch
Stan: Richard Lee (Courtesy CAEA)

Project Log

Dr. Conrad begins her research at a youth detention centre.

Grant awarded to Dr. Conrad for the research, writing and production of the project from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Workshops held with many small groups of incarcerated youth over three years.

July 2009
CCTC Director Kim McCaw begins dramaturgy on the script.

December 2009
The script receives a workshop at the CCTC.

January 2010
Rehearsals for the first production begin.

February 2010
The play receives five performances over three days from February 17-19 in the Arts-based Research Studio in the Education North Building at the UofA.

January 2012
The play is published by SensePublishers for their Social Fictions Series.

Athabasca's Going Unmanned front cover

Project Links

Dr. Diane Conrad's website
Arts-based Research Studio