Johnna has always been drawn to theatre for the chance to tell a story that moves and connects people, both to each other and to the storytellers. The daughter of director John Wright and novelist L.R. “Bunny” Wright, she grew up and began her career in Western Canada. In 1990 she and her sister, actor/producer Katey Wright, were co-founders of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival (now Canada’s largest Shakespeare festival outside of Stratford). Johnna’s most recent project with Bard on the Beach was an acclaimed adaptation of All’s Well that Ends Well, set in India on the eve of Partition, co-created and co-directed with Rohit Chokhani.
Johnna received her BA in Theatre from UBC, and MFA in Directing from the University of Alberta. With collaborator Aaron Bushkowsky, she then co-founded and ran Vancouver’s Solo Collective Theatre, premiering more than 25 new works by Western Canadian playwrights over nine years.
Johnna is a two-time recipient of Vancouver’s Jessie Richardson Awards for both Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Production, as well as other directing awards. Directing projects include Sheridan’s The Rivals for Blackbird Theatre in Vancouver, as well as Beth Graham’s The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble and an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew in Saskatoon. She was also an Intern Director at the Shaw Festival, where her final project was Christopher Fry’s comedy A Phoenix Too Frequent.
As a dramaturg Johnna has supported the development of dozens of new Canadian plays and playwrights, including Christina Cook, Kenneth T. Williams, Nathan Howe, Natalie Meisner and Lorena Gale. She also works as an editor for writers of long-form fiction and memoir.
The Three Musketeers, Patty and Johnna’s next play after Gaslight, is now in development. Johnna also wrote The Suspect, an adaptation of her mother’s novel of the same name.
After the many complex challenges faced by live performance in recent years, Johnna believes more than ever in the power of theatre to change the way we see the world, and in the need for audiences to have that experience together.