Playwrights Guild Canada, Dramatists Guild, NPX Member
Born in Seattle, raised in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, and a graduate of the University of Victoria Theatre Program, Janet Munsil studied design and directing. In 1992, she joined the staff of Intrepid Theatre, producers of the Victoria Fringe Festival, Uno Fest, Winterlab, OUTstages and other presenting and development programs. In 2016, having produced fifty theatre festivals in 25 years, she stepped down as Artistic Director and Festival Producer - and Canada’s longest-serving Fringe Festival Producer.
As a playwright, she is drawn to unusual but forgotten incidents and people from the past. Dramatic work includes The Ugly Duchess (about the ugliest woman in history); Emphysema: a love story (the meeting of silent film star Louise Brooks and theatre critic Kenneth Tynan); Be Still (inspired by the work of Victorian photographer Hannah Maynard); Influence (Keats meets the Parthenon Statues); Circus Fire (a play for physical theatre inspired by tragic 1944 event); and I Have Seen Beautiful Jim Key, a play for young audiences about a horse that could read.
Her play That Elusive Spark (Playwrights Canada Press), originally commissioned and produced by UVic’s Phoenix Theatres, was a Finalist for the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards, and her adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, commissioned and first produced by Theatre Calgary and the NAC (Ottawa), has been produced dozens of times since 2012, with recent professional productions at the Arts Club's Stanley Theatre in Vancouver and Chemainus Theatre.
Her plays have produced at Canada's National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Theatre Calgary, Persephone Theatre, Touchstone Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects, The Tarragon, Soho Theatre (London UK), Prague Fringe, Belltable Arts Centre (Ireland), the West Yorkshire Playhouse (Leeds) and others. She has been in residence at the Banff Centre Playwrights Colony several times (including 2015), and in 2012 was part of the Stratford Festival Playwrights Retreat. In 2016-17, she was an Artist-in-Residence at UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, and the Kalamalka Press Writer-in-Residence at the Caetani Cultural Centre in Vernon, BC.
Recent commissioned plays include Sveva, for the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon (about the remarkable life of Canadian artist Sveva Caetani), and Act of Faith, for Vancouver’s Realwheels Theatre.
Munsil also enjoys directing, and recently directed Twelfth Night and Love’s Labour’s Lost for the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival, Born Yesterday for Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl at Langham Court Theatre, and Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at the Canadian College of Performing Arts.
In 2017, she returned to UVic as a student to complete as MFA in Writing and to teach playwriting as a sessional instructor. Her latest full-length play, Attaboy!, was completed during her degree program.
In search of an absorbing self-isolation project during the Covid-19 epidemic, Munsil instigated the Canadian Play Thing, an online venue where playwrights can share new and under-produced work.
She lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her husband, actor-cellist-contractor Paul Terry, and a notorious terrier from Alabama named Monk.