Beyond the Blue Hour

Michele Vance Hehir looks to the future as a recipient of the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund

Award-winning playwright Michele Vance Hehir has received nothing but praise for her full-length play The Blue Hour, and she has no plans to stop writing any time soon.

Vance Hehir is a woman of many hats in the theatre community. Never wanting to have one goal, she’s acted, produced, and directed. It wasn’t until about 15 years ago that Vance Hehir decided she wanted to concentrate on writing.

“I wanted to start creating something that came from myself and my imagination,” says Vance Hehir.

Helen Belay performs in Michele Vance Herir’s The Blue Hour.

In 2017, Vance Hehir won the Annual Alberta Playwrights Network Competition Grand Prize for her first full-length play, The Blue Hour.

The writing process took about 10 years and stemmed from a series of characters and monologues that were performed at the 2011 Edmonton Fringe Festival. Vance Hehir then realized that she wanted to write a play based around one character, a 15-year-old girl living in a small town, so she began writing The Blue Hour.

“I’ve directed my own Fringe shows and my own plays, but it’s inspiring to have somebody else that I trusted take on the play and respect the work,” says Vance Hehir.

The trusted director of The Blue Hour was Annette Loiselle, Artistic Director of SkirtsAFire Theatre, who also nominated Vance Hehir for the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund (EATF).

“She’s such a good writer, and she touches on so many topics while still making it very much an Alberta Prairie story,” says Loiselle. “She started this journey years ago, and I didn’t want it to stop for her.”


Robert Benz performs in Michele Vance Hehir’s The blue Hour.

The EATF, created in 1997, is a collaboration between Edmonton Community Foundation and the Edmonton Arts Council. It intends to invest in Edmonton artists and their work to encourage them to continue creating without financial burden. Over the past 22 years, the EATF has contributed more than $800,000 to the arts economy.

Vance Hehir plans to use the funding for her next full-length play, which she is in the beginning stages of creating. Vance Hehir drew inspiration from a trip to Europe, where she got the idea to write about militant suffragettes.

Only just recently did she piece together how she wants to move forward with the idea. Vance Hehir hopes to use the EATF to go back to Europe for more research when the pandemic restrictions ease up, and put this idea into action.

“Getting the grant gives me the confidence that people believe in my work,” says Vance Hehir. “That’s something I’m trying to keep in my head, and that keeps pushing me to keep writing.”

Learn more about the EATF