From August 25th to 28th 2016, Why Not Theatre is hosting a group of diverse and dynamic artistic leaders from Canada, USA, UK, Rwanda, Nigeria and Turkey in Toronto, Canada for a 4-day gathering called ThisGen. ThisGen is a gathering of local, national and international artists who are all making significant impacts within their communities, through the arts. They are current artistic leaders working in a range of roles, in companies that range from grassroots organizations to institutions - and everything in between. We are bringing these people together to have conversations, build an international network, and engage with the question: “What’s next for the theatre?”
As part of the gathering we will be hosting 2 Long Table conversations at 2 different Toronto theatre venues (Aug 26th at Soulpepper and Aug 27th at Canadian Stage), open to practitioners from the Toronto theatre community. Long Table is a conversation format developed by UK artist Lois Weaver. It's a provocative, experimental, and non-hierarchical format for public dialogue - anyone is welcome to the table to make statements, leave comments, ask questions, or simply to listen. Scroll below to RSVP your attendance at either or both open sessions.
Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Equity Office, the gathering, over the course of the 4 days will be hosted by several venues (The Theatre Centre, Soulpepper Theatre, Canadian Stage and Factory Theatre), with an intimate group of 24 invited artists from across Canada and the world. The participants will be joined by thought leaders and guest speakers from Canada (Artistic Directors Franco Boni, Albert Schultz, Nina Lee Aquino, Ravi Jain), the United States (National Consultant on Diversity and Inclusion, Carmen Morgan) and the UK (Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre Madani Younis, and cultural activist, writer and prominent Live Art advocate Lois Keidan). Scroll below to see information about all the participants.
Nina Lee Aquino is an award-winning director and dramaturge. She was the former Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company and Cahoots Theatre; and is the current Artistic Director of Factory Theatre. She is also professor at the Humber College School of Creative and Performing Arts. Nina is the editor of Canada’s first Asian-Canadian 2-volume drama anthology love + relasianships and the co-editor of the award winning New Essays on Canadian Theatre Volume One: Asian Canadian Theatre (Playwrights Canada Press). Awards for her work include: the Ken McDougall Award 2004, the Canada Council John Hirsch Prize 2008 and Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding Direction. She is an honorary member of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research.
Quincy Armorer has been Artistic Director of Black Theatre Workshop since August 2011. He studied at Concordia University and at the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre at the Stratford Festival. An actor, director and instructor, he is a founding member of Metachroma Theatre and is currently on the board of PACT – Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, as Director of the Cultural Diversity portfolio.
Hope Azeda is one of the leading figures in contemporary Rwandan theatre. She is founder, artistic director and choreographer of Mashirika Performing Arts and media comapny, a leading theatre company in Rwanda. Under her direction, the group collaboratively created Africa's Hope, which was performed in Kigali at the 10th anniversary commemoration of the genocide, and also at the G8 World Summit in Edinburgh in 2005.The play toured the UK in 2006 and 2008 and was featured in the Biennial Festival in Sweden in 2008. In 2012 Africa’s Hope made its premiere in Los Angeles. Azeda’s work as a writer, performer and teacher has taken her to theaters and universities internationally including Canada, Austria, Italy, and South Korea. She has been a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and was also the national creative director for the 20th genocide commemoration 2014. Azeda has served as a casting director for such films as Sometimes in April, Shake Hands with the Devil, and Beyond the Gates. Hope is also AD of Ubumuntu (Humanity) Arts Festival.
My name is Christian Barry. I’m a director and theatre-maker from Halifax, where I'm artistic co-director of 2b theatre company. I've directed shows that have toured nationally and internationally, including: The God that Comes, Let’s Not Beat Each Other to Death, We Are Not Alone, Revisited…and others. I’m working with Musicians a lot these days, and craving simplicity.
Since 2003 Franco Boni has served as Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre, leading the company in a $6M Capital Campaign and in the building of its new performance venue in Toronto. He is the inaugural recipient of the Ken McDougall Award for emerging directors, and was awarded the Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award, recognizing his outstanding leadership in the development of arts and culture in the City of Toronto. In 2013, Franco received the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in Theatre.
Majdi Bou-Matar is a theatre maker and actor from Lebanon. He holds a Master’s Degree in Drama from the University of Guelph. In 2004, Majdi founded MT Space, a renowned theatre company committed to cultural diversity. His work tours nationally and internationally. His most recent credits include: Paradise, Body 13 and The Last 15 Seconds. Majdi is also the Artistic Director of IMPACT a biennial international theatre festival in Ontario’s Waterloo Region.
Marjorie is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist based in Toronto. She made her Cahoots debut in 1998, performing in Noran Bang: The Yellow Room by M.J. Kang. Her own plays produced and supported by Cahoots are Spring Arrival, a nanking winter, and The Madness of the Square. As a writer, her works have been performed in the United States, Scotland, Hong Kong, Russia and across Canada. She has been artist-in-residence with Tapestry New Opera, Cahoots Theatre, Theatre Direct Canada, SUNY (Geneseo, New York), Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong) and the Banff Playwrights’ Colony. A six-time nominee, Marjorie is the recipient of three Dora Awards, one as an actor, and two as a librettist. She has also received the K.M. Hunter Artist’s Award in Theatre for the breadth of her work, as well as a Harold Award for her community contribution to the theatre industry in Toronto. Other notable nominations include the Governor General’s Literary Award for her playwriting debut, China Doll and the Canadian Citizen Award for her work with Crossing Gibraltar – a theatre program for young refugees.
Ryan Cunningham is non-status Plains Cree from Edmonton, Alberta and the Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada’s leading and longest running Professional Indigenous Theatre Company. He co-founded Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and was the Artistic Director for 5 yrs. As a Board Member of IPAA (Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance: IPA.org) and the CanDance Network (candance.ca) he has established an Indigenous Touring Network across Canada and is working to establish an International Indigenous Touring Network with partners in the South Pacific, UK and the America’s. For 5 years he has produced the touring production of AGOKWE (Winner of 6 Dora Awards) to communities across Canada. As an actor, Ryan has worked professionally in TV, Film & Theatre for over two decades. He has co-produced and co-directed a number of plays and dance based works and co-founded a successful promotions and event company in Toronto called Kimosabee Productions.
Reginald Edmund, is the Managing Curating Producer for Black Lives Black Words International Project. A new theatre movement inspired by #blacklivesmatter, which gives voice to some of the most contemporary political black writers from around the world, giving them a platform to speak to their local communities to explore the black diaspora experience(s) in some of the largest multicultural cities in the world. In addition to being a multi-award winning playwright who has been developed all across the globe, he is a Chicago Dramatists- Resident Playwright, Literary Manager at Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, and an Artistic Patriot at Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway is the Founder/Managing Director of Artistic Directors of the Future (www.adofthefuture.com): the UK’s first organisation dedicated to increasing the number of culturally diverse artistic leaders in mainstream theatres, Author of the first monologue book for Black Actors from Black British Plays and Former Manager of the Royal National Theatre’s: Black Play Archive. Simeilia’s passion for increasing diversity within the arts has always been reflected in her work. Recently, Simeilia became the co-producer for the international project initiated by Chicago-based award winning playwright Reginald Edmund, ‘Black Lives, Black Words’, producing the London response to issues pertaining to Black Lives Matters at the Bush Theatre, London. Over the years, she has worked as a director, producer, audience development consultant, casting agent, lecturer and facilitator in reputable mainstream theatres and schools nationally and internationally.
As founding artistic director of Why Not Theatre, Ravi has established himself as a seasoned international producer with collaborations with internationally acclaimed companies like the SITI Company and Complicite. He has acted in and directing award-winning productions companies including Tarragon Theatre, Factory Theatre, The Theatre Centre, Soulpepper Theatre, Shaw Festival and Complicite. Ravi helmed Nicolas Billon’s triptych Fault Lines (Greenland, Iceland and Faroe Islands), which won the Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2013. Ravi was the inagural artistic director in residence at The Theatre Centre, was recently appointed Associate Artistic Director at Soulpepper Theatre Company and was selected to be on the roster of clowns for Cirque Du Soliel. Winner of the Ken MacDougal and The Ontario Arts Council’s Pauline McGibbon Award for Emerging Director.
Originally from Toronto and later based in France, Jocelyn is an internationally acclaimed producer and director of theatre, dance and opera as well as arts administrator and educator. He was the Artistic and General Director of the Atelier du Rhin in Alsace, France for 10 years. Under his leadership, he was responsible for establishing the organization as a major centre for theatre, opera and contemporary dance - the only multi-disciplinary artistic centre of its kind in France. In addition to his administrative and financial roles, he directed a number of productions at the Atelier du Rhin. As a result of his accomplishments, he was named Chevalier des Art et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), by the French Ministry of Culture in July 2008, one of the country's most prestigious arts honours. He was appointed Artistic & General Director of Canadian Stage in February 2009.
Lois Keidan is the co-founder and co-Director of the Live Art Development Agency, London. Formerly she has been Director of Live Arts at the ICA London, responsible for national policy for Performance Art at the Arts Council, and has worked at The Midland Group, Nottingham and Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh.
Jillian Keiley is the Artistic Director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre and founder of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland. Ms. Keiley has directed and taught across Canada and has worked internationally. She received her BFA in Theatre from York University and was awarded an Honorary Doctorates of Letters from both Memorial University and York University. She was the winner of the Siminovitch Prize for Directing in 2004 and is also a recipient of the Canada Council’s John Hirsch Prize. Most recently, she directed Twelfth Night as imagined by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop for the NAC, As You Like It for the Stratford Festival, and Between Breaths for Artistic Fraud.
Jenny Koons is a New York-based director. She specializes in bringing diverse artists together to create cross-disciplinary work. Projects include: Instant SPKRBOX (SPKRBOX Festival, Norway), Bars and Measures (B Street, NNPN premiere), Gimme Shelter (Why Not Theatre), I'm Not the Stranger You Think I Am (Theatre for One, Arts Brookfield), Abyme (Philadelphia School of Circus Arts), A Sucker Emcee (LAByrinth Theater), Queen of the Night, The Odyssey Project (across NYC). She is on the advisory panel for Artistic Directors of the Future (UK) and lead curator at SPACE on Ryder Farm.
Jonathan Mccrory is an Obie Award Winning, Harlem-based artist currently the Director of Theatre Arts Program at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre since 2012. Directing Credits include: Dead And Breathing, HandsUp, Hope Speaks, Blacken The Bubble, Asking for More, Last Laugh and Enter Your Sleep. A Washington, DC native, he attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts, then New York University TISCH School of the Arts. In 2013 he was awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, NC and the Torch Bearer Award by Woodie King Jr. He is a founding member of Harlem9 and The Movement Theatre Company. He officially sits on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround.com. To learn more please head to jonathanmccrory.com.
Carmen Morgan is a national consultant on diversity and inclusion issues. For the past five years, she has worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on structural and organizational equality. In addition, she serves as a consultant for Theatre Communication Group’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and programming. She also provides customized resources to theatres nation-wide, such as Steppenwolf, Portland Center Stage, and Center Theatre Group, around diversity and inclusion issues. Carmen is also currently the Director of Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR), a nationally recognized program co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Central American Resource Center, and the Martin Luther King Dispute Resolution Center.
Gbolahan Obisesan is Genesis Fellow of the Young Vic Theatre and is currently writing an original feature We Get Around for Emu Films/Film4. He is also under commission to Eclipse Theatre Company. He recently directed Charlene James’ new play Cuttin’ It at the Young Vic. Gbolahan’s plays include Zaida and Aadam (Bush Theatre), How Nigeria Became: A story, and a spear that didn’t work (Unicorn Theatre), Pigeon English (Bristol Old Vic/Edinburgh Festival/National Youth Theatre), Mad About the Boy (Unicorn Theatre/Young Vic) and a short play as part of Offstage Theatre and Theatre Uncut’s Walking The Tightrope season. His directing credits include We Are Proud to Present (Bush Theatre), 66 Books (Bush Theatre), How Nigeria Became: A story, and a spear that didn’t work (Unicorn Theatre), SUS (Young Vic), The Web (Young Vic), Eye/Balls (Soho Theatre) and the short film School Gate (Off The Page/Royal Court). Gbolahan was awarded the Director in Residence at the National Theatre Studio as the recipient of the Bulldog Princep Director’s Bursary in 2008.
Wole Oguntokun is a playwright and the Artistic Director of the Theatre Company, ‘Renegade Theatre’, as well as ‘The Theatre Republic’, a new performing arts venue in Lagos. He has directed Renegade Theatre in performances at Shakespeare’s Globe, London, and the first Nigerian plays at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Evalyn Parry is a multi-disciplinary theatre-maker, director, writer, and performer whose work is inspired by intersections of social activism, history and auto/biography. Recent works include Dora-nominated Gertrude and Alice (Independent Aunties/Buddies), Dora-Award winning Obaaberima (Tawiah M’Carthy/Buddies) and SPIN. She is the Artistic Director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. www.evalynparry.com
Ria Parry is Joint Artistic Director of Iron Shoes, winning two Scotsman Fringe First Awards, and two Stage Award nominations. She has directed work for the Bush Theatre, Out of Joint, Regents Park Open Air Theatre, Southbank Centre and Salisbury Playhouse. She was awarded the Leverhulme Bursary for Emerging Directors in 2010, becoming Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio.
Christine Quintana is an actor, playwright, and producer based in Vancouver on Coast Salish territory. In these various capacities, she has worked with the Arts Club Theatre Company, Bard on the Beach, The Cultch, Electric Company Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Carousel Theatre for Young People, Caravan Farm Theatre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, Pi Theatre, and Neworld Theatre. Christine is co-Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre, which creates and tours productions of new Canadian plays. Christine is Marketing & Operations Coordinator with Neworld Theatre, Assistant Producer for Electric Company Theatre and the Program Assistant for the LEAP Program at the Arts Club. She holds a BFA in Acting from UBC.
Anita Rochon is a Vancouver-based performance director primarily focused on the creation of new work. Rochon freelance directs in a range of styles from classical texts to documentary theatre to relational installations to contemporary dance. She artistic co-directs The Chop, a company that tours nationally and internationally.
Joyce Rosario is currently Associate Curator of PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, based in Vancouver BC. She is adept at working across disciplines: She was Guest Curator for FUSE, the Vancouver Art Gallery’s wildly popular live performance event, studied theatre in Production/Design, has worked extensively in the dance milieu, and was once nominated for a Jessie Richardson award for Costume Design.
Albert is the Founding Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company and General Director of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Albert's many honours include The City of Toronto Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award, the DareArts Foundation Cultural Award, The Toronto Arts Council William Kilbourn Award, the Salute to the City Award and the Joan Chalmers National Award for Artistic Direction. For his work on behalf of UNICEF, Albert received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal. Albert has received Honorary Degrees from Queen's and Bishop's Universities in recognition of his contributions to Canadian Theatre. In 2013 Albert Schultz was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2014 he received the National Arts Centre Award for Artistic Achievement by the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Foundation.
Hakan Silahsizoglu is a producer, actor and play translator based in Istanbul & London. He is a member of The Fence, an international network for playwriting. He is the coordinator of Turkish committee in Eurodram, Europe`s largest theatre translation network. Hakan gives talks about Turkish Theatre at various institutes and theatre schools.
DM St. Bernard aka Belladonna the Blest is an emcee, playwright, administrator and equity advocate. Works for the stage include Gas Girls, Salome’s Clothes, They Say He Fell and A Man A Fish. She is proud of producing Job’s Wife, The Hours That Remain and A Song for Tomorrow.
Originally, from Montreal, Sarah is the Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre and Interim Facilitator for Indigenous Theatre at Canada's National Arts Centre, Artistic Director and co-creator of SpiderWebShow and co-director of Selfconscious Theatre. Sarah co-founded The Baby Grand, in Kingston, co-created Women Making Scenes in Montreal, and Die in Debt Theatre in Toronto, and is a former AD of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Sarah curates The Collaborations and The Cycle(s) at the NAC. She trained at École Jacques Lecoq, VFS, and received her BA and MA from Queens. She teaches at Concordia, The National Theatre School and Queen’s. Sarah was recently awarded The Elliot Hayes Award for Dramaturgy for her work on The Cycle, focusing on the Indigenous Body of Performance work in Canada.
Mumbi Tindyebwa is a Kenyan-Ugandan-Canadian theatre creator and director raised in Kenya and Victoria, BC and now based in Toronto. She holds an Honours BA in Theatre from York University, and has participated in the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Dora-nominated company IFT (It's A Freedom Thing) Theatre and the 2015 recipient of the Pauline McGibbon Award.
Guillermo Verdecchia is a multiple-award winning theatre maker, scholar, and teacher. He is currently Head of New Play Development at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre.
Stephanie Ybarra, a New York-based artistic producer, currently serves as the Director of Special Artistic Projects at The Public Theater, where she leads the Mobile Unit and Public Forum programs. She holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama, and a deep belief in the power of the post-it note.
David Yee is a mixed race (half Chinese, half Scottish) playwright, born and raised in Toronto. He is the Artistic Director of fu-GEN Theatre Company, which he also co-founded. He is playwright-in-residence at Factory Theatre and Tarragon Theatre and is currently working on projects for both theatres.
Madani took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. In 2013 he programmed the company’s most successful season to date, which saw the theatre play to 99% capacity. For the Bush he has previously directed The Royale, Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios Madani collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. Madani originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.