Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA)

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2022 Spotlight on Theatre (full text)

Heading: 2022 Spotlight on Theatre, with quotation "What does theatre mean to you?" followed by the GVPTA logo. White text on a background image of a spotlight shining in the dark.

This page includes the full text of each of the featured individuals' reflections along with their bio and links to connect with them via their social channels. To return to the main Spotlight page, click here

Click each Spotlight featured individual's name below to read their reflections on theatre and learn a bit more about them. 

Please check back for additional reflections in the days and weeks ahead. 

View the archive of 2021 Spotlight reflections here.

Click each name below to read reflections from 2022 Spotlight on Theatre participants.
Adrian Neblett
Theatre is…


We have seen evidence of that over years in cities that aren’t considered “theatre cities”, where theatres close and audiences dwindle but yet, it perseveres. Most recently with the pandemic, we’ve seen theatre adapt and go virtual (though a different experience) and continue to survive despite the odds against it.

A place to reflect and wrestle on both the brightest and darkest desires, feelings, actions and character of our society at given times. I think it is a safe place to do it while also preserving the current thinking for the historical record.

A place to offer voice to resistance. To challenge current and past thinking. To resist.

One of my favorite things that theatre has given me is some of my best friendships and chosen families. There is an understanding in “this thing we do together”, that binds us together in a way that defies definition. We get together, and we read, we rehearse, we work, we sweat, we eat, sometimes we live with each other for a month or more. All in service to story. A thing, bigger than us all as individuals. When someone stumbles, we catch them, when someone falls we pick them up. In the end we all go our separate ways, but we leave changed, and connected to a thing that now only exists in our memories and the memories of the audiences that were lucky enough to see us on the stage.

And I am better for it.
About Adrian
Bearded man, body sideways, head looking to camera.. White shirt. Manicured beard and moustache. Hair cut in tight fade
Adrian Neblett was born in Montreal, Québec, and studied Computer Engineering at the University of Manitoba, where a sign on a telephone pole seeking "African American" background performers reignited his passion for make believe. A local casting director, at a subsequent audition complimented his instincts, triggering a decades long pursuit for the truth of each moment. TV: Wendy Williams: The MovieSnowpiercerThe FlashSupernatural, and others. Stage: Of Mice and Men (Hardline), Deep into Darkness (Third Wheel), The Shipment (Speakeasy), Reframed (Electric Company Theatre) and more. 

Find Adrian online at

Image description: Black and white photo of Adrian sitting sideways to camera, left elbow bent and on left thigh, and fingers bent and touching the left side of forehead. His hair is cut in a short fade, and he wears a well manicured beard and mustache. He's wearing a white short sleeved t-shirt.

Angie Descalzi
Theatre has meant many things to me over the years. Growing up in Ecuador, theatre was a far fetched dream, an art form filled with magic, and one that I fell in love with instantly and longed to be a part of. Once in Canada, theatre meant opportunity and adventure. I was in a country where I could do what I loved as a job! From then on, theatre meant hard work, late nights, new experiences, and meeting many of my chosen family and friends. At times, theatre has meant a lot pain and sacrifice, even injustice and abuse. I hope that, as we all continue our work as arts practitioners, we will focus on healing and re-building a more kind and equitable community that truly supports everyone. That's the only way our industry will thrive. After all, theatre is a platform, a space, and a voice for the disenfranchised and the forgotten. Theatre is about bravery and advocacy. But over all, theatre to me has meant true, everlasting, and unconditional love. I will never get tired of going to see a play, or talking to artists about their process, or witnessing a young person connect with a story onstage and see themselves in it. Theatre, at the end of the day, is magic and wonder, it's storytelling, it's connection to the world and to our history. Theatre is humanity in all its shades and textures, and there's nothing else like it.
About Angie
Angie Descalzi, a Latinx woman, wearing an electric blue sweater and smiling to the camera with her head slightly tilted to the right. She has long, brown hair parted to one side.
Originally from Quito - Ecuador, Angie is an award-winning Latinx producer and arts administrator living and working on Coast Salish Territories. She holds a BA in Applied Theatre from VIU and an Advanced Certificate in Arts & Entertainment Management from Capilano University. Since then, she has worked with a variety of theatre companies and festivals in Vancouver and has been involved in the inception of initiatives such as and CALTAC, which aim to advocate, celebrate and support IBPOC artists. After working in the theatre sector for over a decade, Angie is excited to start a new adventure in film/tv working at Lucas Talent with the amazing Kim Barsanti. Onwards! 

Find Angie online at
Linked-in: Angela Descalzi

Image Description: Angie Descalzi, a Latinx woman, wearing an electric blue sweater and smiling to the camera with her head slightly tilted to the right. She has long, brown hair parted to one side. 
C.E. Gatchalian
Hi, I'm C.E. Gatchalian.

What does theatre mean to me?

Theatre means "the new." Ironic, given theatre’s colonial reputation, but it’s precisely because of that, and precisely because it’s one of the art forms that’s been most affected by the pandemic, that it signifies the new to me. New beginnings. New forms that take into account all our present day realities. New ways of connecting artist to audience. New stories that haven’t been told before. New ways of telling these stories. New ways of relating to one another.

We can’t return to the way things were.

We can’t return to “normal.”

We can’t return to something that never was.

Theatre has always been on the vanguard. And I’m confident it will be even more on the vanguard as we head, hopefully, into a post-pandemic world.

Thank you.
About C.E.
Photo of C.E. Gatchalian
Born and raised on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh peoples (colonially known as "Vancouver"), C.E. Gatchalian is a queer Filipinx author, playwright, editor, dramaturge and teacher. The author of six books and co-editor of two anthologies, he was the 2013 recipient of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist and the recipient of two Jessie Awards. He currently divides his time between "Vancouver" and Tkaronto ("Toronto").

Find C.E. online at
Chengyan Boon
Growing up as a lover of stories and media of all kinds I always wondered why everything felt so different when it was live. What was it that theatre had that gave it power over the precision and convenience of film, the grand architecture of novels, the interactivity and engagement of video games, the expressiveness and fantasy of animation? The best theory I have been able to come up with is that in a space where we are all gathered in the act of storytelling, that we all breathe together. The most basic affectation we experience in live performance is this sense of breath that informs the rhythm of the sounds and the movement of the actors, together, in the same room, where minute reactions are noticed, and important, and cared for. This careful, inimitable, precious collaboration makes those stories vivid, giving depth and colour to the emotions we experience. I am fortunate in that my work allows me to delve into this process, to discuss each facet, examine it and apply creative instruments to score and support, envelop, and house, the words, the story, and the art. To build a world in which audience and performer breathe life together and in which we all can share meaning – stories that allow me to reach out and live lives that are not my own.
About Chengyan
A photo of Chengyan Boon jumping; “testing” the camera before a Ballet BC photoshoot. Photo by Michael Slobodian.
Chengyan is active as a designer, technical director, production and stage manager in Vancouver’s theatre, dance, and music scenes. He currently spends most of his time as Lead Technician at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, managing productions, tech, and rentals for the Faris Family Studio. Elsewhere around town, Chengyan freelances as a lighting, sound and video designer for companies such as Mitch and Murray Productions, Tomoe Arts, Pacific Theatre, Gateway Theatre and Aenigma Theatre. Chengyan is a graduate from the UBC BFA Theatre Production and Design program and a member of IATSE Local ADC 659.

Find Chengyan online at

Photo credit: Michael Slobodian

Image description: Chengyan Boon at the apex of a high jump, with a white backdrop behind and a white floor below. His arms are spread and he is looking upwards towards a bright light.

Daniela Atiencia
Theatre is literally my life, vocation, my purpose. Sometimes it's hard to explain why we are drawn to things when they just intrinsically exist inside us. I've been in a relationship with the theatre for a while now. We've gone through many phases together: the honeymoon, divorce, reconciliation, rejection, newfound love. It has truly shaped me and it continues to shift and shape not only my sense of self but my worldview. The theatre constantly puts into question our purpose on this earth. Those of us who are in it become experts in many fields as we try to understand the greater questions of life. The theatre will never satiate my curiosity for the big and small wonders of this earth, which I think means it will save me from ever being bored. I look forward to seeing how we stay relevant in a world currently captivated by saying it all in a 15 second TikTok video. I'm excited by the challenges we face to engage the next generation. Theatre people are among the most resilient and creative folks on the planet. We are the champions of adapting. So bring it on 2022 and beyond.
About Daniela
A photo of Daniela Atiencia
Daniela Atiencia is a Latinx-Canadian theatre artist born and raised in Colombia. She works as a freelance bilingual director, dramaturg, and deviser. Daniela is currently working as co-director on Clean/Espejos with Neworld and will be directing the main stage production at the University of Victoria this fall. As dramaturg she is collaborating with many playwrights including Tetsuro Shigematsu’s latest commissioned piece for Pacific Theatre. She is currently based on the Unceded Territories of the Coast Salish peoples (Vancouver, B.C.) and is serving as Associate Artistic Director for Touchstone Theatre's 45th season. Her work recently earned her a finalist spot in the RBC Rising Star Emerging Director award.

Find Daniela on Twitter: @Dani__Directs

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Debbie Courchene
Canadian theatre creators are beautiful people, who are all working towards a collective goal to share stories that address the things in our lives we find most important. The most moving pieces come from a chain of events that lead audiences to an underlying message that brings a new perspective and new ways to perceive the world that we are in. Theatre is the perfect place to play with ideas, to create new versions of our universe that emphasize the truth of humanity. I think the most important thing to remember is understanding your limitations, which will become crucial to your growth…and comedy. Everyone forgets about comedy. What I am looking forward to most in 2022 is Seventh Fire by Lisa Ravensbergen at the Lobe in Vancouver, BC. It has been one of the most fulfilling projects I have worked on in years.
About Debbie
A photo of Debbie with medium length brown hair in a beaded wool hat and a leather jacket in front of a stone wall.
Debbie Courchene is an Anishinaabe kwe with family ties to Sagkeeng Nation and Rolling River in Manitoba. She has supported numerous productions in theatre, dance & film and television as a Producer, Production Manager and Technical Director. She expresses advocacy by creating inclusive spaces for people in the Arts. Focusing her passion on creating safe spaces for Indigenous, Black, POC and LGBTQ2S communities. Most recently Debbie has produced a comedy series showcasing Indigenous female comedians across Canada called IndigE-girl Comedy.

Find Debbie online at
Image description: A photo of Debbie, an Anishinabe woman, with medium length brown curly hair, wearing a wide brim wool hat with a yellow flower beaded on red felt, and a black leather jacket in front of a stone wall.
Ingrid Turk
I am lucky and grateful to have had a long career in theatre, mostly as a stage manager. The biggest changes I’ve experienced are technological – lighting, sound, and video, have become complex and sophisticated, and with the quality and ubiquity of broadcast the collaborations are epic. The pandemic has encouraged an unforeseen level of accessibility which I hope will be maintained. The one thing that hasn’t changed is storytelling. Theatre, dance, and opera are all and only about telling stories. 

What's been sublime for me? Some of the operas I've worked on, such as “Carmen” in 1986 where on opening night angry patrons threw their programs at the stage during the bows; it looked like a waterfall pouring off the balcony. Indigenous stories like “The Battle of the Birds,” rehearsed in Lytton and performed at the Talking Stick Festival – a community telling an age-old story. Witnessing the alchemical fusion of elements that tell a story in the way it needs to be told, as in “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” at the PuSH Festival and so many more. 

What's been ridiculous? Backstage conditions, winter touring, and "the show must go on" mentality. 

The pandemic has given us a chance to think about the structure and infrastructure of our work, to recognize and acknowledge how unfair and inappropriate it is for what we do, which is collaborative creation and performance (which is a collaboration with the audience). My hope is that we commit and continue to transform our processes and practises in ways that let all of us be fulfilled, and our audiences moved, thrilled, even dazzled. 
About Ingrid
A head and shoulders portrait of Ingrid.
Ingrid Turk is a seasoned stage manager and a former Equity Business Rep. She has taught stage management at Douglas College and does live and video description for VocalEye. She works in theatre, dance, opera, and events and has toured extensively with Green Thumb Theatre for Young Audiences. She is a graduate of Studio 58. Recent work has been with Western Gold Theatre.

Find Ingrid online at 

Image description: Ingrid, a white woman with short silver and grey hair, smiles at the camera. She stands against a cream-coloured wall wearing a purple dress and a bulky, multi-coloured scarf.
Jay Havens
When I think about what inspires me to make designs and artworks for live performance, I am still motivated by the relationship that can be formed between the audience and this way of making living artwork. The culmination of years of work and thought process that goes into every detail seen on stage should really be thought of as a kind of gift that the company of artist’s gives to an unknown gathering of people. The shared hope for spectators and the creators is that audiences be moved in some way by the storytelling and artistry we put on stage.

I am grateful to be making theatre and other large scale collaborative artworks for almost two decades now. Some of my career highlights include projection mapping a series of short films on Stratford City Hall, a floating artwork in the Toronto Harbour called The Peacemaker’s Canoe and producing a number of sculptural weavings for the collections at the New York State Museum. My art practice is more than performance design these days but all the work I make finds some root in my theatre training or the experiences gained from working in this community.

I see promise in the future of this industry seeing efforts to incorporate BIPOC ways of being in rehearsal halls and shows being produced. Our industry’s next challenge is to consciously extend this kind of thinking to the workshops and other backstage spaces. It’s already happening in many spaces. Applying Indigenous methodologies on projects and productions that allow us to research and immerse myself in culture and storytelling is part of my personal decolonizing journey. I was taught that knowledge only becomes useful when it is shared, and I believe this is how I am able to give back and contribute. Nia:wen kowa for your time!
About Jay
Jay Havens in studio March 2022
Jay Havens (he/him/they) is a multi media 2 Spirit artist and educator of Haudenosaunee and Scottish Canadian ancestry and citizen of the Kanien’keha:ka from Six Nations of the Grand River. He regularly makes site-specific installations, murals, projections and sculptural artworks for galleries and public spaces or can be found designing sets and costumes for professional stage companies. Jay has lived many places throughout the world but keeps coming back to Unc. Coast Salish Territory. He is grateful to share his time primarily between Haudenosaunee Territory in also called Ontario and NY State as well as the lands of the Sto:lo and Stz’uminus Nations in also called British Columbia. 

Find Jay online at 

Image Description: Jay Havens standing in his studio with art in the background. He is wearing a grey shirt and has a smile on his face.
Justin Neal
Theatre as fourth dimension. 

When I was 16, I went to my girlfriend’s dance piece one night. The “performing arts” was not a thing for me growing up.

That evening there was a piece that featured the high school’s theatre students performing play monologues. 

What I would give to see the expressions on my face. I was enthralled, enchanted, lost in the moments. Earnestness dripping. I can’t report what I saw but I could talk at length about my emotions, the euphoric rumblings in my body and mind that night. Life changing. 

A former jock, at university I literally had to choose between pitching for the baseball team or acting in a play. It was a no brainer. 

I loved everything back then. I yearn for that innocence, that fervidness of heart for the artists’ performances. The magic of the theatre, the zeal and grit of performance art. I was DOWN with the experimental, the wild, shocking, and dark — and I’d hum with glee during most any conventional musical or play.

I wonder if this power is call and response with our ancestors when we gather, performing and experiencing together, like we’ve done for thousands of years, around the fire, in the flesh. Not a screen, but here with you, right now, tonight.

The fourth dimension. Where now and the past live blissfully together; where I am fully living in this moment with you, swept away in story with you and our ancestors.

I can’t wait to be there with you again, face naked, breathing free, seeing you smile and ponder. And I shall not be so finicky and cynical. If you let me.
About Justin
Justin Neal, with brown shoulder length hair and short greying beard, wearing a wool flannel, stands in the woods smiling

Justin Neal (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh / Squamish) moved to his family’s ancestral homeland to earn an MFA in Creative Writing and Theatre from UBC. His play, So Damn Proud premiered September 2021 in Vancouver, a production of his fledging Holy Crow Arts.

A new play, The Traveller, was developed in Arts Club Theatre’s Emerging Playwrights Unit. Neal’s screenplay The Skins Game is in development with Curiosity Pictures and Really Real Films. Neal’s project, Boundary Bay, received support through the Indigenous Screen Office and Creative BC. 

Since 1998, Neal has worked on theatre and/or screen projects in LA, NYC, SF, Seattle and Vancouver in a variety of capacities.

Find Justin online at:

Image description: Justin Neal smiles. He wears a brown and white plaid flannel over a black hoodie. He is in the forest of mossy trees and green ferns, and stands on a trail with wooden planks built to navigate the mud. In his late-40s, his brown shoulder-length hair and short beard are greying.

Lissa Neptuno
What does Theatre mean for me? Theatre is a forum in which we can collectively examine the foundational narratives of our cultures. We can question, dissect, rejoice, and mock the stories we have told ourselves. And we can do those things together in the Theatre. We can have a conversation – a rollicking debate even – peaceably about the Things of Great Importance thus all. I love that. I love abetting that. Our society has much work to do in terms of how we live our ethics, Theatre is a very wonderful space to do part of that work in.
About Lissa
A woman with dark hair, wearing a pink cardigan and striped shirt, addressing her colleagues around a table while holding a pencil.
Lissa Neptuno (she/her) is an Asian-Canadian multidisciplinary artist who was born in Brunei and raised in Western Canada. She has been creating, collaborating, and sometimes fumbling her way through a gratifying career in acting, writing, and producing.

Her favorite credits include Morris in The Nether, Madame Midnight in Reverse, Mr. Average Joe in Supergirl, and no less than seven doctors on TV. She is a graduate of Studio 58 and is currently based on the unceded territories of the Qayqayt First Nation.

Lissa credits her parents for her lifelong love of acting and is grateful to have their support.

Find Lissa online at

Image description: A woman with dark hair, wearing a pink cardigan and striped shirt, addressing her colleagues around a table while holding a pencil.           
Maki Yi
Theatre is my companion for the journey on earth. I encountered it shortly after I arrived in Canada. It was love at first sight, so instant and intense, almost excessive and irrational. Even when I felt unloved by Canadian Theatre, I could not give up. I am in love with its beauty and wonder of imagination that transforms and transcends the reality. Standing on an empty stage and closing my eyes, I sense the imaginary world around me that I long for. I belong to that world. It is a magical world by collective creativity, which is another characteristic of Theatre I adore. Theatre is always a collaboration, a communal effort. Even a solo show is never solo work. Theatre imagines together, creates together, and I am grateful to be part of it. I truly believe that the make-believe world on stage provides vitality for the real world. Despite of the pandemic, or strangely because of it, human life needs imagination and creativity more than ever, to overcome a reality so unreal and surreal. I have had faith in Theatre. I have had doubt in Theatre. Me and my companion have had ups and downs in our walk on a rather rough path. However, I will never let it go. The love I felt 20 years ago has grown to deep relation and tight attachment. I wish it is love at my last sight too.
About Maki
A photo of Maki Yi

Maki is a performer and playwright, with a BFA in Theatre Performance from University of Regina and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Simon Fraser University. Her work focuses on autobiographic solo plays, such as Home of My Soul, Gramma, and Suitcase Stories. Maki played Umma in Kim’s Convenience at Pacific Theatre in 2018 and at Arts Club in 2020. She is an associate artist of Pacific Theatre as well as a member of Asian Theatre Working Group under International Federation of Theatre Research.

Image description: A close-up of an Asian woman against a grey photography backdrop, showing her head and shoulder. She has long black wavy hair and wears a black tunic. She is subtly smiling at the camera.

Michelle Bardach
When I think about what theatre has meant to me, I immediately feel choked with emotion. I’ve spent almost an entire lifetime performing. Since I was six, my mother signed me up for choirs, classes, auditions and other opportunities. Theatre has been a cornerstone of my life, a huge part of my identity and fulfillment. My heart sings when I am in character, feeling things and offering these feelings to an audience to hopefully make them feel things as well. I love the hush before a play starts, the heat of the stage lights on my skin, the rush of adrenaline when you forget a line but then it suddenly comes to you right in the nick of time. I love the applause, the flowers, the kind words offered in the lobby afterward. I love the way theatre allows a story to come alive, and gives an audience a chance to let their walls down in a way that is very different from movies and television. I feel very fortunate to have found work in 2021, with voiceover, writing, tv, film, concerts, and even two theatre pieces. But I’ve still felt shaky, never knowing when the winds will change, and getting a sense of déjà vu this past winter with our industry shutting down a second time. Still, I cautiously look forward to my next contract, work that was scheduled for the summer of 2020, but is now (hopefully) premiering this summer 2022.
About Michelle
A headshot of Michelle Bardach, a local Vancouver Indigenous performer from the Squamish Nation

Michelle Bardach is a Coast Salish Indigenous performer from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). She holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Capilano University, and has spent the last decade working professionally across Canada at many acclaimed theatres. Some of her favourite theatre credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Sophie in Mamma Mia (Arts Club), and Eponine in Les Miserables (Chemainus Theatre). Michelle also performs with two Indigenous music groups, M’Girl and Tillicum Shantie, and is a voice actor on the soon-to-premiere Netflix animated series Spirit Rangers. Next up, Michelle will be making her debut in the Charlottetown Theatre Festival in PEI this summer. Check out for more!

Find Michelle online at

Image description: A photo of an Indigenous woman from the chest up, smiling. She is wearing an orange shirt with a white flower pattern and she wears porcupine quill earrings. Her hair is dyed a blonde balayage.
Stephanie Ko
To me, the word "theatre" is magically mutable: it can evoke work and play, process and product, the design of a building and the diversity of a community. I remember sitting spellbound in the audience as a small child, discovering Shakespeare for the first time and feeling 400-year-old words catch fire inside my head. Whether I’m producing opera or performing Broadway, costuming dancers or creating digital media, that sense of discovery returns with each new art form in which I immerse myself.

Even as my personal definition of theatre keeps expanding, these days my access to normative theatre spaces is more limited than ever before. The last two years have ushered in a new reality: one in which, as a disabled and chronically ill person, the entire world has become dangerously inaccessible. While others rejoice in renewed connection through in-person performances, for me and many others in the #HighRiskCovid19 community, this prospect feels further away than ever. Rather than dream of "going back", I've turned my thoughts to going forward - to doing what artists do best and using creativity to navigate the barriers of our current reality. 

The world is experiencing seismic shifts - but it's from such upheaval that new continents emerge. As always, the arts are at the forefront, giving voice to the diversity of human experience and providing vital opportunities to practice collective empathy. I look forward to exploring the protean nature of theatre further, in ways that make room for everyone. 
About Stephanie
Headshot of Stephanie Ko, a smiling Chinese-Canadian woman wearing a red dress.
Stephanie Ko (she/her) is a disabled arts administrator, producer, costume designer, graphic designer and national award-winning writer, as well as the general manager of Opera Mariposa, Canada's first fully disability-run opera company. Involved in the performing arts since childhood, and in disability and chronic illness advocacy for over a decade, she currently sits on Actsafe's Performing Arts Standing Committee and the GVPTA Community Council; moderates I Lost My Gig Canada, supporting artists impacted by the pandemic; acts as social media manager for Indie Opera West; and partners with charitable organizations and initiatives focussed on complex chronic diseases and COVID-19.

Find Stephanie online at:
Linktree (central/universal link): 
Graphic Design Website: 

Image Description: Headshot of Stephanie Ko, a Chinese-Canadian woman wearing a red dress and gold necklace. She turns her smiling face towards the viewer, her long black hair falling in waves around her shoulders.
Tanya Mathivanan
Theatre, to me, exemplifies the power of affect and community; it is a live conduit of the power of art to move people and affect change. I feel like theatre often represents a microcosm of our greater society, creating a platform for us to highlight, debate, discuss, and dissect topics that affect diverse groups of people. The nature of storytelling has evolved for me over the years though.

The question I find myself asking now, in a pandemic era, is “what is it to be live?” What is liveness? Liveness has always been a central element of theatre to me, and something that is unique in its social potential. But what does it mean to be live in a virtual world? Can it be just as magical and communal even when we’re not in the same physical space?

Who gets to make Theatre, is another question that haunts me. As a woman of colour with a disability, Theatre in Vancouver has been quite inaccessible to me. And as my physical capacity deteriorates as I get older, I am faced with the growing dread that it is simply not sustainable. How many others have already been barred from the scene simply because of barriers: be it with regards to accessibility, race, socio-economics, chronic illness etc.? The question of what Theatre is goes hand in hand with that, as well as who gets to watch theatre. Theatre is about humanity. And that, to me, doesn’t work if certain people are left behind.
About Tanya
Headshot of Tanya Mathivanan
Tanya is a Vancouver-based director, stage manager, and founder of Aenigma Theatre, who moved from Singapore over a decade ago. She graduated from UBC with a Double Honours BA in Theatre and English. Past directing credits include The Turn of The Screw, The How and the Why, VIVA, COPENHAGEN, Dying City, RED, Blackbird, The Zoo Story, No Exit (Aenigma Theatre), Cost of Living (Assistant Director- Arts Club), Approaching Lavendar (Bright Young Theatre), The Pillowman (UBC Players Club). She is currently pursuing an MFA in Directing at UBC, with her Thesis Production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus opening in March 2022.

Find Tanya online at 
Tom Pickett
“What Theatre means to me?” 

The moment after a play has ended and I’m sitting in my seat, usually next to Jackie, my wife. We sit there contemplating the moment the arc of the play has led us to. We look at each other and say “why can’t they all be like this?” Because the play has moved us to re-examine our closely held thoughts or mores, to such a depth, that it is beyond comment at that moment. It takes us through the experience of other peoples stories and gives us the opportunity to know those people, to know one another in a way we have not before. Having that experience with a group of people we may not know at all provides the collective experience of understanding the stories of others. A chance to know one another on a human level, on a spiritual level. We need that Grace. To know and understand one another leads us towards community. This is the power of Theatre. A chance to know one another on an intimate human level.
About Tom
Headshot of a 50 - 70 year old Black man, glasses, black suit with white shirt, smiling.
Tom Pickett, a Jessie Award-winning actor, has lent his voice to many Arts Club productions, most recently The Matchmaker. Portrayed Gerald in Elephant and Piggie: We Are In A Play, puppeted Winnie The Pooh in House At Pooh Corner (Carousel Theatre for Young People); and has appeared in several Vancouver Moving Theatre productions, including East End Blues/All That Jazz and Bah Humbug (co-production Simon Fraser University). Tom's most recent tv projects were Hallmark’s The 27 Hour Day, Turner and Hooch and The Good Doctor.

Find Tom online at

Photo credit: Sewari Campillo (778.230.8404 | IG:

Image Description:
Headshot of a 74 year old Black man, looking to your right, in studio shot dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and a warm smile wearing prescription glasses with dark standard size frames.
Veronique West
In 2022, I’m reflecting on the role of artists in advancing Disability Justice. Disability Justice is a term that emerged from conversations between members of Sins Invalid, a collective of BIPOC and queer disabled artists, including Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, Stacy Milbern, Leroy Moore, Eli Clare, and Sebastian Margaret. The term recognizes how disability liberation is fundamentally connected all other liberation movements. It also recognizes the necessity of going beyond inclusion and actually transforming the conditions that create injustice. In their publication Skin, Tooth, and Bone, Sins Invalid writes:

“Disability justice is a vision and practice of what is yet-to-be, a map that we create with our ancestors and our great-grandchildren onward, in the width and depth of our multiplicities and histories, a movement towards a world in which every body and mind is known as beautiful.”

I think that one of our tasks as artists is to imagine alternatives, to generate visions of “what is yet-to-be.” We play an important part in building a future where equity-seeking communities can thrive. In 2022, I’m noticing how many of my peers are engaging in the complex, messy, imperfect work of striving for change. Some of them are developing plays, mounting digital productions, starting online writers’ groups, and undertaking activism via social media. Some of them are resting, questioning their path, leaving theatre, navigating crisis, asking for support, and caring for others. All of them inspire me. In a multitude of ways, they’re reshaping how we participate in the arts and the world.
About Veronique
Veronique, a white non-binary person with sandy-blonde hair, looks into the camera and smiles.
Veronique West is a non-binary artist, facilitator, and peer mental health advocate of Polish descent, based on unceded and occupied Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories. Their practice is informed by their lived experience of mental health disability and chronic physical illness. Veronique collaboratively creates and dramaturgs in-person and digital performances. Through fragmented aesthetics, their work explores how disability and madness can be generative disruptions, which reshape understandings of self, kin, and community. Through multimedia design, their projects incorporate various entry-points, interweaving accessibility with formal experimentation. They have been a facilitator and mentor in a range of arts and advocacy contexts.

Find Veronique online at

Image Description: Veronique, a white non-binary person with short sandy-blonde hair, looks into the camera and smiles. They wear a dark red crewneck sweater and have a white wall behind them.

​2021 Archive

Find the archive of 2021 Spotlight on Theatre participants below

View the photos, reflections, and bios of each of the 2021 Spotlight on Theatre participants below.

Adam Grant Warren

I’ve been lucky enough to work across a whole bunch of different storytelling platforms — from radio, to film, to fiction — but I always come back to theatre. Because, for me, theatre has always offered the strongest invitation to share. Lots of platforms do that but, in theatre, the invitation goes both ways.

As a playwright and a performer, I share something with you, the audience. And in coming to witness, you share something with me — and with each other. We make something new together each night of a run, and whatever we make is just for us because we’re the ones who decided to come together at that time. Then, once the time has passed we — just us — share a memory of the making because the next day a new audience makes a new show.

I guess that’s what theatre means to me: a commitment to come together and make a singular experience. I miss that. I’m excited for a time when we can do it again, and I know that time will come.

In 2021, I have a new play scheduled to premiere with Touchstone Theatre. It’s called Lights, and it’s about hope amidst a different kind of adversity. Right now, I don’t know what shape the space in which we share that show will take, but I’m excited to find out. If we need to stay apart that’s alright because, as much as I’m excited to share with all of you, I’m also excited to count myself among the people who are working to find new ways for us to share with each other. Ways that don’t just adapt the spaces we’ve known together, but create new ones for us to explore.
About Adam

Born and raised in Newfoundland, and now based in Vancouver, Adam’s 20-plus-year career in performance has taken him from coast to coast in Canada. West-coast highlights include Jessie Awards for his performances in Real Wheels Theatre’s CREEPS and Touchstone’s Kill Me Now. He’s also enjoyed critical acclaim for his solo show, Last Train In; and his ongoing work with All Bodies Dance Project. Outside performance, Adam has active practices in fiction and arts education. He’s currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC, with the generous financial assistance of a BC Arts Council Senior Scholarship. 

Learn more about Adam at

Alen Dominguez
falling in love for the first time
the lens through which I experience life
fourth wall
thank you five
defying gravity
falling in love for the second time
conflict resolution
stage right (oh crap is that my left or the audience’s right)
five hundred twenty five thousand you know the rest
I hope I get it
the love of my life
stage fright
awards LOL
I can’t I’m in rehearsal
and five, six, seven, eight
omg is that my cue
About Alen
Alen Dominguez headshot

Alen Dominguez is a Latinx theatre artist who trained as an actor at the University of British Columbia. He has since expanded his work into producing and directing with several companies across Metro Vancouver. He is the Executive Producer for award-winning companies like Royal City Musical Theatre in New Westminster and Tara Cheyenne Performance in East Vancouver. He is also a co-founding member of the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition (

Favourite acting credits: Anywhere But Here (Electric Company), Berlin: The Last Cabaret (City Opera Vancouver), Coriolanus (Bard on the Beach), Marine Life (Ruby Slippers), Sweat (Arts Club, Citadel), The Audience (Arts Club), Cornwall’s All Inclusive Cancun Christmas (Chemainus), Rent (URP), The Dining Room (Western Gold), West Side Story (TUTS), The Idiot (Neworld).

Find Alen on Instagram and Facebook

Anthony Santiago

Theatre was a word I didn't think or talk about for about 20 years of my life as an adult. When I decided to return to it three years ago, I had no idea how much had changed. As a first-generation Canadian of Trinidadian immigrants, being obsessed with the stage tanked any dreams my parents may have had of a future doctor or teacher living under their roof. 

Doing theatre was THE ONLY thing that mattered to me as a child. In fact, so much so that for two summers I would bus 1 ½ hours each way to attend a summer theatre camp as a teen. 

After attending theatre school, I worked extensively but noticed that only a tiny percent of the roles (<1%) I played were specifically characters of African descent. Color-blind casting had become the norm. 

I left the theatre to start a family and a new career. Upon my return, I have found a whole new generation of theatre practitioners who are rocking the foundation of the Old World theatre scene with demands for non-Eurocentric work, inclusion, representation, and actionable accountability. The ShipmentFun HomeChildren of God and Hot Brown Honey, etc are wonderful examples of this. 

Color-blind casting which was once seen as progressive has become rightfully assessed as regressive. I personally have had the privilege of performing in productions like Sweat, Coriolanus, and Best of Enemies

As an actor of Afro-Caribbean descent, what a delight it is to see the great strides theatre has made and will continue to make.

About Anthony

Anthony is a Jessie Award winning actor based in the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples–Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations. He has performed in numerous productions across Western Canada with companies such as Raincity Theatre, Pacific Theatre, Ensemble Theatre Company, The Citadel Theatre and Manitoba Theatre Company.

Find Anthony on Facebook.

Caroline Hébert
Presenting our performance, our life was a struggle, fear for face to face and lost confidence since we felt amazing to improve our journey...

Caroline’s goals include educating and bringing awareness to what the everyday life of a Deaf Actor looks like. She also wants to educate on how to approach Deaf people to communicate with them. 

Caroline enjoys crafting, meeting new people, challenging herself and breaking down barriers of communication. 

Caroline hopes to continue to break down the barriers in the Theatre and Film worlds as well.

Caroline looks forward to our new journey in 2021!!
About Caroline
Caroline Hébert
Caroline was born Sumain & grew up in Montréal, QC, with her biological family. Caroline went all her life in Deaf School @ Institution des Sourd-Muets.

Caroline is bilingual in ASL (American Sign Language), & LSQ (Langues des Signes Québécoise). In addition, Caroline has a base knowledge of Indigenous Sign Language.

In 2005, Caroline moved to Vancouver, BC & took a 10 years hiatus. Caroline decides to return to the Theatre after meeting the Honourable Stephen Lytton - a formidable Indigenous Leader. Mr. Lytton invited Caroline to use a team approach and this resulted in Caroline joining Theatre Terrific’s production of Breath Ahh.. 2017, & continued to work… many different places, our performance Unsettled, History of Sign Language, and Voice, etc..

Find Caroline on Twitter and Instagram

Celeste Insell
One day, I was attending a public meeting with candidates running for re-election. I stood up to speak because I wanted Theatre to be properly funded and to express how important it was for them to make that part of their platform. I began the conversation with “Theatre saved my life.” This sentence just poured out of me from what seemed a very deep recess that had been buried for years.

Later, after that meeting I reflected on what I had said and I realized if it were not for the opportunity to express how I was feeling in writing poetry, acting and dance, I probably would not have survived my childhood.

During my turbulent youth, I was fortunate enough to find a theatre class that helped me weather the storm. As a young actor, I was able to slip into other stories and identify with them; this in turn, helped me to express my own anguish and lit a path through those dark times. Theatre also gave me a connection to a larger community; and provided me with the support to move forward with my life.

There is something so powerful about the catharsis of theatre. It cleanses us. Right now we are struggling to survive the turmoil of climate change, a global pandemic and the unearthing of fear and injustice. We really need to examine who we are, why are we here, what plagues us — and how we can survive and change.

I remain hopeful that we will find a way to keep Theatre alive and bring it back in its purest form when we are able to do so safely. In the meantime, we must find ways to reach out to others with theatrical performances by using technology in inventive ways. We need to keep telling our stories.
About Celeste
Headshot of Celeste Insell. She is smiling and looking directly at the camera, wearing red lipstick and a red tank top.
Celeste Insell has worked on stage, in television and film. She was born in the United States and immigrated to Canada in 1971. She studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio (NYC) and made her television debut playing the role of Nurse Graham in A Piano for Mrs. Cimino (1982) starring Bette Davis. She played the role of "Lady in Blue” in the The Black Arts Theatre production of For Colored Girls... (1980) which ran for six months in Vancouver after receiving rave reviews; and later went on to perform the very demanding monologue "A Night with Beau Willie” as part of her role. She is also a published writer and she is currently working on producing her new solo play Sitting on the Edge.

Find Celeste on Instagram @twenty8dreams, read her blog at, and her website at
Chris Francisque
Being able to make a living doing what you love to do is a unique feeling. It feels surreal and like you’ve found a cheat-code in life that few know about. To have the thing you love to do be theatre, adds another layer of surrealism to it. One of the most precarious industries in the world is acting. So to be able to live beyond just paying my bills, and to actually live a pretty comfortable life by doing something we learn to do as children, (play pretend) is something that I will forever be grateful for.

I’m able to experience the lives of people from different countries, different faiths, different sexual-orientations, different ideologies, without any judgement...and be paid for it?! But beyond the superficial element of money, I’m able to see how me just doing what I love, can affect someone on a deeply emotional level. I’ve had people reach out to me and tell me everything from how my performance made them appreciate live theatre in a way they never thought they could, to seeing themselves represented on stage, to being able to experience such a broad range of emotions in a relatively short period of time.

However, the aspect of doing theatre and succeeding in it that I love the most is what it means to reshaping what is possible in my family. I come from a Haitian family where being an actor, is not on your list of possibilities. I am changing that and influencing the next generation in my family, and Haitians in general that when you do what you love, you will never fail.
About Chris
Headshot of Chris Francisque, a Black man with black short hair and beard, smiling at the camera and wearing a great sweater, with his left hand resting on his right shoulder
Chris was born in Montréal, Québec and was raised on the south shore in St-Hubert. Ever since he was a child everyone around him told him that he would be an actor.

He took theatre from middle school, all through high school and post-secondary.

He made his theatre debut in 2015 in Surrey Little Theatre's production of Truth and Reconciliation, for which he won two best supporting actor awards. Since then, he has been in seven other plays and signed to MNT Agency in 2016. Chris has been featured in over 10 commercials, and booked various television and film roles. This past summer he won his first Jessie Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” for his portrayal of Franco Wicks in Superior Donuts.

Find Chris on Instagram and Facebook.
Conor Wylie
A few years ago, I did this show about aliens taking an erotic honeymoon to Earth. We spoke into webcams that were projected on the wall, with animation, storytelling, and a fog machine.

At the bar after, a friend approached with a troubled look in his eyes. “I just don’t know, man. It was really interesting but… is it theatre?”

Some people draw the line closer than he. Some, further away. Where do you draw the line? What ingredient is added or subtracted that causes a thing to cease being ‘theatre?’

We theatre artists can be notoriously resistant to change our conception of what theatre is: reluctant to include new technologies, philosophies, disciplinary perspectives. No question, live theatre was always going to be gutted by the pandemic; but I wonder, if our theatres had included new technologies sooner, could we have at least had better tools than Zoom?

Though our medium was flipped upside down, look at what theatre artists learned in a short amount of time. Our livestreams are more sophisticated. Our music videos and films are getting more and more beautiful (even if they aren’t live). Folks are working in VR, or making video games. We learned all that in a year!?

Someday, we will go ‘back’ to live theatre. But do we go all the way back? 

Or do we continue to adapt and explore new mediums—add new ingredients to the pot, and cook up something new?

Here’s to what comes next—whether or not it’s ‘theatre.’
About Conor
Headshot of Conor Wylie, looking at the camera and slightly smiling, has short dark hair and moustache, dark eyes, wearing patterned collared shirt
Conor Wylie is a performer, writer, and director creating experimental theatre. Alongside Nancy Tam and Daniel O’Shea, he runs A Wake of Vultures, a performance collective working across sonic, visual, and theatrical disciplines, who are developing K BODY AND MIND, a mash-up of 90s cyberpunk anime aesthetics and minimalist theatre.

Conor frequently collaborates with Theatre Replacement, Hong Kong Exile, and members of the Progress Lab consortium. In 2019, he was named Siminovitch Prize Protégé by Maiko Yamamoto and James Long. In 2021, he joins the writing team of a new video game studio, sunset visitor 斜陽過客.

Find Conor online at
Corey Payette
We began around a fire that we tended to never let it go out. 
The stories we told of our histories, of our memories, and of the days when we weren’t so old. 
When the stories needed a bit more character, we raised our voices to act them out, in a hoarse shout, 
but if we didn’t get into it, you really wouldn’t understand what it was all about. 

Once the voices rang, that’s when music came, first in unison before we split off. 
To sing as one, hearts sync as beating drums, 
reaching out to touch what we could become.
When we needed to remember the stories we wrote them down.
Maybe we spoke them into the voice notes on our phones.
We gathered around a folding card table, heads down bent over scripts, 
dissecting the truths we were all after.
The points veered off on tangents 
until we forgot what we were arguing about in the first place. 
And then we needed to lay on the ground, or dance around, 
to break out of that headspace.
To remember who we were, outside of that middle place we created in our imaginations.

It was the vision of what we could create together that drove us. 
That we could actually just be us, and that that would be enough. 
It was the recognition that what we were doing was special. 
A privilege. And the oldest practice we would ever do. 
That telling a story may be the most powerful thing any person has ever or could ever do.

That fire is still burning, 
it is embers inside, 
until the day, 
not so far away, 
we may be able to gather 
and feel our spirits align.
About Corey
Headshot of Corey Payette singing at a microphone

Corey Payette is proud of his Oji-Cree heritage from Northern Ontario, and has worked across Canada as a playwright, actor, composer, and director. He is the Artistic Director of Urban Ink (Vancouver, BC), past Artist-in-Residence with English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, and the founder of Raven Theatre (Vancouver, BC), focusing on new works by Indigenous artists. As a theatre creator, his original musical Children of God (book/music/lyrics & direction), musical Les Filles du Roi (music & direction, with co-book/lyrics with Julie McIsaac), Sedna (music composition & direction, co-created with Reneltta Arluk and Marshall McMahen), and his next musicals have been commissioned from Bard on the Beach, Musical Stage Company, and the Stratford Festival. His album The Music from Children of GodThe Music from Les Filles du Roi, the published scripts, and the piano/vocal songbook are available on his website, iTunes, and Spotify.

Find Corey on Instagram @coreypayette, Twitter @coreypayette, Facebook @coreypayetteofficial, and his website

CS Fergusson-Vaux
What does Theatre mean for me? Theatre is a forum in which we can collectively examine the foundational narratives of our cultures. We can question, dissect, rejoice, and mock the stories we have told ourselves. And we can do those things together in the Theatre. We can have a conversation – a rollicking debate even – peaceably about the Things of Great Importance thus all. I love that. I love abetting that. Our society has much work to do in terms of how we live our ethics, Theatre is a very wonderful space to do part of that work in.
About CS
CS Fergusson-Vaux
CS Fergusson-Vaux (she/her) is a Theatrical and Visual Artivist, Organizer and Historian with a fervent belief in decolonizing our community, encouraging and aiding in bold cultural endeavours, and constructing an ethical and inclusive artistic legacy.  Recent works include projects with The Frank Theatre Company, Vancouver Fringe Festival, and Zee Zee Theatre. She gratefully stands in solidarity with her hosts and stewards of the lands and waters-the qiqéyt (QayQayt), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Learn more about CS at
Derek Chan
on theatre.

to make theatre is to…
acknowledge privilege
speak, and be heard
listen, and make noise
fulfil a civic duty
share our passions and secrets
concern ourselves with fearful dark clouds that loom over us
cry so loud it pierces through the thickest of storms
love fearlessly with rain-soaked hair
tear our hearts out for those we have lost
celebrate those who are yet to come
to make theatre is to make love.

since the beginning of everything, there have been days when a voice suggested that I should consider quitting theatre-making. and I couldn’t tell for the life of me whether it was a gremlin or me holding the megaphone, or whether there is a difference at all. in any case, it was a scary voice. the earth beneath my feet trembled as I pulled my hair out strand by strand over why I would ever want to stop experiencing that sweaty beautiful agony of giving birth to worlds that bear such undeniable resemblance to its maker and share the same concerns over the myriad of the unfathomably inconsequential things that this man with a pen and keyboard happens to concern himself with on any given day. then it dawned on me that perhaps I was scared. what I was so scared of, I shan’t bore you with, but it had something to do with loss. when you love something with all your might that it casts a typhoon in your stomach just thinking about the unthinkable alternative, the alternative is unthinkable. 

Guess I still haven’t stopped making. //
About Derek
Derek Chan photo, wearing round glasses, a brown scarf and white short-sleeved t-shirt, holding a red cup. In the background are water, mountains, and buildings.

Derek Chan (陳嘉昊) grew up in colonial Hong Kong, studied in Norway, and currently lives on the traditional and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations, colonially known as Vancouver. A playwright, director, performer, translator, and producer, Derek has been co-artistic director of rice & beans theatre since 2010. He has also worked with Playwrights Theatre Centre (artistic director apprentice), Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (associate artistic producer), and the rEvolver Festival (guest curator). Derek has been a National Arts Centre English Theatre Artist in Residence (19/20) with yellow objects, a new play about the ongoing pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. His play, Chicken Girl (2019/20), won the Sydney Risk Award for Outstanding Original Play by an Emerging Playwright, and was nominated for Outstanding Original Script at the Jessies.

Find Derek on Facebook and learn more about his work at
Emilie Leclerc
I started making theatrical skits in my parent’s basement around age 6. My sister, our friends and I would paint our eyebrows and lips with old Halloween makeup, wear funny clothes, play music, and invent stories for our audience (mostly my parents). I wanted us to laugh, all together in one space. And today, I still want that. I want to connect to others through theatre. 

In 2020, we were reminded that our work is not essential, yet in my opinion, it is vital. To me, theatre is the ultimate art of gathering, with at its core, an immediate, intimate and constantly moving relationship between performance and audience. It cannot be paused or rewatched because it is happening right now. We see, hear and feel each other and that is why theatre is so magical. I believe our world needs this human connection like never before! We need to escape through storytelling, get out of our bubbles, connect, be moved, see stories through the eyes of others, laugh and weep with strangers.

We are living through crucial times for theatre, but I am inspired by the potential for renewal and resurgence. We are already seeing creative solutions including outdoor in situ performances, micro audiences and the incorporation of online platforms. Audience is just as important as performance in theatre and I cannot wait for the time where we can all be together in one room, bump elbows with strangers in crowded theatre lobbies and wave hello to fellow artists at intermission!

Hâte de vous retrouver au théâtre!
About Emilie
Photo of Emilie Leclerc sitting on a rock at the water's edge. She has long dark hair, is wearing a red tank top and jeans, and resting her elbows on her knees, looking off camera to the left.
Grateful to live on the traditional and unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm First Nations, Emilie Leclerc acts and creates theatre. A Jessie-Award recipient and close collaborator to Théâtre la Seizième, she works in both French and English in theatre, voice and film/tv.

Find Emilie on Instagram and Twitter @em_leclerc123, and visit her website at

Harika Xu
Theatre is about the human connection and sharing the human experience. Theatre happens when a group of artists work together towards a shared goal, exchanging ideas, inspiring one another, and creating something bigger than any could create on their own. Theatre happens when hundreds of audience come together to share the same space with performers and to experience joy and sadness with other strangers. In theatre, we are connected both physically and emotionally. Working in theatre as a lighting and projection designer brings me into the surreal, escaping the reality of the world outside and immersing myself in the truth of the human condition revealed on stage.

Why I create theatre used to be a mystery to me. In my earlier years, I never thought I would become a theatre designer as theatre was not a part of my life until my 20’s. Nevertheless, discovering theatre also meant realizing that I would want it to be a part of my life for years to come. I started to design simply because I wanted to. My background in visual arts involved creating my own works while alone in the studio. Collaborating with other artists from different cultures opened my eyes to a bigger world of artistic creation, and I loved it.

I truly feel joy and excitement when taking on new theatre projects. As I am bothered by repetitive jobs, theatre allows me to challenge myself, to try new ideas, and learn constantly. 

Theatre is my life, as well as my work.
About Harika
Harika Xu headshot
Harika Xu is a lighting and projection designer, living and working in both Vancouver and Montreal. She graduated from University of British Columbia with a BFA in Theatre Design and Visual Art.

She’s worked with companies including Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, Burnaby Lyric Opera, United Players, Zee Zee Theatre, the Frank Theatre, Boca del Lupo, The Group Van Theatre, Little Mountain Lion, Vancouver Fringe Festival, Rumble Theatre, Killjoy Theatre.

Find Harika on Instagram at @harikaxudesign and learn more on her website
Jessica Oostergo
My first theatre experience is a memory that I will always treasure. I was quite young, maybe 8 or 9, and my family decided to go see a theatre production together. Although I don't recall which theatre or show it was, I remember the red velvety chairs and the lights hanging over head. An actor on stage was getting worked up and he slammed a white chair down on to the stage. One of the legs of the chair snapped off. For a split second he broke character. The look on his face was minor, but enough to make me smile along with him. It was clear that the chair was not supposed to break, and this had probably never happened before. He tried to stand it up, but with only three legs it couldn't quite stay balanced, and he fumbled with it for a few moments before he decided to just lay it down. A few audience members chuckled along with him. Other performers glanced over to the chair, but the show had to carry on. More performers entered the stage, glanced over at the chair, and carried on. 

As a group, performers and audience members experience these series of events together. No show will be exactly the same as the last. What is going to happen next? We will just have to wait and see. This is the magic of theatre.
About Jessica
Jessica is a set and costume designer, born and raised in Richmond, BC.

Recent design credits include The Amaryllis (Firehall/The Search Party), The Dolls House Project (Studio 58), Transform Cabaret Festival (The Cultch/Urban Ink), House and Home (Firehall), It’s A Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle (Arts Club Theatre), The Marvellous Wonderettes (Chemainus Theatre Festival), and The Father (The Search Party).

Jessica is a two-time Jessie Richardson Award Winner. She is a graduate of Studio 58, an Interaction Design student at Emily Carr University, and a member of the Associated Designers of Canada. 

Find Jessica online at Instagram @Joostergo, LinkedIn @Joostergo, and
Jessica Schacht
Taken on a journey. Discovering new meaning. Meeting new people. Strengthening old friendships. All of these things take place when we gather through theatre, dance, opera, and storytelling. Sharing space and learning and listening to others is why I am so passionate about creating art. The opportunities we have to transcend time and space are ignited when we get together and collaborate to make work. I have missed it dearly over the past year. I’m so grateful I’ve been able to continue collaborations digitally, and still get to that place where the ideas we come up with collaboratively are greater than any single idea we could come up with on our own. Having to adapt to the current circumstances has also led to some new discoveries and practices that I’m excited to carry into my work when we get to gather again.

But I miss the darkened room, shared with strangers and friends. Breathing together. Laughing together. Crying together. I miss the energy of the unexpected… where we can be delighted, feel joy, and be moved to change.

We make art because of what’s going on in the world, and theatre is one of the most immediate forms of art I’ve ever experienced. In many ways I’ve felt the world has been on pause these days.

I look forward to the day we get to play again.
About Jessica
Jessica Schacht
Jessica Schacht is a dramaturg and writer of Métis/Canadian descent living as an uninvited guest on Quw’utsun territory, Vancouver Island. Her work and ethos centre around exploring identity and relationships through the cultural, environmental, and personal experiences that shape us. She is a graduate of the University of Victoria's Theatre Program and has honed her craft at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity's Dramaturgy for Dance residency, Theatre Replacement's New Aesthetics Performance Intensive, as well as PTC's Block A program. Her latest project is as co-writer for The Apocrypha Chronicles with Re:Naissance Opera, available now wherever you listen to podcasts.

Find The Apocrypha Chronicles podcast here.
Kamila Sediego

I can ramble. Under the right conditions. Get me in front of folx I feel comfortable with, or even better, put me in a Zoom full of strangers and then give me a sec to get sweaty and really really nervous, I’ll talk. I’ll leave my body and unabashedly overshare, I’ll double dutch from tangent to tangent, I’ll sprawl across run-on sentences like they’re a velvet chaise lounge. I can say a lot without saying anything. But creating theatre, writing plays – that’s when I say something worth listening to.

Making theatre has helped me find who I am. It’s helped me stand on my own feet. It’s helped me learn how to trust other people. Theatre is speckles in the light, it’s the weight of the world, it’s the responsibility of representation, it’s the duty of telling the truth, it’s a giggle that makes you cry. Telling stories and playing with words has always been my dream and I’m still learning to allow that for myself.

Last year was a challenge for so many reasons. But seeing our community adapt, continue to create, and reassure each other through the non-creating times too makes me feel better. I don’t know when that first gathering is gonna be, but I call dibs: I’ll bring the lumpia. Someone bring rice! I’m so looking forward to laughing and sweating my pits off in a real room full of strangers again, blabbing to whoever will listen (falls victim) about this one time that I–

About Kamila
Kamila Sediego
Kamila Sediego (she/her/siya) is a first-generation Filipinx settler and playwright living on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Her work is a celebration of the richness of Filipinx culture, the dramas of family dynamics, and the complexities of the Filipinx diaspora. It is only with the care and support of many around her that she is expanding her skills into dramaturgy and currently developing two of her shows, Homecoming and Engkanto.

Find Kamila on Instagram.

Kanon Hewitt
The question of what theatre means to me is a question that I keep finding myself returning to recently. From conferences to conversations among friends, many of us are pondering the changes that theatre has gone through in the past year. A core part of these discussions asks what it is about theatre that distinguishes it from other forms of performance, like when live theatre is presented through a digital medium, what is preserved and lost and changed through this departure from the live performances we were used to. I think I've talked about this with at least three different groups of people within the last two weeks. Each time, the discussion takes me to a more personal question about why I do theatre. 

I started dancing at age 4 when the doctor told my mother that I'd grow up to be a hunchback if I didn't get my posture sorted out. That was where I discovered movement as a form of storytelling, and through my childhood, I had dance as a way to self-express. When dance led me to theatre, I added words and song to movement. The magic of expressing to others and receiving their energy in turn is something that I feel remains singular to live performance. It's why I love to do theatre, and it's a magic that I strive to preserve as theatre continues to shift and grow.
About Kanon
Kanon Hewitt
Kanon Hewitt is a projection and sound designer, stage manager, producer, playwright, and performer from Tokyo, Japan. Kanon creates and performs for various international stages including Vancouver, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. Highlights include MTV Japan, Benesse, kiseki (Kazunori Kumagai), Camera Obscura (Queer Arts Festival, frank theatre company), Simon a toujours aimé danser (Théâtre la Seizième), and Kuroko (Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre). Kanon is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, and a certified actor-combatant with Fight Directors Canada. 

Find Kanon on Instagram @kanonhewitt and @_todok, on LinkedIn, and at
Kelsey Kanatan Wavey

Theatre to me is the curation and ignition of creative space by community. It is the gathering of spirits and energy, from the ideas conception, to the closing night celebration, to that split second months later when that one idea fully lands. Theatre to me is transformative collaboration through playing. Theatre to me is a space to offer and embody bold offers and truths about humanity. 

I watch theatre to be entertained. I watch theatre to be moved. I watch theatre to escape. I watch theatre because I want to be surprised. 

When theatres open back up I look forward to the smell of old seats and new set pieces. I look forward to chills, I look forward to crying into my sweater sleeve and laughing so hard even the grouchiest audience members join in. I look forward to getting rattled. I look forward to wine at intermission. I look forward to waiting for your friend to come out from backstage after a stellar performance. I look forward to more shows without linear time constructs. I look forward to shuffling to the venue in the rain. I look forward to flipping through the handbill. I look forward to sassy turn off your phone front of house speeches. I look forward to sitting in the parking lot after a show, holding hands with a friend or two, shedding a tear, processing together. 

Until then.

About Kelsey
Kelsey Kanatan Wavey headshot
Kelsey Kanatan Wavey is a Theatre Artist currently residing, working, and resting on the ancestral territories of the Musqueam Peoples. Kelsey is a proud member of Tataskweyak Cree Nation and calls Treaty 1 Winnipeg, Manitoba home. Kelsey has been acting professionally for seven years and is a recent graduate of Studio 58; you may have seen her recently in Skyborn: a Land Reclamation Odyssey (Savage Society) or Women of the Fur Trade (Royal Manitoba Theatre Center). Kelsey's theatrical practice includes acting, singing, writing and directing. Kelsey is also passionate about film writing and music festival production.

Find Kelsey on Instagram @waveybb.
From guerilla theater in all its DIY glory to big exciting Broadway shows, I have been lucky enough to enjoy the artistry that is live theater. I have been moved by breathtaking performances, magical designs, incredible stories.

I miss live theater.

Decades ago, I started my career playing in musical groups. Live music has really shaped my life and career. At coffee shops I would play for children, small clubs where I would entertain my community and huge festivals where it all seemed surreal.

I miss live music.

One of the things that both live theater and live music have in common is the audience. The shared energy that every audience emanates is like nothing else in the world. Every audience is different, every show is different, every day is a different experience. For me, that is the most exciting part!

We work hard to give you a more than tangible storytelling experience and you give us your time and energy, which is really precious.

I miss you.

This year has taught me to be grateful for what I have, trusting that everything will work out fine, and hopeful for a safer future.

Please take care of yourself and your neighbors.

I cannot wait to see you all again, at the theater!
About khattieQ

khattieQ is a performer from Puerto Rico. Co-creator of 2020 Fringe New Play Prize winner Catalina La O Presenta: Ahora Conmigo which features original music. khattieQ was the guitarist and vocalist for punk band BLXPLTN. khattieQ has played as a professional musician with over twenty bands, cutting their teeth on the famous Austin, Texas live music scene. Most notably, they toured as drummer for queer femme core band The Tuna Helpers. Professional credits include Denim Doves and Casta for Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin, TX, Heaven Born Wind at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and Frank Theater’s Be-Longing.

Find khattieQ on Instagram and on their website.

Laura Fukumoto

Theatre convinces me anything is possible. Theatre convinces me magic is real. If you are already an acolyte of the theatre, you know about its holy moments. I’ve been lucky enough to participate in theatre for much of my life: as an actor, designer, writer, and co-conspirator, so my theatre exists between gasps of laughter, and wild ideas shared on midnight walks. My theatre exists in the drama (on stage and mostly off) that gives me an opportunity to ponder the “Why?” of human choices. 

We all have good days and bad days with our theatre relationship. Magic is made by old fashioned grit, sweat, and tears, after all. But have you ever seen a character fill her stage with rage, and feel rage with her? Have you ever whispered the voices of a book out loud, as if the world could come alive around you? (And it can). It’s a reminder that there is much in this world to fill you with child-like Wonder. It is a holy space in which I can believe in goodness, and see the goodness drawn out of other people, like a thread of possibility.

About Laura

Laura arrived on the stolen land known as Vancouver over a decade ago, and is now a performance poet, playwright, and local cloth wizard with a BFA from UBC. Most recent costume design credits include Straight White Men with Itsazoo. More recently Laura wrote and directed the honourably mentioned Where the Quiet Queers Are at Vancouver Fringe 2019, co-wrote and performed The Mending Circle at the Powell Street Festival Telethon with Carolyn Nakagawa, and has performed her poetry at events and festivals across Vancouver.

Find Laura on Instagram.

Lili Robinson
At its core, theatre is storytelling. As my first theatre mentor said, all it takes is people in a room. (Oh, the things we took for granted.)

When I was ten I joined my first acting troupe, something made possible for me by a full bursary provided for low-income families. It was a revelation: I had found my people. Those weird and wonderful kids, the unparalleled feeling of building something together, just with our bodies and our voices… I knew immediately that theatre was where I belonged.

Now, I’m a few years into my professional career, living through a global pandemic, the rebirth of the civil rights movement, and a climate crisis that could render all the rest of it irrelevant. In the scope of my own work, two things are clear: 

1) My work must serve the communities I come from or else there is no point.
2) Artistry is mediumship. As Carmen Aguirre puts it, “The truest art is a form of listening.” 

Thirty years before, James Baldwin said something similar: “When I’m writing, I’m listening.” I have both these quotes up above my desk, along with something Makambe Simamba said of her play Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers, and Little Brothers: “To them, this was a play. To me, this was a prayer.” 

Yes, theatre at its root is not just story, but prayer: a bridge between the flesh and what’s beyond it; a chance to reflect, and then to vision something new. 

And right now, we need every prayer we can get.
About Lili

Lili Robinson (she/they) is a playwright, poet, actor and community organizer based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Lili is passionate about centering voices at the intersections of queerness, Black diaspora, socio-economic diversity and femme identity in her work. Having completed a year as the Artistic Producing Intern at Theatre Replacement in 2019, Lili is currently the Emerging Playwright in Residence at Rumble Theatre, and recently completed the 2020 Emerging Playwrights’ Unit at the Arts Club. Mx, Lili’s debut play, was the recipient of the Fringe New Play Prize in 2019, supported by Playwright’s Theatre Centre and the Fringe. Since then, Mx has been selected for PTC’s “Camp Week” of their winter WrightSpace residency, as well as a livestream workshop reading as the selected play for Alley Theatre’s Site-Specific Reading Series. Mx was also the winner of the Cultchivating the Fringe Award in 2019, earning the show a spot in the Cultch’s upcoming 2021 spring season.

Find Lili on Instagram and Facebook.
Lisa Goebel

the ritual of
taking my coat off
putting my phone on airplane mode
strategically arranging my belongings underneath a chair
all in preparation
to sit in the dark.

and once the lights come up
i’m in your hands now
in this new world,

to hear your story
to feel compassion
and displeasure
and all the things in between
and if we’re lucky
like, really lucky
we may witness a moment
of vulnerability.

maybe that’s why i’m here.
because tonight won’t be like last night
and tomorrow will be different too.
and my role
sitting here in the darkness
is simply
to be present.

and I hope you know that when we’re on stage
we can feel that.
your presence.
leaning forward in absolute joy
constantly shifting leg positions
‘cause someone convinced you
that this three hour show “will fly right by”.
please note: it never does.

wherever you land
the audience, the booth, the stage, the wings
you are an integral part of the conversation.
you hold space
for imagination to play
and emotions to spark 
memories and beliefs and experiences.

i look forward to
sharing this space with you again.

About Lisa
Lisa Goebel headshot

With a focus on play development and interdisciplinary collaborations, Lisa works as an actor, choreographer, intimacy director, and producer. For fifteen years Lisa taught dance at recreational and competitive levels, as well as adjudicating provincially. Her latest workshop was Intimacy for Stage for students at Studio 58. In 2019, Lisa became an apprentice with Intimacy Directors International. She holds a BA in Psychology (SFU), and is a graduate of Studio 58. Currently Lisa produces with The Only Animal, and is Artistic Director of the cultural performance ensemble Kababayang Pilipino. 

Find Lisa on Instagram and Twitter.

Manami Hara

It sounds very cliché but you don’t choose to become an artist, it’s a calling you answer. So, at the tender age of 18, I uprooted myself from the comfort of home in Japan and moved to Canada to follow my dream to become a stage actor in North America. I know I can’t survive in this world without being involved in a creative process. Over the span of 3 decades, I expanded my craft and became a theatre artist who wears many hats. Collaborating with my fellow artists makes me whole. It’s a humbling and gratifying experience. I’m passionately devoted to create Theatrical work because I can connect with real people at an intellectual, emotional, intimate, daring, joyful and poignant level. I am inspired to create theatre to transport audience from their day to day life and offer an experience, time and space for them to imagine, think, cry, laugh, and love. My artistic endeavours have taken me on many different paths and teaching acting and story-telling to students of all ages has become one of my passions. To witness my students getting inspired by their own discoveries and growing their confidence as an artist and person is beyond rewarding. I’m so grateful I’m in a profession where I can continue to challenge myself, explore, learn, grow and share my craft no matter how old I get. I’m striving to be like Miso, I get better with age and last forever!? 

About Manami
Manami Hara headshot
Manami Hara immigrated from Japan to pursue Theatre career in North America.  She’s an actor, playwright, instructor, interpreter/translator, dramaturge and a director.  She’s worked with companies across Canada including NAC, Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, Grand Theatre, Globe Theatre, One Yellow Rabbit, Arts Club, Boca del Lupo, Carousel Theatre, The Cultch, Firehall Arts Centre, Frank Theatre, Gateway Theatre, NeWorld Theatre, Pi Theatre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, Presentation House Theatre, Ruby Slippers, Rumble Productions, Theatre Replacement, Touchstone Theatre, vAct, Vancouver Playhouse and Yayoi Movement Theatre.  Manami is passionate about collaborative creative process.  She’s a graduate of Studio 58. 

Find Manami on Instagram @hara.manami.
Marion Landers

I have always had a vivid imagination and lots of energy. I knew I needed to put that somewhere from a young age. My first love is dance, which I started around 11 years old. After dancing for many years, I decided I wanted to study theatre. I wanted to express more about myself, particularly my mixed heritage, since there was not a lot of performance out there that represented my experience. I also wanted to create work that showed the range of beauty and complexity in the African Diaspora.

For me, theatre is a world of endless possibilities; one where people of like minds and unlike minds can share space and learn more about each other and the world. Since theatre encompasses any idea the mind can hold, it can be made up of so many things: historical events, imaginary worlds, psychological structures and any range of movement. Every show I have ever been a part of has pushed me to my limits, cracked me wide open and put me back together again, anew. These days, my work pushes further into my South African heritage, the legacy of apartheid and pathways to healing.

About Marion
Marion Landers headshot

Marion Landers is a mixed South African and Irish Canadian actor, choreographer and teacher from Vancouver. She danced nationally and internationally in the Afro-Contemporary style for a decade, including Zab Maboungou/Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata, (Montréal/Congo). Marion received her BFA in Dance and English from SFU and MA in Theatre from UBC. Marion is a Sessional Instructor at the School for Contemporary Arts, SFU and actively works between Theatre, Dance, Film & TV. Marion's work has always sought to reflect the multiple voices of the African Diaspora.

Find Marion on IMDB, For Coloured Girls Out of the Womb (YouTube)Facebook, and Instagram

Marisa Gold

To me, performance means healing. It is a great honor to create, observe and receive ourselves through the act of storytelling. The stories we share bring a nuanced awareness to the layered nature of our connected human experience through time. When we connect inward to express ourselves outward in the present, we allow our ancestors to speak through us - for their essence runs through our veins supporting the vitality of our existence and we are their wildest dreams. Our creations and self expressions then become a vehicle for ancient wisdom, deep healing and deep love to manifest. We pay tribute to all those who have come before and after our time when we participate in performance and storytelling of any kind. This has been my experience as a multidisciplinary artist, working across many fields and mediums in my career thus far. 

The creative process, from inspiration to presentation, has been instrumental to my personal growth and acceptance of myself as a multidimensional being in the world. Whether I’m on stage or in the audience, the healing I have experienced through performance has empowered me to glimpse beyond the boundaries of time and space. I have come to realize and remember, creation is a portal to the limitless potential which exists within. I am so grateful to share and bear witness to this magic.

About Marisa
Marisa Gold headshot

Marisa Gold is an empathetic multidisciplinary artist with a passion for all things soulful. With a BFA in dance (SFU), certificate of completion from The Ailey School Independent Study program (NYC), and The Graham School 2017/18 Intensive (NYC), Marisa has trained in a wide variety of Modern/Contemporary dance styles. Her professional experience ranges from modern/contemporary concert dance to experimental street style performance, and musical theatre productions to film/TV work. Marisa's artistic influences are deeply rooted in the heart space of her ancestors. As a writer, mover, designer and performer, Marisa continues her poetic wandering; delving further with love into the mystery of our collective humanity.

Find Marisa on Instagram at @feel.the.all and @mypoemsareyourpoems.

Meghna Haldar
As a child growing up in post-British India, I was exposed to Indian theatre in English (the usual suspects) and the folk forms of “jatra” and “yakshagana” theatre. The stark contrast between the stories, purpose, milieus of these different forms of theatre remained with me as I travelled the distance between my childhood and the world. My early misadventures in playwriting gradually receded as I immersed myself in the screen arts. But I could never fully let go of my early fascination into Indian folk arts, seeking to re-engage with shadow puppetry and Chhau dance in my experimental film work. 

Drawn back into the world of theatre-makers via the project Diaspora and the Wet Ink writers’ group, I began to write my first full length play Termite as a response to recent political events in India. I was seeking to recreate the live electricity of those folk performances to capture the descent from civilization to savagery in mob violence, to play with decolonial forms of storytelling (incorporating myth, movement, gesture, song and music) and to implicate audience in that telling. I was fortunate to receive the support of the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s MSG Lab working closely with the (recently retired) PTC dramaturge Kathleen Flaherty. There is more development work that remains, all of it a steep and exhilarating learning curve for this new born again playwright. 
About Meghna
Meghna Haldar
Meghna Haldar is a storyteller, educator and screen based artist based in Vancouver whose work has screened at museums, conferences, festivals and art galleries in Taiwan, Britain, Ireland, North America, Guatemala and India. She has taught at ECUAD, Arts Umbrella and University of Texas at Austin and is an alumni of WIDC, NSI Features First, Melting Silos and the Wet Ink collective. Her essay “Dirt: A Social Mirror” was published in the book From Conflict to Recognition: Moving Multiculturalism Forward by Rodopi/Brill in 2012. An advocate for trauma informed care in the provincial child welfare system, she has been a jury member for Canada Council, BC Arts Council, DOXA, Praxis and Cineworks amongst others and is presently on the board of The Frank Theatre Company in Vancouver.

Find Meghna on LinkedIn.
Melicia Zaini
I came to Vancouver from my hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia to study English Literature. Having grown up surrounded by books and stories, I thought I was going to create worlds of my own by becoming a writer. I got to university and quickly discovered it wasn't for me. On a whim, I decided to take a theatre production course as an elective. I was fascinated by how many hands were involved in building a show from the ground up. Everyone came with their own skills and unique points of view, to breathe life into a story. The first time I read my name in a program as a member of the crew (I sewed ribbons on a couple of capes!) I felt a mixture of overwhelming happiness and pride, both for myself and my newfound friends, and I was hooked.

Costume design surpassed writing in becoming my chosen medium to tell stories: through garments and textiles, textures and colours, I am able to communicate a character's emotional arc to an audience. Along with the creative team, I get to be a part of a journey to create magic from scratch. Through countless meetings percolating ideas, dissecting themes and ideas, working tirelessly -- we get to witness it all come together on opening night. We get the chance to create art, create a community, and create a found family.

And when the next show comes, we get to do it all over again.
About Melicia
Melicia Zaini
Melicia Zaini (she/they) is a costume designer for stage and screen. Select design credits include Esther and Sai (upcoming; short film); TomorrowLove (Studio 58); Turn of the Screw (Aenigma Theatre); Where the Quiet Queers Are (Amplify Choral Theatre); Fireflies, Burqa Boutique, The Way You Carry On (Killjoy Theatre); Unkept (short film); Theory (Rumble Theatre’s Tremors Festival); She Kills Monsters (UBC Theatre). Melicia's creative pursuits also include being a design assistant, a dresser, a breakdown artist in the film industry, a dancer, and a paintmaker. Melicia holds a BFA in Theatre Design & Production from UBC. 

Monica Ogden

I love that theatre is a place of sharing. We share stories, experiences, food, laughs, and energy. I started making theatre because I wanted to tell stories, but I continued making theatre because I found so much power in community sharing. It’s amazing that you can go to a theatre show, cry your eyes out, and leave having learned something new. Or go to a show and laugh so hard you pee just a little. Or see some part of your reality reflected back to you, and feel so seen and understood. Theatre can be so healing for these reasons.

When I perform theatre, I can feel my entire family with me. I can feel all the artists I’ve ever learned from. Ironically I perform in solo shows most of the time, but I never feel lonely because my family is in my writing. It’s like I can feel my Lilang on stage with me, feel my mom in the room weeping (she cries during every show I’ve ever done, even the comedies). My dad and brother are there in my mind, fidgeting and listening in their own way. And all the ancestors I have move me onstage, to be in the moment, and share with others what I have learned. It’s a beautiful feeling that I miss very much.

About Monica
Monica Ogden

Monica Ogden (she/they) is an award winning disabled Filipina, Polynesian, British storyteller, actor and comedian. Her Lilang migrated from Illocos Sur, Philippines in 1966, and she is now an uninvited visitor in the territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. Her solo show Monica vs. The Internet: Tales of a Social Justice Warrior directed by K.P. Dennis toured 6 cities across Canada in the summer of 2019, toured to Second City Toronto, was featured on CBC for their online show with the #ArtApart National Theatre School series, and received the Witness Legacy Award from the Pro Art Alliance.

Find Monica onFacebook and Instagram.
Nancy Tam

I am a listener and a walker. 

When I listen and walk, the world becomes more vivid. 

Everything performs. 

While I walk the fabrics I am wearing rub against each other to vibrate the air they touch. That energy pushes through the air, slowing every moment to niente—the movement translates across disciplinary borders as a soft sound gradually fading to nothing. 

But, if you heard it, that energy touched you on the hairs inside your ears, which created a small electrical signal transmitted to your brain. The perception of this electricity is the act of hearing. 

Sound is distant touch.

So much has happened this year and we have practiced a lot of distancing. Whilst gathering seems like a reach into distant memory and we cannot tour to distant shores we can still reach with distant touch. 

I keep listening and I keep walking. 

And I keep touching and being touched

at a distance.

About Nancy
Nancy Tam headshot
Nancy Tam works across disciplinary bounds with sound and performance as her primary media. Using multi-channel audio, and musical composition her current research triangulates between sound, space, and body to investigate tendencies of global and local mobilizations of creatures, objects, and events.

Nancy has a penchant for listening to quiet sounds.

Her work is form-bending and dramaturgically rigorous, often employing task-based performance to bringing the background to the forefront in creating immersive scenographic environments. She is an award-winning composer. With Daniel O’Shea and Conor Wylie, Nancy runs the interdisciplinary performance collective A Wake of Vultures. 

Find Nancy on Instagram and at
Paneet Singh
After I graduated from film school in 2013, I was keen on continuing to develop my skills as a writer and storyteller. This led me to take a playwriting class with Lucia Frangione, which in turn re-sparked my connection to theatre. I had participated in theatre throughout most of high school and also dabbled in directing some community theatre while in university. I had never considered pursuing a career in theatre professionally until after taking Lucia’s playwriting class, and deciding to try to undertake writing, producing, and directing The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson, which ended up becoming the launching point of my professional career in both theatre and film.

I am grateful that I have had the opportunity through theatre to connect to space, land, and community. Through my explorations in theatre, I have come to appreciate the parallels and intersections between the disciplines of theatre and film. The artists I’ve met, and the interrogation of my own practices, beliefs, and ideas that theatre has forced me to do, has made me a more honest and introspective artist and human being.

Some of the best art I’ve ever experienced has been on local stages (Kamloopa and Piya Behrupiya come to mind). I hope that we as theatre artists and practitioners collectively interrogate and dismantle systems of exclusivity which create barriers to access and practice an art form that has an intuitive ability to connect.
About Paneet
Paneet Singh
Paneet Singh is a Punjabi-Sikh playwright and filmmaker whose work is largely inspired and informed by Sikh and South Asian cultures, histories, and themes. His best known works are his two stageplays The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson and the critically-acclaimed A Vancouver Guldasta. Other film and theatre credits include Flowers From Venables (Director, Woodenbull Films 2020) and Guards at the Taj (Director, 2019 Vancouver Fringe Festival). Paneet is currently directing the Telus Storyhive funded documentary Press Breaker (Diaspora Creative) about Surrey’s Harleen Sidhu, the first South Asian woman to play NCAA Division I basketball.

Find Paneet on Twitter, Instagram, and his website.
Rae Takei (Rose Butch)

I'm a queer and trans person who came out during my studies, and following the aftermath of that experience, I thought that theatre wasn't a space where I was welcome to be myself.

Shortly after graduating from my program and working on a couple projects as a stage manager, I fell into the dizzying world of drag, which encompassed all the things that I loved about theatre - costumes, design, story-telling, character work, community, the electricity of performing for a live audience - and all through a decidedly queer lens. And well, maybe the green room was the little broom closet in a noisy bar, or maybe the audience would be shoulder to shoulder and in various states of undress, or perhaps the start time of the show might be an hour after the time listed on the poster. I struggled with some of the rougher edges but eventually set aside some of my internalized perfectionism and dove in deep, effectively putting myself on an indefinite hiatus from theatre as I knew it.

In the past handful of years, I've been so privileged to have had opportunities to come back to more conventional theatre spaces and work on projects that have inspired and excited me, while also more actively applying my theatre skills to my drag practice. The line between these two worlds is blurring, which I'll admit is a lot more thrilling than I'd imagined it would be.

I'm heartened to see how Vancouver theatre has been creating more space for those who have previously been left behind.

I'm impressed by the ways in which we've been able to adapt, and still find ways to connect and create despite the barriers we've faced over the past year.

I'm optimistic for the work we can achieve when we apply that same care and creativity - and hopefully a good dash of glitter.

About Rae
Rae Takei / Rose Butch

Rae Takei (they/them) is a QTPOC multidisciplinary artist, born and raised on the stolen land of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations, colonially called Vancouver, and graduated from Studio 58 in 2013.

Rae is possibly better known as Rose Butch (@rose.butch), a continuously evolving non-binary drag persona whose style and sensibility follows the pursuit of gender euphoria. Their drag theatre collective, The Darlings, aims to challenge the boundaries of conventional drag and explores genderqueer, non-binary and trans experience through poetry, movement, dance, theatre, and immersive installation. Since Spring 2020, they have produced 5 innovative full-length digital shows, available at

Find Rae / Rose Butch on Instagram.

Raes Calvert

Ever since I was a young I’ve had a passion for creating and telling stories. As I got older I became more interested in how we as artists, communicate these stories to audiences. 

Each professional theatre artist that I know understands the term “theatre magic”, however in my experience each artist’s version of “theatre magic” is different. For me it is the unique moment of presence and harmony that is shared collectively in a space between the audience and performers. Where the outside world and it’s complications melt away and we are drawn into a different realm that invokes some form of reflection or relationship. It cannot truly be quantified in words, because it is not dependent on words alone. 

I have experienced this “magic” listening to live music, watching dancers or seeing artists perform in a language I do not understand. I explain it this way: It’s one thing to listen to your favourite song through headphones, it’s an entirely different thing to go to a concert and experience your favourite song played live in front of you. 

As we move into 2021, I look forward to when we can once again assemble and share these stories with one another. Where the “theatre magic” can once again have what it needs to live: A story, a space, artists and audience.

About Raes

Raes Calvert is a multidisciplinary Métis theatre artist living and working in Vancouver. After graduating from Studio 58, he became Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Hardline Productions. As a performer he has toured Nationally and International with such companies as Axis Theatre, GreenThumb Theatre, MTYP, Urban Ink and The Presentation House Theatre. He is a four time Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominee and one time recipient. Raes received a REVEAL Indigenous Art Award from the Hnatysyn Foundation in 2017. He also has a BPA degree from Capilano University.

Raven John

Theatre is one of the few ways we connect in a bodily way with our storytellers. We share space and air with the performers. It is storytelling in one of its oldest forms. My own works are a mixture of colonial academic ways of speaking and presenting mixed with traditional ways of being present with those in the audience. With certain pieces I prepare multiple works to present. The performances tap into blood memory and intuition, the goal being to tell a story or work that is made for those people and that time. 

In 2021 and beyond I look forward to a theatre culture where, because the stakes are higher, there will be more care and attention given to new and different stories. With a year of isolation, of looking at many different streams of media, there is a clear homogenization of colonial, patriarchal and un-queer work. Theatre draws more from the present local community than other medias, and our community has so much life and story to share that the internet and television have been too distracted to even touch on.

About Raven
Photo of Raven John looking off-camera.
I am a two-spirit trickster of Coast Salish and Stó:lō origin as well as Black/Welsh mixed. I am a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, with a major in Visual Arts and a minor in Social Practice and Community Engagement. My primary mediums have been sculpture, provocation, performance and textiles. I lead my life in a similar fashion to my art practice, ever changing, evolving, decolonizing and calling in. Education, empathy and activism take up a large facet of my practice, as I am both heavily intersectional, and have inherited an education and responsibility as a matriarch of my family of survivors of colonization. Most recently I was in the ITSAZOO production of Straight White Men, and have had stop motion works for which I was lead sculptor on, exhibited and screened internationally, as well as locally at the Museum of Anthropology.

Renae Morriseau

I love the community of theatre - the crew, cast, producers - all working together to tell a story. Creating and supporting community engaged stories to directing works, to contributing my music, and acting has been a spiritual journey into the human condition. 

Live theatre is where there is a symbiotic relationship with the witnesses that come and see the work, and the community of theatre gets to orchestrate the emotional hue of the human condition. Theatre is a way that the systems we're born into get to be played out and perhaps the witnesses have a chance to move into the grey areas of their moral code. Theatre is a safe space to see alternative views to some of the issues and concerns in society that usually get relegated to the margins. It’s hope made actionable and to me that’s what life is about.

About Renae

Renae Morriseau is a Cree (nehiyaw iskwew ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐤ ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ) and Saulteaux woman (nahkawiskwêw ᓇᐦᑲᐃᐧᐢᑫᐧᐤ) from the Treaty 1 Territory. She’s been creating artistic works for awhile now and has journeyed across Canada and internationally in film, television, theatre and music. As an actress, singer, writer, producer and director in both television and theatre, she has honed her skills by observing, listening, and supporting the artistic works of others who have also supported her artistic passions and focus in sharing community stories in a good way - miyopimatisowin ᒥᔪᐱᒪᑎᓱᐃᐧᐣ.

Find Renae and her projects at, YouTube @mgirlmusicable, LinkedIn @renaemor, and more at and

Rosemary Georgeson

When I was first starting out in the Arts, 20 years ago, I remember reading somewhere about finding the "extraordinary in the ordinary". When I read that the first time, we were working on Women In Fish out on Galiano. We were working on a story that had never been recognized as a story. We were looking at a way of life that we as women just took for granted, something that we all just did. It was truly finding the “extraordinary in the ordinary”. I knew I was where I had always wanted to be.  Since that moment I am always in awe when I get to see/hear words that I write and characters that I help to create being brought to life on stage. Bringing the ordinary to life in such an extraordinary way became a passion but, over the years it has become so much more.

Sharing stories and memories from a very different way of life than what I live today was not something that ever crossed my mind. 

As an Indigenous Artist I do not have to look for stories, we have already lived them. I write from my memories of a different time and place, where the smell and sounds take me back home to the water. I used to think for a while that all that I learned out there on the water was a waste of knowledge. That it would never have any use in my life anymore. I was wrong!!

About Rosemary
Rosemary Georgeson photo

Rosemary Georgeson is a Coast Salish / Sahtu Dene woman from Galiano Island. Rosemary was born into a fishing family from Galiano Island. Rosemary spent the first half of her life on and around the water. Raising her kids as a single mom, she worked with her father on the family fish boat when her daughters were small. Rosemary worked at various jobs to support her family. About 20 years ago Rosemary was asked to participate in a Women’s Writing Group on the DTES; this ask changed Rosemary’s life and she has never looked back.

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Shanae Sodhi
Similarly to many of us in the industry, my definition of what theatre means to me is changing vastly at the moment. The most major thing that theatre means to me is a live, present, accessible connection to the world. I grew up in a low income neighborhood, so it was my only way to see the macrocosm outside of the hood.

Art is a microcosm of the greater society. So I take my art as a place to immersively have my say in my society, especially when it comes to social issues which our system of governance gives us little space to voice. Its what feels closest to a democratic process of experiencing different points of view. Its a commitment to sharing a story/experience with an audience of sometimes strangers. Hopefully strangers. And the most present place I can find myself able to fully connect with different experiences than mine.

The work which excites me the most carries a politic/experience within it that I either don’t agree with or do not understand. One that I am curious about hearing and believe the world, or just my community around me, should give more space to engage with. Art that simply serves as a reprisal of another voice without sharing its own refraction, bores me to death. Even if it is a story that resembles my own. I love artists for their ability to speak worlds into suspended reality through their own personal expression.
About Shanae

Shanae is a graduate of Studio 58 where he was one of the establishing members and Head Organizer of the school's Student Diversity Committee. A student lead group working to strengthen marginalized groups within the theatre community by empowering students with the tools and knowledge to engage in conversations of inclusivity. His work is framed through decolonization and intersectionality. He works as Rumble Theatre’s Associate Artistic Producer. Recent producing credits: Tremors Festival (Rumble Theatre), Coyuntura 2020 (Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition), Straight White Men (ITSAZOO Productions), and Mx (winner of 2019 Fringe New Play Prize and Cultchivating the Fringe Award).

Find Shanae on Instagram and Facebook.

Sophie Tang

When I was a kid, I loved playing with Lego, I would make all sorts of objects, buildings, etc. My family thought I might become an architect. I also played piano for years when I was younger, and almost went to a high school specialized in music. As I got older, I started university as a visual art major, I especially loved painting, and at one point I thought I might become a visual artist. 

All of these experiences made me who I am today and lead me to a perfect balance: a theatre designer. 

When I design sets, I often look for ideas from architectures in different periods. For both lights and set, I always find design inspiration in the music/sound effects from the show. I sometimes sense colors or shapes in music, for example: A sad moment could be what I call a “warm sadness” or “cool sadness” depending on the feel of the music. Bach is triangular, or sharp edged, while Chopin is organic shaped, smooth or rounded. When I design lights, it feels like painting with light onstage. I see the stage as my canvas, the lighting instruments are my brushes, and colors and brightness are my paint. 

I love theatre, because of its endless potentials and creative freedom, and because for me, it feels like it was meant to be.

About Sophie
Sophie Tang is a Jessie Award Winner and Nominee, as well as an Ovation Award Nominee. She holds a MFA theatre design degree from UBC and a BFA theatre production and design degree from SFU. Recent credits: East Van Panto: Panto Come Home! (Lighting) - Theatre Replacement, 12 Dates of Christmas (Lighting) - Arts Club Theatre, Straight White Men (Lighting) - ITSAZOO Productions, Little Volcano (Lighting)- Veda Hille x Theatre Replacement, Peter Pan (Lighting) - Carousel Theatre, Kuroko (Set) - Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre.

Find Sophie on InstagramFacebook, and her website
Susan Miyagishima

Theatre has always been a place of magic for me.  In my youth I would attend shows with my family and be mesmerized by the stories brought to life in front of my eyes.  From small puppet shows at the Vancouver Children’s Festival to big productions like the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals or the Nutcracker at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, every show opened up a new world for me to explore and I was amazed at all the creative elements in front of me. 

Now, as a theatre professional, even though I see behind the curtain and know how it all works, the magic of theatre has not dissipated for me. Quite the opposite in fact. Not only do I continue to be amazed, both as a spectator and as a collaborator, by new ideas, new innovations, and new stories being shared, but I now see that there are even more wonderful things to behold beyond what we see on stage. 

Being in a room with a group of creative individuals all working towards building a show, bouncing ideas off each other, building upon each other’s work, working together to come up with creative solutions to problems, and then getting to share it all with new people every night… this is magic to me. And now more than ever, being able to come together to create and share is a magical prospect.

About Susan
Susan Miyagishima
Susan is an accomplished stage manager, props designer, production & event coordinator, and has recently expanded her expertise into directing.  In addition to having worked locally with many Vancouver theatre companies, she has toured extensively across Canada and abroad into the US and Asia.  Credits include productions with Alley Theatre, Bard on the Beach, Bleeding Heart Theatre, Carousel Theatre, Electric Company, Frank Theatre, Gateway Theatre, Green Thumb Theatre, Neworld Theatre, Pacific Theatre, Ruby Slippers, Théâtre la Seizième, Theatre Under the Stars, vAct, Vancouver Playhouse and Zee Zee Theatre. Susan is a Jessie Award winner and graduate of Studio 58.

Find Susan on Instagram and Twitter @suemiyag.

Tai Amy Grauman

I am spending most of my time resurfacing, remembering and rediscovering Métis love stories from my people. There are a lot of reasons why I’m doing this, mainly because it is the only way to track the stories of the Métis women in my family.  By tracking down their husbands, the women become traceable by consequence. Not all of them are happy stories, but occasionally I find the story of the 'great loves' that are absolutely incomparable and better than any other love stories in western culture (in my humble opinion). I am choosing to find those stories and write those stories because I love to dream. For me, I can’t rewrite all the horrible things that have happened to my people, I can’t undo any wrongs that have been done and I can’t rewrite the horrible mistreatment of Métis women in Alberta. But, what I can do is find pieces of their hearts through the men they loved. Those stories and dreams are what is keeping me going through this pandemic and they teach me how we survived all those horrible things that have happened. And hopefully, one day I can watch those women’s spirits come alive onstage. I dream that one day they will dance, laugh and sing on Canadian stages in a post pandemic world. And the day they dance on stage, I imagine that this pandemic will just be a distant dream.  

About Tai

Tai Amy Grauman is Métis, Cree and Haudenosaunee from Ardrossan, Alberta. She is an actor and a playwright. Tai recently received the Métis Nation of Alberta's Award for Outstanding Youth of 2020. She also received the Jessie Richardson Award for Most Promising Newcomer in 2018 as well as the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Theatre Artist (2015), nominated by Margo Kane. Tai is an artistic associate at Savage Society and an associate artist at the Citadel Theatre. Tai is working on commissions with Nightswimming, Axis Theatre and the Arts Club. Recently, Tai adapted Mary’s Wedding and will be playing Mary in the upcoming production at The Citadel.  

Find Tai on Instagram @graumantaiamy and on Facebook.

Valeria Ascolese

As someone who grew up feeling displaced, bouncing between different cultures and languages and in constant search of the feeling of "home", theatre is the embodiment of unity to me. 

Theatre allows us to sit down and experience something together. It makes us stop, reflect and think deep within ourselves. There is nowhere in this world where I feel more at home than inside a theatre- whether it's rehearsing, presenting, building and painting sets, going over choreography and lines. Hours pass and the world spins, but all that matters is what you are making and experiencing together. 

It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, the theatre has been and will always be for the people. It's the only place that allows us to be political, funny, silly, profound, vulnerable, outrageous and reserved all at the same time. 

Theatre is a direct reflection of who we are as human beings in this world. It shocks us, it comforts us, it helps us understand other perspectives, it whispers gently: "Keep going. You are not alone." 

Theatre helped me find my voice, and I will always be in debt to it because of this. I hope to continue making theatre accessible to everyone and anyone in this world -regardless of age, nationality, language, gender or political views- and I will always keep working and fighting for this.

About Valeria
Valeria Ascolese photo
Valeria is a Peruvian-Italian multidisciplinary artist and educator born in Lima, Peru. A graduate of Capilano University, she has collaborated with theatre companies like Electric Company Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Bard on the Beach and Pacific Theatre, while simultaneously working in film and TV. She works as a Teaching Artist at Carousel Theatre for Young People, Lights Up Musical Theatre Schools and North Van Arts; as well as the Communications and Outreach Coordinator at the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition (CALTAC). Valeria focuses on making art accessible to everyone and anyone by bridging her cultures, languages and identity in her work.

Find Valeria on Instagram @valeria.ascolese and LinkedIn.

Vi Levitt (KERUB)

Theatre was my first home artistically, one that, while I left it willingly, I still hold it dear to my heart. I grew up listening to Gilbert and Sullivan, and watching The Producers – it was my dream to be on those stages, creating music for anyone who would want to bear witness. It's a field that has been irreparably cruel, and absolutely beautiful; irredeemably stupid, and incredibly profound – the theatre is an art that I grew up with and one I would be glad to grow old with. 

Live art, in-person, surrounded by people of all demographic backgrounds is one of the last treasures that we can consistently look forward to in this weird timeline we continue to exist in. What else other than the theatre, in all its little malleable forms can be enjoyed by people in almost any space in our society? From improv being done in sleazy bars, to full productions in fancy theatres where only 3 actors have equity out of a cast of 100. It's a facet of society that I took for granted. 

Though I am stuck at home now, no longer in the chorus of an off-colour pantomime, I still find myself drawn to the hope that soon we can be back in those seats counting the minutes until intermission to complain about a song, or to gush about a soprano solo. For there are still things to look forward to during """""these times""""", and I look forward to seeing all I can.

About Vi
Vi Levitt (KERUB)

Vi Levitt (KERUB) is a burgeoning Vancouver based electronic producer, singer, composer and sound artist. Their music is influenced by the intersections present between internet culture, classical vocals, and their experience of growing up during the anthropocene. Art, to Vi, is something to bend as they produce anything from experimental dance, textural ambiance, or deconstructed Simpson hardstyle. Vi is currently taking part in a residency/mentorship program on Kim Senklip Harvey's Break Horizons.

Find Vi online at 






Yvonne Wallace
Theatre has always meant for me the feeling of being surrounded by a community of people who make me feel less alien. I have not ever gone to work in any other environment and been celebrated for being honest, authentic and where it was completely acceptable to laugh myself to tears. I am inspired working in the theatre most when creative collaboration has everyone invested in creating those magical moments that can never be recaptured, where the audience leaves the auditorium feeling as though they are hovering and levitating out from their seats. 

In 2021, I am looking forward to hugging old friends in rehearsal halls, deactivating my zoom account, and sharing meals with my peers. I create theatre because I am honouring my dreams while acknowledging that my ancestors did not have the same access and privileges to do so. Now, I sit and practice patience for the foggy pandemic-brain to lift. Frantically writing down ideas for a post-pandemic world. The generous theatre community has been put on hold, for now, but we are certainly not without purpose, hope or wonderment. I am looking forward to our deep and meaningful connections when working on my next production. I promise never to complain during another cue to cue because it is a privilege that I miss dearly.
About Yvonne
Yvonne Wallace
Yvonne Wallace (Ucwalmicw) from the Lil’wat Nation. Graduated the Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree program at Capilano University. She is currently working on her Master’s in Education Leadership at UBC. Her enthusiasm for theatre began while she worked at The Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Later, she graduated with honours from the Humber College Theatre Acting program.

She has written three plays: Smothered Sweetly, The Last Dance, and utszan (to make things better), a play dealing with language reclamation and her first language fluency progression. Utszan premiered in Whistler, in 2019, Yvonne’s traditional Territory and has toured to Dawson City, Whitehorse. She is looking forward to honouring her bookings that were scheduled as playwright and performer as soon as our current situation becomes safe. Yvonne can be found in N’quatqua working on her fourth play, It's like the dysfunctional Band Office pulled a JWR on me

Find Yvonne on Instagram.
Yvonne Yip
What does theatre mean to me? 

When I think about that and 2020, I find my thoughts going to what I miss about theatre, and why we do it in the first place.

It is the tenacity, precision, creativity, and dedication. The honesty and vulnerability shared on stage. The craftsmanship and attention to detail inside a prop where the audience will never see. It is the resilience of organizations as they try to pivot to digital presentations when theatres are shut down.

It is that perfect moment when everything lines up: the adrenaline when you nail a complicated cue sequence or super-fast quick change, and when a theatre with over a thousand kids are cheering and calling out as a puppet appears.

It is the joy of coming together with a group of artists of various ages, backgrounds, and lived experiences and sharing in a common goal and purpose. The intricacy of the rehearsal process with all its fun and frustration.

For a magical period in time you are part of this small community, a stage family. Something beautiful is created, gets shared with the audience, and then disappears forever to only live on in people’s memories.

It is when hard work is also play. it is knowing that despite the long hours, the drama and sometimes insanity, and all the uncertainties of choosing a life in theatre, that you wouldn’t want to trade it for anything else.
About Yvonne
Yvonne was born in colonial Hong Kong, and immigrated to Canada with her family as a child. She is a Vancouver based stage manager and currently the Interim Producer with Neworld Theatre. 

Favourite credits include Neworld Theatre's King Arthur's Night; ITSAZOO Production’s Competition Is Fierce; Boca del Lupo’s Fall Away Home; Electric Company Theatre’s Palace Grand, Caravan Farm Theatre’s Mother Courage and Her Children; Gateway Theatre’s King of the Yeessss; the 2010 Paralympic Opening Ceremonies; and touring with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia to the Kingdom of Bahrain and South Korea.