Programs + Initiatives
2022 Spotlight on Theatre (full text)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 MichelleBardach.com 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.
View the photos, reflections, and bios of each of the 2021 Spotlight on Theatre participants below.
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.
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 adamgrantwarren.com
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 (caltac.ca).
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).
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 Shipment, Fun Home, Children 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.
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’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 is bilingual in ASL (American Sign Language), & LSQ (Langues des Signes Québécoise). In addition, Caroline has a base knowledge of Indigenous Sign Language.
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 God, The Music from Les Filles du Roi, the published scripts, and the piano/vocal songbook are available on his website, iTunes, and Spotify.
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.
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–
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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 all the things in between
and if we’re lucky
like, really lucky
we may witness a moment
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
to be present.
and I hope you know that when we’re on stage
we can feel that.
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.
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.
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!?
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.
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.
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.
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 Meghna on LinkedIn.
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.
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.
I am a listener and a walker.
When I listen and walk, the world becomes more vivid.
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.
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.
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 queerbasedmedia.com.
Find Rae / Rose Butch on Instagram.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 mgirlmusic.ca, YouTube @mgirlmusicable, LinkedIn @renaemor, and more at www.straight.com/music/1315931/mgirl-infuses-indigenous-themes-western-vocal-harmonies and weaving-reconciliation-our-way.ca/the-people/.
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!!
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.
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).
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.
Find Sophie on Instagram, Facebook, and her website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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