#321 – Fanny Dvorkin

Fanny is a recent graduate of Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Program. A writer and actor, they are most interested in how the classics can intersect with contemporary performance. As a queer artist, they focuses on how their identities can inform art, both personally and politically. These themes can be seen in their NTS ArtApart short film, SMASHCUT: INT. CHANGING ROOM. Prior to beginning their theatre training, they were an editor and academic, pursuing a Masters in Medieval Studies at York, where they portrayed MAry Magdalene in the Cornish Resurrection Cycle with the Lords of Misrule. They love a good mystery play, as long as it’s a little gay.

Twitter: @fannystage
Instagram: @fannydeedee

SMASHCUT: Int. Changing Room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzb0Ops7qmA

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#320 – Stefan Dzeparoski

Stefan is a Serbian-born, Toronto-based international director and creative producer. He is best known for his interdisciplinary stage practices merging film, digital and live performance. Stefan’s work has been seen on stages in Europe, Canada, and Off-Broadway. He is a Director and Creative Producer at Toronto’s award-winning BirdLand Theatre.

Among other things, Stefan is the founder of a creative StartUp Digital Dream Society.
Stefan is alumnae of Directors Lab at The Lincoln Center in New York, and fellowship recipient of International Theatre School at University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

His work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, and in many online publications.

Twitter: @DzeparoskiS

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#319 – Daniel Levinson

Daniel Levinson has been performing, directing and teaching stage combat professionally since founding Rapier Wit in 1991. Rapier Wit is Canada’s oldest stage combat school and production company. Daniel is proud to be counted among Fight Directors Canada’s Fight Masters. He has had a long history with FDC. He was one of the founding advanced actor combatants at FDC’s inaugural workshop. Daniel has created fights for companies such as The Stratford Festival (5 seasons), Canadian Stage, Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, Volcano Theatre, Actors Repertory Company, Second City, A.C.T. Productions, Shakespeare In the Square, Factory Theatre, Shakespeare in the Rough, Theatre Aquarius, The Actor’s Repertory Company, Theatre Passe Muraille, The Tarragon Theatre and The Guild Festival Theatre. Daniel is proud of his years teaching at the University of Waterloo, Sheridan, and the University of Toronto Mississauga.

www.rapierwit.com
Twitter: @RapierWitCombat
Instagram: @Rapierwit

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#318 – Sarah Marchand

Launched in 2016, alma matters productions began with a single goal: To amplify underrepresented stories through the power of theatre. Fast forward five years later, and we have now supported thirteen new works that focus on intersectional feminism, cultural identity, and mental health. We proudly label ourselves as a grassroots company, which has built a community of artists eager to be the future voices of Canada’s performing arts industry. Together, we have showcased award-winning plays, built networks, and provided paid training opportunities for emerging talent.
To support Fly Away Home, our inaugural 2022 season, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-alma-matters-productions-first-season

SELECT CREDITS: Winter of ’88, co-producer (Nowadays Theatre, NNNNN); Love at 752, producer (ft. on CBC); Swim Team, producer (Nowadays Theatre, NNNN); Drink of Choice, Producer (Toronto Fringe 2019 Patron’s Pick), Cooking for Grief, Producer (Vancouver Fringe Festival)

The Artistic Director, Sarah Marchand, is secretly quite shy, despite friendly exteriors. As she continues to learn, Sarah is passionate about making indie theatre producing more accessible: if someone as bad with numbers like her can become a producer, you can too.

www.sarahmarchand.com
Twitter: @sarahamarchand
Instagram: @sarahamarchand

www.almamattersproductions.com
Twitter: @almattersprod
Instagram: @almattersprod

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Does the Theatre Community Actually Exist?

Here’s a question that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Just what is the theatre community? We often talk about the quote unquote theatre community. What does the community think about this? What is the community doing about this?

And I love the idea of the theatre community, but often a moment after I talk about the theatre community, I find myself wondering what exactly is the community and how do I find it? Because a community is a social unit with a commonality, like a, an identity or a religion or values or, or passions. Or in the case of the theatre world of vocation, but a community needs to be a social unit.

Now I live in Toronto, which is a pretty big city for theatre, but there are small pockets of theatre all over this city. Lots of theatre clique’s for want of a better word. There are some names that everyone knows, and a lot of names that might be known within a single clique, but might not be known in another.

The problem with these clique’s is that they are both the theatre community and not, they are the community because for the people involved in that group, that’s their community, but they are not the community because they’re a small group for the larger theatre community. That’s something that’s more complicated to describe.

When I think about the theatre community, when I’ve asked people to tell me what they think about when they think of the theatre community in Toronto, the only thing they seem to be able to think of is the fringe tent or the patio or whatever we’re calling it. Now, fringe seems to be the one time of year when the theatre world comes together and forms a community.

We gather, we have a few drinks, we have some conversation. We talk about the amazing theatre we’ve seen. We talk about the things that we’re working on. We hang out and just enjoy being with other theatre people. And for 10 ish days, we have this place that we go. And when it’s over, that’s pretty much the end of the community for the year, because it’s the only time we seem to gather as a group.

When I first came to Toronto, when I first started hanging out and being in the world of Toronto as an adult, I learned that there was a bar called the Green Room and I assumed that was the theatre bar. And I thought to myself how amazing it was that there was this place where all the performers and other theatre people in Toronto could go and hang out.

Well, imagine my surprise and disappointment when I discovered that it was just a bar. Occasionally you would find some theatre people there, but it was not a theatre bar. And I think about New York city, where there have been restaurants that were integral to the theatre world, like the Edison cafe, sadly, no longer with us and a cursory Google search assures me that there are other cafes and restaurants that are theatre centric where people go, we don’t have that here.

There are a few places that have become central to the theatre scenes in cities here and there. At least during the fringe season, someone will have to let me know if they’re theatre hubs all year long in Winnipeg. The Kings Head becomes the bar of choice for fringe casts and crews. And in Edmonton, the performers shunned the beer tents and instead head to Steel Wheels.

But to my knowledge, these places, these hubs of the theatre community are temporary and mostly related to the local fringe scene, but it would be great to have a place that could be more of a regular gathering place, where we could talk about things happening in the theatre world, where we could meet where we could have community instead of making Twitter, our theatre commons, because Twitter is no place for discourse, but when we have no place to gather on the regular, how can we be a theatre community, I guess in the end, I don’t have an answer because I still don’t know what the theatre community is.

It’s something we talk about as though it was a thing and every now and then we get a taste of what it could be and then it’s gone, but I long for it. And maybe you do too. The only question is what do we do about that?

#317 – Brendan Healy

Brendan Healy is the Artistic Director of Canadian Stage, one of the country’s leading not-for-profit contemporary performing arts organizations. The company produces, presents, commissions, and collaborates with multiple partners on cross-disciplinary work with a focus on performance styles that integrate theatre, dance, film, visual arts and more. Originally from Montréal, Brendan began his career as an actor before moving to directing. Brendan attended the National Theatre School’s Directing Program and trained extensively with one of the pioneers of the American avant-garde Anne Bogart and the SITI Company before relocating to Toronto. Since then, Brendan has established himself as a central figure in the city’s theatre scene. His work has been presented across the country and his productions have garnered multiple awards. Between 2009-2015, Brendan was the Artistic Director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, the world’s longest-running theatre devoted to LGBTQ2S artists and one of Canada’s most significant generators of experimental performance and theatre. During his time at Buddies, the company experienced an unprecedented period of artistic success. More recently, Brendan completed a Masters in International Arts Management, in a program jointly offered by the Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas), l’École des hautes études commerciales (Montréal, Québec), and the SDA Bocconi School of Management (Milan, Italy). He also worked as the Artistic Director for Performing Arts for the City of Brampton, one of Canada’s most diverse and fastest-growing cities.

misterbrendanhealy.com

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#316 – An IMM-Permanent Resident

A comedy infused with Bollywood elements, An IMM-Permanent Resident is a hilarious take on the mundane and tiresome bureaucracy of the Canadian Immigration process, as experienced by playwrights and real-life couple, Himanshu and Neha. The play explores the irreverent journey to obtain Neha’s PR status, including the couple’s trials and tribulations as they put their hopes and dreams on pause (indefinitely). Through wit and creative banter, this fast-paced roller coaster transports us between Mumbai and Toronto, as Neha and Himanshu navigate the immigration system and ask themselves – is love worth it all?

www.nautankibazaar.ca
Tickets: whynot.theatre/work/immpermanentresident

Himanshu Sitlani is a thespian, originally hailing from Mumbai. Foraying his way into theatre as an actor, he progressed on to other creative aspects and worked as a Stage Manager and Producer over the years with QTP and Akvarious. He co-founded Le Chayim Theatre Productions in Mumbai in 2006 where he eventually made his directorial debut in 2013. Since immigrating to Toronto Canada, Himanshu’s been immersed in supporting the creative arts, working as Patron Services Manager at Factory Theatre, while penning down his ideas towards his goal of creating a bridge between creative artists in Canada and India eventually co-founding Nautanki Bazaar in 2019.
In 2021, he wrote and performed in the virtual show “Stories of a Dish’ that was presented at the Mississauga Multilingual Fringe Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe, The Little Lion Theatre Festival in London UK, The Tata Literature Live Festival in Mumbai India and the Next Stage Theatre Festival in Toronto.

Twitter: @himy316
Instagram: @himanshu.sitlani

Neha Poduval is a trained actor, with several feathers in her creative hat, having performed in various theatre plays, corporate films and TV shows across India. A post-graduate in Acting from the reputed Film and Television Institute of India, she continued her association with the performing arts since moving to Canada.
In January 2021, she launched her YouTube Cooking Channel “Mustard Tempered Dreams” where she shares her love for food with easy to make Indian and global vegetarian recipes.

Neha is also a certified Yoga Teacher and has been teaching Yoga across various studios, community and senior centres in Toronto.

Instagram: @mustard_tempered_dreams

Miquelon Rodriguez is a sound designer, composer, radio play mixer & editor, digital content creator, actor, and an emerging arts leader based in T’karonto. He was the Apprentice Artistic Director at Factory Theatre from 2017-2019, under the mentorship of Nina Lee Aquino, and co-curated Pan-Asian works over two seasons at Soulpepper through the Tiger Bamboo Festival and the Shen Development Series. He is an Artistic Leadership Resident with the National Theatre School of Canada and has worked with a multitude of artists and companies across Turtle Island.

Twitch: www.twitch.tv/troysteel
Twitter: @djtronix
Instagram: @troysteel

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Why Does Canadian Theatre Seem So Disposable?

Honest question. What is with the disposable nature of plays in the Canadian theatre? Yeah, I can only think of a couple of plays – one in recent memory – that have had a life outside of their initial performance. On average, we produce a play once on one of our major stages, say for example, in Toronto, Theatre Passe Muraille, Tarragon, The Factory.

And then for the most part that play is then disposed of and forgotten and never really heard from again. And we’ve been doing that, pretty much since the 1960s, when the Canadian theatre scene really began in earnest. Every so often a play like Kim’s Convenience comes along that is so undeniably good that it gets a life after its production.

But for the most part, it seems that in Canada, we produce a play, it runs for a few weeks, and then when it’s over, it’s gone and we never hear from it. But for American and British plays, those will often tour or get a Canadian production or be performed by community theater groups. But aside from Kim’s or the drowsy chaperone or come from away, when was the last time a Canadian play has gotten a production outside of Canada.

I remember a number of years ago, Howard Sherman, who was then the head of the American theater wing, posted that he found it curious that he knew plays from Britain and of course plays from America, but he could not name any shows from Canada. Of course, a lot of Canadians helped out and named their favorites, but at the time, even he found it odd that he couldn’t name a single Canadian play.

Why do you think this is? What is it that prevents the plays that we create here from going on to be performed in the US or Britain or elsewhere, but what’s even more concerning to me is the fact that we rarely see them produced at home. So often a play is produced, and like I said, it runs a few weeks and it closes.

And it doesn’t get to breathe to grow. And it certainly doesn’t get to become a hit the way shows from elsewhere get to. And I do understand that part of that is logistics. In Toronto, we have only so many theaters dedicated to producing new work, and there’s only so much time that could be dedicated to a given play in each season. And because of that, a production can only run a few weeks.

But that keeps us from having a show that gets to be a big hit. Because if a show does well, there’s really no mechanism in place that lets a show go on to another life. Nothing that lets a show get picked up to continue on under another theater’s umbrella and run for longer or anything like that. I guess for me, the sad thing is that Canadian theatre will never be able to get worldwide acclaim or even respect unless we find a way to give a play life after its first production.

Not that a play has to travel to Britain or the US to be successful, but at the very least, should we not have some path to further productions in Canada to give our shows the same shot at being remembered that shows in Britain in the U S. Why don’t we value the theater we make here enough to give more of our plays, a future?

Don’t our homegrown playwrights and actors and directors deserve that? Don’t they deserve better than just being disposable? Agree or disagree. I would love to hear your opinion.

#315 – Introverted Actors Roundtable

An introverted actors roundtable discussion featuring actor and playwright, Stephen Near; actor & Singer-Songwriter Carolyn Fe; writer, composer & and performer, Kristen Zaza; playwright & performer, Genevieve Adam; writer & actor Michael Ripley, and writer & theatre maker, Jess McAuley.

Stephen Near is an actor & writer working in Hamilton. His plays have been performed across Canada at various theatres and festivals including the Ottawa Fringe, the Toronto Fringe, the Hamilton Fringe, New Ideas, and Summerworks. He is a graduate of York University (BFA), the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (B. Ed) and the MFA Creative Writing program at the University of Guelph. He is a member of the Playwright’s Guild of Canada, the Theatre Aquarius Creator’s Junction and Playwright’s Unit and an alumnus of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Banff Centre. Stephen is co-founder and playwright-in-residence of Same Boat Theatre in Hamilton. Stephen was named one of the inaugural Writers-in-Residence at Hamilton’s Cotton Factory and is a staff writer for the Hamilton arts and culture blog Beyond James.
 
stephennear.com
Twitter: @SNear23
Instagram: @stephenisnear
 
Carolyn Fe is a late-blooming Filipino-Canadian, tri-lingual Actress (English/French/Tagalog), Singer-Songwriter and former contemporary Dancer-Choreographer. Some Theatre credits include: Calpurnia (Nightwood/Sulong), Hilot Means Healer (Cahoots), Through the Bamboo (Uwi Collective) and Three Women of Swatow (Tarragon). At an age when her peers have long established themselves, Carolyn’s continuous pursuit of artistic evolution adds a new instrument to her art as an Emerging Playwright and Writer supported by Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre’s Fireworks Playwrights’ Programme, The Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, and, Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre, Factory Theatre’s Foundry Programme for Playwrights, Cahoots Theatre. Some TV/streaming credits include Lola (Grandma) in the Nickelodeon children’s show “Blue’s Clues & You!” and Madame Z in the award winning French webseries “Meilleur Avant” and the upcoming sketch comedy series “Abroad” on Omni Channel in Spring 2022.

Carolyn-fe.com
Twitter: @TheCarolynFe
Instagram: @thecarolynfe

Kristen Zaza is a writer, composer, and performer based in Toronto, Canada. She is currently producing the second season of her award-winning audio drama podcast, On a Dark, Cold Night.

www.kristenzaza.com
Twitter: @kristen_zaza
Instagram: @kristen_zaza

Genevieve Adam is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School in Toronto and the East15 Acting School in the UK. Her first play Deceitful Above All Things premiered at SummerWorks in 2015 and won several accolades including Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Production, and Best Emerging Artist. It was remounted at the Factory in association with The Storefront Theatre in February 2017.

Subsequent plays include Bedsport (Newmarket National Play Festival), New World (Future Theatre Festival), Anatomy of A Dancer (Next Stage 2019), The Boat Show (Lost Souls’ Collective), and If The Shoe Fits, which won second place in the Toronto Fringe 2019 New Play Writing Contest.Her most recent play Dark Heart was named one of the top theatrical productions of 2018 by the Toronto Star.

Genevieve is also the poet behind the whimsical #haikusoflockdown series on Twitter.

Twitter: @FavourZeeBrave

Michael Ripley, 54, was born in Alberta but has spent most of his adult life in Ontario. He currently lives in Whitby with his wife and two sons. When Michael isn’t writing, performing or designing he spends inordinate amounts of time typing and immediately deleting long responses (which he never posts) to mean people on social media. He also eats far too many wine gums and watches not nearly enough basketball.

www.talentedmr.ca
Twitter: @TalentedMr
Instagram: @talentedmr

Jess McAuley is a Brock University graduate (theatre studies, honours) with a passion for devised theatre, writing, and pushing the bounds of adventure on stage. She is also one of the co-hosts of The Introvert’s Guide To…

Twitter: @mcauleyjes
Instagram: @itsjessmcauley

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#314 – Bruce Dow

Born in Seattle, WA, and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Bruce Dow is an American/Canadian actor, director, composer/librettist, cabaret artist, and theatre educator, best known for his 5 featured roles on Broadway; his 12 seasons in leading roles at the Stratford Festival; and his Dora Award Winning performances at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre — the world’s largest and longest running LGBTQ2IA+ theatre — and his Helen Hayes Award nominated work with the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Studio Theatre in Washington, DC.

brucedow.com
Twitter: @DowBruce
Instagram: @dowbruce

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