Why Not Theatre Launches
ThisGen 2021 Fellowship
A National Training & Mentorship Program
Supporting BIPOC Female, Non-Binary, and Trans Artists
The 2021 Cohort Includes 15 Fellows From Across Canada
This February, innovative Canadian theatre company Why Not Theatre will launch ThisGen 2021 Fellowship, the second annual national initiative that supports BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) Female, Trans, and Non-Binary artists get to the next stage in their careers through training, mentorship, guided self-study, and peer-to-peer connection. Today Why Not Theatre is proud to announce the 2021 cohort of Fellows, and the 2021 Faculty and Mentors. Calgary-based Fellow Michelle Thrush will participate in the Directing Stream.
Run entirely online from February-June, the 2021 cohort will consist of fifteen Fellows from across Canada who will receive training and mentorship from an internationally renowned faculty.
Fellows will either develop their skills in stage direction as part of the Directing Stream, or in arts leadership as part of the Cultural Leadership Stream. Directing Fellows will embark on a fifteen-week director-training program taught by a faculty of award-winning directors from around the world, while Cultural Leadership Fellows will be paired with a personalized mentor with experience running an arts organization. Each Fellow, Faculty Member, and Mentor is provided with a fee for their participation in the program.
The 2021 cohort of Fellows was selected from across Canada, and applications were accepted in English and ASL. The fifteen ThisGen 2021 Fellows are:
- Natasha Bacchus – Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario
- K.P Dennis – Directing, Coast Salish Territories/Vancouver, BC
- Frances Koncan – Directing, Treaty One Territory/Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Gabrielle Martin – Cultural Leadership, Coast Salish Territories/Vancouver, BC
- Esie Mensah – Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario
- Natasha Mumba – Directing, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario
- Riley Palanca – Cultural Leadership, Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Quebec
- Gaitrie Persaud – Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario
- Annabella Piugattuk – Cultural Leadership, Iqaluit, Nunavut
- Natasha Powell – Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario
- Cherissa Richards – Directing, Treaty One Territory/Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Michelle Thrush – Directing, Mohkínstsis/Calgary, Alberta
- Kaitlynn Tomaselli – Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario
- Katey Wattam – Directing, Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Quebec
- Sage Nokomis Wright – Cultural Leadership, Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Quebec
Why Not will connect these Fellows with top-level international Faculty and Mentors who are creating some of the most ground-breaking, innovative work in the world and changing the sector through their leadership. Hailing from Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, Sweden, and the United States, the ThisGen 2021 Faculty and Mentors include:
- Nicole Brewer – Acting faculty, Yale School of Drama, USA
- Josette Bushell-Mingo – Head of the Theatre, Stockholm University, Sweden
- Rachel Chavkin – Tony Award winning director, USA
- Ty Defoe – Core Member of Indigenous Directions, USA
- Wesley Enoch – Festival Director, Sydney Festival, Australia
- Nataki Garrett – Artistic Director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, USA
- Mr. Antoine Hunter – Founder, Urban Jazz Dance Company, USA
- Leslie Ishii – Artistic Director, Perseverance Theatre, USA
- Akram Khan – Olivier Award winning choreographer, England
- Pitseolak Kilabuk – Director of Operations, Inuit Broadcasting Corp, Canada
- Rachael Maza – Artistic Director, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Australia
- Weyni Mengesha – Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre, Canada
- Ramesh Meyyappan – Multi-award winning theatre artist, Scotland
- Julie Nagam – Artistic Director, Nuit Blanche Toronto, Canada
- Yvette Nolan – Multi-award winning playwright & director, Canada
- Crystal Pite – Olivier Award winning Choreographer, Canada
- Madeline Sayet – Executive Director, Yale Indigenous Performing Arts, USA
- Lily Shearer – Artistic Director, Moogahlin Performing Arts Inc, Australia
- Dawn Walton – Founder, Eclipse Theatre, England
- Syrus Marcus Ware – Visual artist and political activist, Canada
- Marcus Youssef – Siminovitch Prize winning playwright, Canada
Why Not Theatre is passionate about creating a future where BIPOC Female, Trans, and Non-Binary people are supported, celebrated, and have the resources and networks they need to thrive in the arts sector. By making connections to institutional leadership, enhancing valuable skill sets, and building a network of peers, ThisGen Fellowship is a launchpad for Canadian directors and cultural leaders.
COVID-19 has exacerbated and highlighted the many inequities that are present in the theatre sector and the wider world. By using this period of theatre closures to address systemic barriers to access, Why Not is actively working to shape what theatre will look like when it returns, equipping a new group of artists with the tools to be leaders in their fields. In building relationships with diverse artists, and engaging in complex conversations around art and the industry, ThisGen 2021 Fellowship is reimagining the future of leadership across disciplines in Canadian performing arts.
Why Not Theatre’s ThisGen 2021 Fellowship is made possible by the Government of Canada.
About Why Not Theatre:
Good isn’t good enough.
At Why Not Theatre, we’re out for better.
We shake up the status quo to make the world we want to see.
A world where everyone can achieve their full potential. We question everything. Rethink how stories are told. And who gets to tell them. We believe in art. It’s how we make change.
We MAKE great work that takes chances, and tours all over the world. We SHARE everything we have, because more artists mean more stories. We PROVOKE change because we believe art should be for everyone.
We push boundaries, build community, and find new ways. We represent Toronto, at home and on the world stage.
Founded in 2007, we are growing rapidly, led by Ravi Jain, Kelly Read, and Miriam Fernandes.
For more information about ThisGen 2021 Fellowship: