Theatre Alberta’s Michelle Dias Community Service Award is offered each year in memory of Ms. Dias, a respected colleague and true champion of Canadian theatre, who passed away in 2011. The award is granted to a theatre community member who demonstrates a selfless commitment to the Alberta theatre community and to sharing their knowledge with colleagues and peers. Michelle was deeply involved in Theatre Alberta’s educational programming, having spearheaded Safe Stages, our health and safety resource for theatres, as well as working with us frequently as an instructor. In addition to Michelle’s contributions to Theatre Alberta programs, Michelle was Head of Props for Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from 1996 -2004. Michelle worked at Banff during the summer months, the rest of the year she was an integral part of the Citadel Theatre production team. At the Citadel, Michelle was the Head of Scenic Paint from Sept 1995 until her passing in September 2011.
We typically award The Michelle Dias Community Service Award to a participant attending one of our Workshops by Request Rocky Mountain Series offerings at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, however this year in the absence of the program we had the capacity to seek applications from the community. We had many excellent applications and upon deliberation we wanted to honour as many as possible.
Theatre Alberta is thrilled to announce that the 2023 Michelle Dias Community Service Awards have been presented to four artists, with an additional four honourable mentions. These awards of $2,500 and $750 each respectively will support the recipients’ participation in a professional development opportunity relevant to their theatre practice/discipline. We are pleased to support eight artists from across Alberta attending professional development locally, nationally, and internationally. Theatre Alberta extends deep gratitude to the Edmonton Community Foundation and CITT Alberta for their support of our Michelle Dias Community Service Awards this year.
The four award recipients for 2023 are: Daniela Fernandez, Betty Hushlak, Kodie Rollan, and Cathleen Sbrizzi.
The four honourable mentions for 2023 are: Deedra Salange Ladouceur, Amanda Samuelson, Meegan Sweet, and Connor Yuzwenko-Martin.
“With this award, I intend to continue my Sound Design studies so that I can have a better understanding of equipment and building speaker plots under the mentorship of Tori Morrison.”
Daniela Fernandez (she/her) is a Latin-Canadian actor, singer, dancer and emerging sound designer/ producer. She is a graduate of the Grant MacEwan Theatre Arts program and inaugural recipient of the RBC Horizon Emerging Artist Mentorship Program for Sound Design at the Citadel Theatre. Recent credits include: Going Solo!; Jersey Boys; A Christmas Carol (Citadel Theatre, The Wolves (The Maggie Tree) and Mamma Mia! (Mayfield Theatre) as a performer and Smoke (Tiny Bear Jaws), The Fiancée (Citadel Theatre) and Hiraeth (Bright Young Things) as a sound designer. Next up, she will be designing for Northern Light Theatre’s A Hundred Words For Snow and performing in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Arts Club/ Vancouver).
“I am honored to receive the Michelle Dias Community Service Award. It holds great meaning for me as Michelle’s friend and colleague. I will be attending the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, in June 2023.”
Betty Hushlak’s career in Alberta spans quite a few decades of work as a producer, production manager and stage manager in theatre. She has also worked in film, television, and live events in logistics coordination and art department roles. Recently, Betty acted as Associate Producer for SkirstsAfire on The Shoe Project. For Workshop West, she stage-managed Tell Us What Happened, and Springboards 2022. Betty also previously stage managed Café Daughter for them, which played at the National Arts Centre, The Belfry Theatre, tours of the Northwest Territories and Belgrade, Serbia, Herceg Novi and Montenegro. Betty was the Technical Producer for the SkirtsAfire Festival for seven years.
She was the Alternate Stage Manager for Alberta Ballet’s productions of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker in 2021. Favorite projects over the last few years: co-producer on WILDLIFE; a projection experience at the Rossdale Power Plant, co-producer of Oh! Christmas Tree! — part of The Roxy Series and Stage Manager for Movement/Architecture (a presentation at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial). Betty also worked as Company Manager for Catalyst Theatre’s world premiere of The Invisible-Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare, and stage managed Disgraced at Alberta Theatre Projects before it all went surreal. Betty-Lou has taught stage and production management at the University of Alberta and MacEwan University, and now is an Instructor and Production Manager at the University of Lethbridge.
“With the support of the Michelle Dias Community Service Award, I will be deepening my dramaturgical practice, specifically by focusing on musical theatre dramaturgy through collaborations with the Musical Stage Company.”
Kodie Rollan is a Philippine-born, Scarborough-raised, Mohkins’tsis based playwright, dramaturg, lyricist, and producer. As an artist, much of his work revolves around equity-focused storytelling, community-building, creating equitable artistic processes, justice, and abolition. Kodie is currently the Artistic Director at Chromatic Theatre, the Assistant Dramaturg at the Banff Playwrights Lab, and an educational facilitator of the Rozsa Foundation in their arts leadership program. He holds his Masters in Arts Leadership from Queen’s University. Outside the arts world he holds a deep passion for basketball and baking.
“I am so honoured to be a recipient of The Michelle Dias Community Service Award which is providing me with the opportunity to pursue formal training in Digital Patterning software Clo3D which I will use in my work as a theatrical Cutter and Designer.”
Cathleen Sbrizzi is a Costume Designer and Cutter based in Calgary Alberta. She holds a BA in Costume studies from Dalhousie University and a Certificate in Innovative Pattern Cutting from Central Saint Martins in London. Cathleen has had the pleasure of designing for the Opera, Theatre, local Indie-musicians, Film, and Television. She is the Author and Coordinator of the Canadian Costumers Digital Research Initiative Website: Cathleen.Design
2023 Honourable Mentions
Deedra Salange Ladouceur
“I will put these funds towards my return to academia as a master’s student at the University of Calgary and my continued efforts to decolonize theatre and promote healing through the arts.”
Deedra Salange Ladouceur is a Mohkinstsis based Métis artist fascinated with all mediums of storytelling within the entertainment industry; including acting, singing, podcasting, poetry, puppetry and stand up.
Her desire is to gain experience in all platforms of expression, propel Canadian diversity with theatre and inspire self-acceptance. She believes the courage to tell your story comes at a high cost of vulnerability. Likewise empathy is needed to listen to others. It is her wish to rouse the empathy and courage necessary, to allow those stories to come to fruition. She looks forward to not only telling her own story, but also helping conduct other stories to the publics’ eye.
“I will use the funds from this honourable mention to attend The Great Canadian Playwright Showcase in my hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta.”
Amanda Samuelson is a writer, actor, and producer currently based in Amiskwaciwâskahikan, colonially known as Edmonton. She was born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta, where her passion for theatre began.
She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts BFA program, with a major in Theatre and a minor in Creative Writing. Amanda’s plays have received recognition in festivals and competitions locally, nationally, and internationally. Her producing experience includes the New Mythic Works Series with the Thousand Faces Festival and Theatre Prospero, and her own play, Pressure, which was recently seen at the 2022 Edmonton Fringe Festival.
“I am so excited to be able to help fund my training at One North Clown and Creation in Ontario this summer!”
Meegan Sweet (they/them) is a queer, neurodivergent multidisciplinary artist, 2020 graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, as well as a 2016 graduate of the Theatre Performance and Creation Diploma at Red Deer College (now Red Deer Polytechnic). Since graduating, they have been working as an actor and musician (and florist!) in Amiskwaciwâskahikan. Meegan brings together their foundations of singing and music, classical training, with the authenticity and vulnerability of Pochinko Clown. Meegan would like to note that there are not enough flowers to thank everyone who has helped them on their journey.
“The funds generously provided by the Michelle Dias Community Service Award will be used to sustain my time as I continue to build capacity for original theatre creation among Deaf youth.”
Connor Yuzwenko-Martin (he/him) is a Deaf creator and a fourth-generation settler with ancestry in Ireland and Ukraine. Both nations have a long and complicated history of working alongside or against the Indigenous peoples of Treaty 6, which include the Tsuut’ina, Nehiyawak, Anishnaabe, the Nakota Sioux, and the Niitsitapi. Connor is an actor, producer, playwright, and public relations specialist. In 2023, he has written, produced, and premiered two original performances, After Faust and Carbon Movements as part of his new Deaf arts collective, The Invisible Practice.