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Artstrek 2023 Curriculum Team and Instructors

Artstrek 2019
Photo Credits

Theatre Alberta recruits leading theatre educators and working professionals from across Alberta to teach at Artstrek. Our instructors bring extensive practical and academic knowledge to the program and connect participants directly to the theatre scene in Alberta.

Jenna Rodgers (She/Her)
Artstrek Director

Jenna is a mixed-race Director and Dramaturg who gratefully resides on land called Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary), on Treaty 7 Territory. She is the founding Artistic Director of Chromatic Theatre, the Dramaturg for the Playwrights Lab at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Board Co-Chair of LMDA, and the Director of Theatre Alberta’s Artstrek Program. She is a graduate of the NTS Artistic Leadership Residency (2020), the Banff Centre’s Cultural Leadership Program (2019), and a member of the artEquity National Facilitator Training cohort (2018). Jenna holds a MA in International Performance Research from the universities of Amsterdam and Tampere.

Linette J. Smith (She/Her)
Curriculum Director

A fan of theatre camp Smith is thrilled to be Curriculum Director again this summer. Smith is a theatre/improv teacher in Edmonton and artistic director for the Scona Alumni Theatre Co. Smith is president of the Zone 8 High School One Acts and is one of the writers for the high school improv curriculum. An improv student for life, Smith recently completed her long form improv studies with the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC and coaches three high school improv teams. A Freelance director/ choreographer Select credits include Spring Awakening the musical (Scona Theatre) the Edmonton premiere of Lizzie the musical (Uniform Theatre) Ride the Cyclone, Xanadu, Heathers, Dogfight, Hedwig and the Angry Inch American Idiot, RENT (Edmonton Fringe) directing the Canadian premier of Calvin Berger (three-form theatre). Singin’ in the Rain (Festival Place) Big Fish, Nevermore, In the Heights, Les Miserables, West Side Story (Scona Theatre Co.) Rocky Horror, Jane Eyre, Avenue Q, Chicago, Cabaret (TOWTTB).

Sue Goberdhan

Sue Goberdhan (She/Her)
Administrative Director

Sue is an Indo-Caribbean performer, arts administrator, and educator. When she is not working as Artistic Producer at Azimuth Theatre or creating new musicals with Could Be Cool Theatre, she is working towards creating educational opportunities for folks of any age range who want to pursue their theatre passions! Sue has taught for Foote Theatre School, Grindstone Education, Metro Continuing Education, and Jube School. She also co-founded AZ-MAP: the Azimuth Mentorship and Apprenticeship Program. Sue is a proud Artstrek alum and is so excited to dive into another magical summer of theatre camp! 


Elena Eli Belyea

Elena is a queer/non-binary playwright, performer, producer, arts educator, and Artistic Director of Tiny Bear Jaws. They were born and raised in Amiskwaciwaskahikan (colonially known as Edmonton) on Treaty 6 territory and have had work produced across Turtle Island and internationally (including Hungary, Austria, Berlin, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Quebec, and Wells) and received numerous awards. She’s taught workshops and classes at places like the University of Virginia’s Young Writers’ Workshop, Youthwrite, Youthriot, Citadel Theatre’s Foote Theatre School, as well as the Paprika Festival in Toronto. They’re also half of queer sketch duo “Gender? I Hardly Know Them” (on Tiktok + Instagram at @genderihardlyknowthem). Credit for the photo goes to Nico Humby!

Geoffrey Simon Brown

Geoffrey is an award-winning Albertan based playwright, performer, facilitator, and co-creator of the Major Matt Mason Collective, an independent performance company dedicated to intimate and experimental new Canadian work. Highlights as an educator include co-teaching performance creation at the University of Calgary this past fall, running the High School Mentorship program at Theatre Junction from 2016-2018, and teaching playwriting at Central Memorial High School from 2019-2020 as well as writing/co-directing their 2023 spring play, Progress. His plays have been performed across the country and include The Circle (Alberta Theatre Projects, Tarragon Theatre), Michael Mysterious (Pyretic Productions), and the most recent adaptation(s) of A Christmas Carol for Theatre Calgary (2019-2021). He is an Artstrek alumnus (2007) and studied at the National Theatre School of Canada.

Braden Griffiths

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Braden has been an actor, playwright, puppeteer, and arts educator for the past twenty years. With over 100 professional acting credits, he has performed throughout Western Canada (and occasionally overseas: East Asia and Australia). His plays (written with Ellen Close) have been produced in Alberta and BC. He was recently a puppeteer on two seasons of Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock. And, in between all that stuff, he can often be found teaching young people life skills through theatre. He vehemently believes that Artstrek is the best place in the world (this will be his sixth summer teaching with the program), and the most important artistic endeavour in which he has been involved. In 2022, inspired by the time spent with the students of Artstrek, Braden completed his Education degree at the University of British Columbia.

Melissa Mayville

Melissa has been a theatre educator in Alberta for eighteen years. She feels grateful to have spent most of her career in Amiskwaciwâskahikan on Treaty 6 Territory, where stories have been created and ensembles born by the people who walked the lands before us for time immemorial. Melissa feels incredibly proud to work with youth on a daily basis and is constantly inspired by their ability to adapt, create and encourage change in our world. Melissa currently teaches at Victoria School of the Arts and this year directed a production of Matilda Jr.

Doug Mertz

Doug is an actor, teacher, director, vocal and dialect coach, who has taught extensively in post-secondaries in the US (Carnegie-Mellon University, Point Park University and the University of Pittsburgh) and Canada (MacEwan University, University of Alberta). He has also conducted workshops for Rapid Fire Theatre, Theatre Alberta Workshops by Request and Dramaworks and numerous area high schools (Strathscona, Ross Sheppard, Holy Trinity, Morinville, McNally to name a few). He is currently an assistant professor at MacEwan in the brand-new Music Theatre Performance BFA program where he teaches acting, voice, speech text, dialects, accents, Shakespeare, and auditioning. He previously ran the Young Company program and Foote Theatre School at the Citadel Theatre. His teaching philosophy honors the uniqueness of each student’s voice (literal and figurative) as a way to integrate the self into the performance.

Michelle Rios

Michelle is a Broadway veteran, educator, and industry professional with over thirty years of experience. Ms. Rios earned her MFA in Theatre Practice from the University of Alberta. She has performed in the Tony Award-nominated Broadway productions of The Capeman, The Sound of Music, Man of La Mancha, and performed the coveted role of “Abuela Claudia” opposite Lin Manuel Miranda in In the Heights. She has been an instructor, lecturer, and guest director at the University of Victoria (Guest Director for Spring Awakening), University of Alberta, Portage College University Studies, Concordia University of Edmonton (Guest Director for The Secret Garden), Grande Prairie Regional College, and is currently on the faculty of the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC. In New York, she was an Associate Site Director with ENACT, Inc., and has taught masterclasses at the Juilliard School, Citadel Theatre Robbins Academy, iHuman Youth Society, etc.

Jacqueline Russell (She/Her)

Jacqueline is a director, performer, creator and clown. She has taught workshops in clown, mask and creation across the country, from Comox to Montreal. Her creative research practice experiments with blending clown, yoga, mask, viewpoints, and other embodied processes to explore imaginative worlds. Jacqueline was the Artistic Producer of Urban Curvz Theatre from 2011-2015, the 2013-14 RBC Emerging Director at Lunchbox Theatre and the Artistic Producer for Evergreen Theatre from 2008-2013. Jacqueline has an MFA in Theatre and currently teaches at the University of Calgary, Ambrose University, and for Inside Out Theatre. As a teen Jacqueline spent three glorious summers at Artstrek in the 90’s and is thrilled to be returning this year as an instructor.

Vern Slipetz

Vern is excited to be part of the 2023 Artstrek team! Vern teaches theatre and english at Archbishop MacDonald Catholic School on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton. In addition to teaching, he has also been seconded to work at the University of Alberta and at Alberta Education. He holds a BMus-MusEd and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Theatre-Music). Favorite directing and musical directing credits include Macbeth, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Odyssey, Arabian Nights, Threepenny Opera, Urinetown, Village of Idiots, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night.

Marshall Vielle

Marshall is an actor, director, arts educator, and drag performer from the Kainai Nation. They are a graduate from the University of Lethbridge where they received their BFA, specializing in Theatre Performance, and are especially interested in using theatre for community development. They work as an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the performance sector and beyond, while also lending their creativity to several queer youth initiatives. From teaching Global Health Promotion in Malawi, to teaching youth about their rights in the workplace with Work Plays and the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre, to sharing physical theatre fundamentals with Trickster Theatre, Marshall has enjoyed sharing their passion for using theatre as a tool to teach and help build a foundation of understanding.

Morgan Yamada

Morgan works as an actor, fight director, arts educator, creative collaborator and Co-Artistic Producer of Azimuth Theatre. She graduated from the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting Program and completed her Advanced Actor Combatant certification with Fight Directors Canada. She has worked extensively as an arts educator in various capacities supporting young artists through Trickster Theatre, Concrete Theatre, Jube School and the Citadel Theatre’s Young Company programs. She is so excited to be back with Artstrek this year! She has also worked with high schools, universities and professional theatres, teaching workshops and courses alongside choreographing violence for productions. Morgan has worked at theatres across the country and has been a member of award-winning ensembles. She has workshopped new plays and theatrical work, and collaborating on new work has taught her how theatre can explore the past, reflect the present and dream of the future.

Artstrek 2023 Funders and Supporters

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