News (Fort McMurray): Theatre; Just Because Announces New Artistic Director

Bailey Yarkie

Theatre; Just Because, Fort McMurray’s independent theatre company, has appointed Bailey Yarkie as Artistic Director. Yarkie will be taking over for Hanna Fridhed, who has been in the role since 2019.

Theatre; Just Because has been operating in Fort McMurray for seven years. Throughout this time the company has run youth programming, theatre-based workshops and development programs, and many productions, including the annual fundraising dinner theatre for Waypoints, in multiple venues across the city.

Fridhed joined the company in 2016 and served in a variety of roles before taking on the position of Artistic Director near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During her tenure as Artistic Director, Fridhed was instrumental in ensuring safe theatre programming continued to be available during the pandemic.

“Being a part of Theatre; Just Because over the past years has been a wild and wonderful journey,” says Fridhed. “This community is rich in creativity and talent and will continue to grow stronger as new voices emerge. Even after this past challenging year, I’m confident that the Wood Buffalo theatre and Theatre; Just Because have a bright future ahead.”

Yarkie has been a theatre artist in Fort McMurray since 2015 and has filled many roles during this time. She has acted, stage managed, improvised, and coordinated the Theatre; Just Because Youth Players program.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to step into the Artistic Director position and continue Theatre; Just Because’ mission to empower local artists,” says Yarkie. “Our region has so many incredible artists, and I look forward to working with them to create theatre we can call our own.”

Fridhed will remain with the company as Outgoing Director to ease the transition. She will also be directing the company’s upcoming production of Purge by Sofi Oksanen.


News (National): Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses Seeks Extension of CEWS and CERS

A March 2021 survey released today on Parliament Hill reveals that 60% of Canada’s hardest hit businesses will not survive if the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as well as the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) are not extended beyond the June 5th deadline to the end of the year. The survey with over 1,700 respondents from across Canada was conducted by the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses.

Based on the survey results, the Coalition is formally appealing to the Federal Government to provide certainty and announce an extension of the CEWS and CERS supports to the end of the year for the hardest hit sectors in the April budget.

Our businesses were the first hit by the pandemic, the hardest hit by closures, and will be the last to recover. With extended support, we can thrive and survive. Without it, Canada’s tourism, culture and hospitality industries will be devastated for a generation,” announced Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, hard hit businesses that make up the coalition employed more than 2 million Canadians – about 1 in every 10 jobs. The membership is primarily Canadian-owned small or medium-sized businesses providing significant employment while living in the local community. Our employees are predominantly women, young people, Indigenous and new Canadians – populations whose employment has been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

For businesses that find their recovery impaired by the lingering effects of mass gathering bans and other public health policies, the CEWS and CERS programs will be a lifeline. Their continuation would make the difference between a vibrant tourism and cultural industry in Canada, and a breakdown of the critical infrastructure that supports the travel and tourism sector,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.

In the absence of any certainty, many festival and event organizers are nearing the point where they must decide whether to cancel their planned activities for this year or to go ahead with a smaller scale edition. Chances are, they are going to once again miss out on the opportunity to generate their revenues for the year. Other sectors of the economy may begin to recover as restrictions ease, but the events sector will not be in a position to do so and will require continued government support until a return to normal occurs,” added Martin Roy, Executive Director of Festivals and Major Events.

We hope that by the summer we will continue to see an easing of restrictions and a modest return of leisure travel. However, the decisions to cancel conventions for this fall have already been made and business travel will not recover in the short term. Where the recovery is quick these businesses will not qualify for government support. But if there are protracted restrictions from COVID, we will need to know this support is there,” concluded Potter.

The Coalition also stressed that efforts to safely stimulate domestic tourism, lower interprovincial travel barriers and reopen international borders are critically important. But such measures must be accompanied by critical support programs to ensure that highly affected sectors can bridge to the other side.

The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses is an industry-driven group of over 100 stakeholders representing a variety of sectors including tourism, travel, arts and culture, events and festivals, accommodation and hospitality.

To learn more about the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, visit

Help Canada’s hardest hit businesses survive

Canada’s hardest hit businesses need to know that government will continue to provide support until necessary public health restrictions are lifted and normal travel and events can resume.

That the Budget on April 19, 2021 include:

  • An extension and enhancement of CEWS at 75% targeting hard hit industries until the end of 2021; and
  • An extension and enhancement of the CERS program for hard hit businesses, including deeper support for medium-sized businesses.



News (Calgary): VERTIGO THEATRE prepares to welcome artistic residencies as part of THE AGENCY program

Vertigo Theatre is excited to announce their 2021 Foreign Relations program as part of THE AGENCY initiative committed to giving a unique experience to artists at any stage of their career. Artists are given the chance to work under the umbrella of a professional theatre company and its staff, while maximising their creative process. In this time when the arts have been devastated and there are limited opportunities for artists, Vertigo is encouraging artistic growth by providing support in venue costs, technical gear, technical staff and development needs in order to build a space of creativity and accessibility. By providing these levels of support, artists can focus solely on the creation and the development of their piece.

From 40 submissions, ten projects were shortlisted and six groups were selected. These selections were based on the impact this residency opportunity would have on the artists and their work, as well as equity, diversity and inclusion. Special attention was paid to those artists who were forced to pivot in creating digital content and are expanding their artistic practice when theatres are not able to hold live in-person events. Vertigo worked in alignment with the 35//50 Initiative (an initiative that calls for a minimum of 35% BIPOC and 50% women or non-binary people in paid, professional positions) These residencies were made possible through the generous support of the RBC Emerging Artist Program.

At Vertigo Theatre, we have a responsibility to support and uplift the artists in our community,” says Artistic Associate Kathryn Smith. “We are so thrilled to bring new artists into our space who are tackling challenging themes, topics, and mediums. We cannot wait to see what they might teach us during their time at Vertigo.”

The Spring 2021 Foreign Relations Artistic Residencies are as follows:

Created by Ali DeRegt and Camille Pavlenko (Audio Experience)
March 29- April 9
USS ARTEMIS is an audio-only, sci-fi mystery about an old-model starship on route to Earth after a failed mission. DeRegt and Pavlenko will be developing their experiential audio design that will transform the listener’s home into the interior of The United Star Ship Artemis. Vertigo audiences may remember Pavlenko as the playwright for Vertigo Mystery Radio’s THE HITCHHIKER.

Written by Lara Schmitz
April 12- April 17
DELAYED DELIVERANCE is a queer, femme, sci-fi theatrical experience that begins and ends in your mailbox. A woman discovers unsent, sealed letters from someone who died over a year ago in a consciousness convergence experiment. Lara Schmitz will work with a team to further script development and dramaturgical design elements.

Written by Constantine X. Anastasakis and Johnathan F. Clark (OIL); Sarah Kerr and Samuel Jurisic (SANCTUM)
Various Dates
IDGAF Theatre will be developing two scripts over various dates. OIL is a series of ten short “live political cartoons” and is a cheeky look at the oil and gas industry. SANCTUM explores the themes of humanity and religion, following four young people, each trapped in a room alone.

Written and performed by Kris Vanessa Teo
Produced by the Chromatic Theatre Team
April 18-May 1
我的名是张欣恩 (Gimme Chance Leh) is a one-woman identity play about growing up between Calgary and Singapore. Using Mandarin, English and Singlish, Kris Vanessa Teo navigates the cultural differences of her upbringing and the stereotypes that were placed upon her in a heartfelt and humorous story. The original production of GIMME CHANCE LEH was cancelled due to COVID-19, only days before it was meant to premier.

Created by Blue Jeans Theatre
May 10-21
ELLA THE ELK is a new musical for young people told through the use of physical theatre and collaboratively created music. Audiences will follow Ella as she struggles to find her place in the herd with the arrival of her new antlers. Blue Jeans Theatre is a new company in Calgary dedicated to the creation and support of LGBTQ2IAS+ artists.

May 31-June 13
Pope Joan and Brain Bent are two punk rock bands that are collaborating to create a pre-recorded concert. Featuring musicians; Sacha Crow, Caleigh Crow (Pope Joan); Joanna Iles, Travis Midwinter, Gus Rendell and Nathan Iles (Brain Bent); the bands will incorporate original songs, spoken word, projections and other theatrical explorations in the development of a punk rock show.

THE AGENCY emphasizes Vertigo Theatre’s core values of excellence, mentorship, collaboration and accessibility and has been made possible through the RBC Emerging Artist Program. Vertigo Theatre is following all AHS guidelines and protocols to ensure the safety of residency participants and staff. For more information on our 2021 Foreign Relations Agency Residencies please visit our website at:

World Theatre Day for Children and Young People 2021


Each year on March 20th, World Theatre Day for Young Audiences is celebrated around the world. Five associations representing theatre for young audience creators, producers and presenters in Canada, ASSITEJ Canada, l’Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC), Théâtres Unis Enfance Jeunesse (TUEJ), The Professional Association of Canadian Theaters (PACT) and the Canadian Children’s Festivals Association joined forces to present the Canadian message of World Theatre Day for Young Audiences.

World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People is an ASSITEJ campaign. For 2021 Assitej has asked young theatre-makes or theatre-goers why theatre is important. Their messages can be read here.

This year, Roy Fernandes was asked to write the 2021 Canadian message for World Theatre Day for Young Audiences. In this complicated period for the practice of our art, it seemed important to us to give a voice to a teacher who shares his passion for theater to his students.

Roy is a K-8 teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Some say he’s the principal, but he prefers to think of himself as the lead teacher. His day includes literacy instruction, eco initiatives, writing and directing student plays, running a school choir and running in a school running club. He believes that holistic education is the most valuable thing we can provide for our students and that includes exposure to all curriculum subjects, extra curriculars and the development of the entire student.

Roy Fernandes est enseignant au niveau primaire, lié au Conseil scolaire du district catholique de Toronto. Certains diraient qu’il est directeur, mais il se considère plutôt comme l’enseignant-guide. C’est dans la salle de classe que ça se passe ! Ses journées comprennent des cours d’alphabétisation, des initiatives écologiques, l’écriture et la mise en scène de pièces de théâtre avec les élèves, la direction d’une chorale scolaire et même la participation active au club de course à pied de l’école. Il est convaincu que l’éducation holistique est la chose la plus bénéfique que nous puissions offrir à nos élèves, ce qui inclut l’accès à toutes les matières du curriculum, les activités parascolaires et le développement complet de l’élève.


News (Calgary): Remembering Bob McPhee – Calgary Opera

Photo by Trudie Lee for HarderLee Photography

From the Calgary Opera website 

It’s with heavy hearts that we must share the sad news of the passing of our dear friend and former General Director and CEO of Calgary Opera Bob McPhee. Bob passed away Saturday, March 13 in Calgary, Alberta surrounded by the love of his many close friends and family after a long battle with cancer.

A highly respected leader in Canada’s art scene, Bob was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2013, received numerous awards for his achievements as an arts administrator, and was bestowed an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary in 2016. He was a champion for Canadian artists and artisans, a firm believer that Canada’s abundance of musical and theatrical talent deserves to be nurtured, showcased, celebrated here at home before going on to impress on international stages.

Those who knew Bob during his 19-year tenure at Calgary Opera, will remember him as an energetic force of nature whose warmth and humour filled every room he entered. Crucial to the success of the company was his singular way of making everyone, even complete strangers, feel welcome.

Bob was also a visionary, with great aspirations for Calgary Opera, many of which he saw realized, including the commissioning of six new works for opera, the production of numerous Canadian premieres, the establishment of a young artist training program, and the creation of Canada’s first outdoor summer opera festival.

As a company, we are incredibly grateful to have had his fearless, trailblazing spirit as part of our journey for as long as we did, first as a leader and later as a supporter. Now, we humbly continue his good work in the same indomitable spirit of this giant on whose shoulders we stand.

Thank you for the memories, Bob. We’ll miss you.


News (Edmonton): Adam Mitchell Steps Down As Fringe Theatre Executive Director

Shivani Naidu-Barrett, Edmonton Fringe Theatre Adventures Board Chair, along with the Board, announced that Adam Mitchell will step down as Executive Director of Edmonton Fringe Theatre, effective March 26, 2021.

Adam has provided admirably calm and steady leadership during his five-year tenure with Fringe,” said Naidu-Barrett. “He will be greatly missed by the organization and the community, but we are excited to see what the future holds for him.”

I have been a fringer for more than 20 years,” said Mitchell. “I have been a proud agent, advocate and supporter of the organization. In my time as Executive Director, I have seen the Fringe experience for artists, staff and patrons grow as we’ve transformed its operations, governance structures, artistic pursuits, and community connections. We’ve renewed commitments to long standing relationships and built new ones,” he added. “I am proud that we have returned to our roots as the place where independent artists thrive here in Edmonton, and that we continue to provide positive leadership worldwide.”

Naidu-Barrett indicated that the search process for Mitchell’s successor will begin in Fall 2021. In the meantime, the Board has named Megan Dart Interim Executive Director. Dart will oversee organizational priorities and the production of the 40th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in collaboration with Fringe’s administrative team until a successful candidate is named.

We are excited to welcome Megan into this Interim role. She brings a wealth of experience to the position, and we have great confidence in her ability to steward the organization through what is a challenging time for arts organizations,” said Naidu-Barrett.

With close ties to the local community, and as someone who has worked with Fringe in several roles over the years, Dart brings 15 years’ experience as an event producer, arts administrator, and communications professional to the role.

I am honoured to support Fringe in this time of transition,” said Dart. “I am incredibly grateful to the Board for the opportunity to collaborate with Fringe’s passionate and talented team in the coming months as we navigate an uncertain Festival season due to evolving health restrictions and pandemic realities. Organizing a festival is much more complex and challenging this year, and we expect the Festival will look very different. In fact, it might more closely resemble our very first Fringe Theatre Event in 1982!” continued Dart.

Naidu-Barrett also noted that Mitchell and Dart will work with Murray Utas, Fringe Theatre Adventures Artistic Director, and the Board on the succession timeline and in the recruitment process. Details on the search will be posted to in the coming weeks.


News (Calgary): Alberta Theatre Projects Announces Interim Artistic Director

Alberta Theatre Projects is thrilled to announce the appointment of Haysam Kadri as Interim Artistic Director. As a long-time friend and collaborator with Alberta Theatre Projects, Kadri is stepping into this role to support the company during this transitional period.

Kadri is also Artistic Producer at The Shakespeare Company and will remain in that role while he assists Alberta Theatre Projects in the interim. As Interim Artistic Director, Kadri will oversee all artistic activities, including programming decisions, while staying true to the late Executive and Artistic Director Darcy Evans’ artistic vision for Alberta Theatre Projects. Kadri will also help the company navigate the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

A native Calgarian, Kadri spent six seasons with the Stratford Festival before returning home to Calgary. He has led The Shakespeare Company since 2012 and worked as a theatre instructor with Red Deer College, Mount Royal University, Ambrose University, and the University of Calgary. He has a long history with Alberta Theatre Projects and has collaborated in many capacities, most recently directing the livestream presentation of The Wizard of Oz. Kadri is a well-known director and is engaged to direct Bang Bang in the upcoming 50th anniversary season as well as partner with Alberta Theatre Projects on Teenage Dick, which is a co-production with The Shakespeare Company and Hit and Myth.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be trusted with the interim artistic leadership of Alberta Theatre Projects, a company which has been a trailblazer for collaborative and cutting-edge work for 50 years. I look forward to supporting that continued legacy and building off the great momentum that Darcy established.” ~ Haysam Kadri, Interim Artistic Director

Adding to the executive leadership team, Kyle Russell has been appointed Interim Executive Director and has been fulfilling those duties since November 2020. In his previous role as the General Manager of Alberta Theatre Projects, Russell has been leading Alberta Theatre Projects’ business operations since 2019. He brings years of experience in tourism and arts marketing to the leadership team, having worked with companies like Tourism Calgary, AudienceView and Alberta Ballet. He is also a Member of the Board for two local arts organizations, and volunteers extensively in the community.

Together, Russell and Kadri are looking forward to building on the current financial, artistic and operational stability of the company while the Board of Directors engages in executive recruitment for the permanent leadership of Alberta Theatre Projects.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are very pleased to have Kyle and Haysam, who are both highly accomplished and respected within our community, to provide continuity and leadership amidst these uncertain times for performing arts. We, along with our audience and supporters, look forward to Kyle’s and Haysam’s dynamic collaboration and energy to ensure we can safely return to the Martha Cohen Theatre stage for our many exciting planned performances.” ~ Vishal Saini, President of the Board of Directors


Announcement (National): Why Not Theatre Launches ThisGen 2021 Fellowship

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:

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:

News (Alberta): Alberta Government Introduces the Stablize Program

Alberta’s government is investing $17 million to ensure the stabilization of performing arts, sports and rodeo organizations.

Alberta’s live experience organizations have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have lost a full season of programming and revenue but still have ongoing overhead costs. The Stabilize Program will provide one-time grant funding to support live experience presenting and performing arts, sport and rodeo organizations. The funding will help these organizations continue to operate and reopen when it is safe to do so.

This funding is critical to supporting venues and events that build and sustain vibrant communities and our cultural heritage and our mental well-being. Reinvigorating our live experience sector will also bring back jobs and foster tourism to support our economic recovery. When arts, culture, sport and heritage thrive, Alberta thrives.” ~ Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

The live music and experience sector is a critical part of the culture, well-being and economy of Albertans. Ensuring the sustainability of this sector is vital to accelerating the recovery of our province after the pandemic is over.” ~ Andrew Mosker, president and CEO, National Music Centre

We are thrilled to see Alberta’s government continuing to support non-profits in Alberta that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will allow organizations like the EE Football Team to continue supporting our city and our province by providing both high-quality entertainment and community programming.” ~ Chris Presson, president and CEO, Edmonton Football Team

Live events and the performing arts are not only key to quality of life in a community, they are also an important part of the economic engine. They employ thousands of Albertans in a variety of capacities, and they are part of attracting and retaining talent and driving tourism.” ~ Chantelle Ghosh, executive director, Citadel Theatre

Non-profits that host rodeos, professional and elite amateur sports organizations, and non-profits that own and/or operate dedicated presenting and performing arts venues can apply for operational funding through the Stabilize Program to offset financial losses. Qualifying organizations will be eligible for a one-time grant of up to 25 per cent of eligible expenses based on 2018 and 2019 financials. Organizations may use funds for ongoing operational costs, such as utilities, rent, insurance and programming, to support their reopening. The Stabilize Program allocates $12 million, and applications will be accepted until midnight Feb.18.

The Stabilize Donation Matching stream will allocate $5 million to match private donations (from a minimum $250,000 to a maximum $1 million) dollar-for-dollar to eligible non-profit organizations that host rodeos and professional and elite amateur sports. Non-profit organizations that own and/or operate dedicated presenting and performing arts venues or live experience venues are also eligible.

Quick facts

  • In 2018, Alberta’s live experience sector contributed $662.7 million to GDP and supported 14,580 jobs in Alberta.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, the live experience sector grew by 17 per cent.
  • Live experience events generate economic activity through out-of-town tourism, at an average of $10 million in economic impact for larger events.
  • According to Statistics Canada, every $1 million in output from live performance businesses generates about 17 direct and indirect jobs in the province


News (Edmonton): Concrete Theatre Welcomes New Artistic Leadership

Concrete Theatre: Rehearsal for Change

It is with great excitement that Concrete Theatre’s Board of Directors announces new artistic leadership for the company, after the departure of Mieko Ouchi as Artistic Director in November. They are thrilled to return once again to a Co-Artistic team leadership model, this time made up of two wonderful and multi-talented Edmonton based artists: Tracy Carroll and Corben Kushneryk.

Both come to the company with long term relationships already built with Concrete, including working previously with the company as directors, stage managers, performers, educators and facilitators.

In particular, Tracy Carroll is well known for her work across the city as a director and dramaturg, and her passionate focus on TYA and new play development. Her background includes work as Artistic Associate at the Citadel in charge of the ATCO KidsPlay @ The Citadel Series, as well as work as the Artistic Associate-North for APN. She currently co-helms Script Salon with Katherine Koller.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be joining Concrete Theatre as Co-Artistic Director with the amazingly talented Corben Kushneryk,” said Tracy. “With a relationship that goes back 20 years starting as a workshop facilitator, then director of the award-winning Lig & Bittle, creator of Concrete’s school residency program Acting Our Colours and writer of many a study guide, I’ve been a part of almost every aspect of Concrete over the years with the great support and encouragement of Mieko Ouchi and Caroline Howarth. I am humbled to be stepping in to a company with such a rich history of high quality Theatre for Young People, and look forward to continuing the development and presentation of new works for children and families.”

Corben Kushneryk is one of the city’s most exciting emerging director/producers, known for his work with his local indie company Impossible Mongoose who have developed and produced the critically acclaimed Prophecy, as well as featured roles as an actor and singer at theatres including the Citadel, the Arts Club, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Concrete Theatre and many others.

“I am absolutely delighted to return to Concrete Theatre, this time in the exciting new position of Co- Artistic Director! I couldn’t be happier to team up with the warm-hearted and sharp-minded Tracy Carroll, as we continue dreaming up relevant and engaging theatre for young audiences,” said Corben. “For Concrete, I’ve worn the hat of performer, facilitator, stage manager, and director, and each new experience has provided me an opportunity for personal and professional growth. I am grateful for the guidance of outgoing AD, Mieko Ouchi, and I am happy to have her join the ever-supportive Caroline Howarth as one of our Artistic Associates. As we continue to grapple with so many social and public health issues, I look forward to connecting with more world-class artists and helpers in our community.”

The Board and Staff at Concrete are absolutely thrilled to welcome Corben and Tracy to the Concrete Theatre family, and will be working alongside Mieko Ouchi on the transition of leadership over the upcoming few months.

News (National): NAC Announces Partnership with Black Theatre Workshop

National Arts Centre logo

On Wednesday, December 9, National Arts Centre English Theatre, in partnership with Black Theatre Workshop, announced an unprecedented shared curation model for the national stage.
Beginning in the 2021–22 season, NAC English Theatre has committed to the annual appointment of a Co-Curating Company in Residence, with the pilot invitation for a Black-mandated theatre organization to envision their mandate through a national lens.
As the inaugural Co-Curating Company in Residence, Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) will have agency over half of English Theatre’s programming resources for the 2021–22 season. Black Theatre Workshop, the oldest Black theatre company in Canada, will have the opportunity to envision its mandate of fostering and showcasing Black Canadian art and artists on a national scale.
In light of recent calls for substantial change in our industry, and recognizing the significant lack of resources and opportunities available to Black artists in Canada, NAC English Theatre engaged members of the IBPoC arts community to guide us in a response. The catalysing force of Ravi Jain and his team from Why Not Theatre, along with advisors Audrey Dwyer and Mike Payette, worked alongside the leadership of NAC English Theatre to develop the model of the Co-Curating Company and the process to select the organization each year.
The Montreal-based Black Theatre Workshop has a long history with NAC English Theatre, presenting and co-producing several productions over the last several seasons. Works that have graced the NAC stage include Angélique (co-produced with Tableau D’Hôte Theatre), The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God (in association with co-producers NAC English Theatre and Centaur Theatre Company) and coming in the spring of 2021, their performance of Black and Blue Matters – Track 1: No one Gives a F**k about a Cop, will be a part of NAC English Theatre’s Grand Acts of Theatre.
“The solid history of the company, the current artists they engage, and excellent artistic work that our NAC audiences have come to expect from Black Theatre Workshop, sets us up for a great year to come,” said NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Jillian Keiley.
In addition, Black Theatre Workshop will participate in the process of identifying the next Co-Curating Company for the 2022-23 season.
“This is the time for Black stories to be seen and heard on all stages across the country. We need these stories now more than ever, and this shared curation model affords us the chance to expand the BTW mandate, providing more opportunities to Black artists and bringing even more stories from Black communities to Canadian audiences,” said Black Theatre Workshop Artistic Director Quincy Armorer. 

Theatre Alberta Announces A Change In The Artstrek Leadership Team

Theatre Alberta is excited to announce an important change in the Artstrek leadership team–we welcome Jenna Rodgers to the Artstrek Director role, as we thank Marie Gynane-Willis for her leadership and stewardship over the years.
Artstrek is Theatre Alberta’s annual summer theatre school that offers an integrated theatre arts curriculum for Albertan teens. Since its inception in 1960, thousands of students from across the province have attended to learn performance and creativity skills in a safe and inclusive environment. We’re proud of Artstrek’s legacy, and of these two incredible people who have and will contribute to its continued success.

First to thank Marie:

We are humbled by the contributions Marie has made to both Artstrek and Theatre Alberta. Her connection to Artstrek goes back decades, beginning as an instructor in 1983. Before becoming Artstrek Director, Marie served as Theatre Alberta’s Executive Director from 2003 to 2010. Her extraordinary abilities in that role, as well as her continuing support of the arts community as a whole, were recognized in 2004 with an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Arts Administration and an Alberta Centennial Medal for Contribution to the Arts in 2006. In 2016, under Marie’s leadership, Arstrek was awarded an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton.

Marie’s impact on Artstrek is indelible. Her knowledge of the program’s long history, her deep connections to the arts community in Alberta, and her gift for diplomacy are all great strengths that have enriched Artstrek during her tenure. Perhaps her greatest strength, however, is her heart. Her deep love of Artstrek, its staff, and every single student that attended is an enduring legacy that will undoubtedly resonate long into the school’s future.
“Each summer hundreds of teenagers from across Alberta tell us they come “home” to Artstrek. It’s no coincidence that Marie Gynane-Willis comes from a home building family. Marie has seen Artstrek from blueprints through renovations and additions, always focussed on what makes a home so special, a safe space to live your fullest life with room to grow. On behalf of all of us who’ve had the opportunity to watch thousands of young Albertans discover their potential and passion for theatre during Marie’s tenure, thank you, Marie. It has been an immeasurable honour.”
~ Keri Mitchell, Executive Director, and Kelly Reay, Board President

And to welcome Jenna:

Jenna Rodgers is well known throughout the Alberta theatre community. She is respected as a director, dramaturg, and passionate arts equity advocate. Jenna is the founding Artistic Director of Chromatic Theatre, and the Dramaturg at the Banff Playwright’s Lab at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is also a founding member of the Consent and Respect in Theatre Collective, a co-contributor to The 35//50 Initiative, and recent Board President of Theatre Alberta. We’re proud to say that Jenna is an Artstrek alumnus and a former “Super Super.”
“Jenna’s contributions to Theatre Alberta—first as an Artstrek Supervisor and more recently as a volunteer on our New Pathways for the Arts team and our Board of Directors—have strengthened the organization in many exciting ways. And so many more artists and theatre companies across Alberta and Canada (and further!) would say the same! Jenna’s clear vision for a more just, equitable, and inclusive future for all of us, but especially for Artstrek students, is offered with infectious generosity and accountability. We are beyond thrilled to continue working with Jenna in this new capacity.”
~ Keri Mitchell, Executive Director, and Kelly Reay, Board President
We are excited for Jenna to share her experience, vision, and leadership skills with Artstrek. We’re also certain that the characteristic Artstrek values – inclusivity, camaraderie, creativity, fun – that have made it a defining experience for so many students over the program’s 60 year history will continue to thrive under her leadership.
We offer our most profound gratitude to Marie for sharing her wisdom and guidance with us over the last 17+ years, and we know that we will continue to work with her in new and exciting ways in the future. To Jenna, we offer an enthusiastic welcome. We look forward to working together with her to continue offering exceptional learning opportunities to the next generation of theatre artists through the Artstrek program.
We are making plans for Artstrek 2021 with a heartfelt hope that we will be able to gather again next summer, but we do so with the conviction that we will not risk or compromise the health and safety of staff and students. Watch for more Artstrek announcements in the near future. In the meantime please stay safe, and stay healthy.

News (Calgary): Zach Running Coyote Joins Theatre Calgary as Artistic Associate

Theatre Calgary is pleased to announce that Zach Running Coyote has joined us as an Artistic Associate through the ROZSA Foundation IBPOC Arts Leaders Residency Grant.
I’m thrilled to join Theatre Calgary as we continue to find new ways to bring hope, joy and sorrow to Calgarians. I look forward to sharing knowledge and ideas and learning what it means to be an artistic leader in our constantly shifting landscape. Wela’lin /Thank you to the ROZSA Foundation and Theatre Calgary for believing in me, and making this journey possible!” – Zach Running Coyote
This opportunity for Zach will provide high-impact leadership-focused learning and mentorship from our artistic and executive teams over the next year.
Zach has such a strong understanding of narrative, culture, and theatre. He possesses a burning passion to create stories that move, touch, and inspire,” says Artistic Director Stafford Arima. “Being able to share time together exploring theatre art creates an opportunity for Zach to not only learn from Theatre Calgary, but Theatre Calgary to learn from him. I cannot wait to see the fruits of this collaboration.
Prior to joining us, Zach was cast this past summer as Romeo in our Shakespeare by the Bow online presentation of Romeo & Juliet.  His show Snowblind, was recently seen at Lunchbox Theatre, along with productions at Rosebud Theatre.
As a leader in the arts, we always need to be looking towards the future and to identify artistic leadership. Zach is one of those talented young artists who will be one of our next generation of great storytellers,” says Maya Choldin, Executive Director. “This opportunity provided by the Rosza Foundation will help shape our company, and our theatre community for years to come.

News (National): Tara Beagan Named 2020 Laureate of the Siminovitch Prize

Siminovitch Prize

Ntlaka’pamux playwright Tara Beagan has been named the 2020 laureate of the Siminovitch Prize, the largest and most prestigious theatre prize in Canada. Ms. Beagan will receive $75,000, and $25,000 will go to her selected protégée, Joelle Peters.

Ms. Beagan, who is based in Mohkinstis (Calgary), is proud to be Ntlaka’pamux and, through her late father’s side, of Irish ancestry. She is now Playwright In Residence at Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg). Seven of her 32 plays have been published, two of which received Dora Award nominations (one win). In 2020, her play Honour Beat won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama.

“Every Indigenous theatre maker to this point has created this moment, just by doing the hard work of existing,” said Ms Beagan. “Young Indigenous makers, you are the culmination of all your ancestors. Hold strong, check in with the earth and sky and remember that so many are walking with you.”
The 2020 Siminovitch Prize Foundation jury of peers was comprised of Chair Vanessa Porteous (Calgary), Jessica Carmichael (Montreal), Julie McIsaac (Toronto/British Columbia), Olivier Sylvestre (Montreal) and Donald Woo (Toronto).
“Tara Beagan’s nominator, Michelle Thrush, aptly describes her as ‘a word lover and a carrier of stories,’’ said Jury Chair Vanessa Porteous. “Beagan herself sees theatre as ‘sacred work.’ During jury deliberations, there was palpable excitement in the room whenever Beagan’s work came up. It hits you in your heart and in your body. The jury identified in her writing a quality of being both sublime and unbearable. Beagan is carving out a place. No other writer on this territory proposes this kind of material for our consideration, material so rich in character, story, emotion, humour, violence, humanity, compassion, complexity, and righteous fury. Her vision is uncompromising, her voice is necessary, her trajectory embodies the deepest values of the Siminovitch Prize. This is quite simply excellent, searing, unforgettable theatre of the highest calibre.”
“My daughters and I are delighted to see the 2020 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre awarded to Tara Beagan,” said Dr. Lou Siminovitch, who celebrated his 100th birthday in May. “This Prize was created 20 years ago in part to honour my late wife Elinore, a pioneering playwright whose work focused on social justice and political repression. As a feminist who struggled to have her voice heard, I believe Elinore would have loved the bold and brave nature of Tara’s work and especially her brilliance in making voices that otherwise might not be heard resound across the stages of our nation.”
The Siminovitch Prize also recognizes the importance of mentorship to support emerging talent through the $25,000 Protégé Prize. Ms. Beagan has selected Joelle Peters, a Toronto-based Anishinaabe and Miami performer/playwright, as her protégée. Ms. Peters is currently part of the Animikiig Creator’s Unit at Native Earth Performing Arts, writing a full length coming-of-age play called Niish (mentored by Falen Johnson). She also co-wrote Frozen River with Michaela Washburn and Carrie Costello, which is set to premiere at Manitoba Theatre for Young People in the spring of 2021.
“It’s a good feeling when someone you look up to says ‘I see you and the work you’re doing, keep going,’” said Ms. Peters. “Being selected as Tara’s protégée is an incredible encouragement and I look forward to seeing where my life as a storyteller takes me next.”
The announcement took place during the Prize’s 20th anniversary, virtual ceremony on November 26, an event that drew together the Canadian theatre community and theatre lovers from across the country. The ceremony also celebrated each of the exceptional shortlisted playwrights, who included Carmen Aguirre (Vancouver), Martin Bellemare (Montreal), Karen Hines (Calgary/Toronto), and Annick Lefebvre (Montreal).
“We congratulate Tara Beagan on receiving the Siminovitch Prize in honour of her extraordinary body of work,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “We also recognize all of the other exceptional playwrights on the shortlist this year – Carmen Aguirre, Martin Bellemare, Karen Hines and Annick Lefebvre – all of whom represent the very best in excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre.”


Tara Beagan is proud to be Ntlaka’pamux and, through her late father’s side, of Irish ancestry. She is cofounder/director of ARTICLE 11 with Andy Moro. Beagan served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts from Feb 2011 to Dec 2013. During her time, NEPA continued with traditional values for guidance, had an Elder in Residence, and named and moved into the Aki Studio. Beagan has been in residence at Cahoots Theatre, NEPA, the National Arts Centre and Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon). She is now Playwright In Residence at Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg). Seven of her 32 plays are published. Two plays have received Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, Miss Julie: Sheh’mah and winning Outstanding New Play in 2005 for Thy Neighbour’s Wife. In 2018, Beagan was a finalist in the Alberta Playwrights’ Network competition. In 2020, Honour Beat won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. ARTICLE 11 has worked across Turtle Island, in Aotearoa, Australia and Scotland, and is grateful to be based in Mohkintsis (Calgary, AB)


Joelle Peters is a Toronto-based Anishinaabe & Miami performer/playwright. She is from Walpole Island First Nation, Bkejwanong Territory in Southwestern Ontario and moved to Toronto to study Acting for Camera and Voice at Seneca College. Joelle loves the stage and screen and would like to continue living in both worlds. Joelle has performed across Canada at festivals and theatres such as Western Canada Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Factory Theatre, Summerworks Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille, and has toured across ON and BC. Joelle loves exploring new works and ways to engage with storytelling and is developing an interest in directing and dramaturgy. Currently, she is part of the Animikiig Creator’s Unit at Native Earth Performing Arts, writing a full length coming-of-age play called Niish (mentored by Falen Johnson). She also co-wrote Frozen River with Michaela Washburn and Carrie Costello, which is set to premiere at Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Spring 2021.

News (Edmonton): Mieko Ouchi Named TD Associate Artistic Director For Citadel Theatre

Citadel Theatre logo

The Citadel Theatre is proud to announce the appointment of Mieko Ouchi, one of Edmonton’s most prolific theatre professionals, to the position of TD Associate Artistic Director. This position is funded through the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank’s global corporate citizenship program. Mieko has been at the forefront of advocacy for Albertan artists as a founder and Artistic Director of Concrete Theatre, alongside a brilliant body of artistic work as an actor, playwright, dramaturg, director and producer.
Mieko Ouchi headshotA graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting Program, Mieko Ouchi has been a finalist for, or recipient of, dozens of theatre awards and prizes, including Sterling and Betty Awards, the Carol Bolt Prize, the Enbridge Award for Established Canadian Playwright, the City of Edmonton Book Prize, and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Recently, she helped found an Edmonton (and now Alberta-wide) chapter of the 3.7% Initiative, an artistic leadership program for BIPOC women and non-binary people originally created in Vancouver by Boca del Lupo’s Sherry D. Yoon. In June, Mieko joined the Citadel’s team as an Associate Artist alongside fellow theatre-makers Tai Amy Grauman and Helen Belay.
Albertan and nationwide audiences will remember her groundbreaking plays The Red Priest (Eight Ways to Say Goodbye), The Blue Light, and Nisei Blue as well as her plays for youth I Am For You and Consent, which debuted in Alberta and have since been translated to six different languages and been produced across the country and internationally. Her new play Burning Mom was set to premiere with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre this spring, She made her Mainstage playwriting debut at the Citadel in April 2018 alongside composer Hawksley Workman and director Daryl Cloran with The Silver Arrow: The Untold Story of Robin Hood, a diverse and inclusive twist on the classic tale.
As the incoming TD Associate Artistic Director, Mieko Ouchi will oversee the development of new work and commissions; as well as training opportunities for emerging Artists such as the Citadel’s Assistant Director training and the RBC Emerging Artist Program; and more to be announced in the coming months. We are incredibly grateful to learn from her expertise as part of the Citadel family and offer a new platform for her to continue supporting our community’s theatre-makers. As well, we extend our deepest thanks to our friends at TD for making it possible to bring such an excellent leader to our team while we continue efforts to recover from the extended hiatus of the ongoing pandemic.
Mieko begins her role as TD Associate Artistic Director this month. Helen Belay and Tai Amy Grauman will continue in their roles as Associate Artists, and we’re excited to continue our relationship with all three of these outstanding artists.
I am so honored to be joining Daryl, Chantell, the board and the entire Citadel team in this new role, and look forward to continuing to support new play development, and building new opportunities, training and safe spaces for the amazing and diverse community of artists we have in our city and province whom I admire so much,” says Mieko. “I am truly grateful for the incredible support I’ve received and continue to receive as an artist from Daryl and the Citadel, and excited to have a position that will allow me to continue to foster, shepherd and pass that on to many others.
The TD Ready Commitment is proud to support the Citadel Theatre as part of our focus on amplifying diverse voices in the arts“, says Farah Kurji, TD’s Senior Manager, Philanthropy. “Congratulations, Mieko Ouchi, on being the first TD Associate Artistic Director. We look forward to your leadership that will elevate artists from different backgrounds and mentor them through their careers in the dramatic arts.”