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Bios & Descriptions – IBPOC Mentorship 2023/2024

Pinocchio – Alberta Musical Theatre Company
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Bios & Descriptions - IBPOC Mentorship 2023/2024

AARON & JOSH

Aaron Refugio
Mabuhay! Aaron is a proud, first-generation artist hailing from the Philippines. He is guided by the principle that everyone deserves to be represented in the stories they are told. For Aaron, stories create a road to a greater understanding of one another– whether he is telling it on-screen or onstage. In addition to his recent completion of the BFA Acting program at the University of Alberta, his training also includes various acting and improv workshops with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, William Esper Studio, Magnet Theatre (New York City), and Rapid Fire Theatre (Edmonton). This training has given him time to nurture and develop his strengths to take ownership and space as a performer, allowing Aaron to be generous and adaptable in any collaborative work. As an immigrant, he is humbled to know that he stands on the shoulders of other Asian artists who have fought bravely for the chance to be seen. He intends to take that same torch and pave the way for artists like him in the future. Acting credits include: The Anthem of Life (Theatre Prospero), The Devils, Ubu Roi, and Weasel (U of A Studio Theatre); COWS! and Win: The Warrior (Edmonton Fringe Festival); Puppet Pub Crawl (Found Festival). Writing credits include Fried Rice which he performed and debuted at Blackswan Productions’ first new works festival. Instagram: @aaron.bryle

Josh Capulong
Born and raised in Edmonton, Josh has been fortunate enough to share his craft as a dancer, choreographer, and director throughout Canada, Korea, Singapore, and America, including Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. As a dancer, he has performed alongside Janet Jackson, Tsar B, Nelly, Sean Kingston, and Jabbawockeez. Some of his work as a choreographer and director includes NCT Dream (Korea), Opening acts for “Immortal Pursuit” One championship Singapore, Energy(Los Angeles), Prison Dancer and commercials for Mattress Mattress and Ford. Josh recently opened Ra Stylez Dance Studio alongside his business partner as a new home for dancers.

Mentorship Focus
I am beyond excited to be doing a hip-hop dance intensive with Joshua Capulong through Theatre Alberta’s IBPOC Mentorship Program. Watching the sensation that was “Prison Dancer: The Musical” a total of four times (yes, four!) and getting to know the cast and creators over the course of the run was very inspiring for me. Seeing other Filipino artists like Josh own the Citadel Theatre stage with their singing, acting, and dancing prowess— sharing with the world what the Filipino spirit is capable of— gave me something to strive towards. This intensive will amount to 10 hours of dance training, both in an individual and group setting. I am looking forward to exploring more of the hip-hop world and improving my performing skills with Josh!

ALICE & CHANTELLE

Alice Wordsworth
Alice (she/they) is a mixed-race artist hailing from Mohkinstsis (Calgary) and a graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program. From a young age they knew that they would be a performer. This dream has felt more possible as the industry moves towards creating space for previously unheard voices. She has a desire to bring her own experiences as a POC to established characters but also revels in being a part of new works. As they emerge as an artist, they are excited to continue their love for theatre while also expanding into film, television, and voiceover.

Chantelle Han
Chantelle is an award-winning actor, director, and producer now based in Toronto. She is delighted to work with Theatre Alberta from whence she fondly “Emerged” over a decade ago. This season, she was an assistant director for Wedding Band at the Stratford Festival. On stage, you may have seen her in Post-Democracy (Tarragon Theatre), Strangers on a Train (Vertigo Theatre), Slipper (ATP), Medea (Chromatic Theatre), and in the national tour of Kim’s Convenience (Soulpepper). On screen, she stars in the feature films Peppergrass (also co-director), Circle of Steel, and in recurring roles on series: Black Summer (Netflix), and Departure (Global). 

 

Mentorship Focus
Alice: I am looking to get more experience and advice on how my theatre training can transfer to film/television/voiceover as well as an overview of working in that field.
Chantelle: I am hoping to pass on the nuances of navigating a concurrent career in theatre, film, television, and voiceover from an artistic, business, and energetic perspective as an East Asian woman.

BENJAMIN & VALERIE

Benjamin Beston-Will
Benjamin (he/him) is an emerging actor based in Calgary, Alberta. Most recently, Ben starred in the University of Calgary’s 22/23 theatrical season with both Much Ado About Nothing, and Argonautika. While Ben’s passion primarily lies with theatre, he is interested in exploring the realm of film and TV as well. In addition to pursuing new opportunities with Dagaz Talent this fall, Ben will be finishing up his remaining credits to receive his BFA in Drama with a focus in acting. 

Valeria Planche
Valerie is an award-winning actor, director, and arts educator of Metis, French and European heritage, with close to 40 years’ experience on Stage and in Film and Television. She has an MFA from the University of Alberta where she explored the neurobiology of Presence. She is a member of CAEA, the ACTRA, the AACE, and the Canadian Guild of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

Mentorship Focus
Self taping tools and techniques, improvisation, as well as developing a character from scratch when you’re not given a script. Furthermore, I hope to gain new insight into what it takes to be a working professional in the industry. I’m sure I will have more questions as time goes on— but I’m mostly just excited to have the opportunity to pick the brain of someone with so much experience! 

DORIANE & CHERISSA

Doriane Irakoze
Doriane is a black and queer emerging artist based in Calgary, Alberta. She studies Drama, International Relations and Global Development at the University of Calgary. Recent acting credits include: Formations (World Stage Design); Bury The Wren (World Stage Design); Tao Of The World (University of Calgary); Crave (University of Calgary). She was recently a participant in Theatre Alberta’s RBC Emerge. Additionally, Doriane has taken an interest in theatre criticism and is currently a part of the first class of the Stratford Festival and Intermission Magazine IBPOC Critics Lab 2023. Previously, she also took part in the Seeding The Future project, forming creative responses to a piece in Obsidian Theatre’s 21 Black Futures (2021).

Cherissa Richards
Cherissa is a Dora Award winning director and an actor who has been working at theatres across the country for over 20 years. Cherissa recently made her Mainstage debut at Bard on the Beach, directing Julius Caesar. Prior to JC she directed a co-production of Trouble in Mind with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Citadel Theatre and was the Associate Director of the World Premiere production of Fall on Your Knees. This fall she will head to Halifax to direct Middletown at Dalhousie University and then Calgary to direct Sleuth at Veritgo Theatre. Her production of the Canadian Premier of Red Velvet at Crow’s Theatre recently received 6 Dora Mavor Moore Award Nominations, winning Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Production in the General Theatre category.

Mentorship Focus
Discussing the process and structure of a director’s work. Shadowing the mentor during their creative work when possible. Receiving feedback on my work in progress project.

FERNANDO & JAVIER 

Fernando Miguel Garcia Reyes
Fernando is a 23 year old, second generation Mexican recent graduate from the Drama program at the University of Calgary. He is currently looking for any and all possible experience and practice with real world critique, outside of university. He is also looking to strengthen some routine in which to consistently practice the craft of acting especially when he may not be cast in anything. Learning to find that drive and self discipline to create something instead of waiting for something to come to me. He tries to never say no with art.

Javier Vilalta
Javier (he/him) is a Mexican-Canadian visual performance creator, stage director, movement coach, and translator. He resides in Alberta, where he attended the University of Calgary’s Fine Arts department. While in Calgary, he has developed performance techniques which incorporate Latiné influences in combination with elements that have had a deep impact within his life in Canada; such as ritualistic movement and narrative poetry. As a stage director, he has collaborated with companies such as Theatre Calgary, Vertigo Theatre, Sage Theatre, Downstage, Lunchbox Theatre, The Shakespeare Company, StoryBook, CYPT, Jupiter Theatre, One Yellow Rabbit, Chromatic, and Calgary Opera. In 2005 he co-founded, along with Black artist Norma Lewis, the visual performance ensemble 8ROJO. With this group, he has devised five interdisciplinary creations, with which he has toured around Canada and as far afield as Mexico, Czech Republic, Sweden, France, Taiwan, UK, and Iceland. With 8ROJO, he was awarded the ‘Innovation in Performance’ award at the 2016 STOFF Festival in Stockholm, Sweden; and he was a finalist for a 2021 Off West End Award in London, UK for Outstanding Production. He has translated the texts ‘100 Love Poems and a Song of Despair’ by Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca’s ‘Rural Trilogy’. He translated and adapted the Mexican modern opera ‘Anjou: A Tale of Horror’ for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.

Mentorship Focus
Character research and study for scenes/monologues for auditions. Practices to do when in between work to stay creative in terms of acting, and what it means to truly let go and ground yourself in the moment where nothing else matters. 

JESSICA & MIKE

Jessica Nguyen
Jessica is an Alberta born emerging artist. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2023 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Performance and minoring in English with Great Distinction. Her focus is in acting and devising, though she also likes to direct on occasion. Her previous acting work includes Clue: On Stage (GPRC), Identuality (UofL), Design for Living (UofL), Hamlet (LSPS), Atomic Age (TheatreXtra), and Taming of the Shrew (LSPS). Her directing debut was with It Comes in Threes (TheatreXtra) in 2022. 

Mike Tan
Mike is a Treaty 7-based theatre artist and photographer. He has worked as a co-creator in devised theatre creation ensembles with Downstage, Theatre Junction, and Ghost River Theatre; an acting ensemble member at the Banff Centre Playwrights Lab workshopping new plays from around the world; and as an actor at Vertigo Theatre (The Extractionist, Murder on the Orient Express), Alberta Theatre Projects (Constellations), Theatre Calgary (A Christmas Carol), Major Matt Mason Collective (Premium Content), Field Work Theatre (Parts & Labour), and Jupiter Theatre (Frankenstein). Mike also works as a documentary photographer for arts and culture organizations (Calgary Folk Fest, Sled Island), events, and independent artists. He lives with his loves, Di, his son Aiden, and their cat babies, Frankie and Prismo.

Mentorship Focus
Acting and writing for theatre. I learned Meisner in school, but I would love to learn some other tips and tricks for self-tapes, preparation etc. I also enjoy writing, but I am most comfortable with writing prose. I would like some tips and tricks for writing plays and transitioning between the mediums. 

KAREN & REAMONN

Karen Gomez Orozco
Karen Gomez is an Aruban-Colombian actor born in Aruba and currently based in Amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). She recently graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. Karen is extremely passionate about Latine and Caribbean representation across all acting mediums. She is currently focusing on pursuing a career in television and film in Alberta. Selected credits include: So Dark The Sky (You See Films, North Country Cinema, Ghost River Theatre), Weasel, Brontë (Studio Theatre).

Reamonn Joshee
Reamonn, a distinguished figure in Alberta’s film industry, boasts two decades of film and TV prowess. His versatile acting has graced popular series like “Heartland” and “Wynonna Earp,” and feature films including “Jonesin’,” “Ditched,” and “John 3:16.” As a writer and director, Reamonn’s style shines in award-winning shorts like “Guns Of Purgatory” and “A Memento Of Life,” with recent directorial work on “Abracadavers Season 2.” Formerly, he contributed to character development and storytelling as a concept creator for Rocky Mountain Pictures and First Degree Films. Today, Reamonn resides in Cochrane, Alberta, cherishing life’s best moments with his wife and two children.

Mentorship Focus
Film, Television, Commercial self-tape & call back audition tips. Learning more about the industry in Calgary, and advice on how to cope in between gigs and on working on different sets and with different directors.

LARISSAH & JANELLE

Larissah Lashley
Larissah is a BIPOC singer, actor, dancer, and musician based on Treaty 6 Territory in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta). Larissah is a graduate from the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting program at the University of Alberta. Presence, relationship, and breathing with people are major values in her artistic practice. Larissah was also the recipient of the Dr. Dasha Goody Memorial Foundation Scholarship for her work in musical theatre. Selected credits include Leonard Bernstein’s New York (Opera NUOVA), What Was Is All (Nextfest Arts Festival), Host Town (Nextfest Arts Festival), Macbeth (University of Alberta), and Our Town (University of Alberta).

Janelle Cooper
Janelle is an award-winning Actor, a Director, Choreographer, Producer, and Writer. She is a Founder and the Artistic Director of Calgary’s Ellipsis Tree Collective. Janelle’s expertise is in the excavation of lived experience through performance creation, multi-level devising techniques and multi-genre storytelling. She is actively committed to IBPOC artistic mentorship, and EDID (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Decolonization) education through organizations like The Black Pledge and The University of Calgary’s SCPA EDID Action Committee. Currently, Janelle can be seen on stage starring as Margaret Alexander in The Amen Corner by James Baldwin, at Shaw Festival Theatre. 

Mentorship Focus
How to pursue an artistic career in a sustainable way (i.e. how to prevent burnout as much as possible). I would also like to learn how to grow in being a multidisciplinary artist, and how to find that balance (i.e. in singing, dancing, and acting). More than anything, I would really love to hear any wisdom and advice on anything they think a black woman should know going into this industry.

RITTER & MORGAN

Ritter Osorio
Ritter is an 18-year-old person of color, proudly embracing his identity as a member of the LGBTQ community. His journey in the world of theatre has been an exciting one, marked by several captivating performances in diverse plays. He has had the honor of taking on lead roles, allowing him to channel his passion for storytelling into memorable and impactful portrayals. Beyond the stage, he is a dedicated advocate for representation and inclusion, using his voice and presence to promote diversity in the arts. Through his performances, he aims to inspire others, break boundaries, and contribute to a more vibrant and accepting artistic landscape.

Morgan Yamada
Morgan works as an actor, fight director, arts educator, creative collaborator and producer. Morgan is a University of Alberta BFA Acting alum. She is an Advanced Actor Combatant with Fight Directors Canada, having trained at National and International FDC workshops. As a fight director, she teaches workshops and courses, and choreographs violence for productions at high schools, universities and professional theaters. She is focused on storytelling in safe, sustainable and exciting ways.Morgan has acted and worked as a fight director in theaters across the country, and has been a member of award-winning ensembles. Her work primarily focuses on new work/play development and physical-based theatre to share stories, memories, laughs and life! She has workshopped new plays and theatrical work with companies, including Thou Art Here Theatre, Cloudsway Dance Theatre, The Citadel Theatre, Concrete Theatre, The Fox Den Collective, ATP, Chromatic Theatre, Thumbs Up Good Work Theatre and many more. Collaborating on new work has taught her how theatre can explore the past, reflect the present and dream of the future. Over recent years, she has taken a greater interest in playwriting, directing and producing and has been   one Azimuth Theatre’s Co-Artistic Producers since October 2020. For more info on her work check out – www.morganyamada.com

Mentorship Focus
Learning more about acting, directing, and producing theatre in Edmonton.

YASSINE & HAYSAM

Yassine El Fassi El Fihri
Yassine (he/him) is an emerging artist who recently graduated from the University of Alberta’s BFA in acting program. He is passionate in many aspects of theatre such as Shakespeare, new and contemporary works and clowning. Recent credits include: Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night (Freewill Shakespeare), Anahita’s Republic (Autash Productions), Macbeth, Weasel, Rhinoceros, The Devils (University of Alberta).

Haysam  Kadri
Haysam is the artistic director of Alberta Theatre Projects. Previously he was artistic producer with The Shakespeare Company from 2012 – 2022 and has worked to elevate its main stage productions and outreach programs in Calgary. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory for classical training at the Stratford Festival, Haysam spent six seasons as a company member with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada. He has worked extensively as a Theatre Arts instructor with Red Deer College, Mount Royal University, and the University of Calgary. Haysam is an Actor, Director, Fight Choreographer, and Teacher. 

Mentorship Focus
Discussions about the mentor’s experience and advice on career steps to take as an emerging artist.

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