Jeff Churchill is the owner and creator of Jitterbug Boy Original Footwear, a custom shoemaking company supplying specialized footwear for theatre, film, television and circus all over the world. He traces the fascinating career trajectory that got him there with stops in Stratford, Cirque de Soleil, and Las Vegas.
Andy Cheng is a Toronto based dramaturg, actor, writer, and comedian. He was nominated for the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for the CBC comedy special Gavin Crawford’s Wild West (2013). He currently serves as Associate Dramaturg for fu-GEN Asian-Canadian Theatre Company.
Shawna Dempsey is one of Canada’s best-known performance artists. She and collaborator Lorri Millan have created works such as We’re Talking Vulva, Lesbian National Parks and Services and Wild Ride (a carnival midway on Toronto’s Bay Street). They have been featured in women’s centres in Sri Lanka and the Museum of Modern Art, NYC. They have also published books and curated exhibitions. Dempsey is Co-Executive Director of MAWA, Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art.
Rachel Kennedy is the Professional Theatre & Education Manager at Theatre Ontario. Other recent accomplishments include producing and directing for House of Rebels Theatre, Deadman’s Tale Podcast, Epigraph Collective, Filament Incubator, Breakin’ Ground Productions, Prairie Fire Please, and Truesight Collective, as well as co-founding Unmarked Theatre and their Creme De La Femme Cabaret which recently held its third-edition event as part of Buddies in Bad Times’ Pride Programming.
Since graduating, Hamilton-born playwright, director, and dramaturg Aaron Jan has worked professionally as a creator with the Next Stage Theatre Festival, Canadian Stage, Tarragon Theatre, Factory Theatre, Fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre, Cahoots Theatre, Soulpepper and Native Earth Performing Arts. Recent projects include his work as a writer and director for Silk Bath Collective, whose next show, Yellow Rabbit is a part of Soulpepper’s 2018-2019 season.
Francesco Antonio (BFA Acting 2017) has been very busy since graduating from the Theatre Department! His work in film, television and music, including his short film “Addiction,” has led Francesco to 4 awards and 9 nominations on the film festival circuit. Francesco joins us to share what was most important about his time at York, and how it impacts his working life today.
Julia Gray is a postdoctoral fellow at Bloorview Research Institute which is embedded in Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital (and fully affiliated with University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine). She writes, directs and produces applied theatre/performance projects, including her most recent play ,Cracked: new light on dementia, which was a collaborative project among artists, health researchers, people living with dementia and their family members.
Shawn Kerwin joins us to share her experience of her 2017-18 sabbatical, which saw her designing two important works in Newfoundland with director and York alumna Jillian Keiley, and participating as a full-time student in the “Institute without Boundaries.” Shawn shares stories of the 2 shows, and of her time in the IwB, and how they’ve changed the way she thinks about design.
Owais Lightwala is a theatre producer, and also characterizes himself as “as occasional theatre artist and web/graphic designer”. He is the Managing Director of Why Not Theatre, an independent theatre company he helped build from the ground up into one of the country’s fastest growing companies. Additionally, he works as a strategic consultant for a diversity of arts and culture organizations in areas related to changing who’s in their audience demographic, innovating new models, and “anything to do with numbers”.
For nearly 40 years, Richard Rose (BFA, Drama Studies 1978) has been a distinguished director in the Canadian theatre community, as well as having directed internationally. Currently, he is Artistic Director of the Tarragon Theatre (since 2002) and was the Founding Artistic Director of the highly regarded Necessary Angel Theatre Company (1978 – 2002).