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.
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”.
Byron Laviolette is the resident director of U.N.I.T. Productions, home of the Morro and Jasp clown duo. With U.N.I.T., he has helped create and stage twelve original works that have won various awards including a Dora Award, a Canadian Comedy Award and over fifteen Outstanding mentions in NOW Magazine. Outside of Morro and Jasp, Byron also works with acclaimed puppeteer Adam Francis Proulx, and star drag performer Pearle Harbour.
Elissa Horscroft has been the Technical Director at the Avon Theatre at the Stratford Festival for the past eleven years. She began her work at the Festival in 2003, where she started in the small Studio Theatre and has subsequently worked in all four theatres.
Mitchell Marcus, Artistic and Managing Director of the multi-award-winning Musical Stage Company, is an actor turned theatre producer with a strong commitment to the development and production of live music theatre in Canada. He is the founder of this largest and leading not-for-profit musical theatre company in Canada.
Sarah Thorpe has worked since graduating in a costume house, at box office jobs, in performance-based contracts for interactive exhibits and escape games, standardized patient work, and modeling for life-drawing and other art classes. In 2009, with a desire to direct and create, she co-founded the Toronto-based indie company Soup Can Theatre to explore contemporary issues and societal challenges, offering audiences theatrical experiences that are both entertaining and enriching.