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FEB 28 - MAR 1

For over seven years, the Festival of Ideas and Creation at Canadian Stage brought together incredible artists in our community to engage in vibrant artistic dialogue. Now it's back and better than ever as we once again open our doors at 26 Berkeley Street.

This FREE three-day event for emerging performance arts creators and practitioners is an opportunity for artists from diverse backgrounds to engage in interactive sharing, workshops, masterclasses and discussions about the evolution of artistic processes and practices that involve intercultural collaboration and exchange within our contemporary artistic landscape.

The weekend kicks off with an opening night feast hosted by the Canadian Stage Artistic Team followed by two days of active conversations and creation. Online registration is required to access tickets and events.

Attendees who register early will have access to a limited number of complimentary tickets to see the hotly anticipated Canadian Stage productions How to Fail as a Popstar by visual artist, filmmaker, and bestselling author Vivek Shraya and AF by Toronto's internationally renowned contemporary Indigenous performance company, Red Sky Performance.

Panelists and moderators will include Dr. Robert A. Phillips, Dr. Seika Boye, Mel Hague, Esie Mensah, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Keith Barker, Tanisha Taitt, Ted Witzel, Augusto Bitter and Marjorie Chan.


Registration for the Festival of Ideas and Creation is now closed.




Community Dinner: Breaking Bread
5-7pm - Rehearsal Hall
A catered dinner event hosted by Canadian Stage. This is an invitation to break bread together, before entering a weekend of conversations and discussions.

Registration required. Limited capacity.


Process in Practice
10am – 3pm

Land Acknowledgement Looking to the history of the land as a guide to our processes of creating art.
10am - Rehearsal Hall
Dr. Bob the Elder will lead participants in an extended land acknowledgement, that will include teaching on the history of this land as a gathering place, the waves of migration and settlement and the important function that land acknowledgement can play in our work as artist.

Registration required. Limited capacity.

Moving Ideas Thinking through movement dramaturgy
11am - Rehearsal Hall
In this session scholar and dramaturg Dr. Seika Boye will discuss how her research into the history of dance within Canada's Black populations has come to broadly influence her practical pedagogy as a Movement for Actors instructor at the University of Toronto and as a movement dramaturg. Seika will reflect on her work with Canadian Stage artist-in-residence Syreeta Hector and the role of stories, boundaries, perception, moving, stillness, silence and choice in the creative process.

Registration required. Limited capacity. ASL provided.

Dr. Seika Boye (Scholar/Dramaturg)


Beyond Language Working with sound and body as a decolonial exploration to communicate beyond semantic meaning.
12pm - Rehearsal Hall
In an intercultural setting, language is often a point of intersection that must be taken into consideration. Working with sound instead of language has become Augusto's personal, decolonial exploration. "Ancestry and memory live in the body, and the human voice can communicate so much more beyond semantic meaning. This is evident in the astounding range of sounds we make as young humans." Augusto will lead participants in an exploration of language that prioritizes sound, "atmosphere", vowels and consonants as tools during an intercultural creation process. Augusto will share a condensed slice of his training at Teatro delle Radici's International Laboratories in Lugano, Switzerland, drawing from exercises developed by Cristina Castrillo and Bruno Gusberti. Sharing creation exercises, that have become instrumental in the development process of Reina.

This workshop is an active participation workshop: Participants must come ready to move and explore on their feet. Registration required. Limited capacity.

Augusto Bitter (Canadian Stage RBC Emerging Creator)


Dramaturgy Now (Indigenous Dramaturgical Framework) Non-Conventional Dramaturgical structures and themes within theatrical art making.
2pm - Rehearsal Hall
Dramaturgy Now is curated by Canadian Stage RBC Emerging Creator PJ Prudat. This workshop is a conversation and teaching on non-conventional dramaturgical structures and themes within creation processes, in relationship to intersections and divergence of western theatrical practices. Drawing from indigenous cultural practices and artistic frameworks from North America and South Asia.

Registration required. Limited Capacity. ASL provided.

Sharada K Eswar/PJ Prudat

Knowledge Café: Developing an understanding and language to support intercultural artistic process from the rehearsal room to the stage.

Knowledge Café
3-5pm - Rehearsal Hall
The Knowledge Cafe is a moderated conversation exercise to be hosted by Associate Artistic Director Mel Hague. Participants will be put into three groups at three tables, each table will have a facilitator/note taker and a topic/question of conversation. Each table will have 30mins to engage in the topic of conversation. At every 1/2-hour point, participants will be given the opportunity to join another conversation at a different table. At the end of the event, the facilitators/note takers will share with the group, what was learnt at their tables.

Meghan Swaby

Café Host:
Mel Hague

Table 1:
Topic: How do you tell the story from a culture/race/identity other than your own?
Moderator: Meghan Swaby

Table 2:
Topic: What is the difference between representation, tokenism and appropriation in our work as artists?
Moderator: Jordan Laffrenier

Table 3:
Topic: What are practical ways to make rehearsal/creation rooms and processes more inclusive, diverse, intersectional and safe?
Moderator: Kamini Murthy-Korteweg


Masterclass Dance Creation: Radical Vulnerability
11am-1pm - Rehearsal Hall
Esie Mensah will lead a 2-hour creation workshop, drawing from her professional experience and discoveries during her process of creating her Dora Nominated production of Shades. This workshop is an artistic investigation; on the importance and necessity of having radical vulnerability when collaborating with artists from diverse cultural experiences. How do we hold space that allows people to bring their whole selves into a creation process? How do we encourage honesty, knowing every inch of that honesty is necessary to create a wholistic character? There is beauty found in the most vulnerable and vile parts of ourselves. For this workshop, Esie encourages the artists that will be participating to come with an open mind and heart. Shades as a production tackles the subject of shadeism – this will be the focus of exploration during her workshop. Limited capacity.

Esie Mensah

Note: If you are a dancer/mover interested in being an active participant in this workshop please contact Tawiah Ben M'Carthy: tmcarthy@canadianstage.com with the following information:

- Level of movement/dance background? (Artists should have a movement/dance background.)
- A headshot
- How this workshop will help the evolution of your practice?
- What do you expect to learn?
- What are you willing to share?

What is expected of participants:

- Bring a journal, water and comfortable clothing
- Participants must come willing to sit in their discomfort when/if triggered, allowing the group to hold space.
- Participants must come in aware that there will be observers in the room actively watching.

The selected 10 participants will be notified by Feb 21st.

LUNCH - 1-2pm

In–Circle conversation: Radical Vulnerability
2pm - Rehearsal Hall
Esie Mensah's workshop will be followed by a conversation between Tawiah M’Carthy and Esie Mensah. A talkback, a reflection on Radically Vulnerability.

Registration required. Limited capacity. ASL provided.

Panel Discussion: Bridging the Gap
3-5pm - Rehearsal Hall
A moderated Panel Discussion on the evolution of intercultural practices and processes within our artistic landscape. How do we work within diversity, inclusion and intersections?

Registration required. Limited Capacity. ASL provided.

Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Theatre Artist/Creator)

Keith Barker (Artistic Director: Native Earth)
Marjorie Chan (Artistic Director: Theatre Passe Muraille)
Tanisha Taitt (Artistic Director: Cahoots Theatre)
ted witzel (artistic associate, stratford lab)

Closing Social
5-7pm - Rehearsal Hall
Festival closing reception, an opportunity to interact, network and connect with this new community of festival participants.
Dr. Robert A Phillips
Dr. Robert A. Phillips "Dr. Bob the Elder" - Land Acknowledgement
Bob Phillips (Great Bear) is a non-Status Urban Mi’kmaq. Although a traditional Pipe Carrier, Bob is also very contemporary and holds a PhD in Indigenous Studies from Trent University. He also holds an MA in Fine Art History from York University. Bob Phillips also spent ten years as host of the Aboriginal Voices Radio Arts Review show discussing art, culture and contemporary issues with community members from across Canada and the Far North.
Sharada K Eswar
Sharada K Eswar - Dramaturgy Now
Writer, storyteller, singer and arts educator, Sharada Eswar's work spans across multi-disciplines and art forms. A graduate in Literature Studies, she trained to be a writer and a storyteller. Simultaneously she also immersed herself in Carnatic Music (south Indian classical music) in Chennai, India. She also took to many other styles including Hindustani Classical (Patiala Gharana) Rabindra Sangeet, Abhang and European. While maintaining her Veena studies, her interest shifted to the voice and storytelling. She was part of the team representing India at the India Abroad show in Paris and New York. She was also one of the three chosen by the Centres Culturels des Lions Clubs de Paris to present Indian culture in Normandy, France. Since then, she has been performing and teaching in Toronto and internationally, drawing on her own South Asian ancestry and heritage. A published children's author, Sharada is at present the Community Activator at the Art Gallery of Mississauga and has been the Cultural Animator (Mississauga/Peel) through the Ontario Arts Council.
Dr. Seika Boye
Dr. Seika Boye - Moving Ideas
Dr. Seika Boye is a scholar, writer, educator and artist whose practices revolve around dance and movement. She is a Lecturer in the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and Director of the Institute for Dance Studies, University of Toronto. From 1995-2010 Seika performed and presented her choreography across Canada and danced professionally with Electric Company Theatre, Judith Marcuse Projects, Ballet Creole, Lucie Mongraine and other independent choreographers. Seika's writing has appeared in numerous scholarly journals and magazines and she is the curator of the archival exhibition It's About Time: Dancing Black in Canada 1900-1970. As a movement dramaturg she has worked with Deanna Bowen (The Long Doorway, 2017/Gibson Duets 2019), Heidi Struass/adelheid dance (re*research choreographic intensive, 2018), and Djanet Sears (Adventures of Black Girl in Search of God, 2015). She is currently working with Natasha Powell/Holla Jazz, Syreeta Hector and Mix Mix Dance Collective. Seika was an artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario 2018-19.
Augusto Bitter
Augusto Bitter - Beyond Language
Augusto Bitter is a Venezuelan-born, Dora Award-winning performer, writer, and educator based in Toronto. He has trained with Teatro delle Radici (Lugano, Switzerland), Manifesto Poetico (Paris), Canada's National Voice Intensive, Aluna Theatre's Interpretation Lab, and the University of Toronto. Augusto has also been a resident artist at Theatre Passe Muraille and hub14. He is an educator with Soulpepper and facilitates creative-writing workshops with youth in under-resourced schools and communities in the GTA with Story Planet. His first creation, CHICHO (Pencil Kit Productions/TPM/Aluna) is gearing up for a national and international tour, and he is very grateful to develop his second work, Reina, with musician Y Josephine and the support of Canadian Stage and Aluna Theatre. Upcoming: Anywhere But Here (Electric Company Theatre). More at augustobitter.com.
Mel Hague
Mel Hague - Host, Knowledge Café
Mel Hague is a Toronto based Curator and dramaturge. Mel is the Associate Artistic Director at Canadian Stage and the Residency Program Director at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Previously, Mel has worked with Obsidian Theatre Company, Factory Theatre, Banff Centre Playwrights Colony, bcurrent performing arts, fu-Gen Asian Canadian Theatre, Eastern Front Theatre, Queer Acts Festival, The Paprika Festival, and Mulgrave Road Theatre. Mel was the Director of the Rhubarb Festival from 2014-2019, and was selected as a Leader in Residence at the National Theatre School of Canada (2018/19). Selected Dramaturgy work includes Venus’ Daughter by Meghan Swaby (Obsidian Theatre Company, February 2016) Up the Garden Path by Lisa Codrington (Obsidian Theatre Company, April 2016), Black Boys by Saga Collectif with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (November 2016) lulu v.7 aspects of a femme fatale (red light district with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, April 2018). Mel sits on the Board of Directors for the Summerworks Festival
Meghan Swaby
Meghan Swaby - Moderator, Knowledge Café
Meghan Swaby is an actor and playwright born and raised in Toronto. Recent acting credits include; Magnus Theatre (Bang Bang), Nightwood Theatre/Sulong Theatre (Calpurnia) and Obsidian Theatre (Venus' Daughter). Over the years she has also worked with b current, Blyth Festival, Roseneath Theatre, Birdtown and Swanville, Harbourfront Centre and The Kitchen (NYC). As a voice actor, she worked on the audiobook, Things Are Good Now (House of Anansi Press) by Djamila Ibrahim and was also the voice of Mrs. Bunty in the Nickelodeon animated series Max & Ruby (Season 7). Meghan is an alumni of the International Actors Fellowship at Shakespeare's Globe in London, England and received her BFA in Acting from The University of Windsor. As a playwright, Meghan recently participated in the Gros Morne Playwrights Residency with Playwrights Workshop Montreal and the CEAD. She is a past participant of the Stratford Festival's Playwriting Retreat, Obsidian Theatre playwrights unit and of Nightwood Theatres' Write from The Hip program. Her play, Venus' Daughter was among the top 23 recommended plays as part of The SureFire List (Playwrights Guild of Canada).
Jordan Laffrenier
Jordan Laffrenier Moderator, Knowledge Café
Jordan Laffrenier is an Honours York University Theatre graduate. He has held many musical theatre development roles in New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto, including Amélie on Broadway, Paradise Square/Hard Times (Berkeley Repertory Theatre California), and Sousatska (Tiberius Entertainment). He is one of the founding members and Artistic Director of Then They Fight Theatre, a dramaturgically based theatre company dedicated to developing new work from the initial spark of an idea into a fully realized production. Through Then They Fight, Jordan has produced work that has continued its development with Cahoots, Factory and Soulpepper. He is an advocate of theatre that supports the community on and off stage and has partnered theatre productions directly with local charities such as The Mental Health Coalition in Hamilton. Currently, he teaches a unique drama program he developed with Vibe Arts that he based on his previous work teaching musical theatre at Innovative Arts. 
Kamini Murthy-Korteweg
Kamini Murthy-Korteweg Moderator, Knowledge Café
Kamini MK (They/Them) is an artist educator who has trained and worked with leading organizations such as the Institute for Change Leaders, Harmony Movement, Supporting Our Youth and Young People's Theatre. They hold a BFA in Performance Production from Ryerson where they are currently pursuing a certificate in Human Resources. Kamini also works with the Ryerson School of Performance as the Apprentice Director for the school's Shakespeare project. They are in their third year of recovery from PTSD and substance abuse, and bring a distinctly mental health focus to creating safer performance spaces.
Esie Mensah
Esie Mensah Radical Vulnerability
Esie Mensah is someone whose work – every performance, project, and partnership – embodies the multifaceted artist, her creative footprint is everywhere. As a dancer, choreographer, and movement director, Esie brings her mastery in storytelling to audiences as diverse as her experience. From working with megastars like Rihanna, Drake and Arcade Fire, to historied brands of Coca Cola, Luminato, TIFF, Shaw Festival and 98.1 CHFI (to name a few), Esie Mensah's creations shows no sign of limits or slowing down. Recently Esie was chosen to be one of TedXToronto's keynote speakers, further bringing the discussion of shadeism on a Global scale, to the live stage. For her own work, Esie has committed to using Afrofusion to explore more personal narratives of her Ghanaian heritage, blackness, and belonging, and has created works ZAYO and the Dora Award-nominated Shades, a piece that uncovers the process of healing from shadeism in the Black community. Esie's upcoming works are Caroline or Change (Musical Stage - Assistant Choreographer), Treemonisha (Volcano Theatre - Associate Choreographer) and Assassins (Shaw Festival - Choreographer).
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard - Moderator, Bridging the Gap
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard aka Belladonna the Blest is an emcee, playwright and agitator. Her main body of work, the 54ology, includes Cake, Sound of the Beast, A Man A Fish, Salome’s Clothes, Gas Girls, Give It Up, The Smell of Horses and The First Stone. DM is currently the emcee in residence at Theatre Passe Muraille, playwright in residence at lemonTree Creations and coordinator of the AD HOC Assembly.
Keith Barker
Keith Barker - Panelist, Bridging the Gap
Keith Barker is an Algonquin Métis playwright, actor, and theatre director from Northwestern Ontario, and the current Artistic Director at Native Earth Performing Arts. He was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for English Drama in 2018 for his play, This Is How We Got Here. He received a Saskatchewan and Area Theatre Award for Excellence in Playwriting for his play, The Hours That Remain, as well as a Yukon Arts Award for Best Art for Social Change. Keith sits on the board of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, and the Metcalf Foundation's Internship Committee. Prior to taking the job at Native Earth, he served as a Theatre Program Officer for the Canada Council for the Arts.
Marjorie Chan
Marjorie Chan - Panelist, Bridging the Gap
Marjorie was born in Toronto to Hong Kong immigrants who arrived in the late 60s. As a theatre and opera artist, she works variously as writer, director and dramaturge as well as in the intersection of these forms and roles. Her work has been seen and performed in the United States, Scotland, Hong Kong, Russia and across Canada. Her full-length works as a playwright include the plays The Madness of the Square, a nanking winter, Tails From the City, as well as the libretti for the operas, Sanctuary Song, The Lesson of Da Ji, M’dea Undone and most recently, The Monkiest KingM. Some of the companies Marjorie has directed for include: Gateway Theatre, Cahoots Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, Theatre Passe Muraille, Obsidian Theatre and Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong). Marjorie has been nominated for 9 Dora Awards and is the recipient of four (3 for libretti, 1 for performance). She has also received the K.M. Hunter Artist's Award in Theatre, the Entertainment World Award for Best New Work, a Harold Award, as well as the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship. Other notable nominations include the John Hirsch Directors' Award, the Governor General's Literary Award for her playwriting debut, China Doll, and the Canadian Citizen Award for her work with Crossing Gibraltar – Cahoots Theatre’s program for newcomers. She has been artist-in-residence with Factory Theatre, Banff Playwrights' Lab, Tapestry Opera, Cahoots Theatre, Theatre Centre (with 6th Man Collective), Theatre Direct Canada, SUNY (Geneseo, New York) and Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong). Upcoming projects include the world premiere of her new play, Lady Sunrise (Factory Theatre).  She is the Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto, where her focus is on accessibility and inclusion. 
Tanisha Taitt
Tanisha Taitt - Panelist, Bridging the Gap
Tanisha is a writer/performer/director, anti-oppression educator, accidental essayist, and audiobook director for Penguin Random House Canada. For three years, she has been an instructor at George Brown Theatre School, transforming the 1st Year Contemporary Scene Study syllabus into one centring playwrights of colour and concurrent sociopolitical discourse. Also a singer and songsmith, she is a recipient of the Canadian Music Publishers Association's Songwriters Award & Scholarship for exceptionality in songwriting. In October 2019, Tanisha was appointed Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre. She is a two-time YWCA Woman of Distinction Award nominee for her commitment to artistic excellence and social justice.
ted witzel
ted witzel - Panelist, Bridging the Gap
ted witzel is a queer theatre-maker based between berlin and toronto. he has worked in theatres in vancouver, montreal, stratford, ottawa, london, milan, stuttgart, ingolstadt, baden-baden and bad hersfeld, which is a small town with a lot of sheep in it. ted is currently the artistic associate for the stratford festival lab where he oversees all the festival's research and development initiatives, and is artistic director of the red light district. ted been an artist-in-residence at buddies in bad times theatre, harbourfront centre and institut für alles mögliche. ted was in the inaugural cohort of york university/canadian stage's MFA in directing, and holds a BA from the university of toronto. ted was a 2019 artistic leadership resident at the national theatre school of canada and the banff centre. in 2016 ted won the kevin spacey foundation's artist of choice award, which was a much less dubious honour back then.
Tawiah M'Carthy
Tawiah Ben M'Carthy - Metcalf Artistic Director Intern, Festival Curator
Tawiah M’Carthy is a Toronto-based theatre professional artist: Playwright, Performer, Facilitator, Director. As an artist, Tawiah draws from multiply cultural theatre practices. He trained at York University (BFA Acting Conservatory Program). His playwright/creator/performer credits include, Obaaberima (Buddies in Bad Theatre, 2013 Dora Award winner for Best Production), Black Boy (SagaCollectif) and MaaNomaa (Blue Bird Theatre Collective). Tawiah has trained in residence development programs at Factory Theatre, The Shaw Theatre Festival, Obsidian Theatre and Canadian Stage, where he is currently the Metcalf Artistic Director Intern. He is the Programming Curator for this years Festival of Ideas and Creation. Tawiah has performed on stage across the country, including the Globe Theatre; Regina, The NAC; Ottawa, The Cultch; Vancouver, Buddies in Bad Times; Toronto. Upcoming performances include Obaaberima at Espace Libre in Montreal and Sizwe Bansi is Dead at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto. Tawiah is a Dora Nominated Playwright and Performer.