2023/24 MENTORS

PhilipAkin.jpgPhilip Akin

ROYAL MTC Director: The Humans.
OTHER THEATRE Recent and selected directing: Million Billion Pieces by David Brock/Gareth Williams (YPT); Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu (Obsidian); 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt by Rick Salutin (Shaw); Passing Strange by Stew and Heidi Rodewald (2017) (Musical Stage Co./Obsidian); Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard (Shaw/Obsidian); Up the Garden Path by Lisa Codrington, Venus’ Daughter by Meghan Swaby (Obsidian).
ET CETERA Head of the Philip Akin Black Shoulders Legacy Award; Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company (2003 to 2020); Dora Awards for Best Director in the General Theatre Division (2012, 2017); Toronto Theatre Critics Award: Best Director (2017, 2019); My Entertainment Award: Best Director: Venus’ Daughter (2016); William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life (2014); CAEA Life Membership Award; PGC: Women’s Caucus Bra D’ Or Award for supporting and promoting the work of Canadian women playwrights; Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award; TAPA Silver Ticket Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts (2010).

StaffordArima.jpgStafford Arima

Stafford Arima is the Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary. In 2015, he became the first Asian Canadian to direct a musical (Allegiance) on Broadway. He was nominated for a 2004 Olivier Award for Ragtime (West End). Selected productions include Forgiveness (Theatre Calgary / Arts Club); A Christmas Carol and Billy Elliot (Theatre Calgary); Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris (Stratford Festival); Bhangra Nation (Birmingham Rep, UK / La Jolla Playhouse); Altar Boyz, Carrie, The Tin Pan Alley Rag and Saturday Night (Off-Broadway); Dial M for Murder and Red Velvet (The Old Globe). Arima is a graduate of York University, and an Adjunct Professor at UC Davis, CA. He is a founding Board member of the Canadian Guild of Stage Directors and Choreographers. staffordarima.com

MichelleBohn.jpgMichelle Bohn

ROYAL MTC: New, The Three Musketeers. OFF-BROADWAY: A Four-Letter Word (Classic Stage Company); Richard III, King Lear, Macbeth (New York Classical Theatre); Orpheus (Next Wave Festival). SELECT REGIONAL: King Lear, Les Belles- Soeurs, All’s Well That Ends Well, Hamlet, I Am William (Stratford Festival); Jukebox Hero (Mirvish); Measure for Measure (Canadian Stage);Theory (Tarragon);The Nether, Between Riverside & Crazy (Coal Mine);The New Canadian Curling Club (Blyth Festival); Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes (Thousand Islands Playhouse); Amadeus, The Gamblers (Talk is Free); Could I Have This Dance? (Rebecca Cohn Auditorium); The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Kimberly Akimbo (SouthernRep); Coriolanus, Henry V (New Orleans Shakespeare Festival). FILM/TV: Save Me, For the Record (CBC Gem); NOLA. TRAINING: University of Missouri – Kansas City (MFA), Concordia University (BFA). ET CETERA: michellebohndesign.com

LeilaGhaemi.jpgLeila Ghaemi

Leila Ghaemi (she/elle) is a multidisciplinary theatre maker and storyteller. She received her BFA in Theatre Arts and MFA in Theatre Education & Direction from Boston University’s School of Theatre and currently serves as dramaturg & artistic producer at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal. Her artistic pillars include: responsible MENASA representation, radical theatre empowerment, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the arts. Recent/upcoming projects include but are not limited to: creative consultant for POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive (coming soon!) at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts, dramaturg for The Flick at the Centaur Theatre (Persephone Productions Montreal), cultural consultant for English at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts, and co-director for Pool No Water at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts (Persephone Productions Montreal).

ElenaJuatco.jpgElena Juatco

Elena Juatco is an actress and singer who plays Lomax on Surrealestate (Syfy/CTV) and Jo Koy’s sister Regina in Easter Sunday (Universal), the first Hollywood studio film in history led by an all-Filipino cast. She is also known for her series regular roles as Cale in JANN (CTV/Hulu/Roku) and Dr. Scarlet McWhinnie in Open Heart (Nickelodeon/YTV). Other film/TV projects include Blackberry, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Schitt’s Creek, and; Hudson and Rex.

Elena was introduced to the industry as a Top 6 Finalist on Canadian Idol at the age of 18, returning to the show in its fourth season as the show's Roving Reporter. She parlayed her experience into an award-winning career in musical theatre across Canada which included leading performances in sit-down productions of Kinky Boots and Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th anniversary production of Les Misérables in Toronto. She received the Jessie Award for Outstanding Actress in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Vancouver Playhouse and a Dora Nomination for her title role in Ross Petty’s Snow White and the Group of Seven. Other theatre credits include In The Heights (Arts Club), Onegin (Musical Stage Company), Foreigner’s; Jukebox Hero (Ed Mirvish Theatre), Twelfth Night and All’s Well That Ends Well (St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival) and Miss Saigon (Drayton Entertainment).

Elena released her debut album of original songs “Beyond This Line” in 2015 and is the Creative Facilitator for SExT: Sex Education by Theatre, a youth program and nationally touring production that educates young people on sexual health. She directed two music videos for them: “Tunnel Vision” and “Bodak Consent” in collaboration with CANFAR: The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research.

Elena currently lives in Toronto with her husband, their adorable son Roque, and rescue dog, Sampson.

SharronMatthews.jpgSharron Matthews

Sharron can currently be seen on John Ridley’s FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL as NURSE CHERI LANDRY (streaming on AppleTV+), as LUCY LAFONTAINE on the Family Channel’s hit show RUBY AND THE WELL and she just finished filming on both the Disney+ feature film OUT OF MY MIND as MRS. BILLINGS and a guest starring role on MURDOCH MYSTERIES directed by Emmy Award winning actor, Eric McCormack.

One of the stars of CBC, Ovation (U.S.), Alibi, (U.K) and PBS’s (U.S.) hit period crime drama FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES, which just wrapped up its fourth and final season, now airing in other countries all around the world. In both 2021 and 2019, she was nominated for Canadian Screen Awards for playing the role of FLO CHAKOWITZ on Frankie. On the fourth season of FDM, Sharron co-wrote the critically well-received episode LIFE IS A CABARET with Keri Ferencz.

As a exec-producer, writer and voice actor Sharron, alongside her co-creators Rebecca Liddiard and Carmen Albano, recently won the TOWEBFEST award for Best Animated Content for their original animated series MARY AND FLO ON THE GO, and a show which has been short listed for a Content Innovation Award from TBI in London.

Also known for her portrayal of JOAN THE SECRETARY in Tina Fey’s iconic MEAN GIRLS, Sharron Matthews is an excitingly diverse, award winning Canadian artist, actress, singer, comedienne, writer and producer. Sharron has worked on stage and screen with artists like John Travolta, Andrea Martin, and Ron Howard as well as toured her award winning one woman shows around the world from Africa to New York, Scotland and beyond.

Sharron was also featured in the films CINDERELLA MAN, TAKE THE LEAD, THE MUSIC MAN movie for Disney and HAIRSPRAY:THE MOVIE. She can also be seen on NBC’s TAKEN, played Chef Sylvia on the multi EMMY AWARD winning children’s TV show ODD SQUAD.

Sharron also co-wrote, hosted and consulted on SLICE TV’s MEME gURL for Slice. Sharron’s solo cabaret work has taken her across around the across Canada(where she was named BEST CABARET PERFORMER by Now Magazine and Broadway World) and around the world, selling out at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe for three years in a row (where, out of 3000 productions, her show was awarded BEST OF THE FEST). Sharron has toured all across Canada on a double bill with Canadian comedy icon, Mary Walsh, collaborated with Gavin Crawford of CBC’s Because News on a sell out World Pride show, and in 2017 premiered at Just For Laughs in Montreal and one week later packed Toronto’s High Park Amphitheatre for one night only with her acclaimed, award winning show, Girl Crush, which Broadway World awarded BEST CABARET PERFORMANCE of 2017.

She has toured North America in LES MISERABLES and Harold Prince’s SHOWBOAT, recorded her own album, PARTY GIRL, can be heard on the SHOWBOAT cast album, THE MUSIC MAN (for Disney) soundtrack and sang back ups on Jann Arden’s award winning Christmas album.

One of the projects Sharron is most passionate about is her CABARET FOR KIDS, which she spent three years developing with Canada’s largest theatre for young audiences, Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre. Sharron’s CABARET FOR KIDS explores the issues of body positivity, childhood anxiety, bullying and loving yourself the way you are, targeting 9-12 year olds and has played across Canada. It was nominated for Best New Play, Best Performance and Best Production at the 2018 Dora Awards.

Sharron has written essays and articles for publications around the world, recently she completed the first draft of her first book.

She is a well known body positivity/neutrallity warrior with large followings on all three of her socials platforms (Twitter, Facebook and INSTAGRAM).

Her newest venture, HOW VERY DARE SHE is a shamelessly irreverant blog on which she tackles issues like periomenopause, aging, sexism, sex, dating, love, self love, throwing away shit you don’t need (spiritually and physically) and anything else that makes people gasp because a woman in her 50’s says the word F**K, is quickly growing an enthusiastic, like-minded and empowered following of people... who can’t believe THEY have not said the word F**K in so long.

Beth Dart-web.jpgChelsea Preston

Chelsea Preston (They/Them) is a neurodivergent, queer, nonbinary multidisciplinary artist. They are an actor, dancer, singer, musican, writer, choreographer, stylist and costume designer originally from Vancouver Island. 
Chelsea starred as Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Stratford Festival in 2022. They have performed on stages across Canada and in the UK. They just finished filming a lead role in an indie feature film entitled Fortescue, written and directed by Rebeccah Love. They have appeared on Station Eleven (HBO); What We Do In The Shadows (Hulu FX); Hot Zone: Anthrax (National Geographic); and Frankie Drake (CBC).

ChristineQuintana.jpgChristine Quintana

Born in Los Angeles to a Mexican-American father and a Dutch-British-Canadian mother, Christine is now a grateful visitor to the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Christine is an actor, playwright, co-Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre, and artistic associate of Neworld Theatre.  Winner of a LA Drama Critic’s Circle Award, Dora Mavor Moore Award, Jessie Richardson Theatre Award, Tom Hendry Award, a Governor General’s Award nomination, and the Siminovitch Protégée Prize for Playwriting, Christine’s works have been translated and performed in Spanish, French, German, and ASL. As a performer, she’s acted on stages big and small, in a camper van, in neighbourhoods across East Vancouver, and on a farm.  She is currently working on a commission for the Manhattan Theatre Club, and will premiere 4 new works next year across Canada in the 2023/2024 season. She is a graduate of UBC’s BFA Acting Program. christinequintana.ca  

KimberleyRampersad.jpgKimberley Rampersad

Kimberley Rampersad is a theatre artist, born and raised in Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba. As an actor she has appeared in various theatres across Canada including Mirvish, Royal MTC, Stratford and Shaw. Her work as a choreographer has been recognized with two Dora nominations for Passing Strange (Musical Stage/Obsidian) and Seussical - the Musical (YPT) respectively, and an Evie Award in 2019 for Matilda – The Musical (Royal MTC/Citadel/Arts Club).
In 2023 Kimberley directed on the Festival stages of the two largest repertory companies in North America: King Lear at the Stratford Festival and The Amen Corner at the Shaw Festival. As a director, Kimberley was featured in the New York Times in July 2022 for her production of Rabindranath Tagore’s Chitra and in July 2019 for directing a full- length production of Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, both at the Shaw Festival. Her production of Tré Anthony’s How Black Mothers Say I Love You (GCTC) received a Prix Rideau Award for outstanding production, and her productions of The Color Purple (Neptune, and Citadel/Royal MTC) received Merritt and Sterling Award for outstanding direction and productions. She was the recipient of the 2017 Gina Wilkinson Prize for an emerging female director (Ontario Arts Foundation). Kimberley will be making her directorial debut in the UK in 2024. 
In the community she contributes to the work of the Philp Akin – Black Shoulders Legacy Award, the Gina Wilkinson Prize, and sits on the board of AFC.
Kimberley completed her dance teacher certification through the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Political Science, from the University of Manitoba.  A graduate student in Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, Kimberley is currently the Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

EricRose.jpgEric Rose

Eric Rose is an award-winning director, deviser, playwright, educator, and the Artistic Director of Calgary’s acclaimed Ghost River Theatre (GRT). His work is fueled by his dyslexic brain and is characterized by a striking audio-visual aesthetic that embraces the impossible; constantly reframing and rediscovering what theatre is and is capable of. Eric’s passion for the creative process has inspired the diversity of his theatrical experience spanning large scale contemporary and classical theatre, site-specific and immersive performance, experiential design, devising theatre, and dance. 
As a sought-after teacher, Eric has shared his unique approach to theatrical creation with students and professionals all over the world.  For GRT, Eric has taught it’s 4-Day and National 3-Week Devised Theatre Intensives for the last 14 years.  He has taught for the Young Vic in London UK, Prague Quadrennial of Performance and Design, Kathy Knowles Theatre Company in Accra, Revolutions International Festival in Albuquerque, and across Canada at various post-secondary institutions and festivals. Eric has been honoured to be the Playwright in Residence at Alberta Theatre Projects, to be named to Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 and to have received the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Artist Award for his body of work as a theatrical innovator.
Recent GRT credits include: playwright /director STRUCK (Betty Nomination Best New Play); director/co-playwright SensoryBox; director/co-playwright GIANT (Betty Mitchell Nomination Outstanding Director & New Play – Award for Outstanding Ensemble); concept/direction/co-creation of Intuition Project; co-adaptor, sound designer and director Tomorrow’s Child (Edinburgh Fringe), directing/co-playwright The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst (Betty Mitchell Awards for Outstanding Production, Direction, New Play and shortlisted for the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Prize in Playwriting).
Additional credits include: directing a lab workshop of Troilus & Cressida for Stratford Festival; Concept/Co-Creator I am Canada, Canadian Museum for Human Rights; Concept/Co-Creator TropiCalgary, GLOW Festival; directing/co-creating A Date With The Night for The Globe Theatre; directing/dramaturging a new version of Hannah Moscovitch’s The Huron Bride for Vertigo Theatre; directing the Canadian premiere of The Kite Runner for Theatre Calgary/Citadel Theatre; directing/co-writing Once Upon an Atom Bomb with Jennie Esdale and David Rhymer for the Green Fools Physical Theatre; directing/co-writing Peril in Paris with Ethan Cole (Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding New Play) a new musical for Lunchbox Theatre; directing/dramaturging The Forbidden Sacrifice for the Kathy Knowles Theatre Company in Ghana.
For Film and TV, Eric recently co-wrote a feature length documentary, Close the Divide for New Path Influence which premiered at the Calgary International Film Festival this fall, and is currently in post-production for a new Cli-fi Streaming Series, So Dark the Sky which he co-wrote with Jason Patrick Rothery and co-directed with Kyle Thomas of North Country Cinema. 

StephanieSy.jpgStephanie Sy

Stephanie Sy is a Filipino-Chinese artist born and raised on Treaty No.1, Winnipeg. Her career began on stage working all across Canada and North America, selected credits include: Next to Normal (Musical Stage Company/Mirvish/Dora Nominated); Prairie Nurse (PTE/Blyth Festival); Vietgone (Royal MTC); Tribes (WJT); Beauty and the Beast (Rainbow); Prom Queen (Segal Centre); The Little Mermaid (Globe Theatre); and the 1st National Tour of We Will Rock You. Since 2016, Stephanie has transitioned focus to Film and Television, selected credits include: Violent Night, Champions (Universal Pictures); The Porter (CBC/BET); Burden of Truth (CBC); First Person Shooter (Tubi); Seance(Shudder); Ruthless Souls (ImagineNATIVE), her fair share of Hallmark and Lifetime movies (check out IMDb for more details if you’re interested!), and joined the cast of a new Netflix series titled, FUBAR starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stephanie Co-Directed the APTN web series titled DJ Burnt Bannock, worked as an Associate Producer on Madison Thomas/Eagle Vision’s feature film, Finality of Dusk, and was one of the 2021 recipients of the The Harold Greenberg Fund where she wrote, directed & produced her very first short film titled, Knots. Stephanie has two wolves of the past, roaming around her home, named Billie and Pancake.

JacquieThomas.jpgJacquie Thomas

Jacquie P.A. Thomas founded Theatre Gargantua in 1992, inspired by her experiences training and working with international creation-based companies.   Since then she has maintained an unwavering commitment to producing original Canadian theatre and to the development and support of the artist, including young and emerging artists. Since its inception, Theatre Gargantua, a pioneer of Canadian multi-disciplinary devised theatre, has used an evolving methodology to create numerous award-winning works and has become an eclectic fixture in Toronto’s vibrant independent theatre community.

Melding provocative text, acrobatic-like choreography, live vocal compositions, and media into a signature style, Ms. Thomas’ work explores socially relevant themes through dynamic theatricality that engages a broad and diverse audience. Her works are created in a two-year cycle involving co-creators and audience through multiple phases of development before premiering a work. This methodology has earned Gargantua a distinct place within the theatre ecology, and within classrooms and universities where the process is regularly studied and she and other senior members of the company facilitate new creation workshops.  

Ms. Thomas’ work with Gargantua has been seen in multiple Canadian districts; across the UK where the company also held residencies at The Royal Exchange in Manchester and The Riverside Theatre in London; as well as at the Portland International Performance Festival in Oregon. At home her work has been presented in environments such as the caves and the ruined mill of the Rockwood Conservation Area, and in Toronto at The Theatre Centre, Artword Theatre, The Factory Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, the Harbourfront Theatre Centre and by Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. 
This year Jacquie P.A. Thomas celebrates her 32nd Season as the Artistic Director of Theatre Gargantua. She is one of the longest serving female Artistic Directors in the country. In addition to her role as Artistic Director, she has served Gargantua as an actor, director, producer, composer, choreographer, dramaturge and writer, earning 12 Dora nominations and two awards for her artistic contributions to the company. Her most recent directorial projects include WaterFallA Tonic for Desperate TimesThe WagerReflectorAvaricious, The Sacrifice Zone, and Raging Dreams – into the visceral. Other selected credits include the Ossetynski Actors Lab in Los Angeles, Roy Hart Theatre in France, The National Theatre of Greece and the Gardzienice Theatre Association of Poland. She was awarded a Harold Award for contributions to Toronto’s independent theatre community, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for contributions to Canadian Culture and Community. Ms Thomas is also the recipient of the prestigious George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in Professional Theatre.  
In addition to crafting a catalogue of bold and compelling award-winning works Ms. Thomas has fostered successful initiatives dedicated to mentoring, training and expanding artistic practice including Gargantua’s Emerging Artist Roundtable, Producing and Artistic Internship Programs, and their RISK Youth Workshops.  The SideStream program, introduced in 2013, supports associate artists in the creation of original, sometimes experimentalwork, emphasizing projects that challenge their practice.