November 10-20, 2020
Readings and events are free and accessible to all.
Enjoy recordings of the Groundswell events and readings until November 30th by clicking the corresponding dropdown in the schedule below.
If you have the capacity, please consider making a tax-deductible donation in support of the future of feminist art.
This November our Groundswell Festival goes digital, offering an invitation inside the creative process with readings of brand new works from our Write From The Hip playwright’s unit, led by Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, as well as opportunities to gather for provocative conversations and workshops. This season’s festival, designed for Zoom by Michelle Tracey, will share new plays and conversations from Bilal Baig, Shelley M. Hobbs, Erum Khan, Rachel Mutombo, Pesch Nepoose and Phoebe Tsang, public conversations including discussions with Deaf-led collective SPiLL.PROpagation and national arts advocacy collective AD HOC Assembly, as well as free professional development opportunities for playwrights and artists.
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Wednesday, November 11, 6pm ET – Selections from Better by Rachel Mutombo </P
Directed by Maiko Yamamoto
Cast: Christine Horne, Melissa Langdon, Bria Mclaughlin and Emerjade Simms
In this not too distant future, men have tightened the reins on their control of society. Sent to a sanctuary for misguided souls by their husbands, brothers or fathers when they’ve stepped out of line, five women navigate the harsh reality of a world that is no longer safe for them. When the constraints of oppression push hard these women are vulnerable to break, but they may also find the power to push back.
Content warning: sexual assault
Run time: 45 minutes
Please note, the recording of this reading is no longer available.
Rachel Mutombo is an award winning actor, and writer who thrives at the intersection of race and gender. Her life experience as a Congolese-Canadian (DRC) heavily influences her artistic practice. Rachel is a graduate of John Abbott College’s and the National Theatre School of Canada’s acting programs. Some recent acting credits include: Antigone (Young People’s Theatre), School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian Theatre/Nightwood Theatre), Selfie (Young People’s Theatre). Rachel’s writing has been published on Intermission Magazine as well as CBC. She is incredibly excited to be a part of this year’s WFTH cohort and officially write her first play.
Natalie Liconti (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist working in Film/TV and the performing arts. They have worked for Just for Laughs (Montréal), JFL42 (Toronto), The Rhubarb Festival (Toronto), and SummerWorks Performance Festival 2019 (Toronto), and have performed across Canada and internationally at festivals such as: Printemps Numérique Festival, The Wildside Festival, ZH Festival, and Calm Down, Dear Festival (Camden People’s Theatre: London, UK). With an interest is in site-specific and interdisciplinary performance, they explore camp, popular culture, and dystopia/utopia. An accomplished actor and producer, their film work can be found on major streaming platforms such as Netflix and Freeform.Click here for the Slide Deck Click here for the Resource Sheet Click here for a full transcript of this workshop
Beth Kates is an award-winning lighting, set, projection and mixed reality designer, who started in rock&roll at 14. In 2019 she and Neil Christensen co-created Bury The Wren, a ground-breaking Augmented/Virtual Reality/live performance, and most recently was the virtual world lighting designer and virtual stage lighting designer for Doubleeye Studios VR Theatre performance Finding Pandora X which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and won the ‘Best Immersive VR Experience’ prize. She leads performance experiments in virtual reality, is working on the formation of a National VR Theatre company, and in Spring 2021 will be leading an artist residency with Canadian Stage in Virtual Reality Performance. There are many works in development including The Scott Jones Project with Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, and a VR exploration of Indigenous femininity and sexuality.
A career spanning 30 years has seen Beth in collaboration with acclaimed directors Jillian Keiley, Jackie Maxwell, Daniel Brooks, Peter Hinton, and Paul Thompson among many others. Highlights: I, Claudia (Crows Theatre), Between Breaths Orchestral (Artistic Fraud), Silence (Grand Theatre/NAC), Vigilante (Catalyst/NAC), Bigger Than Jesus (Wyrd), The Last Donnelly Standing (Blyth), Alice in Wonderland, Ragtime, (Shaw), Brimful of Asha (WhyNot).Michelle Tracey is a scenographer and designer based in Toronto, Ontario. She specializes in set and costume design, but she also enjoys working with lighting and video. Her work spans the fields of theatre, opera, dance, film, live events & installation art. Michelle earned her BFA Spec. Hon. from York University in Theatre Production & Design, and is a graduate of the 2016-2018 Soulpepper Academy. Michelle was a finalist for the 2020 Virginia & Myrtle Cooper Award for excellence in Costume Design, and was nominated for the 2017 Pauline McGibbon Award. She has received two Dora Award nominations for scenic and costume design. Echo Zhou is a Toronto based set/lighting designer and production/stage manager. She is also one of the cohort members of Why Not Theatre’s ThisGen Fellowship 2020. Recent works include Made in Macau (TPAM 2020, Japan), Wah Wah Wah (Wildside Festival and SummerWorks Festival, Canada), Cake (Theatre Passes Muraille, Canada), Permanence (Libby Brodie Production UK), Spring Moon (Mixed Company Theatre, Canada), Life Between Heaven and Earth (National Theatre of China), Mr.Shi and His Lover (Music Picnic), I Swallowed Moon Made of Iron (Music Picnic). Echo received her BFA at Ryerson University in their Theatre Production Program. She is an associate member of Associated Designers of Canada. www.echozhoudesign.com Click here for a full transcript of this discussion.
Cree-Saulteaux Metis performing artist, Margo Kane is the Founder and Artistic Managing Director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance. For over 40 years she has been active as an actor, performing artist and community cultural worker. Her desire to share artistic performance that has meaning for her people is the catalyst for her extensive work, travels and consultation within Indigenous communities across Canada and abroad. Moonlodge, her acclaimed one-woman show, an Indigenous Canadian classic, toured for over 10 years nationally and internationally. The Sydney Press (AU) during The Festival of the Dreaming praised it as being ‘in the top echelon of solo performance.’ She developed and runs the annual Talking Stick Festival celebrating its 20th Anniversary this coming year and numerous programs including Moccasin Trek: Arts on the Move!, Indian Acts and an Indigenous Ensemble Performing Arts Program in Vancouver. She has received numerous awards and honors including an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the Fraser Valley, the Order of Canada from the Governor-General and most recently an Inaugural honor from the new National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre Department.
Jani Lauzon is a multidisciplinary artist of Métis ancestry. She is a nine-time Dora nominated actor/director/writer, a three time Juno-nominated singer/songwriter, an award-winning screen actress, a Gemini Award winning puppeteer and a Toronto Theatre Critics award-winning director. She has fond memories of playing Grannie on the Mr. Dress-Upshow and Pa Foley on the Big Comfy Couch. Memorable theatre appearances include: Cordelia/Fool in the NAC Aboriginal production of King Lear, Shylock in Merchant of Venice (SITR) and the COC’s production of Louis Riel (directed by Peter Hinton). Her company Paper Canoe Projects producers her own work including the award-winning Prophecy Fog as well as I Call myself Princess and A Side of Dreams. Television guest appearances include Saving Hope, Hard Rock Medical and Conspiracy of Silence. Recent directing credits include Almighty Voice and his Wife (Soulpepper), Rope (The Shaw Festival) and The Monument (Factory Theatre). Jani began her career as an artist educator at the Claude Watson School for the Arts: Junior campus in the 1980s. She honed her skills as AD/Principal of The Centre for Indigenous Theatre and has worked extensively developing a pedagogy of actors training based on interdisciplinary training and circular communication. She was co-founder of Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble, a Native women’s theatre collective and is currently the Associate Director English Acting at the National Theatre School of Canada. for the 2020-2021 school year.
M. NourbeSe Philip is an unembedded poet, essayist, novelist, playwright and independent scholar who lives in the space-time of the City of Toronto. She practiced law in the City of Toronto for seven years before becoming a poet and writer. She has published four books of poetry including the seminal She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks, one novel and four collections of essays. Her book-length poem, Zong!, is a conceptually innovative, genre-breaking epic, which explodes the legal archive as it relates to slavery. Her most recent work is BlanK, a collection of essays on racism and culture. Among her awards are numerous Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants, as well as the Pushcart Prize (USA, 1981), the Casa de las Americas Prize (Cuba, 1988), the Lawrence Foundation Prize (USA, 1994), and the Arts Foundation of Toronto Writing and Publishing Award (Toronto,1995), Dora Award finalist (drama, 1999). Her fellowships include Guggenheim (1990), McDowell (1991), and Rockefeller (Bellagio) (2005). In 2001 She is an awardee of both the YWCA Woman of Distinction (Arts) and the Elizabeth Fry Rebels for a Cause awards. She has been Writer-in-Residence at several universities and a guest at writers’ retreats.
Jean Yoon is a playwright, actor, advocate and Mom. Jean began her theatre career in the early 1980s in Toronto performing with now long gone companies Upstage Theatre, Toronto Free Theatre and Canasian Artists Group. In the 1990s, Jean was active as a cultural equity advocate and new play producer. She was Cross Cultural Coordinator for Theatre Ontario 1991/92, and then Co-Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre Projects 1992 to early 1994, founding Lift Off! and cementing Cahoots’ role as a leader in new play development for playwrights of diverse cultures.
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard – (aka Belladonna the Beast) is an emcee, playwright, dramaturge and agitator. Her work has been nominated for the Siminovitch Prize, Governor General’s Literary Awards, SATA, Herman Voaden Playwriting Award, Enbridge PlayRites Award and Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play. She has been engaged as a dramaturge for Pink Pluto, Native Earth Performing Arts, Factory Theatre, lemonTree creations and Humber College Drama Program. DM is the artistic director of New Harlem Productions, emcee in residence at Theatre Passe Muraille, playwright in residence at lemonTree creations and coordinator of the ADHOC Assembly.
Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) is a genderqueer, multi-disciplinary performer/creator, and first-generation Nikkei-Canadian settler of Japanese and German roots thankful to make Tkarón:to their home. Teiya comes from a background of over a decade of singing both traditional and contemporary operatic roles across North America and Europe, most recently praised as “a force of nature” by the Toronto Star for their portrayal in FAWN’s Pandora. Their new initiative to centre equity-seeking artists, Amplified Opera (co-founded with director Aria Umezawa), launched publicly this October with the inaugural concert series AMPLIFY. Performances this season include The Wager (Theatre Gargantua),Symphony Spooktacular (Toronto Symphony Orchestra), the title role in Madama Butterfly (Windsor Symphony), Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. (Buddies), assistant directing All the Little Animals I Have Eaten (Nightwood), Beethoven 9 (Kingston Symphony), and the world premiere of their operatic-inspired play The Queen In Me (Amplified Opera/Theatre Gargantua) in 2020. Teiya is a co-founder/member of Queer AF Collective, founder/head coach of the Vocal Dōjō, an apprentice with RAW Taiko Drummers, and is a graduate of Generator’s Artist Producer Training, the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, and the University of British Columbia. For more info visit www.teiyakasahara.com or follow @teiyakasahara.
Groundswell’s Accessibility Consultant
Jessica Watkin is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Her research focuses on Disabled Artists and their Creation Processes in Canada, as well as systems of support and training institutions and the effects on Disabled people.
A multidisciplinary Blind artist, Jessica started as a playwright and has since developed performance movement pieces, ensemble-created performances for the Fringe (Toronto), created a rug for an exhibit called Productive Discomfort where her piece was called “This Was Not Made For Your Visual Pleasure #PleaseTouchMe” and is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Feminist Space Camp (Magazine).
Jessica has been consulting on a project-basis in Toronto and Canada (in person and online) since 2016 with companies such as Next Stage Theatre Festival, lemontree productions, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Live Describe, New College Library, Canadian Assocation of Theatre Research, Bodies in Translation, and more!
Shay Erlich is a hard of hearing, multiply disabled, and genderqueer child and youth care practitioner, wheelchair dancer, and circus artist. Shay holds a MA degree in Child and Youth Care from Ryerson University and their recent thesis project explored how social circus can be understood as child and youth care practice. Shay is currently looking to find intersections between wheelchair dance and partner acrobatics and is excited about the future of this new art form. Shay is the co-founder of The Cyborg Circus Project, a community arts and social service organization that provides opportunities for disabled artists from the recreational programs to professional productions.
Furthermore, Shay has extensive experience working as an accessibility consultant in many settings including academic, artistic, and frontline services. They have spent the last ten years advocating for better inclusion and services for young people with disabilities, and currently work as an independent consultant assisting frontline service organizations and arts institutions in creating more accessible programs and productions for the diverse people that they work with through their business Shay Erlich Consulting. Shay also provides training and support for frontline practitioners who wish to improve their practice with disabled clients. Shay strongly believes in a social justice and disability rights approach within a child and youth care relational context. Shay’s vision for the future is one where disabled people have the support and resources that they need to thrive, and to fully participate in all areas of their lives, without having to constantly fight for resources.