4 by 4 grid featuring the 13 young innovators. Additional squares read 2020-21 Young Innovators, and the Nightwood logo.
From top L to R: Patricia Cerra, Caitlin Kelly, Kemi King, Christine Lee, Sai Macikunas, Qianna MacGilchrist, Hazel Moore, Robin Luckwaldt, Kiera Publicover, River Oliveira, Natasha Ramondino, Jessica Rose and Lucy Wong.

Young Innovators 2020-21

Take a leap towards becoming the next generation of leaders in Canada’s theatre community. Nightwood is thrilled to offer our Young Innovators (YI) Program digitally in the 2020-21 season – this year we are broadening the scope of the program by diving into both the producing and the artistry involved in running a theatre company. Whether a Young Innovator joins us as a born administrator, stage manager, designer, director, actor or playwright (or beyond), we aim to deepen their understanding of each dimension of professional theatre, opening them up to new complementary facets of their practice. Young Innovators are given the unique opportunity to forge connections with one another in a pivotal time in their careers, and ignite a lasting personal and professional relationship with Nightwood Theatre.

We accept applications from theatre artists (directors, actors, designers, technicians, stage managers, arts managers, dramaturges, etc.) aged 18-30. The program will run from October to March of the 2020-21 season with most workshops and gatherings taking place during business hours on weekdays. 2020-21 Applications have now closed. 


  • Access to all of Nightwood’s digital and live programming
  • Numerous hands-on producing workshops by Nightwood staff on marketing, outreach, fundraising, grant writing, networking and more
  • Several artistic/production workshops by Nightwood staff and contracted artists on playwriting, dramaturgy, directing, and production management
  • Programming and producing experience as YI’s curate and produce Fempocalypse: A Digital International Women’s Day Cabaret
  • Observing a Write from the Hip new play development workshop before it’s publicly shared at the Groundswell Festival
  • Regular gathering points for skill sharing, developing systems of support, and connecting to future collaborators, as well as opportunities to examine how we work, including conversations on self-authorship, creative stamina, and wellness
  • Access to Nightwood staff for consultation
  • A one-on-one session with Artistic Director Andrea Donaldson
  • A $500 honourarium for participation

As a feminist theatre company, Nightwood’s mandate is to foster greater gender equity in all aspects of theatre. With this in mind, we encourage applications from anyone that self-identifies as having lived experience that is touched by womanhood – this could include but is not limited to trans, cis, 2S and non-binary folks.

Meet the 2020-21 Young innovators cohort!

Patricia Cerra (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist; at present she works as a director, performer and educator. Her work has taken her to theatres around Canada, where she has worked on over thirty productions. Patricia has had the pleasure of world premiering many new works and finds great joy in play development. She worked at the Banff Playwrights Lab collaborating with national and international playwrights on over a dozen brand new works. She will be debuting her short play as a part of the Sprouts Festival in 2021. Patricia also serves her community in various committees and initiatives. Patricia has been recognized with the Sterling Award for Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role – Comedy. She completed her training at the Citadel/Banff Professional Theatre Program and has graduated from the University of Alberta BFA Acting program with Distinction. 

Photo of Patricia Cerra.
Patricia Cerra
Photo of Caitlin Kelly by Allysa Pierre.
Caitlin Kelly by Allysa Pierre

Caitlin Kelly (they/she/them/her) is a queer actor from Edmonton, Alberta, and a recent graduate from the University of Alberta’s Conservatory Acting Program. They are a performing artist with credits in acting, dancing, playwriting and performance art. Her recent theatre credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lodestar Theatre), Richard III (Studio Theatre), and Meet Me Under the Gnarly Tree (Cardiac Theatre). Caitlin has also appeared in several festivals, including 4 seasons at the Edmonton Fringe Festival and 3 seasons at Nextfest Arts Co’s Emerging Arts Festival. Caitlin is interested in exploring the fluidity of performance, and it’s potential to connect people and inspire change. They are very excited to be learning, growing, and creating with the team at Nightwood as a Young Innovator! 

Kemi King (she/her) is a writer, director, performance artist and divisor. Some of her work has been produced by Obsidian, and Canadian Stage. She has created and performed works with Soulpepper Theatre and as a part of the Paprika Festival. She has participated in the fringe festival as an actor, devisor and director. She continues studying and exploring performance at Queen’s University with a major in theatre and a minor in gender studies. She is one of the co-founders and artistic director of YIKES a Theatre Company founded in her second year of undergrad. Kemi is always excited for a learning opportunity with different types of artists and collaborators. Kemi is passionate about the arts and the way it can be used to help shape social consciousness.

Photo of Kemi King by Sahrina Aujla.
Kemi King by Sahrina Aujla
Photo of Christine ML Lee by Chrystian Guy.
Christine ML Lee by Chrystian Guy

Based in Montreal, Christine ML Lee (she/her) is a composer and writer. After finishing her last year as the composer-in-residence at the University of Montreal Choir, she completed the Songwriting Workshop at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Her latest work, Bloom, is a choir composition for which she wrote the music and lyrics, and was premiered on June 15, 2019 by the Choeur du Brouhaha. Working with dance and spoken word, Christine’s music has been performed at Montreal Festival Quartiers Danses and in Montreal Botanical Gardens. Poet and writer, she has contributed several articles for the music magazine La Scena Musicale and has been shortlisted for the Quebec Writers’ Federation 2019 Poetry Mentorship program. Christine is currently working on a musical theatre piece, Just a Note, following development with the 2019-2020 Canadian Musical Theatre Writers’ Collective Workshop in Montreal with Jonathan Monro and with the 2019-2020 Young Creator’s Unit at Playwright’s Workshop Montreal with Jesse Stong.

Robin Luckwaldt (she/her) is a queer settler of Irish and Scottish heritage who grew up on the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe, Omàmìwininìwag, and St. Lawrence Iroquoian peoples. She is the co-director of KAIROS Theatre. Her work on The Bathtub Girls was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Outstanding New Play Award. Robin is currently in development for a theatre piece about queer women in 1920s rural Ontario with Keshia Palm and Deanna Choi.

Selected performance and production credits: Rhubarb Festival –  Caroline, Rhiannon Collett’s Wasp; Education Arts Canada – Blake, Ali Joy Richardson’s Jay vs. the World; Danish National School of Performing Arts, for the Radiobiograf Festival – Co-Instructor with Phoebe Wang, Sound Design in Performance workshop.

Training: BFA in Acting, University of Windsor; Directors’ Lab with Maiko Yamamoto, Rumble Theatre; Intermediate Stage Combat Certification, Rapier Wit;  additionally with the Moscow Art Theatre School and the SITI Company.

Photo of Robin Luckwaldt by Haley Garnett.
Robin Luckwaldt by Haley Garnett
Photo of Sai Lian Macikunas.
Sai Lian Macikunas

Sai Lian Macikunas (he/him) is a disabled nonbinary Chinese-Malaysian/Lithuanian guy who is definitely average height and not short (and how would you be able to tell from this photo?) who you may recognize from many University of Toronto student affiliated productions (2015-2019), or from the fu-GEN Kitchen Creators Unit (2018-2019). A budding jack-of-all-trades, he’s grateful for the opportunity to sharpen a lot of his theatre ‘odd-skills’ as well as his established ones as a performer playwright. His works are community driven, and primarily revolve around close relationships, race, queerness, and humanity. Despite being a writer of sad and awkward stories, he believes in the pairing of celebration and grief; the sigh we breathe when it’s all over.

Catch him in the upcoming production Jane Doe directed by Max Fearon and Rochelle Richardson to be mounted at the 2021 Summer Toronto Fringe Festival!

Qianna MacGilchrist (she/her) is an actor, writer, and aspiring producer. Since her graduation from the National Theatre School in 2018, Qianna has toured TYA with Geordie Theatre and Shakespeare with Repercussion Theatre. Pre-pandemic, she was a company member at the Stratford Festival. Qianna is also a former member of the Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal Young Creator’s Unit. She is looking forward to expanding her artistic horizons with her cohort, and working with the amazing team at Nightwood Theatre!

Photo of Qianna MacGilchrist by Maxime Cote.
Qianna MacGilchrist by Maxime Côté
Photo of Hazel Moore by Reva Lokhande.
Hazel Moore by Reva Lokhande

Hazel Moore (she/her) is an emerging theatre artist, producer and administrator. She graduated from Humber College’s Theatre Production Program in 2020, where she developed a passion for stage & production management. She is predominantly interested in creating theatre and arts programming for underrepresented children and youth that incorporates hands-on learning of all theatrical elements. Hazel is committed to enacting equitable theatre practices in all areas of production. Selected credits include Stage Manager, Pandora in Blue Jeans (Humber Theatre), Assistant Head of Props, Elektra (Humber Theatre), Production Manager & Designer, Zak and the Magic Blue Stone (Living Legacies Theatre Project). She is thrilled to join the Nightwood community and looks forward to what this opportunity has in store for her!

River Oliveira (they & he) is a Queer, Trans, & Disabled artist based in Toronto, Ontario. He graduated from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies with a focus on performance and design. They wear many different hats as a performer, playwright, musician, sound designer, and producer. 

River’s main interest is in exploring the themes of queerness, survival, and community in close collaboration with others. He is also interested in how art can be used as a tool for healing and radical change. River has designed and performed for theatre societies at UofT, trained with TENT (Toronto Fringe), PrideCab (Buddies), and the Paprika Festival Design Lab, and participated in Nightwood’s Fempocalypse Cabaret. He currently serves as Technical and Communications Director for Low Hanging Fruit Productions, an emerging theatre company focused on celebrating and empowering marginalized voices. 

For more information, check them out at: https://www.riveroliveira.com/

Photo of River Oliveira by David Fulde.
River Oliveira by David Fulde
Photo of Kiera Publicover by Melissa Stewart Photography.
Kiera Publicover by Melissa Stewart Photography

Kiera Publicover (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist, actor, playwright and recent graduate of the University of Windsor’s BFA in Acting program. Acting credits include: herself in ICARUS (Toronto Fringe Festival); Gwyn in Morning Sacrifice and #8 in The Wolves (University Players); Chorus in Medea/Antigone (House + Body/University of Windsor) and more. Kiera’s passions lie in anti-war and protest art; decolonizing Shakespeare and classical text, and exploring the role of traditional visual and oral storytelling in contemporary and physical theatre. Wela’lin.

Natasha Ramondino (she/her) is a queer theatre artist based in Toronto. Driven by a discussion of feminist and LGBTQ2S themes, her artistic focus has more recently been on fostering community and care. Recent acting credits include: The Corona Variations, Worry Warts (Convergence Theatre), Above and Beyond (JackieTol Productions), FEARLESS (fu-GEN Theatre), Othello (Shakespeare BASH’d), A Bear Awake in Winter (Binocular Theatre), Crow Hill: The Telephone Play (4th Line Theatre), Coriolanus (Skipping Stones Theatre), Volpone (Shakespeare BASH’d), Romeo and Juliet (Bard in the Park), Get Yourself Home Skyler James (Binocular Theatre), Lion in the Streets (Theatre By Committee), Shakespeare in Hospitals (Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare Collective), Andy Warhol Presents: Valerie (Fail Better Theatre), and Rumpelstiltskin (Solar Stage Theatre). She is a graduate of the Theatre and Drama Studies program at Sheridan College and the University of Toronto Mississauga, and is incredibly excited to be a part of this year’s YI program! natasharamondino.com

Photo of Natasha Ramondino by Sam Gaetz.
Natasha Ramondino by Sam Gaetz
Photo of Jessica Rose.
Jessica Bowmer by Lindsey MacDonald

Jessica Rose (she/her) is a Toronto based actor, model and creator. Along with acting in various film and theatre genres, she regularly devises feminist theatre pieces, heavy in vocal and physical work. She is a graduate of Humber College’s Theatre Performance program and a recipient of the Mark Shoenberg Award, The Big Step Award and the School of Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship for Theatre Performance.

She has performed and collaborated on multiple pieces including Toronto Fringe’s How Did You Find Me Here? and F*cking Perfect (selected as Best of Fringe, 2018). She has also completed her directing debut for KW Youth Theatre’s The Giver, a devised adaptation. Selected acting credits include DLT’s The Stranger 2.0, Toronto Fringe’s Who You Callin’ Black, Eh? (Winner of the Teenjur Award), London Fringe’s Red Haired Girl, The Art Project Co.’s The Crucible, Lost & Found Theatre’s Christmas Variety Show, Alumnae Theatre’s Queen Marie, Theatre TOnight’s Hypnagogia, or Ligretto Stop, and Humber Theatre’s To Ithaca and Life Underground.

Lucy Wong (she/her) is a costume designer, based in Toronto, Ontario.  She is a recent graduate from the University of Guelph, majoring in Theatre Studies, where she took courses taught by Judith Thompson, and Sky Gilbert. As a Student Member of Associated Designers of Canada, Lucy has assisted in designing shows for various plays across Toronto and is exploring set and props design. Selected credits include: Costume designer, Suburban Motel (University of Guelph Ensemble); Assistant set and costume designer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in Action); Costume apprentice, After the Blackout (RARE Theatre/Soulpepper Theatre); Costume Apprentice, Portia’s Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Ruff); Costume and Props buyer, FEARLESS (Fu-GEN Theatre). In her own time, Lucy does fashion design and creates custom clothing for her clients. When she isn’t designing, she is listening to music, caring for houseplants, and trying new foods!

Photo of Lucy Wong by Andy Ho.
Lucy Wong by Andy Ho

From Our Young Innovators

“If you’re considering applying to the YI program, definitely do. I loved being part of the program. I met incredible fellow artists who have become friends and collaborators. These relationships have extended well beyond the length of the program and have expanded my perspective of art. Thanks to the program, I was able to see awesome theatre in the Nightwood season, and was able to participate in workshops on a range of topics. The information I gleaned from those sessions have been extremely useful to my professional development. Take advantage of this great opportunity!!"
Ellie Ellwand
2018-19 Young Innovator
"I joined the Young Innovators program when I was fresh out of school, and was immediately welcomed with open arms into the Nightwood family. The program introduced me to an incredible, talented group of young women and non-binary artists, making the at-first intimidating Toronto theatre industry feel a whole lot friendlier. The year after I was in YI, I took on the position of Marketing and Development Assistant at Nightwood, using and building upon the knowledge that I first developed during my time as a Young Innovator, demonstrating Nightwood's commitment to supporting and celebrating their emerging artist community throughout their careers.”
Amanda Lin
2018-19 Young Innovator

“I really enjoyed the YI program: its flexibility, the chance to connect with other emerging artists, and to peek behind the curtain of Nightwood. The workshop sessions were very interesting and informative. I also really appreciated the season’s pass to Nightwood! And the chance to be in the office where art that I admire gets produced. It has a very positive effect to feel seen by those further down the road than oneself.”

Ellen Denny
2017-18 Young Innovator
“A wonderful team of artists! Between tailored workshops, producing opportunities and access to special events such as play readings/launch parties, the fierce team at Nightwood welcomed us into their community with open arms! The program provided us with a look into the inner workings of a successful Toronto based theatre company!”
Veronica Baron
2016-17 Young Innovator
“Being a part of the Young Innovators has made an indelible impact on me. I have been empowered, inspired, and emboldened. The women in this group blow me away, and we have created a beautiful and highly capable community that I know will endure beyond the length of the program. Like many young people in this industry, I am looking beyond performance to forge a career in theatre. Nightwood has done so much to help me envision what that path might look like and to equip with the skills I will need as my work grows to include marketing, producing, and development. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and I cannot imagine this year without it!”
Annie MacKay
2016-17 Young Innovator

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