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Why Not Theatre Launches ThisGen 2021 Fellowship

The fellowship is a national training and mentorship program supporting BIPOC female, non-binary and trans artists.

Why Not Theatre Launches ThisGen 2021 Fellowship

This February, innovative Canadian theatre company Why Not Theatre will launch ThisGen 2021 Fellowship, the second annual national initiative that supports BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) Female, Trans, and Non-Binary artists get to the next stage in their careers through training, mentorship, guided self-study, and peer-to-peer connection. Today Why Not Theatre is proud to announce the 2021 cohort of Fellows, and the 2021 Faculty and Mentors.

Run entirely online from February-June, the 2021 cohort will consist of fifteen Fellows from across Canada who will receive training and mentorship from an internationally renowned faculty.

Fellows will either develop their skills in stage direction as part of the Directing Stream, or in arts leadership as part of the Cultural Leadership Stream. Directing Fellows will embark on a fifteen-week director-training program taught by a faculty of award-winning directors from around the world, while Cultural Leadership Fellows will be paired with a personalized mentor with experience running an arts organization. Each Fellow, Faculty Member, and Mentor is provided with a fee for their participation in the program.

The 2021 cohort of Fellows was selected from across Canada, and applications were accepted in English and ASL. The fifteen ThisGen 2021 Fellows are:

Natasha Bacchus - Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario

K.P Dennis - Directing, Coast Salish Territories/Vancouver, BC

Frances Koncan - Directing, Treaty One Territory/Winnipeg, Manitoba

Gabrielle Martin - Cultural Leadership, Coast Salish Territories/Vancouver, BC

Esie Mensah - Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario

Natasha Mumba - Directing, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario

Riley Palanca - Cultural Leadership, Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Quebec

Gaitrie Persaud - Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario

Annabella Piugattuk - Cultural Leadership, Iqaluit, Nunavut

Natasha Powell - Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario

Cherissa Richards - Directing, Treaty One Territory/Winnipeg, Manitoba

Michelle Thrush - Directing, Mohkínstsis/Calgary, Alberta

Kaitlynn Tomaselli - Cultural Leadership, Tkaronto/Toronto, Ontario

Katey Wattam - Directing, Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Quebec

Sage Nokomis Wright - Cultural Leadership, Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Quebec


Why Not will connect these Fellows with top-level international Faculty and Mentors who are creating some of the most ground-breaking, innovative work in the world and changing the sector through their leadership. Hailing from Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, Sweden, and the United States, the ThisGen 2021 Faculty and Mentors include:

Nicole Brewer - Acting faculty, Yale School of Drama, USA

Josette Bushell-Mingo - Head of the Theatre, Stockholm University, Sweden

Rachel Chavkin - Tony Award winning director, USA

Ty Defoe - Core Member of Indigenous Directions, USA

Wesley Enoch - Festival Director, Sydney Festival, Australia

Nataki Garrett - Artistic Director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, USA

Mr. Antoine Hunter - Founder, Urban Jazz Dance Company, USA

Leslie Ishii - Artistic Director, Perseverance Theatre, USA

Akram Khan - Olivier Award winning choreographer, England

Pitseolak Kilabuk - Director of Operations, Inuit Broadcasting Corp, Canada

Rachael Maza - Artistic Director, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Australia

Weyni Mengesha - Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre, Canada

Ramesh Meyyappan - Multi-award winning theatre artist, Scotland

Julie Nagam - Artistic Director, Nuit Blanche Toronto, Canada

Yvette Nolan - Multi-award winning playwright & director, Canada

Crystal Pite - Olivier Award winning Choreographer, Canada

Madeline Sayet - Executive Director, Yale Indigenous Performing Arts, USA

Lily Shearer - Artistic Director, Moogahlin Performing Arts Inc, Australia

Dawn Walton - Founder, Eclipse Theatre, England

Syrus Marcus Ware - Visual artist and political activist, Canada

Marcus Youssef - Siminovitch Prize winning playwright, Canada

Why Not Theatre is passionate about creating a future where BIPOC Female, Trans, and Non-Binary people are supported, celebrated, and have the resources and networks they need to thrive in the arts sector. By making connections to institutional leadership, enhancing valuable skill sets, and building a network of peers, ThisGen Fellowship is a launchpad for Canadian directors and cultural leaders.

COVID-19 has exacerbated and highlighted the many inequities that are present in the theatre sector and the wider world. By using this period of theatre closures to address systemic barriers to access, Why Not is actively working to shape what theatre will look like when it returns, equipping a new group of artists with the tools to be leaders in their fields. In building relationships with diverse artists, and engaging in complex conversations around art and the industry, ThisGen 2021 Fellowship is reimagining the future of leadership across disciplines in Canadian performing arts.


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