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​New Ideas Festival 2015 · March 25 - 29, 2015
Week 3 Plays:

​Rowing, Onward • Grief Circus • A Death and the Marias
• Friends with Benefits • The Creases in My Sari (Reading)

ROWING, ONWARD by Eugenie Carabatsos

In a forward facing rowboat, on an endless sea, alone, a Woman and a Man have been rowing forever. One of them wants to stop. 

Director: Anne MacMillan
Stage Manager: Frans Robinow
Cast: Aleksandra Maslennikova, Matthew Gouveia

BIOGRAPHIES, Creative Team

Eugenie is currently pursuing her MFA at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama. Her work has won Broadway World’s Award for Best Play 2013, the Trustus Theatre Festival, the Mountain Playhouse Comedy Writing Competition, the Venus Theatre Festival, and the UnChained Festival. Rowing, Onward is Eugenie’s third time participating in New Ideas Festival, following In Their Glory (Reading, 2012) and Stalled (2013).

ANNE MacMILLAN, Director Anne is pleased to be directing Rowing, Onward for New Ideas Festival. Previous director credits include: Man in a Butterfly Hat, Reflections, and Who Is Lieserl? (NIF); The Hole (InspiraTO), The Flying Avro Arrow (Toronto Fringe), On Tour (NYC, Horner Stuart producers). Playwright credits: In a Time of War (Glasgow 1941) NIF 2014. As an actor, she has played leading roles across the U.S., Canada and the UK. Many thanks to Morna Wales for her valued support during our rehearsals.
FRANS ROBINOW, Assistant Director Stage Manager
Frans has appeared in TV soaps and in over 20 stage plays, most recently at NIF as Grandfather Mungo in In a Time of War and Nikita Khrushchev in The Flying Avro Arrow (also Toronto Fringe). He played stage manager in The Man with the Butterfly Hat and Reflections in past New Ideas Festivals and in The Hole for Inspirato. Happy to be back.


This is Aleksandra’s first year performing in the New Ideas Festival. A recent newcomer to Toronto, she’s been acting with local Russian-speaking theatre for a while, where her roles included Estelle in Sartre’s
No Exit and Merchutkina in Chekhov’s Jubilee, among others. In 2014 she performed in InspiraTO Festival. Aleksandra continues her acting journey through various student and independent film and theatre projects.

MATTHEW GOUVEIA, Man Matthew is an alumnus of the Humber College Theatre Performance program, where he was the recipient of the Humber Theatre Award, the Dean’s Award, and the Board of Governors’ Award. Matthew also received further training at The Pro Actors Lab under the tutelage of David Rotenberg. Past acting credits include Judith Thompson’s Who Killed Snow White? (Nightwood Theatre), The Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare Link Canada), BEAST (Toronto Fringe), and The Taming of the Shrew (Humber River Shakespeare).

GRIEF CIRCUS by Crystal Wood

Grief Circus is a multimedia piece that explores the way the internet and social media are changing the boundaries of privacy. It is inspired by real-life stories of tragedy and the families left behind to deal with their grief.

Director: Kelsey Laine Jacobson
Sound Designer: Dylan On
Costume Designer: Jenny Hwang
Stage Manager: Catherine Spence
Production Assistant: Saša Milić
Cast: Christina Leonard, Jennifer-Beth Hanchar, Taylor Hammond, Stacey Iseman, Lex Darian

BIOGRAPHIES, Creative Team

CRYSTAL WOOD, Playwright
Crystal is a Toronto-based print, television, and theatre artist. Grief Circus was recently read at Steady State Theatre in Toronto and FemFest in Winnipeg. Her short play Stay was produced at Toronto’s InspiraTO festival. Crystal’s short film The Morning After was screened at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. In 2014, she was awarded the inaugural Screenwriter Mentorship Award at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.

Kelsey is a current PhD student at the University of Toronto and an emerging theatre director and designer. Past directing credits include Tuesdays and Sundays (Fifth Company Lane), The Drowsy Chaperone (Blue Canoe Productions), Do Not Pass Go (Vogt Studio Series), and The Fantasticks as Assistant Director (Dalliance Theatre Company). Most recently, she was a Junior Researcher at Shakespeare’s Globe and devised an independent solo performance piece about lighting design entitled Enlightenment in London, UK.

DYLAN ON, Sound Designer
Dylan is a sound designer, director, and performer, currently completing an MA in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. He also enjoys web design and tinkering with anything that blinks, vibrates, or connects to Wi-Fi. Follow him on Twitter at @dylanon. Selected Credits: Sound Design: Peg and the Yeti (Thousand Islands Playhouse); Macbeth (Vagabond Theatre); Wait Until Dark (5th Company Lane Productions). Direction: Assassins (Queen’s Musical Theatre), Red (Theatre Kingston, Assistant). Performance: Bird Brain (Thousand Islands Playhouse); Sweeney Todd, Spring Awakening, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Queen’s Musical Theatre); Play On!, Teapest in a Tempot (Barefoot Players); Blood Relations (Queen’s University Drama).

JENNY HWANG, Costume Designer
Jenny’s love for costumes started in grade 7 fashion class when she threaded her first needle on the Brother sewing machine. She would like to thank her Home Economics teacher Ms. Lootens, her co-workers from Fabricland, and the hosts of all the Halloween parties she attended for shaping who she is today. Jenny is also very excited that Marsala was chosen as Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2015.

Catherine is thrilled to be a part of Grief Circus. Trained at Regent’s University, London, she is enjoying being back doing theatre in her home country. Always looking to explore the resonance of story and audience, she is honored to be a part of this year’s New Ideas Festival.


SAŠA MILIĆ, Production Assistant
By day, Saša is a computer scientist, but by night, she is a big supporter of the arts. In the past, she has worked as Head of Paint for Witness for the Prosecution and Production Assistant for the film The Still and Beating Heart with Forgotten Film Studios (never forgotten in her heart!). She is thrilled to be assisting with Grief Circus and working on such a relevant, affecting, and moving show.

Christina is thrilled to be in the New Ideas Festival with such a great cast and crew. Most recently, she performed in The Beaver Den: A New Canadian Musical at the Storefront Theatre. She graduated from Humber College’s Theatre Program in 2014. Humber highlights include an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot (Lizaveta Prokofyevna) with Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith, The Caucasian Chalk Circle with Maja Ardal, The Iliad (Iris) with Tatiana Jennings, and Mother, which was performed in the Backspace at Theatre Passe Muraille. Christina has a background in movement and dance, and is certified in stage combat. She would like to thank her family for their continued support.

No matter how many great loves that come along, Jennifer’s first love will always be the stage and theatre. She is so grateful she has the opportunity and freedom in life to pursue this passion alongside her incredibly talented Grief Circus team. Jennifer’s favourite roles on stage include Gabrielle in The Best Medicine (LazySundayTheatre), Liv Longer in Smoke and Mirrors (Magnus Theatre), and her upcoming Toronto Fringe debut with DV8 Productions this summer. Jennifer would like to thank her mom, grandmother, and best friend for simply being the best. Enjoy the show!

Taylor is a Master’s student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Graduating from Ryerson Theatre School in 2014, Taylor is a versatile actor, director, and musician. He is very excited to be working on a new script with an incredible cast and crew! Lots of love to the family.

Stacey has appeared in a myriad of films, recently in Ironied, which just won Best Drama at the Beeston Film Festival, Guy on Girl with Flyweight Films, and Lucas and the Count, in which she plays a mama werewolf. This is her first play at Alumnae Theatre.

LEX DARIAN, Reporter
Lex is a Toronto-based actor who has studied drama/acting at the University of Toronto and George Brown College. Lex has been involved in many theatre and film productions, having done a diverse range of roles both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Lex is happy to be making his debut at the Alumnae theatre.


When a young man is killed on the steps of the church on his wedding day and his bride is missing, a young detective turns to the only true town guards: two women named Maria slicing tomatoes on the stoop of their home.

Director: Clara McBride
Stage Manager: Janine Diamanti
Cast: Connie Guccione, Margaret Sellers

BIOGRAPHIES, Creative Team

ROSE NAPOLI, Playwright
Rose is a Toronto-based actress and playwright. Her first play, Oregano, shortlisted for Tarragon’s RBC Emerging Playwright’s Competition, will play at the Storefront Theatre in March. Her second play, Ten Creative Ways to Dispose of Your Cremains, placed third in the Toronto Fringe New Play Contest. She is currently working on her third play, Lo, at Nightwood Theatre’s Write from the Hip program. Acting credits include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Citadel Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Citadel; Canadian Stage) and The Fan.

Clara has just relocated to Canada after working in Paris since 1997. She trained with Ariane Mnouchkine at the Theatre du Soleil, with Footsbarn Theatre, and with Keith Johnstone. Clara is specialized in Improvisation, Mask, Meisner, and Ensemble. She is a founding member of The Improfessionals, an international improv troupe. In addition to teaching at RADA in London, she co-founded La Companie Et Alors!, an actor-training program, directing dozens of productions in major Parisian theatres.

Janine graduated from the Theatre Production program at Humber College in April 2014. Since then she has worked as a technician on many concerts and is head lighting designer and tech for Silverthorne C.I. She has been and continues to be an ASM for Bravo Academy. Janine is excited to take on her first SM role in A Death and the Marias and looks forward to taking on more SM roles, eventually leading towards production management and directing.


Connie has appeared in NUTS as Rose Kirk. Recently, she was in a forum theatre production, Old Age Ain’t for Sissies. She has also played Maria Barbieri in Mambo Italiano. For the 2012 InspiraTo Festival, she appeared in In Fine Print. Connie is a member of Act II Studio at Ryerson University and has performed in many of its productions, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Laramie Project. Connie enjoys travelling and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Margaret is thrilled to be part of this wonderful play. Past performances are in Midwinter Night’s Dream at Factory Theatre (Quince), Dust Motes Dancing at Red Sandcastle Theatre (Evelyn), Not on My Watch at Ryerson University’s 50+ Arts festival (Elma), and several roles in What Tucci Saw at the Victory Cafe with Archival Acting Workshop. Margaret continues to make the Act II Studio Theatre program at Ryerson part of her learning.


A young civil servant with a troubled past befriends an old man with an unconventional sense of reality.

Director: Donald Molnar
Stage Manager: Kathleen Hemsworth
Cast: Carina Cojeen, Luciano Iogno, Diana Franz, Neila Lem

BIOGRAPHIES, Creative Team

NEIL NAFT, Playwright
Playwriting credits: I Don’t Want You Dead (Urban Moods Showcase, 2014, and 50+ Festival, 2013), Dust Motes Dancing (ACT II Studios, 2013), Table Talk (Silver Screens Festival, 2012). Acting credits: A Midwinter Night’s DreamLady from Maxim’s (Passionate Players); Yichud (Convergence Theatre); Adventures of a Professional Corpse (Bent Spoon Productions); Village of IdiotsThe Triangle Factory Fire ProjectEinstein’s Gift (Stagecraft); Dust Motes DancingLeacock Live (Act II Studios); and TV/ Film: Dieppe UncoveredMan of Glass.

Don is a bilingual playwright living in Toronto. He has won several playwriting competitions and awards. His most recent play, Justice for Maurice Henry Carter, co-written with Alicia Payne, has had play readings in Toronto, Grand Rapids, Austin, Honolulu, and at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem. Don also has a passion for directing and is excited to be part of the New Ideas Festival. He is pleased to join the energetic, talented team behind Neil’s Friends with Benefits.

Kathleen is a recent graduate of York University’s Theatre Production Program and excited to be back with the Festival for a second year to bring Neil Naft’s beautiful piece to life. She has an annoyingly persistent passion for stage managing and plans to continue in theatre and cultural events. Selected stage management credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Single Thread Theatre), Vectors of Their Interest (Surplus Value Theatre), Better Angels (NIF 2014), and World Stage Design (Cardiff, Wales, 2013).


Carina is more than thrilled to be in her first play with Alumnae Theatre. Huge thanks to Don Molnar and Neil Naft for putting their trust in her. When not helping out at Alumnae in various ways, she takes acting, singing, and dancing classes. As always, thank you to Peter for his unflagging support of her creative journey.

Luciano has worked as an actor, writer, director, dramaturge, designer, producer, and teacher in film and theatre for nearly forty years across Canada and internationally. He has been featured as a guest instructor at universities and has led hundreds of theatre workshops in Canada and abroad. Luc has been nominated or has won regional, national, and international awards for innovative work in film and theatre for his writing, directing, and design. Two of his plays for Young Audiences, produced by Toronto’s Mixed Company Theatre (Showdown and How Can You Tell?) were nominated for Dora Awards and, along with others of his plays, have been translated into several languages and produced around the world. This is his first participatory endeavor with Alumnae Theatre.

Diana is still relatively new to the Toronto theatre scene after moving here just over a year ago. Since then, she has done two shorts and played the cow and ogre in Solar Stage’s Jack and the Beanstalk, Ruth in the Village Players’ Blithe Spirit, and most recently Gretchen in Amicus’ production of Sabrina Fair. She is very excited to be in her first show in association with the Alumnae Theatre Company and is thrilled to be part of the New Ideas Festival!

NEILA LEM, Shopkeeper
Being a behavioural chameleon by nature has finally led Neila into the world of acting. After a four year incubation at Act II, Ryerson University, the first step out of the womb is in progress. Most of the last year was filled with the writing/acting/performance collective, Closets and Cubicles, of which Neila was initiator and music director. This new actor also has an interest in Foley sound for the theatre.

THE CREASES IN MY SARI by Sindhuri Nandhakumar

Maheshwari came to Canada when she was six with her mother Rani, fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka that killed her father. Now grown-up, Maheshwari faces her mother’s opposition when she tries to learn about the country she left behind.

Director: Joanne Williams
Dramaturge: Carolyn Zapf
Stage Manager: Andrea Godin Patreau
Cast: Shweta Visva, Ayesha Mansur, Vince Jerad, Vivek Hariharan, Jamie Johnson

BIOGRAPHIES, Creative Team

Born in Sri Lanka, Sindhuri is proud to call Toronto home once more. She recently completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, where she worked with many student-led theatre groups. In her final semester, she directed Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo for iNtuitons Experimental Theatre Group. Her short play, Beautiful Bastard, was performed at the Alternate Theatre Festival in Philadelphia in 2014. 

Joanne is a director and arts administrator who serves on Theatre Ontario’s Board of Directors and Alumnae’s Programming Committee. Alumnae credits include: Theory by Norman Yeung (2013 Fireworks, 2010 New Ideas, 2010 SummerWorks), My Friend’s Best Friend’s Boyfriend by Wesley J. Colford (2013 New Ideas). Elsewhere: Savannah Bay and Le Shaga by Marguerite Duras (2015 Fraser Studios, Spiel Players), Dust Peddling: Part II by Scott Dermody (Soup Can), Wild Dogs on the Moscow Trains by Anthony MacMahon (2013 SummerWorks).

CAROLYN ZAPF, Dramaturge
Carolyn is a Toronto-based writer, dramaturge, and publishing professional. She is currently co-artistic director of New Ideas Festival and has served as dramaturge at the festival for several years. Her plays have appeared in various venues across Canada. She is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Editors’ Association of Canada, and sits on Alumnae Theatre Company’s Board of Directors.

Andrea is new to Alumnae and brings with her training from Theatre Mowat, where she received accolades for her performance at the Sears Drama Festival as a reporter investigating child trafficking in The Green Harvest by Janet Kish. Andrea’s passion for theatre began in 1995 when she played a part in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, performed in Clearwater, Florida. Since then, she has been a thespian enthusiast and has assisted in stage management and set construction as well as acted in shows such as West Side Story and Of Athenian Blood.


SHWETA VISVA, Maheshwari
Shweta graduated from the University of Toronto’s medical biology department in 2014. This is her first time participating in the New Ideas Festival, and she’s looking forward to working with and learning from all the lovely, talented people at the Alumnae theatre. Thank you, Joanne, for the opportunity.

Ayesha is an actress and choreographer based in Toronto. She is a graduate of both the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and The City University of New York (Film Production). TV credits include: The Expanse (SyFy), Hemlock Grove (Netflix), Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (TMN), and The Bridge (CBS/CTV). Recent choreography credits include: Emotional Creature for VDay Toronto (YPT/Nightwood), SLUT for TO Fringe (Beer In a Glass Prod.), and You Have To Earn It for the Fireworks Festival (Alumnae Theatre). Ayesha is also the Artistic Director of AMG Youth, a pre-professional performance and dance film program.

Vince appeared in many plays and musicals during his childhood and adolescent years. He has worked extensively in theatre, film, commercials, print, and television. He received outstanding reviews for his performance as Mathan in the critically acclaimed feature film 1999. In the last couple of years in the theatre, Vince has worked on The Role Model (August Productions), and Seen and Unseen, Strange Bedfellows, and Under the Overpass (InspiraTO Festival). He is happy to be part of the New Ideas Festival.

Vivek is a fresh face to the Toronto theater scene but brings several years of stage experience from India where his acting career began with Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana in 2005. Some of the major productions he has worked
on include Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution, Badal Sircar’s Evam Indrajit, Hairspray – the Musical, and Gowri Ramnarayan’s Water Lilies. He directed India’s first stage adaptation of Hitchcock’s famous TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and has also conducted workshops for upcoming actors.

Jamie is happy to return to the New Ideas Festival. His play Falling, was a workshopped reading in NIF 2013. He is a graduate of the MFA Theatre program at York University. Selected acting credits: Jaoquin in Salvador (Toronto Fringe), Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare Bash’d), Lord Adrian/Boatswain in The Tempest (Hart House Theatre), LinShweta Visvadqvist in Easter (Naught, A Theatre Company), Omar in Theory (Fireworks/Alumnae Theatre), just to name a few.


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