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New Ideas Festival 2016 - Week 1

March 9 – 13, 2016


March 9 – 13, 2016

Wednesday to Saturday, 8 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 2:30 pm; Reading, March 12, noon

Week 1 Plays:

​Stuck • Prayers to St. George • The Co​uncil • This Will Be My Last Transmission • A Better Place

BIOGRAPHIES, Creative Team

Stacey is a Toronto actor and playwright who is pleased to be an Alumnae Theatre member. For her, there is little better than being in the creative company of other artistic women.

Kelsey is a current PhD student in Drama at the University of Toronto. Past directing credits include Of a Feather (InspiraTO), Roaming (InspiraTO), Grief Circus (New Ideas Festival), Sonnet Show (Humber River Shakespeare), and Tuesdays and Sundays (Fifth Company Lane). Kelsey is also a lighting designer, working most recently on Antigone (Alumnae). She spent time learning immersive theatre design with Punchdrunk and dramaturgy as a junior researcher at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, UK. 

CARINA COJEEN, Assistant Director / Stage Manager
Carina has been exploring various facets of theatre for over two years now with Alumnae Theatre and elsewhere, appearing onstage in plays at NIF 2015 (Friends with Benefits) and Theatre InspiraTO (Waiting for Grace), as well as working behind the scenes (ASM on Rabbit Hole, sound operator on Fireworks Festival 2015). She is also thrilled to be in the inaugural Theatre InspiraTO Directing Academy, where she will be directing A Dog’s Dream in June.​

​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 also can’t believe that Pantone chose TWO colours of the year for 2016; she can’t choose between them!

SAŠA MILIĆ, Production Assistant
Saša is a computer scientist who has always had a strong love for the arts. She is thrilled to be assisting again for New Ideas Festival.


Cathie was born and raised in Toronto. She attended Etobicoke School of the Arts, majoring in dance and minoring in acting. After many years as a wife, mother, and grandmother, Cathie has gone back to theatre. She completed the George Brown College Continuing Education theatre program and is excited to be in her first production.

Glenda was last seen playing Emma Jung in Catherine Frid’s Burying Toni for Alumnae Theatre’s 2014 Fireworks Festival. A graduate of York University’s MFA acting program, Glenda has appeared in productions such as The General (Theatre Direct) and The Changeling (Toronto Free Theatre), as well as in various film and television roles. As a founding member of Ursula Franklin Academy, Glenda created and headed its drama department. She is thrilled to have the opportunity be in the debut of Stuck.
*Appearing with the permission of Canadian Actors Equity Association


Trauma can strike so hard that it shatters memory. When Hannah loses her daughter at St. George subway station, those pieces scatter, bringing her back again and again to when things still made sense.

Director: Meg Moran
Stage Manager: Gregory McLaughlin
​Cast: Anne Shepherd, Lindsey Middleton

BIOGRAPHIES: Creative Team

ANDREW LEE, Playwright
Andrew’s plays centre largely around memory and explorations of the mind, often using a mixture of drama, spoken word poetry, and movement. His latest play returns him to one of his favourite places to write and think – the subway. He is delighted to tell stories, and is inspired by his girls. Andrew was the winner of the Toronto Fringe 24-hour Play Contest (2012) and placed second in the Fringe New Play Contest (2014).

MEG MORAN, Director
Meg is a director and playwright from Toronto. With Alumnae she has directed You Can Ask Me How I’m Doing (NIF 2015) and assistant directed I am Marguerite (dir. Molly Thom). She recently directed a new musical for children with Solar Stage called Sheep in Wolf’s Clothes. Meg has also directed shows with her company, Upstart Theatre, including Here After (2014 Toronto Fringe) and The Seagull in Four Movements. Outside of theatre, Meg works as Program Coordinator at the Artists’ Health Alliance.​  

Gregory is a graduate of Mount Allison University’s Drama Program. Recent theatre credits include (SM) Oleanna – Matchstick Theatre; All For LovePith!Willy Wonka – Windsor Theatre; (ASM) Bombay Black – Factory Theatre; Our ElizaBy the Dark of the MoonMaking ContactDiligent River Daughter – Ships’ Company Theatre. Upcoming: Breath of Kings, Parts 1 & 2 – Stratford Festival (ASM).


Anne is a working actor and psychiatrist. Onstage she is best known for her controlling authoritarian roles such as Sister Aloysius in Doubt (Bygone Theatre) and an aging opera diva in Quartet (Village Playhouse). She played a lesbian astronaut in NIF, an alcoholic mother in the InspiraTO Festival, and a dementing senior in the Fringe show Evacuate. She recently appeared in State of Women at the Lower Ossington Theatre. Anne played Nurse Helen in Charles Hayter’s Radical in Alumnae’s FireWorks last November. 

Lindsey hails from the teeny town of Ridgeway, Ontario. Lindsey is best known for playing Vanessa on the internationally award-winning web series Out With Dad. Lindsey is a co-founder of Well Fought Theatre Company and Theatre By Committee. In 2016 you can find Lindsey in multiple Theatre By Committee productions and in Faith at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. Lindsey has also co-created a new documentary web series HappyHer. Follow along at


THE COUNCIL by Deanna Kruger

It’s the most important Parent Council meeting of the year: the vote to decide the Family Fun Night theme. But when someone new proposes a break with tradition, the situation deteriorates into absurdity.

Director: Claren Grosz
Stage Manager: Denis Arseneault
Cast: Nora Jane Williams, Barbara Salsberg, Amanda Jane Smith, Martha Breen, Adam Bonney, Nicole Hrgetic, J. Todd Colley

BIOGRAPHIES: Creative Team

Deanna is a writer living in Guelph, Ontario. She is happy to be returning to the New Ideas Festival with The Council. Deanna’s play Rendering, which received the Dorothy White Award in the Ottawa Little Theatre’s Canadian One-Act Playwriting Competition, was part of the festival in 2007. ​

Claren is a director, playwright, and actor based in Toronto. She received her BFA in acting from Ryerson University. Recent Credits: AD/SM, Karla & Grif (Outlaw Theatre, 2016); Director, Macbeth (Wolf Manor Theatre, 2015); Playwright/Actor/Producer, Built on Sand (New Voices Festival, 2015). Watch for her work in the upcoming Toronto Fringe Festival this summer. 

Denis is excited to be stage managing his first show with the Alumnae Theatre New Ideas Festival. He would like to thank his friends for encouraging his artistic pursuits. Thank you for supporting live theatre.  


Nora is thrilled to be making her Toronto stage debut with Alumnae Theatre. Nora is originally from Pennsylvania, but moved to Toronto from New York. In New York she studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Nora has been seen onstage in Pennsylvania, Boston, and New York, as well as the small Independent film circuit. Thanks and love to family.

Barbara is thrilled to be a part of the cast of The Council in the 2016 New Ideas Festival. She has been involved in community theatre for over five years and has appeared in productions for East Side Players, Scarborough Theatre Guild, and most recently as Lady Julia Marden in Mr. Pim Passes By at the Village Playhouse. Many thanks to our wonderful director, cast, and crew.    

Amanda is a stage, screen, and voice actress based in Toronto. Some of her many credits include Lt. Commander Joanne Galloway in A Few Good Men, Mayella Ewell in To Kill A Mockingbird, Luella James in Final Placement, and the voice of Mujiba the Responder in the animated superhero series The 99. She is currently filming Bell Media’s IRL (In Real Life), a series about the intersection of social media culture with contemporary society.   

Toronto actress, writer, and singer Martha Breen has been involved, both onstage and backstage, in productions for Toronto Irish Players, East Side Players, and Theatre Aurora, as well as numerous independent film, video, and radio projects. She last appeared on the Alumnae Theatre stage as Eurydice in Antigone.

Adam has appeared in numerous short films including the lead role as Mr. Wilson in Lives We Live and as Kenny Picket in Marty, which premiered at The Blood in the Snow Film Festival in Toronto. Recently, he appeared on stage in the InspiraTO Festival as Will in Fractions and as Delicious Dean in The Inevitable Return of Delicious Dean. An honours graduate of Rose Dubin’s Seneca Theatrical Performance program, Adam is currently studying with Miriam Laurence.

Nicole is a Toronto-based actor, writer, and producer who loves pugs. She is currently producing a self-written show in the Toronto Fringe Festival, and will be making her directorial debut at this year’s Ryerson New Voices Festival with Aranea, a new play written by Hannah Galway. Some of her acting credits include Voltemand/Player, Hamlet (Hart House); Robin, Shrinking Violet (Wolf Manor Theatre, Halifax Fringe); Lady Macbeth, Macbeth (Wolf Manor Theatre). 

Todd studied acting at George Brown College and is currently developing his improv skills with The Second City. Todd is thrilled to be making his Alumnae Theatre debut with this year’s New Ideas Festival! Thank you to both Claren and Deanna for this opportunity and much love to Santo for all his support.


You can’t stop in the Death Zone. Above 8,000 meters, you’re already dying. When a storm traps three climbers just below the summit, they face a challenge even greater than climbing mountains: getting down.

Director: Zita Nyarady
Stage Manager: John C. J. Murphy
​Cast: Stacey Iseman, Laura Piccinin, Laura Meadows, Katharine Stanbridge, Francesco de Francesco

BIOGRAPHIES: Creative Team

Natalie is a Toronto-based writer currently in the PhD program at the University of Toronto’s Graduate Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, and the School of the Environment. She is also a member of Storefront Theatre’s inaugural Playwriting Unit. Upcoming productions include Black Wool Jacket (FOOT Festival, Rogue Fringe, Regina Fringe) and This Will Be My Last Transmission (New Ideas Festival).

Zita is a dance-theatre-circus artist. Her interdisciplinary performances have been presented at Rhubarb, Toronto Festival of Clowns, Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and Theatre Passe Muraille. Zita is co-artistic director of The Grand Salto Theatre and resident director with Bike CircusZita graduated from Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre and is currently a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at York University. She is thrilled to be back for her second New Ideas Festival.

​JOHN C. J. MURPHY, Stage Manager
John is from Nova Scotia and has recently graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He then moved to Toronto to pursue technical theatre. He enjoys stage management and taking on new projects. He is very excited to be working with Alumnae Theatre and thanks everyone for giving him this opportunity. He hopes to be able to work on many more shows in Toronto.


Stacey is a Toronto actor and writer, which really means she spends her time making up stories and playing pretend. This is her second season with the New Ideas Festival.

Laura has been working as a dancer, singer, and actor in Toronto for the past five years. She is thrilled to be working with this lovely cast of people on such an interesting project. Special thanks to Natalie for finding a clever way to throw in some ballet with the mountaineering. 

Laura, a Toronto-based actress from the UK, graduated from York University’s Acting Conservatory Program. Laura is very excited to play Tina and work with such an excellent cast and crew in This Will Be My Last Transmission. Other credits include the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet at The Guild Festival Theatre, Theatre@York: Hamlet and Ophelia in Hamletmachine, and Luciana in The Comedy of Errors. Enjoy! “The mountain decides whether you climb or not.” Ed Viesturs.

Katharine studies and performs improv at Bad Dog Theatre, and acted in plays at Bishop’s University. She also teaches group fitness classes, writes, and reads.

Francesco is delighted to be performing with Alumnae Theatre in This Will Be My Last Transmission in the New Ideas Festival. Some of his other theatre work includes The Red Velvet Cake WarThere Goes the Bride, and The Odd Couple – Female Version. As well, Francesco can be seen either on television and/or films, usually playing the Italian Mobster. So, whatever you do … say something nice about him.


 A BETTER PLACE by Ramona Baillie (Reading: March 12, noon)

Stella is stricken with a debilitating disease. As her illness progresses, she profoundly affects the lives of those close to her as they struggle with her request to die.

Director: Chelsea Dab Hilke
Assistant Director / Stage Manager: Paula Grgurich-Shewchuk
Cast: Kris Langille, Catherine Gardner, Sheelagh Daly, Robert Keller, Donald Molnar, James Phelan, Jim Kim, Alexander Fairlie

BIOGRAPHIES, Creative Team

Ramona writes for film and stage. Her films scripts have been produced in Canada, the United States, and Europe, and have won various film and screenplay awards.  Recent theatre credits include: Writer: A Little Happiness (Alumnae Theatre), You Have to Earn It (FireWorks Festival), I’m Still Here (New Ideas Festival/Central Alberta Theatre), Babies (Central Alberta Theatre), The Cape and Drowning My Sorrow, readings (Alumnae Theatre); Writer/Director: I’m Still Here and Drowning My Sorrow (Heliconian Club).

Chelsea’s current artistic focus is to share lesser known stories by lesser known artists – specifically by and about women. Directing credits include Grapefruit (Theatre Hera); Salty Bachelors (Ryerson New Voices 2015); The End of Civilization (asst. dir., Triple Bypass Productions); This Is For You, Anna (Hart House 2014/15 Season); Take It, Easy (Wrecking Ball 16 #YesAllWomen), Commencement: A Work of Fiction and Musical of Sorts (Toronto Fringe 2014); This Is For You, Anna: A Spectacle of Revenge (University of Toronto). 

​PAULA GRGURICH-SHEWCHUK, Assistant Director / Stage Manager
Paula fell in love with theatre when first called upon to pancake the male chorus of H.M.S. Pinafore as a 13-year-old. She directed plays written by and about women, and produced queer cabaret at The Blue Room Theatre in Australia in the 90’s. She most recently stage managed The Exploding Breakfast for the Toronto Fringe Festival. As George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”


Kris is new to Alumnae Theatre and very happy to read the role of Stella in Ramona Baillie’s A Better Place. Kris has been performing in musical theatre in the GTA for the past 18 years. Some notable roles for Steppin’ Out include Golda (Fiddler on the Roof); Stepmother (Into the Woods); Cratchitt (Gypsy); Widow Corney (Oliver!); and for Spotlight: Bonnie (Anything Goes). For TV: Grandmother & Great Aunt (Paranormal Witness: Ashes to Ashes); Various segments/roles (Vegas 911). Many thanks to my fellow actors, Ramona, Chelsea, Paula, and all those who helped bring the reading to the stage. 

Catherine is excited to be portraying tone deaf Dee in this very powerful play. Catherine has most recently been involved in theatrical experiences in York region and has appeared in productions of OliverMan of La ManchaFiddler on the RoofCATSShrek the MusicalBye Bye BirdieAnnie, and Mary Poppins, to name a few.  Special thanks goes to Alan for his never-ending support as she pursues these amazing adventures.

Sheelagh is a graduate of the joint Theatre and Acting program between the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College. She can be seen performing regularly with the improv troupe, Canadian Improv Showcase, and entertaining children across the country with DuffleBag Theatre. Other recent credits include Ophelia in Hamlet (Hart House Theatre), Witch 2 in Weird: The Witches of Macbeth (Theatre Arcturus), and Amy in The Doctor Will See You Now (Sorry Goat Productions).

Robert is thrilled to be making his Alumnae debut with NIF 2016. TV credits include his upcoming appearance in the series finale of Beauty and the Beast (CW/Showcase). He’s become a regular at Toronto’s Red Sandcastle Theatre, where he’ll appear in a new adaptation of Blithe Spirit beginning in late March; other theatre credits include Gay Nerds (2012 Toronto Fringe) and Children (2009 Williamstown Theater Festival), in which he appeared alongside Tony Award winner Judith Light. Twitter: @TheRobertKeller. Website:

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, North Carolina. Don is excited to be part of Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival and is pleased to join the energetic, talented team behind Ramona Baillie’s A Better Place.

​JAMES PHELAN, Dr. Greenberg
James is grateful for the opportunity to appear in a New Ideas Festival production for the first time. He can currently be seen in the Toronto Irish Players’ Shadow of a Gunman in the Main Space. Other productions include An Ideal HusbandThe Crucible, and Inherit the Wind. James was born in Dublin and has lived and loved in Toronto since 1969.

​JIM KIM, Father Perez
Jim is very excited to be working on this project with this cast and crew.  Jim has been a stand-up comedian and actor in Toronto for the last 6 years. Some highlights include performing at the Laugh Resort, The Jokebox Comedy Lounge, and producing/hosting Comedy at 51. On top of this, he is also an IT guru and has resurrected many computers and saved many precious cat pictures.

​​Alex is a graduate of the York University Theatre program. He is a performer with various credits in theatre and film around Toronto. He has recently branched out into directing and producing, forming the Improv and Sketch Company Only the Weak, as well as co-producing the EOS One Act Play Festival. He recently opened up a new rehearsal/performance space called The Fort: Studios on St. Clair.


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