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New Ideas Festival 2016 - Week 2

March 16- 20, 2016


March 16 – 20, 2016

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

Week 2 Plays:

​Housekeeping • pose ball • War and Peace: A Family Story • Yeats in Love • Curved

JEAN KOPPEN, Playwright
Jean began writing in 2012, winning Active Culture’s “Sportaculture” playwriting competition with Capsmittment. Her full-length play Black Hole was produced in September 2014 at Port City Playhouse. Additional short play productions include Married Bliss at Chicago’s Strangeloop Theatre, and Politics and Deportation at D.C.’s Atlas Intersections Festival. Jean’s play The Best Worst That Can Happen was read at The Kennedy Center’s 2015 Page to Stage Festival. Jean lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her awesome husband.

ANNE MacMILLAN, Director
Member of PGC and Alumnae’s New Play Development group, Anne is pleased to present Jean Koppen’s dramatic short play Housekeeping. Credits include Man in a Butterfly Hat by Donna Langevin and plays by Flora Stohr Danziger: Who is Liesel and Reflections. Her own play In a Time of War (Glasgow 1941) was produced at NIF 2014. Other work in the US includes Ze Adventures of Monsieur Maurice and his Bridal Emporium and City Streets after 9/11. Website:

FRANS ROBINOW, Assistant Director / Sound 
Previous NIF roles: AD/SM in The Man with the Butterfly HatReflections, and Rowing Onward ; played Grandfather Mungo in A Time of War and Nikita Khrushchev in The Flying Avro Arrow. Frans has appeared in US soaps and about 20 stage plays.

NDOLA HUTTON, Stage Manager
Ndola is a stage manager, dog lover, and coffee fanatic. From Hamilton, Ndola is back in Ontario after graduating from UBC with a BFA in Theatre Production. Favourite credits include Mary Poppins (SM: Marquee Theatrical Production), Cabaret (ASM: Stageworks), Brave New Play Rites (Festival SM, Director of Travel Weight: UBC), HereAntigoneDrafts and Breathe (SM, producer: Fulcrum Theatre). Enjoy the show!


Morna is pleased to be performing in NIF again this year. Previous productions in which she has appeared include Foolery (the songs of Tom Lehrer) and Come into the Garden, Maud (Noel Coward), both at the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto, and Tribute to the Twenties for The Storefront Studio. Up next: The Songs of Kander and Ebb for The Storefront Studio.

Housekeeping is Aleksandra’s second play in the New Ideas Festival – previously: Rowing, Onward (Eugenie Carabatsos). She is thrilled to be back and working on this important play. For the past few years Aleksandra has been seen on various Toronto stages, as well as in short independent and student-run film productions.

This play is Behiwot’s debut at Alumnae Theatre. Behiwot was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; her parents moved to Canada when she was in high school. Her journey in Toronto Film School helped her to develop a passion for acting. Behiwot would like to thank Annie and the entire creative team for a wonderful experience. Theatre Credits: Dark of the Moon (Caroline Smith), Red Coat (Michael Ayoub).

POSE BALL by Caitie Graham

Nobody remembers Friday night until Cata wakes up the next morning with an infected gash on her leg. When the memory of everyone involved is clouded by either drugs, desire, or denial, whose version of the truth is Cata supposed to believe? (Part 1 of a longer play)

Director: Emily Nixon
Stage Manager: Sama Kokabi
Lighting, Costume, and Set Designer: Sharmylae Taffe-Fletcher
Projection Designer: Adam Evenden
​Production Assistant: Mari Nakasone
Cast: Jenna Daley, Chelsea Muirhead, Ryota Kaneko


Caitie is an emerging Canadian playwright currently based in Toronto, Ontario. She is a recent graduate of the Performance: Acting Program at Ryerson University, and of the Tarragon Theatre’s Young Playwrights Unit (YPU 2013). Her first play, Paradise Comics, premiered at the New Voices Festival in 2014 and has since received dramaturgical support from Pat the Dog Creation. She is now a contributing writer for The 10/10/10 Project which opens in April 2016.

Emily is a director and performer. She directed Buy My House at last year’s New Ideas Festival and is delighted to return this year. Acting credits include They Say He Fell (Canadian Stage/Pandemic), Macbeth (Theatre by the Bay), Romeo and Juliet (Leroy Street Theatre), Elektra in Bosnia (directed by Judith Thompson), KPNBR TV Show (directed by Sky Gilbert), and PRIDECAB (Buddies in Bad Times). She co-wrote a musical, And Now, the End (SummerWorks 2014). She graduated with honours from Ryerson Theatre School’s Acting program. She would like to thank Philip Akin for his invaluable support and guidance.

​SAMA KOKABI, Stage Manager
Sama is a graduate of Ryerson University’s Performance Production BFA program. She has had numerous creative responsibilities, including roles in stage management, front of house management, and directing. Her recent industry experience includes theatre administration roles at the Toronto Fringe and Next Stage Festival, and stage management with NovelSidewalk Productions. Her work in the wider community includes helping with non-profit film projects, such as the Illumine Media Project. Previously, she stage managed Caitie’s Graham’s Paradise Comics at New Voices Festival, and she is delighted to be working with her again.

​SHARMYLAE TAFFE-FLETCHER, Lighting, Costume, and Set Designer
Sharmylae is a recent graduate from York University’s MA Theatre Studies program with a passion for lighting that spans her entire life. She has worked as lighting designer for many student and amateur productions during her time as a student at the University of Guelph. Recently, she has been technical intern for Volcano Theatre’s 2014 workshop of A Moveable Beast, and lighting design apprentice for Acting Up Stage’s The Wild Party.

​ADAM EVENDEN, Projection Designer
Glad to be back working with all the talented individuals at the Alumnae Theatre. Lighting & Audio Operator, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Tank House Theatre (2015); Assistant Technical Director, CITT Annual Conference (2015); Audio Operator, Pan American Games (2015); Assistant Stage manager, Pride, Toronto Pride (2015); Lighting Design, Bengali Theatre Festival (2015); Flyman, Of a Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical, Ecco Homo Theatre (2013).

MARI NAKASONE, Production Assistant
Mari is from Okinawa, Japan, and is in Canada to study English. She has acted in and worked as backstage crew on various musicals and other shows at university in Japan. Recently she stage managed How to Succeed… (2014). Mari is a member of the theatre company Gekidan 5-4, a performance group.


Mrs. Kirby, You Can’t Take It with You, Ryerson University (2016); Carol, Risk Everything, Ryerson University (2015); Sasha, MetaNOia webseries, A Weedless Trio (2015); Singer, International Indie Music Week (2015); Singer, Canadian Music Week (2015); Penelope Pennywise, Urinetown, Ryerson University (2015); Valerie, Tales From the Vienna Woods, Ryerson University (2015); Ensemble, Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical Outreach Tour, Ryerson University (2014); Janine, Scorched, Ryerson University (2014); Singer, Ugly Button Fundraiser (2013); Singer, Sing Through the Rain Benefit Concert (2012).

Chelsea is a Toronto-based actor currently attending the Ryerson Theatre School BFA program studying performance acting. At this time, she could not be more excited to be part of Caitie Graham’s new show pose ball at Alumnae’s New Idea’s festival. Previous work includes Vicky (Dogs Barking), Regan (King Lear), Sawda (Scorched), Marianne (Tales from the  Vienna Woods), Denise (Risk Everything), Loretta (Featuring Loretta), Gay Wellington (You Can’t Take it With You).

Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Ryota recently graduated from the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. He holds a bachelor degree from a Tokyo university, where he studied Intercultural Communication and Media Arts, and made student films. He also studied a year at San Diego State University in California as a Theatre Performance major. Past credits include Lurch (The Addams Family), Giuliano (Big Love), Darius (Jeffrey), Mark (RENT), Frankie (Sister Act II), Toynbee/Chorus (How to Succeed…), and as an Assistant Producer (The Lion King). Upcoming work will be the production of Anything Goes with Drayton Entertainment at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse and Huron Country Playhouse later this year. 


Sam Belasco rules his family with an iron will. But now, at his most vulnerable, his determined family suddenly turns the tables on him – he must change his domineering ways or risk losing them forever. 

Director: Rebecca Becket Grace
Stage Manager: Hessam Saidali
Cast: Joshua Morris, Veronica Baron, Pat Hawk, Reva Nelson

BIOGRAPHIES: Creative Team

Krystyna has a lifelong passion for the theatre and dramatic arts. She trained as an actress with the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg and is now continuing at Ryerson University’s Act II Studio in Toronto. She has performed in Montreal’s Instantheatre, Toronto’s InspiraTO 2015, and for the CBC. Krystyna has also worked as a freelance writer and researcher for newspapers, magazines, TV, and documentary film. She has written screenplays, but this is her first foray into stage plays.

Rebecca is a community playwright, actor, and director. Her latest play, Big Data, is currently being workshopped, and she is working on developing a feature film and a half hour comedy. As an actor, Rebecca has performed with many local theatres across the city. She is looking forward to returning to this year’s New Ideas Festival as the director of War and Peace: A Family Story.

​HESSAM SAIDALI, Stage Manager
New to Alumnae, Hessam is passionate about the arts. He is a writer and a film/theatre enthusiast. With a university degree in political science, Hessam believes in social unions that create artistic expressions – to which plurality of expression and diversity of thoughts emerge. His love for art, music, literature, and theatre brought him to this theatre.


Josh has been in show business his whole life, starting from the time he did the Twist for his parent’s friends at 3, then as a stand-up comedian and actor, and later as a writer and TV producer. He played the part of Zeus in (En)Lightning by Catherine Frid at NIF 2015. He studied drama at Dawson College’s Theatre program in Montreal, the Banff Centre, and McGill University. He has appeared in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Fortunately, this play has fewer words in the title.  

Veronica completed her BFA at Concordia University in Theatre Performance as well as the drama program at the Walkerville Centre for the Creative Arts in Windsor. Recent credits include Kaye in Who’s Afraid of Margaret Atwood (Third Space Theatre, Montreal); Ismene in Concordia’s Antigone, and Kara in The Voice of Wisdom (Montreal Fringe Festival), which she also wrote. If you’re in need of a laugh, you can find her in the Toronto-based sketch comedy troupe Tonight Tonight.

Pat has been a member of the Alumnae Theatre since 2009 when she retired from teaching. “There’s a lot of theatre in teaching, so this is a good fit.” Pat has acted in several seasons of the New Ideas Festival. She has also taken on the job of Front of House manager for the last few years. War and Peace is a fun piece. It is a great juxtaposition of the love, fear, and anxiety found in families.

In the 1970’s, Reva acted with Theatre London’s Mini-Stage and then as a member of the Gallery Theatre Company. She attended Mime School in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and then worked with the Factory Lab and Theatre Passe Muraille. She also did many voice-overs for Moreland-Latchford and TVO, plus some commercials. Her career has since included teaching (library and ESL) and over 20 years as a corporate seminar leader, professional speaker, and business coach. She is the author of three books: Risk It!Bounce Back!, and most recently a memoir, Hippie Chick Abroad. Reva joined Alumnae Theatre in 2014. “It’s wonderful to be involved with theatre again, and I’m grateful for the acting and writing opportunities.”

YEATS IN LOVE by Anne Tait

He is obsessed by her. She is obsessed with freeing Ireland from its English masters. When Irish poet W.B. Yeats falls in love with the beautiful rebel Maud Gonne, sparks fly and great poetry is born … but his passion for her almost drives him mad. ​

Director: Jane Carnwath*
​Stage Manager: Noa Katz
Sound Designer: Rick Jones
Costume Designer: Margaret Spence
Dialect Coach: James Phelan
​Cast: Jonathan LeRose, Nina Mason

BIOGRAPHIES: Creative Team

ANNE TAIT, Playwright
Anne is a writer for stage, screen, and print; a movie producer; a casting director for film, television, and the Stratford Festival; and a TV and radio broadcaster. Her novel Li Jun and the Iron Road is based on the award-winning movie she produced about the Chinese building our railway. Alumnae Theatre has produced three of her plays, and she has directed eight plays for them. Yeats in Love had its start at the Alumnae long ago and has been re-conceived for this production.

Jane’s most recent directing assignment was The Lady’s Not for Burning in 2014. Other productions include CosiHedda GablerPride and PrejudiceHomeward BoundAfter YouA View from the RoofThe Gut Girls, and The Madwoman of Chaillot. For the York Drama Department she directed En Pieces Detachées and Jennie’s Story. Other productions include Not Wanted on the Voyage and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Sheridan College Music Theatre Department.

*Appearing with the permission of Canadian Actors Equity Association

​NOA KATZ, Stage Manager
​Noa is in his last year at the University of Toronto where he is completing his BA in Environmental Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies. In the coming years, he looks forward to pursuing further education in theatre production. Noa has been involved in university and community theatre as a stage manager, assistant stage manager, production manager, technical director, scenic designer, scenic carpenter, lighting designer, and production assistant. Stage management credits include SMC Troubadours (The Possessed); assistant stage management credits include Hart House Theatre (Hamlet), UC Follies (HairAs You Like It).

​RICK JONES, Sound Designer
​Rick is a frequent contributor to sound design at the Alumnae, using both known and original music, for works such as Blood RelationsThe KilldeerDrowning GirlsCosiSylviaHedda GablerThe QueensPride and PrejudiceLady Windermere’s Fan, and Daughter of the House, as well as composing music for his own NIF show The Meeting. Other sound design experience includes Willow Quartet at Papermill, and Aromas for Junes Productions. Rick was composer and music director for Two Toronto Fringe hits, Life in the Raw, and Millennium Madness Sale, which he also wrote.

​MARGARET SPENCE, Costume Designer
Margaret has taken many off-stage roles at the Alumnae Theatre over a fifty-year association. None exercise her creative bent as much as costume designing. She is enjoying this latest production and the opportunity it affords for creating period costumes. Prior to this, her designs were seen in Lady Windermere’s Fan and Private Lives in 2008, The Lady’s Not for Burning in 2014, and last season’s Blood Relations.

 JAMES PHELAN, Dialect Coach
James was born in Dublin and has lived in and loved Toronto since 1969. He can currently be seen in the Toronto Irish Players’ Shadow of a Gunman in the Main Space. Other productions include An Ideal HusbandThe CrucibleInherit the Wind, and Translations. In addition to dialect coaching, James is appearing in the New Ideas Festival reading A Better Place.


​JONATHAN LEROSE, William Butler Yeats
Jonathon is a graduate of York University’s Acting Conservatory. His recent theatre credits consist of Henry VI Part I directed by Jamie Robinson, Road directed by Mark Wilson, The Beggar’s Opera directed by Gwen Dobie, and The Stronger Variations created and directed by Allyson McMackin. Jonathon is extremely honoured to participate in this wonderful performance that encompasses deep love, politics, and how they interact within the two iconic figures in different ways. 

​NINA MASON, Maud Gonne
Nina is delighted to be a part of the New Ideas Festival, and thrilled to be working with such wonderful people. Nina is a member of Countermeasure, an a cappella singing group. When not performing, Nina spends her days as a kindergarten teacher, caring for tiny, perfect, loud little ones. Some recent roles include Tobias in Sweeney Todd, mounted by Alexander Showcase Theatre, Diana in Lend Me a Tenor, and Belle in A Christmas Carol. Nina is looking forward to travelling to Edinburgh this summer to participate in the Fringe Festival with Countermeasure!

CURVED by Kristin Shepherd (Reading: March 19, noon)

“Is it wrong to move not straight?” This darkly comedic play lays bare the relationships between five women, ages eleven to eighty, all grappling with love, need, and what it means – and takes – to be alive. 

Director: Rebecca Ballarin
Assistant Director / Stage Manager: Gloria Mok
Sound Designer: Kelly Anderson
Composer: Sammy Bayefsky
Cast: Brittany Cope, Neila Lem, Daina Valiulis, Liz Best, Anne Harper, Masha Y. Kalman

BIOGRAPHIES: Creative Team

Kristin is a playwright, filmmaker, and actor from North Bay, Ontario. She is interested in exploring love in difficult circumstances, and finds particular joy in doing something about the absurd lack of stories by women and about women on stage. Curved is her third play. It was written with the generous assistance of the Ontario Arts Council and a Theatre Creators Reserve recommendation from Pat the Dog Theatre Creation. Lisa O’Connell from Pat the Dog has been the excellent dramaturg for Curved

Rebecca is a freelance director who has directed new works for festivals such as InspiraTO, New Voices (Ryerson), the Edmonton Fringe, and U of T Drama Fest. She is also Toronto-based drag queen Pearle Harbour’s co-creator and director. Rebecca graduated from the Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies at U of T, where she studied production, design, and direction. Drawn to the absurd and tragicomic, she likes to explore the complexities and contradictions that define the human experience. 

GLORIA MOK, Assistant Director / Stage Manager
Gloria is an emerging playwright, director, producer, and arts educator. As a member of the Kitchen Playwright’s Unit at fu-GEN Theatre, she is developing a new play that explores the future of air pollution in China. This summer, she will be producing Silk Bath, a Chinese language–based collective creation at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Contemporary works that transcend real or imagined barriers excite her. This is Gloria’s first New Ideas Festival!

KELLY ANDERSON, Sound Designer
Kelly is a recent graduate of York University’s theatre program, specializing in Design, Devised Theatre, and Playwriting. She is currently working as a sound, costume, and set designer based in Toronto. Recent credits include: costume and set design for Lion in the Streets (Theatre by Committee); sound design for Romeo and Juliet (Guild Festival Theatre); and assistant sound design for Julius Caesar and Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare in High Park).

Sammy is a graduate of U of T’s Faculty of Music with a specialization in composition. He has written live and electronic music for student theatre productions and numerous short films. At the 2010 HighSCORE music festival, the resident musicologist remarked that “Bayefsky’s style can only be characterized by the great energy that his works emanate.” Bayefsky is now splitting his time between composing and teaching music, and studying law at the University of Toronto. He hopes to one day reconcile his two lives.


Brittany is thrilled to be joining the New Ideas Festival for the first time! She is a proud graduate of the University of Windsor’s BFA Acting program. Recent credits include Scenes from My Dock! (Muskoka Theatre Project), This Play Wins (The Shaker Secessionists), and Anansi the Spider (Little Red Theatre). She has also had the privilege of performing her one woman show, Mission Magnet, across Ontario and now in medical schools for students!

NEILA LEM, Granny Wave
After studying at Act2 RU for four years and initiating a writing/acting/performing collective, Closets and Cubicles (writer/actor/music director), Neila acted in Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas (three roles); The Griffin and the Minor Canon (farmer); Friends with Benefits, Neil Naft (shopkeeper) at Alumnae’s 2015 NIF; and Life’s a Bitch (kennel worker), Theatre Out of the Box. She recently completed Beckett scene study and Shakespeare monologue courses.

Daina is an artist across many disciplines. She graduated from the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at U of T many years ago and has worked in professional capacities in theatre and film as an actor, costume designer, set and production designer, and producer since then. Daina is a founding member of Shakespeare at Play, an educational app that combines text and video to make Shakespeare more accessible.

LIZ BEST*, Chloe
Liz is an actor, director, and playwright. She was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Female Performance in a TV series for her work on Meet the Family. Most recently, Liz was assistant director for Alumnae’s production of Stepping Out. Her directorial credits include The Goodbye GirlPlaza Suite, and The Sunshine Boys. Liz’s plays, Surrender Dorothy and Imprint, were part of Alumnae’s New Ideas Festival and Big Ideas. She is currently working on August: Osage County as assistant director.
*​Appearing with the permission of Canadian Actors Equity Association

Anne has been involved with New Ideas as a producer, director, and actor in the past few years, and now she’s back (again!) as an actor. Previous work for NIF includes The Vigil Crasher, Eulalie, PearlsTwo Weeks in Normandy, and Gloria’s Guy. She really enjoys the challenges and excitement of new works.

Masha has acted and directed in international venues, most recently in New York and Buenos Aires. She is dedicated to the imaginative staging of literary works.


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