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New Ideas Festival 2017 - Week 1

March 8 – 12, 2017

Wednesday to Saturday, 8 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 2:30 pm; Reading, March 11, 2017 noon

​New Ideas Festival 2017 March 8-12, 2017
​Week 1 Plays:

Call • Or Not to Be • Teach Her My Name •​ D Cup • Riverkeeper (reading)

CALL by Rosemary Doyle

A series of phone conversations explore what it’s like to live in a world that is always “on call.”

Director: Rebecca Ostroff
Stage Manager: Behiwot Degefu
Cast: Shalyn McFaul, Jennifer-Beth Hanchar, Andrew Batten


Rosemary Doyle’s first play, Carl, Suzanne and the Taximan, was created during Alumnae Theatre’s WRITE NOW! That was many years ago; now she is a playwright, penning over 30 or more plays that have each had at least one production. Rosemary is the founder of the ​Red Sandcastle Theatre. The opening night of Call is also her birthday – what a nice present.

Rebecca Ostroff is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where she majored in theatre and psychology. She is a writer, performer, and emerging director with a keen interest in dramaturgy and developing new works. That said, she is thrilled to be making her directorial debut at Alumnae Theatre’s 2017 New Ideas Festival! As an assistant director, Rebecca has worked on Hart House Theatre’s productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Boeing Boeing, as well as a staged reading of a play she wrote, Shaken Ground, at the University of Toronto.

Behiwot Degefu is a Toronto-based actor. Her journey in Toronto Film School (TFS) helped her to develop a passion for acting and theatre production. She would like to thank Alumnae Theatre Company for her acting experience in New Ideas Festival 2016. She could not be more excited to be back at Alumnae’s New Ideas Festival 2017 as part of the production team. Previous stage management work includes Six Characters in Search of an Author (TFS Fifth Term Production).


Shalyn McFaul moved to Toronto two years ago, after having spent roughly a third of her life in each of Southern California, NYC, and Vancouver. Recent credits include Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Gretchen in Boeing Boeing (Hart House Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale (Leroy Street Theatre). Look for Shalyn in the upcoming production of The Seer with Commonplace Theatre, and find out more at

Jennifer-Beth Hanchar is excited to be part of the New Ideas Festival this year and has been enjoying every moment working with her fellow cast members. She attended Fanshawe Theatre School in London, Ontario. Some of her favourite credits include Jackie from She Said Yes in the Toronto Fringe Festival and Kathy in the TV show See No Evil. Jennifer wants to give a birthday shout out to her best friend Erin Elizabeth Eichhorn, an emerging NYC actress who’s turning 30 at the end of this month.

Andrew Batten has appeared in several Alumnae productions, including, most recently, This, which opened this year’s mainstage season, and August Osage County, which closed last year’s season. He is happy to participate in New Ideas Festival this year for the first time in a long time, and is extremely grateful to the Alumnae for its commitment to new and original work.

OR NOT TO BE by Andrew Batten

Theatre can cause us to address the questions of being human, and the great roles can cause us to address the great questions. What does it mean to be – or not to be? 

Director: Julia Haist
Stage Manager: Morgan Frey
Cast: Jada Rifkin, Arun Varma, Jason Pilgrim


Andrew Batten’s last New Ideas production was Romeo and Rosaline, performed here about twenty years ago. Since then Andrew has been busy, but he’s back with another Shakespeare rip-off.  Andrew also acts, occasionally on the Alumnae stage. Thank you very much for coming.

Julia Haist is a director, playwright, and performer. She has completed professional development programs with the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Summerworks Festival, and Theatre Gargantua, and directed her own work at the Toronto Fringe Festival. In 2014, Julia founded the Theatre Relay, a project which aids performers to develop writing and directing skills by creating short solo pieces with other artists. For Alumnae Theatre, she has performed in the 2016 New Ideas Festival and directed Taylor Marie Graham’s Cottage Radio in the 2015 Fireworks Festival. She is thrilled to be working with Andrew Batten and Alumnae Theatre on Or Not to Be.   

MORGAN FREY, Stage Manager
Morgan Frey is a performer, writer, comedian, and stage manager. After a few years onstage, she has turned her focus to backstage. Select performing credits include RentHairSpring Awakening (Toronto Youth Theatre) and Yuk Yuk’s Toronto Comedy club. Stage managing experience includes projects at Theatre Aurora and Toronto Fringe Festival. She is thrilled to be a part of the New Ideas Festival. Much love and respect to Maricris and Madison, true stage manager superheroes!


Jada Rifkin is a Toronto-based actor, singer, and dancer, and is thrilled to be working on Or Not to Be. Recent selected theatre credits include The Diary of Anne Frank (Marion Abbott Prod.), The Life (Call it a Day Prod.) Alice in Wonderland (Creativiva Inc. – Singapore Tour), The Laramie Project (Plain Stage Theatre), A Moment of Silence (Summerworks 2016), King of the Castle (Toronto Fringe Festival 2016), and Anne of Green Gables (LOT). For NIF: Lost Connection (2015). Thanks to my family & friends for their support. Upcoming theatre: Evidence to the Contrary (Tree of Life Theatre Company)

Arun Varma graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in neuroscience and English, but spent as much time as he possibly could in the rehearsal hall. He has performed extensively for the Trinity College Dramatic Society in works as diverse as 448 Psychosis and God: A Play. Most recently he appeared as Jason in an adaptation of Medea put on by the Antique Fables Theatre Collective. Or Not to Be is his first collaboration with Alumnae Theatre, and he is honoured and thrilled to be a part of it.

Jason Pilgrim is a York University graduate, where he majored in English. He received his formal drama training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, England, and the William Esper Studio in New York City. This past winter Jason appeared on stage for the Scarborough Theatre Guild in its production of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol. Jason is excited to be performing at this year’s festival and is looking forward to working with the cast of Or Not to Be.

TEACH HER MY NAME by Michael Kras

Andrew and Beth just had a baby. Now Beth isn’t home. She won’t be home for a long time. They try to make it work. Try. A portrait of mental health, parenthood, and the limits of our capacity to love.

Director: Paige Foskett
Assistant Director / Stage Manager: Ian Clail
Cast: Kate Schroder, Steven Pereira

MICHAEL KRAS, Playwright
Michael Kras is a Hamilton-based playwright, director, and actor. His latest play #dirtygirl was developed with support from Roseneath Theatre and Young People’s Theatre before premiering at the 2016 Hamilton Fringe, where it won the festival’s Audience Choice Award. He is currently developing a new play with Theatre Aquarius, and is an alumnus of the Write On Playwright Showcase. He has guest taught at the Hamilton Fringe SPARK Youth Training Program and Humber Theatre School. Michael is a graduate of Humber Theatre School, the artistic director of Broken Soil Theatre, and a member of the Theatre Aquarius Playwrights Unit.

Paige Foskett grew up loving everything about the theatre. She has worked in many areas from directing and producing to lighting and props. A performer first, Paige’s recent theatre credits include Anything Goes (Wavestage Theatre), Carrie (Hart House Theatre), and Anne of Green Gables (Lower Ossington Theatre). She graduated from Ryerson University with a BA in Media Production, and has directed a number of short films and dance films. She recently was
the assistant director and stage manager for Motherland in the Fireworks Festival at
Alumnae Theatre. She is thrilled to be working in the New Ideas Festival with likeminded
​creative people, on such a beautiful new play!

​IAN CLAIL, Assistant Director / Stage Manager
Ian Clail is a Toronto theatre creator, digital artist, stage manager, and graduate of the York University devised theatre program. He has previously been involved in the Indie Convergence, directed at Cityview Alternative School, and worked with Theatre@York in Playground and the Devised Theatre Festival. Thank you to the entire New Ideas Festival team for the amazing experience.


Kate Schroder is thrilled to be a part of Teach Her My Name and New Ideas Festival 2017. She is a Toronto-based actor and musician originally from Ottawa. She studies at Lonsdale Smith Studios. This will be her first time on the Alumnae Theatre stage.

Steven Pereira is a Canadian-Portuguese actor born and raised in Toronto. He is a graduate
of the Humber College theatre performance program, where he received the Edna Khubyar Theatre Award for his professional potential. He recently landed a principle role on the TV series See No Evil (Slice) and has also played roles in various short films. He performed in a Toronto Fringe 2016 show called Bite-Sized (Broadleaf Theatre) and a SummerWorks piece called The Stranger (Dopolavoro Theatrale). More notable roles at Humber include Sebastian (Twelfth Night: Original Shakespeare), Lyndsey (Approaching Zero: Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace),

D CUP by Alicia Payne

A woman abandons her elderly mother in the lingerie section of a department store where they “care about underwear.”  Lingerie gets sorted.

Director: Eilish Waller
Stage Manager: Helin Gungoren
Set and Props Designer: Chynah Philadelphia
Cast: Margaret Sellers, Barbara Salsberg, Claudia Yang, Kim Sprenger


​ALICIA PAYNE, Playwright
Alicia Payne is a professional actor and published writer. Her memberships include ACTRA,
CAEA, Dramatists Guild of America, and Playwrights Guild of Canada, where she serves as
vice-president. Alicia’s artist educator credits include Lakeshore Arts Shazaam! Program, Uth Ink/Luminato, The Conference of Independent Schools Drama Festival, and Play! A Symposium
at the 14th World Festival of Children’s Theatre. She was a presenter at the 2015 A Room of
​Her Own Retreat, participated in the Canadian Forces Artist Program Exhibition at the Diefenbunker Museum, and was in The Honest 6ix Artist Residency at Toronto for Everyone.
Alicia is a co-founder of Arbez Drama Projects.  

Eilish Waller is an actor and emerging theatre director. Directing credits include Bruised Porcelain (U of T Drama Festival, Robert Gill Prize for Best Direction) and Dying Is an Art (InspiraTO Festival). Assistant directing credits include The Seagull (Theatre Erindale) and Omission (New Ideas Festival). Acting credits include The Trojan WomenMedeaPicnicAlbertine in Five TimesThe RoverCatatonia: A Musical, and Salome, as well as various new and devised works. She is a graduate of Sheridan College and the University of Toronto (BA honours, Theatre and Drama Studies).

​HELIN GUNGOREN, Stage Manager
Helin Gungoren is a Kurdish Toronto-based designer and stage manager. She is in her second year of performance production at the Ryerson School of Performance in pursuit of her BFA. She was recently the assistant stage manager of The Death of Mrs Gandhi at the Next Stage festival. Her other credits in stage management include The Shoe ProjectSinging River#7Love (Summerworks); re:Lewis; and You Are Not Alone (Toronto Fringe Festival).

​MATHILDA KANE, Assistant Stage Manager
Mathilda Kane is in grade 12 at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts and is planning on pursuing technical theatre in university next year. She’s happy to be working on a show as fun as D Cup. She wants to thank Helin for bringing her onto the show, as well as Eilish, Chyna, and the cast for making this such a fun experience.

​CHYNAH PHILADELPHIA, Set and Props Designer
Chynah Philadelphia is a second-year production performance student at Ryerson University. Her most recent work includes house head painter & house head of props, Ryerson’s Dances (2016), assistant stage manager, Ryerson’s Acting 2 (2016). Her works also includes props assistant for Alumnae Theatre’s Rabbit Hole (2014).


Margaret Sellers is very pleased to be involved again with New Ideas Festival.  Recent past performances are as Marnie in Flotsam at Ryerson’s 50+ Festival, Howie in Our Town at Church of the Holy Trinity, Maria Sara in A Death and the Marias at New Ideas 2015, Quince in Passionate Players’ A Midwinter Night’s Dream at Factory Theatre, and Evelyn in Dust Motes Dancing at Red Sandcastle Theatre. Margaret is passionately enjoying this phase of her life and continues to make the outstanding Act II Studio Theatre program at Ryerson part of her learning and growing.

BARBARA SALSBERG, Peaches (Daughter)
Barbara Salsberg is thrilled to be back at the New Ideas Festival after appearing in The Council at NIF 2016. Most recently she performed in Les Belles Soeurs at the Village Playhouse. Many thanks to the extraordinary cast, crew, and playwright of D Cup. As always, much love and appreciation to my family for all their support and encouragement.

Having only been in a few theatre productions during high school, Claudia Yang is ecstatic to be making her Toronto theatre debut with Alumnae Theatre in this year’s New Ideas Festival. Originally from Vancouver, she is currently attending OCAD University, majoring in photography and film studies. When she isn’t on stage, she finds time to do yoga, collaborate on projects with friends, and play the ukulele. She hopes you’ll enjoy the magic of live theatre as much as she does!

Kim Sprenger is excited to be back on the New Ideas stage after a five-year absence. In her last role, she played Gloria in Gloria’s Guy. Kim acts, writes, directs, and produces, having just written and produced The Sleeping Beauty pantomime for the 2016 Cabbagetown Festival. Some of her favourite roles include Margo Crane in The Wisdom of Eve, Emma in Real Estate, Anne Stanley in Forty Carats, and Florence in The Odd Couple – Female Version. Kim has also written several books for kids and plans on writing a few more.

RIVERKEEPER by Katherine Koller

River creates a narrative of fact, history, memory, and imagination by reading the river to know her parents. To forgive and let go, River must bring them back to challenge, understand, and feel their love.

Director: Rebecca Becket Grace
Stage Manager: Olivia-Cassidy Stupka
Cast: Kris Langille, Emma Banigan, Andrew Lorimer


Katherine Koller writes for stage, screen, and page. Her trilogy of landworks plays about industry and Alberta families includes Last Chance LeducThe Seed Savers, and Coal Valley: The Making of a Miner. Her collection, Voices of the Land: The Seed Savers and Other Plays, was published in 2012 (AU Press). Sustainable Me, a six-part documentary, features Edmonton youth changing their world ( Katherine’s new novel, Art Lessons (Great Plains), is about a girl who is transformed by her visual art. Katherine co-produces Script Salon in Edmonton, a monthly play reading series in its third year.

Rebecca Becket Grace is a Toronto-based playwright, director, and actor. Recently Rebecca directed The Real Thing by Australian playwright Angie Farrow at the 2016 InspiraTO Festival. As a member of Alumnae Theatre Company, she directed Out of the Past at WriteNow 2016, War and Peace at New Ideas Festival 2016 , and stage managed Lost Connection in 2015. Her play Would you Do It Again was performed at New Ideas in 2013. Besides the theatre, Rebecca is working on a comedy pilot for TV with two other female writers.

Olivia-Cassidy Stupka is thrilled to be part of this production. She has been involved in theatre since the age of six, performing in numerous productions with Civic Light Opera Company. Since then she has fallen in love with the world backstage. Most recent projects include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Music Man (Scarborough Music Theatre); Sherlock Holmes: Christmas Carol (Scarborough Theatre Guild); Our Town and Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts). Olivia is studying performance and production at Wexford Colligate and hopes to continue those studies in post-secondary. Thank you for all the opportunities!


Kris Langille is a new member of Alumnae Theatre Company, but has been performing in the GTA for the past 19 years. Most recently, she played Stella in A Better Place at Factory Theatre. 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 (Sin City ER). Many thanks to all those who helped bring Riverkeeper to the stage.

Emma Banigan is a singer, actress, writer, and avid traveller from Toronto. She has a diploma in music theatre performance from St Clair College and completed Second City’s sketch writing program. Recently she released a female-centric comedy webseries called The Wonderful, which she co-wrote, produced, directed, and acted in. Emma is grateful and excited to be involved in Riverkeeper in this year’s New Ideas Festival.

Andrew Lorimer is an actor originally from Sault Ste Marie and newcomer to the New Ideas Festival! He moved to Toronto three years ago to attend George Brown Theatre School. Recent credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are DeadOur Town (Theatre SMC), Wait until Dark (Bygone Theatre), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Bard in the Park), Hairspray (YES Theatre), and King Lear (Mortar & Pestle Productions).


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