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New Ideas Festival 2022

Panel Discussion
​Virtual Theatre: Pandemic Gimmick or Theatre’s Future?
Diane Forrest, Producer-Moderator

“Digital is the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.
​So we can’t afford to be on the sidelines.”
​Sarah Ellis, Director of Digital Development at the Royal Shakespeare Company*

Virtual, cyber, digital–whatever you call this new form of stagecraft, it’s gone viral, from international workshops to academic think tanks to community theatre. But now that we’re returning to the stage, do we really need it? What form will it take, and how can we make the best use of it?

Join our panelists, Nina Lee Aquino, Dylan Trowbridge, and Courtney Ward, for a frank discussion of what they learned in the pandemic and where they think virtual theatre should go from here.

​Find out more about our panelists below.

*Click HERE to go directly to the Theatre Panel discussion, available on demand until Sunday, June 26/midnight EDT

*See Sarah Ellis’s Ted Talk HERE
See also A Manifesto for the Future Stage: Performance Is a Human Right, from the Futurestage Research Group at metaLAB at Harvard, on the implications of virtual theatre HERE



One of Canada’s best known directors, Nina has achieved a string of firsts in Asian Canadian theatre and received many awards for both direction and art leadership. She has been Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company, Cahoots Theatre, and Factory Theatre and will begin that role at the National Arts Centre English Theatre in September, 2022. Currently, she is President of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) and was recently appointed Adjunct Professor at York University.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Nina made her first venture into the realm of digital theatre, directing several live-streamed productions and a five-episode audio drama. At Factory, she programmed the 2020-2021 Satellite Season, which featured a digital production of acts of faith by David Yee and the launch of Factory’s audio drama series You Can’t Get There From Here. Factory’s current season, Shift, has featured more livestream audio presentations and four commissioned short virtual plays. She also worked on productions with the University of Toronto Mississauga-Sheridan College, the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), and the CanAsian Dance Festival as a digital director and dramaturge.


Barbara Fuchs is Distinguished Professor of Spanish and English at UCLA. She is the founder and director of the Working Group on the Comedia in Translation and Performance and its Diversifying the Classics initiative, which has been working to promote Hispanic classical theater since 2014. In 2018, she founded LA Escena, Los Angeles’ festival of Hispanic classical theater, and in 2020 she curated its virtual edition.
Professor Fuchs has published widely on early modern literature and culture and contemporary performance. She has also translated a wide range of early modern Hispanic classics. Her most recent book is Theater of Lockdown: Digital and Distanced Performance in a Time of Pandemic(Bloomsbury/Methuen 2022).
In 2021, Professor Fuchs served as President of the Modern Language Association. Also in 2021, her work to promote Hispanic language and culture was recognized with the inaugural Premio Ñ from Spain’s Instituto Cervantes.


Dylan Trowbridge is an award-winning actor, director, producer, and teacher. Acting credits include performances at The Shaw and Stratford Festivals and in London’s West End.
As a director, Dylan’s productions of The Harrowing of Brimstone McCreedy and Space Opera Zero for Eldritch Theatre received multiple Dora nominations and one win. Additional directing credits include Every Brilliant Thing (Festival Players), Herringbone, The Yalta Game (Talk is Free Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and TomorrowLove (U of T CDTPS).
​ In 2020, Dylan co-founded GhostLight, an online platform for mentorship in the theatre. He is the Associate Artistic Director of Festival Players. Film and TV Credits include Titans, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Reacher.


Courtney Ward (she/her) is a professional actress and has performed on stage, screen and behind the scenes all across the world. As an actor working for Universal Studios Japan in 2019, Courtney met Robert Kodama who was working as a dialect coach for the company. During the coronavirus pandemic, Robert asked Courtney and a few other actors to take part in a Zoom table read of a script he had written–after a few more readings and discussions, he pitched an idea that he had had for years, and soon a small team was put together to launch The New Works Playhouse. The pandemic almost destroyed the performing arts industry, but it also gave New Works a unique opportunity to bring theatre online and to create a global network of brilliant artists from all over the world, who could now collaborate on exciting new projects, no matter their background.

Founding Core Team Member
& Safeguarding Leader
The New Works Playhouse
Join a global community of performers and writers to get your voice heard.



DIANE FORREST’s plays have appeared in the Toronto Fringe Festival and at Alumnae Theatre, among other venues, and have won or placed in various competitions. Forrest is also an award-winning magazine journalist, worked in script development at CBC, and is the author of several books. She has produced public events at Alumnae and started the annual Write Now playwriting event, the New Play Development group (NPD), and the monthly online Script Club and Watch and Talk sessions.

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