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New Ideas Festival 2024

Week 1/April 24-28, 2024

This Woman is an Island


Hope McIntyre is an award-winning theatre creator. She is an associate professor at the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre and Film. Her training includes a BFA in performance from the University of Saskatchewan and an MFA in directing from the University of Victoria. She was the founding artistic director of Sarasvàti Productions, a company dedicated to social change that she helmed for twenty-two years. She has received the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, the Bra D’Or, and the Women Helping Women Award for her work. She is also a former president of the Playwrights Guild of Canada. 


​Madelaine Rose is a Toronto-based director, producer, performer, and all-around creative. She received her BA in drama studies in 2015 from York University and hasn’t stopped learning since! She made her directorial debut with the one-woman show Thank U, Ex! in 2020, which has since made its way from Toronto to Ottawa, New York, Orlando, and Halifax, where it recently won the award for “Best Solo Comedy” at the Halifax Fringe Festival. Madelaine has also expanded her directorial practice into film with such projects as Doomsday Daughters, which won the “Best Film of the Festival” award at AltFF Film Festival, and Parent Teacher, which won her a “Best Director” award. Her approach to directing is one of collaboration and care.


​Erin Mick originally hails from a small prairie town in southern Alberta. She moved to St. John’s, NL, in 2011 and there completed BA and MA degrees in history while also pursuing acting. She moved to Toronto in 2018 after being accepted into U of T’s Cinema Studies PhD programme – an attempt to mesh her interests in both scholarship and film. There, her research focuses on contemporary horror. This is Erin’s first time on stage (as opposed to screen) in nearly a decade, so she’s thrilled to be part of NIF as “Susan” in This Woman is an Island.


Anne Shepherd is a Toronto actor, psychiatrist, mother to three adult sons and three cats. She recently completed a film on elder abuse called Stop It in Markham. She adores playing creatures, witches, and zombies. Last year she played a disgruntled witch in Genieology (Alumnae,) a bereaved wife in Without Whom (7th Method Productions), and another woman skirting loss in The Great Kelleys (Alumnae). She just finished a run of The Unmanageable Sisters (Toronto Irish Players) as a materialistic snob. She relishes the role of independent pioneer Kate Rice who can hunt, shoot and drive a dogsled team and is happiest in pants!


Mladen Obradović is an actor, director, writer, producer, and a drama teacher with an MFA in Acting from York University. Co-chair of ACTRA’s Accent Discrimination Sub-Committee. Born in Montenegro, he lives and works in Toronto. He founded Pulse Theatre, a theatre company that focuses on immigrant performers. Theatre: The Woods are Dark and Deep (Pulse Theatre), Foreign Tongue (Next Stage Festival Toronto), A Flea in Her Ear (Toronto Fringe 2017, Pulse Theatre), and Counting Sheep (Summerworks Festival). TV/Film: Air Crash Investigation, The Recruit (Netflix), The Boys (Amazon Prime), The Dark Side of the 90s (VICE), Haunted Hospitals, Disasters at Sea.


Sarah Yeoman (They/Them) is a graduate of the TMU Performance: Production program with a specialization in Stage Management. Sarah moved to Toronto in 2020 to pursue their passion for theatre as well as expand their technical knowledge in all things performance. With a passion for bending the rules and challenging the norm, Sarah strives to create something new and leave a distinct path behind them. This is Sarah’s first festival with Alumnae, and they are looking forward to many more.



A graduate of theatre studies at Queensland University of Technology, Natalie has spent many years on stage as an actor in Brisbane, London, and now Toronto. This is Natalie’s first foray into playwriting, and she is excited to be working alongside some incredible writers and directors.


Directing new theatre projects is a collaborative affair for Barbara Larose, working with her writer and performers to exercise her passion for developing layered characterizations and clear storytelling. She has extensive experience in developing new work and has directed and dramaturged numerous new plays at Alumnae’s New Ideas Festival and the Toronto Fringe. She has also directed over thirty mainstage productions, many at the Alumnae Theatre (most recently String of Pearls by Michele Lowe) and at Village Playhouse, and is artistic director of award-winning Thick and Thin Theatre. Barbara studied theatre at Concordia University in her hometown of Montreal.


Kimberley Ann is an actor who writes and produces! She is a graduate of both the 3 Year Conservatory Program at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and the Neighborhood Playhouse Summer Conservatory in New York City. NYC highlights include playing Margery in Vinegar Tom and The Friar in Romeo & Juliet. On the Alumnae Stage, she’s played Tess in The Female of the Species, Mrs. Daldry in In The Next Room, Jessie Mae in The Trip to Bountiful, and various roles in String of Pearls. To see what mischief Kimberley Ann is cooking up, follow her on The Internets


Rick has been associated with the Alumnae Theatre as a performer, sound designer, choreographer, composer, and writer for nearly 30 years.  He was last seen on the Mainstage as a tap-dancing Louis B Mayer in Queen Marie and in NIF as the title character in Insane Uncle Leroy, and he created the sound design for String of Pearls last season.  His writing/composing credits include Millennium Madness Sale, Life in the Raw (co-writer with Barbara Larose), and Adams Prize winner Seeking Refuge, all at the Toronto Fringe Festival.  Rick is appearing with the permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.


Paula is thrilled to return to the Alumnae after appearing in the 100th-anniversary celebrations as Marie Dressler aged 65 in Queen Marie. Paula loves the challenge of bringing the playwright’s words on the page to life to examine how a character got to be where they are at their moments in time. She hopes the New Ideas Festival gives everyone something to take along on their own journeys.


Sreya Lizbeth is a Toronto-based creator with a passion for the arts and storytelling. She has been a part of several high school productions within the roles of director and actor. Sreya is currently working towards her BDes in graphic design at OCAD University and hopes to continue collaborating with talented writers, directors, and performers while embracing the creative synergy that comes with it.

Just for Tonight


Since 2017, Sheila has cared for an elder relative with dementia. Part Golden Girls, part Grey Gardens, it has always been interesting. Sheila is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada.


Erin Jones is a multi-hyphenate committed to theatre. Her involvement includes directing, playwriting, acting, and stage management. She wrote/produced the award-winning Time Limits Dropped on Easter Sunday (Toronto Fringe Festival). Erin co-authored a children’s musical play and supports the performing arts behind the scenes. Prior to the pandemic, she was assistant director for Cripple of Inishmaan (Scarborough Theatre Guild). She directed Exit: An Illusion (Shadowpath Theatre) and And One More Thing (Alumnae’s New Ideas Festival 2023). 


Janet Hurley is thrilled to be joining the Alumnae Theatre Company for its New Ideas Festival. When not doing her day job as a journalist, she can be found exploring her love of the stage. Most recent credits include Old Lila/Ensemble in Parade (Wavestage), Baroness in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Theatre Unlimited), Reporter/Ensemble in Chicago (Wavestage) and Minnie Pye in Anne of Green Gables (Hillcrest Village Players). Having previously performed in the Oakville Players’ one-act festival, she is excited to return to the genre with this play that so beautifully expresses the challenges of aging.


After many decades of severe FOPS (fear of public speaking) and a couple more where her job increasingly demanded it, Rowena cliff-jumped into the Act II Studio program at TMU (formerly Ryerson) in 2017. What a rush! Since then, she has performed in many different shows, both live and (during Covid) over Zoom, and has recently taken some first small steps towards playwrighting and directing. After playing the part of Rose in And One More Thing … at Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival last year, she is delighted to be back for NIF 2024 as Linda in Just for Tonight.


Maria is thrilled to be performing in Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival. She is honoured to be sharing the stage with such a talented cast. Maria has performed in several plays throughout the GTA. Her love of theatre is best described by her favourite Oscar Wilde quote, “It was only in the theatre that I lived”. Sheila Toller’s play, Just For Tonight, resonates with Maria. She dedicates her performance to her father with Alzheimer’s Disease. Maria is grateful to the director, Erin Jones, for this wonderful opportunity and thanks the stage manager, Robyn Shepherd, for her support.


Previous Alumnae roles include Edmund Booth in The Evil That Men Do and Lord Augustus in Lady Windermere’s Fan. Favourite roles elsewhere include Paravicini in The Mousetrap (Scarborough Guild), Inspector Rough in Gaslight (Stage Centre), Dafydd ap Llewelyn in A Chorus of Disapproval (Amicus), Mac in Moonshine, and Michael in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Toronto Irish Players). Offstage, you’ll find him working in admissions at a local college or lying on the beach.


This is Annette’s first time working with Alumnae Theatre, and she is thrilled to be part of the New Ideas Festival. Annette recently appeared in Death of a Salesman, playing Linda Loman, with Scarborough Theatre Guild. Annette moved back to Toronto from the Ottawa area five years ago for work. She was very actively involved in theatre across Eastern Ontario, where previous favourite roles included Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, Betty in Nothing Personal, and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. Annette is very grateful to be working with such a talented group of people in this beautiful theatre.


Robyn Shepherd is the Stage Manager of the New Ideas Festival production Just For Tonight at Alumnae Theatre. She has worked as cast and crew for the indie film Love in the Sixth, and she has been a social media content creator for Toronto Operetta Theatre. When Robyn is not working or playing, she serves as a forest steward at Rouge National Urban Park. Robyn is excited to be a part of this production, which tells the touching story of two women who are each deeply affected by life with dementia.


Mirror Images


Jean Sheppard is a teacher, editor, and Alumnae member. Two of her plays have been presented at Next Stage readings, and a monologue she wrote was included in Alumnae’s “Women in Theatre” production. In addition, her flash fiction and creative nonfiction pieces have appeared in a range of online journals and in print. She is delighted to be a part of NIF 2024.


Mel Thompson is a poet and theatre creator based in Toronto. Their work, existing across artistic disciplines, explores the fluid nature of self-identity within contemporary spaces. In 2022, Mel graduated from York University’s Theatre Performance Creation and Research program, specializing in playwriting and dramaturgy with a concentration in direction. Select theatre credits include RULER (co-creator, Tarragon Theatre), Statistics by Shreya Jha (developmental dramaturg, Shifting Ground Collective), and Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (assistant director, York University). Mel’s poetry has been featured in the Toronto Fringe Festival as well as in Poetry Pause and Poem in Your Pocket Day by the League of Canadian Poets. 


Louise is a Toronto-based actor, with a lifelong love of acting for theatre, film, and learning in general. In addition to the Alumnae Theatre Company, Louise is affiliated with ACT II STUDIO and the Village Players. She is elated to be a part of the team bringing Mirror Images to life, and thanks all supporters!


Ann MacDonald trained mainly in Vancouver at Railtown Actors Studio and Rogues West before moving back to Toronto several years ago. Ann is thrilled to be participating in her first theatre production in Toronto. She would like to thank her family and friends for their support, and the collaborative environment at the Alumnae Theatre for giving her the chance to strut her stuff.


Annie created the role of Aristophanes in A Lysistrata (act2studioWORKS, 2023) and played four roles in String of Pearls (Alumnae Theatre Company, 2023). Other onstage roles in act2 productions include The Bastard (King John), Luce/Dr. Pinch (Comedy of Errors), and Michelle Wall/Zoe (Museum). Annie acted online in her own plays Lizard Season (NAC’s #CanadaPerforms, 2020) and Waiting for Mark (NIF online, 2021/Hamilton Fringe, 2020). Annie is also an award-winning playwright. Her comedy Christmas at the Roadside Diner showed at the 2024 Women At Plays Festival and her new work, Pave Paradise, features at ATC’s Big Ideas Festival in May 2024.


Anna is a member of both Alumnae Theatre and act2StudioWORKS. She started acting pre-Covid after a career in the Toronto Public Library, where she worked as Adult Programmes Coordinator. She won first place at Monologues 2023 at act2StudioWORKS. Her plays include Lysistrata by Aristophanes, The Unholy Estate of Matrimony by Helena Raposo (screened National Arts Centre), A Sigh or a Wish by Phyllis Jacklin, War of the Worlds, adapted by Vrenia Ivonoffski, Creon in Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya (Helena), Edson’s Wit (Nurse), Kushner’s Angels in America (Joe), and Shakespeare’s Henry VIII (Katherine of Aragon). 


This is Paris’s first experience at the NIF, and she is super excited to be a part of it! A graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts, Paris is mainly a performer, having acted in musicals both in the Victoria Fringe Festival and CCPA. As well as an actor, Paris has done writing and directing, been a co-producer and songwriter for Elemental (Victoria Fringe), and the sole writer and director of The True Tales of the Historical Musical It Girls (CCPA New Works Festival). Paris hopes to be a working actor and hopes to age like Christine Baranski.


Eileen was born and raised in East York. She is excited to be part of the production team of the New Ideas Festival. Eileen was a costume assistant on The Children. She was an assistant stage manager for Better Living. She wants to pursue an undergraduate degree in theatre production.



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