INDIE STREAM

Celebrating 2020 Indie Stream Artists

History:

Superior Theatre Festival is a professional multi-disciplinary arts festival that officially launched in Thunder Bay, Ontario on  August 4th - August 7th 2016.  In the last four years, Superior Theatre Festival has contributed in meaningful ways to the communities in Northwestern Ontario by showcasing local, regional, National and International artists in a variety of theatrical options, providing workshops and post-show discussions and mentoring a Young Company. It is very important to STF that we share learning between artists from Thunder Bay and those that call other parts of Canada their home to create an opportunity for growth in artistic practices and shared understandings.  

 

In our second year (2017), we introduced our Indie Stream showcasing local and regional talent:

A Family Story

Scrabble
Rain

One for Norma

Golf Lessons

In Memory of Dane Gerrous

The Moose’s Ransom

Speechless

Maelstrom

Scratchlings by Mothlight 

The Angies

Sunday Wilde and Reno Jack

What is the Indie Stream?

Superior Theatre Festival is interested in submissions of New Work from artists that call Thunder Bay and surrounding area their home or re-imagined work (providing you can prove you have the rights to produce the work).  This is a curated multi-disciplinary arts festival that hopes to showcase theatre, dance, music, storytelling, poetry, cabaret, digital arts, puppetry, clowning, film, installations and performance art.  We want to celebrate all the creativity and imagination in our region.  STF also encourages collaborations between artistic companies and non-traditional collaborations between dissimilar organizations.

2020 INDIE STREAM 

Superior Theatre Festival is supporting the work of 3 local playwrights for the 2020 Indie Stream.  Due to Covid-19 our Indie Stream turned into a developmental opportunity for STF to pair up Playwrights with Dramaturgs to help them progress an idea, an existing play or in some cases help shape a new play. We are very excited to see how these discussions and collaborations shift and change the trajectory of our artist’s creative process and their work.

ISOBEL GUNN

SYNOPSIS

Isobel Gunn is the true story of the first European woman to travel through Western Canada, under the guise of a man. She worked for the Hudsons Bay Company as a paddler/labourer for 2 years, before being discovered..

FAE ALEXANDER

Playwright and Composer

Originally from Thunder Bay ON, Fae Alexander recently completed her third year at Sheridan College Honours Bachelor of Musical Theatre Program, minoring in commercial performance. Music Theatre has been Fae’s love and joy since elementary school when she played Frieda in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. She loved it so much she memorized everyone else’s lines and songs but accidentally lip synced them on stage. Growing up in a musical household, Fae has completed 5 Canada Conservatory Piano exams, and 3 theory exams. More recently, she picked up the guitar and has been loving songwriting; she was even luckier to perform for Broadway’s Ramin Karimloo, and was given the opportunity to open his concert at the Mississauga Performing Arts Centre last winter with all original material. Fae loves coming home to Thunder Bay during the summer to reconnect with all her outdoor hobbies; canoeing, camping, hiking, and running.

EMIL SHER

Dramaturg

Emil’s stage work for the young and the once-were young include Mourning Dove, Sanctuary, Bluenose, Derailed, Beneath the Banyan Tree, The Book of Ashes and acclaimed adaptations of Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine and Ian Brown’s The Boy in the Moon.  Emil wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics (with composer Jonathan Monro) for the musical theatre adaptation of Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater, which played to full houses at the NAC. The Crow’s Theatre staging of The Boy in the Moon was selected as one of the top ten productions of 2017 by The Globe and Mail and nominated for a 2018 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play. The play will be staged in Spring 2020 in Regina, Vancouver and Kamloops.  Works-in-progress include The Boys of Vedem, a play commissioned by Seattle’s ACT Theatre based on the true story of imprisoned Jewish teens who created a secret magazine in the midst of the Holocaust; April, a new play Emil is developing for and with Louise Pitre; and The Piper, a musical that puts a contemporary spin on the folk tale.

ABOUT FAE'S EXPERIENCE

"When I first submitted my idea for Isobel Gunn, I had a skeleton of what the show would be about: I knew  the story was going to be based on fact, about a woman from Scotland in 1806, who disguised herself as a man in order to work for the Hudson’s Bay company, and then got pregnant and her gender was discovered. Aside from that, I’d written a song for Isobel’s character, and hoped it would be enough. I believed in the potential of the story, but thought the chances of an unfinished play getting produced were slim.

When Donna Marie called me back and posed the idea that they would help me produce the show, I felt excited! The excitement was quickly followed by mounting anxiety however,  that I now had to write this musical. Quelling this fear as a  first time playwright, Donna Marie told me I would be working with a dramaturg who turned out to be one of the kindest and most supportive people I could have hoped to work with. Getting to work and write with Emil Sher has been stress-free and believe it or not, fun. I don’t remember working with anyone in College or High School who lets you take such time and care with your work, so that the writing process actually has an enjoyable aspect. Writing a musical is a monumental task, but when you take off the pressure of a deadline and break it into manageable ‘to-do’s, it is a rewarding, rich and imaginative experience. Emil would give me one task each week: no more, no less. It began with Character Sketches (background detail and context to each character). Having one focus, I was able to delve into great detail of the era and take time researching. I found out things like the names of actual Hudson’s Bay workers in 1800-1810, their wages, where they predominantly hailed from, and what their families economic circumstances were. This on its own started giving me ideas of things I wanted to include in my newly forming musical. Once I had these characters, my next task was to make a general ‘road map’ that plotted out what happened to Isobel throughout her journey, in the years 1806-1807. After each task was completed, Emil would give feedback and gently point out parts he found interesting, or that could be expanded on. He kept me grounded to my original love for the story, while encouraging me to let my imagination run wild, and not be trapped in historic facts. 


The thing  with this writing project  is that at a certain point, it didn’t  feel like a job anymore. I got excited about the ideas percolating in my mind. Without thinking about a  hard deadline and relieved of the associated stress, ideas come to me more freely and in different situations: while I’m getting coffee or out camping, or paddling my canoe. A few months later, I am sitting with a very detailed outline of my two acts, and a small army of fully fleshed characters that I know like my own friends. I have a handful of songs in the works and am happy to let them evolve along with the storyline. I am so excited for what lies in store for Isobel Gunn, my lady fur trader; I can’t wait to share her story and I have Emil Sher and Donna Marie to thank for that!" - Fae Alexander

WHAT IF?

SYNOPSIS

What If? is a one woman show that tells the story of living with a physical disability from a different perspective.

SARAH MENDEK

Playwright 

Sarah Mendek is from Thunder Bay Ontario.  She has a Dramatic Arts Degree from Brock University.  She is actively involved in the local theatre community.  Her most recent performances include being cast in Superior Theatre Festival Indy Stream in 2017 as RIO in the Staged Reading of Speechless a work in progress by Cathi Winslow, and joined Superior Theatre Festival again in 2018 with the World Wide Directors Lab Collaborative Project: Between Two Breathes.  She has also been a director in the local 10x10 showcase for the last three seasons.

is my one woman show that tells the story of living with a physical disability from a different perspective.

JUDITH THOMPSON

Dramaturg

Judith Thompson, OC F.R.S. is a Canadian playwright who lives in Toronto, Ontario. She has twice been awarded the Governor General's Award for drama, and is the recipient of many other awards including the Order of Canada, the Walter Carsen Performing Arts Award, the Toronto Arts Award, The Epilepsy Ontario Award, The B'nai B'rith Award, the Dora, the Chalmers, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award (a global competition for the best play written by a woman in the English Language) and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, both for Palace of the End, which premiered at Canadian Stage, and has been produced all over the world in many languages.Thompson's work embraces visceral and subconscious elements of human experience which are seldom seen on stage. Her plays expose the harsh realities of living on the edge and in the worst conceivable conditions as in The Crackwalker (1980).  Other plays

include: White Biting Dog (1984), Lion in the Streets (1990) an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler for the Shaw Festival, Sled (1997), Perfect Pie (2000), Habitat (2001), Capture Me (2004), Such Creatures (2011) and The Thrill (2013).

In 2007 Thompson created the play Body and Soul with 14 women between the ages of 45 and 80, about women and aging, using the performers own words and experiences. The play premiered at Soulpepper, and then had a second production at the Tarragon the following year. The Vancouver Olympics brought the play there during the Para Olympics, to great acclaim. The success of this verbatim play inspired Thompson to create a play with 9 performers with Down Syndrome for the Fringe Festival of 2012, called Rare. It was a hit of the Fringe, and then was invited by Soulpepper to be part of "Winter at the Young." It was a sold out hit which extended three times, and toured to several places. It was then that the RARE theatre company was formed (raretheatre.org) Judith Thompson is the artistic director of this theatre, which is dedicated to collaborating with communities which are rarely heard and seldom seen on our stages. The company then went on to produce a play in partnership with Spinal Injury Ontario, with 9 artists who use wheelchairs. The play was called Borne, and played at Soulpepper in the summer of 2014, again, to sold out houses. In the spring of 2015, Rare Theatre was awarded a Trillium grow grant, which has enabled the company to develop three new projects with differently abled and BIPOC artists.

Thompson continues to write her own plays for the theatre, including Watching Glory Die (2012, Cultch and Berkley st. Theatre) inspired by the life and death of Ashley Smith. Ashley strangled herself with six c.o.s watching, as they were instructed not to go in till she was blue. Her death was later declared a homicide. Judith performed this play solo, playing all three characters.

In the summer of 2018, 4th Line Theatre produced her latest play, Who Killed Snow White?. The play is inspired by tragedies such as the death of Reteah Parsons, a Nova Scotia girl who was raped and then cyber bullied, and finally completed suicide. The show struck a chord in local audiences, moving each audience to tears and laughter and a standing ovation.

Judith has an astonishing gift for providing theatrical experiences which incisively reach the deepest recesses of her audience's imaginations.

She is currently a Professor of theatre studies at the University of Guelph, in the School of English and Theatre Studies.

ABOUT SARAH'S EXPERIENCE

"I am grateful that my play was chosen to be a part of this year’s Superior Theatre Festival Indie Stream.  Working with Judith Thompson has been valuable experience to help shape my one woman show “What If” a play about living with a physical disability written from a different perspective.  The play has grown and developed so much since I first sat down a year ago and wrote the first monologue.  I was determined to make this drama as colourful as possible with the challenges and successes that are faced daily with living with a physical disability.  

 

One of the most important points I can take from working with Judith is the strength and importance of structure.  Since my play is a one woman show the structure needs to be strong and well balanced, because it is one person telling the story and carrying the through line and embodiment of multiple characters as the story builds. 

 

Working with Judith encouraged me to explore the development of character , plot, and developing the play further, pushing limits to create a rhythm of dialogue that creatively brings an audience into a world that on the surface may look “different”, but is really the same, just seen differently.    

 

Since this process began, it is exciting how my story has developed into a beautiful, strong compassionate, thought provoking drama.  This opportunity has been exciting, challenging and rewarding all at the same time.  As the playwright I can say that, I am happy that I got to write this story and I cannot wait to perform it when the time comes. " - Sarah Mendek

DEAD FLAG BLUES

SYNOPSIS

A man rages and bullies a long convoy line of fleeing civilians.

ANDREW PAULSEN

Playwright 

Andrew Paulsen works as a director/writer/producer/actor in film, television, theatre, and radio. He was born and raised in small-town Northern Ontario. He is a graduate of the Confederation College Film Program, and received a HBA in Psychology from Lakehead University. He runs his own theatre group, New Noise Productions, which produces edgy and alternative theatre in Thunder Bay. He currently sits as a director-at-large on the NOSFA board. Local productions include: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Laramie Project, Tape, Cherry Docs, Miracle On 34th Street, Peter Pan, True Directions, The Lady’s Not For Burning, and the school tour of What My Grandma Means To Say.

EMIL SHER

Dramaturg

Emil’s stage work for the young and the once-were young include Mourning Dove, Sanctuary, Bluenose, Derailed, Beneath the Banyan Tree, The Book of Ashes and acclaimed adaptations of Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine and Ian Brown’s The Boy in the Moon.  Emil wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics (with composer Jonathan Monro) for the musical theatre adaptation of Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater, which played to full houses at the NAC. The Crow’s Theatre staging of The Boy in the Moon was selected as one of the top ten productions of 2017 by The Globe and Mail and nominated for a 2018 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play. The play will be staged in Spring 2020 in Regina, Vancouver and Kamloops.  Works-in-progress include The Boys of Vedem, a play commissioned by Seattle’s ACT Theatre based on the true story of imprisoned Jewish teens who created a secret magazine in the midst of the Holocaust; April, a new play Emil is developing for and with Louise Pitre; and The Piper, a musical that puts a contemporary spin on the folk tale.

ABOUT ANDREW'S EXPERIENCE

"As someone who works primarily out of Thunder Bay, and is mostly self-taught and independent, I often feel completely isolated from the professional world of playwrighting. I constantly feel like an imposter, and even though I slowly chip away at that with achievements and progress in my career, it feels extremely uncomfortable for me to call myself a “playwright”. Toronto is only a 14-hour drive away, but sometimes it feels like it exists in this “other” impenetrable world. I often shy away from trying to make professional contacts, seeking grants, or other important opportunities that could advance my career, because it seems so distant. Mix in some social anxiety and a complete uncomfortableness with advocating for myself, and I had pretty much given up on professional development of my writing. 

 

But thanks to The Superior Theatre Festival, I was set up with a dramaturge to develop a play I wrote into new and interesting directions. It was an experience I wouldn’t have been able to achieve on my own, and is another chip away at that imposter syndrome. I feel like I had a chance to step into that bubble that’s been so daunting from a far. It has also humanized the entire experience, making it seem less daunting then before when it all felt so unknowable and foreign. Discussing my work with new voices and new feedback has allowed me to discover new aspects of work, while also going off in directions that allowed me to rediscover a past voice and style that I had forgotten. The experience has allowed me to ferment some opinions I had previously wavered on, firming my resolve and my writing goals going forward, while opening up new possibilities I can use to challenge my work. 

 

This was not an experience I thought a rural Northern Ontario writer could have within my community, and I’m incredibly grateful to The Superior Theatre Festival for recognizing the possibilities of my work, setting up a relationship with a dramaturge who would best fit me, and then giving me the reigns to create and play." - Andrew Paulsen

2020 INDIE STREAM READERS

What is a North Shore Indie Stream Reader? 

- a seasoned artist that gives feedback to the artists who submit work

-they  make recommendations about applicant submissions to the STF Creative Team

EVAN TSITSIAS

Indie Stream Reader

Evan is the Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre Company, a company that has contributed to Toronto's musical theatre ecology with two site-responsive hits: Kiss of the Spider Woman and Sunday in the Park with George.  Evan is also the Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Directors Lab North, a sister program to the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, of which he is an alum and now partnered with Luminato Festival. He is the Co-Founder of the World Wide Lab, an International Directors collective. With that company, he has co-directed/created festivals in New York, Italy, Greece and Taiwan. In Germany he’s co-created/directed several immersive, site-specific pieces. Highlights include We are the Play, for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Berlin Wall Memorial, Berlin Bound and My Berlin with Sisyphos Der Flugelefant and I am Invisible with Bluespots Productions in Augsburg. In New York, he's worked with Fundamental Theatre Projects, Irondale, Fordham University and the New York City Centre Encores Series.

In Canada, Evan has directed for Musical Stage Company, Angelwalk, Impact Festival, Theatre Aquarius Studio Series, Summerworks, Fringe, Next Stage and more. His plays include Aftershock and Strange Mary Strange (Best of Summerworks - Now Magazine), The Murmuration of Starlings and Unstuck (Frank Theatre Company). His short film Bagged, aired on the CBC, WIFT, DC Shorts and NSI. He has co-produced Homebody/Kabul (Mercury Theatre, Dora Nomination), Pterodactyls (Shakti Ent.), Talk Sixty To Me and a tour of Shirley Valentine.

Evan trained at York University, Sheridan College and has his Professional Training Certificate in Theatre of the Oppressed from London, England where he studied with Augusto Boal. He is a member of the Chicago Directors Lab, Playwrights Guild of Canada, Tarragon Playwright’s Unit and an Associate Member of SDC. He was also a resident artist at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center. He’s been nominated for a Dora Award, the John Hirsch Directing Prize, Tom Hendry Award, Herman Voaden National Playwriting Prize, two Broadway World Awards and was a finalist for the Charles Abbott Directing Fellowship with the SDCF. 

He currently divides his time between Toronto and Houston, where he’s worked with Houston Grand Opera and spent the last 6 years at Theatre Under the Stars, directing, acting as Artistic Assistant and is Head of Acting for the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. His work has been published in Germany, Canada and the USA and most recently his book, The Directors Lab was published by Playwrights Canada Press. www.evantsitsias.com

ESTHER JUN

Indie Stream Reader

ESTHER JUN originally trained as an actor in NYC and completed her directing degree at Drama Centre London in 2006. She was the Assistant Artistic Director at Tarragon Theatre from 2016-18. She was part of the 2020 & 2016 Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at The Stratford Festival, and was the 2015 Neil Munro Intern Director at the Shaw Festival. She is a founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Directors Lab North (directorslabnorth.com).

Selected Credits: Planet Munsch (GBTS); Pal Joey (Talk is Free); The Promised Land (Soulpepper); The Omnibus Bill (Counterpoint Players); The Gamblers (Talk is Free); Theory (Tarragon); The Private Life Cabaret (Theatre ARTaud); Girls Like That (Tarragon); Amadeus (Talk is Free); The Last Wife (The Belfrey, GCTC); Tales from Folks-Laos & Mongolia (Soulpepper); Rococo (Shaw Festival); And Now, The End (Ante Up); Bremen Rock City (Song Trolley); Cowboy Mouth (Heart In Hand); Yellow Face (Hart House), Trout Stanley (Heart in Hand) Fear & Misery of the Third Reich (DeusXM), First Hand Woman (Fire Up Productions).

2020 INDIE STREAM SUPPORTED BY:

2161 Amethyst Avenue, Shuniah, ON P7A 0A8   |   647-983-2482   |   superiortheatrefestival@gmail.com

© 2019 Superior Theatre Festival. All Rights Reserved.

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