bios

Creative Team

David Yee – Playwright

David Yee is a mixed race actor and playwright, born and raised in Toronto. He is the co-founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Theatre Company, Canada’s premiere professional Asian Canadian theatre company. A Dora Mavor Moore Award nominated actor and playwright, his work has been produced internationally and at home. He is a Governor General’s Literary Award Laureate for his play carried away on the crest of a wave. He has worked extensively in the Asian Canadian community as an artist and an advocate. He has been called many things, but prefers ‘outlaw poet’ to them all.

Nina Lee Aquino – Director

With a string of firsts in Asian Canadian theatre, Nina Lee Aquino was the founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian theatre company, organized the first Asian Canadian theatre conference, edited the first (2-volume) Asian Canadian play anthology, and co-edited the first (award-winning) book on Asian Canadian theatre. She became Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre, currently holds the same position at Factory Theatre and is now the youngest President of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. She has directed world premieres and revivals at theatres across the country and has won the Ken McDougall Award, the John Hirsch Prize, and three Dora Awards for Outstanding Direction. Her leadership has extended into mentoring emerging artists and she has directed innovative projects at Humber College, York University, and the National Theatre School. She was the 2019 winner of the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Margo Bindhart and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award.

Jessie Whyte – Assistant Director

Jessie Whyte is a Toronto-based deviser, dramaturg, and photographer who is absolutely thrilled to be working on rochdale as the Assistant Director. Jessie is currently in their fourth year of Theatre Studies at York University, with specializations in Devised Theatre and Dramaturgy. Jessie has experience in a variety of areas in theatre, and enjoys learning about everything they possibly can. Recent credits include Festival Photography for The Paprika Festival and assistant directing carried away on the crest of a waveby David Yee (directed by Lindsay Bell and Margaret Legere at York University). Jessie had also worked on devising a piece for the Devised Theatre Festival at York University.

Adam Corrigan-Holowitz – Dramaturg

Adam Corrigan-Holowitz works as a dramaturg, director and playwright. Adam is the founding artistic director of AlvegoRoot Theatre in London, Ontario, a company dedicated to developing and presenting works by Southwestern Ontario playwrights. Selected directing credits include: The Wind in the Willows (playwright), Fools and Lovers, The Boy with an R in His Hand (playwright)Welcome to Bon Echo(world premiere), Sixty-Seven (playwright), The Big Lad(world premiere), Endgame and Uncle Vanya. Adam holds a BA Hons from York University where he studied dramaturgy. He is the recipient of The Iris Turcott Memorial Award for dramaturgy from York University. 

Matt McGeachy- Co-Dramaturg

Matt McGeachy is Company Dramaturge at Factory Theatre. Select recent theatre credits include: Forget Me Not (Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes/Luminato); Lucky (Next Stage Theatre Festival); traceLittle Pretty and The Exceptional, and acquiesce (Factory Theatre); and What Linda Said (SummerWorks). He has worked with theatre artists such as Carmen Aguirre, Rachel Blair, Yolanda Bonnell, Ronnie Burkett, Jeff Ho, Carson Kreitzer, Martyna Majok, Kat Sandler, Priscila Uppal, Colleen Wagner, and David Yee, among others, and has worked with such theatres as the Guthrie Theater, The Playwrights Center, and Workhaus Collective (Minneapolis, MN); Canadian Stage, York University, SummerWorks (Toronto); and from 2011-2014 was assistant director of the Kennedy Center’s New Play Dramaturgy Intensive under Mark Bly (Washington, D.C.). He has taught and led workshops on new play writing and dramaturgy at the University of Toronto, Humber College, Brock University, and Theatre Ontario. He is in the 2019 cohort of the Toronto Arts Council/Banff Centre Leaders Lab, and is a member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) and Treasurer of LMDA Canada. Matt received his MA in Theatre and Performance Studies from York University.

Richard Lee – Fight Director

Richard Lee is an award winning actor, fight director, sound designer and theatre producer. His work has garnered him multiple Dora Mavor Moore nominations out of which he has received three: One for his Sound Design work on paperSERIES (Cahoots Theatre Company) and Two in performance ; Sultans if the Street Cinderella: A Ratical Retelling (both for Young People’s Theatre). 

Other selected theatre include: The Humans(Citadel/Canadian Stage), Chimerica (co-production with RMTC), King LearTwelfth NightA Midsummer Nights Dream (Shakespeare in High Park 2017, 2017, 2012). Kim’s Convenience (Soulpepper), Acquiesce (Factory Theatre).

Designers

Mona Farahmand – Set Designer

Mona Farahmand is a graduate of the theatre production and design program at York University. She is a Persian- Canadian artist who is passionate about set design and the production aspect of shows. She wants to explore different modes of design and create worlds on stage. Mona is grateful for the opportunity of being the set designer for rochdale, and is eager to explore transforming her design to fit a festival setting. Her previous credits include: production manager for Dido, Queen of Carthage (Theatre@York) Assistant Wardrobe for Shakespeare in High Park (Canadian Stage), and Head of Props for A Dream Play (Theatre@York).

Tiana Kralj – Costume Designer

Tiana Kralj is a Mississauga based emerging theatre artist. She commits herself to continuously explore alternative ways to tell stories by layering physicality with visual design elements. Some recent credits include: set and costume designer for Catapulse Collective’s  Refractionin the Devised Theatre Festival (2019), costume designer for Theatre at York’s rochdale(2018)performer in Streetlight Collective’s You’ve Got to be Kidney Me!at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2018), costume designer for Vanier College Production’s 9 to 5 (2018), and wardrobe assistant for Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2018)and Romeo and Juliet (2018).

Johnathon North – Sound Designer

Johnathon North is the sound designer for rochdaleand has graduated from the Set and Costume Design program from York University. He was given the position of Sound Designer for rochdalein his final year and was incredibly happy to work on a show as amazing as this. Being raised on the music from the 60s by his parents he is happy to bring his love of that music to an audience and create a soundscape that will have people dancing in their seats during the show.

Ella Wieckowski – Lighting Designer

Ella Wieckowski is a Toronto based Lighting Designer. She most recently spent a month at The Banff Centre studying lighting design for opera under Chantal LaBonte. Most notably, she has worked as an Intern Assistant Lighting Designer for the Mirvish’s Come From Away, Assistant Lighting Designer for the Canadian Opera Company’s OtelloWOW Factor: a Cinderella Storyand La Bohéme,which she had the opportunity to design the lights for the Concert, and Lighting Designer for Inebriated, a show she helped bring to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. She is excited to start her Lighting Design career in Toronto and with so many female mentors supporting her.

Cast

Dean Bessey – Dennis

Dean R. Bessey is a Canadian-American raised in metro-Detroit. Dean has been an active member of the theatre community throughout his education across Michigan, New York, and Rhode Island. He will be graduating from the York University Acting Conservatory in 2019. Dean attended a Jesuit institution and believes only through education can we instil social change, which is why rochdale is so important to him. rochdale is an opportunity for cast, crew, and audience to look to the past to learn how to change our future.

Ori Black – Emmett

Ori Black – Emmett

Graduate of York University’s BFA Acting Conservatory in 2019, Ori Black is an actor, singer-songwriter, and playwright. Influenced by his Jewish and French-Canadian upbringing, Ori continuously searches to tell stories of solidarity and the feeling of togetherness, and looks to explore the connection between his own Jewish spirituality and the art that he creates. Ori is stoked to be revisiting the vibrant, eclectic entity that is rochdale.

Julia DeMola – Kitten

Julia DeMola has been soaring on a cloud of love for the blessings that the team and production of rochdale has brought to her life. Recently graduating from York University, earning a BFA and proudly attending her convocation ceremony this past June, rochdalehas been the ultimate cherry on top. It has been a dream to work with her classmates one last time, and to be able to call this her first professional theatre show thanks to the Summer Works Festival. Julia’s recent film credits include; CRUSHED- Rowan O’Brien, Valour- Noah Suarez and she also had the chance to step on set of the Handmaid’s Tale (3rd Season). From pitching the idea of a rochdaleremount to Nina after Rochdale’s closing show at York, to all this… it has truly been surreal. La Vita È Bella!

Sofia Gaspar – Flower

Sofia Gaspar is a Canadian actress born in Toronto, Canada coming from a Portuguese family. You may have caught her in York University’s theatrical productions of The Balcony by Jean Genet, David Yee’s carried away on the crest of a wave, The Birds by Erin Shields and more. Sofia also appears in; Dexta Daps latest music video, “Chandelier”, “American Gothic” playing young Sophie, “Miracles Decoded” as the Virgin Mary and more. Sofia’s training includes four years studying theatre and acting at York University’s acting conservatory program. Sofia would like to extend her love and thanks to friends and family for the constant support and love. She also extends her gratitude to all the teachers and mentors who have helped along the way including the director of Rochdale, Nina Lee Aquino and the playwright, David Yee. Sofia would like to dedicate her work to the memory of Carl Cachero, who she knows would be laughing in the front row. Enjoy the performance! #TIMESUP

Claudia Hamilton- Athena

Claudia Hamilton is a 23 year old Caribbean-Canadian born in Etobicoke, Toronto and soon to be graduate of York University’s BFA Acting Program. Growing up, in the Foster Care system Claudia found happiness and creativity in art forms such as writing, music, and community theatre. Claudia’s love for the arts evolved into deeper appreciation of storytelling and healing which is something she discovered throughout the process of bringing the story of rochdale to life. She hope to one day open an organization for young aspiring black artists, and unrepresented youth to express themselves freely.

Dustin Hickey – Friar

Dustin is an actor, singer, playwright and a queer identifying artist from Toronto. He is graduating from York University’s BFA Acting Conservatory in 2019. He is interested in exploring what it means to identify as being part of the LGBTQ2A community through storytelling/creating and developing his artistic voice, and supporting others, through that. rochdaleis special because it shows young people coming together from diverse backgrounds and trying to find their place in the world, something that is current and important to experience today. 

Leanne Hoffman – Whitman

Leanne is a graduate of York University’s BFA Acting Conservatory class of 2019. Originally from Medicine Hat, Alberta, she moved to Toronto in 2015 to pursue her passion of becoming a performance artist. Since moving, she’s been overwhelmed and inspired by the rich diversity and artistic scene Toronto has to offer, finding it to be a community of endless support and encouragement. Participating in rochdale has fleshed out her understanding of Toronto’s history of fostering creativity and new ideas, revealing colourful chapters of the city that otherwise would be left largely unexplored. 

Nelvin Law – Mao

Nelvin Law is a multilingual actor, born and raised in Hong Kong. Law studied at the Hong Kong 3 Arts Musical in Hong Kong and at the York University Acting Conservatory. Selected theatre credits include: I Love You (InspiraTO), Groovy (Hong Kong 3 Arts Musical), Once On This Island (Hong Kong 3 Arts Musical), Gypsy (Rainbow Youth Theatre),Thoroughly Modern Millie (CYMC) and 25th A.P.C Spelling Bee.  Selected TV credits include: Ha Ha Halton 2019 w/ Cogeco TV, Paranormal Symptoms(Muralidharan Chinniah), Fantuan Commercial and Inferno: Swaggerty & Millicent. Besides acting, Law is a hip hop dancer and a trained Taekwando martial artist. You can also catch him at Shakespeare in the Ruff as a Guerilla Ruff this summer!

Sabrina Marangoni – Skye

Sabrina is a graduate from York University’s BFA Acting Conservatory program. Passionate about shining a light on stories that are often overlooked, she believes that Rochdale is a unique and important part of Toronto’s history that many people are seldom aware of. She is excited to get the opportunity to bring these compelling stories of the counterculture to the forefront and share the wilderness of rochdale with the people of Toronto. 

Brandon Pereira – Naked Man / Harry / Fitch / Boris/Astronaut/Choreographer

As a queer and POC artist, and a graduate from York University’s Acting Conservatory, Brandon has hopes to work and create theatre that will allow other artists, like himself, a place in the industry. He is currently developing his own company that will work towards a site-specific adaptation of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. As part of the acting ensemble, he believes in rochdale as a way to bring important subject matter to the mainstream. Furthermore, that rochdale is a vessel to bring forth a new era of theatre creators that are diverse, young, and have a strong voice with something to say. 

Tomasz Pereira Nunes Tworkowski – Gerry

Tomasz Pereira-Nunes Tworkowski is a first generation Canadian, from a Polish-Brazilian family. Starting his theatre training at York University, he has had a range of experiences working in the different facets that encompasses the theatre, leading to him graduating in the Spring of 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Acting. He has had the pleasure of being an actor in rochdale previously as a part of the Theatre@York 2018-2019 Season and was incredibly honoured to be a part of the bespoke creation process catered by David Yee and Nina Lee Aquino. Working on rochdalehas been an enlightening experience in the telling of a piece of Toronto’s culture, and contemporary social subject matter that Tomasz has been grateful to explore and continue exploring.

Adrienne Ross Ramsingh – Cryer

Adrienne is a queer, mixed-race artist and activist from Toronto. She is a soon-to-be graduate of York University’s BFA Acting Conservatory in 2019. As an activist, she believes strongly in creating theatre that is politically charged and incites opportunities for dialogue and exploration. Adrienne is excited to be entering an industry that recognizes the importance of telling stories from unique, and often underrepresented, perspectives. She has had the incredible experience of working on rochdale, a show that both explores the human condition and is so relevant to our current political climate, with a talented group of emerging theatre artists.

Carina Salajan – Shabby

Carina Salajan is a Romanian-Canadian actor and dancer based in Toronto. She is interested in creating work and telling stories that are influential to the political climate of today and ensuring that the audience leaves a performance with an open-heart and inspiring questions. rochdale is a piece that is not only well written with fast-paced comedic content, but is relatable to a wide variety of age ranges. rochdale opens up conversation regarding the way race, gender and class are institutionally oppressed. Growing up, Carina did not see her culture represented in the media in a positive light and she hopes that in her start to the theatre world she can change that through her work.

Margarita Valderrama-Suzy

I’m Margarita Valderrama! I’m a Colombian-Canadian actor and writer. More backstory: I was born in Buenos Aires, raised in Bogotá and Mexico City, and have called Toronto home for over a decade. My love of storytelling takes form in theatre, film/TV, and voice-over for animation (most notably as Lia Venegas on Bakugan: Battle Planet). I’ve had the pleasure of working with companies like Aluna Theatre, Studio 180 and Tarragon Theatre on new play development, and I’m grateful to have been nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Ensemble in Meet Cute (Roseneath Theatre). I’m thrilled to join the rochdale family as Suzy! Thank you to this cast and team for welcoming me with open arms and thank you to David Yee for writing a character tailor-made for me! Lastly, you should also go to Worry Warts at SummerWorks – but I’m biased since I’m in it.

Crew

Adam Breen – Co-Technical Director

Adam is thrilled to be a Co-Technical Director for rochdale. He studied theatre production at York University, and is currently attending Dalhousie University for Architecture. Adam’s prior Theatre at York credits include Assistant Technical Director for Postnational, and Head Electrician for Dido, Queen of Carthage, as well as being the Technical Director for the original production of rochdale. Adam is very grateful to be a part of the rochdale team, and for the opportunity to mount rochdale at Summerworks 2019.

Julia Carrano – Co-Production Manager

Julia is entering her fourth-year at York University for Theatre Production and Design.  She is incredibly happy to be joining the rochdale journey as Co-Production Manager and is privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing company!Her recent credits include: Assistant Production Coordinator at Harbourfront Centre, Production Manager for Orlando (Theatre@York), Stage Manager for International Showplace Theatre and Festivals (Canada’s Wonderland), Sound Designer for Brain Storm (Toronto Fringe)Julia would like to thank the fellow members of the management team for their commitment and hard-work, the creative team for their artistry and guidance, and Julian, Nina, and David for bringing her on this wonderful journey! Congratulations to the entire company! 

Julian Iacob – Production Manager

Julian is going into his final year in the Theatre Program at York University focusing his studies in the Production & Design stream. He is committed to developing work that is performed through a queer lens, and bringing this forward to the Toronto community. Credits include Production Manager rochdale Theatre @ York, Stage Manager Brainstorm (Toronto Fringe)Lighting Designer for Refraction (Devised Theatre Festival). Upcoming credits include: Assistant Lighting Designer for Jerusalem Swings (Mirvish Productions), and Lighting Designer for Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet (Theatre @ York). He would like to thank Nina and David for bringing the world of rochdale into this life & to Julia Carrano for putting up with him through all of life’s endeavours. 

Ellie Koffman- Head of Wardrobe

Ellie is entering her last year at York University where she is studying theatre production and design with a focus on costuming. She is delighted to be back working as the Head of Wardrobe for rochdale. Her past credits include Assistant Wardrobe for Postnational, Head Dresser for Dido, Queen of Carthage and Assistant Wardrobe for Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park’s productions of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She is looking forward to costume designing Theatre@York’s production of Elizabeth Rex in the spring.

Caitlin Mears – Stage Manager

Caitlin Mears is a recent graduate of York University’s BFA Theatre Production program, and is overjoyed to be continuing her role as Stage Manager of rochdale. Caitlin has always loved theatre for its collaborative nature and its power of storytelling, and she hopes to continue spreading stories like this one within the larger Toronto theatre community. Selected credits include: Stage Manager- Mad Girl’s Love Song(YES Fest), Refraction(Devised Theatre Festival 2019), rochdale(Theatre@York); Apprentice Stage Manager- August: Osage County(Soulpepper); Apprentice Production Manager- Twelfth Night(a Company of Fools). Caitlin would like to give a special thank you to Nina and David, as well as the entire cast and crew of rochdale for all their hard work and support throughout this process.

Jayna Mees – Co-Producer/Marketing Officer

Jayna Mees is an emerging playwright, deviser, and director, who is thrilled to be joining the rochdale team. In the fall, Jayna will be entering her fourth year of theatre studies at York University where she is specializing in Devised Theatre and Playwriting. Some recent credits include: production manager (The Flashback Festival at York University) and assistant director for Noise by Maria Milisavljevic (directed by Lindsay Bell and Margaret Legere at York University). Future credits include: assistant director for Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie MacDonald (directed by Jennifer Tarver at York University). 

Michael Reynolds- Co-Technical Director

Michael Reynolds is a third Year theatre production student at York University. Michael is very excited to be Co-Technical Director of rochdale. He wants to thank Julian for giving him this opportunity and Adam for helping him and being a great Co-Technical Director

Marlis Schweitzer – Co-Producer 

Marlis Schweitzer is Chair of the Department of Theatre at York University and Editor of Theatre Survey. With Laura Levin, she is co-editor of Performance Studies in Canada (McGill Queen’s University Press). Marlis is thrilled to support rochdale’s return to the stage at SummerWorks. 

Mentors

Jasmine Knox – PM Mentor

Jasmine is a graduate of York University with a BFA in Theatre Production. She has held positions internationally, including as Assistant Technical Director for Scenofest for the 2011 Prague Quadrennial and as Assistant Production Manager at Canadian Stage. She is currently going into her 5th season as Production Manager at Factory Theatre, lives with her partner (along with her cat, Theo) in Toronto, and has a collection of board games that rivals Snakes and Lattes

Lauren Naus – Marketing Mentor

Lauren Naus is a Graduate of Queens University with a Double Major in Drama and English Literature. She spent four years as Marketing Specialist for the University of Toronto Press and is going into her third season at Factory Theatre as their Marketing Officer. She currently lives in Brampton with her family (including her 2 fur babies, Leo and Myrtle) and is humbled and excited to be a mentor on this production.

Michelle Ramsay – Lighting Mentor

Michelle was a graduate of the York Theatre Program and is pleased to be able to mentor the future generation of theatre practitioners. Recent Designs: The Russian Play (Shaw Festival); Through the Bamboo (Uwi Collective/Fringe Festival); Under the Stairs (YPT); School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian/Nightwood); The Royale (Soulpepper); To Kill A Mockingbird (Stratford Festival); Daughter (Quiptake/Pandemic). She has received eight Dora Awards, a SATAward, a Harold Award and the 2008 Pauline McGibbon award. She is currently on the board of the Associated Designers of Canada.

Deb Sinha – Sound Mentor

A stalwart and consistent presence in the Canadian sound world, Debashis Sinha has realized projects in in radiophonic art, sound art, theatre, dance, and music across Canada and internationally. A winner of 2 Dora Awards for Best Original Sound Design, his credits include productions with: The Stratford Festival, Soulpepper Theatre, The Shaw Festival, Why Not Theatre, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, The Theatre Centre, Nightwood Theatre, YPT, Theatre Passe Muraille, Project Humanity, Volcano Theatre and Necessary Angel, among others. His live sound practice on the concert stage has led to appearances at sound art and electronic music festivals around the world.