Theatre Committee

Soheil Parsa, Chair is an award-winning director, writer, actor, dramaturg, choreographer and teacher, whose professional theatre career spans thirty-two years and two continents. In his native Iran, Soheil completed studies in Theatre Performance at the University of Tehran and began a promising career as an actor and director. Arriving in Canada with his family in 1984, Soheil completed a second Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies at York University and then went on to establish Modern Times Stage Company, one of the most innovating theatre companies in Canada.  In 1995 Soheil received a New Pioneers Award by Skills for Change for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by a recent immigrant to Canada. Soheil Parsa is a co-founder of Modern Times Stage Company. His artistic direction at Modern Times has been recognized with five Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Chalmers Fellowship in 2002, a senior artist creation grant from the Canada Council, as well as a number of international prizes and master class requests. In 2007 and 2010, he was short-listed for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Celebrating Directors, the highest honour in Canadian theatre. Most recently, Soheil has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution as a theatre artist to Canadian society. 

Sue Balint is a longstanding member of the Toronto arts community, having been active at various stages of her career as a playwright, dramaturge, theatre maker and, for over the past decade, as a producer and arts manager. Sue was the 2018 recipient of The Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Leadership in Administration, and is an Associate Facilitator for the Metcalf Foundation / EmcArts’ 2018 cohort of the Staging Change program.  Recent projects include: four years as festival producer for Aluna Theatre’s CAMINOS and RUTAS festivals, four years as festival producer for Progress (SummerWorks / The Theatre Centre), producer for Side Show Freaks & Circus Injuns (Chocolate Woman Collective), We Keep Coming Back (Selfconscious), and Counting Sheep (Toronto / Edinburgh Fringe Festival).

Yolanda Bonnell is a Bisexual/Pansexual/Queer emerging performer and playwright of Anishinaabe/Ojibwe and South Asian descent, hailing from the Fort William First Nation Indian Reserve in Thunder Bay, ON. She is a graduate of Humber College’s Theatre Performance program where she was the recipient of the Board of Governor’s Achievement Award.  Her one woman physical theatre show bug*, directed by Cole Alvis, premiered at Native Earth’s Weesageechak Begins to Dance in 2015 and at the 37th annual Rhubarb Festival in 2016 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.  It also appeared as a one off in Summerworks 2016 as part of a workshop residency and is set for a Toronto premier at the Luminato Festival in 2018 followed by a tour.  Yolanda's breakout role was as Theresa in The Crackwalker at Factory Theatre, directed by Judith Thompson.  She then went on to appear in Falen Johnson's Two Indians at Summerworks and was named one of NOW Magazine's most exciting artists to watch in Summerworks. Yolanda was also a part of The Foundry, a creator’s unit at Factory Theatre as part of Factory Wired, where her first full length play, Scanner** was workshopped, under the direction of Jasmine Chen.  Scanner went on to be workshopped at Humber College as part of The Other Side Project, under the direction of Marie Beath Badian and will continue a workshop with Factory Theatre as part of Factory's Deep Development with Matt McGeachy as dramaturg.Yolanda was also a part of the Animikiig Creator's Unit at Native Earth Performing Arts where her new play, White Girls in Moccasins*** was being developed with dramaturgy by Clare Preuss. In the fall of 2016, Yolanda was invited, as a performer to Stratford, to be a part of the Stratford Indigenous Director's Initiative where she had the opportunity to work with Muriel Miguel, Yvette Nolan, Jill Carter, Santee Smith and other prominent Indigenous theatre makers.   After completing a season at Stratford in 2017, she went on to appear in Cake by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard at Theatre Passe Muraille and bug at the Luminato Festival, after her tour of the unceded Coast Salish territories.

Mel Hague is a Toronto based dramaturge and curator and is a proud Queer woman of Jamaican-Canadian heritage. Mel is the Rhubarb Festival Director and Company Dramaturge at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, and the Artist Development Coordinator and Company Dramaturge at Obsidian Theatre Company. Previously, Mel has worked with Factory Theatre, Banff Centre Playwrights Colony, bcurrent performing arts, fu-Gen Asian Canadian Theatre, Eastern Front Theatre, Queer Acts Festival, The Paprika Festival, and Mulgrave Road Theatre. Mel was invited as a Guest Panelist and Workshop Leader at the National Theatre School of Canada’s From Where I Stand: Canadian Theatre in Context Conference. Other theatre credits include Litmus Theatre’s Birth of Frankenstein (Dora Nomination – Outstanding New Play Independent Category). Mel wrote the Play Notes included in the Playwrights Canada Press Edition of Shakespeare’s Nigga by Joseph Jomo Pierre. Recent dramaturgy work includes Venus’ Daughter by Meghan Swaby (Obsidian Theatre Company, February 2016) and Up the Garden Path by Lisa Codrington (Obsidian Theatre Company, April 2016). Mel has an MFA in Theatre from York University.

Indrit Kasapi has worked as an actor, director, producer, writer, choreographer and dancer.  Indrit is a core member of the award winning CORPUS Dance Projects. He is the Artistic Producer for lemonTree creations and Associate Producer for Cahoots Theatre. With lemonTree creations Indrit helmed the development and production of a brand new creation; Body Politic by Nick Green, currently slated for production as part of the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre 2015/2016 Season. Indrit also launched the lemonTree {studio} in 2012, a rehearsal space in downtown Toronto that serves as a creative hub for the independent theatre community with various programs in place, including the RESIDENCY PROGRAM. Upcoming: Flock of Flyers with CORPUS (Tour to San Diego, Japan, South Korea) and developing a brand new piece with Japanese Artist and Dora Nominated Takako Segawa. Indrit is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada.

Michelle Ramsay is a lighting designer for dance and theatre based in Toronto. Lighting designs include: Sister Mary is a Dyke?!, Sia, paper SERIES and Bhopal (Cahoots Theatre) Dinner at 7:30 (Theatre Rusticle); Arcadia (Shaw Festival); Night of the Living Dead Live (Nictophobia Films); carried away on the crest of a wave (Tarragon Theatre); Half Life Motel (Blue Ceiling Dance); Ching Chong Chinaman (fu-GEN); Sanctuary Song (Theatre Direct); Cafe Daughter (Gwaandak Theatre); Memorial (Next Step Productions); The Hours that Remain (New Harlem); The Lesson (Modern Times); Obaaberima(Buddies in Bad Times Theatre). She has received four Dora Awards and the 2008 Pauline McGibbon award.

Isaac Thomas is the Managing Director  of Native Earth Performing Arts. He joined the company in 2012 after helming the drama school at Young People’s Theatre. In the past he was the General Manager of Theatre Kingston and managed the Baby Grand Studio.Isaac has 10 years of stage management experience with a variety of theatre companies including Canadian Stage, Young People’s Theatre, Turtle Gals, fu-GEN, Cahoots Theatre, Modern Times and Theatre Direct. He has been an occasional performer, acting instructor, as well as dramaturg/director of new work, amongst others, Keith Barker’s award winning The Hours That Remain, and Donna-Michelle St Bernard’s The First Stone. Isaac holds an MFA in Acting (Ohio University), an MA in English Literature (Delhi University) and a B.Ed Inner City option (OISE/University of Toronto).Isaac’s involvement with Native Earth began as a stage manager for Weesageechak many years ago. He stage managed for Native Earth including Death of a Chief workshops, and the international tour of Yvette Nolan’s Annie Mae’s Movement to Australia and New Zealand. He has performed in and been a dramaturg/director at earlier Weesageechak festivals. Isaac currently sits on the board of Cahoots Theatre, and chairs Theatre Ontario’s Youth Theatre Training Program (YTTP). He has previously sat on the advisory committee of New Harlem Productions, and chaired the board of the Toronto Association of Acting Studios.