Theatre Committee

Michael Sinclair, Chair is the General Manager of Obsidian Theatre Company Inc., Canada’s largest culturally specific theatre company.  Prior to assuming the position at Obsidian, he was very active in the theatre community, being a professional stage manager for over 20 years, a job which took him across the country from PEI to Vancouver and internationally to Barbados.  In that time, he worked in commercial, festival, large regional and local theatres, and touring internationally, nationally, regionally and schools but working mainly in the Toronto area.  A graduate from Concordia University majoring in Accounting, Michael worked for a Chartered Accounting firm before branching out into the theatre business, but always had a love for the theatre as he was involved in community theatre while still pursuing his accounting career.  He is on the board of Stage Managing the Arts (SMArts), and a member of Canadian Actors Equity Association (CAEA), Stage Management Committee.

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. Recent projects include: Festival Producer for Aluna Theatre’s CAMINOS and RUTAS festivals, Progress (SummerWorks / The Theatre Centre), and Weesageechak Begins to Dance (Native Earth), as well as collaborations with Modern Times Stage Company, Chocolate Woman Collective, Selfconscious, and others. Sue was the 2018 recipient of The Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Leadership in Administration, and is an Adaptive Change Facilitator for the Metcalf Foundation / EmcArts’ 2018 cohort of the Staging Change program.

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.

Margaret Evans is an actor and theatre producer. Past stage credits include the Dora nominated The Tin Drum: an original adaptation of the novel by Günter Grass (UnSpun), Mockingbird by Rob Kempson (Next Stage) and Jesus Chrysler by Tara Began (Praxis Theatre). She has produced for Hatch: Emerging Performance Projects, Praxis Theatre and has been the Associate Producer at Crow’s Theatre since 2015. She is a graduate of the University of King's College and the Actors Studio Drama School (NYC).

Owais Lightwala is an arts leader and creative producer. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Performance, Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University, where his teaching and research focused on creative producing and arts management. Prior to that, he spent 8 years as the Managing Director for Why Not Theatre, external link, where he produced sold-out runs of award-winning new works, national and international tours, presentations from around the world, and co-helmed the creation of innovative new producing models like the RISER Project, external link. He advises many arts organizations (including theatre and dance companies, music presenters, film festivals and more) as a strategic consultant, particularly on finding better ways of doing things, changing who’s on stage and in the audience, and anything to do with numbers.  He also dabbles in theatre making as an artist, and is a prolific web and graphic designer. A lifelong learner, he was selected for the Impact Program for Arts Leaders (Stanford Graduate School of Business), has completed the CORe program (Harvard Business School), was a 2018 DiverseCity Fellow (CivicAction), a fellow in the 2018 Leaders Lab (Toronto Arts Council/Banff Centre), is a graduate of York University’s Theatre program, and currently pursuing his MBA at Ryerson University.

Trevor Schwellnus is a Toronto-based Scenographer – designing sets, lighting, and video for performance with independent artists. He has developed his approach to direction and dramaturgy through Collaborative creation in a designed environment at Aluna, leading the creation of Nohayquiensepa (Nooneknows) and What I learned from a decade of fear. His design work for Aluna’s La Comunión, Madre, and For Sale launched him on his artistic path. He is currently developing a focus on the integration of artistic disciplines and intercultural practices with a language-based focus. In 2015 he was shortlisted for Canada’s Siminovich Award. Trevor has collaborated in theatre and dance with Modern Times, Jumblies, Fixtpoint, Alameda, Cahoots, Liza Balkan, Buddies in Bad Times, Independent Aunties, Obsidian, Tarragon, Small Wooden Shoe, One Reed, Marie-Josée Chartier, Ame Henderson’s Public Recordings, selfconscious Theatre, Susie Burpee, Sasha Ivanochko, Theatre Passe Muraille, and others. He has 5 Doras (of 14 career nominations), a Harold, and a Children’s Choice 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.