TORONTO, ONTARIO: Why Not Theatre has announced the launch of ThisGen 2020 Fellowship, a national leadership program to support exceptional female-identifying BIPOC (Black Indigenous Person of Color) theatre artists advancing to the next level of their career. Selected fellows will be paired with both a national and an international mentor for support, plus skills-building and networking opportunities. The fellowship is made possible by the Government of Canada.
The inaugural cohort of fellows was selected from across Canada. The seven ThisGen 2020 Fellows include Intisar Awisse, dramaturgy (Waterloo, Ont.); Tai A Grauman, writing (Edmonton, Alta.); Bianca Guimarães de Manuel, set design (Calgary, Alta.); Crystal Lee, production management (Toronto, Ont.); Nikki Shaffeeullah, directing (Toronto, Ont.); and Olivia Shortt, sound design (Toronto, Ont.); Echo Zhou, set design (Toronto, Ont.).
“COVID-19 has brought to light many inequities in the theatre sector and the wider world,” said a statement from Why Not. “By using this period of theatre closures to address systemic barriers to access, Why Not is actively working to shape what theatre will look like when it returns, equipping a new group of artists with the tools to be leaders in their fields. In building relationships with diverse artists and engaging in complex conversations around art and the industry, ThisGen 2020 Fellowship is reimagining the future of leadership across disciplines in Canadian theatre.”
The fellowship activity will be rolled out in two phases for the 2020 cohort because of the pandemic. The virtual Phase One will take place between May and September 2020. During this time, participants will meet online with mentors to complete a virtual curriculum driven by the fellows and co-curated by their mentors and Why Not. Fellows will participate in peer-to-peer discussions and master classes, and also receive a budget for self-directed online learning (e-courses, virtual conferences, etc.). Phase Two, which is aimed at in-person mentorship, will be reevaluated in September 2020.
The group of mentors for Phase One include Amrita Ramanan, Julie Fox, Elisheba Ittoop, Mimi Lien, Lisa Fa’alafi, Kirsty Housley, and Peter Lyne. Masterclasses will be taught by Kirsty Housely, Camellia Koo, and Latiana Gourzong.