Emerging Creators Unit
“I knew coming in that I had a lot to learn about the creative process, about my own writing, and how to breath energy into its performance. I can honestly say that learned much more about the above in the YCU than I did in my four years at theatre school.”
-Michael David Lorsch, Young Creators Unit 2012
2018 Emerging Creators Unit
Rhiannon Collett is a queer-identified playwright and performer whose work focuses on themes of misogyny, sexuality and ritual. Her first play, Miranda & Dave Begin Again, won the 2016 Playwrights Guild of Canada RBC Emerging Playwright Award. Selected playwriting credits include Wasp (commissioned by Nightswimming), The Kissing Game (in development with Youtheatre), Dream Dictionary Dead Boyfriend (commissioned by Driftwood Theatre as a part of Trafalgar 24 ) and most recently, Tragic Queens (produced and devised with CABAL Theatre) and The Revolutions (produced and commissioned by SpiderWebShow). Rhiannon lives in Montreal on the traditional, unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka people.
Erum Khan is a 23-year-old film and theatre-maker from Mississauga, Ontario. She was an original collaborator for Concord Floral (Brubacher/Spooner/Tannahill) having performed in its earliest workshop in 2012 and originated the role of Nearly Wild in the world premiere at The Theatre Centre in 2014. Since then, Erum transitioned from role of performer to Assistant Director for the 2016 presentation of Concord Floral at Canadian Stage as well as the 2017 presentation at the PuSh International Performance Festival in Vancouver. Her first documentary film, Banjaare ka ghar (A Nomad’s Home), premiered at the 2016 Toronto Independent Film Festival. She is currently the Festival Programming Intern for the Toronto International Film Festival. Her first play, Noor will be presented in 2018, including a special presentation at Rhubarb this coming February.
Kwaku Okyere is a Ghanaian actor, writer, and dancer born and raised in Brampton, Ontario, and is a recent graduate from Humber’s Theatre Performance program. Selected credits include: Tideline (Canadian Rep/Hart House), Death and the King’s Horseman (Cardinal Direction Workshop Series), and The Clowns (Humber Theatre). Kwaku is currently reprising his role as Queer Black Civil Rights activist Bayard Rustin in Steven Elliot Jackson’s award-winning play The Seat Next to the King, for which he was named an Outstanding Performer in NOW Magazine as part of the 2017 Toronto Fringe. The show will run at the Theatre Centre Mainspace from September 17th – October 1st.
Heath V. Salazar is a Dora Award-winning trans latinx actor/singer/dancer/writer who performs as male, female and gender variant. Since completing a residency in Spoken Word at the Banff Centre for the Arts this past Spring, they’ve since wrapped shooting Language, the multilingual film adaption of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Shortly after, they performed in the devised theatre piece NASTY as a part of the Toronto Fringe Festival which received Patron’s Pick, followed by We Are Not The Others in Hamilton Fringe which was awarded the Critic’s Choice Award. Most recently, they were a part of Territorial Tales with Canadian Stage.
What is the Emerging Creators Unit?
The Emerging Creators Unit offers an intensive opportunity to develop your artistic voice through the creation and performance of your own 25-minute show at Buddies. Artists who receive training are paired with either a professional director or actors in preparation for a presentation of their work at the annual Rhubarb Festival.
The Emerging Creators Unit is an artist-driven, mentor-supported creative model; we look for strongly motivated emerging queer or trans artists who have an ability to work independently, are interested in creating original, text-driven, theatrical work and are ready to take their practice to the next level. The Emerging Creators Unit supports a wide definition of “performance”, and is open to a wide variety of themes, form or content. Proposed projects could be autobiographically or community inspired or entirely fictional, use conventional or unconventional theatrical forms, and could include a strong physicality although should also have a text base.
Application to the program is open to queer-identified, emerging artists, age 30 and under with less than three years of professional theatre practice. Selected participants meet weekly as a group with Emerging Creators Unit director Sunny Drake and Buddies dramaturge Mel Hague (Monday afternoons, October to February) and are guided through a unique creative process that takes their project from idea to a performance-ready draft.
Individual creators who will also perform their own work will be paired with a professional director to stage the work for presentation; individual creators who will direct their work will be supported to engage professional or suitable actors; collaborative creations may include a director in their creative team, or be matched with a professional director.
Applications are due annually in the fall and are reviewed by a jury. Short-listed applicants are invited to an audition/interview where they perform a short selection of their own work and discuss their project proposal in greater depth.
Program Director // Sunny Drake
Sunny Drake is a writer, actor, director and independent theatre producer. He has toured his theatre works to over 50 cities across Canada, Australia, the USA and Europe. His play “No Strings (Attached)” has been translated into 3 languages and is part of the upcoming Buddies in Bad Times Theatre main season. For “X”, he won the 2013 SummerWorks RBC Arts Professional Award, as well as being named by NOW Magazine for “Outstanding Performance” and “Outstanding Design”. Sunny is also the author of a blog, sunnydrake.com, which uses personal stories to explore queer and trans* politics, with over 70,000 readers in the past year. Sunny was born in Australia on Indigenous Jagerra-Turrabul land and has been a permanent resident of Canada for almost five years.
2017 // Bilal Baig, Teiya Kasahara, François Macdonald, Sofia Rodriguez
2016// Marina Moreira, Joshua Middleton, Chase Lo, Monica Garrido
2015 // kumari giles, Faith-Ann Mendes, Andre Prefontaine, Brian Postalian
2014 // Jackie Rowland, Ramon Vitung, Rory Jade Grey
2013 // Sina Gilani, Shaista Latif, Aemilius (Milo) Ramirez, Katie Sly
2012 // Jamie Ebbs, Daniel Jelani Ellis, Michael David Lorsch, cassy walker
2011 // Meg Gennings, Olive-or-Oliver, Andrew Robinson, Evan Vipond
2010 // Tyson James, Flerida Pena, Zita Nyaraty, Jonathan Schuster
2009 // Cole J. Alvis, Kim Crosby, Tawiah M’carthy, Rob Salerno
2008 // Jessica Michael Reynolds, Mark Shyzer, Alisha Stranges, Jordan Tannahill
2007 // Andrew Bathory, Shannon Curry, Waawaate Fobister, Dawn Nearing, Jay Stewart
Queer Youth Arts Program Supporters
TD Bank Group
Additional Program Support:
The NigE Gough Shine On Foundation at the Toronto Community Foundation
The Mukti Fund
The JP Bickell Foundation
photo of the 2017 Emerging Creators Unit by Greg Wong