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


Emerging Creators Unit at Rhubarb

Our 2017 Emerging Creators Unit will be showcasing their work as part of The 38th Rhubarb Festival in February.

February 17 + 18 // Bilal Baig + Francois Macdonald
February 24 +25 // Teiya Kesahara + Sofia Rodriguez

Shows start at 6pm and tickets are pay-what-you-can. For more info about the Emerging Creators Unit presentations, click here to visit the Rhubarb Festival website.

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. Emerging Creators Unit participants are expected to devote a significant amount of time outside of weekly meetings to writing, research and preparation for their project; they must also be available for additional rehearsals to be scheduled in January and February leading up to performance.

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.

What’s Involved?

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.

2016-17 Participants

 bilal_ Bilal Baig is a Toronto-based playwright, actor, devised theatre creator and producer. He is an OAC Playwright-in-Residence at Theatre Passe Muraille currently developing three plays: Acha Bacha, Plum BOMB and Khwaja Sera. His first play, Acha Bacha, will receive a week-long workshop as part of the BUZZ Festival in December 2016 with the support of TPM and the Wuchien Michael Than fund. His original work has been featured at the Paprika Festival for the last four years. This past summer, he produced the play My Nightmares Wear White at the 2016 SummerWorks Performance Festival. As an actor, he is currently working with the Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare Collective in their Shakespeare-in-Hospitals program and performing in Keffiyeh/Made in China with Afsah Theatre. Bilal is also part of a collective that has created an online space for queer+trans south asians called acolourdeep.ca.

teiya_Teiya Kasahara is a multi-disciplinary artist, primarily interpreting opera across Canada and Europe. She has been praised as a “magnetic performer” singing with “a dynamic mix of sweetness undercut by strength” (Opera Canada) for her portrayal of Solana in Canada’s first lesbian opera When the Sun Comes Out, and also as Queen of the Night/Magic Flute for being “impeccable” and “effortless” (reviewVancouver). Recently she played Fata Morgana in the premiere of The Love of Three Oranges in Essen, Germany. In Toronto she has performed with the COC, National Ballet, Tapestry Opera, Soulpepper, Against the Grain Theatre, Confidential Opera Project, and Opera 5. Teiya is recently discovering her desire for creation and writing with hopes to revolutionize the operatic genre. She is also the founder of The Vocal Dōjō, producer/director of the web series Lesbo Miserables, and actor in the acclaimed YouTube series Opera Cheats. Currently she is an artistic intern for Theatre Gargantua. She is a graduate of the COC Ensemble Studio and UBC. Follow her @teiyakasahara and read more at www.teiyakasahara.com.

francois_François Macdonald is a Dora-nominated actor hailing from Montréal. He is thrilled and grateful to be part of the 2016/17 Emerging Creators Unit for his first foray into playwriting. His recent acting credits include: ‘Til Death (Filament Incubator); Tire Swing (Epigraph/Filament Incubator); a workshop of Rope Running Out (Cahoots Theatre); Rowing (Toronto Fringe); The Tempest (Ravenous Theatre); He Said It (HATCH/Harbourfront Centre); Les Zinspirés Puissance Quatre (Théâtre français de Toronto – Dora nomination, Outstanding Individual Performance); Romeo & Juliet (Old Flame Brewing); and The 10/10/10 Project (Toronto Fringe). He will next be seen in Our Town (Buddies in Bad Times/Rusticle) and on the small screen in Canada: The Story of Us (CBC). François is a graduate of George Brown Theatre School and also holds an M.A. in Art History from McGill University.

sofiaSofia Rodriguez was born and raised in the ‘City of Mountains’: Monterrey, Mexico. She is an emerging multidisciplinary artist, creator and collaborator currently based in Toronto. A graduate of Randolph Academy’s Musical Theatre Performance Program, her recent work include a reading of The Refugee Hotel with Aluna Theatre, a collaboration with VSVSVS at their recent exhibition in the Katzmann Contemporary and the production of Ragtime” the musical with Wavestage Theare. Currently involved as a performer and collaborator in the devised theatre piece Suitcases running November 1st-6th at the Artscape Sandbox. She is absolutely thrilled and immensely grateful to be able to work and learn with and from this incredible group of artists as part of the Emerging Creators Unit.

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 story 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.

Past Participants

2016 // Marina Moreira, Joshua Middleton, Chase Lo, Monica Garrido
// 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

Education Partner:
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