WeeFestival Conference       2018 dates to come!


Charting New Territory – Bios

Keynote|Lise Hovik, Queen Maud University (Norway)
Lise Hovik (f. 1962) is associate professor in drama and theatre at Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education, Trondheim, Norway. She holds a PhD in theatre for early years, and has written several articles on the topic. She is artistic director of Teater Fot (www.teaterfot.no), a small company which has produced performances for children since 2004. In her artistic and academic works she is concerned with the relation between artistic process, methodological reflection, and theory. She has developed the artistic research project SceSam-interactivity in performing arts for children (2012-15) together with Lisa Nagel (project manager) and Faith Guss (research mentor). Lise Hovik has led the artistic research program and is currently writing a book about the project.

Keynote|Dr. Ben Fletcher-Watson, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Dr. Ben Fletcher-Watson holds a PhD in drama from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the University of St. Andrews, supported by an ESRC CASE Studentship. His research examines contemporary Scottish practice in theatre for early years, and the linkages between performance, education, and technology. He has published articles in journals including Youth Theatre Journal and Research in Drama Education. He serves on the Executive of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) and is an ASSITEJ Next Generation Artist.

Moderator|Heather Fitzsimmons Frey
Heather Fitzsimmons Frey holds a recent PhD from the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.  She conducts research related to young people and performance in contemporary and historical perspectives, and has had the privilege to write about and publish work on numerous Theatre Direct shows including And by the Way, Miss…, Beneath the Banyan Tree, Binti’s Journey, Flying Hearts, and Sanctuary Song.  Her writing about these projects can be found in book chapters, in Canadian Theatre Review, Youth Theatre Journal, and in her new book, Ignite (2016, Playwrights Canada Press).  She organized the inaugural WeeFestival Charting New Territory Symposium as well.

Dr. Sean Hutchins, Royal Conservatory of Music
Dr. Sean Hutchins is a neuroscientist and the Director of Research at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He received his PhD from McGill University, studying music and the mind. His current work examines the role of musical training and experience on cognitive and linguistic abilities.

Maja Ardal, Theatre Artist
Maja has been working in theatre for 46 years as an actor, director, playwright, theatre trainer, and producer. She is a multiple Dora Award nominee, and is the 2002 recipient of the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in the Theatre. She received the 2009 Dora Award for her performance of her play, You Fancy Yourself. During the 1990s she was Artistic Director of Young People’s Theatre Toronto. In the 2015-2016 season she researched and created One Thing Leads to Another, Theatre for Babies at Young People’s Theatre, which will be remounted in October 2016. She is currently the artistic director of Contrary Company, which workshops and produces plays by women and is the Artist in Residence at the Gravenhurst Women’s Centre, developing a story project with women of the community.

Michelle Silagy,
 Contemporary Dance Artist and Educator
Contemporary Dance Artist and Educator MICHELLE SILAGY’s choreography has been presented in Montreal, Amsterdam, the Arctic Circle and in Toronto. She directs the Young Dancers’ Program at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre where she teaches an integrated class for children with multi-exceptionalities. Silagy is a DanceAbility Master Teacher. She received her training DanceAbility training from Alito Alessi in Vienna, Mexico City and Montevideo, Uruguay. She newly completed her MFA thesis at York University titled Choreographic Play: Investigating Dynamic Choreographic Engagement with All Bodies.

Danielle DiCarlo
Danielle DiCarlo is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto working with Dr. Caroline Fusco.  Her research interests focus on the critical study of sport and physical activity at the intersection of education, health and the (moving) body.

Paloma Holmes
Paloma Holmes is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto. Her research has been centred around questions of pleasure in disciplinary practices, ethnographic sensory-based research methods, the negotiation of informal ethics within precarious and playful contexts, and the ways social bonds and intimacies are nurtured through voluntary risk-oriented activities. Having completed a two-year ethnography in Montreal, QC on circus arts, performance, and social bonding, she is currently writing her dissertation. Broadly, her research interests include social studies of the body/embodiment, play, performance, risk, affect, and aesthetics.

Roundtable Participants

Lee Maracle,  Artist 
Ms. Maracle is the author of a number of critically acclaimed literary works including: and is the co-editor of a number of anthologies including the award winning publication, My Home As I Remember.  Ms. Maracle is a member of the Sto: Loh nation.  In 2009, Maracle received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St.  Thomas University.  Maracle recently received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the premier’s award for excellence in the arts.  Her latest works are: Celia’s song [novel, Memory Serves and other Words [creative non-fiction] and Talking to the Diaspora.

Sharon Murphy, York University
Sharon Murphy is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University. For over 25 years she has taught graduate courses exploring the relationship between play, language, and literacy, and guided masters and doctoral students interested in the role of play in education. Her current research is focused on the literacy experiences of teen mothers and their children. Her websites are changingliteracy.com and 301voices.com.

Dr. Peter Cumming, York University Children’s Studies Department
(The Children’s Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program in the Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, at York University).
Peter Cumming has been an actor and director in theatre for young audiences, children’s author and playwright, educator in Inuit communities, and professor of children’s literature. He is Co-Convenor of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature’s 2017 Congress, “Possible & Impossible Children: Intersections of Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies” at York University, Toronto, Canada.

Belarie Zatzman, Associate Professor, Theatre, York University
Zatzman’s research focuses on Drama Education; Theatre for Young Audiences; and Holocaust Education through the Fine Arts.  Selected publications: “Difficult Knowledge in Theatre for Young Audiences: Remembering and Representing the Holocaust” in Theatre and Learning (2015); “The Poetry of Terezin” in Voices into Action (2014).

Ben Chaisson, Playground Studios
Projection Designer Ben Chaisson is one of the creative directors of Playground Studios, a Canadian design firm dedicated to creating beautiful productions. Ben is a multiple award winning designer of video and sound. Their interactive installation The ToyBox has been seen by 1000’s and won the 2011 CITT Award for Technical Merit. Career highlights; Ragtime, Pygmalion, Light Up the Sky (Shaw), Bigger Than Jesus (Dora Award for Lighting), The Highest Step in the World (SAT Award Projection Design), Anne of Green Gables (Charlottetown), and among many things upcoming is Alice in Wonderland (Shaw). Their best production so far is their 4 year old son Aaron. www.playgroundstudios.ca.

Franco Boni, The Theatre Centre
Since 2003 Franco has served as Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre. He is the inaugural recipient of the Ken McDougall Award for directors, was awarded the Cultural Leadership Award, recognizing his leadership in arts and culture in the City of Toronto, and recently received the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in Theatre.

Professional Gathering – Bios

Keynote|Columpa Bobb-Artistic Director, Urban Indigenous Theatre (Manitoba)
Columpa Bobb has been a theatre artist for 25 years. She has turned a multi-faceted career as a performer, playwright, director, and producer into some of the immediate tools needed to start and run the only Aboriginal Theatre company in Manitoba that has produced theatre for and by Indigenous people for the last nine consecutive years. Columpa is the Artistic Director of The Urban Indigenous Theatre Company (UITC) whose artistic focus is socially relevant art for and by Indigenous artists.

Keynote|Rhona Matheson-Chief Executive, Starcatchers (Scotland)
After graduating in Theatre and Scottish History from the University of Glasgow in 1999, Rhona worked for a number of Scottish theatre companies including 7:84 Theatre Company (Scotland) and Wee Stories.  In 2006 she was appointed as the project manager for the pilot Starcatchers project based at North Edinburgh Arts.  Since then, she has driven the development of Starcatchers, from a project to an independent organisation that is recognised as being a pioneer of arts and creativity in Early Years.

Roundtable Moderator|Stéphanie Filippi
Stéphanie is the new Audience Development Coordinator at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, a multi venues complex that just opened its doors last November, located downtown St. Catharines, in the heart of Niagara region. Prior to holding this position, Stephanie served as the Outreach, Touring Sales Manager (bilingual) at Prologue for the Performing Arts for 14 years.

Dominique Denis | Translator
Born in Ottawa, Dominique Denis now lives in Toronto, where he teaches French as a second language and creates his own culture-based curriculum (such as the Parlons chanson conversation course), in addition to working as a translator for various cultural organizations, including the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Dominique also worked for 25 years as a cultural journalist in print, radio and television. (http://dominiquedenis.ca/)

Lise Gionet | Roundtable Participant
Lise Gionet’s professional career as an actress, a playwright, a director and a workshop leader has been closely linked with that of Théâtre de Quartier. Since 1977, she has been involved in all of the company’s productions.

She cowrote Un jeu denfants and Qui a raison? while directing plays by Louis-Dominique Lavigne (Maximun 30 km/h, Lison, Les petits orteils) and Joël da Silva (Le Pain de la Bouche). For La Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), she codirected Lhistoire du petit tailleur that won the Conseil québécois de la Musique’s Opus award for the best young-audience production. In 2001, she directed Le coeur de la tempête written by Herménégilde Chiasson and Louis-Dominique Lavigne and coproduced by théâtre l’Escaouette and Le Théâtre de Quartier.

She is the ideator and director of Glouglou that won the Masque 2005 award for the best young-audience production. In 2008, she directed Les soleils pâles by Marc-Antoine Cyr as part of the Le Théâtre jeune public et la relève (young-audience theatre and the next generation of theatre professionals) competition produced by Cégep Lionel-Groulx college. In the fall of 2011, she restaged Les petits orteils for the Maison Théâtre venue and directed Le Nid vide, a production without words to be presented at the Calgary International Children’s Festival in 2014.

She is currently working on Ça!, a new project featuring objects and geared for toddlers with actress Milva Ménard based on texts by Étienne Lepage and Louis-Dominique Lavigne. That show will be created on novembre 2016.

Pierre Tremblay| Roundtable Participant
Pierre Tremblay has been strongly involved in theatre for young audiences for more than 40 years as puppeteer, actor, set designer, theatre company artistic and executive director, festival artistic director.  He is now executive director of Théâtre Unis Enfance Jeunesse (TUEJ), the Quebec association of theatre companies for young audiences.

Christine Jackson | Roundtable Participant
Christine Jackson has provided arts leadership in a variety of contexts: Arts Coordinator, TDSB; Arts Education Officer, MOE; OISE Instructor; and CODE President. She advocates for the arts as pedagogies of connection and empowerment in her frequent talks and workshops and has developed many Arts curriculum resources. Play, improvisation, and multi-modal meaning- making provide the foundation of all works created by Christine.  Christine is inspired by bold creative collaborations with teachers, students, and artists. She was recently selected as a Fellow with the Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leader’s Lab.

Stéphane Gauthier | Roundtable Participant
Originating from Northern Ontario, Stéphane Gauthier studied early childhood literature. Between 2000 and 2006, he was a cultural reporter with Radio-Canada. His passion for Canadian culture led him to cofound the Prix des lecteurs Radio-Canada, the Salon du livre of Greater Sudbury, and to receive the Slague (Best French Broadcaster in Ontario) several times since 2009. He is also engaged in the construction project of Place des arts in Sudbury.

Currently he is the general and cultural director of Carrefour francophone in Sudbury, the oldest French cultural centre in Ontario. For the past 10 years, he has worked to integrate arts and culture in eight centres of early childhood with Carrefour francophone, and its sixteen summer camps and before and after school programs.

Dan Watson | Roundtable Participant
Dan Watson is a multiple Dora Award nominee who has created and performed theatre across Canada, Scotland, France, the United States and Japan.  He is Artistic Director of Edge of the Woods Theatre in Huntsville (Nuit Blanche North, Edge of the Woods Outdoor Travelling Theatre Festival, The Little G8 That Could…) and most recently wrote, performed and produced Ralph + Lina (4 Dora nominations).

Joanne Churchill | Roundtable Participant
Joanne Churchill is an accomplished arts administrator with over 20 years in the field of not-for-profit arts administration.  She has more than 15 years of connecting teachers and students with live professional performing arts experiences in schools and communities throughout Ontario.  Most recently her position as the Education Outreach Coordinator at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre allows her to facilitate meaningful performing arts opportunities for students from FDK to grade 12 that encourages individual cultural development of children and youth in the Halton region.  Previously, Joanne spent more than a decade at Prologue to the Performing Arts supporting artists in various disciplines tour schools and theatres throughout Ontario.