Even the busiest artists need a break! Take Five with some of the hardest working and celebrated individuals in the performing arts scene today. We ask them a series of five questions to learn what inspires them and how their careers have been influenced by fellow community members.
Born & raised in Singapore, of Peranakan descent, Yvonne Ng, B.F.A., M.A., is the founder, choreographer, presenter, arts educator and artistic director of princess productions (since 1996), which houses tiger princess dance projects (TPDP) and the biennial dance: made in canada/fait au canada Festival (2001). TPDP’s repertoire includes Yvonne’s works and commissioned works, creating original roles for Bill James, José Navas, Dominique Dumais, Kevin O’Day, Marie-Josée Chartier, Robert Glumbek, Stephanie Skura, Deborah Hay and Tedd Robinson. tiger princess dance projects has toured to Singapore, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Australia, China, Canada and the USA. Yvonne is a certified Open Source Forms© and Dance for Dementia (Baycrest NBS Sharing Dance) teacher with training in Partners for Youth Empowerment Creative Facilitator (Level 1& 2), C-I Training™, Senior Fitness (CCAA), Dance for PD™ (Parkinson’s) and functional anatomy with Irene Dowd, Yvonne is the recipient of the 2017 Muriel Sherrin Award, the 2016 Jacqueline Lemieux Award, K.M. Hunter Artist Award, New Pioneers Arts Award, Chalmers Arts Fellowship, Soulpepper’s Community Artist Award and the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts – New Talent. In 2000, received a Dora Mavor Moore Award for best performance and has received multiple nominations.
Jani Lauzon (Creator / Performer) is a Metis, Multidisciplinary theatre creator, a musician, director, and puppeteer. She is a five-time Dora Mavor Moore nominated actress, a Juno and CAMA nominated singer/songwriter, a Gemini Award-winning puppeteer, and an award-winning screen actress. She recently won the Toronto Theatre Critics Association award for Best Director. Jani is also artistic director of Paper Canoe Projects.
Clare McConnell is Toronto based actor performing with The Second City Touring Company and moonlighting as Klingon Leader Dennas on CBS’s Star Trek: Discovery. She was recently cast in a few other exciting TV roles with episodes slated for release this fall. Her first feature film, Dim the Fluorescents, took home the Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival, and she was nominated for Breakout Artist at the 2018 Canadian Comedy Awards. If you’re bored at intermission, find her on Instagram and Twitter @frecklegalaxy or at claremcconnell.com.
Ashley Botting is an award-winning actor, writer, improviser, singer and alumna of The Second City Mainstage and The Second City Guide to the Symphony. Most recently Ashley remounted her Fringe hit, Ashley With a “Y”, a completely improvised musical cabaret, to rave reviews. The show was named NOW Magazine’s top comedy show of 2018. Ashley is also a guest-host, writer and regular panelist on CBC Radio One’s Because News. Ashley has written for the Emmy-winning show Odd Squad where she also plays everyone’s favourite pizza lady, Delivery Debbie, and her voice can be heard on the cartoons The Ridonculous Race, Arthur, Z-Squad and Beywheelz.
Cliff Cardinal (Playwright and Director) was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to iconic Canadian actress Tantoo Cardinal. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School, a veteran of many stages and screens, and has played his music on three continents. Cliff has been influenced by VIDEOCAB’s ensemble since he was a teenager watching rehearsals of Michael Hollingsworth’s New France at the Cameron House in 2000. He acted in The Saskatchewan Rebellion in 2007, and over the past decade has used VIDEOCAB resources to help develop and produce his plays. As the Associate Artist of VIDEOCAB, Cliff is now collaborating with resident lighting designer Andrew Dollar, and with costume designer Sage Paul, to bring his own highly theatrical style to VIDEOCAB’s new black-box stage. He was recently honoured by double-Doras, and an Edinburgh Festival Award, for the script and performance of his incendiary solo play Huff in 2018. Huff has been published, translated into French, continues to tour, and will be released on CBC’s new podcast PlayMe in April 2019.
PJ Prudat is of proud Métis roots. PJ is Nightswimming Theatre’s 2019 Creator-in-Residence, was Playwright in Rez at Native Earth Performing Arts (2013/14); on Factory Theatre’s NRCG writer’s unit (2015); a company actor for both the National Arts Centre’s English Theatre Ensemble (2015/16) and the Shaw Festival (2017/Winter 2018); and a Laureate of the 2017 REVEAL Indigenous Art Award. Select Acting Credits: Iphigenia and the Furies (SAGA Collectif),Honour Beat (Theatre Calgary),Everything I Couldn’t Tell You (Spiderbones Theatre), Ipperwash (NEPA), Moonlodge (Urban Ink), Reckoning (Article 11),Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, Twelfth Night (NAC), Cleo in Antony and Cleopatra (SIR).
Johnnie Walker is a theatre artist, filmmaker and DJ based in Toronto. He has been developing Shove it Down My Throat in residence with Buddies in Bad Times since 2016. His solo show Redheaded Stepchild has toured North America and was published by Playwrights Canada Press. Other plays include Amusement, Scheherazade, and The Other Three Sisters. Johnnie is a co-founder of Nobody’s Business Theatre, general manager of AnimalParts, and a founding member of Boylesque TO. He also wrote, directed, and performed in the short film Saturn Devours and DJs a popular monthly queer hip-hop dance party/drag show called Hey Girl Hey.
Matt Folliott is a comedian/actor/writer from Toronto. When he’s not performing with the Second City National Touring Company you can catch him on stage with S&P and Canadian Comedy Award Nominees K$M, alongside his powerhouse comedy partner Kirsten Rasmussen. Matt has traveled across North America performing and teaching in comedy festivals like IMPROVAGANZA (Edmonton, AB), The Vancouver International Improv Festival, The Ottawa Improv Festival, MPROV (Montreal, QB), and The Seattle International Festival of Improv.
Meegwun Fairbrother is of Ojibway and Scottish origin, from Grassy Narrows First Nation and Toronto, Ontario. He is an award-winning actor, a traditional singer, and a Northern traditional dancer. He recently played a lead role on CBC’s hit series Burden of Truth.
Rachel Mutombo is an award winning actor and writer. She is a graduate of John Abbott College’s professional theatre program and the National Theatre School of Canada’s acting program. The experience of being a second-generation Canadian of Congolese (DRC) descent combined with living at the intersection of race and gender heavily influences her work as an artist. Rachel has written about these experiences and more for Intermission magazine, CBC and ByBlacks. Rachel has had the privilege of performing in the theatre across Canada. Some recent credits include: School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian Theatre/Nightwood Theatre), Selfie (Young People’s Theatre), Ruined (Pacific Theatre), Race (Montreal Theatre Ensemble), Twelfth Night (Repercussion Theatre).