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.
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).
Lianna Makuch is a second generation Ukrainian Canadian theatre artist. Lianna has enjoyed a diverse career working as an actor, creator, instructor, and artistic producer. Her main artistic ventures have been as an Artistic Associate and Producer with Pyretic Productions. Lianna has managed audience outreach and communications for several Edmonton arts festivals. And she co-founded, manages, and teaches at a children’s summer theatre camp, Spark! Youth Camp, which provides affordable arts education to youth in Edmonton’s Alberta Avenue Community. She is the playwright and principle performer in Blood of Our Soil, which won the ACUA-URDC Award (2018), the inaugural Rena Hanchuk & Yaroslav Kitynskyy Artist Award (2018), and was nominated for four Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards (Edmonton’s premiere theatre awards), including Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production. Lianna was recognized as a Top 30 Under 30 Artist by the Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts. Lianna is a graduate of the BFA Acting Program at the University of Alberta.
A choreographer, dancer, producer, director and facilitator, Shannon Litzenberger is known for creating live performance experiences at the intersection of forms. Her perspective is decidedly feminist, philosophical, socially conscious and emphatically Canadian. Her roots in Canada’s rural prairies inspire recurring themes of connection to land, environment, belonging, identity and place. Her work has been presented across Canada and the US, in collaboration with some of Canada’s leading artists including Marie-Josée Chartier, Lorna Crozier, David Earle, Noah Richler, Susie Burpee and Michael Greyeyes. She has been an invited resident artist at Banff Centre, Soulpepper Theatre Company, Toronto Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre and Atlantic Ballet Theatre. She is the recipient of the Jack McAllister award for accomplishment in dance, the recipient of a 2019 Chalmers Arts Fellowship and a twice-shortlisted finalist for the prestigious KM Hunter Award.
Evan Tsitsias is a director, writer, educator and performer. He is currently the Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre Company and the Co-Artistic Director/Founder of the Directors Lab North, a sister program to the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, of which he is an alum. He is also a Co-Founder of The World Wide Lab, a directors collective. They have produced festivals and shows in Germany, New York, Italy, Canada, Greece and Taiwan. Evan also currently works at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, Texas where he’s directed, been the Artistic Assistant, an Associate in the Community Engagement Department and is the Acting Department Head at the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. His work has been published in Canada, the US and Germany.
Anita Majumdar is an award-winning actress, playwright and dancer profiled in magazines such as Vogue India and Fashion Magazine. Her tv acting debut in the film Murder Unveiled won Best Actress award at the Asian Festival of First Films in Singapore and Anita was the only featured Canadian actress in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where she was also shortlisted for TIFF Rising Stars. Aside from appearing in films such Diverted and tv projects Republic of Doyle and Gavin Crawford’s Wild Wild West, Anita has also performed in Canada’s leading theatres from coast to coast and most recently received Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Performance for her own play Boys With Cars.
Sarah Wilson is the co-creator (Lyrics and Book) of the inspiring new musical Rose. She is a graduate of the Soulpepper Academy, the Stratford Conservatory, and George Brown Theatre School , and is an actor and writer. Sarah also a writer for The 27 Club and A Moveable Feast: Paris in the 20s for Soulpepper 2018-19, and an actor in Animal Farm, La Bête, and can be seen in Wedding At Aulis in March. For Soulpepper selected credits include: Of Human Bondage, Spoon River, The Heidi Chronicles, Jitters, A Christmas Carol, Parfumerie, The Dining Room, Speed-The Plow, Oleanna, Three Sisters, As You Like It. Film and Television include Suits, Anne with an E, Ransom, Saving Hope, Reign.
Fraser Elsdon is an actor, writer, director and filmmaker. He has appeared in dozens of productions on stages across the country, including The Globe Theatre in Regina, Theatre Northwest in Prince George, and The Grand Theatre in London, as well as Toronto Fringe and Summerworks. He wrote and directed the play Vacant (2012), and was part of the inaugural Storefront Theatre Playwrights Unit, developing his play Superheroes. He is the writer and director of three short films and is currently at work on his first novel. Fraser is a graduate of the University of Toronto and George Brown Theatre School.
Alice Lundy is a Toronto born and raised theatre artist who wears many hats as an actor, creator, director, and producer. She completed her BFA in Acting at the University of Windsor. Her journey at Windsor lead her to train with many world-renowned companies, such as the Stratford Festival, the New York based SITI Company, and the Moscow Art Theatre School in Moscow. Select acting credits include: MARRY ME MARRY ME MARRY ME… ( House + Body), Moral Deficit (Skipping Stones Theatre), Private Lives (Pure Carbon Theatre), Titus Andronicus (Seven Siblings Theatre), Fools Gold (Metaphysical Theatre), and Elektra (Toronto Fringe).
Michael Healey trained at the Ryerson Theatre School in the mid-eighties. He started writing plays to augment his career as an actor in the nineties, and his first play, Kicked, premiered at the Fringe Festival of Toronto in 1996. It sold out and was remounted the following year, when it won the Dora Award for best new play. The play then toured nationally and internationally. In the twenty years since, his work has won numerous awards across the globe and at home. His play The Drawer Boy, which premiered in 1999, won the Dora, Chalmers, and Governor General’s awards, and was the most-produced play in North America in 2004. It has been translated into a half-dozen languages, and continues to play to audiences at home and abroad. His other plays include The Road To Hell(written with Kate Lynch), Plan B, Rune Arlidge, The Innocent Eye Test, The Nuttalls, Generous, Courageous, and Proud. In total, his plays have won five Dora awards for best new play. He has adapted classics for the Shaw Festival, Soulpepper Theatre, and the Stratford Festival.
Diana Tso is a theatre artist, playwright, storyteller, artist in education & Dora award winning actor. She’s a graduate of the University of Toronto with an honors BA in English Literature & of Ecole Internationale de Théâtre de Jacques Lecoq in France. She’s worked with diverse theatres internationally for over 18 years. Most recently she performed in Les Misérables with Theatre Smith-Gilmour and at the 2017 Stratford Festival in Bakkhai and The Komagata Maru Incident. Her plays, Red Snow (2012) and Comfort (2016) bring to light the stories of World War Two in Asia. Upcoming she’ll be performing in Modern Times Stage Company’s The Cherry Orchard.