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The Siminovitch Forum on Feminist Theatre took place on International Women’s Day 2022. Five remarkable Canadian theatre creators shared their unique views on how they’re creating change in the industry, both behind the scenes and on stage.

Alex Cameron is a theatre artist, musician, and performer from Toronto. She has performed and collaborated with theatre companies and artistic organizations such as Nightwood Theatre (2022 Innovators), Paprika Festival (2022 Sound Design Lab), Toronto Fringe (2018/2022 as performer/creator, 2021 with TENT), Crane Creations Theatre Company (2020 Summer Ensemble), Theatre Gargantua (2020 Emerging Artists’ Roundtable), Blackwood Gallery, and The Power Plant.

Erin Shields is a Canadian playwright based in Montreal. Much of her work highlights the negation or misrepresentation of women in classical texts by adapting these stories through an intersectional feminist lens for a contemporary audience. Erin’s adaptation of Paradise Lost, premiered at The Stratford Festival of Canada and won the Quebec Writers Federation Prize for Playwriting. Erin also won the 2011 Governor General’s Award for her play If We Were Birds. Upcoming productions include Jane Eyre (Citadel Theatre) and Queen Goneril (Soulpepper).

Kelly Thornton was appointed Artistic Director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in 2019, becoming the first female to take on this role in the company’s 62-year history. Prior to joining MTC, Kelly led Nightwood Theatre in Toronto where her legacy is one of provocative and inclusive programming, demonstrated consistently over 18 years under her leadership. She also brings an extensive track record in developing and premiering a multitude of new Canadian plays, including a substantial number of world premieres for first-time playwrights, several of whom received Governor General’s Award nominations.

With a string of firsts in Asian Canadian theatre, Nina Lee Aquino was the founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian theatre company, organized the first Asian Canadian theatre conference, edited the first (2-volume) Asian Canadian play anthology, and co-edited the first (award-winning) book on Asian Canadian theatre. She became Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre, currently holds the same position at Factory Theatre, and is the incoming Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre English Theatre. Nina also serves as the President of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres.

Dr. Michelle MacArthur is an assistant professor in the University of Windsor’s School of Dramatic Art. Her research focuses on four main intersecting areas: equity in theatre, theatre criticism, contemporary Canadian theatre, and feminism and performance. Recent publications include the edited collections Voices of a Generation: Three Millennial Plays (2022) and Networked Feminisms: Activist Assemblies and Digital Practices (2021). Michelle was the lead researcher for the Equity in Theatre (EIT) initiative (2014-15), a national campaign focused on redressing gender inequities in the Canadian theatre industry.

Actor-creator, director, author and feminist educator, Pol Pelletier is a pioneer. She co-founded the Théâtre Expérimental des Femmes in 1979 after having co-founded the Théâtre experimental de Montréal in 1975. In 1988, she created the Compagnie Pol Pelletier, which became L’École sauvage in 2008. Sought after for her unique background, Pol Pelletier brings her knowledge and experience of the living and the beings that surround her to many countries.

A graduate of the National Theatre School, Eda Holmes began her stage career as a ballet dancer. She was a soloist with San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet and William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet until sidelined by a knee injury. She has since become one of the busiest and most accomplished theatre directors in Canada. Her work with new Canadian playwrights and women is particularly notable. In February 2017, she was appointed Artistic and Executive Director of Centaur Theatre, commencing her tenure in August 2017. She is also a regular guest teacher at the National Theatre School of Canada, and McGill University.

Elinore Siminovitch’s writing career spanned 1962 to 1994 and included over 30 plays with productions or readings of twelve in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Her first short stories were sold to CBC Radio and one of her earliest plays was produced on the Montreal television program Telecast. Her themes included feminism and sexual stereotyping as illustrated by Big X Little Y, which won the Ottawa Little Theatre’s Playwriting Competition. One of Toronto’s early feminist theatre companies, Redlight Theatre, opened its 1975 season with her Strange Games.

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