Meet the Participants in the Winter Cohort of Block A 2022

The Block A Winter 2022 cohort and their mentors.

We are pleased to introduce you to the Block A Winter 2022 cohort. These 12 writers will work with mentors Joanna Garfinkel and Veronique West for ten weeks starting in January 2022.

The writers working with Joanna are Alyssa Formosa, Bonnie Duff, David Volpov, Jessica Lemes da Silva, Jordyn Wood and Marita Michaelis. The writers working with Veronique are Alina Blackett, Bana Biltaji, Basil Shaun Toomer, Duncan Rowe, Natasha Zacher and Sandra Medeiros.

Block A focuses on opportunities for emerging writers to develop the basic tools of plot, characterization and dialogue while exploring the elasticity of theatrical forms. They will work on their own projects while offering and receiving support from a talented cohort in a supportive environment.

Mentor Bios:

Joanna Garfinkel lives and works on the the unceded and traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlil̓wətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). She is grateful, as granddaughter of refugees, to have the opportunity to work in the community, on this land. She is the co-founder of collectively and socially-driven play development company Universal Limited and the co-creator, with Yoshié Bancroft, of JAPANESE PROBLEM, a site-responsive piece about the Japanese Canadian Incarceration, which has been performed Vancouver, at Soulpepper in Toronto, and elsewhere. Co-created and directed the pedicab adventure Tour for HIVE 3, Victoria (Theatre SKAM), and Toronto (SummerWorks). Recent dramaturgical credits include Berlin: The Last Cabaret (PuSh), Poly Queer Love Ballad, (Theatre Passe Murailles), and MX (Cultch). Joanna has been nominated for 3 Jessie awards, winning one (Critics Choice for Innovation); Pure Research grant (Nightswimming Theatre), and has received the Sydney Risk award for directing. MFA directing (UBC). Her focus is in new play development, multidisciplinary, and site-specific work; she also has trained with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company in New York. Upcoming: Catalina La O Presenta: Ahora Conmigo, and development of To the Sea. She is the Dramaturg, Creative Engagement, at PTC.

Veronique West (She/They)  is a non-binary settler of Polish descent, based on the occupied and unsurrendered lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Their work, informed by their lived experience of madness, spans artistic creation and facilitation, as well as mental health peer support and advocacy. Their personal and collaborative projects have taken various forms, including performance, sound art, community conversation, virtual reality, and web-based storytelling. They have facilitated programs on writing, devising, multimedia performance creation, and Mad Arts. Veronique has also been an eating disorder peer support mentor, a crisis responder, and will be a mental health workshop facilitator at post-secondary campuses next spring. In their life and work, they seek to question, complicate, and shift mental health paradigms, making space for multiple, expansive understandings of bodyminds.

Photo – Top row, left to right: Joanna Garfinkel, Alyssa Formosa, Bonnie Duff, David Volpov, Jessica Lemes da Silva, Jordyn Wood, Rebecca Paterson. Bottom row, left to right:  Alina Blackett, Bana Biltaji, Basil Shaun Toomer, Duncan Rowe, Natasha Zacher, Sandra Medeiros, Veronique West.