Meet the Vancouver cohort of the Digital Dramaturgy Initiative
We are thrilled to welcome participants in the Vancouver leg of the Digital Dramaturgy Initiative. The cohort will meet September 20-25, 2021 to explore digital dramaturgy for theatre on- and off-line.
Jk Jk bring their multi-venue performance-film adventure Always Boy. Anais West, Kimberly Ho and Julia Siedlanowska will work on their project Underground Absolute Fiction, a docu-fantasy film, accompanied by social media storytelling. Mind of a Snail will explore the hybrid digital/live possibilities of their show Improv in Five Dimensions. Lili Robinson and Celeste Insell will be working on online and podcast elements of their project The Vancouver Black Theatre Archival Initiative.
Read more about these fantastic artists and their projects.
PARTICIPANT BIOS AND PROJECTS
Jk Jk is married couple Jenny (director/writer) and khattieQ (composer/performer). They create collaboratively-devised queer performance to magnify stories of the disenfranchised and disrupt the status quo. khattieQ, originally from Puerto Rico, learned to love performance through music, including serving as guitarist and vocalist for punk band BLXPLTN (2013-2015). Jenny, from South Dakota, grew up in new play development, including serving as Artistic Director of Salvage Vanguard Theater (2008-2019). In 2020, their first Jk Jk collaboration Catalina La O Presenta: Now With Me won the Vancouver Fringe New Play Prize from PTC. The performance film screened in November 2020. In the spring of 2022, Catalina La O will premiere LIVE as an associate production of Neworld Theatre and a co-production of the frank theatre company. Currently, the couple is developing the play Desperately Seeking Comfortable Shoes, with support from The Arts Club. khattieQ is one of their 2021 Bill Millerd recipients, and Jenny is one of their 2021 Emerging New Playwrights. khattieQ is also an Arts Leadership Fellow with the Belfry Theatre in the 2021-2022 season. In the fall of 2022, Jk Jk co-directs Adrienne Dawes’ Casta at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin,TX. jkjklol.org
Project Description: Always Boy (working title) by JkJk is the story of a woman haunted by her best friends ghost. One day, Tommy’s ghost interrupts Jackie’s life and he takes her on a journey of letting go as they reenact scenes from their old high school productions in theatres across the city. Always Boy is a multi-venue performance-film adventure, fast paced and humorous but ultimately a show about grief and forgiveness, centring queer interracial families that are trying to heal while parenting.
ANAIS WEST & KIMBERLY HO & JULIA SIEDLANOWSKA
Anais West (she/he/they) is a queer genderfluid writer, producer and performer. They are also a settler of Polish descent, based on occupied xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories. Anais’ work is multidisciplinary: through hybrid art, she grapples with the multiplicities that exist in gender, sexuality, culture and self. Their projects include creating the video-play hybrid Kill Your Lovers, (Buddies In Bad Times Theatre’s Rhubarb Festival, Toronto, and the Fresh Fruit Festival, NYC) and co-writing the slam poetry musical Poly Queer Love Ballad with Sara Vickruck (Queer Arts Festival, the frank theatre and Zee Zee Theatre, Vancouver, and Theatre Passe Muraille, Tkaronto.) Anais was the 2018 co-winner of PTC’s Fringe New Play Prize and the Georgia Straight Critic’s Choice Award, and has been nominated for two Jessie Awards, including Outstanding Original Script. Anais’ writing has been supported by Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council and the PuSh Festival, and they’ve been part of residencies with PTC’s WrightSpace, Queer Arts Festival, Rumble Theatre and Theatre Replacement’s New Aesthetics. As an actor, he has performed with Théâtre la Seizième, the Only Animal, Rumble Theatre, Savage Society and more. Anais is the Artistic Producer at the frank theatre company. anaiswest.com IG: @anais_west
Kimberly Ho 何文蔚 (she/they) is a multi/interdisciplinary artist, performer, and collaborator based on the unceded ancestral lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Tseil-waututh peoples, known colonially as Vancouver, Canada. In her art, she is actively working to decolonize her imagination, decenter her narrative, and dismantle whiteness. They seek to explore the intersections of queerness, the physical body, and ancestral history and habits, primarily in the context of Hakka diaspora. They are currently developing a participatory documentary “To Make Ends Meat 結束肉 as supported by VAFF’s Richard K. Wong Fund, chronicling the legacy and final closure of a Chinese-style sausage factory through the lens of one of its workers.
Julia Siedlanowska was born and is currently living as a theatre maker on unceded Coast Salish Territories. She is a playwright, performer and director with a passion for arts rooted in community building which embrace cultural pluralism and are for everyone. Julia is the Managing Director and Associate Artstic Director for Theatre Terrific, and has worked as the volunteer coordinator for the Talking Stick Festival, was a Young Ambassador for the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and community liaison for MACHiNENOISY Dance Society’s PROX:IMITY RE:MIX, a multi-media dance project for queer youth. She has worked in various capacities (on and off the stage) with companies such as Pacific Theatre, the Arts Club, the Firehall Arts Centre, Vancouver Moving Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Peninsula Productions, Classic Chic Productions, The Only Animal and the Cultch (recently as an actor in Three Winters, directed by Amiel Gladstone). Julia has translated several works from her mother tongue Polish, to English. She often works with the Vancouver Polish Theatre as a translator, director, consultant, actor, and playwright. She is currently co-writing a multi-lingual TYA show called Sen-Nemuri, supported by Toronto Young People’s Theatre.
Project Description: Underground Absolute Fiction is a docu-fantasy film, accompanied by social media storytelling. In the wake of mass protests and the arrest of trans activist Margot, a Polish-Candian settler filmmaker journeys to Poland, where they struggle to shoot and befriend a queer punk band. Through technology, UAF explores diasporic longing, queerness as resistance, and the ethics of an outsider documenting a community.
MIND OF A SNAIL is a shadow puppetry duo located on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Nations, also known as Vancouver, BC. Since 2003, Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel have been developing a multilayered style of visual storytelling using overhead projectors as their main light source, and have been recently integrating live video and interactive live-streaming into their tool kit. Their performances play at the intersection of puppetry, visual arts, clowning & music. They have created original work for many organizations, including Vancouver Art Gallery, Telus World of Science, Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon and numerous others. They have also performed in theatre & arts festivals across Canada such as Wildside Festival in Montreal, Revolver Festival in Vancouver, Summerworks in Toronto, Casteliers International Puppetry Festival in Montreal, Festival International des Arts de la Marionnette à Saguenay and many more. International highlights include a tour of Taiwan 2017 & performing on the mainstage of the Puppeteers of America Festival in Minneapolis in 2019 with their show “Caws & Effect”. During covid, they quickly pivoted to an interactive online format and have performed live virtually for a number of festivals across Canada & internationally, including Festival Internacional de Teatro de Sombras in Brazil and Red Pearl Clown Festival in Finland. mindofasnail.org
Project Description: For this DDI project (working title Improv in Five Dimensions) Mind of a Snail are creating the physical, virtual and story structures needed to work with a group of remote improvisers at the Vancouver Improv Festival this October. They are designing the stage/container technically (and dramaturgically!) host these improvisers LIVE playtime together. They are eager to go deeper into the incredible potential of this new hybrid medium, and explore how they can translate their layered interactive projection work into a hybrid online/live theatre format.
LILI ROBINSON & CELESTE INSELL
Lili Robinson (she/they) is a playwright, poet, actor and community organizer based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Lili is passionate about centring voices at the intersections of queerness, Black diaspora, socio-economic diversity and femme identity in their work. Lili has worked as both a writer and actor with longstanding local companies including Theatre Replacement and Rumble Theatre, and pre-pandemic took part in Rumble’s 2020 Director’s Lab. In 2020 they were also a part of the Emerging Playwright’s Unit at the Arts Club. Lili’s debut play, Mx, was the winner of the 2019 Fringe New Play Prize and the 2019 Cultchivating the Fringe Award. Following Mx’s Fringe success, the show was revamped for a digital presentation as part of The Cultch’s 2021 digital season this past February. Currently Lili is working on two new plays, Infest and Maroon, and was recently announced as the incoming Resident Curator at rEvolver Festival. As a facilitator and community organizer Lili is focused on EDI work and projects that uplift the local Black community. She is beyond excited to work with PTC once again, this time as part of the DDI alongside collaborator Celeste Insell.
In 1971, Celeste Insell immigrated to Canada from the United States and attended the Ryerson Acting program (1972 -1973) and later transferred to the Drama Studies program at York University (1974 -1976). In 1979, she moved to Vancouver, BC. She was cast in the Arts Club Production of You Can’t Take it With You as Rheba (the maid) in 1980. Later that year, she portrayed “Lady in Blue” in the very successful Black Arts Theatre production of For Colored Girls… which ran for six months in Vancouver and then toured Western Canada. In that production, she fulﬁlled her dream to perform the very demanding 20-minute monologue “A Nite with Beau Willie”. In 1982, she was cast in her ﬁrst TV principal role as Nurse Graham in A Piano for Mrs. Cimino where she got to work with Bette Davis. Shortly afterwards, she founded a multicultural theatre company with four friends called Crossroads Theatre. In the 1990s she performed and produced various events in the Black community and for other arts groups. In 2001, after a long hiatus from ﬁlm and TV acting, she began auditioning again for roles in that medium. Ms Insell’s writing credits include articles published in Kinesis (1992—1993), The International Review of African American Art (1993), The Canadian Theatre Review (1995) and a poem “The Reunion” published in Diaspora Magazine (1994). She is currently writing two plays for another company she founded called Twenty8Dreams Performing Arts.
Project Description: The Vancouver Black Theatre Archival Initiative is an intergenerational project bridging the gap between Black theatre’s past and present in these territories colonially known as Vancouver. A collaboration between theatre artists Lili Robinson and Celeste Insell, the project uses archival material from the latter half of the 20th century to uplift and bring awareness to a chapter of local theatre history that has largely been erased. As part of the Digital Dramaturgy Initiative’s Vancouver leg, Celeste and Lili will be working on online and podcast elements of the project.