PTC Announces New Dramaturg, Creative Engagement


PTC is proud to welcome Joanna Garfinkel to the team in the new position of Dramaturg, Creative Engagement. After a robust search and in consultation with the community, Joanna’s excellence in engaged practice, her deep connections in the community, and her significant producing and management knowledge made her the unequivocal choice. She joins Davey Calderon (Dramaturg, Public Engagement) and Heidi Taylor (Artistic & Executive Director) in a new dramaturgical configuration at PTC, following Kathleen Flaherty’s retirement.

Joanna has been a leader in dramaturgical practice since moving to Vancouver in 2005. Her groundbreaking work with the collective Universal Limited on JAPANESE PROBLEM offers a model for how community-integrated theatre can be made. As the Project Dramaturg on the Fringe New Play Prize, Joanna has been an instrumental collaborator on Poly Queer Love Ballad, Mx and the upcoming Catalina La O: Ahora Conmigo. She has also been a popular mentor in PTC’s Block A program. Working across theatre, dance, and cabaret, Joanna incorporates music, site, and political analysis foundationally in all her work. Her deep commitment to intercultural, liberatory practice has received resounding support from her many collaborators in IBPOC communities.

In her new role, Joanna will lead on program development, including the next incarnation of our Associates residency, WrightSpace, and new creative collaborations. Her expertise in directing, grant writing and producing will offer her collaborators exceptional insights as they develop their processes at PTC.

“I have been lucky to know Joanna since we stomped on the floor together in Suzuki training over ten years ago. Her theatre practice has been a constant source of inspiration to me since then. I am honoured that Joanna has agreed to make PTC her creative home, and look forward to the ways our company and practice will be transformed by her creative leadership.” – Heidi Taylor, Artistic & Executive Director

From Joanna:

“My dramaturgical practice has been grounded in the act of recognition, knowing how to work within and outside each other’s experiences, building individual processes with a brave and diverse group of writers and companies. The Pandemic and accompanying Uprising have only increased my motivation to share the tools I have been fortunate (often systemically) to acquire, and find new ways to support playwrights and dramaturgy. I am thrilled and humbled to contribute to the brilliant team at PTC, an organization working to make its ethics clear in every curatorial, organizational, and community-building choice.”


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. Joanna is the co-founder of collectively and socially-driven play development company Universal Limited. She is the co-creator, with Yoshié Bancroft, of JAPANESE PROBLEM, a site-responsive piece about the Japanese Canadian Incarceration, which has been performed site-specifically in Vancouver, at Soulpepper in Toronto, and in several locations in between. Previously, she co-created and directed the pedicab adventure Tour for HIVE 3, produced by the Electric Company, Universal Limited, and the Cultural Olympiad. That site-specific escapade was reinvented for Victoria (Theatre SKAM), and Toronto (SummerWorks). Joanna is struck by the systemic inequities that repeat in Canada, and to troubling those patterns through performance. Recent dramaturgical credits include Berlin: The Last Cabaret at PuSh 2020, multi-award-winning Poly Queer Love Ballad, which toured to Theatre Passe Murailles in 2019, and Mx, which will premiere in 2021 at the Cultch. She has been nominated for three Jessie awards, winning one (Critics Choice for Innovation); was awarded the Pure Research grant from Nightswimming Theatre (Toronto), and has received the Sydney Risk award for directing. She moved to Vancouver to get her MFA in directing at UBC. Her focus since has been in new play development, multidisciplinary, and site-specific work; she also has trained with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company in New York. Upcoming: The Fringe New Play Prize-winning Catalina La O Presenta: Ahora Conmigo, and development of To the Sea.