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Joanna Garfinkel

Dramaturg, Creative Engagement


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.