Image caption: Among the theatre leaders taking part in the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair are Jeff Ho (left), actor, playwright and company dramaturg, Outside the March, and Luke Reece (right), playwright, spoken word artist and Associate Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre.
Brock University students will have the opportunity to learn about a career in theatre from the perspectives of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) theatre leaders during an upcoming online Grad Fair.
Open to students across the country, the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair takes place Monday, May 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Zoom and is specifically designed for students who identify as Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.
The fair is free to attend, but registration is required through Eventbrite. The event is open to recent theatre graduates, graduating students and students entering their final year of study in a theatre program.
Organized by Brock’s Karen Fricker, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer, Department of Dramatic Arts, and Marlis Schweitzer, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at York University, the Grad Fair is presented in partnership with more than 30 academic institutions and arts and scholarly organizations across Canada. A full list of partners is available on the event website.
In addition to meeting other graduating students, participants will have the chance to learn from experienced IBPOC artists about the transition from post-secondary theatre education to the professional realm.
The fair will begin with a roundtable discussion chaired by Tanisha Taitt (director, writer, educator, and artistic director of Cahoots Theatre) and featuring Miriam Fernandes (co-artistic director, Why Not Theatre), Luke Reece (playwright, spoken word artist, and associate artistic director, Soulpepper Theatre), Quelemia Sparrow (actor and playwright) and theatre maker Jeff Ho. These dynamic artists will speak to their experiences in many areas of theatre practice and about building a career in the industry.
Following the discussion, students will be invited to breakout sessions with two theatre professionals in each group answering questions about specific career paths. These include playwriting, directing, acting, producing, dramaturgy, theatre criticism, production and design, public relations and marketing, and the intersections of theatre creation, producing and activism.
An additional room led by recent York University graduates Davinder Mahti and Sanskruti Marathe will focus on navigating the first year out of theatre school.
The fact that the event is organized and sponsored by theatre educators and educational institutions is significant, says Ho, who graduated from the National Theatre School’s acting program.
“It’s about institutions recognizing that it’s important for students to see faces from many different backgrounds, and more representation,” says the award-winning playwright and company dramaturg of Toronto’s Outside the March theatre.
Ho is proud to be a part of an event that demonstrates “that diverse artists also have diverse career paths.”
Diego Blanco, a fourth-year Dramatic Arts student minoring in Economics who is assisting in organizing the event, said the Grad Fair is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for graduating students to connect with IBPOC artists working in the field.
“Students will get to meet IBPOC theatre leaders who work in different arenas and who have made outstanding impacts on the theatre industry in positive ways,” he says.
The event, Blanco says, may act not only as inspiration for emerging artists, but also as a confidence booster as they start on their professional path.
“This is a great opportunity to actually see how your career can start by talking to different theatre artists.”
Fernandes, of Why Not Theatre, shares this enthusiasm and is eager to participate in the roundtable.
The fair is a “great chance for recent grads and graduating students to connect with arts professionals to explore their areas of interest,” she says.
In addition to the roundtable speakers, participating theatre professionals include Akosua Amo-Adem, Nina Lee Aquino, Stafford Arima, Ghazal Azerbad, Arthi Chadra, Kat Chin, Lisa Karen Cox, Jordan Laffrenier, Shaista Latif, Owais Lightwala, Matthew MacKenzie, Erin Macklem, Aidan Morishita-Miki, Marilo Nuñez, Tarndeep Pannu, Jiv Parasaram Malina Patel, Luke Reece, Jamie Robinson, Tetsuro Shigematsu and Syrus Marcus Ware.
Blanco hopes to see more events like the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair in the future.
“As someone who is graduating and part of the IBPOC community, this event is rare,” he says. “It is just amazing to see so many IBPOC theatre artists joining in one room and discussing what they love; coming together as a community to help graduates with their next adventure.”
Fricker says the event has drawn considerable interest from across the country.
“We have been excited and struck by the levels of enthusiasm and eagerness to participate in this fair from all quarters, from the artist-speakers to IBPOC students themselves to partnering organizations,” she says. “We intend to learn from this year’s event, and work on making this an ongoing tradition.”
For details and how to register for the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair, please visit the website.