Past Mentors


Amber Funk Barton

AmberBartonBorn and raised in Vancouver, Amber Funk Barton received her training with Goh Ballet Academy, Arts Umbrella and Ballet BC’s Mentor Program. Upon completion of her training, she has worked with various companies and choreographers, such as Joe INK, LINK dance, Judith Marcuse Projects, Lola Dance, Marta Marta House of Pride, Mascall Dance, MovEnt, Battery Opera, Karen Jamieson Dance Company, MOVE: the company, Ruckus Company Productions, Mark Godden, Dana Gingras, Marla Eist, Jennifer Clarke, Emily Molnar, Wen Wei Wang, Cori Caulfield and Lina Fitzner.  She has also performed as a guest artist with the 605 Collective.

As an emerging choreographer, quickly building a reputation for athletic hybrid movement, Amber’s work has been presented in various venues in Vancouver, across Canada and even internationally at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales. Amber is also the recipient of the inaugural Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award and the 2007 Holy Body Tattoo Emerging Dance Artist Award. She has had the privilege of studying at ImPulsTanz (Vienna International Dance Festival) on a danceWEB scholarship.

In 2008, Amber established her own Vancouver-based contemporary dance company, the response, which presented Hero and Heroine at The Cultch in 2010 to critical acclaim.

Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg

TaraFriedenbergTara Cheyenne Friedenberg is the Artistic Director of Tara Cheyenne Performance. Based in Vancouver, she has been creating and performing her unique brand of hybrid dance-theatre across Canada, the United States and Europe for the past decade. Friedenberg is known for her expert blending of comedy, dynamic physicality, and character work. Her solos bANGER: The Power Hour and Nick & Juanita –Livin’ in my dreams have both won People’s Choice awards at The Dancing on the Edge Festival. Her latest solo Goggles premiered at The Cultch in 2009 and toured Canada in 2012. Tara’s next work Highgate, a morbid romp through Victorian funerary culture, will premiere at The Cultch in April 2013., FB Tara Cheyenne Performance

Josh Martin

JoshMartinOriginally from Alberta, Josh Martin is a diversely trained dance artist whose career-to-date has lead him across Europe and North America, studying and performing in many genres along the way. With an eclectic dance background, he has performed in theatres, clubs, on stages, streets, for film and television, and with recording artist tours/music videos. Josh has worked with many companies and independent choreographers such as Amber Funk Barton (the response.), Wen Wei Wang, Dana Gingras, Martha Carter (MMHop), Day Helesic (MovEnt), Gail Lotenberg (LINK), Karen Jamieson, and as a past company member of Le Groupe Dance Lab in Ottawa under the direction of Peter Boneham. Most recently, he has been performing with Wen Wei Dance on numerous projects including a collaborative work with the Beijing Modern Dance Company. Josh is both administrator and co-artistic director of The 605 Collective, currently touring across Canada.

Spoken Word

Jillian Christmas

Jillian-ChristmasJillian Christmas was born and raised in Markham, Ontario.  She currently lives in Vancouver, BC. where she serves as co-director of Versəs Festival of Words. She is the 2011 Vancouver BedRocc Grand slam champion, as well as the 2012 Vancouver Poetry Slam grand champion.  She is an enthusiastic activist and organizer within the Canadian poetry community, working with programs such as Wordplay to facilitate spoken word workshops for youth across the country.  In her free time she keeps busy touring the west coast and experimenting with music/ poetry fusion alongside powerhouse vocalist Chelsea D. E. Johnson.

Chris Gilpin

Chris-GilpinChris is a writer, videographer, and arts educator living in Vancouver, Canada.
He works as the Onsite Program Facilitator for Animating History at the Museum of Vancouver, and as the Executive Director for Vancouver Poetry House.

At the 2012 Vancouver International Poetry Festival, Chris won the Nerd Slam and the Erotica Slam. He is also a two-time member of the Vancouver Poetry Slam Team (2008 & 2009), the champion of Vancouver’s 2008 Haiku Death Match, finalist in the 2010 Write Bloody Press manuscript competition, winner of the Vancouver’s 2009 CBC Poetry Face-off, and the 2011 Vancouver Individual Poetry Slam Champion
In the summer of 2006, he toured the Canadian Fringe circuit with his play “87% True: The Lies That Bind”, co-created with Rosemary Rowe. His literary work has been published in Geist, PRISM international, CV2, Poetry is Dead, Vancouver Review, The Canadian Review of Literature in Performance, and many others. He performs as part of the interactive multimedia clown rock supergroup Awesome Face.
Chris graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. Film Studies. His graduating film, “Remembrance Dance”, was an official selection of the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival, and showed at other film festivals around the world.
Chris has toured as a spoken word poet throughout Canada, and the northwestern United States, and performed in schools all over Vancouver’s Lower Mainland.


Giorgio Magnanensi

Giorgio-MagnanensiBorn and raised in Italy, Giorgio Magnanensi currently lives in Roberts Creek.  His diverse artistic practice includes composition, conducting, improvisation, circuit-bending and video art.  From the early 80s to date he has been working as a composer, conductor, teacher, and performer on contemporary and experimental music in Europe, Japan and Canada.  He is artistic director of Vancouver New Music and lecturer at the School of Music of The Vancouver Community College.

Kathryn Calder

Kathryn-CalderLife is full of surprises. Nobody knows this more than Kathryn Calder.
After years of playing with indie darling Immaculate Machine, she found herself in the very unexpected position of being asked to record and tour with The New Pornographers. Before she knew it, she was inducted as a full fledged member of that group. In 2010, she once again surprised herself (and fans) by releasing her first solo album of her own compositions entitled Are You My Mother?, which would garner favorable press throughout the world and hinted a dizzying array of different avenues that the songwriter could explore in the future. Kathryn’s sophomore album, Bright and Vivid, is a masterfully refined piece of work that illustrates a maturation that can only come from intense growth and change. This album defies ANY comparisons to Kathryn’s current association with The New Pornographers as well as her past history with Immaculate Machine. Kathryn has found her own beautifully unique voice… one that is best summed up by the title: Bright and Vivid.

David Murphy

David-MurphyDavid Murphy is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. He has been a teacher and researcher at SFU for the past 15 years in the Media Analysis Lab, specializing in Sound Design, Audio Media Analysis and Production. His current work involves the analysis of learning technology for music composition and production. David is committed to the development and presentation of original and innovative sonic events and productions within educational environments.


Stephen Drover

Stephen-DroverStephen was appointed Artistic Director of Rumble Theatre in June 2012. Originally from Newfoundland, he trained at Memorial University (BFA in Acting) and UBC (MFA in Directing) and directs and teaches theatre in British Columbia and across Canada. As founding Artistic Director for Pound of Flesh Theatre in Vancouver, he adapted and/or directed The Bond (from The Merchant of Venice) MacbethDenmarK (adapted from Hamlet) co-directed Everyone (at the Caravan Farm Theatre) and directed The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (presented by Rumble). As Associate Director with Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, he directed Romeo & Juliet, East O’ the Sun & West O’ the Moon, and Of the Fields, Lately and later directed at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival (Leaving Home). Other directing credits include PolitoKo (Ghost River Theatre, Calgary), Boston Marriage and Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Guild Theatre, Whitehorse), The Pillowman (Wild Geese Co-op, Vancouver), The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Carousel Theatre), Skydive (Realwheels, Vancouver) for which he shares a Jessie Award for Outstanding Direction with Roy Surette, Orphans (WINK Theatre, Vancouver), and See Bob Run, Wild Abandon, House and The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine (Bare Boards Theatre, Newfoundland).

Stephen sits on Studio 58’s advisory council, has directed new play development processes with Playwrights Theatre Centre, is a regular teacher/adjudicator for Theatre BC, has been the Project Coordinator for Electric Company Theatre and Artist-in-Residence at Neworld Theatre. He is a recipient of the Ray Michal Award for Outstanding Body of Work by an Emerging Director, the Sydney J. Risk Award in Theatre Directing (UBC) and the Canada Council for the Arts Artist-in-Residence Grant. He lives in East Van with his wife, Sasa Brown, and their son, Jack.

James Fagan Tait

James-Fagan-TaitIs a director, actor, and playwright. He directed his own adaptations of The Idiot (Neworld/VMT/UBC/PuSh), The Life Inside (The Belfry), Cyrano (The Arts Club), Old Goriot (Western Gold/PuSh/UBC), A Christmas Carol (The Vancouver Playhouse) and Crime and Punishment (Critics’ Innovation Award. Neworld/VMT/PuSh). He directed King Lear and Timon of Athens at Bard on the Beach and wrote Vassily the Luckless (Critic’s Innovation Award), The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces and Quasimodo for Boca Del Lupo. He has been nominated for 16 Jessie Richardson Awards as an actor, director, or playwright and has won two. He most recently acted in The Electric Company’s Tear the Curtain at The Arts Club and at Canadian Stage in Toronto. He studied acting and theatre at Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto and Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, and singing and music at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Jane Heyman

Jane-HeymanJane has worked in professional theatre in Canada and England as a director, acting teacher, stage manager, and actor for over 40 years.  From 1985 to 2005 she taught acting and was the Associate Director at Studio 58.

She was Artistic Director of Holiday Theatre Vancouver; Assistant Director at the Midlands Arts Theatre Company in Birmingham, England and an Associate Director with Vancouver’s New Play Centre for many years. Jane helped found WestCoast Actors, the Women in VIEW Festival and Vancouver’s Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) where she is currently Past President of the Board of Directors.

Favourite productions include:  Allegheny, B.C. (2013 Fringe Festival at the Cultch), Three Sisters (Only Child Collective at The Cultch), The Crucible, As You Like It, Diana of Dobsons, Our Town, King Lear, Summerfolk (Studio 58); Lear with Joy Coghill (Women in View); Homechild and Road to Mecca (Arts Club Theatre) for which she received the Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Direction in 1991.

Jane is honoured to have received the 2003 UBCP Sam Payne Award; the 2003 Larry McCance Award from Canadian Actors’ Equity Association and the GVPTA Jessie Richardson Career Achievement Award in 2004.  In November 2005, she was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame and got a “star in the pavement”.  She also received the YWCA 2009 Woman of Distinction Award in the area of Arts & Culture.


Dave Deveau

Dave-DeveauDave Deveau is an award-winning writer and performer whose plays and operas have been produced across Canada and in Europe. He is the Playwright in Residence for Zee Zee Theatre who have produced his plays Nelly BoyTiny Replicas (GayVancouver’s Top 10 Productions of 2011, now in development as a feature) and the critically-acclaimed My Funny Valentine (Sydney Risk Prize, Jessie Nomination, Oscar Wilde Nomination – Dublin). Other work includes: the musical Homecoming King (Ovation Award), Out in the Open (Green Thumb Theatre), and Unnatural (The Opera Project). Dave is currently in his second year curating Human Library for the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. He is one of the Associates at Playwrights Theatre Centre where he is developing his new play (H)OUR. He is currently working on multiple commissions which head into production this fall: Tagged and Celestial Being will both premiere as part of Green Thumb Theatre’s 2013/14 season. The French translation of Celestial Being, entitled Extra-Celeste will premiere with Theatre la Seizieme in 2014. The Zee Zee Theatre-commissioned Lowest Common Denominator opens in March at PAL. He teaches playwriting at Douglas College.

David Geary

David-GearyDavid Geary is an all-rounder: playwright, screenwriter, fiction writer, director, dramaturg, documentary maker, poet, actor, and educator. He teaches World Indigenous Cinema at Capilano University in the Independent Indigenous Digital Filmmaking program. He is originally from New Zealand, of the Taranaki Maori Iwi, and taught the Masters in Scriptwriting at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in Wellington. His plays have been performed in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. They can be accessed through As a dramaturg/director, he’s worked for Native Earth Performing Arts in Toronto at their Weesageechak Festivals. And in Vancouver he leads the Block A Workshops for Emerging Writers for the PTC – Playwrights Theatre Centre. David is never far from a yoga mat and lives by the mantra –Life is short, stretch it. He writes occasional haiku on twitter @gearsgeary.

Stage Design

Marina Szijarto

Marina-SzijartoMarina Szijarto is a Visual and Celebration Artist. Originally from England, now living in Vancouver Canada, Marina designs and builds Costumes, Sets and Props for Theatre, Dance, celebrations events, parades and personal ceremonies. Marina Has worked with numerous Professional theatre and dance companies in B.C.: Leaky Heaven Circus – Neworld Theatre – The Caravan Farm Theatre – The Electric Company- Mortal Coil Performance Society – Vancouver Moving Theatre – Headlines Theatre -Touchstone Theatre – Jennifer Mascal Dance – Karen Jamieson Dance – Shamless Hussy Theatre – Studio 58 and Public Dreams Society.

She is a six-time Jessie nominee, and winner of the 2002 and 2004 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards for outstanding costume design for small theatre (The Electric Company – The One That Got Away and NeWorld Theatre – Asylum of the Universe). Marina also works with different communities to envision and then produce both public art (murals, mosaics, banners) and community celebrations (lantern festivals, puppet shows, The Down town Eastside Community play). She is continuing her research of Rites of Passage, in particular funerals, death and mourning.

Marina Szijarto is the ‘Costume Diva’, a stilt walking bellydancer who plays a little with fire, and has a degree in Embroidery!


Ellie O’Day

Ellie-O’DayEllie O’Day has worked in music, performing arts and cultural industries for over 35 years. She was one of North America’s first female DJs in the 70s, a columnist for the Georgia Straight in the 80s, and Executive Director of Pacific Music Industry Association in the 90s. Today, her O’Day Productions provides publicity and consulting to the performing arts community, primarily in theatre, music and for festivals. Her clients include The Cultch, Boca del Lupo Theatre, Rumble Productions, Vancouver Pro Musica, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Ellie is a resident and Trustee of PAL Vancouver–Performing Arts Lodges–from 2005-2013.

Lighting Design

Kyla Gardiner

Kyla-GardinerKyla has her Bachelor of Arts from UBC. She works predominantly as a Lighting Designer and Technical Director, but has also worked in Costume, Set, Stage Management and Directing. In various capacities she has enjoyed working on The Flannigan Affair (Electric Company, HIVE); Brief Encounters 11-17 (The Tomorrow Collective); True Story ((r)evolution theatre ); Via Beatrice (Fugue Theatre); Biographies of the Dead and Dying (MachineFair/ Craning Neck Theatre); Gift of Screws (Bill Marchant); A Picasso (Presentation House); Fever (Radix, HIVE); Trunk (Craning Neck Theatre); Wild Party (PintSizeTall Productions); What You Want (Machine Fair); Let Me Up (Theatre Temp), City of Dreams (Peter Reder- PuSh), Safe/Guard & Feast (Robert Leveroos), Through the Waters (Noam Gagnon/ Meredith Kalaman), Alight (Noam Gagnon/ 10x10x10), and Thank You, You’re Not Welcome (Compagnie Vision Selective). Kyla is currently working towards her MFA at the School for Contemporary Arts at SFU.

Stage Management

Lois Dawson

Lois-DawsonLois is a Vancouver-based stage and production manager. Her recent stage management credits include Penelope (Rumble/The Cutlch), the national tour of Ride the Cyclone (Atomic Vaudeville), Play with Monsters, After Jerusalem (Solo Collective), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot  (Pound of Flesh/Rumble/Pacific/Neworld/The Cultch), Re:Union (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades/Pacific), and Seussical (Carousel Theatre). Lois ran the Vancouver Fringe’s site specific development program for two years, spent three years as the resident stage manager at Pacific Theatre, and was the stage manager for the Richmond Olympic Oval during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Last winter she made her European debut as the ASM for Viva Verdi at the Hallenstadion in Zurich. Lois can be found online at or on twitter as @SMLois.

Stage Photography

Wendy D

Wendy-DWendy D, professional photographer, capturing moments in life, who we are, what we do and showing it to the world through the visual image. Wendy has had a camera in her hand since she was an 11 year old, and believes in sharing her passion with others. She loves what she does, she helps people tell the story of themselves, their business, their event, their project, their passion. For Wendy, its a collaboration between photographer, subject, light and shadow, and the decisive moment.