2017 Finalists

CCA Theatre: ProductionCCA Theatre: DevelopmentCCA Media Arts: ProductionCCA Media Arts: Development

CCA Theatre: Production


Ruth Goodwin: Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons

Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, by Sam Steiner,is about a young couple, Bernadette and Oliver, who first meet through a friend and soon move in together. But just as they start getting to know each other, the government introduces a draconian hush law limiting the amount of words everyone can speak in a day, to just 140 words each. Under this drastic new rule Bernadette and Oliver work to maintain communication within the constraints of the law, but it soon becomes challenging to save their words for just each other. Ultimately they find they are powerless without words and the freedom to use them. It is a beautiful new play that shines a light on how we communicate. It also explores the aftermath of a huge absurdist political event that our characters debate will never really happen. They attend the occasional protest but ultimately they are shocked when the law is passed and stunned by how little they did to stop it. Outside Bernadette and Oliver’s apartment we see the tides of censorship and oppression grow stronger and more violent as people’s freedom of speech is taken away. It is an incredibly harrowing play that speaks strongly to the current political climate.

I will be producing this play for The Howland Company, where I am a Founding Artist. I am very excited to bring on Shaw Festival and Canadian Film Centre alumnus, Harveen Sandhu as our director. One of the reasons I think our show is a particularly great fit for this award is because like myself, Harveen is known primarily as an actor and this will be her first time directing, so the money will be helping two women transition into new positions of leadership in the theatre community. In terms of the marketing and publicity of this piece, I am excited to produce it under Howland’s name, as Fringe audiences already know us for our well-received production of “52 Pick-Up” which I worked on as an actor in 2014. That show took home the award for ‘Best of Toronto Fringe’ and went on to have two completely sold out Toronto remounts and a national tour. So my ultimate goal for “Lemons” would be to give it an excellent premiere it at Fringe and gain enough buzz to create a similar afterlife for it.


Rebecca Applebaum: Reality Theatre

Reality Theatre: Reality and fantasy blur for a woman playing a spoon in Beauty and the Beast. A man reconsiders a contract he signed in blood too many years ago, and the world wide web we now so wholly depend on disappears into thin air. A fast-moving collection of eight short, interwoven plays that explore our anxieties about change, the acceleration of technology, and maintaining human relationships in a world quickly becoming less human.

Rebecca Applebaum is a performer, playwright and director. As an actor her credits include Odd Squad (TVO/PBS), The Best Plan for Living Happily (QuestionMark-Exclamation), Last Chance Texaco (CFC Teaser), Saving Hope (E1), Earth to Avery (TIFF Kids), Hailstorm (CFC), Robert’s Circle (Electric Train), Covert Affairs (Universal), Family Story , The Physical Ramifications of Attempted Global Domination , Dead Wrestlers , and 36 Plays About Hopeless Girls (Birdtown & Swanville), Hiding Words (for you) (Eventual Ashes), and paper. SERIES (Cahoots – Dora nomination). As a playwright, she wrote Complex (Koffler – SummerWorks Honourable Mention for New Performance Text, included on the49list.com) and co-wrote Don’t Look (Steady State – Fringe, Next Stage), Upcoming: performing as Daphna Feygenbaum in Bad Jews (Koffler) , and directing Julia Lederer’s Reality Theatre (QuestionMark-Exclamation).

Wendy Lands: What The World Needs Now

What The World Needs Now (A Journey Of Love & Hope Through The Mad Men Era) is singer/actor Wendy Lands’ musical memoir. Pinned against the backdrop of a time in history – the mid-60s into the early 70s – one of the most pivotal eras of the 20th century, Lands combines revealing monologues, poems and scenes ¬both comical and poignant, with renditions of the soulful pop songs that blasted out of her little transistor radio, tuned to the AM dial – songs sung by Barbara, Dusty, Dionne and more – that made their way straight into her heart. What The World Needs Now is a personal yet universal production. It’s relevance could not be more timely as it reminds us of a time of great hope and possibility, making the audience feel – that even just for one night – all you really need… is love.

Infused with pop, jazz and soul, Wendy Lands‘ newest collection of story-driven songs, ‘Altitude’ hit the #2 spot on the iTunes Jazz Album chart and is garnering heavy airplay on Jazz.FM91 as well as a multitude of shows on CBC radio. On the international jazz scene her European release, ‘Piosenki’ is currently climbing the charts in Poland. Lands’ music and style are the kinds that defy convention. With her penchant for rich harmonies, poetic lyrics, sophisticated textures and killer musicianship, her skill as a singer and songwriter are absolutely un-ignorable. Her successful career has seen her nominated for a Juno, 2 Canadian Radio Music Awards, specifically selected to give voice to the Oscar-winning film ‘The Pianist’ and the recipient of critical acclaim for her most recent releases: ‘Mumble’ and ‘Altitude’. Wendy Lands has earned a reputation as a spell-binding performer, consistently getting the collective juices of everyone in the room flowing, making her audience feel as though they have all not just participated in, but contributed to something special, something bigger than any one ego. By the time a Wendy Lands show is over, she has staked a memorable claim. Find out more at wendylands.com

CCA Theatre: Development


Ronit Rubinstein: Bad. Bible. Bitches.

Biblical queens Vashti and Jezebel are pissed. As their stories have been told and retold through the millennia, they’ve been described as lascivious, stubborn, wicked, and power-hungry. But really, what did they do that was so bad? Refuse to parade around naked for the king’s drinking buddies? Take what was rightfully theirs, by birth? And look good while doing it? In Bad. Bible. Bitches., our two incisive and foul-mouthed heroines—reimagined here as modern-day reality TV stars—decide to set the record straight. They recount the events in the Book of Esther and I Kings as they remember them, with humour, strength, and righteous female rage; we’re left to consider who has been telling women’s stories, what power lies in the narrative, and what we owe the subjects of our myths.

Playwright Ronit Rubinstein lives in Toronto, where her play Sitting In a Tree debuted in the Fringe festival. In 2016, her short play Anniversary was produced by the New Theatre of Ottawa and by Vancouver’s Tomo Suru Players, and her one-act Advice for Women was performed by Chicago’s Fury Theatre. An excerpt of her full-length play Vagilantes: A Grand Guignol, Sort Of was read this past fall at Winnipeg’s Femfest theatre festival. Ronit is a co-editor of and contributor to the anthology City Voices: A Book of Monologues by Toronto Artists. She’s currently developing Bad. Bible. Bitches., a play about female representation in the Bible. When not writing, she tells her most embarrassing stories at local storytelling events, and plays covers of 90s RnB songs on the ukulele. Ronit studied English and Theater at Princeton University.


Zoe Erwin-Longstaff: Pyramid-Shaped Marble Attachments

Pyramid-Shaped Marble Attachments is a satirical drama about gentrification, displacement, and the insidious connections between neoliberalism, academia, and the arts.

Zoë Erwin-Longstaff is a director and playwright from Toronto. Her work has appeared in festivals across Canada, including the UNO Festival, ReVolver Festival, Laboratory Cabaret, and SummerWorks, where her play, Half Girl/Half Face, received honourable mention for the Contra Guys Award for best New Performance Text. She is an alumna of Factory Theatre’s inaugural Emerging Playwrights Group, The Foundry.

Sarena Parmar: Between

Chemistry (noun): mutually focusing on one another and spontaneously harmonizing and matching body language and internal states in a non-contrived, unconscious way. So what happens when actors manufacture the involuntary? In the spirit of a science experiment, Between dissects the creation of chemistry between romantic co-stars, proposing and executing different ways to stage intimacy. The play is part direct address, part fictional, part unscripted. Voyeuristic in nature. The audience watches two actors become deeply, emotionally-attuned to one another. But slowly the line between “Character” and “Actor” becomes unclear. The audience watches the actors navigate the confusion between reality of the body and fiction of the mind. Collectively, we bear witness to our compulsion for human connection. The actors play themselves. The experiment is real. Between is an intimate look at the involuntary nature of chemistry itself.

A graduate of the National Theatre School, Sarena Parmar is an actor and playwright, originally from Kelowna BC. Recent acting credits include: Measure for Measure, The Winter’s Tale (Groundling Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Tarragon Theatre), Alice Through the Looking Glass, Antony and Cleopatra (Stratford Festival). Sarena has been working on her South Asian adaptation of the Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, with support from Soulpepper as playwright-in-residence and Cahoot Theatre as a member of the Hot House Unit. Her short play, Venus Rising, premiered at the Short Short Play Festival and The Rubik’s Cube Solution will be part of the Climate Change Theatre Action. Currently Sarena is appearing in Dancing at Lughnasa and Androcles and the Lion at the Shaw Festival. Sarena is also a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre and the One Yellow Rabbit Intensive.

CCA Media Arts: Production


Annie Bradley Blowback

Dead set on getting ahead by any means necessary, Constable Jo Bellamy is making bad decisions nightly and is headed off the rails from trying to be one of the boys. Attempting to control all outcomes, she isolates herself physically and emotionally, which only fuels her reactive behaviour and building paranoia. When Tony Burke, a twisted fellow detective, refuses to let go of their sexual past, she humiliates him in front of their peers unaware of the deadly game she’s set in motion. But when Jo is lured to a deserted factory, she discovers that for every choice there is a price. Blowback is a suspense fuelled cautionary tale, which explores themes of female identity and fear filtered through the framework of an institution that still clings to a secretive and disturbing imbalance of power between men and women who are sworn to serve and protect.

I’ve been directing for a few years since the CFC, across a multitude of platforms and have had films at Sundance and TIFF as well quite a bit of work in lower budget TV. I see myself as emerging this year into my first feature as well as potential network television gigs. I have representation and a number of projects in development in both Film and TV.


Rachel Cairns: Mom and Me 2.0

The first season of Mom and Me met great success playing at festivals including New York and LA web fests’ where it was nominated for outstanding writing, ensemble cast and original song in a drama. After a massive breakup, Rachel moves home to collect herself and do some serious wound-licking. She knows she’ll feel smothered living under mom’s roof, but Rachel loves mom, and mom loves Rachel, and how else is Rachel supposed to figure out what she’s doing with her life? Anyway, it’s the perfect time for Rachel to be having launch failure. Mom’s post retirement existential angst has forced her to board the same rudderless boat as her daughter, so it looks like these woman are about to be the right place, right time for each other. Only how is mom supposed to get laid with her kid around? And how is Rachel gonna try out a lesbian relationship?

Rachel Cairns grew up in Vancouver and began acting in TV and film as a teenager. From there she traveled to London, England and received her BA from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Upon graduation she landed the dream ingenue role of Juliet and traveled the UK in a touring production of Romeo and Juliet for the following year. Since her return to Canada Rachel has worked in theatres across the country and continued to act on camera. She is the proud creator and producer of three nominated web series, all of which have been screened at festivals across North America. She is honoured to receive this award, and grateful to Cayle Chernin, her legacy and this fund.

Sarah Slywchuk: The Music Upstairs

A woman surfaces from the debilitating day to day weight of her mental illness when her apartment is filled with music from the tenant upstairs. The Music Upstairs explores the quiet side of depression. By examining both the ostensibly inconsequential instances that can overwhelm and debilitate as well as the success of seemingly small victories it offers a glimpse into the everyday reality of living with mental illness.

In the Fall of 2015 Sarah Slywchuk started The Creative Department to provide a community for artists of all disciplines to practice their creativity, encouraging artists, including herself, to continually create regardless the outcome of what they create may be. Since it’s inception The Creative Department has grown to include a thriving online community of nearly two hundred artists, as well as ongoing creative meet ups to connect artists in both Toronto and Montreal. In 2016 Sarah wrote, produced and directed her first project, the mini-film Look Up. The film was selected to screen at the Toronto Smartphone Film Festival where Sarah was awarded the Women in Film Award for her work as director and cinematographer. Look Up marked the first time Sarah stepped behind the camera having spent over twenty years in front of the camera and on stage. As an actress Sarah has appeared in theatres across Canada including The Citadel Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Theatre Aquarius and with Mirvish Productions. Her television and film credits include Taken (NBC), Designated Survivor (ABC), Cradle to Grave (National Geographic), Heroes Reborn (NBC), Reign (CW), Alphas (Syfy Network), Life With Derek (Disney), and most recently the independent short film The Talk. With a passion for storytelling and an over-active imagination Sarah has several projects in development including short film screenplays for both a psychological thriller and a supernatural mystery. Most recently Sarah wrote, produced and acted in a proof of concept short film as part of the ongoing development of her first feature screenplay.

CCA Media Arts: Development


Jillian Rees-Brown: Living Memory

In a weak attempt at reconciliation, all goes wrong when Demasduit is stolen from her people and left husband-less and child-less. She is presented to the Governor of Newfoundland in 1819, shortly before her people, the Beothuk, disappear forever. Her brief friendship with care-giver, Cassandra Jure, ensures the survival of some of Demasduit’s language and stories.

Jillian Rees-Brown has been a performer for nearly 40 years. In addition to performing, she has directed, stage managed and choreographed. Although she has written several plays and short scripts for theatre and film she is beginning to take that art form very seriously and is developing her first feature film script, “Living Memory”. As a performer, Jillian’s most recent role was Caroline in Dandelions in the Wind at the Daniels Spectrum. Previously, her roles included understudying Grandma in Toronto’s Mirvish Production & the US International Tour of Billy Elliot the Musical; and co-writing and performing in Hey! Good Lookin’. Other favourite live performances: Shirley Valentine; Alice in Sexy Laundry; Theatre Beyond Words’ international tours of Potato People and The Boy Who Could Sing Pictures; and as Magenta in Toronto’s first professional production of Rocky Horror Show. TV credits include: A new CBC web series, Save Me; The Listener and Remedy; Film credits include: Beeba Boys; Harlan County War; Cruel Intentions II; Blues Brothers 2000. Jillian is a member of the musical and spoken word trio, Daughters of the Rock, honouring her Newfoundland roots.


Camille Hollett-French: Her Story (In Three Parts)

Her Story (In Three Parts) is a three-part short film series exploring several cases of how sex and sexuality in our society relate to and affect women, no matter their levels of involvement. These very personal accounts are told from the less common perspective—the female one—in the most unscripted sense.

Part 1. The repetition of a destructive and uninspired relationship leaves room for a woman’s rock-hard defenses to crumble when she succumbs to the simple kindness of a male ER doctor during a post-abortion conversation.
Part 2. A mother of a six-year-old battles with her need to have her incarcerated father in her life, who’s doing time for attempting to have sex with a child, until she painfully cuts ties with him.
Part 3. During her routine walk home, a streetwise community mentor has her reality torn apart when she is raped in broad daylight only to be saved by her male friend.

Camille Hollett-French is an award-winning Trinidadian-Canadian actor and writer. She started acting professionally four years ago. Since then, she’s worked tirelessly to make an impact in the Toronto community and beyond with having started a drop-in style actors training association, The Dead Actors Society, having starred in the Canadian horror success Kingdom Come and the well-received short film about undiagnosed mental illness, Fin, and having won two competition in Los Angeles, the first a scholarship for the reputable Margie Haber Studio, and the second the inaugural monologue slam hosted by the Arrow’s Jimmy Akingbola and juried by some of the top industry professionals (like casting execs from ABC and the CW). Camille graduated from the journalism program at Niagara College, where she received a national bronze award for a feature news story she wrote about grief during the holidays. She recently started focusing on writing for her first love, film. She accredits falling for the medium to her mother, whom she and her sister would watch movies with most Saturday nights growing up. One of her first film memories is watching Shindler’s list with them and asking her mother what was raining from the sky. She was eight at the time. Since then, Camille has developed a hefty list of favourite films and directors, 28 Days Later and Danny Boyle being very close to the top. Understandably, considering post-apocalyptic concepts are her favourite with sci-fi being a close second. She’d like to use her appreciation for the raw and honest style of filmmaking often incorporated with those two genres to start her career as a director with Her Story (In Three Parts) about the everyday horrors women in our society may face.

Chala Hunter: Beaver

Beaver: I am in development with Claudia Dey to adapt her inaugural play, Beaver, into a full length feature screenplay. Beaver is an iconically Canadian, epic coming of age story set in Northern Ontario, featuring an incredible cast of female characters. The story is funny, heartbreaking, and searingly real. It follow’s Beatrice (Beaver) Jersey’s evolution into personhood, as she comes to terms with her mother’s suicide and her dysfunctional family history. The play tackles issues of womanhood, sexism, isolation, racism towards First Nations communities, alcoholism and suicide epidemics of the North (especially in First Nations peoples). It is singular in it’s intimate consideration of the small town Canadian experience, told uniquely from a female perspective.In November of 2016, with Claudia’s support and collaboration, I produced and acted in a sold out run of Beaver at Toronto’s Storefront Theatre, to great critical acclaim and rave reviews (https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2016/11/13/beavers-exploration-of-life-in-small-town-canada-still-hits-home-with-anticipated-urgency-review.html). I was approached by several women in the film industry after the production, urging me to consider speaking to Claudia about the movie version of this powerful play. The female driven narrative resonated profoundly with the community. To begin this work, the first step in this projects development will be conversations with Claudia towards adapting the script and crafting a team of ideal collaborators.

Chala Hunter is a actor, producer and director originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She is a graduate of the Acting program at the National Theatre School of Canada and also studied at the University of Toronto (BA in Drama and French). She recently made her directing debut as the associate director of Sheets, by Salvatore Antonio at The Theatre Centre. Recent performance credits include Noises Off (Segal Centre, Jacob Tierney), Beaver (Storefront Theatre, Brendan Mcmurtry-Howlett) Lulu, v.4 (redlightdistrict, Buddies In Bad Times), Wormwood, (Tarragon, Richard Rose), Travesties, (Segal Centre, Jacob Tierney) Susanna Fournier’s, All the Ways You Scare Me, The Stronger Variations, with Theatre Rusticle/Buddies in Bad Times and Canadian Stage’s As You Like it and Titus Andronicus, (Celia, Lavinia). Other credits include, Three More Sleepless Nights as part of the 2014 Playwrights Project, Scheherazade at Nextstage Festival 2014and the English language premiere of The iShow, Summerworks, Necessary Angel’s Tout Comme Elle (Luminato), Lennox in Macbeth (Repercussion Theatre), the role of Nuna in RedSkyPerformance’s North American tours of The Great Mountain and Anna in Five Fingers (Wewillmeet Prod.). Fresh Water, a piece she co-wrote and performed with Nathan Barrett premiered in Vancouver at the Orpheum Annex, and then had a run at Videofag in Toronto (Wewillmeet Prod.). She was one of four winners of Solo Collective Theatre’s 2013 Emerging Writers competition, and her play, Amy, la Reine des Morts was showcased in French, at the Festival Zone Homa. She is currently editing a short, in development with Claudia Dey with her play, Beaver, and writing a web series with Amy Keating (Outside the March). Chala is a Dora and Meta nominated actor, producer and director originally from Saskatchewan who has worked in theatres across Canada and is a graduate of the Acting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. She has made one short film, is in development with a feature film, as well as a web series with Amy Keating, All the Little Animals.