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STUDENT AND TEACHER ADVISORY COMMITTEES

ADVISORY COMMITTEES

The Stratford Festival Student Advisory Committee (SAC), Teacher Advisory Committee (TAC) and Teaching Artist Advisory Committees (TAAC) support the development of the theatre's educational programming.

Applications for the 2021/22 committees are now closed.  Please check back soon for more information about the members and activities of the 2021/22 SAC, TAC and TAAC.

    Shams Al-Haddad
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Drama class!
    Favourite Theatre Show:The Phantom of the Opera
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I'm most excited about getting to meet people who are as passionate about theatre as me, and also meeting professionals who are already in the industry!! The Stratford Festival is a pathway to many great things.
    Emelia Auster

    Favourite Subject/Part of School: English
    Favourite Theatre Show:The Last Five Years
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? Their diversity of perspectives and their unique productions.

    Bella Bisci

    Favourite Subject/Part of School:  English and Theatre
    Favourite Theatre Show:A Chorus Line
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? The magical atmosphere the Festival creates.

    Sonoma Brawley
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: As a French Immersion student I have an interest in languages, and I look forward to the discussions that come with liberal arts classes.
    Favourite Theatre Show: I've been in love with Guys and Dolls since I saw it at the Stratford Festival.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? The amazing talent the Festival attracts, and the sense of community.
    Jordan Classen
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: I love everything about school including all the classes and the extracurriculars! Courses that I have really enjoyed so far include all the sciences and philosophy.
    Favourite Theatre Show: There are so many! While I relish anything that the Stratford Festival puts on, there are two shows that immediately come to mind. I thought the 2018 production of The Rocky Horror Show was phenomenal! I adored its campy, raucous vibe, and the casting was spectacular! On the Shakespeare side of things, I was completely enthralled by director Antoni Cimolino's 2014 production of King Lear. Watching this show and many others on demand with a STRATFEST@HOME subscription provided a much-needed boost to the long, dreary days that accompanied the Covid pandemic.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I love how the Stratford Festival pushes boundaries in their productions including anything from sets to costumes to casting to interpretations of original writings and more. However, I must say that the thing I am currently most excited about is finally being able to return to each of the Stratford Festival theatres to see live productions again.
    Naomi Fonseka
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Literature class
    Favourite Theatre Show:The Merchant of Venice and Waitress
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I am most excited to use the Stratford Festival as a means of introducing Shakespeare to a wide range of young people in order to give them a dynamic lens to view the world with, as Shakespeare can be used to not only enjoy theatre, but also to teach lessons about humanity and all the experiences and emotions that come with it.
    Garrett Guymer
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Drama
    Favourite Theatre Show:The Rocky Horror Show
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I love everything about the Festival; if I had to choose one thing it is the lighting design. If feel the lighting sticks out with every show the festival does.
    Jada Hurmizi
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: English
    Favourite Theatre Show:A Midsummer Night's Dream
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? Being able to contribute to local artistic communities.
    Jaden Jackson
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: One of my favourite subjects in school is Drama. I love to spend the day becoming someone else and playing off of my peers in a scene. I love how drama allows you the freedom to do whatever you want and to express yourself in creative ways. I also like History. I love to learn about events that happened in our past since I believe they help shape the future. It's very fun to see patterns and trends that happened in the past and try to connect them to today.
    Favourite Theatre Show: One of my favourite theatre shows of all time is Hamilton. I admire how Lin-Manuel Miranda combined hip-hop and history to create something so groundbreaking and entertaining.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? What excites me most about the Stratford Festival is the number and range of plays and musicals that they do each year. My family and I get very excited to see the lineup that they produce for their Festival season. The Stratford Festival offers something for everyone.
    Jocelyn Kuntsi
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Although I strongly identify as a science nerd, my favourite classes and extracurricular are always the ones that take place in the music room. Whether it is a concert band, musical theatre, vocal group, drama, community theatre or anything performance related, you will find me there.
    Favourite Theatre Show: The beauty, talent and spectacle of The Music Man of the 2018 season was unforgettable and has become one of my all-time favourite shows.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I have always loved the energy and intensity of live performance, especially the high calibre found at the Stratford Festival. I am looking forward to helping the Festival continue connecting with youth.
    Nikhil Majumder-Singh
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: I very much enjoy English as a subject in school, and I love to write different pieces such as stories, articles, poems and much more. I also love drawing, reading and playing or watching hockey in my spare time, as it is my favourite sport and I am a die-hard Leafs fan.
    Favourite Theatre Show: As part of a number of theatre camps, I have had the opportunity to perform on stage. I enjoy watching all different genres of theatre, but my favourite to date is Henry VIII
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? Many different aspects of the Stratford Festival excite me, such as the different plays and programs. In particular though, I am always excited to attend plays in the summer, and I enjoy the uniqueness of the open and interactive stage. I look forward to actively contributing and collaborating as a member of this committee.
    Arwen Mox
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: My favorite subject is literature! I love reading and analyzing works from around the world, I find it both really enjoyable, and also a good exercise in broadening my perspectives. I also enjoy writing, and this subject lets me develop my skills further.
    Favourite Theatre Show: I really enjoy Shakespeare's Twelfth Night!
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? What excites me the most about the Stratford Festival is the way in which it helps encourage the appreciation of theatre, and how it strives to be inclusive, making the enjoyment of theatre something everyone can participate in!
    Aahaan Rawal
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Math, science, and drama.
    Favourite Theatre Show:The Merry Wives of Windsor.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? Having regularly attended performances at the Stratford Festival since I was 9 with wonderful memories of my own participation in theatrical productions in various capacities, I am always thrilled by the spirit of collaboration and camaraderie that I feel in my bones whenever I sit down and witness a production at the Festival. This spirit inspires me not just in my ongoing involvement in theatre, playwriting, and improv comedy but in almost all aspects of my life.
    Julia Stiles
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Art/Music, then Math/Science (I love my extracurriculars, too!)
    Favourite Theatre Show:Tuck Everlasting, Hadestown and many others.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? Its potential/ability to bring people together in such an exciting, fun and engaging way.
    Willow Tan Boismier
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: English, French and Science class. I also love Science Olympiad - it's an amazing club. Before the pandemic, I also loved eating lunch with my friends in random classrooms.
    Favourite Theatre Show:Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi, the 5-act version)
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I'm a huge fan of Shakespeare, so I'm always looking forward to attending performances of his plays. It's also great to see how the Festival is working towards greater diversity and equity. Finally, I can't wait for the opportunity the Festival provides to meet and work with other theatre-loving students!
    Illyria Volcansek
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: My passion for geeky books and movies contributes to my love of both Science and English class.
    Favourite Theatre Show: I love Twelfth Night! When I'm not listening to show tunes, I can usually be found reminiscing about the last time I saw Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical or The Book Of Mormon.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I am always excited to get a look at the set of the latest Stratford Festival show; their designs are breathtaking.
    Jessica Aldred
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Definitely drama and English.
    Favourite Theatre Show: (This is so hard!) Hairspray and Les Miserables.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? The feeling I get at the end of a show during a standing ovation! Nothing is better than feeling incredibly emotional and engaged with the actors, and feeling so blown away by their incredible talent. I absolutely love the atmosphere created at the Stratford Festival.
    Darren Black
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Working on the school musical or all school play.
    Favourite Theatre Show:Twelfth Night at The Globe Theatre in 2002 featuring Mark Rylance as Olivia.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? Arriving into Stratford in the early evening and wandering the grounds as other spectators arrive, knowing that in a short while I'll have the opportunity to enter an incredible theatre space and witness the work of one of the best companies in North America; the anticipation and the atmosphere is a remarkable part of the experience. The grounds, the gardens, the bookstore, the Avon River, all of it.
    Paul D'Hondt
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: My favourite part of school is the people: the relationships, the interactions, and the community. I also love science!
    Favourite Theatre Show: I still think about the performance of All My Sons in 2016. It was incredible.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? The Festival is able to bring together a variety of experiences from many different people and bring it to a focal point for a short time. I love watching how they do that each year.
    Arpita Ghosal
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: English, literacy, the arts and the integration of the arts across the curriculum.
    Favourite Theatre Show: I might be able to shortlist a dozen but cannot specify only one show!
    Stratford Festival: Hamlet (2015), The Sound of Music (2015), Macbeth (2016), Shakespeare in Love (2016); Young People's Theatre: Hana's Suitcase (2015), Antigone (2018), The Adventures of Pinocchio (2019), The Mush Hole (2019); Soulpepper: La bête (2018), A Streetcar Named Desire (2018), Rose (2019), Jesus Hopped the A Train (2020); Mirvish Productions: Come from Away (2018); Canadian Stage: Twelfth Night and King Lear (2017), A Midsummer Night's Dream (2018); ARC Theatre: Oil (2020)
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I have had a relationship with the Stratford Festival since childhood. Over the years, I have returned to its theatres many times: as an avid adult theatre goer and as a parent accompanied by children who love the arts. The productions and education department are exemplary. The opportunity to be able to contribute to the nexus of theatre and education is a dream come true, and the ability to utilize my love of the arts as a way to engage young people excites me beyond words!
    Helen Himsl-Savoury
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: For me, the best part of school are the connections I make with students and the joy in helping their light bulbs go off as they learn. My research in education has largely been in areas of restorative and trauma sensitive practices, and ways of implementing those philosophies into my teaching. At the core of my work is the belief that systemic barriers need to be dismantled; that situations should be socially just, resources equitably shared and dignities maintained. Along those lines, I am involved with various committees at school and in the community. At school, I co-chair the Safe and Inclusive Schools Committee and the Mental Health Committee and co facilitate several student clubs that includes the Respect and Pride Club and Gay-Straight Alliance. In the community, I am on a youth mental health advisory council.
    Favourite Theatre Show: My favourite theatre show is one I worked on while at the Stratford Festival - Elizabeth Rex by Timothy Findley. I grew up mostly in mining towns across the country or in rural Newfoundland, so I did not know actors or directors by name, but I knew authors and playwrights. Timothy Findley was an author whose writing I admired years before I got to meet him. I was star struck by him at first, and the entire process from the first day of rehearsal to its onstage production felt enchanting. Martha Henry was at the helm as director and led us wisely and compassionately. I loved the play, playwright, director, cast, creatives and crew. Elizabeth Rex went on to win the Governor General's Award for English Language Drama, and to this day it makes me smile to think of the production.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I worked for many years in theatre, and actually spent five years at the Stratford Festival in the stage management department. I am most excited that the Festival is working towards an equitable, anti-racist and anti-oppressive environment for all stakeholders. Stratford's diversifying will help lead the way for Canadian theatre by doing so. This is a movement occurring in both theatre and in education. I am equally excited to be able to look at getting theatre out to students who may not have access to it otherwise, such as in mining towns or rural Newfoundland, and to perhaps help pave a way so that students can see that their stories and where and how they live have merit and are worthy of creation too.
    Natalie Hrvatin
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Creative writing
    Favourite Theatre Show:Much Ado About Nothing
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I am always excited to see how the Stratford Festival puts their own unique stamp on every production. When I see a show there, even if it is a play I've seen before, there's always an innovative approach or design concept that captivates me.
    Joey Jackson
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: I loved drama and music the most while I was a student. My favourite subjects to teach are English, drama & dance and visual arts. Most of my career has been spent as a rotary teacher in the Intermediate division with Grade 7 & 8 students. English, science, visual arts, drama & dance were the subjects taught most often.
    Favourite Theatre Show:Twelfth Night is my favourite play by Shakespeare and Little Shop of Horrors is my favourite musical.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? There is nothing like watching my students experience the magic of a live performance for the first time during our annual trips to the Stratford Festival. I love the way they marvel over the sets, lighting, costumes and staging. We are so fortunate to be able to bring our rural kids to this world-class theatre.  Being able to provide this opportunity for students is such a wonderful gift.
    Kerri Lee
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: My favourite subjects are French and the arts, and my favourite part of school is getting to experience all of the imaginative and creative play that takes place both inside and outside of the classroom.
    Favourite Theatre Show:The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I love the unique and innovative audience engagement opportunities that the Stratford Festival offers. From behind-the-scenes videos, to interactive workshops, to programs for schools and students, there is something for everyone. It is a valuable way to become even more immersed and to learn about all of the different elements that come together to create the magic that we see on stage!
    Jenny Mlutkowski
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: As a student, I always enjoyed English, history, and biology. I love teaching English, particularly Shakespeare and mythology.  It is exciting to witness students connecting the past to the present.  
    Favourite Theatre Show: This is a difficult question to answer.  For sentimental reasons, I must pick My Fair Lady and Macbeth.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I have been attending shows and exploring the town since I was 16 years old.  Each year the Stratford Festival adds new experiences for patrons to discover.  I love that through my involvement with the Festival, I am able to learn and grow in both my professional and personal lives.  
    Maggie Panko
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Facilitating student-made autobiographical short films.
    Favourite Theatre Show:Equus by Peter Shaffer
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? Bringing students from Montreal to experience not just the theatre, but an entire environment based on art, curiosity and shared joy. There is no self-consciousness in a place where young people can immerse themselves in a world offering them new characters and stories to love.
    Teresa Pollett-Boyle
    Biography to come.
    Lisa Simas
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Lightbulb moments in students - especially when they finally "get" Shakespeare.
    Favourite Theatre Show: Shakespeare:A Midsummer Night's Dream, Musical: Les Misérables.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? It feels like I am going home. With years of bringing students and participating in conferences and workshops, I always feel like I am learning something new and can almost instantly put it into practice. I love working with all those involved with the Festival - I learn so much. And I love the quality of theatre so close to home.
    Derek Tomkins
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: I love teaching English (especially Shakespeare) and The Theory of Knowledge, and coaching tennis.
    Favourite Theatre Show: I have so many favourite shows from Stratford Festival's Macbeth in 1990 (my first show) to Julius Caesar at the reopening of the Globe Theatre in 1999, it's hard to choose just one, but I really loved the Stratford Festival's 2001 series of Henry IV, Part 1, Falstaff, and Henry V.  Douglas Campbell's Falstaff was brilliant and hilarious.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? It's the place where I fell in love with live performance. I have seen so many high-quality shows over the years with my family and my students.  I love that there is something for everyone and so many ways to access and appreciate theatre.
    Stefanie Webster
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: My favourite subject is Drama, of course, but not just because of the beautiful, meaningful productions, but because it is integral in building self-confidence and communication skills in our students.  It is a place where everyone is important, everyone has a job and everyone belongs. My best times at school have been when I am involved in drama festivals and when I am immersing students in experience-rich, live theatre performances.  
    Favourite Theatre Show: My all-time favourite theatre production list is extensive.  However, my top three plays are: Macbeth, Twelve Angry Men, and Equus.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? What excites me the most about the Stratford Festival - other than seeing all of the wonderful shows and experiencing all it has to offer -  is the magical pre-show energy you get from sitting in the audience of one of their beautiful theatres that you simply cannot feel anywhere else.   
    Dr. Gregory Wilson
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: I don't have a favourite subject. I enjoy learning and helping others learn. That is why I love being an educator.
    Favourite Theatre Show: The two favourite shows I have seen are The Importance of Being Earnest with Brian Bedford (funniest play I have ever seen!) and Waiting for Godot at the Tom Patterson Theatre and how intimate that experience was.
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? I love being able to visit the Stratford Festival, knowing I am going to see world-class theatre, enjoy wonderful food and visit one of the prettiest towns in Canada.
    Dr. David Wood
    Favourite Subject/Part of School: Since 2009, I have also led groups of my largely first-generation university students on annual, week-long academic excursions to the Stratford Festival. 
    Favourite Theatre Show: Some of my favorite shows have included The Tempest (2010), Twelfth Night (2011), Elektra (2012), Hay Fever (2014), She Stoops to Conquer (2015), The Changeling (2017), Bakkhai (2017), Tartuffe (2017), H.M.S. Pinafore (2017), Coriolanus (2018), Long Day's Journey into Night (2018), The Merry Wives of Windsor (2019), and Private Lives (2019).
    What excites you most about the Stratford Festival? My week-long academic excursions to the Stratford Festival serve as the highlight of my academic year.
    Carla Bennett

    Carla Bennett (she/her) is a Filipina/English choreographer, actor, dancer and educator based in Toronto. Over the past 25 years her credits as a performer and creative team member span the entertainment industry including live theatre, film, television and music.

    Currently, Carla is a member of the choreography team for the AppleTV series SEE.  Her choreography can also be seen in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Adventures of Pericles (Stratford), FXX series Man Seeking Woman, associate choreography in feature film Pacific Rim (dir. Guillermo del Toro) and assistant choreography in Degrassi: Next Class and the Emmy Award winning film Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas.

    Carla was a member of the 2020 Stratford season appearing in Spamalot and Wendy and Peter.   Her other theatre credits include Carousel, The Adventures of Pericles, Crazy for You, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 42nd Street, Much Ado About Nothing, West Side Story, A Funny…. Forum, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, The King and I (Stratford), Holiday Inn (Shaw), Return to Grace, A Funny… Forum (Mirvish), and multiple seasons at Drayton Entertainment, Theatre Aquarius and Neptune Theatre. Selected film and television credits: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, The Next Step, State Like Sleep, Warehouse 13, Hellcats, Slings and Arrows, and Honey.

    Éric Charbonneau
    Prior to Covid-19, Éric Charbonneau was in his fourth season with the Stratford Festival as associate conductor for Chicago. Éric shared the stage with renowned composer Alan Menken for the Stratford Festival's concert Portrait of a Collaboration: Alan Menken & Marion Adler. Previously he was associate conductor for their productions of The Music Man and Billy Elliot as well as being a rehearsal pianist for HMS Pinafore. Éric graduated with a Master's degree in Collaborative Piano from Western University under Dr. John Hess in 2013. Since then, Éric has been working as a freelance vocal coach, collaborative pianist, conductor and teaching artist.

    As a music director, credits include Blank Stage: Performances from the Porch (Stratford Perth Museum), Susannah (Peck Productions), Saucy Jack & the Space Vixens (LINK theatre), The Secret Garden (London Community Players), Company (Music Theatre on the Thames), Heathers: The Musical (Musical Theatre Productions), A Really Retro Crooner Christmas (LINK theatre), Street Scene (Halifax Summer Opera Festival), La Fille du Régiment (Fountainhead Theatre & London Community Players), Mame (London Community Players), Mr. Burns - A Post­-Electric Play (Wortley Repertory Theatre), JUDY: Stonewalled! (A Missing Link Theatre Company), Lucky Stiff (Original Kids Theatre Company).
    Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks

    CynthiaJimenez-Hicks (she/her) is a Filipino-Canadian theatre artist from Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton). Cynthia grew up performing and choreographing for the Philippine Barangay Performing Arts Society. These days Cynthia primarily works as an actor and theatre maker. She has dedicated much of her career to developing new Canadian theatre with companies such as fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre, Carousel Players, YPT, Stratford Festival, Studio 180, Bad Hats, Shakespeare in the Ruff, Nightwood and Factory. A graduate of NTS, her performing highlights include: The Candidate, The Party, A Christmas Carol (Citadel), This London Life (Grand), Girls Like That (Tarragon), Boys Girls and Other Mythological Creatures (Carousel Players), Barbelle Series (KindaTV), Hudson & Rex (CityTV). Cynthia often works as an educator and facilitator with companies such as Stratford Festival, Paprika, MacEwan University, and Artstrek. Tune to A is Cynthia's new play co-created with Carly Neis and Cameron Kneteman. Tune to A aims to shine a spotlight on allyship and disability representation in the entertainment industry. www.cynthiajimenezhicks.com

    Edward Smith
    Biography to come.
    Luc Tellier
    Luc Tellier is a Queer theatre actor, director, and educator from Amiskwaciwâskahikan, colonially known as Edmonton. As an educator, Luc teaches hundreds of students on an annual basis through his various positions at YouthRiot YEG (Alberta Playwrights' Network's writing program for LGBTQ+ teens), Theatre Alberta's ARTSTREK, the Jubliee Auditoria's Jube School, and while instructing freelance workshops in schools across Alberta. He's been seen in over 25 productions with companies such as the Citadel Theatre, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Freewill Shakespeare, Edmonton Opera, Tiny Bear Jaws, Kill Your Television, and Blarney Productions. They received the Lieutenant Governor Award for Emerging Artist in 2020 and a Sterling Award for their performance in Concrete Theatre's English and ASL bilingual opera, Songs My Mother Never Sung Me, in 2019.