Vanessa Porteous has been Artistic Director at Alberta Theatre Projects since 2009. Among her other duties, Vanessa has directed The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, and the world premieres of Heartbreaker by Morwyn Brebner and Greg MacArthur's Tyland, as part of ATP's Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays. Vanessa was invited to the Arts Club in Vancouver to recreate her production of The Penelopiad in the fall of 2011. Upcoming productions at ATP include the world premiere of What To Expect by Joan Macleod and Red by John Logan.
From 1998 to 2006 Vanessa was a senior member of the Artistic Team at Alberta Theatre Projects where among other things, as Festival Dramaturg, she oversaw the world premieres of over 30 new Canadian plays as part of the annual playRites Festival, and contributed to programming, visioning, and strategic planning for the company. During her tenure, the Festival expanded to a second stage, to foster a wider diversity of artistic practice. She directed over 10 productions at ATP during her time on staff. As part of her duties at ATP, Vanessa spent seven summers on the dramaturgical staff of the Playwrights Colony, guiding the development of new plays slated for premiere at ATP and contributing to the leadership of this national writer's retreat in the Rockies.
Over the last nine years, Vanessa's productions in Calgary have been nominated for over 25 Betty Mitchell Awards in various categories, including 5 nominations for Outstanding Production. In 200B she was awarded Outstanding Direction for her production of When That I Was with The Shakespeare Company.
Her work is eclectic. Her focus tends to be on contemporary repertoire. She has deep roots in new work. She has taken on many styles of material, including puppetry, theatre with music, and recently, opera.
Recent directing work includes: When That I Was for The Shakespeare Company, starring local acting great Chris Hunt, which she also designed; Tennessee Williams' gothic classic Suddenly Last Summer, with the theatre students at Mount Royal College; Ravel and Colette's mini masterpiece of an opera The Enchanted Child with Calgary Opera Emerging Artists, which she also designed; directing and dramaturging the world premiere of Eugene Stickland's Queen Lear at Urban Curvz Theatre, which featured the doyenne of Calgary's theatre scene, Joyce Doolittle, making her first appearance in the Joyce Doolittle Theatre at the Pumphouse; and directing the world premiere of Don Juan: The Greatest Lover in the World by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, at Alberta Theatre Projects, which was nominated for 7 Betties and continues a second year of touring in 2009/10.
In 2007/08, she directed the world premiere of the urban cowboy cabaret Don Coyote by local indie country music favourite Matt Masters, with video by Terrance Houle, at the Sled Island Festival (remounted at Nuits Blanches in Toronto); Helen's Necklace, Urban Curvz Theatre (for which the live Santur playing by Amir Amiri won a Betty
Award); The Syringa Tree, Alberta Theatre Projects (remounted thanks to popular demand); Snake in the Grass, Vertigo Theatre (Sharon Pollock's mystery play highlight of 2008); and the short operas La Divino and Leportrait de Manon with the Emerging Artists Ensemble at Calgary Opera.
As a freelance dramaturg, Vanessa was Production Dramaturg on the world premiere of The Wars, based on the novel by Timothy Findley, at Theatre Calgary. She was the first dramaturg ever hired at Theatre Calgary. The published script was released by Scirocco in 2009. She also acted as Dramaturg on the world premiere of a non-verbal show about the importance of failure called Flop! by Glenda Stirling at Quest Theatre for Young People. She was assistant director of a new production of Rigoletto at Calgary Opera, and received a grant from the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas to go to Guanajuato, Mexico, to work with The Old Trout Puppet Workshop on Don Juan. Vanessa's article about creating Pinocchio with The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, at Alberta Theatre Projects, appeared in the Devised Theatre issue of Canadian Theatre Review in 2009.
Selected previous directing credits include: the world premiere of the musical Why Freud Fainted by David Rhymer with Vanessa Porteous, ATP; Mad Boy Chronicle, University of Lethbridge; two productions of The Syringa Tree at ATP (Fast Forward Reader's Choice Award) and one at Thousand Islands Playhouse (starring Jenny Young); the world premiere of Pinocchio by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop with Vanessa Porteous, at ATP and at Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Production); and Plan B, Proof, The Hobbit and the world premiere of Respectable by Ron Chambers, all at ATP.
Vanessa trained as an actor, receiving a BA in Drama from the University of Toronto and a BFA in Acting from the University of Alberta. Her first job in the professional theatre was a summer position as Archivist for Northern Light Theatre, a job that grew to include planning, designing and hosting a 20 year retrospective. Vanessa returned to work for NLT for four years, co-curating an international play festival, dramaturging work in development, assistant directing, and shooting a short film. She eventually joined the board at NLT. Since then she has directed, dramaturged, acted and taught in both official languages. She speaks French fluently and Spanish at an elementary level. She is a member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, and a member of Canadian Actors Equity Association.
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David Shefsiek joined Alberta Theatre Projects in October 2010 as Managing Director. David has been active in the performing arts industry for over 25 years, having held senior management positions at Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and the Big Apple Circus in New York City.
David is dedicated to nurturing the connection between art and audiences. By focusing on this connection, he has increased ticket sales, encouraged philanthropy and engaged theatregoers of all ages, supporting new levels of artistic excellence, the development of artist training initiatives, and the creation of diverse community programming.
Career highlights include marked revenue growth at Pacific Opera Victoria that enabled expansion from a three to four production season; the success of Vancouver Opera’s Campaign to Excel, a multi-year fundraising campaign to capitalize artistic initiatives; the completion of Pittsburgh Opera’s Renaissance Campaign, an initiative to increase operating capacity, eliminate an accumulated deficit and create a permanent endowment; and the opening of a new production centre for the Big Apple Circus.
David believes that revenue development is important only because of the impact it can have on creativity. Favourite professional projects include Pacific Opera Victoria productions of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina (based on Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes), Handel’s Semele and Richard Strauss’ Capriccio, each nationally broadcast on CBC Radio Two; workshops for a newly commissioned opera based on Stephen Massicotte’s Mary’s Wedding, a play which premiered at the Enbridge playRites Festival at ATP; the world premiere tour of Naomi’s Road, a work for young audiences commissioned by Vancouver Opera based on Joy Kogawa’s stories of family life in the WWII internment camps; a series of community performances throughout Western Pennsylvania which marked early career opportunities for opera stars Rolando Villazon, Kate Aldrich and David Miller (of Il Divo); and seeing Peggy and Anna May, the Big Apple Circus elephants, rehearsing in their new home.
David has served as President of the ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria and on the Boards of the Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture and Opera.ca, and has participated as a peer advisor for the Canada Council, BC Arts Council, Arts Partners in Creative Development, and the Pennsylvania Council for the Humanities. He has served as a management consultant for choirs, orchestras, museums and conservatories, a judge for the Metropolitan Opera Council National Auditions, and a career development clinician. Originally from the United States, David became a Canadian citizen in March 2010.
Vicki Stroich is Artistic Associate – Festival and Dramaturg at Alberta Theatre Projects where she has been a member of the Artistic Team for nine years. Vicki’s focus at ATP is dramaturgy and programming for the Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays. She is also Co-Director of The Banff Centre’s Banff Playwrights Colony. She freelances as a dramaturg, facilitator, and director. Her work has included dramaturgy of dramatic text, devised theatre and performance creation. She teaches the occasional workshop and hosts the odd panel. Favourite recent projects include sitting in the jury for the 2008 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, directing The Vajayjay Monologues by Lindsay Burns (New York International Fringe Festival and Urban Curvz Theatre, Calgary) and, of course, her work at the Enbridge playRites Festival and the Banff Playwrights Colony. Vicki is VP Canada of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. And was Conference Chair of the international 2010 LMDA Conference in Banff. She is the proud recipient of a Betty Mitchell Awards for Outstanding Achievement for her contributions to Canadian theatre.
Dianne is the producer at Alberta Theatre Projects. She has worked in many facets of the company including stage management, production management, fundraising, marketing and LEGACY. She has also stage managed for many Calgary theatre companies and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Dianne is the recipient of a Betty Mitchell Award 2000 (The Dean Ott/Debbie Boult Award for Distinguished Achievement in Production), The Harry and Martha Cohen Award 2005 (for significant and sustained contribution to theatre in Calgary) and in that same year, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Drama Department, University of Regina, her alma mater.
Laurel Green is a writer, producer and dramaturg who joined the artistic team at ATP from Toronto. Lending her energy to many arts organizations there, she has worked extensively across disciplines, and with a focus in Festivals that showcase new performance works. Laurel has been the Producer & Dramaturg for Playground Studios, an Artistic Associate with the Rhubarb Festival (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre), and an Associate Producer for SummerWorks and the Paprika Festival. With a Masters degree from the University of Toronto’s Graduate Drama Centre, she is a proud member of the LMDA, from whom she has received numerous Early Career and Dramaturg-Driven Grants. Some of her favourite projects include helping to build the interactive media installation The ToyBox (Playground Studios), writing and directing ARM’S LENGTH (SummerWorks Festival) and Fish And For Dessert (Toronto Fringe Festival), and writing theatre reviews for Australian Stage while travelling Down Under. Since arriving in Calgary, her most memorable achievements have been starring as a dancing seashell in the “Sea Monsters” video for local band Cutest Kitten Ever, and serving as Production Dramaturg on last season’s playRites Festival hit Ash Rizin – her first hip hop musical.
Gwen Murray returned to Calgary in January, 2010 after spending 7 years in Vancouver where she worked as the Marketing and Development Manager for the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society. Prior to her foray to the west coast she ran her own small communications company. This one stop shop provided services from corporate and individual fundraising to corporate identifications and event coordination. Some of her clients included the Headwaters Health Authority, One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre, Alberta Views and Farm Fresh Organics. Besides being a mother she is an art collector, avid runner and enjoys tennis, gardening, reading and entertaining when time permits.