At the beginning of 2023, RISER supported over 100 artists and arts workers through 17 public performances with over 800 tickets sold for four incredible new projects.
We’re proud to announce that RISER Edmonton is back with five stellar projects.
Thank you to a jury of peer artists for their invaluable work in reviewing and recommending these artists through RISER’s third-party curation process.
Through RISER Edmonton, Edmonton-based performing artists and companies will receive support from Common Ground Arts Society and our Senior Partners in the form of rehearsal and performance space, technical and creative support, and a year of mentorship and project development.
NEW IN 2023-24: RISER will present two streams, Production and Development.
The two projects in the Production stream, led by Amena Shehab and Kena León will premiere in the coming seasons.
Our three Development projects, led by Althea Cunningham, Hayley Moorhouse, and Saint Jackson will complete their year of producing mentorship with a workshop and work-in-process showing of their new works.
Tickets, performance schedules, and more will be available at commongroundarts.ca/riser in early 2024. Sign up for our membership for ticket on-sale announcements, and more details about applications for RISER 2024, all coming soon!
Amena Shehab is an Arab woman. She studied at the High Institute of Theatre in Damascus and worked with Al Jazeera Children’s Channel. Her first play in Edmonton was Nine Parts of Desire with The Maggie Tree in 2017, and she has been moving forward ever since. Her plays have appealed to her as a woman, as a mother, and as an immigrant. Her one-woman show, Hagar, was about a woman escaping the war in Syria so that she and her infant child could find a better life. Other plays have included Harun, FOB, the Nurse in Medea, E-Day, All That Binds Us, and Here There Be Night. Have been able to work in these roles to share her experiences with other Canadians. Since 2021, she has been honoured to be the coordinator for The Shoe Project.
About After the Trojan Women in the Production Stream:
After the Trojan Women is inspired by Euripides’ classic. Since 2012, Syrians have been fleeing the war in their country, going to neighbouring Turkey to try and cross the Mediterranean to seek safety in Europe. In the world of this play, time loops to allow women escaping the war now to confront the women of Troy as their city falls. The Syrian women gather on the same shore as ancient Troy – modern-day Turkey – to seek safety in Greece. The women of Troy are being handed out as slaves to be taken away on Greek ships.
Throughout history, the experience of war, which affects all men, women, old and young, in equally profound ways, has primarily been described through men’s eyes. This play, written, directed, and performed by women, will recognize women as reliable and commonplace narrators in the theatre of war – on the battlefield and on the stage.
Also collaborating on After the Trojan Women are Joanna Blundell (Co-Writer) and Elizabeth Hobbs (Director/Producing Mentor).
After the Trojan Women will premiere in 2025. Stay tuned for tickets and performance dates later this year.
“Women have been leading laments since before the war began; after the soldiers are back in the dark earth, now the women remain.”
Kena León (she/they) is an Edmonton-raised Filipinx queer multidisciplinary artist and producer who has worked in various roles in the arts and live events. One of the key foundations of Kena’s journey as a multidisciplinary artist is sound. They are inspired by how sound impacts artists and in turn, impact the production. She is also curious to discover how sound shapes art if at the forefront versus when the visual is at the forefront.
About Queer Chords in the Production Stream:
A chord is created when more than one note is played together. Each chord emotes their own thought and feeling. When one note is changed, the direction of the thought or feeling changes. Much like one’s life journey. We are all bound to many chords that bind us, whether it be our traditions, lineages, or self discovery. One change in those chords changes the trajectory of our lives forever. QUEER CHORDS delves into this journey where a Filipinx immigrant navigates those chords while discovering their queerness.
Also collaborating on Queer Chords are Bianca Miranda (Director), and Gina Puntil (Production Mentor).
Queer Chords will premiere in May 2024. Stay tuned for tickets and performance dates later this year.
“My body of work primarily focused on technologies that impact art and live performances. Whether through my production work, recorded work, or live work, the focus has been on enhancing performances and the art through technologies while staying true to the authenticity of the artist’s vision. During the last two years, I have redefined myself as a multidisciplinary artist. The focus has shifted toward storytelling and bringing my own creativity to artist collectives that are engaging in multidisciplinary productions. I am interested in storytelling that is brought to life through the weaving of sound, movement, the voice, and music.”
Althea is a graduate of the Grant MacEwan University with a diploma in theatre arts. She is a multidisciplinary queer artist: writing, acting, music and arts educator. In recent years she has focused on playwriting and penning longer bodies of work. As an actor for the stage and screen her work has been seen across Canada; there are ambitions to transition into writing for the screen.
About The System in the Development Stream:
With the support of RISER, we will work on draft 3 of a new play titled The System. The show utilizes and incorporates multiples art forms; poetry, spoken word and hip hop culture. We will interview community members, build a team of musical collaborators, and work towards a script and production for early 2024. The shows themes explore: education, marginalized youth and child care services. A highly ambitious project indeed!
“I am ecstatic to marry two art forms together, theatre and hip hop culture, which we don’t see much of in this part of the world. Challenging indeed! Shying away from challenges ain’t me at all. Can’t wait to bring the audience into this world. Hopefully you leave dancing, gain knowledge of an underground world, and take action. Hip hop and theatre just make sense to me and tells the story of corruption with a wicked back beat! I am also stoked about being mentored to have self producing skills too.”
Hayley (she/they) is a queer actor and playwright based in amiskwaciwâskahikan (colonially known as Edmonton). Select acting credits include Hecuba (Bleviss Laboratory Theatre), Smoke (Tiny Bear Jaws), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lodestar Theatre), Tracks (Vena Amoris Projects), Richard III (Studio Theatre), Slight of Mind (Theatre Yes) and The Bully Project (Concrete Theatre). Hayley’s first play, Suspension, premiered at the 2019 Edmonton Fringe Festival. The script was later adapted into a podcast version for the Alberta Queer Calendar Project with Cardiac Theatre. Their solo show Bird Signs received a progress showing at Nextfest 2019, and was adapted into a short film for 2020’s online version of the festival. Her play Beatrice Again and Again is in development, and has thus far received dramaturgical support from Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre and Alberta Playwrights’ Network.
About Tough Guy in the Development Stream:
Tough Guy is set in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a queer nightclub. Amateur boxer Quinn is heralded as a hero, having stopped the gunman just a few minutes into his rampage. Emerson arrives in the city. She’s a survivor of a similar shooting from two years ago, and is now making a documentary, trying to shed light on the lives of queer people impacted by homophobic and transphobic violence. Quinn shuts themself away in the boxing gym to escape the prying questions of Emerson and the heavy expectations of their friends and family – they know the grief will descend the moment they stay still, so they keep fighting.
Other collaborators on Tough Guy include Brett Dahl (Director) and Evan Medd (Dramaturg).
“I’m thrilled to be working on Tough Guy with RISER, especially after seeing the groundbreaking, vital and challenging work they’ve programmed over the past couple of years. This project will expand my artistic boundaries in about a million different ways – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever created before, in scale, form and content, and I can’t wait to begin the development process with a dream team of mentors and collaborators. I believe that this story is timely and urgent. My hope is that it will gently hold and honour queer trauma, will bring light to queer individuals struggling with feelings of isolation and fear in the face of violent bigotry, and will empower audiences to believe in the possibility of a meaningful future beyond tragedy. ”
Saint Jackson (they/them) is a Black queer Muslim multidisciplinary artist, producer, and community organizer living in Amiskwaciwaskahikan with their spouse and far too many cats. After Timiro Mohamed’s Youth Poet Laureate Mentorship, Saint went on to be shortlisted for Edmonton’s 9th Poet Laureate. They are passionate about exploring themes of identity, love, and social justice through poetry and theatre, and are known for their fierce commitment to storytelling and spirituality.
In addition to their artistic pursuits, Saint is also the founder of The Chatroom YEG, an open mic space that celebrates diversity, creativity, and community care. Through their art and community leadership, they are dedicated to promoting accessibility and inclusion, and inspiring empathy and meaningful connections.
About Prayers in Peril in the Development Stream:
With RISER’s support, we will be developing a first draft of Prayers in Peril. This will include interviewing community members, and building a team of collaborators and series of workshops. Prayers in Peril will explore the complex role of religion in the lives of Black, Muslim, and Queer individuals, specifically in Alberta. The work will use salah, Muslims’ five daily prayers, to structure the narrative and symbolize the role of religion in the lives of the characters.
“My identity as a Black, queer, Muslim, and non-binary person shapes the way I create art. With RISER’s support, I’m continuing my work with Prayers in Peril, which is deeply personal and will require vulnerability from myself and collaborators. I’m thrilled to apply the skills I’ve honed across different mediums to this project, and to build new and caring connections within my communities. Developing a story that’s close to my heart and resonates with others is something I’m eagerly anticipating.”
Mac Brock (he/him)
Managing Producer, RISER Edmonton
We are incredibly grateful for the support of our partner, Why Not Theatre, who originated RISER in Toronto in 2014; support from the Government of Canada for RISER’s national expansion; our Senior Partners at Edmonton Fringe Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Catalyst Theatre, and Azimuth Theatre; and our funders, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Edmonton Arts Council.
The RISER Edmonton cohort was selected through a jury of Edmonton-based artists from a variety of artistic and personal backgrounds. Submissions were adjudicated on the criteria of Diversity in form and content, Need for the artist to gain further access to supports and audience, Experience of the producers before joining the program, and Feasibility of the project proposed.