We believe representation matters and young people deserve to see themselves reflected in the guest artists and mentors who visit their classrooms.
Our team of skilled Artist Educators are working theatre professionals representing diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. They are actors, playwrights, directors and designers who love connecting with young people and are passionate about the transformative power of theatre.
I was so impressed with the caring, safe and brave space that the artist-educators created for my students. As a result, my students were able to express their authentic selves. The workshops allowed them to explore who they are as young people navigating this challenging time in their development.Shelly Meichenbaum, Drama Teacher, Wexford Collegiate School of the Arts, TDSB
Yolanda (they/she) is a Bi/Queer 2 Spirit Anishinaabe-Ojibwe, South Asian mixed performer, playwright and multidisciplinary creator/educator. Originally from Fort William First Nation, Ontario her arts practice is now based in Tkarón:to. In February 2020, Yolanda’s four-time Dora nominated solo show bug was remounted at Theatre Passe Muraille while the published book (Scirocco Publishing 2020) was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award. In 2022, her play White Girls in Moccasins, was produced at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre as well as at the frank theatre on Coast Salish Territory. Yolanda was the first Indigenous artist recipient of the Jayu Arts for Human Rights Award for her work and won the PGC Tom Hendry Drama Award for her play, My Sister’s Rage which was produced by Tarragon Theatre, in association with Studio 180 Theatre and TO Live, in 2022. Yolanda is also a Dora-nominated actor who has performed at theatres including Native Earth, Soulpepper, NAC, Factory and the Stratford Festival. Yolanda has taught/facilitated at schools like York University and Sheridan College and proudly bases her practice in land-based creation, drawing on energy and inspiration from the earth and her ancestors.
Drama-based education provides an outlet and encouragement to use their voices, have an opinion and say something about the world as well as tell their own stories.
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Ramona (she/her) is an actor, singer, director, choreographer and teacher based in Toronto. A music education graduate from McGill University in voice (Honours in Music for Children, and Choral Music), she spent ten seasons at the Thousand Islands Playhouse, and has performed at Young People’s Theatre and Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon. In 2006, Ramona took over the role of ‘Loonette the Clown’ on TV’s Big Comfy Couch. Ramona works as an Artist Educator around the city in various schools, for Studio 180 and as a Resident Artist Educator for Y.P.T. She spent five summers directing over forty children in a musical at Camp Art House, and teaches drama, performance practice, and musical theatre at various studios in Toronto. Ramona ran Glee Choirs with The Music Project, and community chamber choirs for children independently in the west end. She currently leads three choirs with Sistema Toronto and is developing their choral curriculum, and has created the Children’s Arts Club at Calvin/Deerpark.
High school students straddle a really cool world between playful youth and serious adult questioning. They have strong opinions but are also often open to changing those strong opinions when given more information or upon hearing new thoughts.
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Jessica (she/her) is Studio 180’s Director of Youth and Community Engagement, a co-creator of the IN CLASS program, and a core member of the company since 2004. She is a Dora-nominated actor and a leader in drama education with a passion for promoting youth empowerment and building community through theatre. As an actor she has performed on stages across Canada and the US, including Studio 180, Canadian Stage, Crow’s Theatre, Mirvish Productions, Project: Humanity, Magnus Theatre, YPT, The Citadel, MTYP, Passe Muraille, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Theatre New Brunswick, Willow Cabin Theatre and Theatreworks/USA. She has appeared on The Handmaid’s Tale, Murdoch Mysteries and Being Erica as well as the animated series Fish ‘n Chips. At Studio 180 Jessica oversees all education and Beyond the Stage programming including the creation of study guide resources and the curation of lobby exhibits, chats, panels, talkbacks and other special events. She worked as Education Coordinator for ARCfest: Toronto’s Human Rights Arts Festival, and is the Director of Child Engagement for the Child-ish Collective. She holds an Honours BA in political science and women’s studies from McGill University and completed her classical acting training at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York and as an apprentice at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky.
Young people aren’t asked how they see the world nearly enough. I love when they unapologetically make themselves heard.
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Virgilia (she/her) is a Toronto based actor. Winner of the Meta Emerging Artist Award for Gas Girls written by Donna Michelle St. Bernard. Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance for Harlem Duet written by Djanet Sears. She was also a Dora Mavor Moore nominee for Outstanding Female in the Independent Division for her performance of Honesty directed by Jordan Tannahill, a Dora nominee for Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) (Saga Collectif) and for Our Place (Theatre Passe Muraille/Cahoots). Virgilia is passionate about working with youth through art based spaces. She has worked with Paprika Festival doing scene study work and was an assistant with the Youth Mentorship Program at Soulpepper Theatre. Selected acting credits include: Queen Goneril/King Lear (Soulpepper Theatre Company), Serving Elizabeth (Stratford Festival), Georgeena (21 Black Futures/Obsidian Theatre Company/CBC Gem), Contractions (Studio 180 Theatre), Guarded Girls (Tarragon Theatre/ Greenlight Arts), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Soulpepper Theatre), The Wedding Party (Crow’s Theatre).
Drama-based education is vital because the imagination is a sacred space, where transformation of self and arguably the world around us become possible.
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Jenna (she/her) is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and is a Dora-nominated actor, playwright, devised theatre creator and arts educator. Jenna is also the Artistic Producer of Discord and Din Theatre and a founding member of [elephants] collective. Jenna has been a participant of Studio 180 IN DEVELOPMENT (2015 & 2019), the Tarragon Playwrights Unit, the Thousand IslandsPlayhouse Playwright’s Unit, The Company Theatre New Play Development Program, La MaMa Umbria International Playwright Retreat (Italy, led by Lisa Kron), and a Resident Playwright at ArtHouse Jersey (Channel Islands). Jenna was also a Playwright in Residence at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and a member of their Artist Residency program with her play MINE. In addition to her extensive work with Studio 180 IN CLASS, Jenna has taught at University of Guelph, Randolph College for the Performing Arts, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Tech and the 92nd Street Y in New York.
I love the collaborative nature of the IN CLASS workshops! Each one is unique and special because of the collaboration between both of the IN CLASS artist educators, as well as with the teacher and the students. The IN CLASS 3-session workshop has a framework that not only supports this collaborative work, but also promotes it – by being both structured and open – so that each time I lead it’s a new and exciting experience.
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Andrew (he/him) is an award winning broadcaster, sound engineer, educator and voice talent. Graduating in 2008, Andrew has since contributed to the growth, and sonic development of several major market stations. Starting as a board operator, he worked his way through various station roles, before finding a passion for production. Andrew’s work experience has allowed him to develop a strong understanding of the fundamentals of Radio. He has sound designed for Audio Plays, Podcast, and Theatre. Andrew is also a national voice talent who has voiced commercials across North America for clients like Honda, Lexus, Universal Music Canada and Spotify.
The discussions are deep and insightful and giving students a glimpse into the world of sound design allows them to see all the elements of a great piece. These youth have so much passion, intelligence, and creativity in them. The future is looking bright!
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Heather Johnson (she/her) is a Black, Queer workshop facilitator and educator. Her experience has mainly been centred around youth and youth working adults. Her work focuses on media literacy, healthy relationships, sexual health, and how to practice consent. In the past she has worked with Bad Subject, a non-profit dedicated to teaching youth how to have healthy relationships and how to navigate consent both in their relationships and their lives. Heather also writes and develops workshops on topics such as attachment theory and media analysis, and is committed to making learning spaces accessible.
The most exciting thing about working with youth about consent is the way in which it sharpens my own consent practices. Kids don’t have the same conditioning as us to accept discomfort and they really let you know what’s what. I hope to be that responsive to my needs one day, haha.
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Ryan (he/him) has been a part of the Canadian Entertainment Industry for over 25 years. A graduate from Sheridan College’s Music Theatre Program Ryan has enjoyed opportunities to perform on many stages and in many mediums. Some stage credits include: Falsettos (Winnipeg Jewish Theatre), Avenue Q (Citadel Theatre – Sterling Award), Assassins (Toronto Musical Concerts), Rocky Horror Show (Sudbury Theatre Centre), The Normal Heart (Studio 180 – Dora Nom), Living with Henry (Off Bway – Performance Award), Will the Real JT LeRoy Please Stand Up (Buddies in Bad Times – Dora Award Winner). TV and Film credits include: Murdoch Mysteries (CBC), Saving Hope (CTV), Bitten (SyFy), Warehouse 13 (Space), Queer As Folk (Showtime), The Dog Walker (TIFF), Cosmopolis (Cronenberg). As Director: Matilda & Secret Garden (MainstageTheatre Company), Two Kittens and a Kid (Edinburgh Fringe), Downtown Jay (Toronto Fringe). Finally, as an Arts Educator Ryan has taught in the GTA for Studio 180, Wexford Collegiate, Bishop Strachan, Spectrum Arts School and Cardinal Carter. Ryan is currently on faculty at George Brown Dance where he teaches the Acting programme as well is performance and show consultant for their Next Stage and In Haus presentations.
High school students today are very sharp. They come from a place of honesty, and compassion with a kindness that wasn’t around as readily when I was in high school.
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April Siutong Leung 梁筱彤 (she/her) is an award-winning playwright, performance creator, and actor who grew up in Hong Kong and is now based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). She has worked with many celebrated theatre companies across Turtle Island including Blyth Festival, Factory Theatre, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, fu-GEN Theatre, and Carousel Players. April’s love of working with youth and young people has led her to being on the artistic team of Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts’ Summer Musical School, a visiting artist at Humboldt Forum’s Humboldting program (Berlin), and the coordinator of Theatre Passe Muraille’s Centre Court youth program. She graduated from University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College in the Joint Theatre and Drama Studies program, and has participated in Factory Theatre’s Training Enhancement program as a playwright (The Foundry). April is currently the Artistic Associate at Theatre Passe Muraille.
Drama-based education allows us to see and experience the world from perspectives outside of our own.
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Mark’s Studio 180 performing credits include Oslo, The Nether, You Will Remember Me, Clybourne Park and Stuff Happens. He has been a director and/or dramaturg(e) for many of Studio 180’s IN DEVELOPMENT projects and, as the program’s coordinator, has worked to connect creators with the appropriate collaborators required to bring their visions to the stage. He adapted and directed Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish for PANAMANIA, directed Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays and worked as Associate Director for Blackbird, God of Carnage and Studio 180’s 10th Anniversary reading of The Laramie Project. Mark was a member of the acting ensemble at the Shaw Festival for five seasons and he performed in several reviews with The Second City’s National touring company. He has been head or co-writer on several collective creations (Single and Sexy, That Artz Show and The Berlin Show) and his play MacHamlet was presented as part of the Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival. As an artist educator he has worked with high school, college and university students in and beyond the GTA and is continually inspired by the passion and vision of the young artists he has had the good fortune to connect with.
High school students have the capacity to be our mentors, leading change in the world and endlessly challenging systems that oppress, and that’s inspiring.
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Jeff (he/him) is a graduate of Ryerson Theatre School and currently teaches in the Theatre-Performance and Broadcasting departments at Centennial College in Toronto. He taught modern scene study, text analysis, audition technique and improvisation at North Bay’s Canadore College. As an actor, for Studio 180, he appeared in My Night With Reg, Cock, The Normal Heart, The Arab-Israeli Cookbook and The Laramie Project. Other theatre includes productions with Theatre Passe Muraille, Young People’s Theatre, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Florida Shakespeare Theater and Boston’s Speakeasy Theater.
Knowing that many of the young people that we meet in IN CLASS workshops will soon be in leadership positions in governments, cultural organizations, faith institutions, gives me hope that real help is on the way.
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Though born in Toronto, Ngabo Nabea (he/him) spent much of his childhood travelling and studying abroad. He returned to Toronto to study theatre performance at Toronto Metropolitan University. His first experience working with Studio 180 was for a reading of Common by Marie-Beath Badian as part of the IN DEVELOPMENT program. Upon graduating, he has performed in various shows around Toronto, including leads in Twisted (Factory Theatre), The Postman (Appledore Productions, Pan Am Games), The Number’s Game (Storefront Theatre), I and You (Globe Theatre), As You Like It and Fences (Grand Theatre). He continued to hone his skills with the Factory Theatre Mechanicals and the Stratford Birmingham Conservatory and in 2022 performed in Death and the King’s Horseman and Hamlet at the Stratford Festival. He has also appeared in various TV shows, including Pretty Hard Cases, The Strain, Salvation and The Expanse. Ngabo is also an avid self-taught illustrator, and has drawn promotional artwork for events hosted by Stratford Theatre, Suddenspark Collective and Soulpepper.
I like seeing students passionately (and respectfully) sharing their differing opinions on things, born out of different cultures, identities and experiences. Honestly, the world could definitely use more of that (or you know, if not the world, at least Twitter).
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Marissa (she/her) is a multidisciplinary Filipina-Canadian artist based in Toronto. Marissa received an M.A. from the University of Toronto, working with the Centre for Theatre, Drama, and Performance Studies on her thesis Considering Process: Investigating Practice and Methodology in Filipinx Canadian Theatre Creation. She has been fortunate enough to participate in the actor enhancement training program at Factory Theatre with Nina Lee Aquino and Natasha Mumba, and she holds certificates from the Royal Conservatory of Music for Operatic Voice and Classical Piano Performance. She has performed in productions including King Lear (Stratford Festival), Les Belles-Soeurs (Stratford Festival), A (Musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream (Driftwood Theatre), and FEARLESS (fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre). Marissa is thrilled to be with the Education Team and looks forward to inspiring the next generation of theatre creators!
Young people are just as creative and revolutionary as they are inquisitive!
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Christina (she/her) is a Filipina-Canadian actor, writer, and artist educator based in Toronto. A recent graduate of the Theatre and Drama Studies Program at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, she enjoys balancing her time between exploring her artistic passions and working with young people in arts-based education. Recently she’s been in development for the upcoming play Pedestal Pinays as 1/3 of the Disconnect(ed) Collective with Carlos Bulosan Theatre, and has also released works for fu-GEN’s MH370 audio installation and Digital Connections project. On camera, you can catch her on SYFY and Crave’s Astrid and Lilly Save the World, on Netflix and The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories, and more. When she has free time, you’ll likely find Christina coercing her sister Marissa into helping her with a self-tape or she’s playing with her cat Lucy. She’s over the moon to be a part of Studio 180’s Education Team!
There is such great power, innovation, passion, joy, and more to be found within young people’s inner worlds. Now more than ever is the time to foster it.
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A co-founder of Studio 180 and co-creator of the Studio 180 IN CLASS program, Kimwun (she/her) is an actor, independent theatre producer and artist educator. From 2002 to 2016, she was a member of the company’s Core Artistic Team. With Studio 180, she has appeared in You Will Remember Me, Love, Dishonor…, Clybourne Park, Our Class (Dora Nomination – Ensemble), Offensive Shadows, The Arab-Israeli Cookbook, The Laramie Project and The Passion of the Chris. She also directed and facilitated the first Studio 180 IN DEVELOPMENT process for Marie Beath Badian’s Common. Her work onstage includes performances with VideoCabaret, Howland Company (Dora Award – Ensemble for Casimir & Caroline), Theatre New Brunswick, Canadian Stage, Mirvish Productions, Tarragon Theatre, MTC, Gateway Theatre, Theatre Junction, the GCTC, Roseneath Theatre (Dora Nomination – Ensemble for Wrecked), Eldritch Theatre and the Stratford Festival. Kimwun is also a communications coach, working with Practica Learning and SoulPepper. She holds a Joint honours Co-op BA from the University of Waterloo and is a graduate of George Brown College.
When students step into imagining the point of view of a character, extrapolating and exploring what this other person might be feeling or how they’re looking at a situation, there are great surprises and sometimes very moving discoveries.
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Pursuing her BFA in theatre at York University’s Acting Conservatory, Jobina splits her time between Toronto and her hometown of Vancouver as a multi-disciplinary actor, singer, and performer. Select credits include her recent collaboration with Jeff Ho on dear heart, work on Maggie Chun’s First Love and Last Wedding (the winner of the Toronto Fringe Festival’s New Play Contest) as the title character, and Paradise Lost, directed by Keira Loughran at York University. Outside of her acting career, Jobina can be found performing with various music ensembles such as Couch Jams, a Vancouver-based music collective, and working in local arts education as both an administrator and educator. When not in the world of the arts, Jobina enjoys reading, sushi buffets, and spending lots of time with her roommate’s cat, Marlowe.
Drama-based education is vital because of the core themes found in it that overlap with so many other aspects of life: communication, empathy, understanding, and bravery – these are all integral to building a kind, thoughtful, and forward-thinking generation.
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Marcel (he/him) is a father, award-winning theatre maker, director, writer, educator, and arts administrator who serves as an Associate Artist for FOLDA (Festival of Live Digital Art). Marcel’s curiosity about history and lineage – beyond the context of colonialism – is at the basis of his artistic practice. He holds a degree in Dramatic Arts from Brock University, was a member of the Soulpepper Academy, and completed the Theatre Enhancement Program (as a Directing Foreman) through Factory Theatre. Some of Marcel’s Acting Credits include: The Brothers Size (Soulpepper); The Drawer Boy (Festival Players); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Soulpepper); Father Comes Home From the Wars (Soulpepper); We Are Proud To Present… (The Theatre Centre); Toronto the Good (Factory Theatre). Marcel has directed the podcast play Toronto Pigeons (Factory Theatre); the digital play Meet Chloe (Carousel Players) and the live theatre production of Serving Elizabeth (Thousand Islands Playhouse). Marcel often returns to the questions: Who am I? How am I? How did I get here? Who have I lost? What is my purpose?
Drama-based education can immediately help create an environment for focused inquiry and cross-curricular learning opportunities. Also, the skills learned can support a variety of learning styles and can keep students actively involved in the learning process.
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Mya Wong (she/her) is a Chinese-Vietnamese artist based in Toronto. She is in her fourth year of Toronto Metropolitan University’s acting program. Mya has worked as an artist-educator with Studio 180 since 2023. Select credits include: A Perfect Bowl of Pho (Toronto Fringe Festival), Drama 101 (Toronto Fringe Festival/Bravo Academy), Enormity, Girl, and the Earthquake in her Lungs (TMU Performance), Nationals 2021/Viral Monologues (24 Hour Plays), and Gay Mean Girls S2 (Obvious Allegory).
The students we meet through the IN CLASS program are eager to share their voices with us. It’s only a matter of offering support and eager ears!
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Robin Andrews Morton
Drama Teacher, Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute
Donna Marie Baratta
Drama Teacher, Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts
Teacher & Educational Consultant
Assistant Curriculum Leader, English, Media & Drama, Martingrove Collegiate Institute
Drama Specialist, Integrated Arts, French and Credit Recovery Teachers, Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School
Assistant Curriculum Leader of Performing Arts, Wexford Collegiate School of the Arts
Drama, History and Guitar Teacher, Jean Augustine Secondary School
Drama Teacher, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Academy