Meet our Youth Advisory Committee for 2017

Our Youth Advisory Committee is focused on creating greater accessibility for youth interested in a career in theatre.

The goal is to achieve a greater connection with youth already engaged in theatre across the province, to examine ways to engage more youth in the province in theatre, and to help foster the next generation of theatre practitioners, professionals, and patrons across the province.

The members of our 2017 Youth Advisory Committee are:

Jason Carlos

Carlos_JasonCurrently finishing his Honours Bachelor of Creative Advertising at Humber College, Jason has successfully pitched and sold through multi-platform campaigns to real-life clients including TJX Canada/WINNERS, for a national digital strategy targeting the millennial audience; and the the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), developing the Ontario-wide harm reduction strategy, Face the Fentanyl, to raise awareness on the dangers of the deadly opioid. The launch of Face the Fentanyl was covered in local and national news including CBC’s Metro Morning, the Toronto Star, Global News and Vice Canada. Though much of his experience lies in commercial advertising, Jason has shifted the focus of his career to marry his deep insight for advertising and marketing with his passion and love for theatre with an internship at Soulpepper Theatre Company – and hasn’t looked back! Being a part of the 2017 Youth Advisory Committee will allow Jason to further explore his passions, apply his skills in an industry-specific setting, and meet new people, all while helping shape the future of the arts industry in Ontario.

Lara De Vries

Devries_LaraLara is a young theatre artist currently in high school. She has previously worked with Talk Is Free Theatre (TIFT) on its 2015-2016 season as a co-op student. This year she was a part of TIFT’s site-specific The Music Man and hopes to bring her interest in site-specific and accessible theatre to Theatre Ontario’s Youth Advisory Committee. Her experiences working on The Wedding Party with TIFT as well as with volunteering with The Toronto Fringe sparked her keen interest in being a part of developing and exploring new work. She hopes to bring her experience as a young emerging artist in a smaller community to the table and help foster opportunities for other emerging artists. Next year, Lara hopes to pursue a degree in theatre at a post-secondary level.

Julia Vodarek Hunter

Hunter_JuliaJulia is a playwright, poet, actor, theatre creator and social justice activist. She is dedicated to creating theatre that reflects and represents the people we see and live beside. Writing and creation credits include: Aperture - The AMY Project, To the kid I was - Expect Theatre, For you For me For Nicolas - Fringe Tour and 2102 - The Humber River Shakespeare sonnet show. Julia holds a Diploma in Theatre Performance from Fanshawe College and a Certificate in Performing Arts from Sheridan College. She has studied playwriting with Brian Quirt at the Tarragon Theatre, creation and improvisation with Martha Ross and completed the Artfare Essentials course with Jumblies Theatre. Julia is interested in youth driven projects, community engaged art and activism in theatre. She is the co-creator of Where’s your head at? the podcast, one of the AMY Project Alumni Program Coordinators, and Assistant Director for The AMY Project 2017 season. "An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect on the times"-Nina Simone.

Davinder Malhi

Malhi_DavinderDavinder Malhi holds a High School diploma and the back half of an English-German pocket dictionary. Since graduation from Crescent Heights in Calgary, he has moved to Toronto and started at York University, in hopes to pursue a degree in Theatre. Davinder has worked on many productions including Concord Floral at Theatre Junction Grand, Defined at the Ignite! Festival for Emerging Artists, and most recently Concord Floral at the Canadian Stage. Identifying as a coloured artist, Davinder has geared the intentions and focus of his future works towards the diversification of the theatrical arts and shedding light on the importance of representation on the stage.

Sophie Mercer

Mercer_SophieSophie grew up in the small town of Perth, Ontario, where she was lucky enough to be involved in a vibrant arts community. She moved to Toronto six years ago to study theatre, and recently completed her BFA in Acting at York University, where she also worked as a Student Ambassador and Mentor in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design and ran their blog, Get AMP(e)D. In 2012, she graduated from the college program in Musical Theatre at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. Sophie is passionate about performing, but also loves collaborating with young people, having spent the past four summers working with kids and teens at the Stratford Festival’s Shakespeare School, and another nine years before that teaching at various summer theatre programs in the province. Her work with young people with disabilities and her recent studies in American Sign Language have sparked an interest in accessibility issues, and she hopes that her work with the Youth Advisory Committee this year will provide more young people with the opportunity to get involved in theatre. Sophie is thrilled to be a part of the 2017 YAC team, and looks forward to inspiring the next generation of theatre artists to achieve their dreams.

Norah Paton

Paton_NorahNorah Paton is a theatre artist based out of Ottawa and graduate of Concordia University’s Theatre Performance program. She works as a writer, director and performer. Recent solo creations include Stephen and Me: an extended love letter to Stephen Harper, and Burnt: a verbatim-ish deep dive into Burning Man. Norah is excited to champion Ottawa on the YAC this year - representing a growing community of artists and making the work of the committee accessible to communities outside Toronto.

Laura Philipps (Co-Chair)

Philipps_LauraLaura Philipps is an independent theatre producer and digital communications professional. She graduated from University of Toronto in 2015, where she studied English, drama and economics. While a student Laura was Artistic Producer of the campus' oldest student theatre troupe, the UC Follies, and an executive member of the tri-campus Drama Coalition. Recent producing credits include Water Choke at Fringe 2015, #7Love at Summerworks 2016. She's excited to be producing a new work inspired by the love story of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, coming to Toronto in summer 2017.

Alex Rand (Co-Chair)

Rand_AlexOriginally from Vancouver Island, BC, Alex Rand has recently moved to Toronto after spending six years living and working in London, UK. As a producer, director, and playwright Alex had the opportunity to work with the National Theatre, Barbican Centre, Southbank Centre, Soho Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, Arcola Theatre, Punchdrunk, Complicite, Ovalhouse, Theatre503, the VAULT Festival, and across the UK from Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the historic Minack Theatre in Cornwall. His first play, If The Lights Are Too Bright, about the Hong Kong democracy protests, was presented at the Ovalhouse Theatre, where he also sat a full term on their Board of Directors as the Youth Representative. Here in Toronto, Alex is working as the Artistic Director of Theatre on the programming team for Toronto for Everyone, the farewell event for Honest Ed's produced by the Centre for Social Innovation, and is also is a Producer for the Brave New Theatre events (Theatre Passe Muraille, October 2016 and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, January 2017).
In his spare time, Alex is an active member of The Thousand Network, a global community of creative leaders and entrepreneurs. He looks forward to spending 2017 with the Youth Advisory Committee and creating more opportunities to inspire young theatre artists across the province.

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