Residency: Phase 1: April 4th to April 17th
Phase 2: TBD
Chai, 21, is an emerging neo-soul singer-songwriter, producer, and dancer based in Victoria, BC. Her style incorporates organic instrumentals with dreamlike soundscapes, soulful vocals, and honest lyrics.
My project is to complete and perform my debut EP “Dunno."
"Dunno" explores my first experiences defining love in its many forms - through the lens of a self-raised young woman growing increasingly (and deceivingly) confident & tenacious - as a semi-conscious act of resistance to her environment; a primarily white and antiquated town.
Being selected for this residency gives me the space, time, and guidance needed to revisit existing pieces of my project and refine them to a level that aligns with the quality of work I want to share with the world. My songs that have been on the backburner can finally take center stage and help me define my sound in the world of neo-soul.
Residency: Phase 1: May 17th to 31st
Phase 2: TBD
Amira Rose Abdel-Malek is an award winning recent graduate of the Master’s program in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria which resides on the traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən People known today as the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. As a mixed person (Egyptian, Irish & English), Amira’s hybrid-identity and mixed-ability family informs her ethics of care and dedication to community wellbeing through the arts. Her background includes bringing artistic opportunities to a variety of settings in her work with children, young people, and families, including at the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society and the Shelbourne Community Kitchen. More recently, she co-facilitated the Garth Homer Society’s Drama Program by supporting their artists in performance, story, set and puppet-making, as well as co-writing and recording original songs.
Amira has experience with many modes of theatrical expression. She has received training in multiple types of puppetry with Tim Gosley and SNAFU’s Ingrid Hanson and Kathleen Greenfield, as well as Therapeutic Puppetry and Clowning with the international organization Nose-to-Nose. Highlights from her work include puppeteering giant puppets for the artist Roy Henry Vickers’s Peace Dancer (2017/2019) and shadow puppeteering for Theatre Inconnu in Dead Man’s Cell Phone (2019). Amira’s has also dabbled in stop-motion animation, shooting, performing, and co-editing music videos for the psych-rock band Grimwood’s “Lil’ Bandit,” with face paint on live models, and electronic music artist Cougher’s “High Speed Hallucinations,” using silhouettes with an ‘old-school’ overhead projector.
Amira is excited and grateful to have the opportunity to receive creative mentorship through the conVERGE micro-residency with Intrepid and Puente Theatre to continue her work on a short piece called The Clever Prince. This project is a multi-level narrative that includes a mix of tales from the 1001 Nights tradition and real-world stories inspired by Amira’s father’s own life experiences. Using a variety of types of puppets, including object, stick, and overhead projectors The Clever Prince tells a story of adventure and magic, exploring themes of friendship, the corruption of authority, and migration and transformation. The Clever Princepromises to take audiences on a whimsical ride into the unique and the familiar, from poetry to pomegranates!
“This opportunity for mentorship and supportive space fulfills my dreams of being a storyteller and is one I cherish. I look forward to taking my artistic abilities into the next phase and share this knowledge in my work with young artists in my community.”
Residency: June 13th to 26th
Niah Davis is a nonbinary, mixed race, emerging artist based in Victoria BC (W̱SÁNEĆ and Lkwungen territories) Niah is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts’ Enriched Performing Arts, and Applied Performing Arts diploma program. There, they developed their skills as a performer, playwright, and director. As a part of the New Works Festival in their second year, they collaborated with a local musician and songwriter to create Lilies: an original musical. The experience inspired them to pursue a future in the development of new work. They set their sights on cultivating their skills as a director and playwright and began applying for theatre residencies. After receiving a spot in Puente Theatre’s WorkPlay residency last year, they started writing their play Gorgó, a retelling of Medusa’s myth. Currently they are in rehearsals, partially staging the piece for a public performance.
My project Gorgó is based on Ovid and Hesiod’s ancient Greek myths about Medusa. It’s an interdisciplinary piece; a play with elements of music, dance, and physical theatre. For the music, I have incorporated ancient Greek music and poetry, as well as original songs and vocal harmonies/melodies. The play is an origin story for the famous gorgon, where she herself takes us through her memories when she was still a young girl fighting against a devastating prophecy.
My goal was to not only get it as culturally and historically accurate as possible but to also address topics like sexism, gender identity, patriarchal power structures, and sexual assault. I wanted to combine both the Greek and Roman versions to explore and further build upon her story in a way that current audiences would understand and possibly relate to. These are topics which are especially important to me as an afab nonbinary person, and as someone who has intergenerational trauma connected to sexual assault.
But I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to further workshop my play during the conVERGE residency. While developing the piece, I took on the roles of sound designer, music director, prop master, costume designer, choreographer and stage manager. This was all on top of being the director and playwright as well. Some of my actors were kind enough to offer their assistance during the process, but handling so many tasks presented many challenges for me. I have yet to fully experience the process of self-producing a play, and so this residency will be extremely beneficial in teaching me how to do so with personalized mentoring. It’ll help me pave a clear path forward so my future work has a chance of being professionally produced and shared with bigger audiences. Slowly but surely, I’ll work towards that goal and I’m very grateful Intrepid Theatre and Puente Theatre will be a part of that journey.
conVERGE Producer & Mentor: Mercedes Bátiz-Benét
Mercedes is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and award-winning director. She was born and raised in Mexico and in 1997 she moved to Canada. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing in both poetry and drama, and a BA Honours in Philosophy from the University of Victoria, as well as a Diploma in Film Production from the Pacific Film & New Media Academy. Approaching expression from as many angles as possible, she has worked as writer, dramaturge, director, set and costume designer, translator, adapter, actor, puppeteer, multi-media artist, screenwriter, film and video editor, cinematographer, and director. Productions of her work include "Faust: Ignis Fatuus" (FaustFest International Festival), "Shining Through", "Lágrimas Crueles", "With Open Arms", "El Jinete – A Mariachi Opera", "Cruel Tears/Lágrimas Crueles", a Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre and Puente Theatre co-production, and as co-writer, "The Secret Sorrow of Hatchet Jack Macphee" for The Caravan Farm Theatre, "The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan" with the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, "The Umbrella", an Old Trout Puppet Workshop and Puente Theatre co-production, and Puente Theatre’s "Gruff". Selected directing credits include "Gruff", "The Umbrella", "Lieutenant Nun", "El Jinete -- A Mariachi Opera", "Fado, The Saddest Music in the World", which won the inaugural JAYMAC Award for Outstanding Production at the Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards in 2020, and most recently "Yerma". In 2014, Mercedes won the Canadian Stage Award for Direction at the SummerWorks Festival in Toronto with her play "El Jinete – A Mariachi Opera", and in 2015 she was chosen as the Distinguished Alumna of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria. She is the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction editor at Bayeux Arts, and the artistic director of Puente Theatre.
Residency: Phase 1: April 4th to 17th
Phase 2: TBD
Chai Sullivan's Mentor: Hanorah
Canadian singer-songwriter Hanorah grew up to the sound of the classic rock and soul music her parents were fond of. Early on, she developed a passion for powerful vocalists, such as Etta James, Amy Winehouse and Joss Stone (to whom she has been compared many times). Following a sexual assault in 2012, she plunged into a state of deep distress. After seeking psychological help and reading testimonies of other survivors, she decided to dive head first into songwriting. Her chance meeting with guitarist Paul De Rita (who became her partner and closest collaborator) marked a creative turning point. Hanorah signed with Dare to Care Records and released her debut EP ‘For The Good And The Bad Guys’. In 2019, the young artist toured Canada as an opening act for international artist Coeur de Pirate; won the FEQ (Festival d’Été de Québec) contest and grant; and secured slots at Ottawa Bluesfest, POP Montreal (with Mavis Staples), International Jazz Fest of Montreal, and more. Her debut EP has since amassed more than a million and half streams and counting with a live video concert being debut released through ELLE Canada. Most recently, Hanorah signed with Ensoul Records and is working on her first full length album set for release in 2022.
Residency: Phase 1: May 17th to 31st
Phase 2: TBD
Amira Abdel-Malek's Mentor: Izad Etemadi
Izad Etemadi is an Iranian-Canadian actor and writer based out of Toronto. Born in Germany and raised in Victoria, BC, he is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts. After relocating to Toronto, Izad won the Emerging Queer Artist award from Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in 2017. Represented by the Characters Talent Agency, he plays Simon on Overlord and The Underwoods (CBC/Nickelodeon), Kevon on Revenge of the Black Best Friend (CBC) and is currently a resident of the 2021 CBC Actors Conservatory at the Canadian Film Centre. Most recently, he originated the role of Samuel in the new Canadian musical Grow (from the producers of Come From Away). Since 2014, Izad has written and starred in several solo comedy shows that have sold out across the country and earned Izad awards including the 2016 Broadway World award for Best Independent Production. As a screenwriter, he is working on shows in development and production with Shaftesbury Kids, Family Channel, and OUTtv. His work uses comedy to explore issues of queer identity, immigration, body image, and the terrors of being a millennial.