2019 Workshops

Here are the workshop that are being offered at the 2019 Drama Festival!

Instant Story:  How to write something from nothing.

Enter the writer’s room for 90 minutes of unbridled, non-judgemental creativity. Learn about how to honour and grow your original ideas while shutting out ‘Those Voices’, and the quick and dirty basics of writing scripted works for the screen. We’ll make some stuff.

Presented by Jason Long
Jason has been writing for film and theatre in Canada for close to twenty years now. He’s written three feature films alongside frequent collaborator, Robert Cuffley, Turning Paige, Walk All Over Me, and Chokeslam, which was part of the Canadian Film Centre’s Comedy Exchange Program in 2015 and premiered in the fall of 2016. Chokeslam received 4 Rosie Awards, including best screenplay. In addition to story editing on many Alberta based film and television projects, Jason is the screenwriting instructor in the film and video department at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. His latest feature length screenplay, Ice Blue, premiered at the 2017 Calgary International Film Festival. He is also an actor, having played various creeps and weirdos on shows/films such as Wyonna Earp and Young Drunk Punk.


Unarmed Stage Combat!

Come learn what it takes to perform fights on stage in a convincing and safe manner.  We’ll examine some of the most used techniques and create a small choreography, so you can experience the steps necessary to bring the illusion of violence to the stage.

Presented by Laryssa Yanchak
Laryssa Yanchak is Canada’s first woman to have won a professional Fight Directing award (ATP’s Treasure Island in 2006) and the first female to be certified Fight Master through Fight Directors Canada.  She has worked in theatre and film as as Fight Director/choreographer, stunt coordinator, stunt performer and actor.  Most recently she chooses to act as an Armourer (responsible for the firearms on set) in the film industry, once again paving the way for women to be accepted in generally thought of male dominated professions.

Laryssa was certified as an Instructor with Fight Directors Canada in 2008 and has been teaching the art of combat at schools, workshops and for theatrical productions since. Her work spans through disciplines including Ballet (All of Us, Romeo & Juliet, Three Musketeers, Othello), Opera (Lillian Ailing, Moby Dick, Dead Man Walking), Theatre (Blood: A Scientific Romance, Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem, Legislating Love) and Film (El Chicano, Wynonna Earp, Damnation, Klondike, The Assassination of Jesse James)


No Holds Bard

This hands-on workshop highlights Shakespeare’s text by focusing on the language barrier synonymous with his works. By activating the mind and body as the goal to understanding the text we make Shakespeare exciting, accessible and relevant. Through interactive language exercises and story telling activities, Haysam will lead students to analyze and discover the meaning of the language.

Presented by Haysam Kadri
Haysam is an Actor, Director, and Theatre Instructor.  As the Artistic Producer of The Shakespeare Company and Program Director for Shakespeare in the Park/Shakespeare by the Bow in Calgary, Haysam has made it a priority to establish a solid foundation for classical work in Alberta by entertaining audiences through producing and performing of classics, developing and cultivating the talents of emerging artists, and finally, focusing on student education via performances, workshops, and classes.


A Taste of Clown 
(Wed & Fri Only)

Clown offers artists of all backgrounds a unique way to access the imagination. Leaping into a world of serious ridiculousness, participants will explore exercises designed to cultivate the freedom to physicalize, breathe and respond with honesty.

Presented by Jacqueline Russell
Jacqueline is a Calgary based director, performer, creator and arts educator who lives in Mohkinstsis (Calgary). She was the Artistic Producer of Urban Curvz Theatre from 2011-2015, the 2013-14 RBC Emerging Director at Lunchbox Theatre and the Artistic Producer for Evergreen Theatre from 2008-2013. She has worked with The Shakespeare Company, Evergreen Theatre, Calgary Opera, New West Theatre, Lunchbox Theatre, Urban Curvz, Keyano College, Calgary Young People’s Theatre, and Inside Out Theatre. A graduate of the BFA Acting Program at the University of Alberta, she is currently an artist-in-residence at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance. As a theatre facilitator she has worked in artist-in-residency programs province wide. Jacqueline tours with her physical theatre company Sizzle & Spark (sizzlespark.com) and is currently completing her MFA in Theatre Studies at the University of Alberta.


Intro to Lighting Design

An introduction to the elements and practice of creating a lighting design, including the variables that a designer can control and how to control them.

Presented by Tauren
Tauran is a local emerging artist in design and technical theatre. She is in her fourth year in the drama program at the U of C, where she designed lighting for shows including Rhinoceros, Woyzeck, and Mauser, along with creating the current Reeve Theatre lighting plot. She has also worked with Company of Rogues, Urban Stories Theatre, and ND Theatre, and she is currently working on remounting A Dragony Tale for the Common Ground festival.


Building Your Prompt Book

In this workshop, students will learn the importance of assembling a clear and exhaustive prompt book. Yes, all the information that needs to be in there will exhaust you. Tips, tricks, and other important bits will be shared.

Presented by Scott Spidell
Scott Spidell has been a professional theatre artist and craftsperson for over thirty-five years. Over that time, he has worked in almost every aspect of theatre, film and television, as an union actor in all three mediums, driving and loading tour trucks, writing scripts for TV shorts, working sound on a Papal tour, a tailor’s apprentice, carpenter, scenographer, video designer, camera assistant, lighting designer, props master, producer, and stage manager. He is a member for the Canadian Actor’s Equity Association (CAEA – as an actor and stage manager), Association of Canadian Television & Radio Artists (ACTRA – television, film, and commercials), and the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC – set, lights, and video design). Scott currently is the Theatre Department Chair at MacEwan University and has taught at the Universities of Waterloo, Texas Lutheran, Guelph, Windsor, Ryerson and Fanshawe College.


Voice and Body Warm-Up and Using Tools for Vocal Variety – Wednesday, May 1st

Learn how to incorporate a complete warm-up for voice and body into your work as an actor. Also discover how to creatively explore text using tools for vocal variety. Incorporating these tools into your work will help an audience understand a character’s meaning and intention more fully.

Heightened Voice Work, Thursday, May 2nd

Learn how to effectively and safely use your voice to laugh, cry, scream, grunt and shout during heightened moments on stage.

Presented by Dawn Sadoway
Dawn currently teaches voice in the MacEwan Theatre Arts Program. Before teaching at MacEwan, Dawn worked as a teacher, director and singer/actor across Canada and eventually took on the role of Managing Artistic Director at the King’s Playhouse in Prince Edward Island from 2009 – 2011. She has also previously taught at St. Thomas University, The University of Calgary, Rocky Mountain College and The University of Alberta. Dawn is still an active performer, vocal coach and director. Her most recent creative work includes: Carmen by Bizet – Assistant Director (Mercury Opera) and Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Gunderson and Melcon – Vocal Coach (Citadel Theatre).


Acting Skills

In this workshop, students will learn various acting skills, including pursuing objectives, working to overcoming obstacles, and playing actions. In addition, students will explore advanced techniques such as substitution, sense memory, and subtext.

Presented by Leigh Rivenbark
Leigh Rivenbark is a professor director, writer, and artistic producer. For the past 25 years, he has worked in theatres throughout North America such as the National Arts Centre, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Citadel Theatre, and Neptune Theatre. He is also is the former Artistic Producer of one of Canada’s leading regional theatre companies, Theatre New Brunswick. His credits include The Rocky Horror Show, Chicago, A Chorus Line, The Graduate, and Tuesdays With Morrie. Over the past two years, his film Breathing Through a Straw screened at many festivals around the world, including the Canadian Film Fest (Toronto), the Calgary International Film Festival (Best of Shorts Showcase), the Cambridge Film Festival (England), the Toronto LGTB Film Festival, the Atlantic International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Lift-Off Festival, the Edmonton International Film Festival, TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival, the North Carolina LGTB Film Festival, the Victoria Film Festival, the Silverware Film Festival, and others. In addition, the film won the Jury Award for a Short Film at the Canadian Film Fest, the Best Film Award and Best Performances Award at the Toronto LGBT Film Festival, the Best Alberta Short Award at the Calgary International Film Festival, the Rising Star Commendation for Debut Filmmaker at the Edmonton International Film Festival, and the Award of Distinction at the Canada Shorts – Canadian & International Short Film Fest.


Time to Fail!

The only way to learn how to improvise, is to learn how to fail, fail worse, and fail again! In this workshop, students will participate in a blend of exercises, games, and scene-work that emphasize the importance of failing forward. Students of all experience levels are welcome!

Presented by Anyssa McKee
Anyssa is a Calgary based improviser and improvisation instructor. She is a senior company member at Loose Moose theatre, where she has has been training, performing, and teaching for over eight years.  In addition to regular Friday and Saturday shows at Loose Moose, Anyssa is a recurring guest star on Dirty Laundry. In 2015, she completed the improvisation and sketch programs at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. She is the co-director of the High School Theatresports Tournament, and lead facilitator for the high school and youth improvisation programs at Loose Moose Theatre. She also teaches for Company of Rogues Actors Studio, and in high schools across the city. Anyssa loves to share her passion for improvisation, and she’s so excited to be back at Dramafest!