Celebrating Asian Excellence
This campaign was born out of the Stop Asian Hate campaign, stewarded by Boca del Lupo in May 2021.
Participating Theatre Companies
The following companies have the Celebrating Asian Excellence campaign displayed at their respective venues, showcasing artists and staff of Asian Heritage.
Boca del Lupo
Sherry J. Yoon, Artistic Director of Boca del Lupo, is a theatre creator and director with a passion for creating new performances through collaborative pursuits. With Boca del Lupo, Sherry has co-created more than 35 productions, including: Fall Away Home, an intergenerational site-specific production in the forest of Stanley Park; Photog, a large-scale show that toured across Canada and was created with interviews from prominent conflict photographers; and You Are It, as part of the Silver commissions from the Arts Club Theatre that investigates the complex dynamics between female friendships. During Sherry’s tenure, the company has received numerous awards, including the Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, and Jessie Awards for Outstanding Production, Design, Actor, Ensemble, as well as the Critic’s Choice Innovation Award. Her productions have toured festivals and venues across Canada, Europe and Mexico. She co-created an online exhibition of Expedition, an iterative collaboration between Boca del Lupo and the Performance Corporation, and working on Net Zero, an interactive theatre installation about climate change that involves the audience charging a battery with a stationary bicycle. She is also a freelance director who has worked at the Richmond Gateway Theatre, Bard on the Beach, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa Canada.
Carmela is a Filipina-Canadian artist privileged to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unsurrendered lands of the Coast Salish peoples of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
She is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program and has worked with many companies in Western Canada including The Arts Club Theatre, Bard on the Beach, Western Canada Theatre, Concrete Theatre, and Theatre Calgary as well an numerous film and tv projects. She is also working on a Tagalog translation and adaptation of Jovanni Sy’s A Taste of Empire with Nina Lee Aquino as dramaturg. She and Jovanni also participated in the Glassco Translation Residency in Tadoussac, Quebec in June 2019.
Valerie is an art director specializing in campaigns, design and illustration for socially conscious and sustainable companies, non profits, as well as progressive organizations. Prior to creating her own company, Cabin + Cub Design, she was the award-winning head designer and art director at Adbusters Magazine for five years running. She currently is the art director at This Magazine and Point Blank Creative. When not designing, she can be found taking pictures of pinecones and mushrooms in the forest, playing board games with her kids, and making arts and crafts.
Helen Yagi has worked in Film and Arts PR and Marketing for several years for the Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, and Boca del Lupo. She has also been the publicist for many award winning Canadian directors such as: Bruce Sweeney, Loretta Todd, and Charles Wilkinson; and local film and arts organizations including: Women in Film, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Helen was an Associate Producer on a feature documentary about fashion modelling, How to be a Model, which premiered at the VIFF and was broadcast on CBC TV. A visual art photographer when she’s not promoting movies and theatre, Helen has exhibited her work at the North Shore Arts Council, Firehall Arts Centre, Roundhouse Community Centre, and the Vancouver Museum.
Boca del Lupo is also the current stewards of this initiative.
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Claire Sakaki is the Executive Director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.
Previously, Claire held the positions of Producer for Soulpepper Theatre Company (Toronto), Business Manager for Toronto Dance Theatre, Company Manager for the Weston Playhouse (Vermont), and worked in corporate development for the Canadian Opera Company. Claire was the Founding Producer of Theatrefront, an ensemble-based theatre company dedicated to creating new works, often through international collaborations.
Claire completed the Non-Profit Management Executive Program at Georgetown University, holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree in Psychology from Queen’s University and completed the Income Managers Program in cultural marketing and development.
Claire sits on the Board of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, and is a member of the Advisory Committee for Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre and the Labour Relations Committee for the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. Claire was an External Advisory Committee Member for the creation of Vancouver’s Creative City Strategy and was a member of the Arts and Culture Policy Committee for the City of Vancouver.
Claire has been a recipient of the national John Hobday Award in Arts Management and was nominated for YWCA’s Women of Distinction Award in Arts, Culture and Design.
Taylar began her journey in the arts at the age of 8 years old, performing in children’s musicals, then going on to teach hip hop dance from 15 to 23 years old. She has now circled back to her love for theatre, working for Bard on the Beach, and choreographing children’s musicals for her local theatre company. She is also a writer, running her own history blog, and hopes to publish a book one day. Taylar is half Japanese, 4th generation, and feels a special connection to her Japanese-Canadian heritage. Her family’s history can be traced all the way back to Japanese warrior Uesugi Kenshin from the 15th century.
Jocelyn has worked at Bard on the Beach in different positions since the 2013 Season, where she started as a Box Office Representative through a post-secondary co-op program. She took a year off from the Festival to teach English in South Korea, but sought to rejoin the organization upon her return to Vancouver thanks to fond memories as a seasonal staff member. Since then, she has grown in her time in Box Office to become Box Office Manager. As Manager, Jocelyn seeks to create and lead a Box Office team that reflects the diversity of Vancouver and that encourages inclusion, empathy and respect – important values she holds as a woman of mixed Chinese heritage.
Maya is a dedicated arts administrator with a lifelong love of the performing arts. An undergraduate degree in art history piqued her interest in the role institutions play on the cultural fabric of communities, which led her to the University of Toronto, where she graduated with a master’s degree in museum studies. While in Toronto, Maya worked for Canada’s National Ballet School, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Bata Shoe Museum. Following her master’s, she was offered a 10-month Graduate Internship in public affairs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Maya returned to Vancouver to work for the PuSh Festival and then Bard on the Beach, in her current role as Marketing Manager. Maya sits on the Accessibility Committee and the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group at Bard. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Carousel Theatre for Young People. Maya takes great pride in her South Asian heritage and is honoured to be included amongst all these incredible professionals!
Susan Miyagishima is an accomplished stage manager, props designer, and arts administrator. Based in Vancouver, she has had the privilege of working both locally and touring extensively across Canada and abroad into the US and Asia. Credits include productions with Alley Theatre, Bard on the Beach, Carousel Theatre for Young People, Electric Company, Frank Theatre, Gateway Theatre, Green Thumb Theatre, Mitch and Murray Productions, Neworld Theatre, Pacific Theatre, Pi Theatre, Presentation House, Ruby Slippers, Théâtre la Seizième, Theatre Under the Stars, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse and Zee Zee Theatre. A graduate of Studio 58, Susan is currently the Artistic Company Manager at Bard on the Beach and a Strategic Consultant with Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre. Susan is a past Jessie Award nominee for Outstanding Stage Management and a Jessie Award recipient for Significant Artistic Achievement in Technical Design.
My name is Sean Preston, and I am the Site Project Manager at Bard on the Beach, which is to say that I’m in charge of building the festival site that our patrons know and love. I have been working in the arts for over two decades, and I am thrilled to be participating in this project that celebrates Asians in our community. Although I may not look half-Chinese, those roots run back five generations on my mother’s side: to my great-great-grandfather who came from China to Canada to help build the railways. In my family, we often use stories to help maintain connections to each other, our history, and our traditions—all the things that make up our heritage. So, I am grateful to be able to contribute in my way to an organization and an industry that celebrates culture and the power of story, and I am grateful to Boca del Lupo for the opportunity to share a bit of my story with you.
Mieko works as an actor, writer, director and dramaturg and joined the Citadel in her new role in November 2021. Her plays have been produced across Canada and internationally and recognized with the Carol Bolt Prize, two Betty Awards and a Governor General’s Award nomination, as well as translated into six languages. Upcoming projects include directing Pride and Prejudice for the Citadel and the premiere of her play Burning Mom at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
Barbara Mah is a director, actor, choreographer and playwright and has been active in the Edmonton arts scene for more than thirty years. She has taught musical theatre at the Foote school for over 14 years. Directing highlights include: Triangle Factory Fire, Ragtime, Titanic, Drowsy Chaperone, Gypsy, A Chorus Line, Anything Goes and Sweet Charity. She’s also an Arts Development Consultant (theatre) for the Ministry of Culture and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Damon Pitcher is a born and raised Edmontonian. A graduate of MacEwan University’s Theatre Arts Program, he has become a multidisciplinary performer in Edmonton and surrounding area. He has had the opportunity to work with many incredible companies including Concrete Theatre, Uniform Theatre, Alberta Musical Theatre Company, Vinok Worldance and also runs a small dance company teaching Russian folk dance. He is so excited now to be a part of the Citadel Theatre team as an instructor!
Coming from China, Yang has joined the Citadel family in 2018 as a maintenance team member. He is glad to see that people start to coming back after such long waiting time. He and his partner enjoy life in Canada, and is learning some garden skills for the coming season.
Jason Yuen came to Canada in 1990 from Hong Kong with his family. His professional journey in Accounting and Finance, started in 2010, have brought him through the worlds of hotels and theatres, namely the Mayfield Dinner Theatre and The Citadel Theatre. He has a wonderful partner and two kids. In his spare time, he works as a Canadian Air Force Reserve Officer with an Air Cadets squadron in Edmonton and volunteers at his son’s School Council as a Treasurer.
Shirley Tran was born and raised in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, AB). As a member of The Citadel Theatre’s Guest Services team as a Patron Services Representative, School & Booking Coordinator, and Patron Relations Manager from 2011 to 2021, she has a great appreciation of the connection between the arts and community. She now occasionally moonlights on the
Matthew Koyata is a proud Yonsei member of the Canadian theatre community. A graduate of the U of A BFA Technical Theatre Production, Matthew has worked in and around Edmonton for over a decade. Initially an audio and lighting technician, he spent several years as the Technical Director of the Freewill Shakespeare Festival and as the Technical Director of Rentals at the Timms Centre for the Arts. Matthew is looking forward with working with the Citadel to expand the cultural horizons of theatre in Canada.
Prairie Theatre Exchange
Lisa Li (she/her) is a theatre producer and arts manager with progressive 9+ years of experience managing and overseeing a breadth of programming, budgets, and contracts/agreements. Work includes small and large-scale theatrical productions, musicals, concerts, festivals (dance, music, improvisation, literary, family/TYA), tours, cabaret, site specific work, and digital creations.
From 2016-2020, she was a Producer with Soulpepper Theatre Company where she was responsible for all Soulpepper-produced mainstage productions and live concert programming. She produced 65+ theatrical productions and concerts for Soulpepper in her four-year period. She was the producer on “Soulpepper on 42nd Street”, Soulpepper’s month-long residency at New York City’s Signature Theatre, July 2017. Programming for “Soulpepper on 42nd Street” featured 7 full-scale productions, 2 presentations, 3 concerts, a daily cabaret, and various ancillary events.
Occasionally, Lisa Li works in Toronto’s independent theatre community as a producer and consultant. Lisa Li has worked with the Shaw Festival, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and is on the faculty of Sheridan College.
Born and raised in Toronto, Arima thrived in the New York theatre scene for over 20 years. In 2015, he became the first Asian Canadian to direct a musical on Broadway when Allegiance opened at the Longacre Theatre, starring George Takei and Lea Salonga. Arima was also nominated for a 2004 Olivier Award for his direction of the West End premiere of the musical, Ragtime. Some additional directing credits include productions of Altar Boyz (Off-Broadway) Carrie (MCC Theater, Off-Broadway), The Tin Pan Alley Rag (Roundabout Theatre Company), Red Velvet (The Old Globe Theatre), Poster Boy (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris (Stratford Festival), Abyssinia (Goodspeed Musicals), A Tribute to Sondheim (Boston Pops), and Billy Elliot: The Musical, The Secret Garden, Mary and Max – A New Musical, and A Christmas Carol (2019), and the online filmed version of A Christmas Carol (2020) (Theatre Calgary). Arima has shepherded new musical development at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, Toronto Fringe Festival, New York Stage and Film, and the SPF Festival. He is a graduate of York University, where he was the recipient of the Dean’s Prize for Excellence in Creative Work. He also serves as Artistic Advisor for Broadway Dreams, and is an Adjunct Professor at UC Davis.
Raised in Alberta, and graduate of Mount Allison University, Ms. Choldin joined Theatre Calgary following her role as Managing Director of Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia, PA, a position she held for the last six seasons.
Prior to Pig Iron, Maya has built a long resume in the arts that includes General Manager of the Pennsylvania Ballet, along with roles at George Mason University’s Hylton Performing Arts Center, the Kimmel Center, and management of productions and projects at Opera Philadelphia, the Mann Center, and FringeArts.
In addition to her arts experience, Maya has served on the boards of a variety of community organizations, and in the fall of 2019, she attended ArtEquity Facilitator Training to deepen her commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts.
Marnie Hamagami is the Artistic Producer of Theatre NorthWest, she grew up in Cranbrook BC, and went to university in Lethbridge and Tuebingen Germany. Hamagami has been with Theatre NorthWest for seven seasons, and adores community she lives in. Hamagami has one ten year old son, who is her greatest joy and love.
Jo-anne Hamagami is the Digital Marketing Coordinator for Theatre NorthWest, and been with the theatre for 2 years. She has had a long time fascination with typefaces and print which eventually led her to graphic design. Jo-anne was born in Cranbrook BC, moved to Victoria BC for most of her twenties, and most recently lives in Calgary, AB with her partner.
Theatre Passe Muraille
Nicole Eun-Ju Bell is a Toronto based, mixed-race, multidisciplinary artist with a passion for performance and technology. She is fascinated with cyborgs and Loïe Fuller. Among other things, she is a projection designer, stage manager, and XR artist. She’s worked with companies like Theatre Passe Muraille, CanadianStage, Factory Theatre, Single Thread Theatre Company, Safeword, The A.M.Y Project, b current, and Hart House Theatre. Her work has been presented at international and local festivals including: Prague Quadrennial, Next Stage, Summerworks and Toronto Fringe. She is also a member of the curation team for Canada’s Student Exhibit for Prague Quadrennial 2023.
རིན་ཆེན་སྒྲོལ་མ་|Rinchen Dolma was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and is currently based in Tkarón:to. She is a community arts practitioner, performer, an emerging playwright and director. She is also the founder and Artistic Director of MADE IN EXILE, an arts-based initiative that engages young Tibetan creatives in exploring their complex identities through contemporary mediums of storytelling in exile. Rinchen joined Factory Theatre’s Foundry 2021 program, a new work creation group, where she has been developing a full-length play piece called “July 1st.” She is the recipient of the Cahoots Theatre 2021 Promising Pen Prize and the 2020 Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts Program in Artistic Direction under Marjorie Chan. Currently, Rinchen is Producing the Digital Creators Lab at Theatre Passe Muraille.
Emily is an interdisciplinary artist/artsworker based in Toronto with a focus on the nonprofit arts sector, currently working as Marketing and Communications Manager at Theatre Passe Muraille. Keen interest in cultural policy, equitable producing, community centric fundraising, and inclusive marketing practices in the arts. Details/contact at emilyjung.com.
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, and fu-GEN Theatre. Her current projects examine emergent and surveillant technologies, cultural identity and relationships (per)formed and sustained through food, and the complex social hybridity of the Chinese-Canadian community. April is a recipient of the Ellen Ross Stuart Award and a finalist for Touchstone Theatre’s Flying Start. She is currently the Artistic Associate at Theatre Passe Muraille. www.aprilleung.com
Angela Sun is a Mad, plus-size, first generation/ settler actor, theatre creator, producer, writer, and arts administrator of East Asian descent. Her multidisciplinary, multilingual artistic practice focuses on cultural dissonance and mental health. She is known for her advocacy for cultural diversity, size-inclusivity, and access for the invisible disability community that prioritizes lived experience over “expert” knowledge. Angela has worked with many emerging and established artistic organizations throughout her career. She is currently developing a one-person show on trauma, representation, and storytelling entitled The Glass Eye which recently received support from the Ontario Arts Council, Volcano Theatre, and Why Not Theatre as well as workshop readings as a part of Cahoots Theatre’s Hot House playwriting unit and at Workman Art’s Big Feels Symposium. She currently serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator at Theatre Passe Muraille.