Stage Door News

Toronto: Crow’s Theatre and RBC announce the recepient of the RBC Rising Star Emerging Director Prize

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Crow’s Theatre and RBC are proud to announce Cherissa Richards as the recipient of the Crow’s Theatre RBC Rising Star Emerging Director Prize. Designed to encourage and celebrate Canada’s most outstanding early-career stage directors, the Prize provides a $5,000 award to emerging Canadian directors, as well as a residency at Crow’s Theatre.

Following a call for submissions in September 2020, the jury selected Cherissa from an exceptional group of theatrical innovators in the early stages of their directing practice. The jury took into account the merits of the applicants’ current body of work, their creative potential, the impact of an artistic residency on the up-and-coming director’s professional development, and the impact on Canadian theatre as a whole.

"What a gift this is to be recognized by one of Toronto’s premiere theatres and the RBC Rising Star Emerging Directing Prize," Cherissa said. "I am proud to be a part of the growing Black Canadian theatre directing talent to emerge on the scene and be held up and celebrated by the team at Crow’s. Thank you to Crow’s and RBC for giving me space to learn and grow in my craft, for helping me take that next big step in my directing path and for opening doors for artists of colour like me to take up space and claim our artistry in the Canadian Directing scene." After 16 years of hustling as an actor in Toronto, Cherissa moved back home to Winnipeg to pursue a career and training in directing for the last 5 years, which has taken her across the country. She started this journey directing “The Power of Harriet T” at MTYP in Winnipeg in 2015. Cherissa has directed 2 shows for Sarasvàti Theatre; New Beginnings and The Game at Fem Fest 2018.  Most recently Cherissa directed a double bill for the Neil Munroe Directing Project at the Shaw Festival; Lynn Nottage’s Poof and The Subjection of Kezia by Edith Ellis. In 2020, Cherissa returned to NTS after almost 20 years as a director in residence, exploring design as a director.

Along with Cherissa, the 2020/21 peer review panel, made up of Crow’s Associate Artistic Directors, Rouvan Silogix and Marie Farsi, as well as arts leaders and directors Esther Jun and Jackie Maxwell, awarded three artists (ROHIT CHOKANI, DANIELA ATIENCIA, ALAINA VIAU) a cash prize in recognition of their outstanding submissions, artistic achievements, and potential for impact. The panel said:
Inspired and impressed by the range of talents, we struggled to make our ultimate decision knowing that all these artists will make a strong impact on the performing arts in Canada. In the end we were moved by Cherissa’s passion, energy and richly varied experience, and see her poised to lead and serve her community with a vision for Canadian theatre that is compelling, inventive and progressive. She has already made a significant impact with her artistic practice and we believe this prize, with its mentorship and residency, will have a strong and timely impact on the work she is planning and the ideas she has for the future. We were extremely excited by all our finalists and celebrate their accomplishments, imagination and their ideas for theatre and its ongoing evolution. Daniela, Rohit and Alaina all challenged us as to how we currently view theatre and have already demonstrated vision and leadership through their current theatrical journeys.”

A brief introduction to the artists:

Rohit Chokhani. A Jessie Richardson Theatre Award-winning arts creator, director, and cultural leader. Rohit was awarded the prestigious Vancouver NOW Representation and Inclusion Award in 2018. Chokhani’s reimagination of Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black was voted one of the top 20 shows on Vancouver stages in 2017, and won the Pick of the Fringe Award at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Daniela Atiencia. A Latinx-Canadian bilingual director, dramaturg, and deviser who vigorously seeks international collaborations with interdisciplinary artists. Her work has been seen in Colombia, Lithuania, Canada, England and Denmark, and has worked with internationally acclaimed theatre companies including Rumble, Touchstone Theatre, Neworld Theatre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, rice & beans theatre, The Arts Club, and Electric Company.

Alaina Viau. A daring director, creator and producer based in Toronto. She is the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of award nominated indie opera company Loose Tea Music Theatre where she creates genre defying productions that center on critical social issues, raising under represented voices and cross-cultural relationships. The 19-20 season saw Alaina DORA nominated for Outstanding New Opera for Singing Only Softly, a new opera based on the redacted and missing pages of Anne Frank’s Diary.

Photo: Charissa Richards.