Stage Door News

Toronto: Crow’s Theatre announces the Loughborough Lake Writer’s Retreat Artists and Projects

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

In the fall of 2020, Crow’s Theatre partnered with Toronto-based film distributor Mongrel Media to launch a stage-to-screen writer's retreat for theatre creators. After a nationwide call for submissions, we are thrilled to announce the projects and artists selected to attend our inaugural Loughborough Lake Writer’s Retreat.

The retreat will be led by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Susan Coyne. Susan is perhaps best known as the co-creator and co-writer of the internationally acclaimed TV series Slings and Arrows. The show received many awards, including Geminis for Best Series and Best Writing, and three Writers Guild of Canada awards. Susan was a writer and producer for two seasons on Amazon Prime’s hit show Mozart in the Jungle, and is a writer and co-executive producer on Amazon’s upcoming Daisy Jones and the Six. She also wrote the screenplay for the feature film The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, and an original adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, starring Martin Sheen, for PBS. 

We are excited to announce 10 projects and artist-cohorts attending under Susan's leadership. These projects will benefit from a rigorous week-long program to progress and advance their projects, peer-to-peer sessions, and opportunities to meet with industry leaders.

The Projects:

 AIKHTEAR ALHAYAT: LIFE CHOSE by Ahmed Moneka & Jesse LaVercombe

After he is exiled from Iraq for appearing in a film about homosexuality, a young actor rediscovers his artistry through the Toronto music scene while trying to reunite with his family. Aikhtear Alhayat: Life Chose is a film that tells the true story of Ahmed Moneka, actor, activist, and the creator and frontman of Moneka Arabic Jazz. 

Ahmed Moneka arrived in Toronto from Baghdad five years ago and has since collaborated with many artistic institutions including the Canadian Opera Company, Soulpepper Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Aga Khan Museum, Driftwood Theatre Group, Toronto Jazz Festival, and Modern Times Stage. He's been an Artist-in-residence with Driftwood Theatre Group; Member of Noteworthy The Musical Stage & Prime Mover; and member of Soulpepper Academy. He was the first Black Iraqi to host a television program. 

Jesse LaVercombe is a writer and actor who splits his time between Canada and the U.S. His short film, The Things You Think I’m Thinking, won twelve festival awards and was a Vimeo Staff Pick. He also won the Playwrights Guild of Canada 2019 Emerging Playwright Award for Hallelujah, It’s Holly. As an actor, he won the 2021 Toronto ACTRA Award and has received a 2021 Canadian Screen Award nomination for his work in Violation (TIFF, Sundance, SXSW, New York Times Critic’s Pick).  

DIARIES OF A DOWRY by Sharada Eswar, Alison Wong & Haui

Diaries of a Dowry is a new plurilingual episodic drama that explores the global impact of dowry across cultures. Viewed from the modern female and queer lenses, the series exposes this tool of commodification that forms the keystone to the institution of marriage as well as the customs and traditions that form the underbelly of society. 

Sharada Eswar is a South-Asian-Canadian writer, storyteller, singer, curator, arts educator and community-engaged arts practitioner. Sharada has garnered artistic credits with the Toronto School of Storytelling, the Royal Ontario Museum, Theatre Direct, Tarragon Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre, National Arts Centre, Jumblies Theatre, Whynot Theatre,  Weeseegechak Festival, and others. 

Alison Wong 黃巧文 is a director, performer and producer based in Treaty 13 territory. Her work in opera and theatre, with a focus on intercultural and plurilingual storytelling, has taken her across Canada, to the United States, Italy, India, and the Netherlands. In 2017, she concluded a five-season term as Artistic Producer with b current, a Toronto-based company of 30+ years dedicated to developing new Canadian performance works by racialized artists. 

HAUI is a mixed multidisciplinary artivist (artist/activist) who eschews categorization. He's worn many hats from directing, design, visual arts and performance in theatre and film. His recently released feature-film debut MixedUp was produced with trans filmmaker Jack Fox and in association with OUTtv. He was also an assistant producer to Dene/Metis filmmaker Marie Clements' on the film Red Snow available on CBC Gem. He is currently an artist-in-residence with Wildseed Black Arts Fellowship (BLM-TO) and creating his first operatic work about famed Canadian contralto Portia White supported by OAC and the Canadian Opera Company.

THE EXISTENTIAL DISASTERS by Julian De Zotti & Cosima Herter

Welcome to The Institute for Existential Disaster – a tiny think tank situated in the remote Canadian Arctic, where a team of desperate doomsday experts fumble work to avert the extinction level events that threaten the future of humanity! But how can this motley crew of isolated misfits save the world when they're consumed by the absurd existential crises that make up their own day-to-day lives? A half-hour workplace TV comedy. 

Cosima Herter is a writer, creator and science consultant - most known for her collaborations on the multi award-winning series Orphan Black and the TNT series, Snowpiercer. She has over a decade of experience working in prestige genre television. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada. 

Julian De Zotti is a Dora Mavor Moore and Canadian Screen Award nominated actor and writer. He's the co-creator & writer of the landmark short-form series Whatever, Linda, and Ming's Dynasty for CBC Gem and Fuse TV. His latest series For The Record just had its international premiere at SXSW 2021.


What does a small-town, straight, male, baby boomer have in common with a city-dwelling, queer,  female, millennial? Not much… until they go fishing. Come along with a group of diverse female anglers as they explore the hottest fishing hubs in Algonquin (which are populated mostly by men their fathers’ age). Mental health does not discriminate so let's make the health benefits of fishing and nature accessible to all. Get Hooked: Queer Women Who Fish is a documentary feature. 

Heidi Lynch is a 2021 Canadian Screen Award nominated actor and an award winning writer/producer/content maker. She cut her teeth on creating her award winning web-series Avocado Toast (OUTtv/Amazon Prime) and quickly became addicted to creating the representation she felt was lacking in media.

LIFELINES by Daniel Sarah Karasick

In Lifelines, a new one-hour TV drama, a pair of idealists working in Canada's oil and gas industry become entangled with a pair of young activists fighting to end fossil fuel extraction altogether, setting in motion a series of events that rock a major pipeline development project and send the whole country into crisis. Fast-paced and character-driven, Lifelines explores a number of the key social forces battling to shape our future—corporate giants, governments locked into resource extraction, grassroots social movements—and the human faces they take. Written by Daniel Sarah Karasik (they/them) and co-created with David Gray-Donald (he/him), former publisher of Briarpatch Magazine and journalist focused on the oil and gas industry.

Daniel Sarah Karasik (they/them) is a writer, editor, performer, musician, and social movement worker in Toronto. Their work has been recognized with the CBC Short Story Prize, the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Award, and the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, among other honours. They are the author of five books of drama, poetry, and fiction, and a co-founder of the network Artists for Climate & Migrant Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty.

ON THE PLATEAU by Kim Harvey

On The Plateau is a TV series that follows 35 year old Olivia, an Indigenous woman on the precipice of reckoning with her deep love for her childhood best friend and now rancher Henry, who is living on the Tsilhqot'in.

Kim Senklip Harvey is a proud Syilx and Tsilhqot'in who is an award winning writer and director. She has participated in the Banff Playwrights Lab, the Banff Writing in a Racialized Canada Residency and has her Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria.

PETRICHOR by Erin Brandenburg

Petrichor, meaning the smell of rain on dry ground, is a feature film set on a vegetable farm in Leamington, Ontario - a land known for tomatoes, marijuana greenhouses and migrating birds. It centers on Susan Wall and her family, agricultural workers from a conservative Mennonite community desperate to escape brutal poverty as they work and harvest the food that feeds Canadians.   

Erin Brandenburg is a theatre artist, director and writer originally from Essex County, Ontario. Based in Toronto, she is co-founder of the artist collective, Kitchenband. Erin is a graduate of the directing program at the Soulpepper Academy, winner of the Enbridge Emerging Playwright’s Award, a finalist for the Gina Wilkinson prize, participant of the Stratford Playwright’s Retreat, and The Banff Playwright’s Lab. She was an artist in residence at the Toronto Public Library through Artists in the Library, where she created the Albion VR Project in collaboration with Toasterlab. 

PURPLE SKY by Erum Khan & Tijiki Morris

Purple Sky: An episodic TV series that follows Alia, a young woman in her late 20s, who suddenly finds her life uprooted upon discovering her mother has developed early on-set Alzheimer’s and must place her in an assisted care home.

Erum Khan is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. She is the recipient of the 2019 Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Queer Emerging Artist award and has worked with several film festivals in Toronto including Rendezvous with Madness, Inside Out and TIFF. Her play Noor, was presented at The Aga Khan Museum. 

Tijiki Morris was raised in Pakistan and came to Canada at 18. They co-created and directed devised puppetry pieces We Walk Among You and Cirqular (Les Trois Jours de Casteliers, Montreal Fringe, Best of Fringe Toronto and Beyond the Mountain). They were a co-creator and performer for Patthar ki Zabaan (Rhubarb Festival), performer and co-creator for Eraser (Why Not Theatre), and performer in Fearless (fu-Gen Theatre).

QUEENMAKER by Kate Hennig

The Tudor story is a story we think we know: the history of a kingdom that has been handed down to us by men…and mythology. Queenmaker is a TV series that turns the story we think we know upside down and tells the story of women and power: the ways they fight for it, and the ways they wield it when they can hold it. 

Kate is a Canadian actor, playwright, teaching artist, and director. Her plays include The Last Wife, The Virgin Trial, and Mother’s Daughter all of which premiered at the Stratford Festival and went on to subsequent productions at Soulpepper Theatre. The Virgin Trial won the Carol Bolt Award for Best New Play 2017, and was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. 

ROWDS by Norman Yeung

Rowds is a love letter to East Vancouver and 1990s hip hop. In this feature-length screenplay, two teenagers – a graffiti writer and breakdancer – have their best friendship torn apart by racial violence. With hip hop as his haven in a rough environment, Norman draws upon growing up in his working-class and poor neighbourhood of immigrants who found a way to thrive together despite – or because of – their multicultural differences. 

Norman is a writer, actor, and visual artist. His play Theory won the Voaden Prize and was nominated for the Carol Bolt Award. Pu-Erh received four Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, including Outstanding New Play, and was a finalist for the Voaden Prize. He is a playwright in residence at Outside the March and has been a member of playwright/creator units at the Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, fu-GEN Theatre Company, Tapestry Opera, and Canadian Stage.