Stage Door News

Toronto: Paprika Festival announces new General Manager, new Artistic Producer and general Festival news

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Paprika Theatre Festival Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Julia Dickson as Paprika’s new General Manager effective immediately, and Keshia Palm as Paprika’s incoming Artistic Producer effective June 14. Reporting to the Board, Dickson and Palm will work jointly to lead a staff of emerging arts leaders to facilitate programming for the next generation of artists. They join the Paprika Festival following the previously announced planned departures of GM Daniel Carter, and AP Kanika Ambrose.

Julia Dickson (she/her) is an arts manager, educator, and producer currently based in Toronto. She currently works with Young People’s Theatre as an Artist Educator and with Single Thread Theatre Company as their Artistic Producer. Previously, Julia worked with Studio 180 Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, and the Festival Players of Prince Edward County. Julia has a post-graduate certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College, and a Bachelor of Education with a focus on Arts in the Community Education from Queen’s University. 

Keshia Palm (she/her) is a Toronto-based Filipinx-Canadian settler from Treaty 6 Territory who seeks to expose, challenge and dismantle systems of oppression by creating thoughtful and inclusive art/spaces. Her creative practice includes dramaturgy, direction, performance, writing and producing. Keshia has developed and performed new works with theatre companies across Canada and is the dramaturge for a number of works in development by IBPOC, queer, women and trans artists. Her digital community arts project Make Me An Alleycat (created with wheels from Claren Grosz) invites people to connect over stories and destinations while social distancing by going for a bike ride. Keshia is a playwright in the 20/21 Hot House Lab at Cahoots Theatre, and a former Factory Foreman. She has been the Online Content Producer for at Generator since 2018.

Celebrating 20 Years of Paprika

The Paprika Festival is thrilled to be celebrating their 20th Anniversary, and as such the festival has been extended to span two-weeks (June 1-13, 2021) in order to offer more programming than ever before! Opening Night (June 4) will be hosted on, allowing current Paprika participants to socialize with donors, staff, alumni, and the community-at-large. Attendees can log on and interact as 8-bit avatars for a celebratory virtual dance party. To reminisce about the last two decades, Paprika has created a video series called 20 Questions — a series of conversations that connect current Paprika participants with artists from previous festivals, reflecting on their experiences and how Paprika has shaped their life and career. Interviews will be available to watch on Youtube and feature Rinchen Dolma, Rob Kempson, Britta Johnson, and Rosamund Small. Lastly, the Festival Creative Producers + Administrators (FCPA) program is facilitating a Thyme Capsule. By collecting contributions from participants, staff, facilitators, and mentors from across the country and beyond, the participants will capture and preserve a snapshot of the unique moment we find ourselves in during this 20th Anniversary. 

Participant Premieres Go Digital

As Paprika shifts the 20th Anniversary Festival to a digital format, the participants will each be “premiering” their projects over the course of the two-week festival. Returning artists from last year’s festival have adapted their pieces as short films, which include: J+A Collective’s Not Your Mija, Abigail Whitney’s Que Sera, Sera, Aly Gouveia’s Furpose + Punction (with design by Emily Townshend), Rochelle Richardson’s Bertha Mason (with design by River Oliveira), and Rose Goodwin’s all-Trans cabaret and talk show Rose’s Buds. There will be digital performances of Ori Black’s Summer of Semitism and Maher Sinno’s Mhajjir مهاجر, as well as readings from Directors Lab participants Malika Daya (Letters from My Grandma) and Rahaf Fasheh (How We Fall in Love). The Creators Unit, who have been collaborating across time zones, will be inviting audiences to Canada’s Next Chopped Model Minority, an interactive, reality TV cooking competition where contestants mix, mash and mince their way to being Master of the Melting Pot.  

Audio Experiences

Paprika is excited to offer a variety of audio experiences during this year’s festival. The Playwrights Unit have written and recorded a series of audio plays, facilitated and directed by Paprika alumni Bilal Baig. The participants developed these pieces with support from professional playwriting mentors (Raf Antonio, Marie Beath Badian, Leah-Simone Bowen, and Adam Lazarus). Returning artist Jess Goldson will premiere Waves of Knowing, an audio story highlighting the experiences of sex workers and what they’ve learned about themselves through their work. Lastly, Nathaniel Hanula-James (Festival Creative Producers + Administrators) shares documentary-style podcasts featuring artists in conversation. These auditory experiences will be available throughout the festival and offer an exciting alternative to visual offerings. 

Largest Indigenous Arts Program To Date

Paprika 20 features the largest Indigenous Arts Program to date, featuring 5 Indigenous women developing work as part of the 2-year program. From Medicine Duets, a dance films by Sophie Dow, to Songbird, a new musical by Rebecca Hope, to Mirror, a multi-disciplinary project by our first ever international Indigenous Arts Program participant Natasha Advani Thangkhiew, this year’s Indigenous Arts Program features artists from across Turtle Island and beyond and many diverse methods of storytelling.

The festival also includes the 2nd Annual IndigArts Takeover as part of the 20th Anniversary Festival. Curated by IAP Producer Jay Northcott, this weekend of programming (June 4-6) will include an opening ceremony sharing circle with Harry Snowboy, an IndigDrag Showcasefeaturing drag artists from across the country, and an alumni reading from Theresa Cutknife’s new play, Talk Treaty to Me.   

Key Information about the 20th Anniversary Paprika Festival

Dates: June 1–13, 2021
Location: Fully online, at
Cost: FREE | Some events require registration.

#Paprika20 Digital Program Guide + Schedule: Will be available on the website soon!

Get Social: @PaprikaFestival | #Paprika20

For more information and a full festival schedule, visit our website.