Philip Akin has been acting and directing for over 30 years. In 2000, he was a founding member of Obsidian Theatre, Canada’s leading black theatre company, and has served as its Artistic Director since 2006. In this role, he has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities and guidance for emerging artists. In 2002, he was part of the team that launched the Obsidian Mentor/Apprentice Program, a one-of-a-kind program that has so far helped 31 black artists embark on exciting careers as directors, dramaturges, producers, production managers, lighting, set and costume designers with some of the most established performing arts companies nationwide.
Philip Akin was most recently seen on stage in the 2009 re-mount production of The Last days of Judas Iscariot (Birdland Theatre) and the 2007 productions of Othello and Of Mice and Men (Stratford Shakespeare Festival). His directing credits include Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize winning Ruined; Toronto the Good and El Paso (Factory Theatre); Intimate Apparel (Citadel Theatre, Canadian Stage, Obsidian Theatre), and Black Medea, Born Ready and Pusha Man (Obsidian Theatre). His film and television credits include Shake Hands With the Devil (2007), The Sum of All Fears (2002) and Flashpoint (2008-2011).
In 2011, Philip was honoured with the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award, the Bra D’Or Award from the Playwright’s Guild of Canada and was the Toronto Sun’s Performance Artist of the Year. In 2010, he received the Silver Ticket Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts. He is currently the Vice-President of the Board for the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, a member of the Metcalf Foundation’s Performing Arts Internship Jury and a member of the Humber College Theatre Program’s Advisory Board. He has also served on juries for Theatre Ontario, OAC, Canada Council for the Arts and has spoken on many panels particularly in the area of cultural diversity in the arts.
Leah-Simone Bowen began her time at Obsidian in 2007 as part of the Playwright’s Unit. She is an actor and improviser having worked across Canada as a member of Toronto’s Second City Touring Company and Education Company. As a mentor and arts educator, Leah has worked and taught with several companies including Words In Motion and Avenue Road Arts School. As a Playwright she has worked with Theatre Network, Factory Theatre, Diaspora Dialogues, Playwright’s Workshop Montreal, Native Earth Performing Arts, Obsidian Theatre the City of Toronto and New Harlem. Leah is a Dora nominated Director and received her training from the University of Alberta.
She is originally from Spruce Grove, Alberta and even more originally, Barbados W.I.
Play Development Coordinator
Melanie Hague is a Toronto based dramaturg. She is the Play Development Coordinator at Obsidian Theatre Company and is also the Associate Dramaturg at Factory Theatre. Mel has worked with bcurrent performing arts, the Paprika Festival, and Mulgrave Road Theatre. Other theatre credits include The Invisible Girl (Assistant Director) Young Peoples Theatre. Upcoming projects: a workshop of the new play The Bridge by Shauntay Grant for Eastern Front Theatre in Halifax. Mel has an MFA in Playwriting and New Play Dramaturgy from York University.
Mentor/Apprentice Program Coordinator
Rupal is currently the producer at Nightswimming and DVxT Theatre. Along with Naomi Campbell, Rupal co-produced DVxT’s multi-Dora Award-winning production of The Turn of the Screw in 2009. She also coordinates the Mentor/Apprentice Program at Obsidian Theatre. As a freelance administrator, Rupal has worked with Theatre Ji, Aluna Theatre and Nightwood Theatre. She has worked in community outreach for the Janek Khendry Dance Company, Small World Music, the Royal Conservatory of Music, Pleiades Theatre and inDANCE.
Playwright In Residence
An award-winning emcee/poet, playwright, screenwriter & Hip Hop artist, Motion’s fusion of word, sound and drama is a potent mix of the ancient to the futuristic. Her lyrical agility has taken her to the stages of Manifesto Jamaica, the Urban Music Awards, CBC Television and HBO Def Poetry Jam. Lauded by Now Magazine as a “multi-talented, truthful artist,” Motion flipped the page of northside lit with the release of Motion In Poetry and 40 Dayz, writing and producing Aneemah’s Spot, which debuted at the Rock Paper Sistaz festival, and other featured works at Obsidian and Factory theatres, Luminato, Summerworks Festival and Young Centre for the Arts. Inspired by her work with the legendary Fresh Arts movement, MotionLive continues developing emerging talent in creative spaces such as Lit 4 Life, Urban Arts and the Caribbean International Literary Festival.