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, improviser, playwright and Dora nominated director having worked across Canada as a Theatre practitioner. As a mentor and arts educator, she has worked and taught with several companies including Words In Motion, Avenue Road Arts School and Native Earth Performing Arts. As a Playwright she has worked with Theatre Network, Factory Theatre, Diaspora Dialogues, Playwright’s Workshop Montreal, Nightwood Theatre, the City of Toronto and New Harlem. Leah currently serves on the board of STAF and sits as a jury member for the Toronto Arts Council. Leah received her training from the University of Alberta, 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.