IGNITE! 2020: Staff

Jason Mehmel (He/Him) – Artistic Director

Jason Mehmel is a writer, producer and director living in Calgary. He is the Artistic Director for Sage Theatre. His directing work includes A Year of Magical Thinking, Legislating Love, King Kirby, A Beautiful View(Sage Theatre). He is also a speaker curator and coach for the TEDxYYC event. He has produced and directed short films, and writes comic books, including the anthology book FIGHT COMICS! (fightcomics.ca)

Savanna Harvey (She/Her) – Festival Producer

Savanna Harvey is a gun-for-hire producer of the broke and beautiful. She is an organizer of secret midnight meetings, an instigator of resistance, and a recruiter of citizens. Her cause is art without permission. As a creator-performer, she has toured Canada with her weird little shows about garbage puppets and science ghosts. She is a loner and co-conspirator. She is a killjoy feminist, a recreational mad scientist, and a ruthless proponent of kindness.

She has been nominated for the City of Calgary RBC Emerging Artist Award, the Vancouver Fringe Artistic Risk Award, and the Calgary Fringe Emerging Artist Award. She is a recipient of the University of Alberta New Works Festival Playwright Award. Savanna has hustled for the International Festival of Winter Cinema, Ghost River Theatre, the Calgary Fringe Festival, the Edmonton Fringe Festival, Workshop West Playwright’s Theatre, and many rad indie artists. She is stoked to produce the IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists!! www.savannaharvey.com

Griffin Cork (He/Him) – Associate Producer

Griffin Cork is a Calgary-born actor and producer who has been working in the theatre, film and voice industries for over a decade. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Alberta, and is an alumni of the D. Michael Dobbin Apprenticeship with Alberta Theatre Projects. Griffin is the co-founder and Artistic Producer of Hoodlum Theatre, a small collective based in Calgary dedicated to creating disruptive and unabashed work. He is also an Artistic Associate with Sage Theatre and is very excited to be working with The IGNITE! Festival for Emerging Artists. Griffin has produced numerous film projects with his cohorts at Numera Films, and took home an AMPIA Rosie Award for Best Web Series – Fiction in 2019 for Abracadavers. He works as a publicist for many of the local theatre companies and film productions, and is a core producer with Thousand Year Films. 

As an actor, Griffin has worked with Theatre Calgary, Theatre Junction, The Shakespeare Company, Lunchbox Theatre, Thou Art Here Theatre, Birnton Theatricals and Calgary Opera. Griffin is the former host of Studio 315 on Shaw TV and can be seen on Heartland (CBC) and Abracadavers (The Fantasy Network/Amazon Prime). He was named one of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ Top 25 Young Artists in 2017. Griffin was the recipient of the Duval Lang Theatre for Young Audience Emerging Leader Award at the 2015 Betty Mitchell Awards and was named a Mayoral Arts Champion of Calgary in 2012.

Samantha Ketsa (She/Her) – Dance Curator

Samantha Ketsa’s artistic practice integrates inter-arts dialogue and somatic practices in devised physical theatre contexts. The core of Samantha’s work is as Co-Creative Director of Untold Physical Theatre with her partner Emily Sunderland. Together, they facilitate interdisciplinary performance works including#JustGirlyThings andJOY?, and advocate for ethical creative praxis in the theatre and dance spheres.

Samantha holds a BFA in Dance with distinction from the University of Calgary, where she has worked with artists including W&M Physical Theatre, Peggy Baker, and Gerry Trentham. She now also performs as a dancer with Kloetzel&co, complimented by her teaching practice. Samantha is thrilled to be returning to her role of Curator for the Dance Series at Ignite! untoldphysicaltheatre.ca

Nicole Zylstra (She/Her) – Improv Curator

Nicole Zylstra has been a professional artist and facilitator in Calgary for more than 20 years.  A founding member of the improvised soap opera, Dirty Laundry, she was a performer, and occasional director, for 18 seasons. She has been with The Kinkonauts for more than 10 years, honing her longform skills as a performer, coach, facilitator, and Calgary Improv School teacher.  Loving genre improv especially, Nicole has improvised everything from full Musicals, Jane Austen, Radio Plays, Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov to even a Quentin Tarantino show once.

She is also very proud to be half of All Request Heartache, a duo project she shares with the amazing Sara Simpson. ARH performs an hour long show featuring scenes from one relationship, inspired by your heartache songs. She is delighted to be the improv curator for this year’s Ignite Festival, and is constantly inspired by the ingenuity and passion of young artists.

Rory O’Donovan (He/Him) – Junior Producer

Rory O’Donovan is currently in his final year of university at the University of Alberta finishing his Bachelor of Arts in Sports, Recreation, and Tourism. He is also one of our three practicum students with IGNITE!. Through the practicum opportunity, Rory hopes to build the necessary skills to further his career and build new relationships along the way. He enjoys the technical side of things such as marketing and being creative with his approaches to providing leisure. Additionally, he loves providing people with the opportunity to experience all forms of recreation. 

Rory has also done much work in the event industry including roles such as the Marketing Director for the 2018 Kinesiology Games and also promotes local music within Edmonton, Alberta. He seeks to break further into the event and festival scene throughout his career and bring more positive light towards the arts and tourism industries.

Taylor Kleine-Deters (She/Her) – Junior Producer

Taylor Kleine-Deters (she/her) is a part of IGNITE!’s 2020 season practicum cohort and will be assisting in the elements of production with regard to the festival on a mainly administrative level. As an Arts and Entertainment Management Diploma student at Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia she has received the opportunity to work within large scale events in the region. Prior to her engagement with the fine and performing arts sectors, she was a Bachelor of Arts student with a double major in English and Humanities at Simon Fraser University.

Her love for live music and performing arts has been a life-long means of escapism and she is now absolutely thrilled to be having it more meaningfully integrated into her life.

Christina Fernandes (She/Her) – Junior Producer

Christina Fernandes is a lover of all things eccentric, loud, and offbeat, and is currently residing in Vancouver, B.C. She is an honors student in Capilano University’s Arts and Entertainment Management program, exploring the many facets of the entertainment industry, and is joining Ignite! Festival 2020 as a practicum student. 

Christina is an avid supporter of emerging arts and artists, working to foster a positive community environment  through her work with several arts and music collectives in Vancouver. She’s a proponent of risk-taking, and strives to create safe spaces for artists to explore, experiment, and collaborate.

Provocation Series – Swallow-a-Bicycle

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre – Producer

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre creates productive discomfort. We engage with power structures, shining an interrogation light in society’s eyes.

We endanger the eardrums of the status quo by amplifying the voices of outcasts, misfits, diverse communities and artists who face barriers.

We hold ourselves accountable for the discomfort we create, to the communities we encounter, and to ethical working practices.

Art is how we do this. Art is awesome, and fun to make.

We learn and mutate as we engage with different sites, communities and artistic practices.

We don’t just swallow bicycles. We swallow complacency, conventions, problematic issues and sometimes cookies.

Mark Hopkins (He/Him) – Artistic Director

Mark Hopkins is the Artistic Director of Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre, which generates productive discomfort through art-making, and an Associate with Human Venture Leadership, which seeks to build our collective capacities to reduce ignorance, error, waste, suffering and injustice. He volunteers with the Calgary Foundation and the Centre for Newcomers, is a Fellow of the Energy Futures Lab, and founded We Should Know Each Other, a community-bridging initiative.

Some of Mark’s honours and awards include the Creative Placemaking Award (2016 Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions), the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Best Screenplay (2014 Alberta Media Production Industry Awards), Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 and the Calgary Herald’s 20 Compelling Calgarians.

Bianca Guimarães Manuel (She/Her) – Artistic Associate

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Mpoe Mogale (They/Them) – Administrator

Mpoe Mogale is a Black Queer Femme that reigns from Lebowakgomo, South Africa. They are a recent University of Alberta Political Science graduate, where their honours thesis explored the representation of Blackness in Edmonton’s Arts community. 

Mpoe’s research and art (typically integrated) cast a mirror onto our society—allowing space for all to reconsider the myths that we have existed within; particularly as it pertains to race and gender. They have co-led various community-based projects that utilize research and art to facilitate community mobilization. 

Kris Vanessa Teo Xin-En (She/Her) – Outreach Coordinator

Kris Vanessa Teo Xin-En/张欣恩 (she/her/hers) is a Singaporean-Canadian Chinese theatre artist based in Calgary, Alberta. She graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama. Determined to reclaim pride in her Singaporean-Chinese heritage, Kris is passionate about using her training in acting, directing, performance creation and playwriting to create space and amplify the stories of marginalized voices. She is currently developing her one-woman show ‘我的名是张欣恩。 (Gimme chance leh)’ for production in March 2020.