New Executive Leadership and Full Listings for the 20th Anniversary Paprika Festival

Toronto, ON. (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. 

“Coming from a background in both theatre and education, it’s incredibly meaningful for me to be able to work with an organization that inspires its artists to take risks and reimagine what the industry could become," says Dickson. "I am honoured to join Paprika and the organization’s fantastic team of staff, Board, and artists to continue to reimagine the future of the performing arts together."

“The Paprika Festival is one of few arts organizations where young and emerging artists shape everything about the organization – it’s a big and beautiful testing ground where folks are, right now, re-imagining the future of theatre," adds Palm. "The festival and the people behind it are fierce, tenacious, and bold. I am honoured to be joining the team and stewarding Paprika into its 21st year celebrating and supporting the work of young and emerging artists.”


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.

“As a Board, we were most impressed with Julia and Keshia’s thoughtful, empathetic and community-minded approach to the future of artistic creation. The Paprika Theatre Festival is one of the most exciting arts organizations in Toronto, working actively to better both the theatre ecology and the GTA region by investing in youth mentorship and training, supporting the industry's emerging arts practitioners, administrators and leaders.The level of care, respect and honour that is present amongst the participants, mentors and staff speaks deeply to a core identity of the organization: a desire to nurture and amplify youth voices by supporting and growing together in a responsive way to each individual. We wish to thank Daniel and Kanika for leading the Festival through a period of tremendous growth over the past few years, and for programming the largest Festival to date while navigating the ever changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic with grace and care."

Naz AfsahiBoard Chair, Paprika

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 Showcase featuring drag artists from across the country, and an alumni reading from Theresa Cutknife’s new play, Talk Treaty to Me.    

Feeling Connected with Community Programming

Keeping with the year-long commitment to creating community experiences during this isolating time, Paprika is continuing the #HotTopics conversation series and Community Workshops throughout the two-week festival. These events strive to offer moments of connection for Paprika artists and the wider community. The festival will introduce Morning Meditations, curated by Paprika’s Artistic Programs Manager daniel jelani ellis, to give space for introspection and self-reflection. All community events are open to the public and strive to bring people together to learn new skills, discuss urgent topics, and imagine the post-pandemic future.

#HotTopics include: 

  • BE SEEN and BE HEARD: The Tech of Creation with G.R. Gritt 
  • Content Creation + Digital Dramaturgy with Elena Belyea
  • What does it mean to be an “Emerging Artist”? (Guests TBD)

Community Workshops include:

  • Body and breath in landscape, a self-guided audio experience by Andrea Nann
  • Introduction to Odissi with Bhavna Pani (in partnership with Thespo in India)

Morning Meditations include:

  • Mindfulness with Ken Hall
  • Interplay with Rehana Tejpar
  • Self-Car for Arts Workers with Lilia Leon

As part of Paprika’s partnership with TPM for the 20th Anniversary, community programming also includes Centre Court, a new online youth arts program created by TPM with outreach partner Scadding Court Community Centre. Twelve young artists from the community are working with poet Sheniz Janmohamed, theatre artist-producer Kevin Matthew Wong, theatre artist April Leung, and artist-dramaturge (and Paprika alumni) Merlin Simard to explore the vibrant world of artistic creation for 8 weeks, culminating in a work-in-process showcase at the festival.

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

Access: All pre-recorded videos will be Closed Captioned. Live-streamed events will have Auto-Transcribed Captions or Live-Transcribed Captions. Any questions or access requests can be sent to Brendan Kinnon (Festival Producer) at 

COVID Safety: All content was filmed or recorded in accordance with the Ontario and City of Toronto Public Health protocols. 

For Media Inquiries: 

Emma Westray — Paprika Festival Communications Manager 



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

Summer of Semitism

Summer of Semitism is about four friends who have grown up together going to Jewish summer camp. Now, in their early 20s, they’re taking on the responsibilities of Head Staff and are in charge of running their beloved home away from home. When an act of anti-semitism hits the camp hard on its first day, the friends are left to pick up the pieces before their campers arrive.

Ori Black — Producer, Playwright + Performer
Emma Ferreira — Director
Ashley Frederick — Stage Manager
Hershel Blatt, Wayne Burns, Tom Shoshani — Performers

Mhajjir مهاجر

Mhajjir and Luca have to make a tough decision when Luca gets a placement in Lebanon, 2 years after the port explosion. Meanwhile, Mhajjir receives an unexpected visit from his childhood best friend from Beirut. A story of love, grief & immigration.

Maher Sinno — Playwright + Producer
Liana Bdéwi — Director


MIRROR blends together different storytelling mediums including theatre, film, animation, and voice acting to take the audience on a journey that demonstrates the universality of emotional experiences. 

Natasha Advani Thangkhiew — Creator, Director, Writer & Performer
Aman Khandelwal — Dramaturg (Theatre) & Performer
Deacon — Dramaturg (Film)
Mateen Missaghi, Ezequiel Garcia — Cinematographers & Editors
Hannah Palmier Blizzard, Rafael Medici — Animators 
Alexandra Floras-Matic, Kate Counsel — Performers


Songbird is steeped in music that ebbs and flows with the life and memories of Migize, an Anishnaabe girl who attends a residential school and lives to become a mother, grandmother and young singer/songwriter and guitarist in 1960s Canada. The play begins at the end of her life and displays her trials and tribulations as she comes to terms with her traumatic experience at residential school, the loss of her best friend to suicide, and the anger and hurt she feels towards the Canadian government and RCMP for attempting to “kill the Indian” in children like her. Music becomes her tool to escape. But can she heal?

Rebecca Hope Gouthro — Creator & Performer

Medicine Duets

Medicine Duets is a ritual illustrated through dance, music and film.  An individual falls into a chaotic haze, losing sight of balance and stillness.  Calling upon the Ancestors of Turtle Island, they journey together, reminding us of our deeply rooted strength, resilience and reciprocity to each other and to Mother Earth.

Sophie Dow — Choreographer, Sound Designer, Director, Editor, Interpreter
Connie Oreamuno — Choreographer, Editor, Stage Manager
Maria Lucia Llano, Paige Sayles, Tyra Temple-Smith — Interpreters & Choreographic Contributors

The Bridge

Kara is a young Indigenous woman struggling with the death of someone close, while also trying to navigate through addiction, depression and loss of identity. 

Pesch Nepoose — Creator

Canada’s Next Chopped Model Minority

Which minority will mix, mash and mince their way to being Master of the Melting Pot?

Ajahnis Charley, Kimberly Ho, Zev Mair, Kiera Publicover — Co-Creators

Letters to My Grandma

Letters to my Grandma, is a beautiful one-woman play by Anusree Roy that explores an intergenerational relationship between a South Asian-Canadian woman and her aging grandmother in India. The play flows between the past and the present, as Malobee discovers her grandmother’s fight to survive the 1947 India-Pakistan partition, unearthing layers of multi-generational hatred and fear between Hindus and Muslims. These letters tie both women together, as Malobee navigates her life in Canada, with her new hybridized, immigrant, identity.

Anusree Roy — Playwright
Malika Daya — Director
Kiru Srikanth — Performer
Angela Mae Bago — Stage Manager
Mae Smith — Designer
Sanchuri Sur — Dialect Coach

How We Fall in Love

A play about love as experienced by three generations of Palestinians of mixed faiths who had to overcome emotional, physical, religious, political and societal obstacles in order to be with the ones they love. Falling in love in a dawn raid, smuggling sperm from prison and giving birth at a military checkpoint, Act One of How we Fall in Love is a refreshing celebration of the human heart that knows how to soar above borders and walls.

Nada Abusaleh, Saja Kilani, Laith Kinani, Esmaeel Abo Fakher — Performers
Samah Sabawi — Playwright
Rahaf Fasheh — Director
Ahlam Hassan — Stage Manager
Devin Alexander — Movement Choreographer
Renée Wong — Sound Designer

A Group Support Meeting 

There are gaps in Olok’s memory. The world is cold, grey and oppressive. They need their memories. Olok returns after twenty-five years to their hometown to fill in the missing gaps. They must remember. What lurks behind the doors of the Dasgupta household? Who do they want to protect? This new play by emerging playwright Upasana Das explores the experience of trauma, forgetting and the ways family lets us down.

Upasana Das — Playwright

The Waiting Room

Sixteen-year-old Ruth has died— passed away, bit the dust, kicked the bucket. Instead of heading straight to the afterlife, they are thrust into the Waiting Room, a dimension between life on Earth and their final reward. Along with three other humans trapped there, Ruth must figure out how to “cross over” while dealing with the clashing personalities. The Waiting Room explores suicide, abuse, self-worth, and all the lies we tell.

Sonny Duan — Playwright

Forest for the Trees

Forest for the Trees follows Josephine and her daughter Nina as they travel to England to take care of their family during an emergency. While there, Josephine is faced with unsettling childhood memories and family resentments as she traverses her relationship with her Mother and Grandmother. Traumas creep in and we’re left wondering how do we heal from something we never acknowledged? What happens when the bomb goes off and the feelings can’t be left unsaid? Can this family rebuild and move forward out of the cycle of trauma?

Juliet Jones-Rodney — Playwright

MANDEM (term used for group of friends or homies)

Black and Latino, two unemployed Torontonian friends, find themselves in their apartment the morning after a party. They’re out of weed and the end of the month is fast approaching. So they reach out to their friend Lightskin who sets them up with job interviews, en route to securing employment is where the MODNESS begins. MANDEM (term used for group of friends or homies) is a satirical piece that delves into racial stereotypes and asks, “What happens when a Latino and Black man don’t have money for weed or rent in Toronto?”

Walter Moraes-Mendoza — Playwright

Bertha Mason

Bertha Mason explores the titular character, a woman scapegoated by white feminism in both Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte), and in further adaptations and retellings. In Victorian literature, Black women were provided with demonic, often vampiric traits to discourage white men from interacting or courting them. This play is from Bertha’s perspective, focusing strongly on race dynamics and the balance of privilege, as the generations born from constant abuses of power, must now deal with the consequences of their existence. 

Rochelle R — Playwright
Dainty Smith — Dramaturg
River Oliveira — Sound Designer

Furpose and Punction

Navigating the rules and structures within two separate worlds, we investigate what it means to find fulfillment in these separate spheres and the spaces in between. Utilizing beloved tropes from Absurdism and Restoration Comedy, Furpose and Punction explores the labour of living and, ultimately, what makes life worth living.

Aly Gouveia — Director/Playwright
Emily Townsend — Production Designer

Rose’s Buds

Created with support from Community One Rainbow Grant

Rose’s Buds is an all Trans cabaret, talk show, and  a night of heart bearing art and thoughtful conversations.

Rose Goodwin — Host & Producer
Daniel Sarah Karasik, Rye, The Golden Storm, Makayla Walker — Performers/Guest Artists
Emily Townshend — Sound Designer

The Waves of Knowing

The audio story Waves of Knowing highlights the experiences of sex workers and what they’ve learned about themselves through their work. This is the third project in a series of audio pieces focused on experiential somatic knowledge.

Jess Goldson — Producer, Director, Writer, Lead Editor
Kourtney Jackson — Co-Producer, Story Consultant, Editor

Que Sera, Sera

A woman wanders the streets of Toronto in lockdown…

Abigail Whitney — Writer, Director & Producer
Theo Demeke — Lead Cinematographer and Editor
Lianne Snow — Cinematographer
Marie Powell — Stylist 
Anna Grace — Makeup and Hair Styling 
Jasmine Ward — Actor

Not Your Mija

What’s your background? But your skin is? Do you speak? Oh so you’re from? But you don’t? But you look? What does it mean to be Latinx? Is this an outdated term? Not Your Mija explores these questions and more through stories inspired by three very different women who all identify as Latinx.

Jeysa Caridad and Adriana Moraes-Mendoza — Writers, Directors & Producers
Taty Mitchell, Natasha Ramondino, Lorena Villegas — Performers
Sydney James — Editor
Lucia Linares — Assistant Editor