Announcing the 20th Anniversary Paprika Festival

Celebrating 20 Years of the Paprika Theatre Festival and forging a path
for the future of performance by embracing digital platforms

Artwork by En Tze Loh

Toronto, ON – Paprika Festival, recognized as one of the most critical launching pads in Toronto’s theatre ecology for young and emerging artists, is thrilled to announce its 20th Anniversary Paprika Festival. This June, the Paprika Festival will feature a combination of filmed performance, audio recordings, and live-streamed events. Over 30 young and emerging artists will be showcased, offering an unparalleled look into the future of Canadian theatre.

The 20th Anniversary is a celebration of the artists who have been training with us over the last two years. Exploring a wide range of storytelling formats and performance techniques, this landmark Festival is a testament to the ways that the Paprika Festival continues to push boundaries and challenge traditional structures of theatre-making. 

Some programming highlights include: 

  • The Directors Lab, facilitated by Katrina Darychuk, features five woman directors sharing their visions for five plays written by women. 
  • Ori Black’s Summer of Semitism and Maher Sinno’s Mhajjir مهاجر each explore connecting across cultural, political, and language barriers.
  • The Indigenous Arts Program, facilitated by PJ Prudat, includes artists from across Turtle Island and – for the first time – India. Each artist explores a different form of storytelling, including musical theatre, dance, animation, and solo performance. 
  • The Creators Unit, facilitated by Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks, explores digital performance through a new reality cooking show, Canada’s Next Chopped Model Minority. 
  • The Playwrights Unit, facilitated by Bilal Baig, will be mentored by Raf Antonio, Marie Beath Badian, Leah-Simone Bowen, and Adam Lazarus as they record their projects as audio plays. 

As part of our commitment to the participants from the 19th Paprika Festival, returning artists have the opportunity to showcase their work in the 20th Anniversary Festival. Some pieces to look forward to include: 

  • J + A Collective’s Not Your Mija, a short film that explores colourism and more through stories inspired by three very different women who all identify as Latinx.
  • Rose’s Buds, an all-Trans digital cabaret and talk show hosted and produced by Rose Goodwin that showcases emerging Trans performers and holds space for thoughtful conversation about creating theatre and performance.
  • Jess Goldson’s audio story Waves of Knowing highlights the experiences of sex workers and what they’ve learned about themselves through their work.

Participants from our newest program, the Design Lab, will once again collaborate with participants in the festival by providing sound and lighting design for the various presentations, with guidance from their facilitators Steph Raposo and Miquelon Rodriguez. 

We are excited that Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM) has come on board as our Festival Partner for our 20th Anniversary. Paprika has a longstanding relationship with TPM, having shared office space with their administrative team for many years. Our two companies share a commitment to mentoring emerging artists. This season, Paprika Alum Merlin Simard and Rinchen Dolma continue their artistic growth by joining TPM as Dramaturgy Intern and Metcalf Artistic Director Intern, respectively.

“At TPM, we're committed to ensuring opportunities for
access and welcoming young career artists through Paprika,
our company in residence. Always a hotbed of creativity and surprise, the festival has innovated to adapt to the current situation. In this challenging time, the Festival endures, continuing to develop relationships with peers, foster deeper
community connections within the industry, and create
lifelong friends and collaborators. TPM is honored and
thrilled to be able to continue to support this extraordinary
festival in its 20th year!”

Marjorie Chan, Artistic Director (TPM)

As part of this partnership, Paprika has invited Centre Court, a new online youth arts program created by TPM with outreach partner Scadding Court Community Centre, to be part of this year’s festival. Twelve young artists from the community will be working with poet Sheniz Janmohamed, theatre artist-producer Kevin Matthew Wong, and theatre artist April Leung to explore the vibrant world of artistic creation for 8 weeks, culminating in a work-in-process showcase at the festival.

After a successful first year, our Hot Topics conversation series and our Community Workshops will return as part of the 20th Anniversary. Curated by Paprika staff and participants, these digital events will be free and accessible to the public throughout the festival. 

As the home of the emerging artist, Paprika is more committed than ever to building professional development opportunities that allow young and emerging artists to flourish and succeed in the theatre industry. We are energized by the connection and collaboration these artists have found through Paprika during these unpredictable times. Their willingness to innovate and create new work within these parameters, while continuing to question and reimagine inherited processes for theatre-making, production, and performance, will propel the theatre industry into exciting, uncharted territories. Join us in celebrating 20 years of the Paprika Festival… where the future of theatre begins.

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FESTIVAL | Learn more about this year’s programming and participants here.


Paprika Festival | Established in 2001, Paprika runs year-round professional training and mentorship programs that culminate in a performing arts festival of new work by young and emerging artists. Paprika Festival is a proud Company-in-Residence at Theatre Passe Muraille. Paprika Festival gratefully acknowledges the support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. Paprika Festival is also made possible by RBC Foundation. To join our community of donors to support the next generation of theatre artists, visit  

Theatre Passe Muraille | Founded in 1968, TPM is Canada’s original alternative theatre company, currently developing and producing new Canadian plays. TPM is striving to articulate a distinct Canadian voice that reflects the complexity of our intercultural society. TPM believes there should be a more diverse representation of artists, audience members, and stories in our theatre. TPM aspires to be a leader locally, nationally, and internationally in establishing, promoting, and embracing collaborative and inclusive theatre practices. We do this so that we can support and ignite the voices of unique artists, communities and audiences.


For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact: 
Emma Westray (Communications Manager) —