#Paprika21: (re)imagining process

Paprika launches its first ever by-donation festival with 13 live performances and community events online and in-person from May 16-22, 2022

Toronto, ON – Paprika Theatre Festival, recognized as one of the most critical launching pads in Toronto’s theatre ecology for young and emerging artists, is thrilled to announce the 21st annual Paprika Theatre Festival. Kicking off on May 16, this year’s festival will feature a combination of in-person workshop presentations, community discussions, staged readings, and live-streamed community events and workshops. Nineteen young and emerging artists will be showcased, offering a glimpse into the exciting future of Canadian theatre. The Paprika Festival runs May 16 to 22, 2022, with in-person events occurring at Native Earth Performing Arts’ Aki Studio, and online community events taking place through Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube. All festival events are by donation. Learn more about this year’s programming and participants, and purchase tickets here

“Over the past nine months, Paprika’s participants, facilitators, staff, festival team, and a whole network of mentors and guest artists have been imagining and re-imagining their projects, programs, rehearsals, creation, the festival, and theatre itself. Like everything and everyone these days, we have been faced with constant change, and this year’s artists have embraced it, folding change into their process in magnificent and graceful ways.” - Keshia Palm, Artistic Producer

“After two years of digital presentations, we are thrilled to return to the Aki Studio with the support of long-time partner Native Earth Performing Arts to present this year’s in-person programming. This festival also marks the beginning of a transformational relationship with The AMY Project to make a greater impact for young people and emerging artists in our communities.” - Julia Dickson, General Manager

Festival highlights include: 

  • For our first in person public gathering in over two years, join us for an Opening Night Party sharing food and drink with the community in the Daniel Spectrum Courtyard, featuring a short outdoor concert by Paprika alumna Rebecca Hope.
  • The Directors Lab, facilitated by Philip Geller, features Ahlam Hassan’s presentation of The Gaza Mono-Logues, performed by arrangement with Iman Aoun of Ashtar Theatre, and Siena-heesoo Jang’s presentation of CLOVER, a collectively devised piece sparked by the question: "What is my responsibility and purpose as an immigrant on Turtle Island?" 
  • A presentation of isi bhakhomen’s new play BOOM!, a story about three young girls’ epic journey of friendship, pain, and magic.
  • This year’s Indigenous Arts Program was facilitated by Cheyenne Scott, where participants Jordan M. Burns, Samantha Sutherland, Ethan Keyes, and Natasha Advani Thangkhiew fostered methodologies that embrace their unique relationships to land and story. Festival presentations share their discoveries through dance and theatre.
  • The Creators Unit, facilitated by xLq (Jordan Cambell & Maddie Bautista), explores the end of the world, or at least the one we know, in cepheloparty! a two hour durational piece which invites the audience to come and go as they please, experiencing the piece in their own way.
  • The Playwrights Unit, once again facilitated by Bilal Baig, will present a triple bill of 30 minute excerpts of new works by playwrights Maezy Dennie, Ethan Keyes, and Tanaz Roudgar. These readings will be presented in-person and online via YouTube Premiere.

Ahmed Hegazy, Jenna Geen, and Alex Cameron from the Design Lab will collaborate with participants in the festival to provide sound design for the Directors Lab and Productions presentations, with guidance from their facilitator Deanna H. Choi.

The Festival Creative Producers + Administrators Program, facilitated by Kevin Matthew Wong, is made up of a talented group of performing artists from across the GTA including Fatima Adam, Nidhi Baadkar, Jordan M. Burns, and Yago Mesquita.


Community programming:

This year, we’ve curated a series of #Paprika21 Festival digital offerings celebrating new work by young and emerging artists, and exploring workshops and topics centring around this year's festival theme of (re)imagining process. Kicking off the festival is a digital Emerging Artist Unconference on May 16 at 4PM EST, co-facilitated by Paprika Festival and Nightwood Theatre. Inspired by Nightwood Theatre's Feminist Unconferences, this Unconference uses the theme of this year's festival, (re)imagining process, as a launch pad into idea generation, collaboration, and collective design for the future of theatre. Young and emerging artists across Turtle Island are invited to listen, lead and dive deep at this hierarchy-smashing, participant-driven unconference. 

Other digital community events include a Morning Meditation on May 18 at 11:30AM EDT with artist-scholar and food consultant Aisha Lesley Bentham. In “Feeding Performance”, Aisha shares a recipe and teachings from the intersection of cooking and performance. #HotTopic: Directors Roundtable on May 19 at 3:00 PM EDT brings #Paprika17 alumni Karthy Chin and Christopher Manousos together to reflect on professional development, the many directions an artistic career can take, and enjoying the ride. Tickets to all online festival events can be reserved here

In person Community Events include an Opening Night Party in Daniels Spectrum Courtyard on May 17 at 7PM EDT, and an invitation to #MeetPaprika21, an informal mixer with artists and staff of this year’s festival. 

#HotTopic: What Can Indigenous Look Like? with this year’s cohort of Indigenous Arts Program participants will follow the presentation of What Can Indian Look Like? on May 21 at 7:00 PM EDT.

The Indigenous Arts Showcase on May 22 at 4:30 PM EDT will close the #Paprika21 Festival.


“This year, our training programs took place online, and in a hybrid online/in-person model. What’s on offer this May is a selection of works-in-process, panel discussions, readings, workshops and gatherings, developed over the past nine months in Zoom rooms and theatre spaces. Some offerings are digital, while some welcome you into physical space. Wherever you are, we are excited to invite you to the (re)imagining process.” - Keshia Palm, Artistic Producer

“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 twenty-one years of the Paprika Festival, where the future of theatre begins.” - Julia Dickson, General Manager

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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 gratefully acknowledges the support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and Department of Canadian Heritage. The Paprika Festival is also made possible by the RBC Foundation. To join our community of donors to support the next generation of theatre artists, visit www.paprikafestival.com/support.  

Native Earth Performing Arts |
Founded in 1982, Native Earth is Canada's oldest professional Indigenous theatre company. Native Earth is dedicated to developing, producing and presenting professional artistic expressions of the Indigenous experience in Canada. Through stage productions (theatre, dance and multidisciplinary art), new script development, apprenticeships and internships, Native Earth seeks to fulfill a community of artistic visions. It is a vision that is inclusive and reflective of the artistic directions of members of the Indigenous community who actively participate in the arts.

The AMY Project | Founded in 2005,The Artists Mentoring Youth (AMY) Project is committed to transforming the arts landscape by providing accessible, affirming performing arts training & creation programs for women and non-binary youth from equity-seeking communities. With the mentorship of professional artists, AMY participants learn to tell their stories with honesty, integrity, and artistic rigor.


The Paprika Festival gratefully acknowledges support from the following:

Government Funders: Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council

Department of Canadian Heritage

Impact Partner: The AMY Project

Festival Partner: Native Earth Performing Arts

Festival Sponsor: RBC Foundation

Festival Incubator Sponsor: TD Bank Group  

Company in Residence: Theatre Passe Muraille

Program Partners: Soulpepper Theatre Company, SummerWorks Festival, Tarragon Theatre, T.O. Live, Why Not Theatre

Printing Partner: Eva’s Initiatives

Community and Industry Partners: Toronto Fringe, Paul Butler + Christopher Black Foundation, Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund, University of Toronto - Department of Drama, Theatre, Performance Art, Charles Street Video, Nightwood Theatre, Factory Theatre


For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact: 

Julia Dickson (General Manager) — julia@paprikafestival.com