jamila ‘jai' joseph

Jamila ‘Jai’ Joseph is the recipient of the joint mentorship with Playwright’s Workshop Montreal for 21-22.

Jamila ‘Jai’ Joseph is a Montreal based interdisciplinary artist with her primary mediums being dance performer 20+yrs/choreographer 10+yrs, self taught emerging singer 15yrs/song writer 15yrs, emerging theatre artist 3yrs. A past recipient of Black Theatre Workshop’s Victor Phillips award in 2002 Jamila has continued performing, creating, and learning, telling
her stories, and sharing her expressions throughout her work. In 2015, Jamila started JaiDanse, a dance facilitation/dance performance company and has produced and co-produced shows both for stage and theatre at local venues around the city. Between 2017 – 2019 Jamila has had the pleasure of joining the casts of How Black Mothers Say I Love you, written by Trey Anthony (Black
Theatre Workshop 2019) & Nicole Brooke’s a Cappella “musical odyssey” Obeah Opera (ASAH Productions 2019) in Toronto, with her first stage role being back in 2017 where she portrayed ‘Lady in Purple‘ in the Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls… (McGill University’s Tuesday Night Café Theatre) and again in 2018 as an “Encore presentation…” produced by the cast (Les 6 Productions).
As we all came to stand still in the last 2 years, Jamila used the time to study her crafts, sharpen her creative tools and has added some new skills to her toolbelt. Currently, she is choreographing for theatre (TBD) and is also writing script and song/working on her own Performance Theatre piece entitled Wild Roots. 

sophia wright

Sophia Wright (she/her) is a dancer, choreographer, and creator based in Tio’tia:ke / Montreal and currently works in a collective with dance and theatre artist, Alida Esmail. Sophia’s artistic practice is fuelled by the desire to bring diverse practices and communities together. Originally hailing from Calgary, Sophia obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance from Concordia University and continued her studies in Cultural Mediation at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris, France. In Paris, Sophia became an active member of the collective La Main, a multi-disciplinary collective of artisans, artists, and technicians. It was also in Paris that she first engaged with the Deaf community through the arts, an intercultural and multilingual collaboration that she continues to this day. Parallel to her dance career, Sophia is developing her skills in metalwork with the goal of bringing elements of sculpture and set design into future projects.

Photo credit: Alexandre Quillet 

alida esmail

Alida Esmail (she/her) is a Tio’tia:ke/Montreal-based dance and theatre artist born in Burlington, Ontario. She holds a BFA in Contemporary Dance from Concordia University, a Certificate in Movement Arts and Mixed Media from the Attakkalari Centre in India, and a MSc in Rehabilitation Sciences from Université de Montréal. She is also trained in International Ballroom/Latin dance which she currently uses to develop and spread Liquid Lead Dancing, a gender-neutral approach to partner dancing. Alida’s identity as a second generation Canadian-Muslim, bilingual anglophone, and female of colour living in Quebec’s socio-political climate is the backdrop for her choreographic work. As she discovers how to find a sense of belonging, she has also begun to uncover the unspoken loss, erasure, trauma, and privilege from her ancestral lineage passing from India to Africa to Canada.

She has recently created a Collective with Sophia Wright and with the support of Alliance they are building a collaboration with Deaf theatre artist, Hodan Youssouf, to discover her relationship to the above themes. The Collective has also been supported by the Plateau Mont-Royal, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Théâtre aux Écuries, the Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal and PTC (Playwrights Theatre Centre) Vancouver. Alongside Alida’s performance career she is also involved in innovative Arts and Health research which has been published in reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Photo credit: Douglas Rideout 


katey wattam

Katey Wattam is a director and creator of mixed English, Irish, Franco-Ontarian, and Anishinaabe ancestry. She is drawn to stories that connect with her ways of knowing while allowing space to explore and experiment with theatrical forms through an Indigenous lens. Through her corporeal based practice, she mines bodies for their blood memory, uncovering experiences and traumas to reclaim and decolonizing bodies, minds, and spaces. She is an alum of McGill University, MAI Alliance Program, and Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program. Katey is currently a part of Why Not Theatre’s ThisGen Fellowship. Within Alliance, Katey Wattam is developing a theatrical adaptation of Métis poet and novelist Katherena Vermette’s river woman, using language through the body to explore the epicenter of colonial grief through decolonial love.


amir sám nakhjavani

Amir Sám Nakhjavani (he, him) is a META-Award nominated multilingual and multidisciplinary Montrealer of Azerbaijani-Iranian origin. As a theatre artist he has worked with the Segal Centre, Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal, Black Theatre Workshop, Tableau d’Hôte Theatre, Teesri Dunya Theatre and Infinithéâtre. He was a member of Black Theatre Workshop’s 2016-2017 Artist Mentorship Program ensemble; and participated in the DémART-MTL program through the Conseil des arts de Montréal, in collaboration with Centaur Theatre. He is currently working on a French-language translation of the Farsi-language classic, Aurash, by Bahram Beyza’ie, in collaboration with Modern Times Stage Company, in Toronto. His participation in the 2020-2021 MAI Alliance program is oriented towards an exploration of human-specific performance.

ahmad hamdan

Ahmad Hamdan is a Montreal-based actor who graduated from UQAM’s École supérieure de théâtre in 2017. He has performed his texts on several stages including La Licorne in the show Foirée Montréalaise. Parallel to his acting career, a storytelling and creation desire leads him to write short theatrical content. Within Alliance, he will tackle the long form to create a show that will explore, among other things, social mobility, the relationship to culture (in all senses of the word) and the conception of identity.


sophie el assaad

Sophie El Assaad is an award winning interdisciplinary artist, with Lebanese and British roots. After spending over a decade in Bahrain, she is based in Montreal, working in theatre as a designer, creator and aspiring director. She founded her theatre company Theatre Nuaj in 2015 and produced and directed her first show entitled VANITAS. Today she is working on writing and developing her next piece, Black Balloon.

Sophie’s individual practice is inspired by artists like Ali Chahrour, Wajdi Mouawad, Dave St Pierre and Sarah Kane; their rawness and relationship in their work to Life and Death evokes what it means to be human and the struggle that it demands. As a creator with a background in visual art, the visual impact of her work is very important; it plays with the juxtaposition of performance and artistic styles from various disciplines, heavily based in movement and imperfections. Currently, her work is focused on the increased level of hopelessness prevalent in young adults facing today’s world and the risks of a Godless generation seeking purpose. Using the current political climate in the Arab peninsula, she seeks to question perspectives from East and West, investigate the person behind the ‘terrorist’ and query the meaning of humanity.

Sophie was part of Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program in 2017 and has worked as a designer for various professional theatre companies, including Repercussion Theatre, Cabal Theatre, Talisman Theatre, Tableau d’Hôte Theatre, Geordie Theatre, Yonder Window Theatre Co and The Segal Centre of Performing Arts.


andy sawyer

Andy Sawyer is a performer based in Tio’tia’ke (Montreal). She writes and tells stories, sings songs, and listens to her body. Her practice evolves around world-building, drawing from personal experience, science-fiction, gender theory, and psychology. As an adoptee, she is interested in redefining notions of family and kinship through articulating new language around belonging, emotional responsibility (radical honesty), boundaries, and what we owe to ourselves and to each other. As a trans artist, she approaches creation through a spiritual, pleasure-filled, joy-seeking embodiment practice.

She is committed to the inner journeys of unlearning white supremacy and patriarchy while seeking out new (and old) forms of living in relationship with the land and with each other.

gabe maharjan

Gabe Maharjan is a Montreal-based actor and creator. They first caught the performance bug in their Elementary school drama class. As a child, Gabe did workshops at The Black Theatre Workshop and the MSOPA and developed a love for play and storytelling. 

Gabe is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Quebec Drama Federation. They recently completed The Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program in the actor’s stream. They participated in Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal’s Young Creators Unit, where they started writing called Eva in Rio, a new play they are developing. Gabe graduated from the Dome in 2017.

A selection of Gabe’s performance credits include Haemon in Raise the Stakes’ Antigone, Eddie in The Last Wife as part of Imago’s “Her Side” festival,  and Tripp in Sermo Scomber’s Don’t Read the Comments—which won the Franky Award for Most Promising English Company for the 2018 Montreal Fringe. Gabe voices Hayao in Epsilon Games’ Primus Vita. They made their directorial debut last year, when they produced Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries (Playground Productions).