2019-20 Graduate students

Taiwo Afolabi

Taiwo is a theatre director, researcher, and educator from Nigeria. His research focuses on the dynamics of virtual communities. He has worked, toured, researched and led workshops in Denmark, the US, China, and Khartoum, Sudan, Burkina Faso, as well as in his native Nigeria, and worked with the International Theatre Institute. Taiwo is a Queen Elizabeth Scholar and a Graduate Award recipient at the University of Victoria.

Program: PhD Applied Theatre

Lara Aysal

Lara's area of research focuses on political movements and their effects on social change through Applied Theatre. She is specifically interested in the function of Applied Theatre as a language to address, organize and take action within climate struggle context though decolonization methodologies. 

She was told to be an activist, performance artist, facilitator, and coordinator of social change motivated projects. She has been walking the planet working within the context of theatre for development and social change. She has advocated for child sexual abuse and youth detention centers through drama and theatre. She has been a part of projects in South Africa, South America, Turkey, Italy, Germany and, Canada. She is one of the founders of AA+A Contemporary Performance Research Project and Ray Performance Collective. She has also taught the first and second year acting classes at Beykent University (Istanbul) and published individual and collaborative ideas on COP20, civil disobedience, theatre in conflict zones and possibilities of hope.

Program: PhD Applied Theatre

Kate Bessey

Kate Bessey has worked in Drama in Education and Independent Theatre for over a decade in contexts as varied as rural Washington State, New York City, and Córdoba, Argentina. Her research will construct an ethnography of community and independent theatre practices in Argentina as models for Applied Theatre. She seeks to combine her background in educational and community theatre with her passion for international exchange in order to discover and foster cross-cultural collaborations and relationships.

Program: PhD Applied Theatre

Claire Carolan

Claire is a second-year interdisciplinary doctoral student in Theatre and Education. Her research investigates intersections between scenography and Performance Studies. The properties master at the University of Calgary for seven years, she also led the launch of the first Tri-University Conference in Theatre and Performance Research with her graduate peers at UVic, UBC and SFU and will continue to support that initiative as it moves to UBC for 2016. Claire presented research this summer at CATR and the Critical Exchange of the Puppeteers of America at the University of Connecticut. She has been commissioned to write a chapter for a book called “Critical Perspectives on Women in Puppet Theatre”.

Program: PhD Interdisciplinary in Theatre and Education

Sandra Chamberlain-Snider

Sandra is a third-year doctoral student with the proposed research area of Canadian children and youth on stage. While at UBC, Sandra wrote her MA thesis on the history of the city’s Arts Umbrella’s Theatre Troupes and also helped to launch the university’s inaugural Theatre Graduate Symposium. An active supporter of the Vancouver arts scene through her own volunteerism, Sandra has served on the board of Boca del Lupo and keeps up her advocacy and volunteer work on behalf of Arts Umbrella, Boca del Lupo, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. 

Program: PhD Theatre History

Nancy Curry

Nancy is a PhD candidate, researching the impact of drama participation on the development of social skills in young adults with autism spectrum disorder. She teaches musical theatre and drama for autism at Kaleidoscope Theatre's Performing Arts Studio, and weekly drama workshops with adults with disabilities for Lifetime Networks Victoria. 

Before embarking on her PhD studies, Nancy enjoyed a career as a theatre musician and music educator, teaching all ages from preschool to college and performing at the community, university and professional levels. She has toured with educational opera outreach programs for San Diego Opera, Nevada Opera and Edmonton Opera, and coached opera and musical theatre at the University of Alberta, the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Nebraska, along with music directing many community theatre productions. 

Nancy's training also includes assistantships at the Banff Centre in opera, art song, and avant-garde music theatre, and instructor certification in Somatic Voiceworks, Musikgarten early childhood music, and Suzuki Method piano.

Program: PhD Interdisciplinary in Applied Theatre and Education

Dennis Gupa

Dennis's research explores how indigenous performance and human settlements are affected by the onslaught of modernities and colonialism. He is interested in the resiliency of indigenous performance through the sacred artistic practice of master artists of the Philippines and Cambodia. He received a scholarship from the Indonesian government to study seni theatre and traditional mask dance (topeng) at Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI) in Bandung. The Asian Cultural Council's Rockefeller Brothers Fund awarded him a fellowship to undertake a director-in-residence program in New York City, where he participated in and observed contemporary theatre directing process with Ma-Yi Theatre Co., National Asian American Theatre Co., and The Juilliard Drama School. Dennis is also a Fellow of  The Philippines' 21, awarded by the Asia Society. His work has won support from the World Banks/Australian Agency for International Development, the Canada Council for the Arts, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, University of the Philippines, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and various local government agencies in the Philippines. 

Program: PhD Applied Theatre

Arash Isapour

Supervisor: Dr. Allana Lindgren

Arash completed his MA in Dramatic Literature at Soore University in Tehran, Iran. His MA thesis was focused on the dramaturgy of three plays of Caryl Churchill in Iran (i.e. Top Girls, Mad Forest, and Love and Information). Due to his main interest in political theatre, Arash found themes of these plays closely applicable to the Iranian audience. He worked under the supervision of Prof. Naghmeh Samini, who is also an Iranian reputable playwright and researcher.

Since he finished his MA, Arash has been active in doing research and has participated in different domestic festivals in Iran. He was awarded the second prize for the best academic research in the 6th Soore University Festival of Theatre in Tehran. Arash was also nominated for the research section of the 17th Iran International Festival of University Theatre; at the same festival, his production of Caryl Churchill's latest play Love and Information was also nominated for the best performance director.

His main research interests are grounded in political theatre, modernism, and feminist playwrights. It includes the Brechtian theatre and achievements of other theatre practitioners of the modern age (e.g. Joan Littlewood) that contribute to a social change regarding a wide variety of social discriminations. Additionally, focusing on the dramatic works of the contemporary feminist playwrights is his other area of interest. These playwrights include Caryl Churchill and Helen Cixous whose main themes are not only about gender discriminations but also concerned with other forms of socio-political discriminations including class inequity.

Program: PhD Theatre History

Lauren Jerke

Lauren works with communities to devise theatre that questions common values and norms. She has worked with such community groups as psychiatric patients, seniors, and grade seven students in Malawi. She has taught the second year applied theatre class here at UVic, as well as a class about international community development and the arts in the School of Public Administration. She is currently a research associate on the nation-wide Arts For Social Change project. Her doctoral research looks at the use of theatre as education for change with gatekeepers in Canada. 

Program: PhD Applied Theatre

Jemma Llewellyn


Jemma Llewellyn is an International PhD student in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria, from Wales, UK. Her previous study focus was autobiographical performance and making work informed by a place or space that connects an audience to their own memories of childhood through storytelling. Jemma is interested in the intersections between Digital Technologies, Applied Theatre and Storytelling, this stems from her experience of working with teens from a range of backgrounds in youth theatres, schools and youth services, personalized through her interactions with her ‘digitally native’ nieces and nephews.

Program: PhD Applied Theatre

Graham McMonagle

Graham McMonagle has enjoyed a 20-year career in Ballet, both as a dancer and designer. He studied at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Pacific Youth Ballet and worked professionally as a dancer with Columbus Dance Theatre, Opera Atelier, Company Dance Traverse, Opera Columbus, Ballet Classique and the Lancaster (Ohio) Festival, and worked as the Co-Artistic Director and Principal Dancer of Canadian Pacific Ballet. After apprenticing in the National Ballet of Canada’s costume department, he served as Resident Designer at Columbus Dance Theatre, going on to work at Ohio State University, the University of Illinois Champagne Urbana, the New York International Film Festival, BalletMet Columbus, New Albany Ballet, Alberta Ballet and Goh Ballet. In Victoria, Mr. McMonagle has designed costumes for Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre and the Phoenix Theatre.

Program: PhD Theatre History

Kyra Oser

Kyra’s primary research interests are altered states of consciousness in twentieth-century French avant-garde theatre, shamanism, and the work of Artaud. Her MA Thesis, Textual Automatism in Surrealist Plays, explored automatic writing in the scripts of French pre-Surrealist playwrights Breton, Cocteau, Soupault, and Apollinaire. 

Kyra was an instructor of Theatre History, Beginning Acting, and Children’s Theatre at Moorpark College, as well as Acting for Film and TV and Rehearsal and Performance at Oxnard College. A professional playwright, director, and actor, her work has garnered critical acclaim in The Scotsman, LA Weekly, and LA Times. In 2002, she received the Moorpark College Service Learning Award for writing and directing an interactive play about art, Daydream Museum, which toured to elementary schools throughout Southern California. 

Inspired by Grotowski’s Towards a Poor Theatre and Brook’s concept of Holy Theatre, she launched a Los Angeles Budget Theatre column on Examiner.com in 2009, reviewing for Hollywood Fringe Festival and other venues that promoted low-budget, original productions. 

Kyra joined SAG in 2000 and AGVA in 1999. Trained in comedy improv at Groundlings as a student of actor Drew Droege, she’s performed at Uncabaret and Westside Comedy Theater. She studied with director Sal Romeo at Friends and Artists Studio in Hollywood from 2001-2006, learning techniques for applying the Stanislavsky system to film and television acting. Kyra is a certified hypnotherapist, and her radio show has aired live in the US since 2011 in partnership with producers that include KKNW and CBS Radio.

Supervisor: Dr. Allana Lindgren 

Program: PhD Theatre History

Leah Tidey

Leah is a MA student studying Applied Theatre who hopes to pursue her PhD. Her area of research is to explore to what extent there is a social stigma of sexuality and aging, and how  Intergenerational Theatre in Education can be utilized to address it. She hopes to work with seniors and youth to devise a performance to be brought to various high schools and seniors homes across Victoria with a follow-up workshop for the audience. Leah's passion for intergenerational theatre emerged in her undergraduate degree where she attended a field school in Tamil Nadu, India. For three months, Leah and her colleagues, under Dr. Mathew Gusul and Dr. Warwick Dobson, facilitated workshops and a performance with seniors from the Tamaraikulam Elders Village and youth from the Isha Vidya Matriculation School, the Aim for Seva School for boys, and the SOS Children's Village.

Program: MA Applied Theatre