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Headshot of Derek Kwan, an East Asian man in his 40s with a shaved head, and stubble moustache. He smiles at the camera with his hands on his hips. He is wearing a dark grey jacket, forest green corduroy vest, white shirt, and there is a small needle-felted head of a fox on his lapel

Derek Kwan is an actor, singer, and theatre creator working at the intersection of theatre, music and movement in a number of forms including opera, clown, and puppetry. His performing career has taken him across Canada and the globe, from London, England, to performances in Czech Republic, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and China. Derek was nominated for 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards for his work in theatre and received the Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role in Mr. Shi and His Lover.

Derek is also passionate about therapeutic clowning, as well as clown, puppet and mask in all contexts. He is the Artistic Director of Common Boots Theatre. He also works as a director of theatre, dramaturg, and teacher/lecturer on theatre, diversity and representation, and clown.

Favourite projects: serving the community as a clown at MabellePANTRY (MABELLEarts); premiering a new Canadian opera about Chinatown in Vancouver in English and Toisanese, Chinatown (City Opera Vancouver); puppeteering on Old Man and the River (WeeFestival), a table-top puppet show for children 3+; a Deaf/hearing integrated production of The Tempest (Citadel Theatre); an apocalyptic animal cabaret The Cave (Luminato/Toronto, BC tour); an immersive, site-specific production of Sweeney Todd (TIFT/Barrie) in London, England;  a Mandarin-language adaptation of the children’s classic The Blue Bird (Theatre de la Sardine, Taipei); an outdoor, site-specific Winter promenade show- Tails From the City (Common Boots Theatre); Lorca’s Blood Weddings (Aluna Theatre/Modern Times); Fritz & Magda, an improvised promenade mask show (he was Magda), and Mr. Park vs Dale, a 1-person/2-character masked outdoor opera he wrote for tenor and viola da gamba (LabCab); a story-telling residency in kindergarten classes (Firefly Project– Theatre Direct); creating theatre for children with autism (Red Kite Project-Theatre Direct); exploring physicality and Schubert’s Winterreise with choreographer William Yong at McMichael Gallery (Luminato).

Performance highlights include- theatre: Chimerica (Théâtre Duceppe); The Cave (JMar Electric/Luminato), Tails From the City (Common Boots Theatre); The Tempest (Citadel), Blood Weddings (Modern Times/Aluna), Winterreise Projekt (Harbourfront HATCH), Head à Tête (Theatre Direct), A Synonym for Love (Volcano), Red Snow (Red Snow Collective), A Fool’s Life (Ahuri Theatre), Banana Boys (fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company); opera/music theatre: Chinatown (City Opera Vancouver), Into the Woods (TIFT), Pal Joey (TIFT), Sweeney Todd (TIFT), Mr Shi and His Lover (Music Picnic/Macau Experimental Theatre/Tarragon/NAC), Play of Daniel (Toronto Consort), Paradises Lost (Summerworks 2013), The Lesson of Da Ji (Toronto Masque Theatre), Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins  (Against the Grain); TV: XIII Season 2, Cracked

Throughout his career, Derek has collaborated with many theatre companies, institutions, and entities, including:

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