“As my practice evolves, I’ve been adding skills to my portfolio. I love being able to create and influence on a larger scale (from tiny details, to larger storylines; from inklings of ideas to opening night of a show) and as such, I’ve been refining skills in dramaturgy, storytelling, curation, etc. in order to better tell stories and craft meaningful experiences in a variety of contexts from theatre to beyond. Leadership in community is also becoming more important to me, and I find it essential to contribute to ongoing conversations about the future of performing arts, the place of artists in society, and supporting new and emerging artists.
I am very passionate about what I do, the stories I help to tell, and the experiences I get to craft. In choosing projects, I tend to get excited about projects that allow me to explore and learn more about:
- unique perspectives, under-represented identities, untold histories;
- engagement with audience, immersion, impact and implication of spectators;
- new forms of storytelling, pushing dramaturgical approaches, understanding how we create meaning through experiences;
- convergence of multiple practices and disciplines such as music, puppetry, movement, etc.
Below are a few highlights of my work in this direction.” — Derek
Common Boots Theatre- Artistic Director
On top of leading the general artistic programming and direction of the company, I initiate and lead individual projects there. Projects I’ve spearheaded have run the gamut from digital creations to theatre in a variety of contexts; from directing and leading rooms, to curating artists and work.
Some of these projects include:
Check out the Common Boots Website for more info.
WeeFestival- Associate Artist
This festival of works for children 5 and under is one of my favourite events every year. Lynda Hill has a knack for finding challenging and delightful pieces that completely engage very young audiences and I’ve learned so much from her about theatre, theatre for young audiences, and our paths as artists and community leaders.
⏵ OTHER LEADERSHIP
While not an active teacher, I occasionally teach classes on clown, physical theatre, singing, as well as lecture on theatre and opera topics such as history, representation, and contemporary practice.
I am active in mentorship of emerging artists, particularly young artists and newcomer/refugee artists. These connections range from casual advice for community members, to more formal programs such as the Toronto Arts Council’s Newcomer & Refugee Artist Mentorship Program.
I have participated in juries from the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, to competitions, as well as grants and selection committees.
⏵ DIRECTING/OUTSIDE EYE (selected)
Kyra de Magica
Written and Performed by Kyra Tang
TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL
Jul 5-16, 2023
St. Volodymyr Institute
Kyra de Magica is a 16 year old satirical phoney magician who has just immigrated to Toronto from Hong Kong. With her father still in Hong Kong, we learn that her mother has become increasingly disciplinary towards her child. Through an interactive experience, help Kyra de Magica get the attention of her celebrity crush, whom she believes will save her from her overbearing mother, by “telling the future” through mind control, telepathy, and song! Come witness The Toronto Fringe Festival’s first made-in-Hong Kong, adapted to Canada production!
“This fun one-person show involved both directing and dramaturgy, helping an emerging performer to craft an entertaining yet relevant showcase for their considerable talent. As a comedy, there were lots of gags, props, and cheese to weave into the story and it was challenging but really fun to balance the laughs with a potent message. As a show without a fourth wall and a lot of audience interaction, we also spent a lot of time investigating how to encourage full participation of the audience while maintaining safety, comfort, and boundaries for all.” — Derek
Words by Taylor Marie Graham, Music by William Towson
Jul 26-Aug 12, 2023
Here for Now Theatre/Stratford Symphony Orchestra, Stratford
Frog Song is a joyful, funny, and thoughtful new children’s opera about facing your inner fears and discovering your inner song. Navdeep and Wyatt, two Canadian pre-teens who seem different in every possible way, are paired together for a fairytale inspired singing competition at the magical Camp Songbird. They have one secret thing in common though: both Navdeep and Wyatt are having the most mysterious dreams starring an ominous wall of singing frogs! With help from the other entertaining campers and their dramatic singing director Jay, these two must find a way to work together to defeat the wall of frogs and sing their truth for all to hear.
“Director Liza Balkan asked me to be Associate Artist on this opera for children to be an extra pair of eyes on the physical storytelling and incorporation of various physical elements. It was fun to use our bodies and basic props to create a magical world where frogs sing and children are trapped in bubbles. The delight was shared by the audience- including the grown ups!” — Derek
⏵ DRAMATURGY (selected)
The Futures Market
Words by Douglas Rodger, Music by Njo Kong Kie
Digital Opera Project- On-going
In a fictionalised present, a Prisoner’s life is taken, an Artist receives a second chance, and an Entrepreneur makes tough decisions. As the opera unfolds through short digital streaming episodes, the implications of their actions and subsequent decisions bring all to a tragic finale.
“This challenging project has been in the works for many years, but my involvement as dramaturg is more recent. Structurally, we attempted to find a way to make each ‘scene’ discrete yet have a feeling of development and flow as a whole. With my background in both theatre and opera, it was great to be able to offer insights and opportunities for text, scenarios, music, and other elements from those perspectives.” — Derek
By Andrew Gaboury
Summer 2023, Various Locations
Pastel’s Imaginarium – a travelling theatre and curiosity collection – has arrived in the Greater Toronto Area! Piloted by the illustrious trio Pastel, Bebung and Snippet, join them as they explore local parks and festivals. Theirs is the realm of the imagination: what sorts of things will you find when you visit the Imaginarium?
Filled with humour, music and non-verbal storytelling, Pastel’s Imaginarium will draw on techniques from clown, mime, dance and puppetry to create a site-specific spectacle for audiences of all ages.
“Andrew asked me to jam with him and I had to say yes. His idea was to create a show with a unique set of elements: dancers who clown, a show/experience that can take multiple forms (promenade, sit down, public venues), non-verbal storytelling, a show that is broadly welcoming, appealing, and accessible to a wide audience as well as casual passersby. It was super fun to work with the dancers and work out the story and the beats in a very collaborative process. ” — Derek