Festival welcomes new talent to Birmingham Conservatory

September 10, 2012… The 14th session of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre begins this week, with 10 actors embarking on five months of intensive training under the direction of Martha Henry.

Four participants are returning for their second year in the program: Sarah Afful, Brad Hodder, Ruby Joy and Dylan Trowbridge. Company member Mike Nadajewski, who has recently returned from the Broadway run of Jesus Christ Superstar, joins the program for a first year, along with Festival newcomers Josue Laboucane, Andrew Robinson, Sabryn Rock, Dorcas Sowunmi and Antoine Yared.

“Twenty-five members of the 2012 acting company came out of the Conservatory,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “This training program has helped to launch the careers of some of our leading actors, many of whom I have had the great pleasure of directing. The Festival company is among the finest in the world and I hope to find many more opportunities to work with these extraordinarily talented performers.”

“These young actors have a magnificent experience ahead of them,” says General Director and Artistic Director designate Antoni Cimolino. “They will train with Martha Henry, one of Canada’s most accomplished actors, directors and teachers, and the world’s top voice, movement and text coaches. When they emerge from this rigorous program, they will be well prepared to perform on the world’s great stages – beginning, of course, with our own here in Stratford.”

“Several young, vigorous artists have been selected this past year from across the country by Des McAnuff, Antoni Cimolino and myself,” says Ms Henry. “They will all become a vital part of the 2013 season, and perhaps many seasons to come.”

The Birmingham Conservatory is the only program in North America that concentrates exclusively on training for the classical actor within a classical repertory theatre. All Conservatory members are offered contracts for the subsequent Festival season.

The Conservatory gives participants an opportunity to work with the finest instructors from across the country, including David Latham and Janine Pearson. Cicely Berry will come from the Royal Shakespeare Company to do a voice and text workshop in September. The training also includes the presentation of a classical work in December, directed by Christopher Newton, and a final presentation in February, directed by Jennifer Tarver.

The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is made possible by the support of the Birmingham family, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Endowment Foundation and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Supporting the 2013 in-season work of Birmingham Conservatory participants is The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation.


Sarah Afful, Vancouver

Stratford: Appears in The Pirates of Penzance and Elektra. Training: Most recently, the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre; Sarah began at Tarlington Training, Crichlow Actors’ Studio, the Lyric School of Acting and under Andrew McIlroy in Vancouver and is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s BFA Acting program. Elsewhere: Theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing and Antony and Cleopatra (Bard on the Beach); Macbeth: Nach Shakespeare (Theatre Conspiracy/Gas Heart); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Pound of Flesh/Pacific Theatre); The Eighth Land (PI Theatre); and Old Goriot (Western Gold/UBC Theatre). Film/TV: Credits include Smallville, Caprica, Eureka, The Perfect Score, American Dreams and numerous commercials. Recordings: Voice work includes Days of Old (Pod Play, Neworld Theatre) and other Pod Plays for CBC. Et cetera: Sarah is a Ghanaian-Canadian and comes to Stratford from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Brad Hodder, St. John’s, NL

Stratford: Second Gentleman/First Briton Captain in Cymbeline, appears in Elektra and understudy in The Matchmaker. Selected Theatre: Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (Neptune Theatre); Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Grand Theatre); Paul in Hail (RCAT); Freder in Pains of Youth, Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Ernest in The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine (c2c theatre); Harold in Black Comedy (Rabbittown); Sin in Fear of Flight (Artistic Fraud); Clarke in No Man’s Land, Sebastian in The Tempest (Rising Tide); Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew (New Curtain); Chebutykin in Three Sisters (Studio Theatre). Directing: Henry IV, Part 1, Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (New World Theatre Project); The Leisure Society, Autobahn, The Stendhal Syndrome (c2c). Film/TV: Republic of Doyle, Diverted, Above and Beyond (CBC). Training: BFA in Acting, University of Alberta. Et cetera: Founding Associate of c2c theatre and New World Theatre Project.

Ruby Joy, Toronto

Stratford:  Helen in Cymbeline and appears in The Matchmaker. Elsewhere: The Tempest (Theatre by the Bay), Hamlet and The Winter’s Tale (Theatre80 St. Marks), Evolutionism (The Schapiro Theatre), Look Back in Anger (The Old Stone House), Sex and the Holy Land (The Players Theatre), The Libertine (Robert Moss Theater). Film/TV: Chantel in Republic of Doyle (CBC), Audrey in Oddly Flowers (CFC). Training: Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Website: www.rubyjoy.net.

Josue Laboucane, Vancouver

Elsewhere: Henry VI in Henry VI: Wars of the Roses; Richard III; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Measure for Measure; Hamlet; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; Julius Caesar; Timon of Athens (Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival); Revenge (Felix Culpa); Zachary in The Exquisite Hour (Relephant Theatre); Carnage (Pi Theatre); Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, Toad in A Year with Frog and Toad, Horton in Seussica; Robin Hood; Bird Brain; Pharaoh Serket; Silverwing (Carousel Theatre); The Emperor’s New Threads (Axis Theatre). Training: Studio 58, the Canadian National Voice Intensive. Awards: Six Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominations and one win, and the Sydney J. Risk Award. Et cetera: Josue is also a teacher, emerging director (BC Buds, Alley Theatre, Walking Fish) and mask maker (Carousel Theatre, Vancouver Opera).

Mike Nadajewski, Stratford (via Toronto)

Stratford: Mordred in Camelot, Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar, Mike in Jacques Brel, Hero in Forum, Amiens in As You Like It, Glad Hand in West Side Story. Elsewhere: Jesus Christ Superstar (Broadway); Forum (Mirvish); Happy End, The President, The Yalta Game, Hotel Peccadillo, Mack & Mabel (Shaw Festival); Fiddler on the Roof (MTC); Cotton Patch Gospel, Lend Me a Tenor, Brighton Beach Memoirs (Drayton Entertainment); Pélagie (Canadian Stage, NAC); The Mousetrap (Saidye Bronfman Centre); Harvest Moon Rising, One Night Stand (Talk Is Free Theatre); Larry’s Party (Canadian Stage, NAC, MTC); Little Women (Victoria Playhouse); ’Twas (Theatre Orangeville); Emily (Charlottetown Festival). Et cetera: Co-founder of Talk Is Free Theatre, based in Barrie, Ontario.

Andrew Robinson, Toronto

Elsewhere: Menelaos in Ajax in Afghanistan, Dancer in The Intuition of Iphigenia (Women and War Project – Greece tour: Athens, Hydra, Delphi, Elefsina); Groom in Machina Nuptialis (Corpus Dance Projects/Regency Theatre – Ontario tour); Dionysus in The Bacchae (Hydrama Centre – Hydra Island, Greece); Echo/Narcisszeus in Divorce Play or Russian Dolls (Rhubarb/Buddies); Chorus in Tightrope (2boys.tv/Buddies); Duckett/Merrisson/John/Major/Gleason in Serious Money (Nightwood/Ryerson); Wolf/Soldier in Bent (Theatre Engine). Training: Ryerson Theatre School. Et cetera: Andrew grew up in Scarborough. He has dreamed of acting in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for his entire career. He dedicates this season to his mother, Anita, whose constant support has made every dream a possibility.

Sabryn Rock, Toronto

Elsewhere: Emmie in Caroline, or Change (Acting Up Stage/Obsidian Theatre); Sophie in Ruined (Obsidian/Nightwood Theatre); Lady Baa in The Passion of Adele Hugo (Eastern Front Theatre); Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, Regan in King Lear (Driftwood Theatre); Dead Ahead, El Numero Uno (YPT); Little Shop of Horrors (Persephone Theatre); HONK!, Just So (Globe Theatre). Film/TV: Principal in The Story of Luke (feature film); guest appearances on The Listener, Degrassi, Flashpoint, Against the Wall. Radio: Rumours – What’s the Use? (CBC Radio). Training: Sabryn is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. Awards: Dora nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Musical for Caroline, or Change.

Dorcas Sowunmi, Chicago

Elsewhere: Lady Macduff/First Witch in Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Viney in The Miracle Worker at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Louise in Trust at Lookingglass Theatre, Barbra in I, Barbra Jordan at The Alley Theatre. Film/TV: Chicago Code (Twentieth Century Fox), Checkout (GinJar Productions). Training: The School at Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois); Stella Adler Actor’s Studio (New York); MFA in Acting, The University of Texas at Austin. Et cetera: Dorcas is honoured to be at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. She would like to thank her mother, Lydia, and family and friends for their love and support!

Dylan Trowbridge, Toronto

Stratford: Titus Andronicus, The Grapes of Wrath. Elsewhere: Directing: The Big Game (The Tennessee Williams Project). Acting: Dirty Dancing (West End and Mirvish); Rutherford and Son, Widowers’ Houses, The Coronation Voyage, Lord of the Flies, The Matchmaker, Detective Story and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (Shaw Festival); Escape from Happiness, Tideline (Factory Theatre); Vinci (Canadian Stage); Tiny Dynamite (Theatre Smash); Return: The Sarajevo Project (Dora nomination), Mojo (Theatrefront); Swimming in the Shallows (Buddies in Bad Times); Grace (Platform 9); Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Repercussion Theatre); Henry V (Shakespeare by the Sea). Film/TV: Deputy Sheriff “Nose” in the new Netflix series Hemlock Grove; recurring role on Copper; Warehouse 13; Murdoch Mysteries. Training: Birmingham Conservatory. Et cetera: Dylan is a founding member of the award-winning Toronto-based company Theatrefront.

Antoine Yared, Montreal

Elsewhere: The Fox in Pinocchio, Trent Dolin in Smokescreen and various characters in Alice Through the Looking Glass (Geordie Productions); Justin in Jesus Jello (Sheep in Fog); Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Touchstone in As You Like It and Stefano in The Tempest (Repercussion Theatre); Galoshin in Provincial Anecdotes (Concordia University). Film/TV: Boucherie Halal (Babek Aliassa); Apartment 1103 (Michele Taverna); Open (Tom Abray). Recordings: Kojiro Sasaki Samurai Warriors 2 (KOEI). Training: Dawson College, Concordia University. Awards: 2010 Elsa Bolam Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Emerging Artist. Et cetera: Antoine was born in Lebanon. After spending a few years in Saudi Arabia he eventually moved to Montreal at the age of five. His parents were with him.



1 thought on “Festival welcomes new talent to Birmingham Conservatory

  1. Congratulations to everyone! It looks to be an exciting group of very talented actors/actreses. I regret not introducing my Cordelia to Martha Henry when we saw her at The Exhibition – a Cordelia meeting a Cordelia. That would have made an excellent picture.

    Break a leg, all!

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