Our team

  • Lisa O’Connell – Artistic Director

    A fierce advocate for regional theatre artists, Lisa O’Connell (she/her) is the founding Artistic Director of Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, a catalyst for new works of theatre and PlaySmelter, Northern ON’s New Work Theatre Festival. Artists work created at PTD have received or been nominated for the RBC Tarragon Playwright Award, the Carol Bolt Award, Governor-General’s Award (Drama), RBC Emerging Directors Award, among others. Work created at PTD has been presented at Magnetic North Theatre Festival, SummerWorks, Canadian Stage, Tarragon, MT Space, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Theatre Aquarius, The Grand Theatre, among others. O’Connell is a two-time recipient of a Special Jury Award from Arts Awards Waterloo and has delivered the closing Keynote address at the Canadian Association of Theatre Researchers Conference. She was past Caucus Chair at the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, Advocacy Committee of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Steering Committee Equity in Theatre and is the creator of Regional Women Lead, a national initiative to address gender parity for women in theatre. She is a recipient of a New Conversation Award (British Council/Canadian High Commission UK) for The Women’s Room with Lyth Centre, Scotland. O’Connell has been published in Canadian Theatre Review, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, among others. She divides her time between her artistic homes in Waterloo, ON and Sudbury, ON with her partner Mark Walton.


  • Matthew Heiti – Artistic Associate

    Born in a meteor crater, Matthew Heiti is a writer, actor, director and teacher working in North Ontario. He holds a BFA in Acting from Ryerson University and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of New Brunswick. He has published a novel, The City Still Breathing (Coach House Books) and a play, Black Dog: 4 vs the wrld (Playwrights’ Canada Press). He has served as Playwright-in-residence with the Sudbury Theatre Centre and Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, working with emerging writers in Northern Ontario. He explores new work in strange places with Crestfallen (crestfallentheatre.com). In his spare time, he is usually working.


  • Rebecca Ballarin – Metcalf Producing Intern

    Rebecca Ballarin (she/her) is a theatre director and producer from Peterborough Ontario, currently based in Toronto. In addition to her training at U of T, she has completed directing workshops with a number of prominent Canadian directors, including Kim Collier, Laurel Green, and Jackie Maxwell. Recent credits include: As Director –  Pearle Harbour’s Agit-Pop! (Pearle Harbour),  Hedwig and the Angry Inch7 Stories (Hart House Theatre),  O (United Solo Festival),  291 (Parados Festival); As Assistant Director –  The Flick (Outside the March & Crow’s Theatre),  Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua (Pearle Harbour), The  Haunting of Hungerford House (Tweed & Company).

    Rebecca is the Artistic Producer of Pearle Harbour (a company that presents the theatrical work of Toronto-based drag queen Pearle Harbour), and Tweed & Company Theatre. She previously worked as the Network Coordinator for SPARC (Supporting Performing Arts in Rural and Remote Communities). Rebecca is passionate about collaboration, connection, and creating spaces that  encourage experimentation and play. She is so excited to be completing a Metcalf Internship under Lisa’s mentorship and can’t wait to connect with regional creators and help amplify their voices!

  • Taylor Marie Graham – Artistic Associate, Canada Council Mentee

    Taylor is a theatre artist and educator living in Cambridge, Ontario. She has worked in various capacities with esteemed artistic companies and educational institutions as Canadian Stage, the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Tapestry New Opera Works, Humber College, Artscape, Rogers Television, amoung others. Taylor is the proud recipient of the George Ryga Award for Excellence in Playwrighting from York University, celebrated playwright Judith Thompson named Taylor as the “up and coming playwright to watch” in the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s The Playwright Applause campaign, and her opera The Virgin Charlie was nominated for a Dora Award for best new opera / musical. Currently, she is a PhD student at the University of Guelph, an English professor at Sheridan College, and an artistic associate at Pat the Dog Theatre Creation. For more information please visit taylormariegraham.com.

  • Jill Doyle – Artistic Administrator

    Jill Doyle is the non-binary, queer and neuroatypical Artistic Administrator at Pat the Dog Theatre Creation. They hold an honours BA in English from McMaster University and are working on their MA focused on gender and sexuality at the University of Guelph. When they aren’t answering emails in the Pat the Dog Office, they are creating subversive and silly cross-stitch and embroideries while squeezing their cats as much as possible. They are currently gearing up for Impact Festival 2019. You can reach Jill at their email: jill@patthedog.org

  • Kristen Shepherd – Playwright-in-residence

    A playwright and actor from North Bay, Ontario, Kristin Shepherd is 2020’s Pat the Dog OAC
    Playwright in Residence. She was a nominee for the inaugural Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize in 2019. Kristin’s first play, $38,000 For A Friendly Face, won the 2007 Samuel French Canadian Playwrights’ Contest. It has been produced more than a dozen times in Canada and the US. Hope Op, a comedy about yoga, crime and women’s anger premieres in Kitchener, March 2020, the first production of Regional Women Co-op Collective, di-rected by Heather Davies. Curved, a dark comedy about about sex, dying, and finding a voice in the world, won at the QUONTA Festival in 2017. It was presented at Play Smelter in 2015, and at the Women’s Work Festival in St. John’s in 2017. Kristin has had generous and invaluable support from the Arts Council of Ontario and from Lisa O’Connell (drama-turg) and Pat the Dog Theatre Creation.

    “There is something really beautiful and urgent about putting the real voices of real women on stage.”

  • Deanna Kruger – Artistic Associate

    Deanna is the 2019 Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council Playwright-in-Residence at Pat the Dog Theatre Creation. She received second prize in the 2018 Playwrights Guild of Canada’s RBC Emerging Playwright Award for The Sword-Bearers. Deanna is an alumnus of two playwright units: Pat the Dog’s The Women’s Room (2017-19) and Nightwood Theatre’s Write from the Hip(2016-17). Her plays have been staged in Guelph, Toronto, and Vancouver. In 2019-2020, she will return to Pat the Dog’s The Women’s Room as facilitator and playwright mentor. Deanna lives and writes in Guelph, Ontario.