Using digital tools as social technologies, the Digital Catalyst Team specializes in designing generous strategies for creating and hosting active and stimulating digital spaces using a variety of creative platforms. Taking a dramaturgical approach to digital placemaking, Rebecca Ballarin and Laurel Green create playful, accessible, and energetic methods to facilitate online connections with meaning and intention. They empower people to engage and express themselves; valuing presence, relationship-building, creative play, and collective decision-making. Bringing a wealth of experience creating and producing live theatrical events, they use sensorial prompts and low fi, analog approaches to facilitation that de-mystify digital tools and create opportunities for skill-building and resource-sharing. Working in deep collaboration is an essential part of the Digital Catalyst Team’s identity and their iterative processes for remote co-working and co-designing means they share the challenges and the joys of discovery.
Digital Catalyst Team – Rebecca Ballarin, Laurel Green
Caitie Graham – Northerners’ Unit and E-Bulletin
Caitie is a dramaturg, playwright, and emerging screenwriter who is as excited about telling stories as she is about empowering others to do the same. Over her career as a dramaturg, Caitie has designed and facilitated several playwriting units for emerging artists, most notably at Tarragon Theatre (Young Playwrights Unit 2017-2020), and Driftwood Theatre Group, where she began as Company Dramaturg in 2020. Most recently, Caitie was the Assistant Dramaturg on Queen Goneril by Erin Shields at Soulpepper Theatre. Caitie has been compiling Pat the Dog’s monthly e-bulletin of resources for playwrights since 2017, and offering dramaturgical support to playwrights through the organization since 2022. She is thrilled to be taking her relationship with Pat the Dog one step further, by becoming facilitator of this exciting new Unit!
Matthew Heiti – Associate Artist
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.
Kira Meyers-Guiden – Associate Artist
Kira Meyers-Guiden (she/her) is a queer, feminist, theatre artist-scholar whose work is focused on 2SLGBTQIA+ representation and community resistance. She currently resides and is an uninvited settler on the traditional territories of the Michi Saagigg Nishnaabeg, which is colonially known as Peterborough, Ontario. She is a PhD student in Theatre & Performance Studies at York University where her research focuses on queer performance (auto)ethnography. She is an alumna of the inaugural writing unit, “The Women’s Room” by Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, which is where her work with Pat the Dog started. With the support of Pat the Dog (especially “art-mom” Lisa!), her show Queer Spawn has been showcased on stages throughout Kitchener/Waterloo, Toronto and Hamilton and virtually with National Theatre School’s #ArtApart festival. Kira has worked as an actor, playwright, co-creator, dramaturg and script consultant with various socially-aligned companies, including Page1 Theatre in KW. Her work has been featured in several academic conferences and theatre performance festivals throughout Canada and within the queer anthology, Swelling with Pride alongside her mother, Susan Meyers as co-contributor. Kira is passionate about creating queer theatrical work that strives to effect social change. More details at http://kirameyersguiden.weebly.com/ or follow on Instagram @kiraasha
Vanessa C Spence – Associate Artist
Vanessa C Spence is a classically trained theatre actor, published author, playwright, producer, and arts educator. She is a creative entrepreneur with over six years of experience in the performance arts industry and social sectors. Vanessa is the artistic director of Virtu Arts, a production company that develops and creates live performance art that is shared in a virtual space to be enjoyed by all. At the root of her life’s work and her artistry, Vanessa seeks to inspire empathy and action by shedding light on the thought processes of women in marginalized communities. Her latest project entitled Stretch Marks, based on her self-published book of poetry explores the mental, emotional, and physical imbalances BIMOC (Black, Indigenous, Mothers of Colour) face through the many stages of motherhood. Part 1 of this three-part series focused on the moments leading up to a young woman’s decision of whether to become a mother or not. Vanessa is excited to continue the development of Stretch Marks Part 2 with the support of 2021 Women’s Room.
Karen Thistle – Producer/PlaySmelter Festival
Karen Thistle was born and raised in Sudbury where she grew up with both literary and imaginary friends. A playwright with an Honours B.A. in English and Women’s Studies from Laurentian University and a M.A. in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario, she has worked with public libraries and non-profit arts organizations. As a playwright she participated in the 2nd annual STC Playwrights’ Junction (2012) where her play “The Intermediaries” was first drafted and later included in the Public Reading Series of the 2nd annual PlaySmelter festival (2014). In 2017 she participated in the festival’s inaugural Producer’s Unit which lead to her joining PlaySmelter in 2018. She continues
to meet and work with fellow playwrights in the Sudbury Writers Guild’s Inklings group.