MEET OUR STAFF
Jimmy Blais - Artistic Director
Jimmy is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation; he is of Plains Cree and French settler heritage. Born and raised in Tiohtià:ke/ Montreal, Jimmy graduated from Concordia’s Theatre Performance Program. He is a seasoned stage and film actor. He has worked professionally for over 10 years, for companies like The Stratford Festival, The Centaur, Geordie Productions, Porte Parole and La Licorne. Jimmy’s most notable tv role was playing Watio for five seasons in APTN’s hit series Mohawk Girls. Jimmy is also a writer, director, mentor, and coach. He was the Indigenous Artist in Residence for the 2016 Students On Ice Expedition to the Arctic. Jimmy successfully completed the Indigenous Artist In Residence at The National Theatre School of Canada in 2019. He is the Incoming Artistic Director of Geordie Theatre.
Kathryn Westoll - Executive Director
Kathryn always thought she was destined to be an actor. From an early age she loved dancing (she famously played a male, blue toothbrush in a tap recital) and drama. In high school, Kathryn was cast in every musical theatre show that was produced and almost got the lead role in West Side Story in her final year. When Kathryn was at Queen’s University, she majored in Drama and did nothing of any significance until her third year, when she decided to audition for the school major. Needless to say, she was not cast but was kindly encouraged to seek work as an assistant stage manager. Kathryn quickly realized what others must have known all along – that her calling was not on the stage, but behind it. So, she applied to the National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) and was granted an interview. And then was given the entrance project to complete – and in August of 1996, the rest of her life began.
Kathryn spent the next 17 years in Toronto working as a stage manager and was the Managing Director of the Toronto Fringe for 3 years. In May 2013, she was a proud recipient of a Harold award (the Harold’s represent the independent and hard-working spirit of Toronto’s vibrant theatre community). Kathryn moved to Montreal in August 2013 and became Geordie’s General Manager in January 2014, becoming Managing Director in 2016 and Executive Director in 2021. Kathryn has an honours degree from Queen’s University and is a graduate of the NTS Production Program and now teaches stage management and Fringe to the Production Students of NTS. She was a member of the Montreal English Theatre Awards Committee (METAC) for three years, finished two mandates (6 years) on the Quebec Drama Federation’s Board, was Board Treasurer of the International Association for Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) for three years, was the Quebec Region rep for PACT (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) for six years, and now proudly sits as the HR Chair on the PACT Board of Directors. She is also the proud mum of an amazing daughter.
Caite Clark - Schools Engagement Associate
Caite Clark (she/her) is an artist and educator based in Tiotià:ke/Montreal. She has taught ELA with the Lester B Pearson School Board and the Social Justice Forum for Westcoast Connection’s Pre College-Enrichment program. When she is not overseeing Geordie’s 2Play tour and field trips, Caite can be found at St George’s School of Montreal, designing lights for the performing arts program, and working in student support. As a lighting designer her collaborations have spanned from theatre to classical music, to circus. Caite is passionate about making art accessible and igniting creativity in young people. She holds a BFA in Theatre and Development.
Liam John - Marketing and Outreach Coordinator
Liam (he/him) is a recent marketing graduate from the University of Carleton in Ananishinaabe/Ottawa, Ontario, the city which he has called home for the last 22 years. In his earlier years of life, he found himself involved in the world of performing arts through theatre and dance. Today, this artistic expression has manifested its way in the form of photography, which allows him to explore his creativity in his free time. When Liam isn’t outside taking photos, he is at home enjoying horror films, trying not to burn down his kitchen while cooking, and spending quality time with friends & family. Liam is excited to be part of such an amazing team at Geordie Theatre!
Violette Kay - Associate Producer
Violette stumbled into theatre as a direct result of failing to become a classical musician. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise; she even wrote a play all about it! A former violin teacher, she is very happy to continue to bring together children and art.
Since graduating from John Abbott College’s Professional Acting program, she has worn several hats as a part of the cast and creative team of various productions: actor, director, playwright, puppet designer, musician… She particularly enjoyed playing Tomatina in Fridge Horror – in which a tomato has a star-crossed love affair with a red apple, in a fridge where racism is rampant and expiration dates all too near, writing and performing A Joy that’s Mine Alone – a semi-autobiographical short film about a violinist living with bipolar disorder, and composing the score for Geordie’s From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea.
You might find Violette puppeteering various household objects, busking at your local metro station, or improvising with her trusty loop pedal.
Caeleigh McDonald - Marketing Manager
Originally from New Brunswick, Caeleigh is a Tiotià:ke/Montreal-based theatre fan. Since her graduation from McGill University in 2019, she has been an active member of Montreal’s English theatre community, working behind-the-scenes in the office, and onstage with local community theatres. She is excited to join the Geordie team, and looks forward to playing a small part in bringing theatre to young audiences across Québec and the rest of Eastern Canada.
Jessica Abdallah - Geordie Theatre School Creative Director
Jessica’s earliest memory of theatre is from when she was 10 years old and saw Geordie’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in her elementary school gym. That show inspired her to audition for her school’s production of The Wizard of Oz where she landed the part of the Cowardly Lion. This was followed by 5 years with an incredible high school drama teacher, Ms. Chalmers, who fostered a deep love for the performing arts through drama classes, school plays, and even competing in the Canadian Improv Games. Needless to say, she was hooked. So, when it came time to choose a career path in CEGEP the choice was simple.
Jessica went on to study acting – her first theatre love – at John Abbott College in the Professional Theatre programme and upon graduating started acting and creating her own work. Three years later she decided to broaden her theatre horizons and began the Theatre and Development program at Concordia University. It was here where she truly developed herself as an artist and solidified her belief in the power and importance of theatre. It was also here that she discovered her second and third theatre loves – theatre education and directing. Her new love for directing led to Jessica moving across the country to pursue the MFA in Directing at the University of Alberta – one of only two people selected each year!
Jessica has now spent 20 years in the theatre world which constantly inspires, moves, and challenges her. Some of her favourite performances as an actor include playing Tina from George F. Walker’s Tough! (Tableau d’Hôte Theatre), Sabine in The Most Massive Woman Wins (6th Avenue Players), and Callie in Amigo’s Blue Guitar (Tableau d’Hôte Theatre). Favourite directing credits include What Rough Beast (staged reading, Centaur Theatre), Squawk (Geordie Productions), Sedna: Goddess of the Sea – which she also wrote (Tableau D’Hôte), and Rapture! (Everything is OK Productions). A strong believer in the importance of inspiring the next generation of theatre makers, Jessica has taught for the Geordie Theatre School, Concordia University and currently directs the annual high school play at St. George’s School of Montreal. Jessica is a member of the Montreal English Theatre Awards Committee (METAC) and sits on PACT’s Membership Committee.
Ella Kohlmann - Schools Liaison
Ella Kohlmann (she/her) is a writer, theatre-maker, and arts administrator based out of Tiohtià:ke (Montreal, QC). She has worked professionally in theatre production and administration in both Toronto and Montreal for over 5 years and has a great fondness for efficient systems and clean spreadsheets. During the school year, she also works as Support and Outreach for the National Theatre School Dramafest. As a writer, she graduated with Great Distinction from Concordia University’s Honours English Literature and Creative Writing program in 2021 and was a member of the 2018/19 cohort of the Young Creator’s Unit at Playwright’s Workshop Montreal. Support from PWM allowed her to have her first play, “Exits,” read at Centaur Theatre’s Queer Reading Series, and produced in full at the 2019 Montreal Fringe. Her second play, “Corps,” was originally developed with support from Teesri Duniya’s Fireworks Play Development Program and will be receiving further development as part of Playwrights Workshop Montreal’s 2023-24 dramaturgical season.
Anna Burkholder - Development Manager
Anna (she/they) is a theatre creator and performer, originally from B.C. They now live in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal), where they are writing their first play. Anna has performed in productions at The National Theatre, Southwark Playhouse, multiple seasons with The Classic Theatre Festival and in various film and TV productions. Dedicated to building sustainability in the theatre sector, Anna has spent seven years developing strategic plans and community initiatives for non-profits across the country. She is thrilled to join Geordie Theatre and support the team in bolstering community, nurturing young audiences, and paving the way for sector change. When not involved in theatre activities, you can find Anna rollerblading, hanging twinkly lights or drawing puns. (burkyco.com)
Daniel Hickie - GTS Coordinator
Daniel is a theatre creator, animator, teacher, learner and aspiring everything.
Daniel is the great grandchild of a cinema owner and an apple farmer. The grandchild of nurses and quilt makers. The child of teachers and talkers. The sibling of brilliant hearted adults. And the parent of a joy ball.
Daniel’s family left Ireland and France many years ago to find the great southern land, Gadigal Land, Wiradujuri land. Daniel grew up on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation (Sydney, Australia), surrounded by sun stroked skin, salt water and big Christmas feasts. Daniel completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre making at the Australian Institute of Music, but inherited big boisterous storytelling from his community.
Daniel moved to unceded Kanien’kehá:ka land, Tio’tia:ke (Montréal) for love. Since arriving here, Daniel has worked with young people to make theatre, teach theatre, perform theatre and more. Daniel has worked in this capacity with the Segal Centre, Geordie Theatre, the ELAN Artists Inspire Project, the LEARN I Belong Project, The Montreal Children’s Theatre, The Vancouver International Children’s Festival and others.
In 2019, Daniel co-founded a theatre collective, Young Hearts Theatre, which looks to tell stories for the young and young at heart. We follow a story to where it needs to go. Outside. Into a cave. Using puppets. Singing loud.
Daniel brings the full weight of past story telling with him and loves SO MUCH to hear about others too – so if you have anything to share, let him know!
Riley Palanca - Mike Payette Mentorship Program Mentee
Riley Palanca, also known by the persona Revan Badingham III, is a playwright and producer who stages original plays that explore the nuances of queer relationships. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Palanca graduated from the University of the Philippines with a BA in Creative Writing before founding Voices of Asia International, an independent theatre company that has produced work across Newfoundland, Quebec, and Ontario. Their latest production, “Would Virginia Woolf Contemplate Suicide if She Were Filipino?” premiered at the 2022 Montreal Fringe Festival, winning the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s “Most Promising English Text” Frankie award, placing as a runner-up for BroadwayWorld Montreal’s “Best New Play or Musical,” and receiving an honourable mention in Infinitheatre’s Write-on-Q Competition. Since then, it has been performed at festivals such as the Pipeline Festival and the Undercurrents Festival, and will have its West Coast premiere at the rEvolver Festival in Vancouver this May. Besides their theatrical pursuits, Palanca is also a spoken word artist, novelist, and cultural worker.
Iehente Foote - Intern Artistic Associate
Iehente Foote is Bear Clan from Kahnawake, Quebec, Mohawk Territory. Iehente is an Indigenous Full-Spectrum Doula & sexual health educator. She loves art based learning, workshops, research & reproductive justice work with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network who she’s worked with for 14 years. She is an activist passionate about justice around sexual & environmental violence, mental health and other social injustices imposed by life a.k.a. colonialism. She’s attended many High Level meetings to speak the truth about our realities at UNFPA, UNESCO, AIDS 2016 – 2022. She has also been involved with community & professional Theatre and the arts for 18 years and uses it as a medium to talk and work through difficult issues. Currently part of the first Indigenous Artist Residency at the Centaur Theatre, she is an actor, stage manager, costumier & production for various theatre, film & TV projects based in Kahnawake, Montréal (Tiohtiá:ke), Toronto (Tsi Tkarón:to) & New York (Kanón:no).
Founding Artistic Director
Elsa Bolam is the founding Artistic Director of Geordie Theatre. Elsa was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where she began her career working in different capacities at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and London. After directing freelance with many English theatre companies, she became a television director at the BBC in London. She then came to Canada, where she taught at the National Theatre School, helped found the Centaur Theatre, and continued to direct at theatres such as Theatre Calgary, Theatre Plus in Toronto, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Magnus Theatre, the Globe Theatre in Regina, and others.
In 1980 Elsa founded Geordie Theatre and was artistic director of the company until 2006. In October 2002, Avon Canada recognized Elsa Bolam as a “Woman of Inspiration” in the field of Arts and Culture, and in 2003 she was also awarded a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. The Montreal English Critics’ Circle honoured Elsa in 2005 with a distinction award in ‘recognition of her work nurturing young stage talent and taking theatre to far-flung audiences’.
Elsa was named to the Order of Canada at the end of 2008.
MEET OUR BOARD
Trevor Botkin - President
In a world where we are more and more divided by media, it is the role of the artist to hold us together – to bind us and challenge us to be better versions of ourselves. Geordie Theatre has been a blinding light of TRUTH shining across all corners of Eastern Canada – bringing paradigm-shifting art to young audiences. Now, more than ever, we need to inspire young people to reach beyond our own limitations and have those discussions that define who we are, what we are doing and why we are here. I feel that there is nothing more important than supporting artists and live art and I am honoured to be serving on the Board of Geordie Theatre.
Cedrin S. Law - Vice-President, Interim Secretary
With a background in science, healthcare and business I didn’t have much exposure to theatre besides being an audience member. As I learned more about Geordie I was drawn to the way the organization celebrates theatre and provides a wonderful opportunity for children to learn, grow and express themselves through art. As someone who has experienced so much joy from watching theatre, I’m proud to be part of a passionate group that shines a light on this wonderful art form.
Alexis Gagné - Treasurer
In my work running a tutoring program in the south side of Chicago, playing with data to improve decision-making at Chicago Public Schools and working to support the initiatives funded by the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, there has been one central goal, to help vulnerable children lead better lives. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to support Geordie in all its work to bring theatre to the young, and the less young.
Brett Hooton - Past President
Theatre, at its best, gives us a safe space to revel in our imaginations, unpack assumptions, have fun, walk in someone else’s shoes, and discover new worlds, inside and out. That’s why I believe so deeply in Geordie’s mission. Every day, their artistic and administrative teams work to ensure theatre is accessible to all young people, regardless of their individual circumstances or challenges. It has never been more important for children and teens to have this opportunity, and I am proud to help Geordie pursue its goals.
Alarey Alsip is a Canadian actor, director, and teacher. She is an alumni of the acclaimed Second City in Chicago, as well as Concordia University, in Montreal, and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with Distinction.
Fresh out of school, she was cast in a two-play tour by Geordie Productions, featuring productions of Joan MacLeod’s The Shape of A Girl and an adaption of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The tour ran for 9 months and had performances across Quebec, New Brunswick and Toronto. She continues to act in theatre, film, and television. She splits her time between the Eastern Townships and Montreal, where she is represented by Glenn Talent.
Gérald Cadet is Director of Bicentennial at McGill University. In this role, he’s leading the planning of McGill’s 200th anniversary celebrations. Prior to joining McGill, Gérald led Magerio, an Ottawa-based consulting firm specializing in political risks. Gérald first came in contact with Geordie in 2018 when he played Lord Duncan in the company’s holiday rendition of Robin Hood, despite no previous acting experience. He’s become a strong supporter of Geordie’s mission ever since. Before joining Geordie’s board, Gérald was a member of the board of the Centre d’entraide du Marigot, an organization providing meals on wheels and other services to seniors and disabled people in Laval.
Julie Tamiko Manning
Julie Tamiko Manning is an award-winning actor and theatre creator from Tiohtià:ke / Montreal. Selected acting credits include From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in The Sea (Geordie Productions), Jonathan: a seagull parable (Surreal SoReal), Paradise Lost (Centaur Theatre), Jean Dit (Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui), Butcher (Centaur Theatre) and Othello (Scapegoat Carnivale/Segal Centre).
Ndaku has been working in the financial sector for about 9 years now after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Saint Mary’s university in Halifax Nova Scotia in 2013.
Before this he was born and raised in Zimbabwe and was a musical theatre kid to the core. Ndaku was in several productions over the years at Reps Theatre in Harare Zimbabwe ranging from Godspell, The Kind and I and Mama Mia to name a few. He pursued theatre full time in the year before moving to Canada to undertake a business degree but in university he was still heavily involved with multiple productions with the university’s drama society.
Ndaku is excited to get a foot back into the world of theatre and help with its accessibility to the next generation as it played an integral part of him being able to find his voice and even in finance, he finds himself relying on those public speaking skills quite frequently.