Meet the 2020 emerging creators unit

In partnership with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Olivia Shortt

(She/her/hers: Anishinaabe from Nipissing First Nation) is a Tkarón:to-based multi-disciplinary artist. She trained as a classical saxophonist but also works in the arts as a multi-instrumentalist, improviser, composer, sound designer, curator, and producer.
Many firsts for Olivia have included her film debut playing saxophone & acting in Atom Egoyan’s 2019 film Guest of Honour; her Lincoln Center (NYC) debut with the International Contemporary Ensemble in 2018; her Australian debut in 2017 performing with keyboardist Jacob Abela in Melbourne; and in 2017 recorded an album two kilometres underground with her duo Stereoscope in the SnoLAB (a Neutrino Lab in Northern Ontario, Canada).
As an activist, she is an alumnus of the 2018 cohort of the artEquity facilitator training program (New Orleans, LA), as well as the 2019 Toronto Arts Council’s Leaders Lab and was a lead organizer and co-founded the Toronto Creative Music Lab (TCML).

Shad Fly Season is a semi-autobiographical piece about growing up in Northern Ontario, the observations made by a young Indigenous person and the process of naming ancestors listed on reports of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit peoples. 

Rochelle Richardson

Rochelle Richardson is a theatre artist; Playwright, Director, and Performer, based in Toronto. She studied theatre at the University of Guelph, in addition, she participated in Nightwood Theatre’s Young Innovators Program and b current’s bcHUB. Rochelle just finished an internship with Piece of Mine Arts in participation with dance Immersion’s Legacy Leaders program.  She has also been a participant of Pat the Dog Theatre Creation and Sonderlust Theatre Collective's Women's Room for emerging playwrights. Rochelle is trained in burlesque and is currently exploring the use of magic-realism in the development of performance. Particularly delving into subjects pertaining to race/cultural identity, sexuality, gender, social change, and fantasy.

Queen Latifah Give Me Strength is a play about a woman sitting in the waiting room of another doctor’s office, after months of being pushed around by doctors and specialists, anxious about what is going on inside of her. The play takes place after a restless night watching the movie Set It Off; featuring Queen Latifah playing the role of a badass lesbian bank robber. The waiting room becomes the setting of the woman’s fever dream. She uses Queen Latifah to give her strength as she awaits another potentially useless visit to the doctor. She feverishly talks about her new/old obsession with Queen Latifah, her issues with the medical system, racism, sexuality, sex, love, and friendship with the awaiting patients and nurses.

Merlin Simard

Merlin Simard is a bilingual (French/English), queer, non-binary/transfeminine (they/them) performer, playwright, and dramaturg originally from Tiohtiá:ke (Montréal) now based in Tkaronto (Toronto). Select theatre performance credits: The Flick (Crow's Theatre/Outside The March), Tape Escape (Outside The March), FEAR OF MEN ((Staged Reading) Assembly Theatre) and Gruesome Playground Injuries (Playground Productions) TV/Film: Grand Army (Netflix), This Life (CBC) Playwriting: FEAR OF MEN (in development at Theatre Passe-Muraille). Merlin is so grateful to have a platform to share TGNC stories and for the privilege to create them with Gabe, Catherine and the rest of the ECU at Buddies In Bad Times. 

Gabe Maharjan

Gabe Maharjan (they/them) is a performer and playwright. Having grown up in Tiotiá:ke/Montréal, they are an alumnus of the Dome, Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program, and Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal’s Young Creators Unit. Gabe’s play Eva in Rio was developed with support from Playwrights’, Centaur Theatre, and Montréal Arts Interculturels. They are currently developing an adaptation of Siddhartha in residence at Imago Theatre, a TYA adaptation for Geordie Theatre, and taking part in the Playwrights’ Translation Mentorship. They are extremely excited to begin working in Tkaronto/Toronto with Merlin, Catherine, and the rest of the unit at Buddies. A selection of their performance credits include Robin in Cabal’s La Somnambule (META nominated for Outstanding Lead Performance), Jayne in Rhiannon Collett’s WASP (presented at the 40th Rhubarb Festival), Haemon in Raise the Stakes’ Antigone, and Tripp in Sermo Scomber’s Don’t Read the Comments. For more on Gabe visit

TRANSACTIONS is an exploration of the intersections of money and TGNC identities in the digital age. An examination of the cost of being trans in a material world where value is based on one’s ability to produce. Through a diverse cacophony of voices detailing one’s own relationship with currency, we’ll explore the rewards of money coming through, the fear when it doesn’t, and the struggle to maintain balance in a consumer society that consumes us.

Celia Green

Celia Green is a queer creator and performer based in Toronto. Her work has been supported by P.A.R.T.S, StoneBoat Arts Centre, and the Paprika Festival. As an actor and dancer she has performed in works at Soulpepper Theatre, Mirvish Productions, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Nuit Blanche. Training includes workshops with transdisciplinary arts organization La Pocha Nostra, Kaeja d’Dance, and the P.A.R.T.S summer school in contemporary dance. Celia is artist in residence at Quote Unquote Collective. Her first work, Wah Wah Wah, was recently presented at the 2019 SummerWorks Performance Festival in Toronto where she was awarded the Theatre Centre Emerging Artist Award.

HOPE, IN A VICE GRIP is a piece of dance-theatre that explores apology, accountability, and gender through movement, text and costume. 

"Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'"


"The Emerging Creators Unit was one of the most rewarding experiences of my artistic career to date. Through this program, I learned the basic tools for bringing an idea to life – from writing to workshopping to presenting. The dramaturgical guidance and theatrical skills I gained during this program are invaluable and will continue to shape my artistic practice for years to come...One of the most impactful things I learned during this process is that creation is an ongoing practice, and as artists we must challenge ourselves to create bigger and better things by boldly embracing failure as part of the process.” 
-Shohana Sharmin, 2019 ECU member

"The ECU helped me see what I’m capable of as an artist and find my own personal standard of excellence for my performance practice.” 
-Brock Hessel, 2019 ECU member