conVERGE
Spring 2021

conVERGE is a new micro-residency and mentorship program that supports emerging and early-career Indigenous, Black, and artists of colour to develop new work, offered through a partnership between Intrepid Theatre and Puente Theatre. 2021 is the program’s inaugural year.

2021 conVERGE artists:

Regina Ríos (March 29-April 25)

During the micro-residency that Intrepid and Puentre Theatre have generously granted me, I will create a 10-minute performance piece. This piece will explore through my personal lens, the systemic classism and racism present in Mexico. Being an immigrant in Canada has allowed me to confront the realities of systemic oppression and inequality in Mexico from a distance. I’m sure other immigrants can attest to the fact that sometimes it is this separation that allows us to step out of the system and see things from a new perspective. I acknowledge my own privilege as a white-passing Latina and want to talk about this dichotomy of marginalization vs. privilege. Extending my creativity by exploring new genres and mediums like installation and sound design with my own performance will aid to bring my ideas to life. It is through this work that I hope to continue to define my identity as a Mexican artist.

Being selected to bring this project to life really excites me, as it pushes my boundaries as a creator. Having the opportunity to work in a space under the mentorship of Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (who shares a background and lived experiences with me) will nurture my artistic voice in a special and unique way. I’m grateful for conVERGE providing a space where IBPoC artists can continue the discourse around these themes and where we can make meaningful artistic relationships.  By exploring what I feel in my core I hope to incite conversations with people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to converse with. I yearn to stretch myself as an artist and to begin to define my voice and space in my artistic community.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Regina Ríos moved to the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən People, known today as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, colloquially known as Victoria. She came in 2017 to further develop her artistry as an actor, singer, dancer and creator. She loves to collaborate and wants to create new work that pushes boundaries and speaks about her unique immigrant experience and her multicultural identity. Upon graduating from the Canadian College of Performing Arts in 2020, she began adjusting to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Since the shut-down, she has performed play readings with The Canadian Play Thing and adapted children’s material for Story Theatre Company. Regina has also begun to apply her theatre background working with various indie filmmakers on Vancouver Island in front of and behind the camera. In the spirit of making theatre accessible and available to most, she wants to experiment with new mediums through the limitations of our current times.  Regina is attending Capilano University’s Bachelor of Performing Arts Program, where she is exploring different ways of creation such as devising, installation art, and lens-based performance (all through the limitations of a Zoom square). She hopes to incorporate this new and reshaped knowledge in her creative process with Intrepid and Puente’s conVERGE.


Rory Keewatin (May 3-May 30)

Remembering Reconciliation, is what I am proposing to work on an evolutionary step upon Reminiscences of Reconciliation, my previous one man show and two person skit both in Fringe and SkamPEDE.

I am looking at finding out a part of my new identity as a woman and to see what the world sees as a fairly hidden genocide in Canada itself.

Kinâskômatin, thank you.

Tansi hello, I’m Rory Keewatin and as a new woman I am very excited to be part of conVERGE. I come from a background of labour activism and racism living. Being a Cree female is brand new to me and I am now learning a whole new world view.


Olivia Wheeler (June 7-July 4)

My project Hey Girl (working title) is an interdisciplinary theatre piece that explores my grandmother’s experience through the Second Sino-Japanese War, also known as the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.   Using puppetry and design, this project will be created from tapes of my grandmother documenting her story as well as in-depth historical research.  Developing this piece is a way for me to connect with my cultural roots – specifically my Chinese Heritage – and honour my family’s heritage and story while capturing resilience of the Chinese Canadian experience. 

Being apart of conVERGE residency will give me the time, space, and sense of empowerment I need to find my voice as an emerging artist.  The first time I realised that my ethnicity and culture would become a part of my work was when I sat down to have a discussion with one of my professors about where my career was going.  The thing that stuck in my head was that they said something along the lines of “You are a woman of colour working in this industry – your time is coming.”  Ever since then I have been grappling with trying to find and hone that identity as an artist – specifically the fact being a woman of colour will always have an influence on my work.  This is why the mentorship aspect of the residency is one of the most important parts to my development as an artist because it provides the opportunity to learn technical skills from other BIPOC artists as well as learn how they have navigated this industry and their own identity.

Olivia Wheeler is a mixed-race performance designer, composer, and interdisciplinary artist of Chinese and mixed European descent.  As an emerging artist, her artistic and technical work in sound design, scenography, music direction, and composition aim to challenge the definition of each of these practices by the pushing the parameters of traditional theatre.  In the final year of her undergrad, she was a recipient of the Jamie Cassel Undergraduate Research Award by the University of Victoria to create the immersive performance installation EVOKE.  In addition to her experience in performance design, the pandemic has given her the opportunity to expand on her own original work through the mediums of story-creation, music, design and puppetry.  Some of this work has included presenting a front lawn concert through the STEPS INsiders Artist Project and taking on the roles of lead artist and puppet designer for Theatre SKAM’s Home Delivery Pop-Up shows for the Halloween Season.  A few of her past show credits include assistant to the sound and video designer for The Wedding Party (Alberta Theatre Projects), sound design for 7 Stories (Phoenix Theatre), and music direction and composition for Julius Caesar and Two Gentleman of Verona (Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival).  The recent graduate from the University of Victoria holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre with a minor in Music, and focused on performance design, technical theatre, music composition and music technology during her studies.


2021 conVERGE mentors:

Mercedes Bátiz-Benét

Mentor for Regina Ríos | conVERGE program mentor

Mercedes is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and award-winning director. She was born and raised in Mexico and in 1997 she moved to Canada. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing in both poetry and drama, and a BA Honours in Philosophy from the University of Victoria, as well as a Diploma in Film Production from the Pacific Film & New Media Academy. Approaching expression from as many angles as possible, she has worked as writer, dramaturge, z director, set and costume designer, translator, adapter, actor, puppeteer, multi-media artist, screenwriter, film and video editor, cinematographer, and director. Productions of her work include “Faust: Ignis Fatuus” (FaustFest International Festival), “Shining Through”, “Lágrimas Crueles” (Teatro Salvador Novo in Mexico City), “With Open Arms”, “El Jinete – A Mariachi Opera”, “Cruel Tears/Lágrimas Crueles”, a Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre and Puente Theatre co-production, and as co-writer, “The Secret Sorrow of Hatchet Jack Macphee” for The Caravan Farm Theatre,

Black and white headshot of Mercedes

“The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan” with the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, “The Umbrella”, an Old Trout Puppet Workshop and Puente Theatre co-production, and Puente Theatre’s “Gruff”. Selected directing credits include “Gruff”, “The Umbrella”, “Lieutenant Nun”, “El Jinete — A Mariachi Opera”, “Fado, The Saddest Music in the World”, which won the inaugural JAYMAC Award for Outstanding Production at the Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards in 2020, and most recently “Yerma”. In 2014, Mercedes won the Canadian Stage Award for Direction at the SummerWorks Festival in Toronto with her play “El Jinete – A Mariachi Opera”, and in 2015 she was chosen as the Distinguished Alumna of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria. She is the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction editor at Bayeux Arts, and the artistic director of Puente Theatre.


Krystal Cook

Mentor for Rory Keewatin

Krystal Cook is a Kwakwaka’wakw Woman from the Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay, B.C.   She is a graduate of the En’owkin International School of Writing (UVIC) and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre’s Native Theatre School Program.  She is a theatrical performer, poet, facilitator of Healing through the Arts, theatre facilitator & Mother.  She has performed her one woman show ‘Emergence’ at Impact 11, Uno Fest, FemFest, Meli Fest, The Performer in a Multi-Cultural Society Symposium, Pearson College & the North American Indigenous Games, Krystal was artistic collaborator, co-facilitator & cultural consultant with ‘From the Heart – How 100 Canadians created an unconventional theatre performance about reconciliation’. Krystal was part of the creative team for the SD61 Sacred Circle Theatre Project. Krystal performed at the Indigenous Showcases ‘Pendulum’ & ‘Supernova’ at the Belfry Theatre, was Artist in Residence for Spark Festival’s ‘Why We Are Here’ & performed at ICA’s opening of ‘I’ve not always been Canadian’ travelling photo exhibition.

She was a performer and creative team member of ICA’s Im:print, creative team member for ‘Walk with Me Theatre Project’ at Royal Roads University & co-director of ‘Peace Dancer’ at One Wave Festival 2019. Some of her recent creative works include mini play ‘Gilakas’la Cedar’ at Belfry’s Spark Festival 2020, Love Letter to Mother Earth at the Livable Cities Forum, co-facilitator of Decolonizing Theatre/Decolonizing the Body Workshops & a performance with her daughter at the Rock Bay Creek Festival. Krystal is part of the Indigenous Education Team with SD61.  Krystal received the Mid-Career Artist Award at the 2020 Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards. Krystal lives with huge heartfelt gratitude in Lekwungen territory with her husband Nik and their children Kwasun, Rayn & Tesekla. 


Seri Yanai

Mentor for Olivia Wheeler

Seri Yanai is a visual artist, performer and theatre director based in Japan. She is known for her innovative and cinematic shadow puppetry. She is the executive director of the Mochinosha Puppet Company, which she co-founded in 2012. She has directed and performed numerous award-winning plays, which have toured in eight countries and been performed in English, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese.

Her most recent work, a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, was given the rare honour of being featured in the 2021 edition of Japan’s international Theatre yearbook. Recently she has been experimenting with video based shadow art to produce a music video and several short films.

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Intrepid Theatre respectfully acknowledges that we are located on the traditional and unceded territories,
of the Lekwungen People, now known as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.