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The Onion Theatre Project explores the lived experiences of immigrant, refugee, and newcomer youth through the arts.

We are a community of youth with a variety of artistic skills who create and work together. From January to June 2018 we devised a play that was performed on World Refugee Day.

This project is based in Victoria BC, Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories. We are hosted by the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre and funded by the British Columbia Arts Council and the Municipality of Saanich.

In Our Footsteps

“In Our Footsteps” is a play created by youth from various ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds who will share our lived experiences as we travel the worlds of immigration, migration and settlement.  This is a collaborative arts project involving the BC Arts Council, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, City of Victoria, District of Saanich and youth from the Greater Victoria area. During the week of World Refugee Day 2018 we performed the play at Cedar Hill Rec Centre, Victoria City Hall, Claremont Secondary School, and the University of Victoria.

The Ensemble

Taiwo Afolabi: Co-Facilitator/Director
Taiwo is a co-visioner and the director of the Onion Theatre Project. As a theatre practitioner & researcher, he is grateful to be collaboratively devising and directing this performance again with a newly diverse group who are open to sharing their ideas and creativity. He has taught, researched, and performed in four different continents, and hails from Nigeria where he founded and directed Theatre Emissary International. He’s currently a PhD candidate at University of Victoria and co-coordinates the Network of Emerging Arts Professionals of the International Theatre Institute of the UNESCO.

Leah Tidey: Co-Facilitator and Assistant Director
Leah Tidey received her BFA with Distinction in Applied Theatre and is pursuing her PhD in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria. Her research is focused on the social stigma of sexuality and aging and explores to what extent Intergenerational Theatre in Education can be used to address it. Her work with the Onion Theatre Project began last fall and is now a co-facilitator with Taiwo Afolabi. The ensemble created through the work on this project is incredible to witness and Leah is passionate about sharing these important stories of identity, immigration, and community in our increasingly transnational world.

Jasmine Li: Deviser/Actor
Jasmine’s journey in this production began exactly a year ago. She has recently graduated from University of Victoria majoring in applied theatre. She was born in New York, and raised in Singapore and Hong Kong, and now Canada. Past theatre credits include facilitating Are We Clear?: An Applied Theatre piece about invisible disabilities (Intrepid Theatre You Show series, 2017), Front of House managing for LOON (Phoenix Theatre, 2015), The Other Shore (Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, 2015) and more. She has previously worked with a variety of people including immigrants, senior, ELL youths and Canadian students. She is thrilled to be a part of this amazing piece again with new stories and hopes you take something away after seeing this performance.

Sylvia Anatta: Deviser/Actor
Sylvia Anatta, while hailing from Toronto, calls Victoria her current home. She is a second-generation Canadian, born to refugee parents. Through her world travels and ethnic identity, she is no stranger to systemic issues and trauma faced by refugees and people of colour. As an Environmental Studies Graduate, a Community Herbalist and a Youth Worker, Sylvia recognizes the complexity of environmental and societal issues and seeks interdisciplinary approaches to return harmony back to the self and the community. Dabbling in various modality of creative arts, Sylvia is fascinated to explore and open dialogues to the many unspoken issues faced by refugees, immigrants and people of colour.

Tianxu Zhao: Deviser/Actor
Tianxu was born and raised in northern China. and He spent many years in Chinese public school and then decided to achieve his university education abroad. Theatre education in Canada has broadened his view of art and trains him to be a lover of theatre. In the future, he would like to explore the field of theatrical directing and acting, and meanwhile take a wide variety of elective courses to enrich general knowledge.

Serena Martin: Deviser/Actor
Serena received her BA with Distinction in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Victoria. Outside of academia, she is a dancer, writer, and photographer. She is thrilled to challenge herself with applied theatre. As a third generation Sri Lankan immigrant and a passionate advocate for social justice, she could not be more excited to participate in this project.

Hannah Bell: Deviser/Marketer
Hannah is a fifth year student at the University of Victoria, focusing on applied theatre. She is honoured to be a part of this production, as this is her first time working on a professional devised theatre piece. Past credits include marketing for Devil of Mondisque, Foundation, and Threadcutters (SATCo), Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Wild Honey (Phoenix Theatre). She will be switching focuses in the fall by creating her own show, Kansha, which focuses on cultural appreciation through the lens of Japanese culture.

Emily Thiessen: Web Designer/Videographer
Emily is an Anthropology student and illustrator with a fire for climate justice and creative troublemaking. Both sides of her family are migratory people: Mennonites who settled in Manitoba and Hokkien people who settled in Malaysia. She grew up here on beautiful Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories. She is a big theatre fan and excited to learn about applied theatre with this rad ensemble!

Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow: Deviser/Actor
Aziza is a slam and spoken word poet, a 2018 grad from Reynolds Secondary. As the daughter of a Somali refugee and a white settler, Aziza is deeply connected to her culture and writes about the adventures of being in a mixed family. She’s an active volunteer within various parts of the community, and has traveled to various European and African countries.

Luis Mario Guerra Veliz: Photographer/Videographer Mario is a photographer, curator and educator originally from Cuba. He has been living and working in Victoria BC for the last 15 years. He has a BA in Art History from the University of Havana, and recently completed a Master in Art Education from the University of Victoria. During his time living in Victoria, Mario has been actively working with community theatre, visual art groups and projects, as well as an art educator.

Sari Alesh: Violinist
Sari is a professional violinist who has studied at the higher institute of music in Damascus Syria and worked with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra. He performed in many events in Vancouver island and Canada Day 2016/2017 on the main stage. Recently Sari performed at the Belfry Theatre in The Children’s Republic, written by Hannah Moscovitch.

Jasmindra Jawanda: Urban/Cultural Planner
Jasmindra Jawanda is an Urban/Community/Cultural Planner with a BA in Economics & Japanese, BA in Education and MA in Community & Regional Planning. She has worked with youth and youth projects in Japan, South Africa, Ecuador, Uruguay and Canada. Last year, as the Youth Program Coordinator at the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society and the Co-Visioner of this project, Jasmindra worked with Taiwo on organizing the first In Our Footsteps youth theatre play at Victoria City Hall for the United Nations World Refugee Day. She is proud to be working again this year with Taiwo Afolabi on the Onion Theatre Project and she is deeply thankful for the dedication, commitment and passion of the wonderful youth actors.

Alida Kelly: Deviser/Participant

Mohammad Bukhammas: Participant

Ellen Young: Participant

Zara C.: Participant

Olivia Wheeler: Participant

Amatullah Arrunkumar: Participant


Contact Us

Send us an email at info@oniontheatre.com