Manitoba Drama Educators’ Association 

Drama: It’s About Self-Discovery

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC) 174 Market Avenue


9:20-9:40 Welcome/Coffee

9:40-10:50 Keynote Performance

10:50-11:10 BREAK

11:10-12:40 Workshop 1

12:40-1:40 LUNCH

1:40-3:10 Workshop II

3:10-3:30 THE BEST GAMES EVER!!! and Prize Raffle


Of Mice and Morro and Jasp

Location: RMTC Rehearsal Hall – 9:40-10:50

Keynote Description: Morro and Jasp feel the pinch of the recent economic downturn and dramatic arts funding cuts and decide to try to make ends meet by tackling John Steinbeck’s classic novella, Of Mice and Men. If comedy doesn’t pay the bills, maybe tragedy will. The desperate clown sisters seek to stick to the story but will they both make it out alive?
Of Mice and Morro and Jasp spins Steinbeck’s classic tale into an interactive clown play. Performed and created by award-winning Toronto‐based Pochinko clown artists Amy Lee and Heather Marie Annis with direction and dramaturgy by Byron Laviolette and additional clown direction by the legendary John Turner of Mump & Smoot.
This show was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award and was named one of the top ten plays of 2014 by The Globe and Mail.

Keynote Biography: U.N.I.T. Productions is made up of Heather Marie Annis, Byron Laviolette and Amy Lee, and is the home of the Morro and Jasp clown series. The company has been nominated for three Dora Mavor Moore Awards (winning the 2012 Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in the Independent Theatre division), three Canadian Comedy Awards (winning the 2014 Award for Best Variety Act), a BroadwayWorld Award and over ten NOW Magazine Awards including Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Production, Outstanding Ensemble, and Outstanding Direction. They recently released their own digital game, Morro and Jasp: Unscripted and their cookbook, Eat Your Heart Out with Morro and Jasp, was published with Tightrope Books and won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award. Their mainstage shows include Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction, Morro and Jasp: 9-5, Of Mice and Morro and Jasp, Morro and Jasp: Go Bake Yourself, Morro and Jasp Gone Wild, Morro and Jasp Do Puberty and Morro and Jasp Go Green (TYA). Morro and Jasp have also performed shorter pieces, including Morro and Jasp: Lost and Found and Morro and Jasp: In a Pickle, and hosted numerous cabarets. They have performed in Halifax, Montreal, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Orillia, Winnipeg, Edmonton, New York City, Vienna and Edinburgh.

AM Workshops 11:10-12:40pm

Improv: It’s Not Just Silly Warm-ups
Aaron Merke and Lauren Cochrane

Session Description: This workshop will focus on Improv as an art and how it is utilized in multiple platforms. The focus is on exploring the multifaceted worlds of improv and how to access it as an educator. The group will start with the quick basics to get people acquainted, then move into other areas of focus.  These include: How improv can help access different areas of drama / art such as mask and puppets; How improv is used to help engage students in social dynamic and social understanding; The understanding on the current uses of improv and how it is being used in Film, Television, and Youtube. We will also look at how the future is shaping improv and how it is the vehicle for the advancement of entertainment and technology with VR.      

Presenter Bios: Aaron Merke, comedian, actor, writer and partner in comedy duo Bucko, started his comedy life in Chicago training under improv comedy legend Del Close at the iO theater.  Soon after Aaron returned to Canada and became a member of Toronto’s Second City National Touring Company. Aaron is the co-founder and co-producer with the Royal Awesome Society alongside Lauren Cochrane, the most important partner of

Lauren Cochrane is an improviser/writer who hails from Calgary, AB originally and is a graduate of the Comedy: Writing and Performance Program at Humber College in Toronto. She has studied improv at the famed iO(improv olympic) in Chicago and studied Acting for Film and Television at the Acting Corp in Los Angeles. She is proud to be a founding member of the Calgary improv theatre, The Kinkonauts. In addition to her improv and theatre credits, she has also appeared in numerous Film and Television projects. In 2016, Lauren was nominated for an ACTRA award for Most Outstanding Performance by a Female Artist for her role on the T.V series, The Pinkertons. Currently, she performs regularly in the Sketch/Improv duo Bucko, alongside her husband, Aaron Merke. Together, they co-founded Royal Awesome Productions, which produces original content for themselves and other awesome people. As of 2017, Bucko has partnered with Flipside VR to co-produce the world’s first improvised cartoon Super Secret Science Island using virtual reality technology and improv to create original episodes. You can catch new episodes on Thursday at 10am central:

Session Location: Tom Hendry Foyer

Grade Level: Middle/Senior Years

Alissa Watson

Session Description: In the world of the clown, anything can happen and all things are possible but you don’t need a nose to get you there. Through play, this interactive workshop will cover an introduction to clowning essentials. Use these tools to assist your students in creating an honest foundation for the characters they create. Dress for movement and come prepared to think outside the box.

Presenter Bio: Alissa is a Winnipeg born artist and educator whose passions include physical comedy and “clowning around”. She holds a B.Mus. and B.Ed. from Brandon University and has studied theatre at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in England, The Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance and is an alumna of the Professional Training Ensemble at Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE@PTE). Alissa has performed with RMTC, PTE, MTYP, Sarasvàti, Theatre Incarnate and has self produced under the name, inspired I theatre. Besides being a proud founding member of Winnipeg’s only all-female Bouffon Ensemble, The Talentless Lumps, Alissa is a member of the cheeky and fabulous, Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir. She is one of two clown masterminds behind The Red Nose Diaries, determined to take over the world with love and magic.

Session Location: Son of Warehouse (Back of Tom Hendry)

Grade Level: Middle/Senior Years

Digging Deep into the RMTC
Various RMTC staff

Session Description: Have you ever wondered how the RMTC markets a show, or wanted to pick an artistic director’s brain (Steven Schipper’s even!) to see what goes into putting a season together? Have you ever wanted to explore the backstage spaces of the RMTC building? Then this Q&A and building tour is just for you! Come and listen to various RMTC staff as they share, then take a tour of the facility to see where the magic happens!

Presenter Bio: This workshop will be facilitated by various RMTC staff.

Session Location: West Coast Room (RMTC second floor)

Grade Level: All

Destination Imagination
Shauna Cornwell

Session Description: Participants will take part in Destination Imagination Instant Challenges both task and performance based. They will also learn about the key elements of the challenge program and how to best support students taking part in DI as a Team Manager or in the classroom setting. Participants will explore how 4 C learning, design thinking, the creative process and reflection can be used to both engage and empower learners through Destination Imagination.

Presenter Bio: Shauna Cornwell (@slcornwell) has been an educator for over 20 years. She currently serves as the Enrichment and Innovation Consultant in Winnipeg School Division. She supports innovative teaching and learning, the creative mindset and programming aiming to develop 21st Century skills. She is also the Affiliate Director of Destination Imagination in Manitoba.

Session Location: Cargil Room (RMTC second floor)

Grade Level: Middle/Senior Years

Playback Theatre
Dana Rungay and Dawn Lavand

Session Description: Explore this simple yet rich theatre form with us. Playback Theatre is improvisational storytelling based on personal story. Playback can build listening skills, empathy, social support and teamwork for people of all ages. It is an engaging and accessible art form which is easy to learn yet challenging to master.

Presenter Bios: Dana Rungay (B.S.W., M. Ed.) is the founder of Red Threads of Peace Project. As a school counsellor and educator, Dana has used the arts for community capacity building, teaching communication and team building. She has facilitated theatre based projects in First Nation, youth at risk, newcomer, senior, LGBTQ+, and marginalized communities. She has trained with international theatre teachers in Canada, the U.S. and France. 

Dawn Lavand is a performing artist at heart.  She grew up training as a triple threat performer: singing, dancing and acting from an early age.  She debuted in her first made for TV film during the Indigenous Renaissance of the 90s, at the age of 6.  This small yet significant role launched her into a ten year acting career, appearing on television, film and in theatre.  Presently Dawn expresses her heart through Playback Theatre as a performing member of Red Threads of Peace Project, freely allowing her to incorporate the best of both her Indigenous roots as a storyteller and healer, and of the contemporary form of improvisation of encouraging others to share their stories in building community.

Session Location: North Lobby (RMTC main floor lobby)

Grade Level: Middle/Senior Years

PM Workshops 1:40-3:10pm

Lights, Camera, Action: Movie making with an iPad and Green Screen
Janelle Malech

Session Description: In this workshop, participants will discover the basics of iMovie through play and exploration.  They will discover the magic of the Green Screen and play with Stop-Motion. These skills will be easily transferable to your students. You will learn how you can guide your own students to becoming movie makers in one class.

Presenter Bio: Janelle Malech is a Middle School Drama and ELA teacher in Mitchell Manitoba.  She is currently completing her PBDE in Counselling.  Janelle is passionate about finding ways to incorporate the arts in all areas of life for her students.  As the only drama teacher in the building, Janelle has spontaneously become the school’s movie producer and is always working on the next video with her students to promote school culture.

Session Location: West Coast Room (RMTC second floor)

Grade Level: Middle Years

Musical Theatre
Brenda Gorlick

Description Session: Beginning with a warm-up of vocal and physical exercises, Brenda will introduce the group to a short scene and vocal selection from the Canadian hit  musical – Come From Away and seamlessly turn everyone into a triple threat “Newfie’!

Presenter Bio: Brenda Gorlick has been involved in the Performing Arts world for over four decades as performer, choreographer and director.  She has choreographed and/or performed in over 200 productions for every theatre and stadium in Winnipeg and has gained a reputation as being the “Flash Mob Queen” of Manitoba (most recently working on the Canada Summer Games Ceremonies).  Brenda serves as Associate Artistic director for Winnipeg Studio Theatre (WST) and helms the StudioWorks Youth and Adults Only Ensembles. Watch for their Youth Academy’s production of School of Rock in May 2018.  Her artistic achievements include Women of Distinction Award, Rainbow Stage’s Wall of Fame and WST’s Award of Excellence.;

Session Location: John Hirsch Rehearsal Hall (RMTC)

Grade Level: Middle Years/Senior Years

Adam Charbonneau

Session Description: Come and play as Adam will lead participants through a variety of Drama games that they can take and use the following Monday morning with their students.  There may even be opportunity for some participants to share their own ‘go to’ games!

Presenter Bio: Adam Charbonneau is a teacher at École River Heights School.  As a middle school teacher Adam understands well the value of drama games to get students up and moving in his room, but also their value in terms of teaching essential skills. A member of the MDEA executive, Adam likes to further his own dramatic skill set by taking part in various community theatre ventures.

Session Location: Tom Hendry Foyer

Grade Level: All

Unmasking Empathy
Chris Sigurdson

Session Description: Drama remains the most direct means of conveying empathy. Our understanding of emotions, mirror neurons, the limbic system and so on, is always evolving.  This workshop presents participants with physical exercises and improv games that provide an opportunity to enhance our comprehension and application of  non verbal communication skills and emotional intelligence in the classroom.

Presenter Bio: Chris Sigurdson is a Winnipeg based actor, instructor and mask maker.  Unmasking Empathy is the result of 25 years of experience teaching with artist in the schools.  Chris works regularly as an acting instructor at the University of Winnipeg Theatre Department.  Chris is a performer with the internationally renowned company Faustwork. 

Session Location: Cargil Room (RMTC second floor)

Grade Level: ALL

The Blanket Exercise
Hanwakan Blaikie Whitecloud and Alison Palmer

Session Description: Blanket Exercise participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator (or narrators) and the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy.

Presenter Bios:  Hanwakan Blaikie Whitecloud – Hanwakan (which means ‘Northern Lights’ in Dakota and is pronounced with silent n’s) Blaikie Whitecloud is a Dakota from Sioux Valley in MB. An Asper business grad, his professional work involves mentoring Indigenous high school students to see themselves as
future business success stories. He is the co-owner of Wakan Productions, bringing stories of urban Indigenous identities to the forefront. His spare time is spent on social justice projects with his wife Tessa, and he is an avid skateboarder.

Alison Palmer is the Dramatic Arts teacher (K-8) at École St-Malo School. Over the last 20 years, she has acted both professionally and ‘just for plain ol’ fun’. Alison has staged and directed community theatre in St-Pierre-Jolys Manitoba over the last five years, and currently sits on the MDEA executive in the role of Secretary. In June 2017, she staged a performance entitled “VOICES” – an adaptation of the Kairos Blanket Exercise” with her grade 7 & 8 class.

Session Location: Tom Hendry Foyer

Grade Level: All

Screen Arts Group of Educators Networking
Location: Oak Park High School Room 104
Host: James McLellan

Participants will each bring an example of Screen Arts work undertaken in their classroom in the past year.  After a brief presentation there will be a Q & A revolving around the work.  Following the morning presentations, teachers are invited to present new ideas related to production and equipment use to the group.  An outline of the days activities is as follows:

8:30 refreshments 
9:00 participants present a project they completed with students.  Q & A session after each presentation.
12:00-1:30 Lunch off site
1:30-3:30 Present a piece of software or technology you are using or are interested in.  Q & A session after each presentation.


Register Here:



Membership only: $20

Fee and membership- $80

Fee and non-membership- $90

Half-day fee and membership –$45

Half-day fee and non-membership- $50


Membership only: $10

Fee and membership- $40

Fee and non-membership- $45

Half-day fee and membership-$30

Half-day fee and non-membership-$35

*Lunch is included in the cost for the day

*In a continuing effort to go green, the MDEA asks that participants bring a travel mug (for coffee/tea) and a water bottle.