meet the team

 haui - librettist, director, designer, producer 

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haui is a mixed media artist & activist who eschews categorization. his work explores themes of race, gender and orientation while blurring the lines between theatrical and cinematic mediums. he has worked in a number of roles from directing, video/projection design, visual arts and performance for some of canada’s leading arts organizations including cbc, canadian opera company, national arts centre, stratford festival and the shaw festival. he recently released his feature-length film debut entitled mixed, produced with jack fox and in association with outtv. career highlights include: assistant producer and stills photographer for stills photographer for métis/dene filmmaker marie clements’ feature film red snow available now on cbc gem; directing his award winning short film c’est moi which has screened at some of the leading african diaspora film festivals worldwide. upcoming he is designing at the prestigious luminato festival in 2021; teaching and acting in theatre and film all while developing a new television series. he is currently an artist-in-residence with wildseed black arts fellowship (black lives matter toronto) bridging arts and activism. 

 sean mayes - composer, musical director 

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sean mayes is a new york city and toronto-based music director. as an md & conductor, his work has involved productions on stages across the united states, canada and the united kingdom. he is an active member of the broadway community as an md, orchestrator-arranger, vocal coach, accompanist & pit musician. in spring 2019, mr. mayes was music director and conductor of the all-canadian premiere of the color purple. select additional recent credits include mr. mayes’ featured orchestrations & arrangements in heartbeat opera’s breathing free, nominated for outstanding digital concert production in the 2021 drama league awards. as an author, mr. mayes has published on the role of black music directors on broadway (reframing the musical, palgrave macmillan, 2019), and the retracing of black practitioners through british musical theatre history (an inconvenient black history of british musical theatre, bloomsbury, 2021).

 neema bickersteth - theatrical dramaturg, lead performer 

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neema bickersteth specializes in contemporary projects in opera, music theatre and theatre. included are concerts with soulpepper theatre in toronto and new york; tours in the usa and europe with globally-acclaimed spanish conductor jordi savall; and century song for volcano theatre and her own collective, moveable beast. century song has had multiple tours in canada, europe and east africa to critical acclaim. she has worked for some of the most prestigious companies in canada, including the canadian stage company, the canadian opera company, volcano, musical stage company, luminato festival, push festival, and

the national arts centre of canada, among many others. in addition, neema has been honoured to perform for the xivth dalai lama, shirin ebadi and the archbishop desmond tutu.

 adrienne danrich - collaborator, lead performer 

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as an award winning singe as an award winning singer, writer, composer, and educator, adrienne danrich is redefining what it means to be a creative performer. adrienne is most notably recognized for winning a midwest emmy for her performance and narration of this little light of mine: the stories of marian anderson and leontyne price. the show, which adrienne created, also received a midwest emmy nomination. distinctive in her talent and charisma, adrienne is known for going places other artists have not yet ventured. adrienne is a versatile and creative go-getter based in new york city, who has built a reputation on her funny, openly honest, and devoted personality devoted personality. striving to reach beyond industry boundaries, adrienne is a spinto soprano perfectly poised for roles like aida, tosca, lady macbeth (macbeth), donna anna, and amelia (un ballo in maschera).

 rachel forbes - set & costume designer 

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rachel is a toronto-based set and costume designer. her work has been seen across the country with the shaw festival, obsidian theatre, neptune theatre, centaur theatre, confederation centre of the arts, factory theatre, theatre passe muraille, tarragon theatre, buddies in bad times, young people’s theatre. she is also a guest designer and design mentor at ryerson university. rachel’s work is often focused on new creations in theatre and dance. she has a particular interest in works that explore the experiences of the african diaspora. selected credits: a streetcar named desire (soulpepper), victory (shaw festival), pomegranate pomegranate opera (independent/buddies in bad times), the brothers size (soulpepper), fences (grand theatre), school girls (obsidian theatre, dora award nominated), the bridge (neptune theatre/2b theatre), choir boy (centaur theatre), risky phil (young people's theatre), speaking of sneaking (riser project), other side of the game (obsidian theatre/cahoots), lukumi: a dub opera, bleeders, bloodclaat, esu crossing the middle passage (watah theatre), the dream catchers (charlottetown festival), 1837: the farmers’ revolt (shaw festival), black boys (saga collectif/buddies in bad times).

 naomi-joy blackhall - legal counsel 

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ms. blackhall is a toronto-based, arts & entertainment law paralegal, (and soon-to-be entertainment solicitor & barrister), singer-songwriter, actress, screenwriter and producer. her professional practice includes corporate, contract, intellectual property, human rights, and employment legal, creative, and artist management services which are specific to the arts and entertainment industries. as the managing partner of the blackhall legal services & artist management firm, ms. blackhall represents filmmakers, writers, producers, actors, choreographers, cirque companies, ip publishers, events and meeting professionals from across ontario. known for being a producer who combines technical business with outside-of-the-box creative and entrepreneurial strategies, ms. blackhall has been a trail blazer, from forming halifax's first black-female fronted progressive, and operatic heavy metal band (aquestyra); producing halifax's first women who rock, live musical and variety show event; to producing ambitious, music-inspired short films such as shemachine's a new addiction, and ednos (lady parts productions) which were developed in two seasons of the competitive film5 program executive produced by the atlantic filmmakers coop, and funded by telefilm, and film nova scotia. as a triple threat performer herself, ms. blackhall earned a position in the top 18 of the canadian idol fifth season, where she competed with carly rae jepson, brian melo, clifton murray (of the tenors) and others. she then immediately went on to work as a professional actress in both television, theatre, and film, and being mentored by hollywood author and screenwriter mick garris, who introduced her to other legendary writers such as, robert rodriguez, rick jaffa, amanda silver, mick garris, and stephen king. today, naomi-joy uses her writing and producing skills to create entertaining and engaging, online continuing professional development courses for emerging licensed paralegals, and legal education content to teach artists and creative entrepreneurs, the business of show business. she is also frequently engaged for paid public speaking events. in 2021 she taught executives from the national ballet, aptn tv, cbc, canada council for the arts, the canadian opera company, toronto pride, and others, to help them to learn about changes to canadian laws that impact the industry to elevate the industry and create safer artistic workplaces.

 phillip m. mota - legal counsel, llb 

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phillip mota is a toronto-based, arts, entertainment, and criminal defence lawyer specializing in legal representation for artists and creative entrepreneurs in ontario, canada. as senior partner and lead counsel at the blackhall legal services & artist management firm, his practice areas include legal services involving corporate, contracts, intellectual property, human rights, and employment matters that are specific to the arts and entertainment industries, as well as criminal defence for public figures and executives. phillip's primary objective as legal counsel is to help protect the creative interests of artists as they work with the blackhall legal & management team to achieve their goals. phillip is also a born litigator and is credited with winning countless trials for his clients, and as such, he adds an extra layer of protection for production teams with whom he works. growing up, phillip was always an artist at heart. he would spend much of his time drawing, writing, singing, and dancing for others. what he loved to do most was make people laugh with his celebrity impressions and movie/television scene reenactments. phillip received his undergraduate degree in architectural design, and ultimately completed his graduate degree in the field of law. although phillip’s path originally led him to practice criminal law, his true artistic character and interests saw him gravitate towards practicing law in the arts & entertainment industry, thus combining his two greatest passions. phillip is a lover of the opera and he is determined to educate canadians and the world about portia white, and to bring to her the recognition among canadians and the world.

peter hinton - mentoring producer & director

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peter hinton-davis is a stage director, playwright and teacher. recent credits: missing by marie

clements/brian current, pacific opera, sex by mae west, an octoroon by branden jacobs-jenkins, shaw festival, hadrian by rufus wainwright/daniel macivor, louis riel by harry somers/mavor moore, canadian opera company, bombay black, factory theatre. from 2005-2012, peter was artistic director of english theatre at canada’s national arts centre (2005-2012). previously, he was associate artist at the stratford festival, dramaturg in residence at playwrights workshop montreal and associate artistic director at the canadian stage. peter has taught at the national theatre school, ryerson university and the university of alberta. from 2012-2020, peter, taught the mfa seminar in stage direction at york university. in 2009, peter was made an officer of the order of canada.