by HAZEL VENZON
written by QUDUS ABUSALEH
Creator, Director and Producer
With 20 years of theatre creation behind her, Hazel makes work that provides alternative ways for the public to think deeper about social issues, works which highlight current themes on human migration (Everything Has Disappeared - in progress, The Places We Go, EMBRACE), cultural integration (T’lingipino Bingo) and the human cost borne by globalism (For Hire in two parts, Your Nanny Hates You).
Inspired by “regular” people, Hazel devises site-specific and stage-based works that bring everyday peoples’ stories to the forefront; celebrating the (uncommonly highlighted) citizen. Within her practise, she includes the socialization of and relationships with community organizations, scholars, elders, youth, and new Canadians to find the most innovative way to share new stories.
Hazel is a theatre artist: an actress, social-performance artist, writer, director and producer. Her artistic background is rooted in Sculpture and Performance Art (University of Manitoba's School of Fine Art) and formal Acting Training (Studio 58).
Art Director & Broadcasting Director
Founder & Creative Director of studiosarisari a visual development studio for books, film, video games, and digital media. David has 25 years of expertise in illustration, conceptual design, storyboarding and motion & graphic design. Born in Manilla, now based in Winnipeg, he has worked with Electric Monk Media and Complex Games to create work which can be found on Games workshop, SONY, Disney, CBC, Bell MTS and Shaw Media. Most recently, he storyboarded for an episode of Tales from the Loop, directed by Jodie Foster.
His theatre debut with U 'N I Together (UNIT)Productions "The Places We Go" was featured in Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2016 then toured in Tacloban, Leyte Philippines in 2018. Now, he will be providing the Illustrations for the upcoming performance Everything Has Disappeared from Mammalian Diving Reflex and UNIT Productions.
Director of Photography
Charles worked on the first Embrace production in Whitehorse as the DP 10 years ago and is thrilled to be a part of this version in Winnipeg. Charles's interest in his mother's immigration story is at the foundation of his recent photographic, video, and print media creations.
Photo credit: Cory Aronec
George graduated from the International Academy of Design in Toronto. He has since worked for national networks like APTN, Discovery, A&E, Lifetime and Hallmark, and worked for production companies such as Nelvana and Frantic Films. George worked on the multi-award-winning documentary “Closing Time”. Working continuously on independent films, he currently has a film screening in NYC titled “What Do You Think” which was written and directed by Winnipeg writer Jeff Eyamie and produced by Karen Tusa and the music was written by a local musician Craig Wallace.
My name is Parker Smith and I’m a film student currently studying at the University of Winnipeg. I’m a freelance video editor that does a variety of projects, including narrative and commercial work. I plan to work in the local film industry after receiving a Bachelor of Arts upon graduation. Along with filmmaking, I enjoy graphic design, photography and other creative mediums. I also enjoy outdoor activities like cycling, camping and going for long walks with my dog.
Music has been a bridge connecting people from all corners. Playing the tar and daf brought me the best of friends with whom we have created moments of utter bliss. A language that knows not of borders nor divides, but inherent to its universal nature threads us all in a beautiful reverie, for however long it is. Being a small part of the Sawa family gives me much joy, with the coming together of all of us despite the haphazard state we are in. EMBRACE is a collection of lives lived through the arts of storytelling, music and sharing a meal. Hope to have you with us once the food is ready.
Yousef is a 22-year-old university student studying politics, born in Zarqa and raised
in Amman-Jordan. He was the oldest out of his three siblings: two sisters and a brother.
Growing up with both parents having a busy schedule, he had to take care of his siblings most of the time. After graduating from high school, he started to travel around the world to figure out what his goal in life was. After many experiences in different countries, he decided to pursue a bachelor of arts degree in political science in Canada.
Suzan is making her debut acting performance with this virtual EMBRACE production. Suzan is currently in her fourth year of university at the University of Manitoba, College of Nursing. She is grateful to her friends and family for all their support and love, as well as to her peers on the EMBRACE team who made her time on this production so memorable and fulfilling. Suzan specifically wants to thank her mother, Amina Khiradast, for always creating the most amazing dishes, and for being the best storyteller. Suzan dedicates this project to her homeland of Kurdistan, family and best friends.
My name is Ameen Alnaser, a second-year student at the University of Manitoba. I am a Syrian & former refugee who fled his hometown to live in a refugee camp in Jordan for over 5 years, I came to Canada three years ago. I am an active volunteer in the newcomer community and on the University campus where I am currently the chair of the WUSC local committee at UofM. I consider myself an amateur cook who enjoys making food and share with friends. My vision is to inspire, encourage & empower people who going through hard times
Qudus has worked in the settlement sector with the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council and the Manitoba School Improvement Program. At Sawa Theatre, his duties as External Vice Chair revolve around building partnerships, managing sponsorship activities, overseeing external communications, and acting as the spokesperson of the organization.
Having previously worked as an interpreter, cultural mediator, and life skills trainer with newcomer families, Shaden has found a home with Sawa Theatre. Theatre will always hold a special place in Shaden’s heart, it's where she has witnessed real magic: from that experienced with Sawa’s performers to that shared with Palestinian actors in Jenin Camp’s Freedom Theatre. With both Sawa and Embrace, Shaden sits on the production team and is excited to be part of another magical project. Shaden is currently completing a JD/MA degree in the hopes of pursuing a career centred around refugee law and protection.
Montaser Bellah Al Jajeh
Montaser is an artist currently living in Winnipeg, MB. His theatre career started in Jordan as an actor and a drama coach with Drama For Refuge company where they produced the first Arabic adaptation of Oliver Twist. He directed a few plays with SAWA theatre. He acted in A Thousand Splendid Suns. He also launched a folk storytelling podcast in Arabic. He won the Mayor’s award for his role as a co-founder and artistic director of the Mayor’s award.
Kamillah has worked on a variety of community development projects and is currently working with Volunteer Manitoba. Sawa Theatre brings her passion for community and arts together.
Asha Nelson (she/her) is one of the co-founders and organizers of Sawa Theatre. Her role with the team focuses on production, marketing, visual communications, and other behind-the-scenes work. She wholeheartedly believes in theatre as a vehicle for inner transformation, community building, and social change.
Marketing & Box Office Coordinator
Noelle is a Muslim, Libyan-Canadian with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights from the University of Winnipeg. She will be pursuing her Juris Doctor from Ryerson's Faculty of Law in September of 2021. Noelle has worked at both United Nations headquarters in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland, where she has aided hundreds of grassroots organizations from across the world push for gender equality and various Sustainable Development Goals. Paired with her years of working in student government, Noelle has exceptional experience in advocacy, research, and community organizing.
In her spare time, Noelle is an avid photographer, often freelancing different events and taking portraits within Winnipeg, Manitoba. She also is an organizer for a collective called "RIND.", which throws events and provides support for local Black, Indigenous, artists of colour.