Left to right by row, from top to bottom: Beth Airton, Maria Paula Carreño-Martinez, Caitie Graham, Nika Jalali, Mandy MacLean, Michelle Mohammed, Dainty Smith, Athena So, and Jessica Watkin.
Meet the Latest Cohort of Performing Arts Interns

The Metcalf Foundation’s Performing Arts Internships help organizations create productive entry points into the sector, realize opportunities to foster leadership, and respond to skill shortages in critical areas. The internships provide individuals with more knowledge, better skills, broader work experience, and useful contacts in order to gain meaningful and sustainable employment while making a strong professional contribution to the performing arts.

We are pleased to announce the most recent cohort of interns. Meet these promising arts leaders and learn more about their internships below.

Beth Airton
Executive and Administrative Management, Toronto Fringe

Mentor: Laura Paduch, Managing Director, Co-Lead

Beth Airton (they/them) works as a producer, stage manager, and assistant director across the Canadian theatre and film industries. They are a co-founder of Apothecary Theatre Collective, a queer ensemble dedicated to producing equitable and diverse performance projects. Beth’s joy for production comes from helping artists transform their wildest ideas into practical, applicable realities. Previously, they had the pleasure of working with the Alberta Ballet, Toronto Fringe Festival, Crow’s Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times, Hamilton Fringe Festival, Dandelion Theatre, BodyCube Arts Collective, One Yellow Rabbit, and a variety of television and film productions.

Beth’s internship will allow them to gain greater understanding of the systems, structures, and policies guiding Canadian theatrical organizations to advance their abilities and knowledge of executive leadership, programming development, and organizational management.

Maria Paula Carreño-Martinez
Artistic Leadership, Direction, Creation, and Producing,
Aluna Theatre

Mentor: Beatriz Pizano, Artistic Director & Trevor Schwellnus, Artistic Producer

Maria Paula Carreño-Martínez (she/her) is an award-winning actor and performance art creator of diverse ancestry born in Bacatá, Colombia. She trained at Academia Charlot in Colombia, Humber College, Sheridan College, and The Second City in Toronto, as well as other institutions. Maria Paula’s creations have been presented at Buddies in Bad Times, the Al Green Theatre, Daniel’s Spectrum, Factory Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Theatre Erindale, the Fairview Library Theatre, and the aluCine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival. She has been in a number of voice, film, and television projects in Canada, Colombia, and France. She is passionate about honouring her ancestry, supporting mental health through performance, and connecting communities through art and culture.

Maria Paula’s internship will focus on artistic leadership, direction, dramaturgy, producing, and collective creation so she can develop the tools needed to ground her artistic vision and serve as a mentor to others in the future.

Caitie Graham
Artistic Direction, Driftwood Theatre Group

Mentor: Jeremy Smith, Artistic Director

Caitie Graham (she/her) is a Toronto-based dramaturg who’s supported over 30 individual playwrights on new projects and has been credited on four Canadian world premieres. She’s designed and facilitated playwriting programs for emerging and established artists across the province, most notably at Tarragon Theatre, Scarborough Arts, Driftwood Theatre Group, and Pat the Dog. Select production credits include Queen Goneril by Erin Shields (Soulpepper Theatre) and Living with Shakespeare by Jeremy Smith and Steven Gallagher (Driftwood Theatre Group).

Through her internship, Caitie seeks to broaden the impact of her dramaturgical work by growing her craft in artistic direction under Driftwood’s new mandate to exclusively develop and support new Canadian work.

Nika Jalali
Artistic Producing, Nightwood Theatre

Mentor: Andrea Donaldson, Artistic Director & Naz Afsahi, Managing Director

Nika Jalali (she/her) is an Iranian-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist, producer, and creator. She is devoted to curating spaces and pushing boundaries for racialized communities to perform and share their stories on Canadian and international stages. Nika recently graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University with a BFA in Performance Production & Design, and is pursuing her passion for provoking change and challenging social and political “norms” by telling the stories of marginalized communities through art and theatre. As part of her collaboration on interdisciplinary projects, Nika has worked in countries such as Italy, Scotland, the Czech Republic, and Germany.

Through her internship, Nika seeks to broaden her skills in artistic producing in support of her goal to re-imagine theatre and create more welcoming stages for both audiences and artists.

Mandy E. MacLean
Access-Led Directing, Dramaturgy, and Producing,
Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM)

Mentor: Marjorie Chan, Artistic Director & Jenn Sartor, Producer

Mandy E. MacLean (she/her) is a multi-hyphenate artist and proud Maritimer, now based in Toronto. She is a member of the Mad community, has had multiple experiences of traumatic brain injury, and has a Cocker Spaniel named Mulder. Mandy is influenced by her training with SITI Company and members of SCOT. Her recent work includes access support for Blind Dates (Theatre Passe Muraille) and The Concussion Play (in development, supported by Why Not Theatre and the Ontario Arts Council). Mandy collaborates in a variety of roles and recently coordinated an access-based project with Prologue Performing Arts and the W. Ross School for the Blind. Currently, she serves as the Arts Activation Coordinator for Frog in Hand’s Art Shelter, a placemaking venture in Port Credit. As she collaborates and interacts with structures and practices, she believes that considering access, in all forms, can lead to exciting work and experiences for everyone.

Mandy’s internship will strengthen her capacity to lead her own company, projects, and work by creating new ways to hold, care, and consider access in all its unique forms.

Michelle Mohammed
Artistic Direction, Why Not Theatre

Mentor: Miriam Fernandes, Co-Artistic Director & Ravi Jain, Co-Artistic Director and Founder

Michelle Mohammed is an artist, actor, and director. In 2023, she played Betty and Anu in A Poem for Rabia (Tarragon Theatre) and Des in Yerma (Coal Mine Theatre), assistant directed Peter Hinton in The Hooves Belonged to the Deer (Tarragon Theatre), and worked as Artistic Associate at Suitcase in Point and Toronto Company Manager for The Mahabharata at Why Not Theatre.

When she is not working on a production, Michelle works on her artistic leadership skills with artists and companies she admires. Select credits: Olga in Orphan’s for the Czar (Crow’s Theatre), Villager in Chitra (Shaw Festival), Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare BASH’d), Creator in The Mahabharata (Workshops) (Why Not Theatre/Shaw Festival), Ruby and the Well (Shaftesbury), and Murdoch Mysteries (CBC).

This internship will allow Michelle to develop her skills as an artistic director interested in challenging the status quo of Canadian theatre-making. She will also explore the main roles and responsibilities of an artistic director, balancing artistic practice and leadership responsibilities, and gain an understanding of the artistic director role in relation to other departments of an organization.

Dainty Smith
Artistic Direction, Nova Dance

Mentor: Nova Bhattacharya, Artistic Director

Dainty Smith is a burlesque artist, curator, playwright, and producer. She is the founder of Les Femmes Fatales: Women and Femmes of Colour Burlesque Troupe — the first troupe for Black women, women of colour, femmes and gender non-conforming persons in Canada. She is passionate about creating spaces that are safe for art making and performance for Black, People of Colour, Indigenous, queer, and trans bodies, affirming their right to take up space and ensuring their representation in discussions about desirability politics.

Through her internship, Dainty seeks to solidify, expand, and grow her storytelling and curation practice surrounded by women who understand what it is to advocate for art forms from the margins.

Athena So
Music Direction, Shaw Festival

Mentor: Paul Sportelli, Music Director

Athena So is a Chinese-Canadian music director, pianist, and arts educator based in Toronto. She holds degrees in Music and Education from York University but has always been fascinated with storytelling and collaboration. Athena’s career in theatre began in her post-secondary years, where she worked as a rehearsal pianist and pit musician and found her passion for music direction shortly after. Since then, Athena has workshopped new musicals in the US and Canada, music directed productions in Toronto, and accompanied vocalists at various cabarets and concerts. She is currently a music director at The Second City Toronto and a faculty member of Randolph College for the Performing Arts.

Through her internship, Athena is eager to become more confident conducting professional casts and larger orchestras through the effective communication of musical ideas through gestures.

Jessica Watkin
Dramaturgy and Producing, Nightswimming

Mentor: Gloria Mok, Producer & Brian Quirt, Artistic Director

Dr. Jess Watkin received her PhD at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance studies. Her research focuses on Disability dramaturgy, approaches to performance creation/production, and Disability related activism. She is a Blind artist-scholar living in Toronto, who loves making tactile art and showing up as the Disabled artist in many creative spaces to ensure care is prioritized for all.

As an artist-scholar, Jessica is interested in continually developing her practice, and is excited to spend her internship learning more about the production-related aspects of dramaturgy and getting to know the current dramaturgical environment more meaningfully.