RBC Emerging Director's Program

Art, in its every form, is what makes our community vibrant. The RBC Emerging Artists Project was built on that belief. Our investment in the arts is about one thing: helping give artists every opportunity possible to showcase their creativity and talent. We are proud to be a long-time supporter of the Lunchbox Theatre and the many talented directors, actors and producers that make it the best place to spend your lunch-hour.  
-Jerilynn Daniels, RBC Foundation

The 2018/2019 Season

Application Deadline has passed

The 2017/2018 Season

The  2017-2018 Emerging Director is Chris Stockton. 

For 12 years I was a high school theatre teacher who shared my passion for the art form of theatre with students every day.   As they graduated, I would always encourage them to pursue their passion – follow your heart and do what you love!  It finally occurred to me, twelve years in, that perhaps I was not following my own advice.  Through many years in the classroom I had developed a passion for directing that could no longer be ignored.

So I did it.  I left the safety and security of an established career to follow my dream – to become a professional theatre director. 

I discovered very quickly that becoming a professional, freelance theatre director is one of the most difficult things to do in theatre.  Actors can audition, playwrights can submit plays for consideration and technicians and stage managers can work their way through apprenticeships but there is no straight line to becoming a director – no tried and true method, no checklist of completion.  Some directors are actors, designers, playwrights or stage managers, amongst others, who want to transition to something new. Others, like myself, have no previous professional experience but a passion specifically for directing that is so strong that we look for any and every opportunity to pursue it. 

This is why the RBC Emerging Director Program through Lunchbox Theatre is so crucial to the future development of theatre directors in Calgary, Alberta and Canada.  It gives emerging theatre directors the opportunity to learn, observe, interact with and receive mentorship from a broad spectrum of professional directors, across a wide variety of productions, regardless of how they came to pursue this challenging, creative leadership role.  The commitment from Lunchbox Theatre, all of their directors and the generous financial support of RBC have helped to create an environment where questions can be asked, ideas explored, professional contacts established and work can be seen – all important elements in reaching the next level.

I am honoured to be selected as the 2017/18 RBC Emerging Director at Lunchbox Theatre.  To be given the opportunity to learn from established theatre directors such as Shari Wattling, Samantha MacDonald, Kelly Reay, Trevor Rueger and Karen Johnson-Diamond (an alumnus of the Emerging Director Program) excites me beyond words.  To also get the chance to work on new plays, established works, single performer shows and work with amazing actors, technicians, designers and stage managers is icing on the cake. 

Thank you to all of the students who inspired me over the years, to RBC and Lunchbox Theatre for the opportunity and to my wife, who has supported this crazy journey without hesitation.

- Chris Stockton RBC Emerging Director, 2017-18

“When you have come to the edge of all the light you have
And step into the darkness of the unknown
Believe that one of the two will happen to you
Either you'll find something solid to stand on
Or you'll be taught how to fly!” 
― Richard Bach

A History of RBC Emerging Directors

2016/2017 Season                                                                                                                                                                                                Paul Welch

'Rideby Jane Bodie  



2015/2016 Season                                                                        Jenna Rodgers

'Let The Light of Day Through' by Collin Doyle                                                                    Jenna is a mixed-race Director and Dramaturg based in Calgary. She is the founding Artistic Director of Chromatic Theatre – a company dedicated to producing and developing work by and for diverse artists. She recently finished a Chromatic Theatre workshop of "Winners and Losers" a new play adapted from the original text of James Long and Marcus Youssef. In the 17/18, she will be Directing Mixie and the Halfbreeds for fu-GEN Theatre in Toronto, Assistant Directing Nine Dragons at Vertigo Theatre, and returning for her fifth year as the Associate Dramaturg at the Banff Playwrights Lab.


2014/2015 Season                                                                        Karen Johnson-Diamond

'Time Present' by Ted Atherton                                                                                                        Since her year as the RBC Emerging Director at Lunchbox Theatre:                                              "A New Brain" -Storybook Theatre                                                                                                          "16 Going on 17" - Silver Stars Musical Review                                                                            "Footloose"- Keyano Theatre in Fort McMurray                                                                            "Tony n' Tina's Wedding" Red Deer College.                                                                                    Karen was also the Director/Dramaturg for "Radioland '48" (Kirsten Van Ritzen) and "Never Let the Crew See you Cry" (Linda Wood Edwards) for Lunchbox Theatre's Stage One Festival. In the fall of 2017 she headed back to Keyano to direct "A Christmas Carol", and in March 2018 returns to Lunchbox to direct "Miss Caledonia". She have also acted in a number of shows in and out of Calgary, because that's her first love and forever love. Karen is the Administrative Director for ARTSTREK, a summer theatre school for teens, and is in her 18th season with Dirty Laundry -The Completely Improvised Soap Opera. 


2013/2014 Season                                                                        Jacqueline Russell

'One Good Marriageby Sean Reycraft                                                                                                  Jacqueline Russell is a Calgary based clown and director and a graduate of the University of Alberta's BFA Acting program. She has studied mask, clown and physical theatre extensively at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance (manitoulinconservatory.com).  With her co-conspirator Jed Tomlinson, Jacqueline has created two duo clown shows: The Sama Kutra &Hushabye- A Doomsday Comedy (sizzlespark.com).  Jacqueline's directing credits include: Legoland (Urban Curvz), A Christmas Carol (The Keyano Theatre Centre), One Good Marriage (Lunchbox Theatre), Weaving Yarns (Calgary Young People’s Theatre), Peg and The Yeti, Munsch-o-rama (New West Theatre), Invasion of the Pine Beetles (Evergreen Theatre) and The Underpants (Theatre BSMT). Jacqueline was the Artistic Producer for Evergreen Theatre in Calgary from 2008-2013 and  the Artistic Producer for Urban Curvz Theatre from 2011-2015. She is currently the Program Manager for InsideOut Theatre.                                                


2012/2013 Season                                                                        Valmai Goggin

'The Loverby Harold Pinter                                                                                                                Valmai is now Freelance directing and teaching with various companies including Keyano Theatre, Lunchbox Theatre, Theatre Transit, University of Calgary, Calgary Opera, Evergreen Theatre, Theatre Alberta’s Artstrek.                                                                                  Mount Allison University Graduate In Residence 2014                                                                  Artistic Producer at Evergreen Theatre 2013-17                                                                          President – Board of Directors, Evergreen Theatre 2017-present                                                    And as of August 2017 Valmai now works at Lunchbox Theatre as the Development and Administrative Associate.                                                                                                                                     


2011/2012 Season                                                                          Alice Nelson

'Mockingbird Closeby Trevor Schmidt                                                                                        Since my time as Emerging Director at Lunchbox (2011-2012), I've directed Skin Flick, Cocktails at Pam's (Morpheus Theatre), The Underneath (Theatre Basement), Three Little Pigs (New West Theatre), Hamlet (Outreach Project with The Shakespeare Company), Aesop's Fables (Loose Moose Theatre) and The Boy's Own Jedi Handbook (Empress Theatre). I also had the amazing opportunity to direct a clown show with the humanitarian organization Clowns Without Borders in South Africa. I'm about to hit the road fall 2017; traveling from Halifax to Vancouver with Journey of a Lifetime (Quest Theatre and Heritage Park).                                      


2010/2011 Season                                                                          Anton de Groot

'Krapp's Last Tapeby Samuel Beckett                                                                                                  The Emerging Director’s Program was an integral part of my development as a professional theatre practitioner - it cemented my place in the community and affirmed my desire to continue working in this field. I have focused my career almost entirely on scenography and stage design - set, light, and sound to be specific. What I took away from the EDP directly informed my current practice, and provided me with a unique skillset and language to engage with directors, actors and the creative team on all of my projects. Since working as the 2011-2012 Emerging Director, I have designed for Lunchbox many times, as well as Theatre Calgary, Alberta Theatre Projects, Vertigo Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre (England), Tarragon Theatre (Toronto), and the Stratford Festival of Canada. I have received four Betty Mitchell Awards for my design, co-recieved one with the Downstage Creation Ensemble for playwriting, and was the recipient of the Emerging Artist Award at the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions. In 2015, I was the curator of the Canadian Student Exhibition at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, which showcased some of the best student work on an international stage, and gave me the chance to attend masterclasses and lectures by such remarkable artists as Julie Taymor, Mike Pearson, Robert Wilson, and Robert LePage. I received my MFA from the University of Calgary where I have continued to occasionally teach, and my performance installation design is set to be exhibited with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in November 2017. I work consistently with theatres here in Calgary, where I have chosen to make my art and make my home.                                                                            Website, social media, etc: adegroot.ca, Twitter: @an_tonD, Instagram: @an_tonD


2009/2010 Season                                                              Kathryn Waters

'The House Wifeby Sherry White and Ruth Lawrence                                                                  .


2008/2009 Season                                                              Scott Roberts

'Molly and Jamesby Sheila Walsh                                                                                                                                                                                             


2007/2008 Season                                                                          Aaron Coates

'The Way of All Fishby Elaine May                                                                                                     Since finishing the Emerging Director Program, Aaron has been working primarily as a director and writer for opera and theatre. He was delighted to return to Lunchbox to direct The After Party in 2013, as well as working on a new project in the Stage One program. He is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Cowtown Opera.                                     


2006/2007 Season                                                                          Simon Mallett

'This Is A Playby Daniel MacIvor                                                                                                     Simon was the Artistic Director of Downstage, a professional theatre company he founded in Calgary that produces Canadian theatre that creates conversation around social issues, from 2004 until April of 2017. He has also worked extensively as a freelance theatre director, having directed shows at Vertigo Theatre, Theatre Calgary and Lunchbox Theatre among others. Simon has been nominated for the Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Direction three times, winning the award in 2014. In addition to his directing work, Simon is now the Executive Director at the Rozsa Foundation, which supports arts organizations throughout Alberta.                                      


2005/2006 Season                                                                          Val Planche

'The Duplexby Yan Kolk                                                                                                                     Since then I've directed many Canadian premiers for Urban Curves (now Handsome Alice), Sage Theatre's Governor General Award winning Blood: A Scientific Love Story, Ruined for Elypsistree Collective, Annie Bakers Body Awareness for Shadow Theatre and Edward Albee’s new Home Life for Aboriginal Arts in Edmonton as well as Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon in Theatre Calgary’s Max Bell Theatre and Skylight by David Hare for their inaugural production of a new series: Up Close and Personal.  I will be directing Nick Payne’s Constellations for Alberta Theatre Projects in 2018.  

In 2015 I completed a Masters program at the University of Alberta and was awarded the Gina Wilkinson Prize.