Geoffrey Chaucer’s classic tales of redemption, salvation, forgiveness and acceptance will get a fresh spin when Toronto Film School’s adaption of The Canterbury Tales takes to the stage at 918 Bathurst Centre this month.
Conceived, adapted and directed by Jonathan Whittaker, The Tales of Canterbury spans themes that are still very much relevant in 2023, despite being written more than 600 years ago.
“When thinking about Canterbury, I was curious to know if the sensibilities in the 14th century still have relevance today. These stories cover much of what still occurs today: love, greed, passion, envy, crimes of the heart, and more…” Whittaker of his decision to adapt the collection into a play for his fifth-term acting students.
“These pilgrims came from all walks of life, different faiths, and varying opinion. But at the end of the journey, they joyfully came together…to celebrate their place on earth.
“As artists, we too have an obligation to present life – warts and all – so that maybe those we touch with our work will reflect a little, appreciate a little, give a little, and forgive a little.”
The Tales of Canterbury, which was assistant directed and stage managed by Morvarid Alinejad, will take to the stage for a three-performance run on March 23, 24 and 25 as follows:
Thursday, March 23 at 9 p.m.
Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 25 at 4:30 p.m.
The 918 Bathurst Centre is located at 918 Bathurst St. Tickets are free and are available at the door.
Noah Bicknell as Chaucer
Noah Bicknell is a 20-year-old Canadian actor and creator raised in Markham, Ontario. Noah received most of his acting training through the acclaimed Unionville drama program through different variation of live performance pieces. His journey began in front of the camera at the age of six when he was cast in a national advertisement for ‘Food Banks Canada’. The part he played was only for a few seconds with one line, but he was immediately hooked and the anticipation for ‘next time’ couldn’t be contained. His goal is to continue where he started, and he is currently exploring film acting, as well as writing and directing an independent short film. In his spare time, Noah co-hosts a weekly podcast and likes to write and record music with his group of friends.
Cody J. Breaton as Friar
Cody Breaton is an eighth-generation Canadian actor, and former snowboarder and politician. Born in Ontario and raised in Saskatchewan, Cody was brought up on indigenous beliefs and teachings that cultivate creativity and harmonization with nature. He has grown in many avenues of creative ingenuity, with some of his traditional, generational skills. By using his focus on comedy through the arts as a method of healing, he hopes to entertain people and give joy to the mundane day-to-day life. During his studies at Toronto Film School, Cody has partaken in the 48-hour film challenge in a leading role. He has also written, directed, and produced his own short film. His adaptability in the film industry has landed him multiple positions, where he not only played an actor but also stepped in as crew. His ultimate goal is to entertain as many people as he can and become known for his talents. He has visions of at-risk youth havens that focus on developing a future of technology harmonizing with nature in order to help revert past mistakes of generations before him. His hope is to push himself in his successes through a healthy career in film and television, which, he believes will give him the tools to reach his goals before his human experience is at its end.
Nashan Chin as Pardoner
Nashan Chin is a Jamaican-Canadian actress whose passion for the arts encompasses acting, dancing and singing. It was her background in cheerleading, dance and drama, as well as her love of writing poetry and watching shows in the Jamaican national pantomime, that first encouraged her to begin exploring acting and playwriting. In addition to her work in the arts, Nashan loves nature, spending time with loved ones and diving into a good book. While her official acting career launched at Toronto Film School, her ultimate goal is to become a mainstream actress and social media personality. She also dreams of one day starting a charity for young black youths with big dreams who may believe they are unattainable.
Kevin Enriquez as Summoner
Kevin Rusel Enriquez is a Canadian actor born in Zamboanga, Philippines. He enrolled in the Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program at Toronto Film School in order to learn the tools that will help him succeed. Kevin decided to study the craft of acting in a professional environment because he wishes to inspire others who love the arts to follow their dreams. He loves to delve into a character and bring them to life for TV, film, and theatre audiences. He also enjoys using his voice to bring animated characters to life for viewers to connect with. Kevin is passionate about the art of storytelling and hopes to be part of projects that convey messages he believes in. He aims to partake in projects spanning all genres of film: from fantasy and drama, to horror and comedy, because it allows him to utilize his creativity and imagination.
Q as Yeoman
Qianen Fu, also known as “Q,” is an aspiring actor and entrepreneur. Born in China and raised in Montreal, Q has a passion for the entertainment industry. He has appeared in a number of Canadian independent films and TV series, and is determined to break the stereotype of Asian characters in film, movies, and theatre. He is fluent in French, English and Chinese, and has a basic understanding of Spanish, German and Arabic. Q is also a violin player and martial artist.
Michael J. Hill as Knight
Hailing from the Islands, Michael was born and raised in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. He has been dancing competitively and professionally in many styles including Hip Hop, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical/Movement, Contemporary for 19 years. He earned both his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry & Forensic Science, and his Masters in Chemistry – Instrumental Analysis, from Trent University. Working alongside his professor, Dr. Deborah Durbin, he helped create a set of learning modules that are still being used in high school and first year university Chemistry classrooms today. After nearly two years working as a lab analyst for Bureau Veritas Canada, Michael decided to hang up his lab coat and pursue a career in acting, directing and writing at Toronto Film School.
Victoria James as Prioress
Victoria Nyamal James was born and raised in Kenya, but is of South Sudanese descent. She began acting in high school drama plays back in Kenya, where a production she acted in won Best Play of the term. At 17, she moved to Canada, where she finished high school and decided to pursue acting professionally. After relocating to Toronto, she enrolled in Toronto Film School’s Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program. A renaissance student, she also does professional dancing and modelling outside of classes. She also participates in school volunteer projects and works as a freelance actor, booking acting roles for outside world experience. She speaks four languages, is always upbeat, and has a friendly, fashion-forward demeanour.
Henna Malik as Lawyer
Henna Malik, of Woodbridge, Ontario, is a University of Toronto graduate with a B.A. in Sociology & Linguistics. She is fluent in 5 languages, including: English, Dari, Pashto, Hindi, and Urdu. After working in HR for a few years, Henna decided to join Toronto Film School to pursue acting full time, with the encouragement of her family.
Sandra Morales Hernandez as Shipman
Born and raised in Nicaragua, Sandra Morales started acting and dancing from a very young age at the Ruben Dario Theatre in Managua, Nicaragua. Sandra loves challenging herself and doing things that scare her. She is certified in ASL, and speaks Spanish, English and amateur Portuguese. Sandra describes herself as a very shy person who comes out of her shell when she’s engaged in the arts. She feels that communicating through dance or acting it’s the purest, least judgmental way there could be. Sandra aims to be a full-time actor who breaks down stereotypes associated with Latinas being portrayed as dumb, sexy women. Sandra is willing to put in the work necessary to be nominated for an Oscar one day.
Daniel Moreno Chu as Physician
Daniel Moreno is a Panamanian actor, who was born and raised in Panama City. Daniel’s early career began in musical theatre, taking on roles in plays including Mary Poppins and Tangled, where he played his first lead, Flynn Rider. Having already gathered some experience in the musical theatre industry, Daniel’s desire to transition into film acting brought him to Toronto, where he currently studies in the Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program at Toronto Film School. Outside of film and theatre, Daniel enjoys making and performing music, and is a professional specialty coffee grader.
Esther Nampijja as Cook
Esther Nampijja is a Ugandan-born performer, with international experience in acting both in front of the camera and on stage in theatre – experience that has equipped her with many different skills and tactics. She has appeared in different shows, as well as school, independent and short film projects. Esther is currently enhancing her artistic knowledge in Toronto Film School’s Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program.
Shamar Pile as Miller
Shamar Pile is a Canadian-born actor born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. He enjoys spending time with his friends creating and acting in short films. He loves the inspiration he gets from seeing everyone around him thrive, as he feeds off of positive energy. Shamar first started acting in school plays when he was young. He had the privilege of reprising the role as Rodolpho in the 1955 play ‘A view From The Bridge.’ He also acted in ‘Lion in the Streets’ as Martin and Jack. He hopes to one day make it on the big screen and inspire people that were once in his position as an up-and-coming actor. Shamar hopes to one day break down the barriers put up against African-American actors, considering the fact there are only very small percentage of them landing lead roles. He also hopes to motivate fellow young black actors to chase their dreams and strive for greatness.
Lauryn Sa as Wife of Bath
Lauryn Sa is a 21-year-old actress of Filipino and Portuguese descent, born and raised in Toronto. From a young age, she was always passionate about theatre, writing and acting in plays in both English and French. In her secondary school days, she played the lead role in the Drama department’s self-produced original one-act play, ‘Mama Mafiosa’ by Juliet Spizzirri. In May 2021, soon after enrolling at Toronto Film School, Lauryn starred in her first independent short film, ‘First Blood’ directed by Olivia Loccisano, which went on to be screened at film festivals world-wide and to win multiple awards. In her spare time, Lauryn enjoys fitness, the outdoors, sustainable fashion, and visual and literary arts. However, she is also passionate about political activism and hopes to continue to be a part of projects that reflect her values of equality and sustainability. Lauryn especially strives to be a part of those that work towards the representation and celebration of actors and actresses of Asian descent on screen and on the stage.
Shroom as Oxford Scholar
Shroom was born and raised in Canada. Their first theatre acting experience was at age 12 for a school show at the Victoria Playhouse. They continued with theatre, as well as musical theatre throughout high school. Their first filmed role was playing Sir Andrew Aguecheek in an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”. They were accepted into Toronto Film School and are currently studying in the Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program. During their studies at TFS, Shroom has played the role of Prior in “Angels in America” directed by John Beale and the role of the cartel leader Eddy in a film written by John Tench inspired by “EZ Streets”. They have also written, directed, and shot a silent short film. Shroom loves creating abstract realism art with graphite, as well as being a proficient painter and is comfortable working with most visual art mediums. They also practise makeup, clothing alterations, and walking on stilts.
Steave A. Sidibe as Reeve
Steave Sidibe (he/him) is a multidisciplinary actor born in Burkina-Faso, West Africa, and raised in multiple countries. He was a lonely child, who grew up with movies and books as his only friends, and developed a love of acting that only grew as he got older. Steave’s proudest achievement in life so far is the journey he started at TFS – a journey he believes brings him closer to his dream of becoming an actor and master of his craft. He has been in several shorts film in and outside of TFS.
Cassie Wu as Squire
Cassie was born and raised in Shenzhen, China and is currently studying in Toronto. Cassie has been learning Chinese dance and singing since she was a little girl, and has also taken ukulele and scuba diving lessons. She won the first place in the “Shenzhen Golden Dance” competition, and has received her 8th grade in Chinese dance. In junior high school, she worked in the school’s radio station, and every week, she led the school’s flag-raising ceremony. Since then, Cassie has been very interested in hosting and acting. In high school, she joined the drama club and participated in many different performances, including a role in the famous Chinese play “Thunderstorm.” In September 2020, she was accepted to the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where she studied acting for a year. She then came to Toronto Film School to study in the Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program. Cassie speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.
Meho Zamani as Harry Baily
Seyedmehraein Zamani – also known as Meho – is an Iranian actor and singer-songwriter born and raised in Iran. Meho moved to Canada with the dream of representing his culture and bringing joy and happiness to his family. He is disciplined and serious about his goals, and is not afraid to take on any challenge. In 2021, he recorded and produced an album called “It Wasn’t Really Like That”. His one and only goal is to be the best version of himself and to enjoy life. He also hopes to set a good example for Iranian youth and children all over the world and show them that anything is possible regardless of their situation.
Morvarid Alinejad – Assistant Director & Stage Manager
Morvarid Alinejad was born in Iran and immigrated to Canada in 2010. Her first time on a stage was at the age of two, and she went on to participate in many different plays and choirs over the course of her school years in Iran – even winning the best child actress award in Tehran at the age of 7. Morvarid recently graduated from Toronto Film School’s Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program. Since then, she has had the opportunity to play the second lead in a 2021 feature film called, Peace in Pain, and was the first AD in a feature film directed by Iranian director, Abdolreza Kahani, in February 2022. She was also the art director and prop master on the feature, Spring Snow, and had the opportunity to work with Iraj Raminfar, one of the most famous production designers in Iran, in May 2022. She speaks English and Farsi.
Jonathan Whittaker – Director
Jonathan is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction degree in Performance/Acting Program 1978-80 and a 2015 participant of the Banff/Citadel Professional Development Program. He has been an instructor at TFS since 2014. Notable theatre credits include: Beside Myself (World Premiere), Prom Queen (World premiere – Segal Centre), Nigredo Hotel (Tapestry Theatre – World premiere – Dora Award nomination), The Big Sleep (World premiere – Theatre Aquarius), Colours in the Storm, The Team on the Hill, Jake and the Kid (World premiere – Theatre Orangeville), Les Misérables and Dirty Dancing (Mirvish Productions), Man of La Mancha (TBTB), Closer than Ever (Latimer/Follows), 12 Angry Men (Drayton) and The Dining Room (Grand Theatre). Television appearances: Murdoch Mysteries, Christmas in Love, Ransom, The Expanse (2 seasons), Open Heart (series lead), Alienated (series lead), The Kennedys, Lost Girl, Transporter, Flashpoint, Suits, The Avro Arrow and Lucky Girl. Feature films include: Kid Detective, Brotherhood, Chicago, D2K, Blizzard, Land of the Dead, Three Men and a Baby, Virgin Suicides.