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Act I Scene I

Current Research Team: 2016-2017


Dr. Gallagher's focus on output requires a full team of OISE graduate students which changes from year to year based on the demands of current research projects. The team is comprised of students from a variety of academic levels and backgrounds, with unique and diverse skill sets and interests.

Students are exposed to a variety of learning experiences involving fieldwork, literature reviews, training and applying new technologies, assisting in the development of new research projects and prospective funding sources, and editing and advising on a variety of grant applications, articles, and books. Dr. Gallagher encourages collaboration, creativity, independence, and critical thinking.

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Rebecca Starkman  (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in June 2018.

Rebecca is a doctoral student in Curriculum Studies & Teacher Development.  She comes to OISE via a Master of Arts in Child and Youth Studies at Brock University. Her MA thesis explored contemporary Jewish girls' understandings and experiences of the Jewish American Princess stereotype. Prior to her MA, Rebecca began her post-secondary studies at McGill University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Humanistic Studies. Rebecca's work is interdisciplinary and she closely aligns herself with the fields of education and girlhood studies. Her current research examines the intersections of gender, religion, and schooling. She is especially interested in the experiences of female students within the public education system who identify as religious. Rebecca is also passionate about the theory and application of qualitative research methods. Rebecca studies under the supervision of Kathleen Gallagher, as well as participates as a member of Dr. Gallagher’s Research Team.


Dirk Rodricks  (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2018.

Born in India and by way of the United States, Dirk Jonathan Rodricks is a doctoral student in OISE's Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development program and an Ontario Trillium Scholar at the University of Toronto. He holds a BA in Theatre (magna cum laude) as well as a M.Ed. in Higher Education from the University of Vermont (United States) where he was recognized with the 2013 Kenneth P. Saurmann Memorial Award. He also served as Managing Editor (2012-2013) with The Vermont Connection - the oldest scholarly journal affiliated with a graduate program in higher education in the United States.  With over ten years of professional experience in higher education student services, Dirk believes strongly in re-imagining the pedagogical relationship in the urban K-12 classroom as necessary to mitigate the challenge of access and agency for historically marginalized communities. His research interests include drama/theatre education specifically critical pedagogy in the urban school/student context and relations of schooling at the interstices of race, gender, sexuality, and national origin.

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Rachel Rhoades   (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2018.

Rachel is an international doctoral student in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development at OISE with the Critical Studies in Curriculum and Pedagogy emphasis and a Connaught scholar at the University of Toronto. She holds a BA in Arts Education & Social Change from Vassar College and MEd in Community Arts with a specialization in Theatre Studies from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA). She received the Diane Shannon Price Student Leadership Award for using her graduate participatory arts-based action research, Arts & Youth Leadership Development in Action, as a platform to improve self-designed community arts and leadership programming for Boston youth. She received the Young Peoples Theatre national Ada Slaight Drama-in-Education Award for her doctoral research study, Confronting Racism & Neoliberalism with Collaborative Action Research & Ethnodrama. She is interested in the negotiation of urban youth identities with relation to resistance and political participation as constructed through face-to-face original theatrical devising and within intercultural digital artistic dialogue. 

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Kelsey Jacobson   (Ph.D) Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. Expected completion in 2019.

Kelsey comes to the University of Toronto after recently completing her MA in Theatre and Performance at Queen Mary, University of London and working in Research and Higher Education at Shakespeare’s Globe. Her MA dissertation was on comparative spatial cognition of audience members in productions of the same Early Modern text in 1607 and 2014. Prior to this, she graduated from Queen’s University with a BAH in Drama as part of the Concurrent Education Program and worked in the Queen’s Cultural Cognition Laboratory. She has been awarded the Rod Robertson Award in Dramatic Literature and Theory, the Gordon and Myrtle Adams Scholarship, as well as a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Master’s Scholarship. Kelsey’s current research is on audience valuation of theatre and the perception of realness onstage. She is also an active theatre practitioner in Toronto, directing and designing shows whenever possible.

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Christine Balt

Scott Mealey   (Ph.D) Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Expected completion in 2017.

Scott is in his third year of doctoral study at the Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies Centre, where he researches the applications of persuasive and social cognition models in understanding audience reception of theatrical events. He holds an honours degree in Theatre Studies from Dalhousie University as well an MA from the Drama Centre (U of T). He has in recent years presented on topics such as non-coercive theatre at Another World of Popular Theatre Conference (Newcastle, Australia), curating audience mindfulness at the Festival of Original Theatre (Toronto), and the role of the Elaboration Likelihood Model in audience assessment at the 2014 CATR Conference (Brock University). Scott worked professionally as an actor, director, playwright, and dramaturg in Atlanta Canada. He has also enjoyed nearly two decades as a theatre teacher/coach, notably as an instructor at Humber College and an adjunct professor in Theatre and Communications at Crandall University.


Nancy Cardwell   (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2019.

Nancy Cardwell is a first year PhD student in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Furthering her MA research from York University, Nancy is interested in investigating feminist pedagogies through the use of the arts, particularly music and dance, in the elementary and secondary school settings. She has been both a course and studio director at York University, a guest lecturerpresenting on culture, politics and dance, and has created and led workshops on dance, music and storytelling for educational outreach programs at the National Ballet of Canada, the Stratford Festival as well as across school boards in Ontario. Nancy’s life in the arts spans three decades of dance in Canada, the United States and Europe. After years of ballet (National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble), Nancy began studies in flamenco moving between Toronto and Seville to hone her craft, winning a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance in 2014. She been a dancer and choreographer with the Toronto based Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company since 1994, its Assistant Artistic Director since 2005 as well as fulfilling the role of Outreach Community and Education Coordinator since 2008. From classroom to studio, she is an engaged teacher committed to promoting learning through the arts. 


Sherry Bie   (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2019.

Sherry Bie, a University of Toronto doctoral student in OISE’s Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, is researching play and story—studying principles at the intersection of theatre and education, contemporary schooling and models of training. She received her MA in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University in 2014. From 2001 to 2012 Bie was the Artistic Director of the English Section of the National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) having herself been a student of NTS founding AD Powys Thomas at the Vancouver Playhouse Acting School. She has performed on stages across Canada and abroad including The Vancouver Playhouse, Toronto’s Canadian Stage, Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, and the Montreal Centaur Theatre, originating roles in plays by Canadian playwrights Morris Panych, Betty Lambert, and David French. She was a company member at Caravan Farm Theatre and Theatre Beyond Words and played in the Odin Teatret's Ur Hamlet in Denmark's Elsinore Castle. Sherry Bie was the first recipient of the Ray Michal Award for Outstanding Direction by an Emerging Director.


Christine Balt  (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2020.

Christine was born in Johannesburg and studies physical theatre and performance studies at Rhodes University in South Africa. She completed her MA, in which she examined intersections of site, ritual and embodiment in performances of post-Apartheid subjectivities. She taught in classrooms across South Africa and Asia before setting in Toronto, where she has applied her training in contemporary performance practices to the teaching of drama and English in school. She has also worked in community theatre in which she has contributed to the staging of projects exploring inter-generational relations, sexual consent education, and mental health. She continues to examine her interests in embodiment and site in relation to interactions of land-based pedagogy, performance, and place-making in the urban context. 





Previous Research Team Members:


Ben Gallagher

Ben Gallagher  (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2020.

Ben Gallagher is a PhD student in the department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. He completed his MA at McMaster in 2013 in the department of English and Cultural Studies, writing on the interrelated aspects of grief, mental health, arts education, and poetry. He has worked in Halifax, NS teaching writing, painting and sculpture to people involved in the mental healthcare system, as well as pursuing his own poetry and art practice. He is a member of the arts collective 7+-2, and is currently in the process of establishing an arts residency in Scotch Village, NS. His current writing can be found online at Lion's Roar, Arc, (parenthetical), the Puritan, and Prairie Fire.
Kate Reid

Kate Reid  (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2020.

Kate Reid is a PhD student in OISE’s department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning. She completed her MA at University of British Columbia, where she investigated the nexus of songwriting, performance, queer kinships, and genealogy, and has presented various portions of her MA research at CSSE (2016) and AERA (2015). Kate is also a professional singer-songwriter, performer, and recording artist (www.katereid.net). Nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2009, and cited as “Favourite New Discovery” in 2009 by Penguin Eggs - Canada’s Folk, Roots, and World Music Magazine, she has 5 albums under her belt: Kate Reid (ep, 2005), Comin’ Alive (2006), I’m Just Warming Up (2009), Doing it for the Chicks (2011) and Queer Across Canada (2013). She also combines musical activism with teaching by facilitating workshops and giving concerts in secondary schools, post-secondary institutions, for educators and community service providers. For her PhD research, Kate is curious about how the artistic practices of songwriting and performance can be used as tools to encourage critical thought, self-reflection and inquiry, and how they might open up possibilities for civic engagement, particularly with youth who see themselves beyond gender and sexual binaries.
Franco Saccucci

Franco Saccucci  (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion in 2018.

Franco is an M.A. student in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Toronto working with Dr. Gallagher and the Radical Hope project. As a critical educator and researcher, their interests are in social justice education within urban schools and communities. Before coming to OISE, Franco completed a B.Ed. in Secondary Education at the University of Alberta where they held the Roger S. Smith Research Award in Education, researching comprehensive school health in urban schools. Franco has published in national community arts journals,coordinated Camp fYrefly (a national queer youth arts program), and lead many workshops on anti-oppression education from elementary to college/university settings. Before their move to Toronto, Franco worked in gender-based violence prevention and as an Education Facilitator with In Arms Queer Theatre Collective. Franco's praxis has been awarded the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the Nelson Publishing Prize for Writing in Education, and high nomination in the 2016 Rhodes Scholarship competition. Currently, Franco is involved with projects at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and with the Community-based Research Centre for Gay Men's Health.

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Lisa Aikman   (Ph.D) Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies Centre. Expected completion in 2019

Lisa Aikman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto's Centre for Drama Theatre and Performance Studies, where her research centres on the role of the dramaturg in English Canadian documentary and autobiographical theatre. Other interests include theatre criticism and incorporating queer and feminist working practices into new play creation. She is the co-chair of the 2016 Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT 2016:Staging Realities). Her research has been presented at FOOT 2015 and the Canadian Association for Theatre Research 2015 conference, and she is looking forward to presenting at the Queer Theatre and Performance in Canada Conference in Vancouver in July of 2016.
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Anjali Helferty  (Ph.D) Department of Adult Education and  Community Development.  Expected completion in 2017

Anjali's research focuses on Indigenous-environmentalist activist coalition  building. She holds a Master of  Science in Organizational Change  Management from The New School in New York City. Anjali worked in  leadership positions in the youth climate change movement in the US and  Canada, including as Interim  Director of the Southern Energy Network,  Acting Director of the Energy Action Coalition, Chair of the Canadian  Youth Climate Coalition, and National Coordinator of the Sierra Youth Coalition’s Sustainable Campuses  program. Anjali is a member of the Tools for Change (http://www.toolsforchange.net/) Coordinating Committee, where she provides training for Toronto activists on coalition building.
Heather Fitzsimmons Frey

Heather Fitzsimmons Frey   (Ph.D) Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Completed June 2015

Heather Fitzsimmons Frey is a scholar, director and dramaturge, interested in performance for, by and with young people. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus where she teaches Women in Theatre, and where she works with Stephen Johnson, researching amateur and children’s theatre in 19th century southern Ontario. For her 2015 dissertation, "Victorian Girls and At-Home Theatricals: Performing and Playing with Possible Futures," she was awarded the Clifford Leech Prize for best PhD dissertation relating to drama or theatre studies at the University of Toronto, and the AATE Distinguished Dissertation Award. She also earned the CATR Outstanding Submission for a Workshop award in 2016. Her contemporary performance research is published in Youth Theatre Journal, Canadian Theatre Review, and in her two edited collections Theatre and Learning (Cambridge Scholars Press 2015) and Ignite: Illuminating Theatre for Young People (Playwrights Canada Press 2016).

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Anne Wessels  (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed June 2014.

Anne Wessels completed her Ph.D at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her doctoral research analysed performances of the suburb and the intersection of youth, pedagogy, drama and place. She has published in RiDE (Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance), Pedagogy, Culture and Society, Theatre Research in Canada and Youth Theatre Journal, and contributed a chapter to Key Concepts in Theatre/Drama Education edited by Shifra Schonmann. She is a graduate of the Acting Section of the National Theatre School of Canada and has acted professionally in Canada and the United States. She has taught secondary school dramatic arts for the Peel District School Board outside of Toronto in a variety of settings.


Chloe Shantz-Hilkes  (M.A.) Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education. Completed June 2015.

Chloe Shantz-Hilkes completed her M.A. in OISE’s Adult Education and Community Development program. The focus of her research was on how active and experiential methods of teaching and learning (e.g. service learning) can help promote life-long political participation and active citizenship among young adult Canadians. Chloe has also worked as a journalist for CBC Radio, and is the author of "Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home," a collection of short, true stories about growing up with an addicted family member. She continues to investigate the parameters of youth citizenship today, and the relationship between youth civic engagement and socially-engaged theatre.

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Diane Swartz  (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum Teaching and Learning.

Diane Swartz is a doctoral student in OISE’s Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development program.  For over fifteen years, she has taught History and English in a TDSB secondary school, working with young women who are facing a variety of learning challenges.  She holds an MA in Philosophy from Dalhousie University, where she studied feminist theory and ethics, focusing particularly on issues of body image and cosmetic surgery.  Her current research interests include literacy, young women in urban schools, and technology in education. She is particularly interested in research that speaks to both scholars and working teachers, and is excited to be a part of Prof. Gallagher’s research team.

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Meredith Heyland  (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed April 2014.

Meredith completed her M.A. in OISE’s Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development program. She holds a BA in Theatre/Film and English and a Diploma of Performance in Voice from McMaster University. Her experiences as a performer, long time community arts organizer (Hamilton Fringe Theatre Festival, Guelph Jazz Festival, The Word on The Street Toronto, etc.), and research work with Dr. Stephanie Springgay directed her research to investigate the embodied and sensory experience of public theatre audiences. Her research focuses on how and where embodiment fits into the audience-performance relationship in theatre and how a focus on creating sensory rich embodied performances can extend theatre’s potential as an educational, academic, and community building tool. Meredith’s current GA work with Dr. Gallagher allows her to further explore current social justice work being done in theatre around the globe and to expand her exposure to theatre as a social, political and educational tool and practice.






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