CLARE PREUSS Artistic Director

CLARE PREUSS
Artistic Director

 
DANIELLE WHYTE Managing Director

DANIELLE WHYTE
Managing Director

 
JESSIE PAYNTER   Production Manager

JESSIE PAYNTER
Production Manager

 
ERIKA RODRIGUEZ CLAVERO Community Partnerships Coordinator

ERIKA RODRIGUEZ CLAVERO Community Partnerships Coordinator

Clare is an acclaimed multidisciplinary artist who has worked across Canada as well as in Germany, Lebanon, Switzerland, Uganda and the USA. She has strong roots in Alberta: Clare grew up in Lethbridge, got her first acting job at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod and graduated from the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting Program. Companies she has collaborated with include Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, Banff Centre, BeMe Theatre, Blyth Festival, Buddies in Bad Times, Bayimba International Festival, Cahoots Theatre, Driftwood Theatre, Factory Theatre, fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre, FRICTION GROUP, Gwaandak Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, New Harlem Productions, Theatre Monnot, National Arts Centre, Nightwood Theatre, Paprika Festival, Paramount Pictures, Ramshackle Theatre, Sony Pictures, Stratford Festival, SummerWorks, Sundown Theatre, Theatre Direct Canada, Theatre Passe Muraille, Why Not Theatre and Young People’s Theatre, among others. Clare is a recipient of the Houselighters of the Citadel Theatre Award and has been nominated for the Pauline McGibbon Award, John Hirsch Director Prize, John Hirsch Director Award and twice for the Gina Wilkinson Award.

 

Danielle is an independent filmmaker and producer. She has worked on more than 40 film and television productions, including CBC’s television series Heartland and has earned several Rosie nominations (AMPIA) including Best Production Design for City of Noise (MindMosis Productions), Best Short for Bad Dad (Awkward Silencio Films) and Best Student Production for Human Resources (SAIT Productions). She is an executive producer at Belle of the Brawl Entertainment and a perennial judge and advisory board member for the Ten Scary Minutes Online Film Festival. Danielle is a graduate of the Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio program at SAIT Polytechnic and holds an MBA from the Haskayne School of Business.

 

Jessie is a technical director, lighting designer, and video designer who works in both theatre and dance. Recent credits include This Little Piggie (HPR 2019) The Penelopiad, Wild Abandon, Hamlet, Exploder (Western Canada High), Goosebumps the Musical (Storybook Theatre) School for Husbands - School for Wives, Robin Hood (Red Deer College), Extremophiles (Downstage), Ride (Lunchbox Theatre), Romeo and Juliet, The Outsiders,(West Island College), Moving Stories (The National Arts Centre). Jessie is currently the Production Manager of Downstage, and the Technical Manager of the Calgary International Film Festival. She has also worked in a technical capacity for companies such as the National Music Centre (Calgary, AB) National Arts Centre (Ottawa, ON) Project X Theatre (Kamloops, BC) Imago Theatre (Montreal, QC) Rising Tide Theatre (Trinity, NFL) and Western Canada Theatre (Kamloops, BC). Jessie is a graduate of the Stagecraft program at Douglas College and the Production program at the National Theatre School of Canada.

 


Erika is originally from Mexico and has been living in Calgary for more than 12 years, Erika is an entrepreneur, writer, Spanish Translator and Interpreter. She is also a licensed Wedding Officiant (Appointed Designated Minister with Clergy Support Church). She has worked in radio and holds a degree in Journalism. Erika was a dancer and theatre performer in Mexico for years. She loves art and had published three poetry books. She cares for serving and helping people to explore their potential and express their identity. She believes in inclusion, faith, love and that everything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself. 





Our Board of Directors

Our volunteer Board uses their diverse professional backgrounds to provide oversight and strategic guidance.

Interested in applying to join us? Download our Board of Directors Application Form or email clare@downstage.ca for more info. 

SALIMAH KASSAM, President

SALIMAH KASSAM, President

Salimah is a highly empathetic, resourceful and driven leader who is determined to make meaningful impacts on people and systems in Calgary. She is driven to envision and execute strategy, galvanize resources, track results, and make lasting shifts in society. Subject matter expert in policy development, asset-building, poverty reduction, social housing, community economic development, arts advocacy and behavioral economics. Key player in launching, building and executing Calgary’s poverty reduction plan and Canada’s national financial empowerment movement. Salimah currently acts as a Strategist for United Way Calgary and Area.

HEATHER CAMPBELL,    Vice-President

HEATHER CAMPBELL,
Vice-President

As a Procurement Development Manager, Heather supports Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)’s efforts in development of the Renewable Electricity Program and other procurement development activities for power generation in the commercial business unit. She is a licensed Professional Engineer practicing in Alberta, Canada.

Heather has a diverse energy industry career spanning two decades, having held technical, commercial, and business advisory positions within petrochemicals, oil and gas, energy consultancies, and energy industries.

Heather holds a Bachelor of Engineering Science degree in Biochemical and Chemical Engineering from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Laws in Energy Law and Policy from the University of Dundee.

A lifelong volunteer, Heather is a member of the Advisory Council for Western Engineering and a member of the Legislative Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. Downstage’s innovative and edgy approach to the development and production of Canadian theatre continues to inspire Heather’s role as a community arts leader.

ASHLEY TOWNS, Treasurer

ASHLEY TOWNS, Treasurer

Ashley is an accountant working in Canadian corporate tax for an international public accounting firm. She has a diverse portfolio of clients, the majority of which operate in the energy sector. Ashley obtained her Bachelor's of Commerce from the University of Calgary in 2011, became a Chartered Accountant in 2014, and completed CPA's In Depth Taxation program in 2017. This is Ashley's first year on Downstage's board, and as a theatre enthusiast, she could not be more excited to get to work with such a high-impact organization. 

 

MAUREEN SHEPPARD, Secretary

MAUREEN SHEPPARD, Secretary

Maureen is an entrepreneur and professor who owns and operates Cobb’s Adventure Park and ScreamFest, and teaches part-time at Mount Royal University. In her spare time, she loves to travel and has visited all continents except Antarctica (still on her bucket list!). She has recently had the opportunity to combine her passions of travel and entrepreneurship through road trips throughout North America collecting baby wallabies for Cobb’s Adventure Park!

Maureen joined Downstage as she has always enjoyed theatre but particularly theatre that introduces multiple perspectives on meaningful issues and theatre that makes you THINK. She also sees Downstage continually creating and supporting brilliant work!

MARYAM DASHTI, Director

MARYAM DASHTI, Director

KATE EASTON, Director

KATE EASTON, Director

The theatre bug bit Maryam early on in her high school years. Having experienced the impact and power of live theatre, and its ability to captivate an audience with a message, Maryam has been a strong theatre advocate for years. 

During her career in Oil and Gas, Maryam has maintained various extracurricular leadership roles, developing a stronger and more connected workplace culture. Aiming to go beyond the workplace and into the community, Maryam saw the perfect opportunity to combine her love for theatre, open dialogue and community involvement in Downstage. As Chair of the Audience Outreach Committee, Maryam and the members of the Committee are responsible to expand the audience and reach of Downstage, while enhancing the dialogues which Downstage seeks to reveal. After all, "what you reveal, you heal."

Kate Easton is an energy industry leader with experience in business strategy, technology development, joint ventures, engineering and operations. She has managed oil sands technology development, finding innovative ways to reduce costs, increase reservoir recovery, and improve environmental performance. She led Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) sponsorship of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE and the development of the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre. Kate has managed multi-party international joint ventures, negotiated business agreements, and led a significant business transition after selling a subsidiary. Kate has a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University and is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). Kate has always had a love for narrative and is excited about the innovative ways Downstage is creating space for dialogue on important issues with diverse communities.

BRENT PICKERL, Director

BRENT PICKERL, Director

President of SANDSTONE Asset Management during the day and an active Board member of Downstage at night.  Actually neither truly leave my mind, things you are passionate about never do.  I love Downstage’s transformative power to tell stories.  There is no limit, not to who is involved nor what is discovered.  I hope the meaningful conversations they create go on long after curtain call.  In my past life I have been involved with Calgary Bridge Foundation for Immigrant Youth, Calgary Arts Development Authority, CSpace and the City of Calgary Awards.

GRACE WASCHUK, Director

GRACE WASCHUK, Director

Grace is a commercial litigation lawyer with McCarthy Tétrault. She holds degrees from Queen’s University and the University of Saskatchewan. Originally from Regina, Grace spent several years studying and working in Ontario and now calls Calgary home.

Grace enjoys supporting Downstage’s innovative theatre work as a board member through participation with its audience outreach and fund development initiatives.  

In her spare time, Grace enjoys engaging with Calgary’s arts and startup communities, travelling and spending time in the Rockies.