the bella donna artists collective

David Copelin — PLAYWRIGHT

David’s dark comedy Bella Donna won the New Play Award and Patron’s Pick at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2006. David has worked at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, New Dramatists in New York City, the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., ScriptLab in Toronto, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and teaches in universities throughout the United States and Canada. His translation of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi has been widely produced, most notably at the Shaw Festival and the Yale Repertory Theatre.

Anita La Selva - DIRECTOR

Anita La Selva is a director, dramaturg, actor and teacher and is the 2019 recipient of the Gina Wilkinson Award for Emerging Female Director. She recently created and directed Stones, an inter-disciplinary inter-cultural theatre odyssey about women and violence (Stones Project/Aluna Theatre). Previously, she directed Perdida (Danceworks/Co-works), The Mill on The Floss (Sheridan College/UofT Mississauga), an all female Glengarry Glen Ross (Jet Girls Productions) and Memento Mori (Soulo Theatre). Anita was also nominated for the Pauline McGibbon Award for Emerging Director and her production of Look Back In Anger (Fevergraph Theatre) won awards for Best Independent/Regional Director and Best Production (My Entertainment World Awards). Acting credits include, A Girl Lives Alone (SummerWorks/Theatre Mischief) El Retorno/I Return (Theatre Centre/WhyNot Theatre/Theatre Aquarius), If Truth Be Told (Blyth Festival), The Living (SummerWorks Festival) and for television, Suits, The Romanoffs, Rogue, Orphan Black and the web series Running with Violet. Anita holds an MFA in Directing from York University.

Françoise Balthazar - LUCREZIA BORGIA

Françoise has distinguished herself in interpreting many varied roles both classical and contemporary. She is known for inhabiting some of the most iconic and intensely dramatic roles in theatre. Most recently, she played the role of Felicity in the acclaimed Colleen Wagner genocide play ‘The Living’ at the Theatre Centre, and the classic Mamet role of Dave Moss from ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ at the Red Sandcastle Theatre- both sold out runs. Other notable highlights include the lead role of Alcandre in ‘The Illusion’ (Stratford Festival); the Nurse in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (Minack Theatre, England); Calphurnia in Bravo TV’s ‘Julius Caesar’; La Marquise de Merteuil in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ (Alumnae Theatre) and the Witch in ‘Into the Woods’ (Ryerson Theatre). Also, she was singled out as outstanding performer in the Toronto Fringe Festival for two consecutive years by NOW magazine for playing the lead role of Lucrezia Borgia in ‘Bella Donna’ and the title role of Richard III in an all-female production of the play. Françoise is thrilled to be reprising the role of Lucrezia Borgia in this newly revised and contemporary version of ‘Bella Donna’.

Alison Wong - PRODUCER

Alison Wong is a producer and director working in Opera and Theatre with companies such as Small Wooden Shoe, b current, MYOpera, Factory Theatre, the Canadian Opera Company, Netherlands Reisopera, and Opera aan Zee (Netherlands). She is currently Creative Producer for The Empire trilogy with PARADIGM productions. Her tenure as Artistic Producer for b current in Toronto included four world premieres (Obeah Opera, The Femme Playlist, Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera, Twisted), and five editions of the rock.paper.sistahz festival. As a producer for Small Wooden Shoe she helmed their Summerworks 2017 sold-out science-fiction musical Are We Not Horses. She was also producer for Theatre Direct’s WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years (ages 6 and under) which featured over 15 productions across 8 Toronto Venues in May 2018.


Mirka is a producer, arts administrator, educator, and multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. She has recently worked with Broadleaf Theatre as an associate producer for The Chemical Valley Project, which returns to the stage at Theatre Passe Muraille in April 2019. Other producing credits include Emily & EV at the Feminist FUCK IT Festival, JONNO at the 2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival, and What Linda Said at the 2017 Summerworks Performance Festival. Mirka was a member of the 2017/18 Nightwood Theatre Young Innovators cohort and is currently an emerging artist with VIBE Arts.

Paul Hopkins - ALFONSO

Hopkins has played a variety of dynamic roles on film, television and stage. On television, he is best known for his portrayal of ‘Mouse’ in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series. Most recently he was seen in Disney’s Zombies. Upcoming, he is guest staring on Suits and CBC’s Diggstown. Other leading television roles include Karl on Vampire High. Paul has made guest-star appearances on Being Human, Tracker, Big Wolf on Campus, Dead Zone, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Nuremberg. Most recently he portrayed Officer Bouchard Bravo’s 19-2. Feature film credits include RED II, Art of War, Mambo Italiano, The Covenant, Highlander III, and My First Wedding. In theatre Paul has performed on stages throughout Canada including the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Calgary and the Atlantic Theatre Festival. From 2007-2014, he was the Artistic Director of Repercussion Theatre in Montreal. In 2013, Hopkins was one of 3 finalists for the Christopher Plummer Fellowship Award of Excellence, for his unique and exceptional contribution to the study of Shakespeare and/or the classics in performance.

Martha Chaves - SISTER BIBIANA

Martha Chaves is a veteran of multiple Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, and of all other major comedy festivals in Canada. She has also performed in Boston and New York Comedy Festivals, in Toronto’s SheDot Festival and in Colombia’s Festival Del Humour. Her versatility has granted her to do shows all over the world and to entertain a wide range of audiences: she performed for the Canadian troops in Alert, Egypt, Israel, and Afghanistan; 2015, she performed at the opening ceremonies of the Toronto Pan Am Games; and in 2016 she hosted the ACTRA awards. Her Stand-Up TV credits include her two national comedy specials: COMICS! On the CBC, and There’s Something about Martha on CTV and The COMEDY NETWORK. You often hear Martha on CBC Radio on Laugh Out Loud and on The Debaters. Martha has had an extensive acting career in TV, film, and theatre. Her One-Woman show, “In Times of Trouble”, was the opening show of Aluna Theatre’s CAMINOS Festival in November 2015.

Michael Giordano - CARLO

Michael Giordano is twenty years old and is a graduate of the acting for camera and voice program at Seneca. He loves entertaining people and bringing a smile on someone’s face.


Ellen Brooker is a production designer, maker, and production manager newly based in Toronto. A Canadian graduate of the MA Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries programme at the University of the Arts London, she has spent the past three years working in theatre and arts education in London, England, with companies such as Punchdrunk, You Me Bum Bum Train, and The Amici Dance Theatre Company.  She is thrilled to be back in the Canadian cultural landscape, and her current projects include Scenic Design for the Newmarket National Play Festival 2019 and Production Design and Management for 2019 Fringe show ‘Drink of Choice’.


Daniel has been performing, directing and teaching stage combat professionally since 1991 with his founding of Rapier Wit, Canada’s oldest stage combat school and production company founded. Daniel has created fights for such theatre companies such as The Stratford Festival, Canadian Stage, Jesus Chris Superstar on Broadway, Volcano Theatre, Actors Repertory Company, Second City, A.C.T. Productions, Shakespeare In the Square, Factory Theatre, Shakespeare in the Rough, Theatre Aquarius, The Actor’s Repertory Company, Theatre Passe Muraille, and The Tarragon Theatre. Teaching highlights include the Fight Directors Canada National Workshop (Banff, Victoria, Toronto, Montreal), Brock University’s Walker Cultural Leader Series, Boston University, Arcadia University, the International Scuola Brancaleoni Stage Combat Workshop (Italy), and the Paddy Crean International Art of the Sword Workshop (Banff).

Chelsea Russell - ANGELA

Chelsea Russell studied in the Acting Conservatory at York University where she met Anita La Selva and studied film acting under her guidance. Since graduating she has been working professionally as an actor in theatre, most recently she was involved in Judas Noir, directed by Leighton Alexander Williams a York alumni. She is passionate about music and is currently working on an indie music project, her debut EP, focused in the alternative R&B genre. She is currently represented by Alix Kazman at Fountainhead Talent Agency.

You can learn more about her artistic journey through her Instagram page, follow her at @comeherechels.

Chelsea would like to thank her mother, Maxan Russell for having faith in her all the way from Jamaica to pursue her dreams in the arts.



Jan Venus has been working in theatre for over twenty years as a set designer, costume designer and costume coordinator with a specialty in children’s theatre. Her credits include work with the Young People’s Theatre, the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, Music Theatre Montreal, the Glenn Gould School, and the Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement. Her recent work on Hogtown: The Immersive Experience garnered a Dora Mavor Moore Nomination for Outstanding Costume Design.

Dewey Steward - GIOVANNI

Dewey is a graduate of York University's Acting Conservatory program, where he performed as The Father in Deportation Cast directed by Keira Loughran and as Jove/Christopher Marlowe in Dido Queen of Carthage directed by Peter Hinton. Outside of York he has played Janko Mitrovic in The Woods are Dark and Deep at Factory Theatre, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night directed by Autumn Smith. He can can also be seen in a couple of TV shows such as See No Evil on Discovery iD. Dewey continues his studies at The Second City in the Improv For Actors program, is a year round mascot performer, and is represented by Sheila Lopes at Choice Talent Agency. You can follow Dewey @deweystew on Instagram for more of his acting adventures. "Thank you to Anita for this great opportunity and continuing to work and mentor me outside of the classroom!"