ABOUT WEYNI MENGESHA
Award winning director and dramaturge Mengesha started her career directing 'da Kink in my Hair' across North America and in London, helping build it into an international sensation; and composing its Dora-nominated score. The show went on to make history, selling out some of the largest houses in the country.
Mengesha recently made her U.S. directorial debut with Bars and Measures at the Boston Court in Los Angeles. She will be making her New York City debut in 2017 with Martín Zimmerman's Seven Spots from the Sun at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Mengesha is a 2017 "Five in Focus" winning director, part of Women in View's 2xMore campaign to double the number of Canadian women directing scripted productions.
Recent directing work includes the Canadian premiere of Father Comes Home from the Wars by Suzan-Lori Parks and Breath of Kings, an original adaptation of the Herniad Cycle at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Mengesha won the "Best Direction" 2016 Dora Award for Why Not Theatre's production of Butcher. She is also the Theatre Correspondent for CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.)
Further credits include direction and dramaturge of d'bi.young.anitafrika's play 'blood.claat' across Canada and in New York. The production was nominated for five Dora Awards including best direction and won for best new play. She directed Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (Nominated for six Dora Awards); her directorial vision garnering the production a place in Toronto NOW magazine's "Top Theatre Productions” of that year. Citing her ability to "skillfully blend visuals and emotions," Mengesha personally earned a spot among NOW’s "Top Ten Toronto Theatre Artists" in both 2008 and 2012. In 2008 she also won Emerging Artist of the Year through the Toronto Arts Foundation presented by the city's Mayor. In 2010 she made her Stratford Festival debut (North America’s largest repertory theatre) as one of the youngest directors to date.
She followed that with two critically acclaimed productions in 2011 and 2012. Kim’s Convenience which broke box office records and won two Toronto Critic Awards, including best new play, and The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs which won Mengesha “Best Director” at the 2012 Toronto Critics Awards. The Globe and Mail said the production “..shows her to be one of the more versatile directors in Toronto”. Both plays were nominated for multiple Dora Awards. Kim’s Convenience has since gone on to sell out houses across the country and is currently being developed into a feature film and TV series. It became the most successful show at the box office in producing company Soulpepper Theatre’s 20-year history. The company’s Artistic director Albert Schultz says:
[Mengesha] uses her skills to forward our entire community, exemplifying the difference between an artist and a cultural leader. I see Weyni as a prime 'provoker' in the arts community, and I believe that she will emerge as one of the central deﬁningvoices of theatre over the next decade.
Mengesha is also a committed mentor of new talent, and a producer of youth arts initiatives. She has been the co-director of the acclaimed A.M.Y. Project, training young women in performance arts since 2005. She is also the co-founder and artistic director of the annual Selam Youth Festival, which trains and gives a platform to over 60 young artists from the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities annually. She continues to be a guest teacher for the acting training programs across the country including The National Theatre School of Canada.