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Interview with Cherissa Richards

Jun 4, 2021


With the submission deadline for the next RBC Rising Star Emerging Director Prize on the horizon, we wanted to catch up with the latest recipient, Cherissa Richards, to see what she's been working on throughout this exceptional year. 



What a year for theatre makers! How have you been continuing to make art during the pandemic?

I've been very fortunate to be very busy during the pandemic. In 20/21, I was a director in residence at The National Theatre School and did a focused study on design and the director; delving into lighting, sound, costume and set design with leading designers across the country. I mentored the third year acting NTS class, shot some movies and a T.V. series in Winnipeg, performed as Camae in Manitoba Theatre Centre's "The Mountaintop" , and participated as a directing fellow in WhyNot theatre's ThisGen Directing Fellowship. Recently I co-directed CBC journalist Ismaila Alfa's new play "VOICE" at Prairie Theatre Exchange with Thomas Morgan Jones, debuting at the end of June.

What are you most looking forward to be able to bring to the stage once we can safely rehearse and perform again?

I would love to bring ANYTHING to the stage once we can safely rehearse again! I dream of the day we can all return to the stage and celebrate this artform we love so much with a beautiful, full audience of theatre goers! I am greatly missing the conversation between artist and audience and the magic that is created on stage.

Tell us a little about the theatre scene in Winnipeg. Have any companies impressed you with innovative work over the last year?

The theatres in Winnipeg are definitely in transition and figuring out their anti racism measures-some better than others, but this is certainly a time ripe for change and innovation here in Winnipeg and I look forward to see how they plan to work with the community and implement these changes once we return.

Have you learned anything during this time that will inform your work as a director moving forward?

I've learned that when the world falls apart, you have time to figure out what you really want to express as an artist. During this time, I've found where my art and my activism meet in my work as a director, playwright and actor and I'm learning how to lead from that place in all the art I create.



Cherissa Richards is a theatre artist and creator who has performed as an actor for the past 20 years across the country. Most notably, Cherissa has performed at The Shaw Festival as an actor for 3 seasons, and is proud to have performed at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in many productions on the Mainstage and the Warehouse theatres, most recently as Lady Mary in Sense and Sensibility. For the past 5 years since she moved back to Winnipeg, Cherissa has been pursuing directing with Bard on the Beach in Vancouver, The Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival in Ontario and here at home where she directed her first show at Manitoba Theatre for Young People. Since moving back Cherissa has also been lucky to perform in many Hallmark and Lifetime movies in supporting lead or principal roles like: Secret Indgredient, A Christmas in Tennessee, A Dog’s Journey, On the 12’th date of Christmas and most recently in a recurring character opposite the lead in season 4 of Burden of Truth. Cherissa has directed “The Power of Harriet T” at MTYP in Winnipeg in 2015, and has directed 2 shows for Sarasvàti Theatre; New Beginnings and The Game at Fem Fest 2018.  Most recently Cherissa directed a double bill for the Neil Munroe Directing Project at the Shaw Festival; Lynn Nottage’s Poof and The Subjection of Kezia by Edith Ellis. In 2020, Cherissa returned to NTS after almost 20 years as a director in residence, exploring design as a director



The RBC Rising Star Emerging Director Prize encourages and celebrates outstanding early career directors, providing them the opportunity to develop work with Crow’s Theatre and receive ongoing mentorship.

Made possible thanks to the RBC Emerging Artists Project, the prize helps artists bridge the gap from training and academics to a career, and is rooted in supporting the next generation of artists. The RBC Emerging Artists project recognizes the important role the arts play in building vibrant communities and strong economies and supports artists in genres including visual arts, music, theatre, performance, literature and film.

Submissions for the next RBC Rising Star Emerging Director Prize are due June 15th, 2021. You can find out more and apply now here: