Art At Home – 20 Questions with Polly Phokeev

For today’s #ArtAtHome exclusive, we get to hear from Beyond the Bard playwright Polly Phokeev!

What are you currently reading?
There are, at present, eight books on my bedside table. But the one I have to finish soonest, for book club, is The Doomed City by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.

What inspires you to write?
Morally complicated characters, in life and in art.

Smarties or M &M’s?
I guess smarties? Honestly neither. I puked once in a car when I was five cause I ate too many M&M’s and now all candy-covered chocolates are cursed.

What’s your favourite sentence of all time?
I’ll interpret this as what’s a fave quote… “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

If you could have your work performed anywhere, where would it be?
In like a massive intricately designed mansion/warehouse/cityscape/farm/estate where audiences get to wander around, à la Punch Drunk shows.

What’s the last delicious thing you ate?
This amazing vegan kale caesar

Do you have any pets?
No, but my partner really wants a kitten so it’s just a matter of time.

Who is your favourite tv/film character?
Honestly, I just rewatched Disney’s Hercules and I think Meg is so deeply compelling, I want six spin-offs.

If you weren’t a playwright, what would you be?
Presuming I’d have had the education for this, an archaeologist. Maybe a historian?

What’s a positive aspect of self-isolation for you? Not having to make up excuses for skipping parties.

What’s a difficult aspect of self-isolation for you?
I do miss hugging my friends.

What’s your favourite cafe to work in?
Rooster, at any of their locations (King, Jarvis, Broadview)

Dogs or cats?
Both! I grew up with cats, but I know a lot of great dogs.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Write first, edit later.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
One of the ways I let off steam is extended piano improv sessions.

How do you take your coffee/tea?
Either black or with almond milk. Sometimes honey in the tea :)

What was your first job?
A children’s birthday party entertainer. It was an education in so many skills I have now. I was a princess, mascot, staff-shirt party leader, server, custodian, manager, driver, camp counsellor, often all in one day.

What fad or trend do you hope comes back?
I straight up don’t know how to answer this question. I have lived a life utterly oblivious to what is cool.

What are some small things or acts that make your day better?
Taking some time to myself before launching into work in the morning, just to read the news and have a coffee and step out onto the balcony and water the plants.

Who is your favourite Shakespearean character?
Today, I’m thinking about Desdemona, because imagine a sequel where she gets brought back to life by a necromantic warlock and has to try and piece together her trust in humanity as she embarks on a fraught
quest for vengeance?

Meet Our Summer Staff!

Things here at Driftwood are not exactly business as usual, with the 2020 Bard’s Bus Tour cancelled. We’ve been using this time to explore new projects that we wouldn’t normally get to take on and start planning how we will ensure the safety of our performers and audience members when we’re able to take the stage again. Thanks to Canada Summer Jobs, we have some fabulous people working behind the scenes for Driftwood this summer, and we’d like to introduce them to you and tell you what they’ve been working on!

Outreach Co-ordinator – Deivan Steele

Deivan has been coming up with some exciting ways to engage with people across the province (including Ontario Storybook) and putting them into action.

What is your relationship with Driftwood?
My time working with Driftwood so far has been short, but definitely sweet. I was originally brought on as an actor for this year’s Bard’s Bus Tour, but when the season was cancelled, I was scrambling to find some kind of summer job in the arts. As other jobs floated down the river, this opportunity appeared out of nowhere, and I’m so glad I grabbed it!

How is working with Driftwood this summer furthering your goals, interests, and/or career?
This is the real-life experience that you can only hope for when you’re just starting out in the industry. Peeling back the layers of a company and getting to see how the cogs turn is such a great experience for performers; I’m gaining a new appreciation for arts administrators every day.
What aspect of your work this summer are you most interested in or excited about?
Without giving too much away, we’re starting some new initiatives this summer, and I’m so looking forward to seeing how our community engages with them, and what conversations arise from that. Even though we’re not gathering like we normally would, I believe that isolation is giving us the space to reflect on real change. I’m hoping we can be a part of stimulating that change this summer and onwards.

Front of House Manager – Ella Kohlmann

Ella is diving into developing policies that will ensure that all of Driftwood’s programming – both this summer and in the future – is safe for everyone involved.

What is your relationship with Driftwood?
I actually started my involvement with Driftwood back in high school, when I was a part of the 2015 Creative Roots Training program, and I’ve been coming back ever since! I started working for the company as a Production and Front of House assistant two years later, and have been on three Bard’s Bus Tours so far— Othello in 2017, Rosalynde in 2018, and last year with A (Musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was looking forward to going on tour again this year, this time as Front of House Manager, but I’m still excited to be spending another summer with Driftwood (even if it’s only over the internet).

How is working with Driftwood this summer furthering your goals, interests, and/or career?
It’s been really useful to see a new side of the behind-the-scenes of a theatre company and learn about arts administration in practical, hands-on ways. Plus, working for a theatre company during this difficult and unprecedented moment for the arts is a pretty incomparable experience. I am figuring out how to navigate (and hopefully find solutions for) what safe, sustainable theatre looks like during a pandemic— and I have no doubt that what I learn this summer will be useful going forward.

What aspect of your work this summer are you most interested in or excited about?

Getting to be a part of writing safe, inclusive, and equitable Front of House and Touring policies! It may not sound that exciting but good policies and procedures are really important, and I’m looking forward to writing some that I will be able to see implemented once we are back on the road and doing performances again— hopefully soon!

Communications Associate – Sarah Caraher

Sarah (that’s me!) has been creating social media content, sending e-blasts, and, yes, writing blog posts, to keep you informed about all of the goings-on here at Driftwood.

What is your relationship with Driftwood?
I was first introduced to Driftwood earlier this year when I was studying in the Arts Management program at Centennial College. I was lucky enough to complete my field placement for the program with Driftwood, which gave me a chance to get to know the company and get hands-on experience doing all kinds of administrative work. I also got to be a part of the Trafalgar 24 event, which was a great experience, especially since it was one of the last in-person events I was able to attend before the pandemic. I’m thrilled to be back for the summer and excited to communicate with you all!

How is working with Driftwood this summer furthering your goals, interests, and/or career?
I’m just starting to work in Arts Management, and in particular, I’m interested in working in Marketing and Communications, so gaining some hands-on experience in this field is invaluable, especially during a pandemic, when job opportunities in the arts are scarce. It’s giving me a chance to hone my practical skill sets and I’m hoping my work this summer will act as a launchpad for my career.

What aspect of your work this summer are you most interested in or excited about?
I love getting to use my creativity to come up with ideas and designs, and I love our team! Everyone is so well-suited to their positions and loves what they do. It’s been great to be able to collaborate with other people, even though it has to happen virtually.

Producing Assistant – Ganesh Thava

Ganesh is helping to co-ordinate the details of the 2021 Bard’s Bus Tour, connecting with over 25 presenting partners across the province to create a schedule for next summer.

What is your relationship with Driftwood?

As someone living outside of Toronto, I am always looking to engage with theatre in non-urban centres. On my search for theatre across the province, Driftwood was definitely on the top of the list. Through my journey to create and experience theatre, I was faced with numerous barriers that made theatre inaccessible to me. As a leader in bringing theatre to communities of all shapes and sizes, I just had to connect with Driftwood to learn how they do what they do.

How is working with Driftwood this summer furthering your goals, interests, and/or career?

I studied marketing and business law at Ryerson and my main relationship with theatre is as an actor and a writer. As a person of colour, I knew that if I wanted to tell stories that are authentic to me, I needed to produce them myself. With Driftwood this summer, I hope to learn how to bring my business skills to the theatre world. I just really want to learn how theatre is made from beginning to end.

What aspect of your work this summer are you most interested in or excited about?

I am most excited to connect with community partners. I really enjoy connecting with community leaders, especially those who have a passion for the arts. In this role, a lot of what I will be doing is reaching out and building relationships with our Bard Bus Tour community partners, and I am really looking forward to that.


Ontario Storybook

Tell us your story and win $100 to one of several Ontario restaurants!

We want to hear your stories, Ontario. Each week from July 17 to Sept 4, Driftwood will post a new question on our social media, and we want to hear your answers. Recount an event from your life, write a poem, snap a photograph, share a drawing or video. Be creative!

When you send us your story you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card to an Ontario restaurant near you. (Read all about our restaurant partners here.) Every week, you can check back on our social media and tell us a new story to be entered again and increase your chances of winning! You can answer as many questions as you like anytime before the final draw in September.

Share your stories with us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and make sure to tag Driftwood Theatre and use the hashtag #OntarioStorybook, or you can send your answers to Check back every week for a new question!


  1. What’s the story of your family?
  2. What’s the story of a teacher or mentor who changed you?
  3. What’s the story of a mark or scar on your body?
  4. What’s the story of your best friend?
  5. What’s the story of someone you couldn’t forgive?
  6. What’s the story of the wildest night of your life?
  7. Whats the story of a time you felt like an outsider?
  8. What’s the story of the most memorable place you called home?

Want an extra chance to win? Sign up for our e-newsletter and stay up to date with what’s happening at Driftwood!

Our Restaurant Partners: