Suchiththa Wickremesooriya

Actor, Producer, Director, Educator

Suchiththa is a multi-disciplinary Sri Lankan/Canadian actor, producer, creator and educator who has recently been drawn to multi-sensory theatre as well as physical theatre. As an educator, he holds a M.A in Musical Theatre and until very recently was the Associate Producer, Education for Shakespeare in Action. He was most recently seen as Kamal in Bombay Black at Alberta Theatre Projects and as Henry Riverbrook in Dauntless Theatre’s production of This Earth of Majesty, an adaptation of Richard II. Other Select Credits include Ariel in The Tempest (Citadel Theatre), Fakir in The Secret Garden (Theatre Calgary) and Ifty in Pocket Rocket (Lost and Found Theatre).

Select producing credits include 3Tempests (Dramaturg and Producer, SIA), Nona’s Malaika (Digital Theatre, SIA), Harabogee & Me (SIA). Since Covid19 hit, he’s been involved in collaborating in new works, which include Sweeter by Alicia Richardson, Sister Warriors by Roselyn Kelada-Sedra, Leopards and Peacocks by Gitanjali Lena and Off the Beaten Path by Tory Doctor.

As an Asian immigrant to Canada, I’ve had a number of interactions that implied that I simply didn’t “fit”. The first of these came from a director casting a Midsummer Night’s Dream who said “wow that monologue was great, can you do an American Accent?” He later went on to say that it was very important that everyone in the play sounded like they were from the same place. I bent myself into pretzels trying to figure out why he thought that.

The second time was when I saw a bunch of casting calls for Asian actors, but when I asked questions about the casting, I was met with “but you’re not Asian, so you shouldn’t submit”. It was then that I realised that “Asian” only meant East-Asian. Ironically, I had the opposite experience in the UK where they meant Indian when they said Asian. I was excluded either way as a Sri Lankan, and “didn’t look South Asian”.

Coming to Canada as an actor was an eye opening experience. I’ve gone from being an immmigrant to a citizen, an unknown to a less-unknown peformer and creator. I heard excuses upon excuses for why the entertainment industry in Canada wasn’t diverse – “people of colour just don’t submit”, “there aren’t enough good BIPOC actors”, “we can’t just give them ALL the jobs”. What did I do? I decided to start a Facebook group where actors of colour share casting calls with each other. We have to choose to lift each other up, or none of us will get to partake in the storytelling that we’re so drawn to.

I’ve been invited in to changemaking as well. As part of Shakespeare in Action, I was part of a core staff team that developed an Equity Strategy for bringing greater equity to theatre productions, starting at the audition process and running all the way through to post-production. Through engaging in this strategy, I’ve discovered where my own assumptions and biases fall apart and have had to challenge my own preconceived notions of fairness. We all grow when we each grow. AND. We each grow when we all grow.

I am Asian. My voice doesn’t always fit and it is important. Not everyone will believe that. That’s ok. I’ll keep raising up more voices to join me in finding a way to co-exist.