Grand Theatre presents Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad

Directed by Megan Follows
Starring Seana McKenna


LONDON, ONTARIO, JANUARY 8, 2019 - Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace) brings her acerbic wit and inspired originality to the Spriet Stage this January with the Grand Theatre production of THE PENELOPIAD, her sly spin on Homer’s The Odyssey.  This epic retelling of The Odyssey through Penelope’s eyes stars one of Canada’s finest classical actors, Seana McKenna, in her only stage appearance this year, directed by acclaimed actor/director Megan Follows. The Title Sponsor for THE PENELOPIAD is Women for Women (W4W).

THE PENELOPIAD, Ms. Atwood’s daring – and shall we say ‘timely’ - response to Homer’s The Odyssey, is a provocative, brilliantly funny, and contemporary look at one of history’s most powerful myths, giving voice to Penelope and the chorus of ten handmaidens.  It’s a story that Ms. Follows calls “more relevant than ever.”

“A story that began as a myth, a legend, passed on through generations of orators, written down at some point and rewritten from there, has reverberated through our literary canon for centuries. Eventually, in Atwood’s hands, it shifted perspectives and mediums. The woman who was rendered a footnote in the saga of her husband’s life becomes the protagonist.  The play asks us to examine the intersections of narrative that make up our history, to reckon with that honestly, and to consider the cost of our complicity as we go on to tell and retell our stories,” said Ms. Follows, award-winning film and stage star who played the title role of Penelope in Nightwood Theatre’s 2013 production. 

“I came to this work first as an actor, and in my experience, speaking Atwood’s words is like chewing glass. When you’re in her world it is so arresting, sharp, delicate, and dangerous, and yet beautiful and delicious. It is an honour to approach this work as director this time around, and I am thrilled to hear these words brought to life anew here at the Grand,” said Ms. Follows.

Seana McKenna returns to the Grand Theatre after more than 20 years, starring as Penelope, the famously faithful wife of the Greek hero Odysseus who finally gets to tell her side of the story.  Margaret Atwood’s THE PENELOPIAD is Ms. McKenna’s only scheduled stage engagement of 2019, after which she embarks on a professional hiatus celebrating her 40th year as an actor. Ms. McKenna’s distinguished career includes 27 seasons as a company member at the Stratford Festival, this past season starring as Mary Tyrone in LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and the titular role in JULIUS CAESAR.  As well, Ms. McKenna starred in and directed the Groundling Theatre Company’s production of KING LEAR.  This past season, Ms. McKenna was appointed to the Order of Canada.   

“It is one thing to read Atwood, yet another to experience her words on the stage,” said Dennis Garnhum, Grand Theatre Artistic Director. “Listen closely as these women from ancient times speak modern truths.”


The Grand Theatre continues its commitment to accessibility initiatives for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing theatre patrons.

Open Caption performances: Wednesday, January 30 at 1:00pm and 7:30pm.

To book tickets, please email boxoffice [at] (boxoffice[at]grandtheatre[dot]com).


The Wednesday Speakeasy Series

Following each Wednesday evening performance, patrons are invited to extend their theatre experience and get closer to the artists with exclusive talks, casual conversations, and spontaneous happenings in the relaxed atmosphere of the Poster Lounge.

Wednesday Speakeasy: January 23 & 30 and February 6.

Pre-Show Theatre Talks

Arrive a little early to the Wednesday matinee and join host James Stewart Reaney as he sparks creative conversations about the production.

Pre-Show Theatre Talks with James Stewart Reaney: Wednesday, January 30 at 12pm.

The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group and Title Sponsor Women for Women (W4W), a group of bold, curious, audacious, and creative women with one common passion: To celebrate, support and advance the work of women in Canadian Theatre – starting in our home town, in our theatre.

Margaret Atwood’s THE PENELOPIAD is on the Spriet Stage from January 22 thru February 9.  Tickets range from $29.95 to $86 and are available at, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street. Prices include HST and are subject to change.

About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director
Deb Harvey, the Grand is a leading cultural hub located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The Grand offers diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe through collaborations with national and international performing arts organizations and is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through COMPASS New Play Development program. The Grand supports educational programming with The High School Project, the only program of its kind in North America. The Grand’s season runs from September to May.


WHEN: Tuesday, January 22 at 1:00 pm (cameras, please arrive at 12:45pm to set up)
WHERE: Grand Theatre, Spriet Stage, 471 Richmond Street
WHAT: Margaret Atwood’s THE PENELOPIAD - photo, video, and interview opportunities for media

For more information and to RSVP for media call, please contact:
Ashley Roberts, Communications Consultant, Grand Theatre
aroberts [at] (aroberts[at]grandtheatre[dot]com)

Cell: 937-554-1894

The Penelopiad

By Margaret Atwood
Directed by Megan Follows
Starring Seana McKenna


Odysseus/Maid Praneet Akilla
Laertes/Maid/Suitor Claire Armstrong
Telemachus/Maid/Suitor/Dance & Vocal Captain Tess Benger
Melantho/Maid Nadine Bhabha
Naiad/Maid Ingrid Blekys
Maid/Suitor Déjah Dixon-Green
Anticleia/Icarius/Maid/Suitor Deborah Drakeford
Penelope Seana McKenna
Helen/Maid Ellora Patnaik
Eurycleia/Maid Monice Peter
Antinous/Maid/Suitor/Fight Director Siobhan Richardson


Director Megan Follows
Choreographer Philippa Domville
Set Designer Charlotte Dean
Costume Designer Dana Osborne
Lighting Designer Bonnie Beecher
Projection Designer Jamie Nesbitt
Composer/Sound Designer/Vocal Coach Deanna H. Choi
Stage Manager Beatrice Campbell
Assistant Stage Manager Loreen Gibson
Apprentice Stage Manager Loralie Pollard


Praneet Akilla Odysseus/Maid
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Wet (ItsAZoo Productions); King Lear, Macbeth (The Shakespeare Company); A Christmas Carol, As You Like It (Theatre Calgary/ Shakespeare by the Bow). FILM & TV CREDITS: October Faction (Netflix); Arrow (CW); Lux-Me (Telus Storyhive Web-Series). UPCOMING: The Orchard (Arts Club); Coriolanus (Bard on the Beach).

Claire Armstrong  Laertes/Maid/Suitor
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): The Crackwalker (Factory Theatre); The Crucible (Theatre Calgary); Arcadia (Citadel Theatre); After Miss Julie (Storefront Theatre Toronto); Black Coffee (Manitoba Theatre Centre). FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED):  Dim the Fluorescents (feature film - iTunes and Crave Canada); Alias Grace, Frankie Drake Mysteries (CBC); Running with Violet (webseries - YouTube). OTHER:  Claire is a Dora Mavor Moore Award winner and two-time nominee. 

Tess Benger  Telemachus/Maid/Suitor/Dance & Vocal Captain
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): The Last Five Years (YRG Productions); Girls Like That (Tarragon); Mamma Mia! (Citadel); Grease (Elgin Winter Garden); Chasse Galerie (Soulpepper/Storefront); Top Girls, Cabaret, Sweeney Todd, Philadelphia Story, The Next Whiskey Bar (Shaw Festival); Sunday in the Park with George (TIFT); Anne of Green Gables (Charlottetown).

Nadine Bhabha  Melantho/Maid
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Mahabharata Workshop (Why Not Theatre and The Shaw Festival); Girls Like That (Tarragon); Bluenose (Black Theatre Workshop). FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED): Letterkenny (Crave); Barbelle (Bell/Shaftesbury); Wayne (Youtube Premium); Killjoys (Syfy); Holiday Joy (Freeform). OTHER: Graduate of the BFA Program at York University. Her book, sweat, is available for hard cover and kindle edition on Amazon and in select bookstores. @nadinebhabs

Ingrid Blekys  Naiad/Maid
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Other Desert Cities, Calendar Girls, PlayWrights Cabaret. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Hir (McManus, CTC); The Goat or Who is Sylvia? (McManus/Fountainhead); The Great Gatsby (Lower Ossington/Talking Camel Productions); Uncle Vanya, Heartbreak House, Hedda Gabler, Antigone, Oresteia, Loot (Court Theatre); Hamlet (Marjorie Lyons Theatre); King Lear, Barren/Yerma, The Women (Stratford Shakespeare Festival); Joe Egg (Belfry Theatre). OTHER: Graduate of the National Theatre School, MFA York University. Ingrid teaches Movement and Acting at Fanshawe College.  Recipient of: Dorothy Somerset Theatre Award, Pelletier/Guthrie Award, Nalini & Tim Stewart Award, Brickenden Award.

Déjah Dixon-Green  Anticleia/Icarius/Maid/Suitor
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): An Ideal Husband, Julius Caesar, To Kill a Mockingbird  (Stratford Festival); Much Ado About Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra (St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival); The Laramie Project, Lear, we could be clouds (NTS). FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED): Until the Real Thing Comes Along (Quantity Cinema). OTHER: Graduate of the Acting Program at the National Theatre School of Canada.

Deborah Drakeford  Helen/Maid
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, The Importance of Being Earnest, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Liars. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Shirley Valentine (Thousand Islands Playhouse); Innocence Lost: A Play About Steven Truscott, Marat/Sade, Happy Place, Blood Wedding, Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Waiting for the Parade (Soulpepper Theatre); Pomona, Moment, Bea, The City, A Kind of Alaska (Actors Repertory Theatre); Portia's Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Ruff); Hedda Noir (Theatre Northwest); Measure for Measure (Thought for Food); Rabbit Hole, Same Time Next Year (Sudbury Theatre Centre); The Laramie Project (Studio 180); Sibs (Marquis Entertainment). UPCOMING: Human Animals (Actors Repertory Company). FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED): the David Cronenberg film A History of Violence and Cracked for CBC.

Seana McKenna  Penelope
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Antigone, The Misanthrope. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): 27 seasons at the Stratford Festival, most recently as Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night and the title role in Julius Caesar. OTHER: Teaches at the National Theatre School of Canada, ACT in San Francisco, and at Stratford’s Birmingham Conservatory. Honours: Doctor of Sacred Letters (honoris causa) from Trinity College U of T, Honorary MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and a Bronze Star from the City of Stratford. Last summer, she was appointed to the Order of Canada.

Ellora Patnaik  Helen/Maid
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE:  Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): A Christmas Carol (Soulpepper); Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare In The Ruff); Road To Paradise (Human Cargo/Crows Theatre); Free Outgoing, Her2 (Nightwood Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing (Tarragon Theatre).  FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED): Kim’s Convenience, Murdoch Mysteries, Beauty and The Beast (CBC); Orphan Black (Space BBC America);  American Gothic (CBS); The Expanse (Showcase); How To Be Indie (YTV); My Own Country (Showtime Feature Films). OTHER:  Graduate and Company Member of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Monice Peter  Eurycleia/Maid
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Julius Caesar, The School for Scandal, The Aeined, Twelfth Night, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Stratford Festival); The Dandelion Project (Verb Theatre); Are We There Yet? (Concrete Theatre); Race (Ground Zero/Hit & Myth). Film & TV Credits: Supernatural (CW); Girlfriend's Guide To Divorce (Bravo); The Good Doctor (ABC). OTHER: Graduate of Mount Royal University. Stella Adler Chekhov Intensive. Birmingham Conservatory 2015/2016.

Siobhan Richardson  Antinous/Maid/Suitor/Fight Director
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Actor: Debut. Fight Director: A Christmas Story, The Hobbit; High School Projects Les Misérables School Edition and Romeo & Juliet. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Why We Fight (Crux Encounter Productions); Boeing, Boeing (Upper Canada Playhouse); The Taming of the Shrew (Driftwood Theatre Group); And Then The Lights Went Out (Stage West Calgary). FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED): Battlers (Blue Flame Collective); Sofia’s Doll (Film Freak Productions); Team Epic (Poetic License Productions). OTHER:  Internationally recognized Stage Combat Instructor. Awards and Nominations: Action on Film, LA: Breakout Action Star, Female, short film; Chalmers Arts Fellowship (Ontario Arts Council).

Megan Follows  Director
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Director: The Carousel (Nightwood Theatre). Actor: The Penelopiad (Nightwood); Cloud Nine (Mirvish); Top Girls, ‘night Mother, Three Sisters (Soulpepper); A Doll’s House (Guthrie); Romeo and Juliet (Stratford Festival). FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED): Director: October Faction (Netflix); Holly Hobbie (Hulu); Christmas Around the Corner (Lifetime); Reign (CW); Heartland, Murdoch Mysteries (CBC). Actor: October Faction (Netflix); Reign (CW); Wynonna Earp (SyFy); Heartland, Anne of Green Gables (CBC).

Philippa Domville Choreographer
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Two seasons at Shaw Festival; two seasons at Stratford Festival including The Tempest; Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare in the Ruff); Within the Glass, Trouble With Mister Adams, If We Were Birds (Tarragon ); Macbeth, Lucy (Canadian Stage); Top Girls (MTC); The Penelopiad (RSC/NAC). FILM AND TV CREDITS (SELECTED): Damnation, Murdoch Mysteries, The Imposter, Assasin’s Creed Syndicate, Beauty and The Beast, Sworn to Silence, Lost Girl. OTHER: With her own company Petit Jeu — wrote, choreographed, and produced Grymye, Persephone Project, Marilyn the Mermaid. Theatre movement instructor at Ryerson University.

Charlotte Dean Set Designer
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Annie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Blithe Spirit, Macbeth, The Stone Angel. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Morning After Grace, Outside Mullingar, Billy Elliot (costumes), The Glass Menagerie (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); Treasure Island, She Stoops to Conquer, The Merchant of Venice (costumes), Anthony and Cleopatra, Ghosts, To Kill a Mockingbird (Stratford Festival); Engaged, Our Betters (costumes) (Shaw Festival), The Message, The Realistic Jones, No Great Mischief, The Real World (Tarragon). FILM & TV CREDITS: La Maison Suspendu, Anthony and Cleopatra. OTHER: Graduate of the BFA Program at York University; five Dora Awards for Outstanding Design; Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award.

Dana Osborne Costume Designer
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Joni Mitchell: River, The Passion of Narcisse Mondoux, Ed’s Garage, Shirley Valentine, Hana’s Suitcase, Helen’s Necklace. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Costume Design — The Music Man, The Rocky Horror Show, Guys and Dolls (Stratford Festival); A Christmas Carol (Ross Petty Productions); Picture This (Soulpepper). Set and Costume Design: Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley (Citadel); The Hound of The Baskervilles, Androcles And The Lion (Shaw Festival); Timon of Athens (Stratford Festival). OTHER:, @danaosbornedesign

Bonnie Beecher  Lighting Designer
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: A Christmas Carol (2018 and 2017), Timothy Findley’s The Wars, Art, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), Ned Durango Comes to Big Oak. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Over 350 productions for theatre, opera, and dance across Canada and internationally. Recent productions include Romeo and Juliet (Ballet Im Revier, Germany); Hadrian (Canadian Opera); Paradise Lost (Stratford Festival); Oh What A Lovely War (Shaw Festival); Bed and Breakfast (Soulpepper); The Secret Garden (Theatre Calgary), The Children (Canadian Stage/Centaur). UPCOMING: The Runner (Human Cargo/Passe Muraille); The Father (Coal Mine); Akhnaten (Dortmund Opera, Germany); New work by Juanjo Arques (Acosta Ballet, Havana); A Midsummers Night’s Dream (Ballet Im Reveir, Germany) OTHER:  15 Dora award nominations and two wins.

Jamie Nesbitt  Projection Designer
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: A Christmas Carol. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Many designs for theatres across North America and Europe including: Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage, NAC, Soulpepper, MTC, Vancouver Playhouse, Citadel, Theatre Calgary, Palazzo Circus (Berlin), Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show, Bard on the Beach, Arts Club, Charlottetown Festival, Electric Company, Kidd Pivot (Germany/Canada), Pacific Opera, Opera de Quebec, Company 14 (New York), Vancouver Opera, Why Not, Neptune, The Belfry, Old Trout, ARC, Cahoots, PTE, Touchstone, Vertigo, Pi Theatre, Theatre Network, Gateway, Greenthumb, Yukon Arts Centre, and many more. OTHER: Graduate of Studio 58, recipient of numerous awards and nominations across the country.

Deanna H. Choi  Composer/Sound Designer/Vocal Coach
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): The Boy in the Moon (Crow’s Theatre); Paradise Lost (Stratford Festival); Cinderella (Neptune); Happy Place (Prairie Theatre Exchange); Honour Beat (Theatre Calgary); 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt (Blyth Festival); Midsummer (Thousand Islands Playhouse); The Wolves (Crow’s/Howland); Selfie (Young People’s Theatre); Grace, Lo (Nightwood); Fortune of Wolves, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Boat (Theatre New Brunswick); Laurier (Confederation Centre for the Arts). FILM & TV CREDITS (SELECTED): Prey (short).  OTHER: Graduate of neuroscience/drama at Queen’s University and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Member of Associated Designers of Canada.

Beatrice Campbell  Stage Manager
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: The Foursome, North, The Gin Game.  THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): 15 seasons at The Shaw Festival (most recently: Henry V, The Hound of the Baskervilles);  2 Pianos 4 Hands (Tarragon Theatre/Mirvish Productions/Marquis Entertainment); The Drowsy Chaperone (Mirvish Productions); Cinderella (Ross Petty Productions);  Venus In Fur, Red (Theatre Kingston); Wide Awake Hearts, True West, Gravity Calling, The Faraway Nearby, Possible Maps, Pants on Fire (Tarragon Theatre); My Name is Rachel Corrie (neworldtheatre);The Fantasticks, Tango (Piggery Theatre); Romeo and Juliet, Present Laughter (Citadel Theatre); The Winter’s Tale (Oracle Theatre).

Loreen Gibson  Assistant Stage Manager
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): The Drowning Girls, Gracie (Great Canadian Theatre Company); carried away on the crest of a wave, A Christmas Carol, Anne & Gilbert: The Musical, The Sound of Music, The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum (co-production with Neptune Theatre) (National Arts Centre); The Virgin Trial, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Possible Worlds (Stratford Festival); The Marriage of Figaro, Tosca, Carmen (Opera Lyra Ottawa); The Ladies Foursome, Man of La Mancha (Globe Theatre); Metamorphosis (Mirvish Productions); Civil Elegies (Soulpepper); Dog Sees God (M. Rubinoff Productions); The December Man (L’homme de décembre) (Canadian Stage). OTHER: BFA Honours in Theatre Production and Design from York University.

Loraile Pollard  Apprentice Stage Manager
FOR THE GRAND THEATRE: Debut. THEATRE CREDITS (SELECTED): Come Down From Up River (The Foster Festival); The Birds and The Bees (Theatre Orangeville); The Drowsy Chaperone (Drayton Entertainment); A Christmas Story (Sudbury Theatre Centre); Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (Lighthouse Festival Theatre); Blithe Spirit, The Glass Menagerie (Watermark Theatre); Dogfight, Legally Blonde (Theatre Sheridan). OTHER: Graduate of the Technical Production for Theatre and Live Events program at Sheridan College.