Rais Clarke-Mendes is a Trinidadian-Barbadian theatre artist currently based in Toronto, ON. It was in her home, the land of Carnival and bacchanal, that her love for the arts was born. Rais’ earliest memories of theatre were watching Alison Sealy-Smith’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth in Barbados, where she grew confident that Caribbean women are insurmountable.
Rais is currently in her graduating year at the National Theatre School of Canada where she is training under the mentorship of Canada’s top theatre professionals. Artists including Tim Welham, Jani Lauzon, Anne-Marie Mcdonald, Rebecca Harper, Laurel Thompson, Marla Mcclean, Graeme Somerville, Willow White and Alisa Palmer have been instrumental in her artistic development.
Outside of NTS, Rais has worked with various practitioners to expand her theatrical canon. Artists include Mitchell Cushman (Outside the March) with whom she developed her technique in immersive theatre and Marcel Stewart (Soulpepper Theatre Company) where she honed her skills in arts education and facilitation.
Rais has a background in collaborative creation. She is the co-writer and director of How We Breathe, performed at the 19th Annual Paprika Festival. Rais is intrigued by intersections within cultural identities and their manifestations within the ways we love and empathize with one another. She believes theatre to be a powerful vehicle for advocacy, community and healing.
Rais looks forward to embracing the wonders of the theatre and film industry, both within the Canadian landscape and globally. Throughout her artistic career, she intends to collaborate with innovative artists to reimagine and reinvent the boundaries of what art can look like.
“The truth is we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out, but when we learn one tiny little thing, a dim light comes on in a dark hallway, and suddenly a new question appears.”
― Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom