Liza Balkan is a Canadian, multi- disciplinary theatre artist with over forty years in the profession. She is an accomplished opera and theatre director, librettist, writer, educator, dramaturg and actor – each discipline informing the other. In conjunction with her thirst for inquiry, her early years as a dancer and a singer guide her innate sense of physicality and musicality in her approach to all her practices and disciplines. Liza is committed to inclusionary practices, process, communication, and building confident, joyful, respectful and inspiring spaces in which to create with others.
Liza’s recent directing credits include Much Ado about Nothing (Shakespeare in High Park/Canadian Stage), Every Brilliant Thing (Grand Theatre London), Mustard (University of Waterloo), the premiere stage production of Stephanie Martin’s opera Llandovery Castle (Opera Laurier), the Canadian Premiere of Louis Andriessen’s chamber opera Anais Nin , starring Wallis Giunta, (Koerner Hall /RCM), The Brothers Grimm (Canadian Opera Company Ensemble), Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas and Berio’s Folk Songs (GGS/RCM), and Bicycle Opera Project’s 2 summer seasons as well as their performance at 21C Festival (Koerner Hall).
Liza’s collaborations as a librettist have been produced by Toronto’s The Royal Conservatory of Music/Koerner Hall, Tapestry Opera, 5 Boroughs Song Book (NYC), Brooklyn Art Song Society (NYC), Scrag Mountain Music (Vermont), Opera McGill and Bicycle Opera Project. Most recently, Liza created the text for US composer Lembit Beecher’s song cycle After the Fires. Inspired by interviews with people who navigated the devastation of the fires that swept southern California during the summer of 2020, It received its world premiere in April 2022 in New York and had its Canadian premiere January 2023 saw its Canadian premiere at by the Royal Conservatory of Music /Koerner Hall. August 2022, she and composer Brian Current had their world premiere of their highly acclaimed Gould’s Wall, performed at, on and up the historic wall at RCM/Koerner Hall.
In 2021 she created, directed and wrote the lyrics for the song cycle, So,how’s it been?, inspired by experiences of many residents of a small city through the first year of the pandemic. It was performed outdoors at Here for Now Theatre in Stratford, Ontario.
Through a multi – year residency at the Theatre Centre, she developed her documentary/verbatim project about policing, mental health, racism, and the law entitled Out the Window. It received a production at Toronto’s International Luminato Festival in 2018, and was recently published by Scirocco Drama – J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing.
Her career as an actor has included multiple productions, in a wide variety of genres, across Canada and in the US. She received Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Award for her performance in Still the Night (Theatre Passe Muraille/Tapestry) and a nomination for Calgary’s Betty Mitchel Award during the show’s Cross – Canada tour. She had the great privilege of working with Jerome Robbins, playing the role of Anybodys in West Side Story (Kennedy Centre, Wash. DC) Liza also appeared in the First Canadian National Tour of Cats.
Liza has several Canadian film /TV credits and has also been the voice of Sailor Mercury in the anime series Sailor Moon.
Liza continues to enjoy her busy practice as an educator and mentor and has been an instructor at the Don Wright Faculty of Music/Western, University of Waterloo, Humber College, George Brown College, University of Windsor, Royal Conservatory of Music/Glenn.
Gould School, Laurier University, Ryerson, Randolph Academy, CCPA (Victoria) and the Birmingham Conservatory at the Stratford Festival.
She received her MFA through the Canadian Stage/York University Graduate Studies in Directing and is a member of the association for Acting Coaches and Educators (AACE).