Photo credit: Laurence Philomene and Geoffrey Simon Brown
My name is Elena (or Eli) Belyea, and I am a queer playwright, performer, producer, dramaturg, director, and arts educator. I’m also the Artistic Director of Tiny Bear Jaws, an agile, femme-run cross-Canadian theatre company which produces innovative, provocative, entertaining, and interdisciplinary new works (co-run with designer, producer, theatre-maker, and long-time collaborator Tori Morrison).
I am interested in the storytelling possibilities exclusively possible in live performance, and endeavour to create work that is transgressive in both content and form. I love projects that allow me to try new things and go outside my comfort zone. I believe in theatre as a means of fostering empathy, encouraging conversation, and facilitating productive discomfort.
My plays have been produced in cities across North America (including Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Quebec, and Wells) and received numerous awards. I have collaborated with a variety of theatre companies, including Buddies in Bad Times (Toronto), Downstage Theatre (Calgary), Théatre Prospero (Montreal), Swallow-A-Bicycle (Calgary), Nightwood Theatre (Toronto), One Yellow Rabbit Theatre (Calgary), Sunset Theatre (Wells), L’Unitheatre (Edmonton), Major Matt Mason Collective (Calgary), Nextfest (Edmonton), and the Tarragon Theatre (Toronto), where I was the recipient of their 2018-2019 RBC Emerging Playwright Award. My work has been supported by the Banff Centre for the Arts, Caravan Theatre (Armstrong), and Playwrights Workshop Montreal. I was a member of Nightwood Theatre’s 2016-2017 Write From The Hip Playwriting Unit.
My solo show, Miss Katelyn’s Grade Threes Prepare for the Inevitable first opened in 2015 and has been had over 75 performances since its premiere. It was recently translated to french by Olivier Sylvestre and has been touring to francophone theatres across Canada since 2018.
I am a co-founder of the Common Ground Arts Society’s Found Festival (a showcase of multidisciplinary arts events that take place in non-traditional venues) in Edmonton, now going into its 9th year.
I am one half of the queer sketch comedy duo Gender? I Hardly Know Them.
I am a graduate of the University of Alberta as well as the National Theatre School of Canada (Playwriting), and have mentored emerging writers and theatre makers for almost a decade through numerous arts organizations such as the University of Virginia’s Young Writers’ Workshop, The Citadel Theatre’s Foote Theatre School, and the University of Alberta’s New Works Festival to name a few.
To find out more, please see my CURRICULUM VITAE + PROFESSIONAL RESUME
UPCOMING: Developing a new script as part of the Alberta Queer Calendar Project, performing as COLLEEN in You Are Here Theatre and Blarney Productions’ (with support from Fringe Theatre) Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, and producing Tiny Bear Jaws’ 2019-2020 season.
“As the Tiny Bear Jaws canon confirms, Belyea is a deft hand at funny, staccato, overlapping dialogue.” - Liz Nicholls
"Belyea skillfully works the room, eliciting plenty of laughs but also a deep sense of anger and sadness." - Montreal Gazette
“I was in the company of genius for 105 minutes at the Big Secret Theatre. Belyea is a brilliant dialogue writer.” - Calgary Herald
"This show earns its transformation from laughs to tears as it sinks its teeth into weighty subject matter. By the end, Belyea has made us laugh, terrified us, and tugged at our heartstrings. An A+ show. ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆" - Vue Weekly
"I thought, "You cannot pull this off." But [then] totally does. It's incredible." - 9 to 5 dot cc Podcast
”Producing a show crafted with care, Elena Eli Belyea and Sydney Campbell offer side-splitting last rites to societal norms, love languages, truck-window pickup lines, Pride-pandering banks, gender prison. … The duo demonstrates loads of chemistry, playing off each other with rapid-fire absurdity and clever wordplay. … If every funeral was this laugh-out-loud funny we’d dig up the dead three times a week just to bury the bastards again. See this show. ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆” - Edmonton Journal
”The sketches in Gender? I Hardly Know Them are fast-paced and quick-witted. Beylea and Campbell switch characters at a moment’s notice. ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆” - Daze Magazine
“The duo [Belyea and Campbell] are practiced comedians and present a barrage of sketches that are frequently funny, often hilarious, and edged with an incisive cleverness.” - Mel Priestley
"Elena Belyea and Ben Stevens present exceptional performances... A beautiful debut production by promising local talents." - Vue Weekly
"And no, I have not forgotten Shakespeare’s clowns, Dogberry (Elena Belyea) and Verges (Oscar Derkx). I was just leaving my praise for them for a final hurrah. From their difference in heights to their unabashed clowning, Belyea and Derkx are the scene stealers Shakespeare intended." - Calgary Herald
"The playwrights, Elena Belyea and Colin Matty, are enormously talented. It's commonplace to warn us about the end of the world, and nearly impossible to discover ways to dramatize the planet's last days. Belyea and Matty are careful to leave out the clichés and focus on dynamic scenes - sad, funny, beautiful, incomprehensible." - Edmonton Journal