You are here

Cynthia Ashperger

Professor of Performance Acting

Dr. Cynthia Ashperger was born in Zagreb, Croatia where she had extensive experience in the theatre, film and television industry as an actor. She holds a PhD from University of Toronto’s Graduate Centre for Studies in Drama. She has taught acting at Ryerson School of Performance since 1994 where she also served as Director of the Acting Program. At Ryerson she has directed some twenty productions of the world classics, most recently Tales from Vienna Woods, Martin Chuzzlewit, The Chaste Maid of Cheapside, The Country Wife, All for Love, The Three Sisters and The Girl from Maxim’s.

In Toronto she has worked as a director, writer, actor and producer for the last twenty five years. For her own play inc. company she directed, acted and produced the critically acclaimed production of A Summer’s Day by Jon Fosse. For Phantasmagoria Collective she has directed Tender Napalm by Philip Ridley at Toronto’s Summerworks 2013 also to great critical acclaim. In 2015 she was invited by Croatian Play Drama Theatre to direct a modern French satire George Kaplan utilizing her unique rehearsal process. Most recently she and has written and acted in workshop production of Tongue Play, a musical comedy written by herself under nome de plume of Lola Xenos and which is scheduled to be published by Playwright’s Canada Press in 2018.

Recent favourite theatre productions as a actor include Nashville Stories by David Bernstein (SummerWorks), Tongue Play (Parados Festival).  Other credits include  Obeah Opera by Nicole Brooks (Nightwood Theatre, Grounswell), Berlin Blues by Native Canadian author Drew Hayden-Taylor (4th Line Theatre), Elektra in Bosnia by Judith Thompson and Ajax in Afganistan by Timberlake Wertenbaker (Women in War Trilogy directed by Peggy Shannon), Who Killed Snow White by Judith Thompson (Nightwood Theatre, Groundswell) Hedda Gabler (Volcano Theatre). For her critically acclaimed performance in Feral Child by Jordan Tannahill (Suburban Beast Company) she was nominated for the 2013 Dora Award (Outstanding Performance Female). She has an extensive list of film and TV credits as well. For her role in The Waiting Room by Igor Drljača she was nominated for Canadian Screen Award (CSA) for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Feature Film in 2016.

She is a published author, in 2008 she published a book on Chekhov’s Acting Technique titled The Rhythm of Space and the Sound of Time. Michael Chekhov’s Acting Technique in the 21st century (Editions Rodopi of Amsterdam; New York). Her contribution in Stanislavski and Directing: Theory, Practice and Influence was published in 2009,  “The Daughter of the Air”, an article in Trans-performing Nina Arsenault (ed. Judith Rudakoff, Intellect Press, 2012), Michael Chekhov’s Five Guiding Principles and Theatre Practice Today. The Case of “Tender Napalm” by Phillip Ridley for the new Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov (2015) and for Theatre Research Canada “Foreign Accent Syndrome – An Auto-Ethnography” (2015).

Dr. Ashperger’s recent work has been focused on how speaking English as an accent affects an immigrant’s identity, something she is intimately familiar with being an immigrant herself. She is also a well known expert in Chekhov acting technique and is researching methods in overcoming creative blocks as well as developing new methods within the rehearsal process. Nationally and internationally she has presented papers and/or taught workshops in Groznjan and Zagreb (Croatia), Milan (Italy), Amsterdam (Holland), Helsinki (Finland), Seoul (Korea), Munich (Germany), Osaka (Japan) and Barcelona (Spain) , Ottawa and Victoria (Canada). She has taught regularly at Toronto’s Volcano Theatre’s Summer Intensive. She has taught and led Acting students in the yearly trip to Michael Chekhov’s Summer Intensive in Croatia.