Staff & Board
Tomas Mureika, Artistic Director
Tomas Mureika has over 30 films and more than 40 theatrical shows among his credits. He began his artistic journey with a string of hit plays and musicals at the New Brunswick Drama Festival, culminating in Tomas becoming the only individual in the festival’s over-40-year history to win top prizes for Best Director, Actor and Original Play for one production, 'Seniors'. 'Seniors' went on to garner trophies for the Writers’ Federation’s Best Canadian Play and the Paul Zindel-judged International Young Playwright’s Award. Tomas continued his success by receiving the Special Adjudicator’s Award at the Quebec Drama Festival (QDF) for writing, directing, producing and acting in 1987’s Easter, which led to extended theatrical runs in Montreal and Los Angeles. Tomas served as Artistic Director for Players’ Theatre and Black Rock Theatre in Montreal and holds a BA (Film/Theatre) from McGill University and an MFA (Filmmaking) from the University of Southern California. Spanning 20 years of working in Los Angeles, career highlights include independently financing, writing, directing, producing, editing and acting in his debut feature film, Driftwood (1994), which premiered at the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA). Tomas has also edited and written for three international music publications, composed and been lead vocalist for over 30 years for the art-rock band, Four Squared Images (FSI), and has written and served as publicist for the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation. In his mid-40s, Tomas was unexpectedly diagnosed with Parkinson's, seeming to alter his future in live theatre. However, in 2021, his dramatic career resurged as he became Artistic Director of Realwheels Theatre.
Cadence Konopaki, Managing Director
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Deaf Studies / Social Policy from the University of Wolverhampton (England), Cadence has spent the past 14 years working in non-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions. Known for focusing on the growth and development of an organization or program, Cadence has held management positions with ArtStart (Edmonton), the Alberta Lung Association, and MacEwan University. Combining her love of theatre and experience in non-profit management, Cadence transitioned into the arts sector as the Producer for the Deep Freeze Festival (Edmonton), and subsequently worked as the Managing Director of the Freewill Shakespeare Festival (Edmonton) for a number of years. Cadence occasionally works as a freelance improv theatre technician and digital marketer. Cadence believes in the importance of volunteerism and has previously sat on the board of the YMCA of Fort McMurray, Edmonton Arts Council, and Good Women Dance Collective (Edmonton). Other community involvement has included volunteering with Dublin’s Fringe Festival and Edmonton’s Homeless Connect.
Michele Fontana, Acting Academy Manager
Michele is responsible for Realwheels’ actor training program. He has worked extensively in the arts & culture sector, always striving to engage and inspire communities with interactive and participant-centred initiatives. Michele was previously with the Cinematheque as Learning & Outreach Manager, leading the creation and delivery of more than 60 film education programs annually. Since 1998, he has worked in national and international productions as an actor, director, playwright, and set designer. Furthermore, he has created art pieces, videos, and public art projects. Michele holds a PhD, an MSc, and has received professional training in theatre & education.
Connie Laalo, Assistant Arts Administrator
With a background in public arts event programming and production, Connie is happy to be putting her many years of administrative experience to work for an organization that aligns with her values. Her career includes roles at the Textile Museum of Canada, the UBC Museum of Anthropology, and CBC Music. A creative at heart, Connie finds an innovative approach to any project or program. Outside her work, Connie enjoys volunteering, singing and reading.
Lindsey Adams, Marketing & Communications
Coming from an administrative background, Lindsey is also a visual artist, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Simon Fraser University. Having worked in a variety of settings, Lindsey finds that none encompasses her interests as well as her position with Realwheels, where she finds great pleasure in combining her passion for the creative with her administrative talents, in support of an organization she believes is breaking barriers.
Ava Lanoway, Program Assistant (Acting Academy)
A recent University of British Columbia Political Science graduate, Ava is excited to work with the Realwheels team to build new programs and connections in the community. With a background in the non-profit sector, a love of communications, and experience in customer service, she brings enthusiasm and a love of community to her work. As the Acting Academy Program Assistant, Ava will aid in promoting and launching the brand new program. Approaching each new experience as a learning opportunity, Ava is excited to learn more about the Arts and Culture scene with Realwheels.
Qi Xu, Marketing Assistant
Currently studying media and web design at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Qi aspires to create accessible and engaging media that connects the digital world to us. Her previous background in Criminology allows her to have a greater understanding of human behaviours and the ability to recognize different perspectives. Qi has consistently volunteered for organizations that highlight minority communities, and hopes to further her passion in uplifting their voices at Realwheels.
James Sanders, Founding Artistic Director
James Sanders is the founding Artistic Director of Realwheels. In 1998, James graduated as valedictorian earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from Simon Fraser University. His professional career includes acting, writing, and producing for the stage and screen. Quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury, James is committed to positive and accurate representations of disability in the media. His goal is to represent characters with a disability in stories where issues of disability are not the central source of conflict. His favourite compliment for his acting was when he performed the role of Uncle Ernie in The Who’s musical, Tommy. An audience member asked the director, “Why didn’t James stand up during the curtain call?” James lives and works in Vancouver with his adorable son, Max.
Amy Amantea – President
Leena Chen – Vice President
Isaac Wolfe– Treasurer
Amelia Cooper – Secretary
Henriette Koning – Director
Maya Pankalla – Director
Patrick Pennefather – Director
Martin Thomson – Director
Are you our newest board member? Are you passionate about the work we do? Do you have four hours a month you can give (including one board meeting, one sub-committee meeting, and occasional emails)? Then we want to hear from you!
Send your CV and a short cover letter to: email@example.com