Rais Clarke-Mendes is a Trinidadian-Barbadian multidisciplinary artist and actor, currently based in Toronto, ON. It was in her home, the land of carnivals and celebrations, that her passion for the arts was born. Rais’ earliest memory of theatre was watching Alison Sealy-Smith’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth in Barbados, where she grew confident that Caribbean women were fearless.
During her time at NTS, Rais trained under the mentorship of Canada’s top theatre professionals. Artists including Tim Welham, Jani Lauzon, Ann-Marie McDonald, Rebecca Harper, Laurel Thompson, Marla McLean, Graeme Somerville, Willow White and Alisa Palmer have been instrumental in her artistic development. Notable roles include Helena in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (dir. Danielle Irvine) and The Negro Resurrectionist in Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks (dir. Mike Payette).
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 the intersections within cultural identities and how they manifest in the ways we love and empathize with one another. She believes theatre to be a powerful vehicle for advocacy, community and healing. After graduation, Rais intends to dive into the Canadian theatre and film landscape. She looks forward to collaborating with innovative artists to reinvent the boundaries of what art can look like.