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When key figures in Canadian national theatre, Andy McKim and Urjo Kareda, read teenage Ivana Shein’s earliest work, Rites of Passage, they invited her to join their esteemed Playwrights’ Unit at The Tarragon Theatre. This formative experience inspired Ms. Shein to attend the National Theatre School of Canada to earn her conservatory degree in playwriting, making her a second-generation Canadian playwright, as well as a trained actor. After Ms. Shein’s portrayal of a teenage Patricia Clarkson in Lucky McKee’s film, The Woods, director Richard J. Lewis cast Ms. Shein as Receptionist Number Two, in his award winning film starring Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version. In response, Ms. Shein wrote a play, The Life- Changing Role of Receptionist Number Two, based on the character. This fruitful collaboration led to Richard J. Lewis directing Ms. Shein’s one woman play, Faking It, at The Comedy Central stage. Faking It was also performed at Upright Citizen Brigade and at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival where Ms. Shein had been previously honored in JFL’s competition as the comic reality tv show Sketch Troop winner.

Since 2021, Ms. Shein has kept her hand in performing in front of the camera, appearing in a multi-season recurring role (in two timelines) as the mother of lead character Maya Bishop, on Shonda Rhimes’s ABC series, Station 19. Additionally, Ms. Shein has acted on a lifelong fascination with early modernist Marc Chagall’s paintings. In that spirit, she was granted access to the artist’s privileged files at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This pursuit resulted in a play that lifts the veil behind the eternal kiss in Chagall’s most famous masterpiece. Toronto’s The Company Theatre optioned The Lovers where it received a workshopped production with Mitchell Cushman directing. Cushman and Shein have also paired up again for another play by Ms. Shein, Borderline. Ms. Shein is also working on a series pilot adaptation of her short play, Single. The play was first produced by IAMA Theatre company in Los Angeles and directed by actor Amir Arison. After reading the pilot script — now re-titled for television as A Leonard Cohen Afterworld, filmmaker Cameron Crowe responded by saying, “Thank you, Ivana, for knowing instinctively, that all the best music comes from Canada”. The Life-Changing Role of Receptionist Number Two also caught the eye of Los Angeles based IAMA’s artistic director Stefanie Black and led to her collaborating with Ms. Shein in adapting the play as a feature film for Ms. Black to direct. Another new work, Canadian Book of The Dead, has been shortlisted for Berkeley Rep’s Residency Lab, Ground Floor with Becca Wolff to direct and development provided by San Francisco’s Shotgun Theatre. Ms. Shein is also currently developing a podcast, Skinny Dipping, with management/ production company, Sugar 23. The pilot episode features stand up comedy maven, NYT’s best selling author and actress, Maria Bamford.

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Comedy is the province of the brave, my friends, and I must hand it to Ivana Shein for showing no fear.

Bloody Underrated

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree couldn't be more applicable than the talent that is Ivana Shein. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, Ivana has grown to be recognized as one of the funniest comedic talents North of the border...


She sure has a sense of humor and Ivana is having the last laugh as she carves out an illustrious career.

Daily Candid News

'Faking It' is a clever interpretation of ‘making it’ in Los Angeles through the eyes of a Canadian. Shein’s overly humorous take on becoming famous in order to become legal in America has become known as one of the funniest acts at “Zoofest” this summer leaving standing room only available.