Articles by author: gminaker

  • Student art exhibition explores isolation, identity during a pandemic

    A word often used in the past year is taking on a different meaning for Visual Arts (VISA) students as they showcase their work in a new exhibition — “unprecedented.”

    In what has been a different academic year for Brock students and faculty, this newly mounted exhibition explores the art that VISA students have created at home during the pandemic.

    Located on the first floor of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) downtown campus, the VISA Gallery is a teaching exhibition space showcasing the works of undergraduate VISA students. While the gallery remains closed to the public due to public health protocols, students have been able to present their works throughout April in the physical space and viewers will have the chance to experience the gallery online in the coming days.

    The concept for the exhibition was born of the challenges experienced by students practicing studio-based art from home.

    Brock Studio Arts graduate and VISA Gallery Assistant Sarah Martin (BA ’19) was inspired to create a digital space where students could share their work in the form of an Instagram page.

    “From some of the incredible Instagram submissions made by VISA students in their year of isolation, I put together pieces that explore themes of identity to display on-site in our MIWSFPA gallery.  This has given students an opportunity to present their work in a professional setting beyond their online classes,” she says.

    The result is “unprecedented” (spelled with a lower case “u” as an artistic choice), a new exhibition curated by Martin that features the work of students in their first to fourth year, ranging across all mediums reflecting the scope and diversity of the students’ art practices.

    For third-year Studio Art major Taylor Elliott, participating in the exhibition has been an honour and he is appreciative he has been able to share his work, even if the public cannot see it in person at this time.

    “I’m very grateful for opportunities to see and be seen in this unique way,” he says. “This is the first show of any kind I’ve submitted to since the pandemic started, and it is great to feel connected to the art community in such unprecedented times.”

    Cree Tylee, a fourth-year Studio Art major with a minor in History of Art and Visual Culture, agrees that continuing to show work and share creative ideas with peers is critical given the current climate of the world.

    “If there is ever a time where the need for artistic expression peaks, it is during times of unrest,” she says. “I feel it’s important to keep creating and viewing new work, and so I was happy to have an opportunity to share my work in a gallery space.”

    Drawing on themes of isolation, Tylee was inspired by returning home.

    “Through the collection of natural materials from that landscape, using acrylic and photographic mediums, I chose to allude to a metaphysical version of ‘home,’” she says of her work featured in unprecedented.

    While the student artists welcome the chance to get back to an in-person studio environment when it is safe to do so, participating in this exhibition has been a meaningful experience for them.

    “As someone trying to break into the art scene, even just at a local level, this exhibit means the world to me,” says Eden Rioux, a second-year Studio Art major whose pieces in unprecedented explore self-reflection and the notion of daydreaming. “It’s always an honour to have your work displayed alongside others. It is a cumulative experience working towards a larger impact.”

    Rioux also points out that many artists turn to their art as a coping mechanism, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings beyond the spoken or written word. While isolation can be lonely, artistic discoveries can still be made, they add.

    “It’s really amazing to see what everyone else is struggling with, thriving with and creating with,” says Rioux.

    Elliott also acknowledges key lessons learned during the pandemic about the importance of community, and not taking it for granted.

    “I think when things open up again, people will be so much more ready to be active and involved in the art world — I know I will be,” he says.

    The unprecedented exhibition runs until Friday, April 30. While currently closed to the public, the VISA Gallery will take over the MIWSFPA Instagram “stories” starting Monday, April 26 so viewers can virtually explore the gallery space.

    The works in unprecedented (and other student works) are available to view on an ongoing basis by following the @brockvisagallery Instagram page.

    Follow the @MIWSFPA Instagram page to view the unprecedented exhibition takeover.

    To learn more about the VISA Gallery, please visit the web page here.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Student-directed one-act plays featured in Brock Dramatic Arts mini-festival

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2021 | by 

    Image Caption: Brock Dramatic Arts students Maiya Irwin and Tyra Hayward star in The Barely Wives Club by playwright Sarah Segal-Lazar and director Michael Cicchini.

    Student directors and performers will showcase their talents in two plays this weekend as part of the spring 2021 One Acts Festival: Myth and Marriage.

    Presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) and open to the public, the online mini-festival will include nightly performances Thursday, April 22 to Saturday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel. The show is free to view, however, viewing spots must be reserved through Brock University Tickets.

    The One Acts Festival is the final presentation for student directors enrolled in the third-year Directing II (DART3P54) course. The plays are produced and performed by DART students with the supervision of Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts. They feature first- and second-year cast members from DART, making this a student-selected, student-centred collaboration.

    Brock Dramatic Arts students Jada Dawson and Paolo Bozzo star in The M Word by playwright Alan Ball and director Matt Martin.

    Myth and Marriage showcases two short works: The Barely Wives Club by playwright Sarah Segal-Lazar and director Michael Cicchini, and The M Word by playwright Alan Ball and director Matt Martin.

    The Barely Wives Club, starring Maiya Irwin, Tyra Hayward and Simon Bell, tells a harrowing tale of two famous fictional characters who are now trapped together in their own version of purgatory. Eurydice and Juliet are forced to watch their narratives unfold on multiple TV screens by their mysterious puppet master Hades, god of the Underworld. They contemplate the way their stories have been distorted to audiences, and the nature of freedom.

    The M Word, starring Jada Dawson and Paolo Bozzo, is a comedy that follows a couple attempting to construct a marriage along business principles. The M Word tackles how the pursuit of control ultimately leads to powerlessness, as the compulsion to schedule their lives leads the couple to disconnect from one another — and reality itself. The laughter and heartbreak of their negotiation causes their walls to crumble so that viewers get a peek of who they truly are beneath the silent battles they face every day.

    “I am incredibly excited to be directing this year,” Martin says of his role with The M Word. “I was fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented people to create something we are all very proud of. I hope people enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

    To book a viewing reservation, please visit Brock University Tickets.

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  • Dramatic Arts spring mainstage production delivers comedy, whimsy and innovation in Zoom theatre

    Caption: A screenshot from the “Yellow Brick Road” scene in the DART 2021 spring Mainstage production of Fever/Dream, includes cast members (top row, from left) Jonah Pace, Emily Clegg, Jane Smith, (second row, from left) Violet Brown, Bianca Taylor, Joanna Tran, (third row, from left) Yasmine Agocs, Peter Herbert, Luca d’Amico, (bottom row, from left) Taj-Alexander Crozier, Lucas Irving and Matt Martin.

    Originally published in The Brock News THURSDAY, APRIL 01, 2021 | by 

    A collapsing stock market, an eccentric billionaire and a roller-coaster ride of parody and the surreal are just the beginning of what audiences can expect from the upcoming production of Fever/Dream presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The DART spring mainstage production runs from Wednesday, April 7 to Sunday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. as free livestreamed performances viewable on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel.

    In mounting the production virtually, the resilient cast and crew have had their fair share of challenges creating theatre during a pandemic and have masterfully emerged with exciting theatre to share with audiences.

    Director Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, has much gratitude for the dedication of the production team and the participating students.

    “Collaborating during these times could not be done without a production team fanatically dedicated to beating the odds,” she says.

    To bring the play to life, props, costumes and lighting supplies had to be distributed to students all over Ontario.

    “Actors are working as their own technicians, and the student directors are confronting scenes demanding live acting and intimacy with zest and imagination,” Raby says. “With this group of fevered dreamers, I think Calderón de la Barca and Sheila Callaghan would both be proud.”

    Assistant Directors and Dramatic Arts students Dillon Bernier and Samantha Rideout share Raby’s enthusiasm for the work put into the show and anticipation for opening night.

    “Working on Fever/Dream has taught me so much, not only about myself as a director, but also how theatre can still bring people together, even in a digital form,” Bernier says. “We need theatre in our lives, whether that be in person or digitally.”

    Rideout echoes this sentiment, acknowledging the impact of the experience.

    Fever/Dream is the first opportunity I have had to take my knowledge as a performer and try my hand at assistant directing,” she says. “The past eight months developing this show have opened my eyes to the potential of theatre to transcend our current understanding of the art form.”

    The play itself touches on many themes, such as corporate greed, complicated family dynamics, white supremacy and the healing power of love — all delivered in a comedy meant to defy logic and challenge convention.

    “As theatre makers, we are trying to use our talents to create a piece that is current and contemporary and with a strong social message. We also want audiences to feel the whimsical romance of the story and the magic of theatre,” Bernier says.

    While the new digital stage is a departure from traditional live theatre, the assistant directors and cast members have fully embraced “Zoom theatre.”

    “The Zoom platform has challenged the cast, while also providing us with an important learning opportunity to explore and play outside of our comfort zones — and we have made bold discoveries,” Rideout says.

    The production is free to view, however space is limited. The public can make a reservation to watch the show on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel by booking through brocku.universitytickets.com

    In addition to being directed by Raby alongside Bernier and Rideout, Fever/Dream’s Scenic design is by David Vivian, costumes by Roberta Doylend, lighting design by Chris Malkowski, sound and projections design, videography and postproduction by James McCoy, choreography by Rachel Romanoski, and stage management by Diego Blanco and Alyssa Ruddock.

    The cast and crew have dedicated this production to dawn e crysler, Theatre Technician and beloved MIWSFPA staff member who sadly passed away before the show was completed. crysler, who preferred her name referred to in all lowercase, will be remembered by students, faculty and staff for her commitment to the show, her delight in the process, quiet moments shared with the cast during online rehearsals, her exuberant spirit and her dancing.

    As noted by the Fever/Dream team, it takes a village to put on a theatre show; crysler was not only an integral part of the creative process, but she was also the all-around motivator of the village.


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  • Brock community mourns the loss of theatre artist and MIWSFPA staff member, dawn e crysler

    dawn e crysler, celebrated MIWSFPA staff member and Theatre Technician, will be remembered for her creativity and dedication to her work.


    originally posted in The Brock News on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 2021 | by 

    The Brock and local arts community is mourning the death of dawn e crysler, a theatre maker and artist who will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Faculty, staff and students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) were deeply saddened to learn of crysler’s passing earlier this week.

    crysler (BA ’00), who preferred her name referred to in all lowercase, had been a Theatre Technician at Brock’s MIWSFPA since 2018. Working in the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), the multi-talented artist played a pivotal role working with students and faculty to bring performances to life through her work as technician and scenic painter.

    “The entire DART community is shocked and saddened at the departure of this sensitive, observant and generous soul. As a former student of the program, dawn brought her many talents and insights to a wide range of theatrical activity at Brock and beyond,” says David Fancy, Professor and Chair of DART.

    crysler also worked as a theatre technician at the Shaw Festival and Carousel Players, and in Toronto on various film, TV and theatre projects. Most recently, she had been painting the Klingon ship on the set of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (a spinoff series currently being filmed in Toronto).

    A Brock graduate, crysler conferred on June 9, 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Literature and Theatre.

    Peter Feldman, retired Associate Professor and former Chair of DART taught crysler during her studies.

    “dawn was one of the most highly motivated students I had in my 20 years at Brock, working with distinction in almost every aspect of our program,” he says.

    Feldman also fondly recalls joining crysler and other former students in starting a St. Catharines-based fringe theatre group known as Stray Theatre in 2003. In addition to building and painting sets, crysler was a gifted actor, he says.

    “dawn played an astonishingly wide range of roles in drama and comedy, all beautifully, movingly and totally believably.”

    White Crow, drawn by Jana Bergsma, in honour of dawn e crysler. photo: Gavin Fearon.

    “All of us with whom she worked will remember dawn’s sunny personality, her always positive view of life, her gift for friendship, the enthusiasm she brought to everything she worked on, and her sense of wonder. ‘Awesome!’ must have been her favourite word,” Feldman says. “Altogether, dawn was one of the most remarkable young women I’ve known in the theatre.”

    David Vivian, Associate Professor, Scenographer and Director of the MIWSFPA, says hiring crysler felt like a puzzle piece falling into place.

    “When we hired dawn in 2018, it was as if she was coming home to the MIWSFPA. She was a celebrated member of the arts community and Brock graduate contributing to local arts and culture — it was so very right to have dawn join us here at the School,” he says.

    In addition to being a valued staff member and friend of Brock, crysler was a dedicated theatre artist with a strong presence in the Niagara arts scene. Born and raised on a farm in Pelham, crysler explored her roots though her artistry. She was a published playwright. Her play White Crow, which ran in November of 2012 mounted by Essential Collective Theatre, chronicled a family facing adversity on a Pelham farm.

    In 2013, crysler was nominated for the Emerging Artist Award for the eighth annual St. Catharines Arts Awards. She brought creativity and energy to cultural initiatives, such as In the Soil Arts Festival, where she held an interactive workshop entitled “Play!” that involved massive checker pieces, a giant Jenga set and oversized “pick-up sticks.”

    The flags in front of Brock’s Schmon Tower were lowered to half-mast on Friday, March 26 to commemorate crysler’s passing.

    MIWSFPA colleagues remember crysler for her energetic attitude and sense of play.

    Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, reflects on crysler’s bright personality and her professional talent and work ethic. Raby, along with other DART faculty and staff, were working closely with crysler on the spring Mainstage production.

    “Across the community she was known and loved for her infectious energy,” Raby says of crysler. “She was a beam of light, a roller-derby queen, a published playwright, cabaret performer, theatre-technician and maker-builder extraordinaire. She believed in art and was endlessly creative.”

    A space on the MIWSFPA website memorializing crysler will be created in the coming weeks, where colleagues, friends and family will be invited to share their memories.

     


    The obituary for dawn is available in the St. Catharines Standard.

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  • MIWSFPA community mourns the loss of Dramatic Arts graduate Dana Morin

    Pictured above: (Left) Elena Milenkovski, Roberta Doylend (Head of Wardrobe, holding Miss Bit), Paige Morris, and Dana Morin in the Green Room of the MIWSFPA Theatre. 

    Dana Morin standing in the hallway outside of the Costume Shop at the MIWSFPA, seen beside the emptied boxes and crates used to move costume inventory.  Dana assisted with the move from main campus to the new MIWSFPA at 15 Artists’ Common in the Summer of 2015.

    The staff, faculty and students at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are mourning the death of Dana Grace Morin, a beloved former student at the School.

    In 2017, Dana graduated with First-Class Standing in Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Production and Design.

    “Dana was a very large and generous heart in the student community of the Department of Dramatic Arts.  Following her updates to a Facebook group set up to keep everyone updated on her progress through treatment for cancer, we shared our hopes and encouragement for a successful outcome.  We are deeply saddened by the news of her passing and so very thankful for the time she shared with us at the MIWSFPA,” reflects David Vivian, Associate Professor of Scenography and Director of the MIWSFPA.

    Roberta Doylend is creating a rainbow for Dana in honour of her life and memory. Roberta will find a permanent location for the rainbow backstage at the MIW Theatre – a place that Dana loved to be.

    Memorial donations in Dana’s honour can be made to Pink Pearl Canada and Young Adult Cancer Canada.

    Dana Morin’s obituary can be found on Smith’s Funeral Homes website.

     

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  • Online symposium celebrates new publication on theatre pedagogy and climate crisis

    Image caption:The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

    An upcoming weekend of online events will explore the role that theatre education plays in relation to climate crisis.

    To launch the new Routledge publication Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) is hosting a two-day online symposium featuring historians, theatre practitioners, playwrights, designers, professors and activists.

    Presented as part of the 2020-21 Walker Cultural Leader’s Series program, the online symposium “Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis” runs Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 and will be livestreamed free on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel.

    Convened by volume co-editors David Fancy, Professor and Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University, and Conrad Alexandrowicz, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Victoria, the event features four online panel discussions with contributing authors of the volume, each a theatre scholar and/or practitioner.

    Through these panel discussions, volume contributors will answer the question of how theatre pedagogy can be transformed in response to the global climate crisis. Panelists are purposely divided into groups that mix their different expertise, encouraging a rich and invigorating discussion.

    “Nothing could be more pressing than understanding how to evolve our theatre training and pedagogy to address the climate crisis,” says Fancy.

    The volume’s authors, he adds, also “unpack how supremacy thinking informing the climate crisis — that humans are more important than nature — is echoed across racial and gendered violence in contemporary societies.”

    Each panel is based on a theme in the anthology: Intersectionality and the Body of the Earth; Eco-Aesthetics in Performance and Design; Eco-literacies in Teaching Theatre; and Theatre Pedagogy and the Climate Crisis.

    A summary of the volume can be found in a manifesto signed by all contributing authors in the epilogue of the book.

    Upcoming Walker Cultural Leaders events:

    Saturday, March 20

    1 to 2:15 p.m. — Theatre Pedagogy and the Climate Crisis
    Moderated by David Fancy with Lara Aysal, Derek Davidson, Katrina Dunn and Beth Osnes.
    Watch the livestream.

    3 to 4:15 p.m. – Eco-Aesthetics in Performance and in Design
    Moderated Conrad Alexandrowicz with Tanja Beer, Rachel Bowditch, Joan Lipkin and David Vivian.
    Watch the livestream.

    Sunday, March 21

    1 to 2:15 p.m. – Eco-Literacies in Teaching Theatre
    Moderated by Sasha Kovacs with Mary Anderson, Dennis Gupa and David Fancy.
    Watch the livestream.

    3 to 4:15 p.m. – Intersectionality, Solidarity and the Body of the Earth
    Moderated by Rachel Rhoades with Gloria Akayi Asoloko, Soji Cole and Conrad Alexandrowicz.
    Watch the livestream.

    More event information, including full biographies of each panelist, can be found online at brocku.ca/tpcc

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  • Brock welcomes Indigenous artist, curator and scholar to MIWSFPA

    Originally published in The Brock News on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 03, 2021 | by 

    Caption: Suzanne Morrissette has joined the Department of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, where she is teaching Studio Art. (Photo courtesy of Red Works Photography)

    First and foremost, Suzanne Morrissette is an Indigenous artist. Métis by way of the Red River Valley and Interlake regions in Winnipeg, Man., the artist, curator and scholar is a transplant to the territories of southern Ontario.

    She vividly remembers the work of Indigenous artists on the walls of her childhood home and in her father’s office space, as well as the murals on buildings in her community.

    “Growing up and being surrounded by this creativity was an exciting part of my everyday experience,” Morrissette says.

    She always knew that working in the arts is where she would land professionally.

    Working across disciplines in Indigenous and curatorial studies, Morrissette is the newest member of Brock’s Visual Arts Department, teaching Studio Art at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). A trained artist, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, a master’s degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from OCAD University, and a PhD in Social and Political Thought from York University.

    Morrissette has worked extensively in the field with Indigenous artists curating diverse shows with focuses ranging from perceptions of Indigenous political thought to relationships between land and place.

    As a studio-based artist and scholar, Morrissette is deeply engaged in research creation, committed to exploring how creative work can be used to find solutions to research questions or problems. Her identity as an Indigenous artist and curator has a lot to do with the type of research she is involved with, and also shapes the way she participates in projects.

    Engaging with Indigenous methodologies, histories and knowledge systems will be critical to her teaching and continued research work that she now brings to the Brock community.

    “At Brock, I see a great opportunity to continue the research and work that I am doing alongside colleagues who share a commitment to rigorous visual arts and studio arts-based research, and in a strong program and facility that is incredible for student research and work,” she says.

    Morrissette is currently working on a project close to her heart and personal history,  a research study with collaborators Richard Hill of Emily Carr University of Art + Design and Jamie Isaac of the Winnipeg Art Gallery entitled “Social Histories / Indigenous Art: Curating Social Work’s Influence on Winnipeg’s Indigenous Art of the ’80s and ’90s.”

    The project examines the relationship between the early developments of Indigenous social work that were taking place in Winnipeg in the ’80s and ’90s, and how these efforts supported concurrent developments in Indigenous arts.

    Even though it wasn’t necessarily in the mandate for these organizations, they supported the arts and creative practice in the community, Morrissette says.

    “My father and uncle were two of the people really involved in growing Indigenous social work capacity,” she says. “Our research team wants to learn about how this unstated but nonetheless important support of the arts came to be at that time.”

    In addition to work on the study, Morrissette is currently taking part in an exhibition out of Kingston’s Agnes Etherington Gallery featuring Métis artists, and is involved in ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art, a new initiative reflecting the city’s renewed commitment to public art.

    While she uses different mediums in her studio practice, Morrissette has recently been working with video and image projection in conjunction with audio recordings to create interactive experiences. As part of ArtworxTO, she aims to take over the walls and facades of Toronto’s trendy Junction neighbourhood at night throughout 2021.

    Ultimately, the motivation for Morrissette’s research and creative practice is born of her work as a Métis curator and artist.

    “I am working to address concerns that not only interest me and make me curious, but also to understand how I can contribute to healthier Indigenous communities in the future,” she says.

    She plans to develop a course at Brock over the next few years centred on Indigenous representation that will enrich the educational experience for all students at the MIWSFPA.

    “Issues of representation for Indigenous people are very important considerations for anyone with a creative practice, in any genre,” she says.

    Morrissette is strategizing long term with her goals at Brock, acknowledging the history of the University and ongoing moves toward Indigenization.

    “I bring a speciality in Indigenous art and I am mindful of the work done before my arrival. I am excited to learn what have my colleagues been working towards, who are the students, and how I can support Brock in its commitment to inclusivity and decolonization through my teaching and research practices.”

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  • Virtual workshops for Brock Choral Ensembles open to the public

    Caption: The Brock University Chamber Choir directed by Rachel Rensink-Hoff gathers virtually to rehearse and attend Shared Perspectives, a new virtual workshop series offered by Brock’s Department of Music.

    Originally published in The Brock News THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021 | by 

    Brock’s Choral Ensembles are getting front-row access to a diverse lineup of artists — and the public has been invited to tune in.

    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Choral Ensembles at Brock University, launched a virtual workshop series called “Shared Perspectives: Live talks featuring guest conductors, composers and vocal choral specialists” in the fall. Funded by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) and the Walker Cultural Leaders Series presented by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the series is continuing this semester, welcoming a guest speaker each week.

    The online presentations are hosted on Zoom, with some artists choosing to give a formal presentation and others engaging in an interview-style format. Time is always allotted for a question-and-answer period, enrichening the experience for all participants.

    “Any opportunity to hear more than one voice should be cherished,” says Rensink-Hoff. “Teaching online synchronously is challenging because there is always only one person talking. I knew in August that I needed to shake things up.”

    Rensink-Hoff has since brought in a diverse roster of guests, many of whom speak to issues relevant to today.

    “This semester, a number of our guest speakers will be engaging us in conversations around cultural appropriation and appreciation in the arts — and how we can navigate these pathways more respectfully and thoughtfully,” she says.

    Upcoming sessions include topics such as cultural appropriation and culture sharing in choral music; decolonizing the music curriculum; debunking myths around vocal health; and traditional South African music.

    Even in a fully online format, the Brock Choral Ensembles meet every week, rehearse online, and discuss musical elements. Rensink-Hoff believes that adding guest speakers in the mix has brought something unique to the “Zoom classroom.”

    “The opportunity to hear different perspectives on a wide variety of topics related to singing and choral music has been very rewarding. In normal circumstances, we would not have had such a rich display of voices in just one year,” she says. “The students are so fortunate to have been introduced to so many amazing artists.”

    The Shared Perspectives series is also open to the public, making this a valuable opportunity for Brock’s Music Department to connect with the local community. Past sessions have seen up to 20 community members in attendance, Rensink-Hoff says.

    The series continues Brock and the MIWSFPA’s strong history of community engagement in Niagara, enhancing vitality in the region and offering experiential opportunities for connection through the arts.

    While this initiative was always designed to be virtual, given its success and positive response, Rensink-Hoff plans to run the series again next year.

    “I hope to partner with other colleagues who want to bring in guests on a range of music related topics. Stay tuned for Shared Perspectives 2.0 next year.”

    To learn more about upcoming Shared Perspectives workshops, please visit ExperienceBU.

    To register for a free workshop, please email sing@brocku.ca

    More information available on the Sing! At Brock website. 

    Upcoming Shared Perspectives workshops

    • Wednesday, March 3, 2:30 p.m.: Rollo Dilworth — Cultural Appropriation and Culture Sharing in Choral Music
    • Monday, March 15, 12:30 p.m.: Cynthia Peyson Wahl — Decolonizing the Music Curriculum
    • Wednesday, March 17, 2:30 p.m.: Leanne Vida — A Spectrum of Sound: Vocal Resonance
    • Wednesday, March 24, 2:30 p.m.: Christianne Rushton — Fact or Fiction: Debunking the Myths Around Vocal Health
    • Monday, March 29, 12:30 p.m.: Ardelle Ries — The SingAble Society
    • Wednesday, March 31, 2:30 p.m.: Michael Barret — Traditional South African Music

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  • Brock students selected to participate in national Black theatre initiative

    Caption: Sid Malcolm (left), fourth year Dramatic Arts student with a minor in Music, and Soji Cole, second year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities, are two of 21 students selected for “Seeding the Future”, a new initiative highlighting young Black voices. 

    Two Brock University students will be joining a historic group of Black theatre makers as part of the digital performance series “21 Black Futures.”

    Presented by Obsidian Theatre in partnership with CBC Arts, “21 Black Futures” has brought together 63 Black Canadian playwrights, actors and directors to create art during the pandemic and answer the question, “What is the future of Blackness?”

    The result is 21 filmed monodramas (theatre pieces featuring one person) that are currently premiering on CBC’s streaming channel, CBC Gem.

    Now, 21 students from across the country will join the movement, including fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Sid Malcolm, and Soji Cole, a second-year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities.

    From a national call that attracted more than 60 applicants, Malcolm and Cole have each been awarded a spot in “Seeding the Future,” which invites Black students to create theatre pieces in response to each of the 21 monodramas of “21 Black Futures.”

    “Seeding the Future” is a partnership between Brock University, York University, Obsidian Theatre and CBC Arts, and allows students to create spoken word poetry, audio recordings, video recordings or written responses.

    “As we work at Obsidian to develop and advance Black artists across the country, we also recognize the glaring lack of Black voices in arts criticism and journalism,” said Michael Sinclair, General Manager of Obsidian Theatre. “Black and other BIPOC artists deserve to have voices at the table from their own communities engaging in dialogue about their work. We can’t wait to see what these 21 Black students have to say.”

    For Malcolm and Cole, being a part of this creative response highlighting young Black voices is very meaningful.

    Malcolm said being part of the project gives her and a large group of Black theatre students the chance to have their voices heard.

    “This is a space specifically intended to cultivate young Black artists and help them express what their experience is, and how that shapes the future of Blackness,” she said. “As a young woman of colour, it is often extremely difficult to find pieces of theatre I am able to connect with. There’s often very little representation for People of Colour within the world of theatre. Being a POC in theatre is seen as a rarity and is often trivialized.”

    Cole is excited about the project, and said it speaks to him on many fronts.

    “As a Black person, a migrant and an international student, I have been involved in conversations on the theme of Blackness and racism since I came to Canada in 2019,” he said. “This is the first one that intersects with a discipline and profession that I have identified with all my life.

    “This means a lot to me, as I have always believed that beyond the rhetoric of racism, arts — and especially theatre — can be used as twine to bind community together and dismantle the boundary of segregation.”

    The 21 student responses, including those of Malcolm and Cole, will be released in three instalments, initially on the students’ own social media channels and then re-published on the CBC Arts website. The first group of responses are now live. Malcolm’s work will be published on Monday, March 1 and Cole’s will be published on Monday, March 8.

    Cole, who is a playwright, director and actor, anticipates using his creative and critical wits to respond.

    “As someone who has a deep interest in the sociology of arts, I might want to connect my response to the social implication of the performance,” he said.

    Malcolm anticipates she may draw on specific aspects of her artistic practice.

    “I have a recent reignited passion for poetic writing,” she said. “Typically, I enjoy weaving controversial topics into my writing, which often means critiquing the way that race is perceived around me today.”

    She is also intrigued by the marriage of critical thought and artistic expression.

    “The arts are a dialogue and having Black theatre students continue the conversation begun by “21 Black Futures” is a hugely exciting prospect,” said Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and the co-ordinator of Brock’s participation in “Seeding the Future.” “I can’t wait to see and hear how they all respond.”

    David Fancy, Chair of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said the Department is committed to “the ongoing labour of decolonization, Indigenization, and anti-racism. We are particularly pleased to be involved in such an important initiative,” he said.

    Malcolm is energized by the many conversations “Seeding the Future” ignites, noting the opportunity for discussion while fostering growth through shared experiences.

    “I think a large outcome from this project will be the amount of networking that is possible for young Black artists that would be difficult to do without this project,” she said.

    Cole acknowledges the significance and enduring nature of this project.

    “While this is not a policy project, the expectation is that it will strengthen our understanding of memory, redress, and inclusivity,” he said. “The outcome should be able to resonate with every community; it should generate a peculiar echo of its own that will resound in the heart and mind of everyone.”

    To read the entries in “Seeding the Future,” visit CBC Arts.

    To view the performances in “21 Black Futures,” visit CBC Gem.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • BIPOC Speaker Series explores anti-racist stage management practices in theatre

    Picture above: Narda E. Alcorn is the next speaker in the 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series presented by Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Originally published in The Brock News on WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2021 | by 

    Celebrated Professor and stage manager Narda E. Alcorn from Yale School of Drama will discuss anti-racist stage management practices during a virtual talk on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

    Alcorn will lead the next instalment of the 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series, conversations in which Black, Indigenous and People of Colour theatre leaders address issues of interest to the theatre community. The series is presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and supported by the Faculty of Humanities.

    The Feb. 23 event takes place on Zoom from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and is open to the Brock and theatre community as well as the general public.

    Alcorn, who has worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, regionally and internationally, will share her evolving anti-racist stage management practice, placing it in the context of her career, experience and point of view. She will offer ideas and steps that others can take to cultivate anti-racist practice and pedagogy.

    In 2019, Alcorn was appointed Chair of the Stage Management Department at Yale School of Drama. She co-authored Stage Management Theory as a Guide to Practice: Cultivating a Creative Approach with Lisa Porter.

    To register for the free event, please visit Brock University Tickets.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised