Alumni

  • Dramatic Arts grad’s road to success was paved at Brock

    Jacelyn Holmes (BA ’08) is set to release her debut album this winter and credits her success in the arts to her start in Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts.


    (From The Brock News, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 | by Sarah Moore)

    Among many things, Brock University taught Jacelyn Holmes (BA ’08) to defy her anxiety and be fearless.

    The Dramatic Arts alumna learned to harness the confidence she embraced in University and now uses it each time she takes the stage to sing.

    With the 10th anniversary of her graduating class set to be celebrated at Brock Homecoming this weekend, Holmes couldn’t help but reminisce about her artistic journey and how her Brock degree helped her achieve her career goals.

    “It’s been an interesting ride so far and it’s funny to recount where I am and what I’ve done,” said Holmes, who studied at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts before its move to the new downtown St. Catharines facility.

    After graduating, Holmes was involved in theatre productions and was cast in various television spots before realizing that her true passion was in the music industry.

    She has since landed gigs playing for the Toronto Jazz Festival, Canadian Music Week, the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival as well as booking international tours and showcases in Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, Asia and the U.S. She will be releasing her debut album in February, with a Christmas album to follow later next year.

    “Now that it’s all coming together, I’m excited to continue honouring my commitment to learning through art and creativity and discovering myself as an artist,” she said.

    An actress since childhood, her lifelong dream had always been to work in theatre and film — making the Dramatic Arts Department at Brock a perfect fit.

    “It was an amazing education,” she recounted. “At Brock, you spend four years constantly putting it all out there, learning to be vulnerable and available to failure in an environment where you can thrive with help from acclaimed professionals. It’s quite a beautiful thing.”

    Although her passion for the craft was evident, struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety made focusing on schoolwork extremely difficult.

    “When I got to university, it became very apparent that I was not working at the same level as other people,” she recalled. “That brought out insecurities, shame and questions of why I was even there. I felt like I was drowning.”

    Holmes credited the support she received from Brock’s A-Z Learning Services for helping her overcome those barriers.

    “Feeling empowered to go and ask for the help that I needed or extra time on tests really allowed me to excel,” she said. “The staff at the Learning Centre were patient and taught me how to apply all that I had learned to my schoolwork and in the real world.”

    Her grades went up, she was awarded scholarships and would even receive the Spirit of Brock Award — given to the student who embodies the spirit of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock, by inspiring other students — in 2008.

    Department of Dramatic Arts Chair Joe Norris congratulated Holmes on all of her success and her ability to channel the skills she developed with her degree to find success in the arts and life overall.

    “Professors in the Department of Dramatic Arts aspire to inspire students in the entire range of their creative endeavours,” he said.

    Holmes agreed that her theatre background has been key to her success as a performing vocalist.

    “It was because of my theatre background that I am able to perform; it taught me to be fearless,” she said. “Some people would think that someone with anxiety would have a hard time getting up on stage, but it is my escape — and that feels awesome.”

    Shelley Huxley, Brock’s Director of Alumni Relations, said she is always pleased to hear of student successes.

    The Brock University Alumni Association works diligently, she adds, “to keep alumni informed about what’s happening at the University, and we work to connect alumni with each other for personal and professional gain.”

    “As the largest constituency of the University, alumni are our most loyal supporters and our best ambassadors,” she said. “We want our alumni to care about the University long after they’ve graduated. Engaged alumni benefit both the University and each other, but more importantly, engaged alumni help raise the reputation of Brock, and by virtue, the reputation of their degree in the marketplace.”

    This year’s Homecoming celebration takes place from Friday, Sept. 21 to Sunday, Sept. 23 with a variety of activities happening on campus and in the community.

     

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  • Brock prof and alumna explore circus performance in joint publication

    Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker and MA graduate Hayley Malouin at the conference Circus and its Others II in Prague this past August. The two have recently published a special double issue of Performance Matters, titled “Circus and Its Others,” exploring questions around circus performance and gender, difference and dis/ability. (Photo by David Konecny)


    (From The Brock News, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    For many people, the circus is a place of mystery and wonder, filled with the extraordinary, unusual and strange.

    But what does it mean to be different and what does it mean to perform those differences?

    For Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker and Brock alumna Hayley Malouin (BA ’15, MA ’17), these questions have led to a joint publication in the emerging field of circus studies.

    The pair launched a special double issue of the journal Performance Matters, titled “Circus and Its Others,” Aug. 28 in Prague at the similarly named Circus and Its Others II conference.

    Inspired by the inaugural Encounters with Circus and its Others conference organized by Fricker with assistance from Malouin in 2016, the publication features contributions from established scholars, graduate students and circus artists from around the world. Many of the contributors were in Prague to participate in the second conference and celebrate at the launch.

    The conference series brings together scholars from around the world to explore questions about the place of difference and “otherness” in contemporary circus.

    “We’re asking questions about circus in a way that allows people who have been working at these questions from different perspectives and different places to jump on board,” says Fricker.

    Malouin, who has an undergraduate degree from Brock in Dramatic Arts, explored ideas of public performance, political protest and public performance of the grotesque as part of her MA in Studies in Comparative Literature and the Arts.

    “Circus is an interesting cultural touchstone because it reflects societal norms about people, community and politics. This is in contrast to the image of circus – which circuses themselves cultivate – as existing on the margins of society,” says Malouin.

    The special issue of Performance Matters was her first foray into academic publishing. In addition to co-editing the issue with Fricker, Malouin worked with other circus scholars, including Brock student Taylor Zajdlik (BA ’15, MA ’17), on a section of the journal exploring questions of queerness and freakery in the circus.

    “It was a great experience to establish myself as someone with those skills,” says Malouin. “I really care about the work, I feel it’s important. It’s a substantial contribution to an emerging field.”

    The special edition also includes work by DART Associate Professor David Fancy on disability and the circus, making reference to a creative research project in which he participated involving intellectually disabled survivors of institutional abuse.

    The questions Fricker and Malouin are researching have application beyond the circus to culture as a whole.

    “What we’re looking at is how questions about difference and otherness play out in certain practices in the contemporary moment,” says Fricker. “And more broadly we’re asking, how do we work to make culture more inclusive?”

    The full issue can be read online for free.

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  • Beloved Visual Arts staffer inspires Art History award

    Lesley Bell, right, sits with Visual Arts Chair Donna Szőke, one final time in the Learning Commons at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts before Bell’s retirement. The department marked her retirement with the creation of the Lesley Bell Award, to be presented to the Art History student entering third year with the highest average.


    (From The Brock News, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 | by Sarah Moore)
    When you walk into the Learning Commons at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), you are greeted by the always-smiling face of Lesley Bell.

    The long-time Co-ordinator enthusiastically helps students, staff and faculty alike on their quests for knowledge, is always eager to explain how a piece of software works and has no shortage of stories to share about art, the University or life in general.

    It is her passion for the work that she does, and for the people she works with, that inspired the Visual Arts Department to pay tribute to Bell’s legacy with a student award named in her honour.

    Created in recognition of her retirement at the end of August, the new Lesley Bell Award will be presented annually to the third-year History of Art and Visual Culture major with the highest average.

    Donna Szőke, Chair of the Visual Arts Department, said the award is a fitting way to recognize student accomplishment as well as Bell’s time with Brock, both academically and professionally.

    “Lesley has been an invaluable resource to our department,” she said.  “Her constant generosity of spirit, curiosity and kindness has touched the lives of the many students, instructors and staff of Visual Arts, as well as Brock as a whole. We celebrate Lesley with this award.”

    Bell, who has been employed with Brock for 34 years, is the longest-serving staff member in the Visual Arts Department.

    She remembers her journey through the ranks at Brock fondly, starting from her decision to enrol as a student in 1983.

    While working part time as a waitress, Bell would always share her love of the arts with her coworkers. As a mature student in her 30s, however, she was skeptical about going back to school.

    After some prodding from coworkers — and realizing there was a night class at Brock that she could attend which wouldn’t interfere with her work schedule — she decided to enrol.

    “I started an art history class with Sylvia Osterbind, a fine arts librarian who also taught the Art History course for a fledgling program in History and Studio Arts at Brock,” Bell recalled. “Sylvia was a formidable teacher. I sat at the back of the class and watched her stride in front of two projected images of ancient art in her sensible shoes, waving her pointer and lecturing with her succinct German accent.”

    From that point on, Bell was “hooked.” She would close down the bar, working until the wee hours of the morning, and then wake up for early morning seminars.

    “I suddenly noticed ‘classical’ architectural elements on the buildings on St. Paul Street when riding the bus home from Brock, and I met some people who are still important friends,” she recalls fondly. “I started Brock thinking I was not smart enough for university, but that course showed me that I had a mind that could ask questions, and I had eyes that could see the creative world around me.”

    After graduating with an Honours B.A. in Visual Arts from Brock University in 1988, Bell then continued her studies and earned a Master of Library Science degree from Western University in 1993.

    From there, she returned to the place where it all started and began working at Brock as a Visual Arts resource co-ordinator.

    Over time, her job would evolve to include oversight of the Brock University Art Collection and the former Sean O’Sullivan Art Gallery on the main campus.

    Bell would eventually conceive and help design the Learning Commons in the new MIWSFPA building in downtown St. Catharines, where her duties expanded to include managing the equipment kiosk and supervising student monitors. She constantly worked to develop opportunities for the space to further benefit students and the community, and never stopped striving to make it a more inclusive place to study and congregate.

    Bell is not one to boast about her accomplishments or bask in the spotlight, however. Especially, she says, when she was simply “doing her job.”

    But when it comes to the student award in her honour, she is proud that her legacy will serve to inspire future students to also pursue their passions.

    “I don’t know if I can say this emphatically enough: this award means more to me than the decades of service to Brock and is a legacy that actually stuns me,” she said. “We are all here because of the students that we train, nurture and mentor.  However, we seldom get a chance to know that we ‘make a difference.’ So, it is deeply significant to me to be given this gift from the department.”


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  • Sabina’s Splendid Brain opens at MIWSFPA Sept. 14

    Cellist Grace Snippe (BMus ’16), left, and Danielle Wilson bring the story of 20th century psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein to life in Sabina’s Splendid Brain. The performance opens on Sept. 14 at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. (Photo by George Enns.)


    (From The Brock News, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018 | by Sarah Moore)

    While Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung have become synonymous with psychoanalysis, the name Sabina Spielrein might leave you drawing a blank.

    The Stolen Theatre Collective hopes to change that by bringing the rarely told story of the Russian-Jewish psychoanalyst to life in a new production at Brock beginning next week.

    Sabina’s Splendid Brain, which opens Sept. 14 at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), chronicles the life of the tenacious and passionate Spielrein as she struggles through the circumstances of her family, her education and her therapy, the professional barriers facing women and wartime anti-Semitism.

    Spielrein was often known in relation to her famous colleagues: first as a patient, then as a lover of Jung, and later as a student and friend of Freud. As a psychoanalyst in her own right, however, she moved beyond them both to become one of the great thinkers in 20th century psychology.

    Her work was all but wiped from the history books due to Joseph Stalin’s repression of intellectuals and the Nazi invasion of her hometown of Rostov-on-Don, where she and her daughters were killed. Her diaries were recently discovered, however, and her publications were re-examined to reveal the profound impact that her work had on her teachers and peers.

    “Sabina had to fight for her voice,” said Brock Associate Theatre Professor Gyllian Raby, the production’s Director. “She walks the boundary between genius and delusion, and this production invites the audience to experience her journey from a screaming teenager with spittle in her hair to the woman who wowed Freud’s intellectual Vienna Circle.”

    Scripted by Carol Sinclair, Sabina’s Splendid Brain is rendered on stage in sets by Nigel Scott, projections by Karyn McCallum and lighting by James McCoy (BA ’14), and features performances by Brock Assistant Theatre Professor Danielle Wilson and cellist Grace Snippe (BMus ’16).

    “This is a project that fully explores the interdisciplinarity between the arts that was the founding dream of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts,” said Wilson, who is also the co-founder and co-artistic director of Stolen Theatre Collective. “Music, theatre and philosophy are a natural trio in this story of how psychoanalysis helped shape modern consciousness.”

    Fides Krucker, a Canadian interpreter, vocalist, opera singer and teacher, collaborated on the interdisciplinary production with Stolen Theatre. Her innovative vocal techniques and interdisciplinary work will be further highlighted later this month as part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the MIWSFPA.

    Sabina’s Splendid Brain opens with back-to-back weekend performances Sept. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22, all beginning at 7:30 p.m. Additional matinee performances will take place on Sept. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.

    All performances are held at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, located at 15 Artists’ Common in St. Catharines.

    Tickets are pay-what-you-can-afford ($10, $25, $40 and $55) and can only be purchased in advance through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office.

    Limited paid parking is available on-site, but city parking is available within close proximity to the venue.

    For more information on the production, please contact info@stolentheatrecollective.ca

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  • Dramatic Arts grads in Toronto Fringe Festival spotlight

    (From The Brock News, Tuesday, August 18, 2018)

    Two plays featuring Brock Dramatic Arts graduates will be playing this week in Toronto as part of the Best of Fringe.

    First Dates, a play about love, loss and people aching to connect, is written and directed by Niagara Falls native and former DART student Wes Berger and features music by his brother, musician and Brock alumnus Aaron Berger (BA ’17).

    Also featured during the Best of Fringe event is Anywhere, the newest work by award-winning playwright Michael Ross Albert starring Brock alumna Cass Van Wyck (BA ’13). The thriller, set in an Airbnb, follows a cordial relationship between strangers that escalates into a tense battle for control.

    Anywhere and First Dates were both selected as 2018 Patron’s Picks at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

    “On behalf of the department, we want to congratulate Wes, Cass and Aaron,” says Professor Joe Norris, Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts. “As always, we celebrate our students’ successes and are pleased their hard and talented work is recognized in the Ontario theatre community.”

    The Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival provides opportunities for emerging and established artists to share their productions with the community in an affordable and accessible way. The Best of Fringe remounts selected productions at the Studio Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts to give patrons a second chance to see the shows.

    Also in July was the Hamilton Fringe Festival, which showcased another production filled with Brock talent. September Songs was directed by Colin Bruce Anthes (BA ’14) and featured five Brock grads. The show will be coming to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Nov. 1 to 3.

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  • New grad honoured for textile artwork

    Victoria Reid was recently honoured for her artwork, which was on display at Rodman Hall Art Centre as part of the Turnin’ this Car Around exhibition in April.

    (From The Brock News, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    The eye-catching pieces were hard to miss.

    Made from everyday materials, the headless human forms could be seen cascaded down a wall within Rodman Hall Art Centre, drawing attention and sparking conversations among visitors.

    Created by Victoria Reid, the pieces were featured during the VISA 4F06 Honours exhibition, Turnin’ this Car Around, in April, but continue to earn the young artist praise.

    Visual arts graduate Victoria Reid has been awarded the inaugural Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award. (Photo: Jimmy Limit)

     

     

    The June graduate was chosen to receive the inaugural Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for her work. The honour is given to a graduating student for a piece of textile art and is intended to support the student’s continued artistic development.

    Reid’s figures, made from yarn, fabric scraps, plaster and packing tape, challenge the viewer to see bodies as objects taking up space.

    “The bodies are not human without their contents,” says Reid. “These sculptures embrace the oddity and the awkwardness of the human body, focusing on the fact that we are weird masses of matter and, together with soul, we become beings.”

    Reid says for as long as she can remember, she has been intrigued by textiles.

    “They have so much personality and can be handled with a variety of different methods to morph them into something new,” she says.

    It was her grandmother who taught her how to weave, stitch, sew, knit and crochet at an early age.

    Reid applied these more traditional ways of working with textiles to new ideas to create her award-winning work and cites Walker’s own work as inspiration.

    “Marilyn I. Walker’s piece in the first floor hall inspired me greatly this year with the variety in colour and texture, and the stitching together of different fabric patterns and materials,” she says.

    Reid’s pieces are cast from her own body and lend drama to the philosophical question of the mind-body dichotomy, writes Associate Professor Derek Knight in the exhibition catalogue.

    “References to the human body are rarely benign and Reid is no different when she describes her plaster figures as symbolizing the existential dilemma between spiritual life and physical existence,” he writes.

    Reid will be continuing her arts education this fall at the University of Western Ontario, where she is enrolled in a Master of Library and Information Science program to study Collections and Archive Management.

    “I want my future career to work with, influence and inform my art practice,” says Reid, who continues to create, show and sell her art. She is also working with Brock Visual Resources Librarian Lesley Bell for the summer.

    “Being awarded the Marilyn I Walker Textile art award means so much to me,” Reid says. “Working with textiles in my art is what I do and being awarded for something that I have worked hard on and put so much energy into is a great feeling. It makes me feel not only proud of myself, but thankful for all of the friends, family, peers and instructors who have helped and supported me along the way.”

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  • Student completes music degree started 18 years ago in Mexico

    Mexico’s Luis Gerardo Molina will graduate from Brock Friday with a degree in Music.

    (from The Brock News,  Tuesday, June 05, 2018 | by )

    For 20 years, Luis Gerardo Molina worked his way up the corporate ladder of a growing computer software firm in his home country of Mexico.

    After high school, he had made what he viewed as a responsible decision to choose a stable career in technology over a fragile one as a classical pianist, but his love of music kept pulling at him like a magnet.

    Eventually, he gave in, and on Friday, June 8, at the age of 48, his career change will be official when he graduates from Brock University with a degree in Music.

    “It means everything,” said Molina. “That was a dream that I always wanted to make happen and I really struggled to get it.”

    Born into a family of talented musicians, Molina grew up around choirs and instruments, and by the age of six it was obvious he had a gift. At nine, he started working with a piano teacher and for eight years he attended a specialized school of music that turned his hobby into a craft.

    “I finished my high school and I had that dilemma many people face — should I devote my life to music? Is that a safe path for the rest of my life?” Molina said. “I decided to follow an alternative career. I always really liked the maths, so I decided to choose engineering.”

    A literal flip of a coin at the age of 17 made Molina choose computer engineering over civil engineering, and that set in motion a software career that lasted 20 years.

    But while his career progressed to the point of becoming a manager, so did his ongoing love of music. Having never truly given up his dream of being a professional pianist, Molina went back to the University of the Americas part time in 2000, completing two years of a four-year degree before realizing the workload wasn’t sustainable.

    Luis Molina’s music career has taken him to competitions and performances around the world.

    “It was just too much,” he said.

    But an invitation to an international piano competition in Paris in 2003 ramped up his duelling interests. After beating out nearly 100 competitors from 35 countries to win the contest, he was invited to more international performances and competitions, leading to the production of his first album of live recordings.

    “I got very good support from the company I was working for. The owner was a kind guy who was also involved in music and he always felt proud to tell them he had an employee with this background in competition and music,” said Molina, who traveled to the U.S., Germany, Russia, Poland and elsewhere over the years.

    “After doing all that, I decided the music is calling me more and more,” he said. “The company I was working for was growing and every day it was getting more complicated to do both things together.”

    Finally in 2015, the door opened to make music his full-time endeavour. He was hired as a pianist with a philharmonic orchestra in Mexico and went back to university for his third year of music school.

    Then, in 2017, a trip to Canada to visit friends in Niagara led to another big change.

    “I loved the Niagara region so I thought, if I’m going for my passion in music, I found the perfect place to do it,” he said.

    A tour of Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and a meeting with Associate Professor of Music Karin Di Bella confirmed that Brock was where Molina would finish his degree.

    “I fell in love with what I found here. And now that I’m almost done, I feel very lucky to have had this great opportunity in this great country and at this great University,” he said.

    Di Bella called Molina “the real deal.”

    “He possesses a rare combination of drive, discipline, musical maturity, technical facility, innate musicality and a true flair for performance,” she said. “Despite his many accomplishments, he is very humble and always eager to learn, making him a true joy to work with.”

    After graduating Friday in the final day of Brock’s Spring Convocation, Molina will move on to do his master’s in musical literature and performance at Western University.

    From there, a PhD and potentially a teaching career are in his sights.

    “I’ve been performing for more than 30 years and I want to continue doing that, but I’d like to share my perspectives and teach others,” he said.

    Molina credits his wife, Marcela Lagunas Burgos, herself a talented musician who plays the cello, as playing a major role in his career success.

    “We’re definitely on the same frequency. She has supported me with everything and all the decisions.”

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  • Irigaray Circle presents Horizons of Sexual Difference, June 14

    The Irigaray Circle will hold their 9th meeting and 2018 conference “Horizons of Sexual Difference” at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts from June 14-16, 2018.

    This three-day international interdisciplinary meeting of The Luce Irigaray Circle is devoted to scholarship/creative work on, or inspired by, the thought of the contemporary French feminist thinker, Luce Irigaray. The conference theme, Horizons of Sexual Difference, brings Irigarayan scholarship into dialogue with recent discourses (i.e., trans, queer, Indigenous) in an effort to discover generative and productive sites in thinking that open up feminist thought.

    Keynote Speakers include:

    Tawny Andersen
    Gwen Benaway
    Tina Chanter
    Rachel Jones
    Emily Anne Parker

    The conference is organized by Dr. Athena Colman and is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, Brock University.

    To register and for recent news see the conference registration webpage

    To download a copy of the poster

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  • Post-Industrial Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics exhibition catalogue published

    CATHERINE PARAYRE, BROCK UNIVERSITY /
    REINHARD REITZENSTEIN, SUNY-BUFFALO, CURATORS

    The exhibition Post-Industrial Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics took place in 2017 at Silo-City, Buffalo, NY as a joint project funded by the Agreement for Scholarly Exchange and Collaboration between the State University of New York at Buffalo and Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario.

    The exhibition catalogue is now available for download.

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  • Breaking the Silence at In the Soil

    (Source: The Brock News | Wednesday, May 03, 2018 by Matthew Melnyk)

    Students from Stamford Collegiate took to the stage at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre to present their original play, Breaking the Silence, as part of In the Soil Arts Festival on Friday, April 27. The public performance was sponsored by Brock University. The play — based on the stories of British Home Children who were torn from their families and sent to Canada for a ‘better life’ — earned Stamford the top prize at this year’s National Theatre School Drama Festival. Friday’s performance featured a quilt made up of historic photos of British Home Children.

    Stamford Collegiate at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Seen l to r: Colin Anthes, BA (Honours) Dramatic Arts and Psychology, Minor in Philosophy, 2014; MA Philosophy (Contemporary Continental Philosophy), 2016; Certificate in Public Law (in process) is an alumnus of Stamford Collegiate, an instructor at the Department of Dramatic Arts, Artistic Director of Essential Collective Theatre and founder of Twitches & Itches Theatre; Angela Menotti, program leader of Drama at Stamford Collegiate; and Ethan Yando, who has a placement at Stamford Collegiate as he completes his BA (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Minor in English Language and Literature, BEd Teacher Education – Intermediate Senior in 2018.

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