Current Students

  • Brock mourns loss of champion of Dramatic Arts

    Mary-Jane Miller (right) with her late husband Jack Miller shortly before her retirement in June 2004.


    Originally published in The Brock News FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2022 | by 

    The Brock community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of Mary-Jane Miller, who spent 36 years with the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    Miller, who began teaching at Brock in 1968 and served as both Associate Professor and Chair of the department during her tenure, passed away peacefully at home on June 22.

    A crucial member of the DART program, she was part of the early academic cohorts at Brock.

    Miller’s level of dedication and commitment over her 36 years with the University still resonates with many.

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby has many fond memories of Miller, who impacted not only the department, but also its students.

    “MJ set an example, consciously; she was a teacher in her every move. Her profound sense of duty made her step up for several years after her migraines undermined her desire to Chair the Department of Dramatic Arts,” Raby says. “She didn’t want to retire until she felt our fledgling department was stable and had found its identity; she cared so very deeply.”

    DART Professor David Fancy says Miller “left a very strong legacy of commitment to theatre and dramatic arts in the Humanities and at Brock.”

    “She was a key architect to the development of the Department of Dramatic Arts in the 1960s and ’70s,” he says.

    After retiring in 2004, Miller went on to become Professor Emerita, maintaining strong ties to the Brock Dramatic Arts community.

    Miller and her late husband, Jack Miller, who passed away in 2016 and also had a significant impact on the University, are remembered for their lasting contributions.

    “Their combined generosity to the department was legion and they led forward with a most steady and loving personal relationship that taught me about the beauty of being quietly grand in later years,” says David Vivian, Professor and Chair of the Studies in Arts and Culture.

    Miller’s family will receive friends on Friday, July 1 from 11 a.m. to noon at Patrick J. Darte Funeral Chapel, 39 Court St., St. Catharines, with a memorial service to follow in the chapel.

    Memorial donations to either the Stephen Lewis Foundation or the Brock University Scholarship Fund would be appreciated by the family.

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

  • Visual Arts grad finds passion through experiential learning

    Jessie Richard looks through archival material in Brock’s Archives and Special Collections.


    Originally published in The Brock News FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2022 | by 

    When Jessie Richard enrolled as a Brock University Visual Arts student, she never dreamed it would lead to a career in the world of museums.

    Her time studying at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts opened her eyes to opportunities she had never given thought to before, an experience that has now inspired her future path.

    Richard received her Bachelor of Arts during Brock’s Spring Convocation Friday, June 17, after deferring her graduation a year in hopes of attending an in-person celebration.

    “My entire experience at the Marilyn was amazing,” she said, while looking back on her studies. “The faculty really made you feel like they were taking care of you every step of the way.”

    In addition to her Visual Arts courses, Richard took drama classes and spent time in the wardrobe and lighting departments.

    “It’s nice that when you were in the Marilyn, you were able to really scatter yourself around all the different departments,” she said. “I had a really fantastic time in that way. I really got to expand my horizon.”

    As Richard continued her education, she was drawn to courses taught by Keri Cronin, Associate Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture.

    “I had been taking many of Keri’s classes because I really loved her platform, the way she taught, the integration of collaboration and in-person work, and the research,” Richard said.

    Through the courses taught by Cronin, Richard discovered a way to get closer to the in-class material through an experiential learning opportunity. She applied to become a research assistant under the supervision of Cronin and soon found herself mesmerized by archival artifacts.

    “When Keri and I were at the Archives at Brock, I was able to take a quick peek in the back area,” she said. “Going through these newspapers and handwritten letters, there’s just something special about being able to touch a piece of history.”

    Cronin was thrilled to see Richard’s love for history and research grow.

    “What makes her story kind of cool is that she found her passion through this backdoor,” Cronin said. “It was through this opportunity with me that she really discovered where she wants to be, and she is really just running with it.”

    Since completing her studies, Richard has gone on to work as the Collections Assistant at the St. Catharines Museum and the Museum of Industry in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. She currently works as an Archivist at the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre in Stratton, Ont.

    As she reminisced about her experience at Brock and the excitement of Convocation, Richard provided one last piece of advice for current students.

    “I took classes I thought I would never like, and I loved them,” she said. “I didn’t go into this thinking I would work in museums, but because I didn’t turn any opportunity down, I found my passion and a career path that speaks to my soul.”

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

  • Dramatic Arts criticism course returning to in-person theatre

    Image caption: Students in DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism will be experiencing a variety of live productions this summer after two years of digital offerings.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022 | by 

    After two years of viewing performances online, Brock University students learning the art of theatre criticism will experience indoor, in-person theatre at the celebrated Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre.

    DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism is an online intensive Summer Term course run between July 11 and 22, bolstered by field trips to see live productions at Canada’s leading theatre companies.

    Taught by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for The Toronto Star, the course introduces students to the practical craft of theatre criticism and dives into the theoretical background of the discipline.

    Fricker said that after two years of running the course during the pandemic and having students review digital theatre exclusively, it will be thrilling to view live productions again.

    “Both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals have full indoor seasons this year and I’m looking forward to bringing the course to shows there,” she said. “We’re setting up some post-show talks so that students will be able to ask questions about the productions they’ve seen with the artists who made them.”

    Stratford Festival is welcoming back audiences beginning in May with a season theme of ‘New Beginnings’ and featuring plays such as Hamlet and Little Women and the musical Chicago. The largest classical repertory theatre in North America celebrates a its milestone 70th year in 2022.

    Shaw Festival Theatre, in its 60th season, will feature 13 plays across three stages in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Productions include The Importance of Being EarnestEverybody and The Doctor’s Dilemma.

    After seeing productions, students will write and discuss responses to them and learn about alternative, digital, performative and visual forms of critical response, while engaging with theatre culture.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website. Students interested in learning more about the course are encouraged to contact Fricker at kfricker@brocku.ca

    Learn more about the 2022 seasons at Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre online.

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  • Student-run podcast provides guidance, inspiration for future artists

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines is home to the student-run podcast, Dear Marilyn, named in honour of the late textile artist and philanthropist.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022 | by 

    What started as a passion project for two Brock University students in search of career tips has become a robust podcast series providing invaluable insight to the next generation of creators.

    Produced for students by students, the popular podcast Dear Marilyn is now in its second season of connecting the student community with professional artists, with plans to continue production on an ongoing basis.

    Created in 2021 by Dramatic Arts (DART) students Danielle Letourneau and Luca D’Amico, the podcast name honours celebrated textile artist, philanthropist and arts advocate Marilyn I. Walker. In 2008, Walker made a historic donation to Brock that led to the creation of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Letourneau, the podcast’s producer who is now in her fourth year of study with a concentration in Drama and Education and minor in History, says that she has often felt anxiety about entering theatre as a profession.

    “I started this podcast to give students like myself a resource for practical job advice,” Letourneau said. “The arts industry is not always considered the most conventional career path, but we do it because this is what we love; the arts nurture our souls.”

    Supported by Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund in 2021, the Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts and MIWSFPA department Chairs, the Dear Marilyn team invites local and surrounding artists from a range of artistic disciplines to share their stories.

    Co-hosts Hayley Bando, a second-year Dramatic Arts major with a concentration in Production and Design, and Chloe Racho, a third-year Music major with a minor in French Studies, are thrilled to be part of the project.

    “We are honoured to help bring these diverse perspectives about professional journeys in the arts to the Brock community,” Bando said.

    Recent podcast guests include actor, writer and producer Thet Win, voice actor Keegan Vaillancourt and singer-songwriter Glenn Marais.

    MIWSFPA faculty have been supportive since day one, with Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, championing the podcast idea in its early stages.

    “I was happy to support Dear Marilyn initially because it’s a great idea, and a positive student-led project during the hard time of the pandemic,” she said. “I looked forward to each episode and was entertained and educated by the hosts’ sparky exchanges with guests.”

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby guided the grant proposal for Dear Marilyn resulting in the expansion of the podcast to include all four departments at the downtown arts campus (Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture).

    “What’s not to like about Dear Marilyn? It relates directly to our mission to create experiential, professionalized learning for students producing, hosting, editing and broadcasting,” Raby said. “And, it’s entertaining and insightful.”

    DART Associate Professor Danielle Wilson has been working with the team on the second season. Episodes are edited by Alex Sykes, a fourth-year DART student with a concentration in Production and Design.

    Available on Spotify, the next episode goes live this week. For the latest news, follow Dear Marilyn on Instagram.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News, Uncategorised

  • Dramatic Arts students’ original play takes the stage Thursday

    Image caption: Little Raincoat Collective in rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, including (back row, from) Brenley Charkow (co-director) with company members Celine Ayesha, Sammie Marett, Alex Sykes, Jonah Pace, Michael Cicchini, Asenia Lyall and (front row, from left) Julian Valentin, Alyssa Ruddock and Abby Etling.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2022 | by 

    A compelling collective creation from nine fourth-year Brock Dramatic Arts (DART) students is set to premiere this week at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    The new play, The Storm Left Behind, is presented by Little Raincoat Collective (DART 4F56 Advanced Studies in Theatre) and directed by instructors Colin B. Anthes and Brenley Charkow.

    The a coming-of-age tale is about finding lightness in the darkest of times. Following the story of a girl who is navigating her way through life, the play takes audiences on a journey that combines different forms of storytelling.

    The production runs Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines.

    Tickets for the show, which is suitable for ages 15 and up, are $5 and can be purchased through Brock University Tickets.

    For more information about The Storm Left Behind, please visit the play’s website.


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    Categories: Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Future Students, News, Uncategorised

  • Visual Arts Department creates perfect pairing with local winery, gallery

    Image caption: A new partnership between Brock University and 13th Street Gallery (pictured above) will see Brock Visual Arts students showcasing their work in an upcoming exhibition beginning Saturday, April 2.

    Originally published in The Brock News |  TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2022 | by 

    A new partnership between Brock’s Department of Visual Arts and 13th Street Winery and Gallery is creating new scholarship and exhibition opportunities for students.

    The pairing’s first collaborative event is set to kick off this weekend, with a selection of work from Visual Arts (VISA) students graduating this spring on show at the 13th Street Gallery, 1776 Fourth Ave. in St. Catharines. The exhibition will run from April 2 to 30, with an artists’ reception taking place Saturday, April 16 between 2 and 5 p.m. that will allow the public to meet the artists and view their work.

    Additionally, 13th Street Winery and Gallery has announced it will provide an annual scholarship to a Visual Arts student to further their artistic practice. The first 13th Street Gallery and Winery Scholarship award winner will be announced at the April 16 reception.

    The gallery specializes in Canadian historical and contemporary fine art. Experiencing compelling art in a gallery setting has always been part of the vision for the premier local winery, which produces premium VQA wines.

    As galleries across the province open their doors after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibiting work in a professional setting presents an exciting opportunity for students to broaden their audiences and gain hands-on exposure to the arts industry.

    Amy Friend, Chair and Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said she’s pleased to begin this collaboration with 13th Street Gallery.

    “Having the work students are doing here at the Marilyn out in the community is wonderful,” she said.

    “We are thrilled to have this growing partnership with Brock University and glad to be able to provide the space for the students,” said John Mann, owner and director of 13th Street Gallery.

    In May, VISA faculty members and alumni have been invited to exhibit their work at the gallery.

    The 13th Street Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. For more gallery information and upcoming exhibition details, please visit the 13th Street Gallery website.

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

  • New Visual Arts course examines the anatomical body in historical texts

    Image caption: VISA 3V91 Inside Out – Revealing the Anatomical Body will examine images of the anatomical body in historical medical texts, such as this wooden female anatomical figure (Europe, 1601-1700) from the Science Museum, London, care of Wellcome Collection under a Creative Commons license.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2022 | by 

    A new course open to all Brock University students will critically examine anatomical illustrations throughout history and unpack what these visual representations reveal culturally, socially and artistically.

    Offered in the upcoming Spring/Summer Term, VISA 3V91 — Inside Out — Revealing the Anatomical Body is a new course developed and taught by Linda Carreiro, Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts and Professor of Visual Arts.

    Based out of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), VISA 3V91 is offered as a half course and is open to students across campus. No previous art history knowledge or artistic skills are required to enrol.

    Students will critically examine ‘flap anatomy’ found in historical medical and popular texts dating back to the 1500s, whereby images of layers of the body are peeled open to reveal muscle, organs and skeletal structures. Carreiro is interested in how this convention started, how it evolved and what the implications are from a socio-political perspective.

    The evolution of models and images in historical medical texts is a research specialization for Carreiro, and she is thrilled to bring her learnings and insights to Brock students.

    “Some of the images and models are absolutely stunning from an artistic perspective,” she says, “but these devices convey so much more than how the anatomical structures fit together.”

    Carreiro says it is important to examine who ended up on the dissection table in order to create these images, and what these images might reveal about that particular context.

    “Looking at images of public dissection theatres and profiles of anatomists can provide some of these insights,” she says.

    Students can expect to engage in critical readings, discussions and writing, with the opportunity to engage in studio work. Students must have a minimum of 5.0 overall credits and a minimum 60 per cent overall average or permission of the instructor to register for the course.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website.

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  • Brock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

    Image caption: Dramatic Arts Mainstage actor Yasmine Agocs rehearses a scene from the upcoming production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich, opening Friday, March 4 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Originally published MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2022 in The Brock News | by 

    Through an epic journey on a beloved red bicycle, an 11-year-old girl reflects on the small town she sees before her, taking audiences along for the ride. Venturing to the outer edges of town and encountering challenges unlike any she has ever experienced, she must face her fears to see the world in a new way.

    The Brock University spring 2022 Mainstage production of Red Bike brings the poetic words of celebrated playwright Caridad Svich to life with an exhilarating performance exploring movement, physical theatre and puppetry.

    Dramatic Arts student and Red Bike cast member Arnelle Douglas in
    rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    The show runs March 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 6 and 12 at 2 p.m. at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    The production’s unique style of fractured storytelling explores diverse themes as seen through the eyes of a child, including capitalism, consumerism, gentrification, globalization, immigration and isolation. Director and Dramatic Arts Instructor Mike Griffin was drawn to the play because of its whimsical nature.

    “While reading the play, I became a kid again; running out of the house to go on adventures down the street. Red Bike is the perfect balance of getting lost in imagination while reflecting on society,” he said.

    One of six actors in the all-female cast, fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Asenia Lyall said the unique script and dialogue provided her with a valuable opportunity to explore her creativity.

    “Being a part of Red Bike meant working with a small cast to tell a complicated and wonderful story in an unconventional way,” she said. “Learning how to perform this kind of script is a great opportunity for me as an actor. Embracing the abstraction and surrealism of the piece is something I’ve learned from.” While the cast and crew faced various challenges mounting the show during a pandemic, both the director and actors feel there was a silver lining.

    “We have bonded together as a community to create something fantastic,” Griffin said. “For me, the community that emerges out of the creative process is the reason that I keep doing theatre.”
    Lyall agreed, adding that creating theatre during the pandemic has taught her how to be flexible as an artist.

    “There is a real sense of humanity in this play, with a lot of exciting moments and big reveals that I think audiences will enjoy,” she said.

    The MIWSFPA will welcome a live audience for the production to the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the downtown arts campus in St. Catharines. In the interest of student and audience member safety, the theatre is operating at a reduced capacity with 120 seats available for each performance.

    Tickets are $20 for the public, $16 for youth and seniors and $15 for Brock students. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

    All visitors to Brock University and MIWSFPA must complete the Brock University Self-Screening Tool.

    The all-female cast of the upcoming Brock University production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich includes (from left) Asenia Lyall, Arnelle Douglas, Yasmine Agocs, Joanna Tran, Abby Malcolm and Sarah RowBrock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

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

  • 19th century Niagara revisited through new online exhibits

    Originally posted in The Brock News | MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2021 | by 

    Image caption: “Admiring tourists viewing the falls, from Prospect Point, Niagara, USA.,” Niagara Falls Stereo Cards Collection, RG 599, Brock University Archives and Special Collections.

    Brock University students have journeyed to the past collecting images of Niagara in the 1800s and are showcasing their findings in digital exhibits now on view for the community to enjoy.

    Throughout the Fall Term, students enrolled in VISA 2P90 Art in Revolution: Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture took a deep dive into the visual culture of 19th century Niagara while learning how to use CollectionBuilder, Open Source software used by museums, galleries and libraries around the world to build digital collections.

    Led by Keri Cronin, Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, the idea to build online exhibitions with students was sparked by the Digital Scholarship Institute workshop in May offered by Brock’s Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).

    Cronin attended the Digital Scholarship Institute and learned to use the software herself to build online exhibits using basic coding and metadata. She knew the skills would be extremely useful to students.

    “In this contemporary climate, knowing how to build an online presence for an exhibit is a vital, professional skill for students on their career path,” Cronin said. “This is important experiential education — future employers will be impressed.”

    Cronin said bringing the project to fruition was a team effort. The class worked in close collaboration with Digital Scholarship Librarian Tim Ribaric, who supported their technical training on CollectionBuilder. The DSL is the centre of digital scholarship at the University.

    Students also worked with David Sharron, Head of Archives and Special Collections in the Brock University Library, who provided access to the archives for students to research and collect materials from Brock’s digitized collection.

    Sharron said the Library has been digitizing parts of the collections for more than 15 years and when Cronin wanted to develop a major assignment based on these records, it was a quick ‘yes.’

    “There are millions of records that represent Niagara and its history in Archives and Special Collections. It is always a thrill to see what subjects and materials appeal to the modern student and what they can do with them,” said Sharron. “Projects like this bring these historical materials into the digital world in new and exciting ways.”

    Cronin agreed, saying that “traditionally we look at Europe, not Niagara. Students loved engaging with the local history. It gave them an opportunity to learn about key themes relating to 19th century life, art and visual culture.”

    Student Madeline Collins created an online exhibition entitled Modernizing the Landscape – Industrialization at Niagara Falls and called the project unique and illuminating.

    “I’ve never done anything like it,” she said. “Metadata and archival research are kind of like the behind-the-scenes of art history, so it was amazing to get a detailed, hands-on opportunity to try it out.”

    Other examples of student exhibits include Hydroelectric Power Niagara Falls by Ella Sexton examining the relationship between hydroelectricity and Niagara Falls; The Tipped Inkwell by Rachel Stangl looking at 19th century penmanship; A Fond Sigh of Friendship by Abigail Leeder displaying imagery and literature found in a ‘Friendship Journal’; and Don’t Slip and Niagara Fall by Riley Cuddy-Colbon, a collection of images of past extreme winters in Niagara Falls.

    Cronin commended the students for sticking with the project, admitting that CollectionBuilder is a tough platform to use and has its challenges.

    “The students worked through the learning curves, trusted the process, and have created something very special that they will use in their portfolios moving forward.”

    To view all of the student digital exhibits, please visit Cronin’s website.

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  • Brock students create sound art through experiential learning

    Published in The Brock News | MONDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2021 | by 

    A group of Brock University students have learned to engage with their sonic environments in new and unexpected ways, and are sharing their discoveries through creative sound art.

    This past spring, 72 students in Brock’s “The Culture of Noise” course had the opportunity to gain hands-on sound experience in sound production, execute their own soundwalk recording and learn how to use digital editing software.

    Their work is now being featured on the course’s web page for listeners to take in.

    Offered annually as a Spring/Summer course through the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), STAC 1P99 The Culture of Noise explores the role of noise in music, art and social spaces.

    The course delves into the history of sound studies from the influences of the Dada art movement to the groundbreaking theories of late Canadian composer, writer and influential sound theorist R. Murray Schafer.

    Taught by Ryan Bruce, MIWSFPA instructor, ethnomusicologist, jazz historian and saxophonist, the course had students conduct a soundwalk and create a finished recording that could be included in exhibitions to help build student portfolios for future opportunities.

    Bruce wanted students to really start listening and opening their ears to sound, whether it was music or noise.

    “Composers of the 20th century were very interested in this concept, starting from the early 1900s when noise was used as way to make music,” he said. “Early sound theorists turned music on its head and shed light on the value of listening and our ears.”

    Students worked in teams of three, with one recording a 25-minute soundwalk using a sound recording device; one editing the recording on Audacity (sound-editing software) to produce a final three-minute soundscape; and one reflecting on the process and writing a description to accompany the work.

    Bruce said that soundwalks “are a very interesting exercise, especially these days, as it forces us to be quiet while actively listening.”

    As a result, students learned about how sound impacts environment and gained experience with production tools to express their creative findings.

    David Vivian, Director of STAC and Associate Professor of Scenography in Dramatic Arts, reflected on the timing of this exercise in relation to the pandemic.

    “The last many months of the pandemic have given us indelible experiences that are rich material for creative exploration in sound,” he said. “This past spring’s offering of STAC 1P99 was an excellent opportunity for students from across the University to explore the possibility of sound design to make sense of these troubled times.

    “We look forward to even more provocative and revealing expressions in sound when we offer this online course in spring 2022,” Vivian said.

    To listen to the final soundscapes created by STAC 1P99 students, visit the Culture of Noise web page.

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