Current Students

  • Student, alumni art exhibition explores time through photography

    Give us a Moment, a Brock student and alumni art exhibit, is on display until Saturday, Nov. 12 in the Visual Arts Gallery of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.


    Originally published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    Using analogue and digital photography, Brock artists are sharing their creative interpretations of memory and time in the University’s latest exhibition.

    Presented by the Department of Visual Arts (VISA), ‘Give us a Moment’ combines these themes, and the etched traces of daily life, through photographs that use old, new and experimental processes.

    Laurie Morrison, both a Brock University Librarian and student in the VISA program, says her work showcased in the exhibition is “intended to bring to mind how the past shapes the present moment.”

    She produced her images through an analogue method, which she describes as both slow moving and unpredictable. It was the uncontrollable nature of the process that she most enjoyed.

    Typical analogue photography consists of film and the use of chemicals to create a reaction producing an image. In this exhibition, the artists explore different methods of production as well as diverse materials for their works.

    “These processes are also erratic and prone to many unexpected results,” Morrison says. “Some artists may find this frustrating, but I find it heightens my interest. The unpredictability becomes part of the journey.”

    For alumna Julie Luth (BA ’22) the exhibition’s title brought with it two separate interpretations.

    “An audience giving their time to examine and explore the artwork validates the artist’s status, and by asking the audience to give us a moment, we are referencing the politics of viewing that dictate an artist’s success,” she says. “Yet in the context of the work each of us are creating, the title takes a new meaning. Each of our works references the past and the passage of time. The title becomes a question asked by the forgotten moments and memories contained within these images.”

    Luth’s inspiration for her experimental processes comes from her endless ambition to discover, create and explore development of photographs.

    “Understanding what makes a photograph is crucial. We can see that photography is all around us and has been throughout all of history,” she says. “There is no single photographic process, but many to be explored — each with their own history and thematic implications.”

    VISA student Emily MacDonald’s work focuses on the time-based photographic process and examines time itself.

    “This show reminds the viewer of the existence of time, whether it is the time they spend with the images or the time that goes into these pieces, as majority of the images are created through a time-based photographic process,” she says.

    MacDonald’s creations revolve around time, memories and space that are significant to her. She applies both analogue and digital processes for her work, noting a distinctive difference with each image she creates using analogue methods.

    “With digital photography, you can shoot a photo as many times as you want. With analogue photography, you must think about the images you take. I sit and look through my viewfinder, observing my subject and the surrounding area until I feel ready to take the photo.”

    Give us a Moment, which is open to the public, will be exhibited until Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Visual Arts Gallery and Student Exhibition Space in Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines. For more information, please visit the Current Exhibitions web page.

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

  • Local arts awards give nods to Brock faculty

    Established Artist Nominee and Department of Visual Arts Associate Professor Donna Szoke engages with a class in her Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games exhibition space.


    Originally published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    The nominees for this year’s St. Catharines Arts Awards include some familiar faces from the Brock community.

    Associate Professors Rachel Rensink-Hoff, from Brock’s Department of Music, and Amy Friend and Donna Szoke, from the Department of Visual Arts, have each been recognized for their contributions to the arts.

    Rensink-Hoff, who conducts the Brock University Choir and Sora Singers, and is the Artistic Director of the Avanti Chamber Singers, was nominated for the Art in Education Award. The past Vice-President of Programming for Choral Canada and past President of Choirs Ontario, she maintains an active career as an adjudicator, workshop clinician and juror both locally and across Canada.

    A woman wearing all black leans against a wall covered in vines.

    Art in Education Award Nominee and Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff.

    Friend and Szoke were each nominated in the Established Artist Award category.

    Friend, Chair of Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, has exhibited in a generous roster of national and international exhibitions, including the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize Exhibition (U.K.), Gexto Photofestival (Spain), DongGang Photography Museum (Korea) and many more. Her work has also been featured in numerous publications such as California Sunday Magazine (U.S.), Archeology of Photography – Lux (Poland), Musée Magazine (U.S.) and Wired (U.S.).

    Szoke is an interdisciplinary artist whose work has been shown in public art, interactive video installation, outdoor site-specific installation, publications, film festivals and galleries in Canada, the U.S., France, Germany, Turkey, Hungary, Croatia, Cuba, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea. She has received numerous research awards and grants for her work, including from the Canada Council for the Arts, B.C. Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In 2017, she was awarded the Brock Faculty of Humanities Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity.

    A female holds flowers under a tropical shelter with glass and film on a table.

    Established Artist Nominee and Department of Visual Arts

    Chair Amy Friend works on cameraless images in the field.

    Friend and Szoke recently collaborated for a shared exhibition this past summer in conjunction with the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. Small Movements showcased their two projects, both funded by Brock’s VPR Canada Games Grants.

    City of St. Catharines Cultural Co-ordinator Ashley Judd-Rifkin says the awards celebrate the best of the local artistic community. “The outstanding individuals and organizations that have been nominated for the arts awards are all very deserving. Their commitment, creativity and contributions have made St. Catharines a more beautiful, vibrant and exciting place to live.”

    The St. Catharines Arts Awards will be livestreamed from Partridge Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 29 starting at 6:30 p.m. Details for the livestream will be shared through the City’s social media channels closer to the event.

    A full list of nominees is available on the City of St. Catharines website.

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

  • Brock mainstage production puts human behaviour, climate crisis in spotlight

    Brock University Dramatic Arts students will explore a variety of complex topics in AnthropoScene, this year’s fall mainstage production.


    Originally published in The Brock News | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) is inviting the community to experience a journey through time and place in AnthropoScene.

    The fall mainstage production explores how the alienation that results from humans’ supremacist behaviour towards one another contributes to the climate crisis, as well as engages the ethics of theatricalizing the present climate emergency.

    AnthropoScene playfully mingles elements of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, real-life figures including Toussaint L’Ouverture and various youth climate justice activists, and fictional characters across multiple locations and time periods.

    The production, which debuts Friday, Oct. 28 and continues into the first week of November, involves one of the largest groups of students, faculty and staff in recent years. Twelve DART students will perform, as 30 others assist in creative and backstage roles. This original work is written and directed by David Fancy, designed by David Vivian, and choreographed by Trevor Copp and Colin Anthes, with live music performed by Devon Fornelli.

    “I’m so pleased at the skill and talent of the many students involved in creating this production, from actors to assistant designers, directors and sound designers — the list goes on,” says Fancy, a Brock DART Professor.

    Conveying so many complex elements within the production has been no easy task, but one the cast and crew have handled impressively, he says.

    “Our Dramatic Arts students have really shown courage and insight in dealing with the challenging materials that this play covers: self-harm, racism and environmental harm,” Fancy says. “They have also brought great verve and joy to the choreography, company dance numbers and comedic aspects of the project.”

    To help immerse audiences in multiple locations and time periods, the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre has taken on a new form.

    “I imagine the audience having an experience of poetry, drama, comedy, dance, beautiful design, light and sound that will transport them to different places and times,” Fancy says. “I’ve configured the theatre differently than it usually is in order to help the audience feel they are being brought somewhere else.”

    AnthropoScene opens Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m., with additional performances on Oct. 29 and 30, and Nov. 4 and 5. All shows take place at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in Downtown St. Catharines.

    roundtable discussion, also open to the public, will take place on the production stage Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m., with a panel of experts from Brock and other institutions discussing topics related to staging planetary evolution and destruction.

    Brock Professor of Art Education Fiona Blaikie will lead the discussion alongside Fancy; Vivian; Christine Daigle, Professor of Philosophy and Director of Brock’s Posthumanism Research Institute; Katrina Dunn, Assistant Professor in the University of Manitoba’s Department of English, Theatre, Film and Media; Lin Snelling, a dancer whose artistic practice brings the qualities of improvisation into dance, theatre, writing, visual art and somatic practice; and Priya Thomas, Assistant Professor of Dramatic Arts at Brock.

    Tickets for AnthropoScene are $20 for the general public and $16 for students and seniors. For a full schedule of performances or to purchase tickets, visit the Brock University Tickets website.

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

  • Guest conductor to lead Brock choirs in Decolonizing our Music-Making performance

    Jace Kaholokula Saplan will be the guest conductor for a collective of choral groups Friday, Oct. 28 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Recital Hall.


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    An upcoming choral performance will bring together the Brock University Choir, Avanti Chamber Singers and Sora Signers under the leadership of a guest conductor.

    As part of the 2022 Walker Cultural Leader Series, the Department of Music is welcoming Jace Kaholokula Saplan, who will conduct The Songs We Sing, The Land We Stand On: Decolonizing our Music-Making on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Recital Hall.

    During their time together, Saplan — a Kanaka Maoli advocate, artist, educator and culture bearer — aims to share their knowledge and research with the choral groups and create a space of understanding and artistic exploration.

    Saplan currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning and Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University (ASU). They oversee the graduate program in choral conducting, conduct the ASU Concert Choir, and teach courses in choral literature and pedagogy that weave decolonial and critical theories with communal vocal practice.

    Their research focuses on the performance practice of Pasifika choral traditions and Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions, while using decolonial approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion in the choral classroom. Saplan also works in the intersections of choral pedagogy, gender and sexuality in communities of colour, addressing trauma-informed practice and boundary building with Black, Brown, Indigenous and Asian music educators.

    “We are thrilled to be welcoming Jace Kaholokula Saplan to our Brock campus this week and to learn about how our art form might be expanded to welcome richer and more diverse approaches to choral singing,” says Associate Professor of Music Rachel Rensink-Hoff.

    During Saplan’s residency at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, both Brock and community choirs will explore the intricate connections and responsibilities associated with choral practices, specifically focusing on Indigenous ties to the choral arts.

    “I look forward to the building of a beloved community with the choral artists of Ontario. Together we will understand the diverse complexities that root forth when the choral arts are intersected with Native and Indigenous ways of being,” says Saplan. “I hope to weave our time together with an empathetic understanding of the power of our art form, and an instilled responsibility of how we consume and propagate the craft — all while joyfully singing.”

    In anticipation of the choirs’ performance with Saplan, Rensink-Hoff added, “We look forward to being challenged and inspired, and to sharing our learning with the community on Friday evening in a presentation of Indigenous Hawaiian story and song.”

    Attendance to the lecture-performance is free, but tickets must be reserved through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Walker Cultural Leader Series

  • Voice exploration workshop to be hosted at downtown arts school

    Diane Roberts is the founder of the Arrivals Personal Legacy Process, which draws on 30 years of experience and 12 years of focused artistic research.


    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    A new workshop this winter will help participants develop a deeper understanding of and stronger relationship with their voice.

    Breathing New Legacies Forward, a Moving Voice Institute intensive, will be hosted Thursday, Dec. 15 to Sunday, Dec. 18 at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) in downtown St. Catharines. Led by industry specialists Gayle Murphy, Diane Roberts, Gary Logan and Gerry Trentham, Founder and Artistic Director of Pounds Per Square Inch Performance (lbs/sq”), the four-day workshop explores transformative vocal and physical explorations that extend range and deepen presence.

    “It’s a process that is different for everyone,” says Department of Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Danielle Wilson. “There is a connection between the voice, breath and body that the Moving Voice Institute researches. We are excited to have them come to the MIWSFPA this winter and lead this exploratory retreat devoted to the voice.”

    Through the course of this workshop, participants will examine and experience the connections between voice, text and breath in the morning sessions. In the afternoon, participants will work alongside Roberts, an African-Caribbean Canadian theatre practitioner and educator.

    Roberts is the founder of the Arrivals Personal Legacy Process, which draws on 30 years of experience and 12 years of focused artistic research. This work invites participants to consider ancestry as an essential aspect of evolving authority in their voice and body presence.

    Wilson expressed a deep interest in the process because of the strong ties to her personal research in voice and performance.

    “I wanted to experience the Arrivals Legacy work. Participating in the process is essential because voice work is a somatic practice. Experiencing the work is the research,” Wilson says. “We all have a relationship with our voice and this intensive gives participants an opportunity to deepen their relationship with their voice and own their unique sound, regardless of what they do professionally.”

    Breathing New Legacies Forward will be the first voice workshop since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Wilson says being connected and in the same room as those who are exploring, hearing and finding their voice is truly special. She encourages anyone interested to take this opportunity to discover a deeper connection with their voice.

    This workshop is open to all Brock community members and the public. More information can be found on the lbs/sq” website. Registration is now open, with early bird registration closing on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

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

  • Small Walker Press publications examine colonial histories, love poems

    The Small Walker Press held a book fair in the James A. Gibson Library for the students and public to explore and learn about their publications.


    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    Brock’s Small Walker Press (SWP) has launched its newest publications.

    On Oct. 4, as part of its Walker Cultural Leaders Series, the SWP and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) hosted authors, editors, artists and the public to mark the release of BENEATH A VELVET MOON: Early Love Poems and Possible Grounds: Redrawing Relations in Toronto.

    The SWP publishes collaborative work that brings together authors and artists from the Niagara region as well as the Canadian or international contexts. Fields covered include all disciplines and creative practices taught and researched at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts as well as creative writing.

    Possible Grounds: Redrawing Relations in Toronto features artists Adrian Blackwell (settler) and Bonnie Devine (Anishinaabe), who share their thoughts on and experiences of mapping the complex colonial histories of these lands, and question the region’s historical records. Blackwell and Devine also offer commentary on their works exhibited in 2018 and 2019.

    In BENEATH A VELVET MOON, Early Love Poems, Canadian artist Landon Mackenzie selects nine poems by E. Pauline Johnson Tekahionwake, and reimagines the amorous relationship between the Mohawk poet and the artist’s settler great-grandfather, Michael Mackenzie, in the 1880s. For these autofictional explorations, Mackenzie takes her title from one of Johnson’s early love poems in The White Wampum, first published in 1895 by John Lane’s Bodley Head publishing house.

    The launch event featured guest speaker Derek Knight, Associate Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture and founding co-editor of the SWP, who led a lecture exploring the text, images and connections some of the publications shared with the Niagara region.

    Following the launch, the SWP also held a book fair in the James A. Gibson Library. Many students stopped to explore the SWP collection and learn more about the press and the academic opportunities with STAC. Catherine Parayre, Editor of the SWP and STAC Professor, shared her insights on the publications and introduced many students to the details each book had to offer.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News, Walker Cultural Leader Series

  • Music students’ talent shines on provincial stage

    Brock University Music students Lee Bakker, Isaiah Burry and Caroline Young join Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff after their Ontario Youth Choir performance.


    Originally published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    After spending the summer fine-tuning their choral skills, three Brock Music students are ready to start the school year on a high note.

    Third-year student Caroline Young and fourth-year students Isaiah Burry and Lee Bakker found themselves surrounded by talented and inspired chorists from across the province after successfully auditioning for the Ontario Youth Choir (OYC) earlier this year.

    The OYC is an honour choir that showcases the skills and abilities of Ontario singers between the ages of 16 and 23. The 10-day summer training intensive gives students the chance to be part of a large group of motivated and enthusiastic singers, with their hard work culminating in a final performance.

    The OYC’s selection process began with an audition, which included a solo piece, vocal warm-ups to gauge the performer’s vocal range and a piece chosen by the OYC to be performed acapella.

    Having successfully completed the audition process Bakker, Burry and Young quickly came to realize that they were among a collective of gifted chorists.

    “I was surrounded by so many voice majors and talented instructors, it really challenged me,” Young said. “This opportunity definitely helped me grow as a musician.”

    Prior to living in Ontario, Burry was part of the B.C. Youth Choir. His time with OYC, however, left him impressed by the talent he found himself immersed in.

    “Everyone was studying voice in some manner on a university level and being surrounded by those like-minded individuals was really cool,” he said.

    As the program got underway, it became clear that it had a different dynamic than most choral programs, Burry said. Rather than creating a student and teacher environment, it offered more of an artistic collective.

    “They treat you as a colleague and because of that, there’s a lot more responsibility,” Burry said. “We rehearsed, on average, eight hours a day and by the end of the day, if there was something that still needed to be worked on for you personally, then that was your responsibility. You had to do your part because the next day everyone was going to be working on something else.”

    The program and its final performance was a rejuvenating experience for all three Brock students as they prepared to head into the new academic year.

    “I feel like I can take more risks now, especially with solo performances,” said Young. “If I can stand up and audition for the OYC then I can definitely stand up and perform for the Brock Choir.”

    Burry said the final performance left him with a “feeling of motivation reignited in me.”

    “In my mind, I chalked it up to the fact that what I was getting through OYC was a glimpse at the next step of being a professional chorister,” he said.

    In attendance at the final performance was Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Conductor of the Brock University Choir and Sora Singers, and Artistic Director of the Avanti Chamber Singers.

    “The Ontario Youth Choir has played a significant role in the lives of young choral singers across the province for many decades and it was very special to have three of our own students representing Brock’s Music program in this prestigious choral ensemble,” Rensink-Hoff said. “To witness the energy and passion in their culminating performance, particularly given the obstacles faced by choral musicians over the past two and a half years, was heartwarming. I look forward to encouraging future students to audition for this tremendous musical experience.”

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

  • Brock art exhibition inspired by Canada Games mascot, local wildlife

    Fourth-year Brock Visual Arts student and research assistant Emily MacDonald examines the camera-less photographs created for the Small Movements exhibit.


    Originally published in The Brock News | FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    Many aspects of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games have inspired projects across Brock University — and the event’s mascot, Shelly, is no exception.

    The turtle’s impact has gone beyond the Games to influence two Brock projects now being showcased as part of an ongoing exhibition.

    Presented by Brock’s Department of Visual Arts (VISA), in conjunction with the Games, Small Movements highlights the work of Associate Professors Amy Friend and Donna Szoke. The exhibition was funded by the University’s VPR Canada Games grants.

    Szoke’s work, which saw her collaborate with Grade 1 and 2 students at Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion Public School in St. Catharines, creates a connection between the 2022 Canada Games, the local community and turtle conservancy.

    As part of the project, students experienced a virtual field trip to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC), where they learned about the organization’s important work and visited a hospital for recovering and resident turtles, as well as a nursery with eggs and hatchlings.

    Following their visit, students were given the opportunity to colour their own images of turtles, which were then scanned and animated by VISA fourth-year student Emily MacDonald and alumna Julie Luth (BA ’22). The scanned images were used to create an animation, which was then gifted back to the children, animators, the OTCC and the Canada Games.

    Painted Turtles from Donna Szoke on Vimeo.

    “The children’s approaches to drawing and painting are refreshing in their naiveté, gesture and palette,” says Szoke. “By inventing a platform for generating turtle images created by children, our research-creation team created a turtle animation meant to engage and inspire.”

    Meanwhile, Friend’s project investigates and bridges a connection between sports and Niagara’s regional ecosystems, with a specific focus on turtles. Also inspired by the Canada Games mascot, the project examines watersports that take place in habitats shared with turtles. It includes camera-less photographs, water samples from across the Niagara region, a sound component and digital photography.

    Friend used analogue photo practices to produce camera-less photographs with her creative research team, including research assistants Laurie Morrison and Sarah Martin (BA ’19). Morrison, a first-year VISA student, and Martin, a VISA alumna, worked on capturing and printing the project’s images. Morrison secured light-sensitive photo paper to a kayak, allowing an interaction to take place between paper and water, while Martin collected samples from local waterways and helped to edit and print images with Friend.

    Friend’s work also includes photos that were taken at the surface of the water with a digital camera.

    “The photographs were shot at the water’s surface, precisely where the paddles enter the water and where turtles swim,” she says. “My thought process for this approach was to establish a relationship between the act of paddling or rowing through the water and the movements made by turtles as they move through the water.”

    Research assistant and recent graduate Qiushuang Xia (BA ’22) took photographs across the region’s waterways. Xia also captured the sound component that accompanies the project, recording from some of the same sites that were explored to create the images in the exhibition.

    Small Movements is open now until Oct. 1 at the Marilyn I. Walker Visual Arts Gallery and Student Exhibition Space. There will be a reception with the artists on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 4 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend. More information is available on the exhibit web page.

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

  • Public invited to explore Brock’s downtown arts school Saturday

    Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, AUG. 18, 2022 | by

    The Niagara community will have the chance to explore Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) this weekend while learning about the building’s past and present.

    The downtown St. Catharines facility, which houses Brock’s Departments of Dramatic Arts, Music and Visual Arts as well as the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC), will host a series of guided tours as part of Doors Open St. Catharines on Saturday, Aug. 20. Tours will take place at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and 1 and 2:30 p.m., with no registration required.

    Adapted from the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building, the MIWSFPA is a state-of-the-art learning facility that acts as a creative cultural hub for St. Catharines and surrounding areas.

    As part of this weekend’s event, STAC will have a collection of publications on display by the Small Walker Press (SWP). SWP publishes collaborative work that brings together authors and artists from the Niagara region as well as from Canadian or international contexts.

    The works explore all disciplines and creative practices taught and researched at the MIWSFPA (arts and culture, visual arts, music and dramatic arts) as well as creative writing. For more information about the SWP and publications available at Doors Open St. Catharines, please visit the STAC website.

    A full list of places participating in Doors Open St. Catharines is available on the event’s website.

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

  • Brock alumni, faculty take spotlight at Hamilton Fringe

    Rebekka Gondosh (right) worked with Spark Intensive participants during their rehearsals for their Hamilton Fringe Performance. (Photo Courtesy of Joginder Singh)


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, AUG. 9, 2022 | by

    When the Hamilton Fringe Festival got underway last month, Brock alumni and faculty not only shared their talent on stage, but also used their knowledge to inspire the next generation of performers.

    Among the artists who participated in the theatre festival, which returned July 21 to 30 after a two-year pandemic hiatus, were Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) alumni Rebekka Gondosch (BA ’12), Diego Blanco (BA ’21), Holly Hebert (BA ’21) and Asenia Lyall (BA ’22), as well as DART Associate Professors Gyllian Raby and Danielle Wilson.

    A high school Dramatic Arts and English teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Gondosch led the festival’s Spark Teen Intensive — a performance program for youth ages 13 to 18 living or studying in Hamilton.

    Through Spark, participants learn practical devising skills, work with local guest artists in a variety of disciplines such as movement, poetry, storytelling, theatre and music, and create an original performance piece that is performed during Hamilton Fringe.

    In addition to teaching for the past six years, Gondosch has been busy working with Passing Through Theatre and Light Echo Theatre, sharing her poetry as part of Suitcase in Point’s In the Soil Festival and creating works of her own. She recognizes the growing need for arts and performance programs in youth education and is doing what she can to help nurture the arts locally.

    A woman with a clown nose

    Brock University Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Danielle Wilson performed in the production Stage Fright as part of Hamilton Fringe Festival.

    “A hope I have for the Spark program is that it might encourage young emerging artists to continue making art in Hamilton,” she says.

    Meanwhile, fellow Brock alumni Blanco, Hebert and Lyall produced an original one-act play, Thy Name is Woman, at Hamilton Fringe through their new self-producing company, Into The Abyss Theatre.

    “Several of DART’s upper-year classes provide students with devising and production skills, as well as encouragement to go out and voice their ideas,” says Raby. “We are proud to see these fine artists making their mark.”

    Also taking part in the Fringe Festivities was Raby, who partnered with Wilson on a new production of their own, Stage Fright. The dynamic duo looked to trigger and assuage performers’ worst fears while getting in a few laughs along the way.

    Stage Fright was built on playwright Wilson’s experiences through the COVID-19 pandemic, including attachment to technology, social media consumption and her newfound interest in the art of clown.

    Wilson makes it a point to indicate that clown goes beyond the archetype popularized by circus.

    “Clown is a state of creative play and a state of connection with the audience. You don’t know what the clown is going to do next — the clown comes from the person who is performing. It’s a state of openness to failure,” she says.

    Raby assisted Wilson with dramaturgy and direction, dissecting and exploring the multi-faceted elements of stage fright — a condition of psycho-physical paralysis experienced by most people.

    “Death, taxes and speaking in public are top fears,” Raby says.

    Wilson adds the little-known fact that since many performers are introverts, they are even more deeply affected by stage fright.

    “I was eager to get back on stage, since 2018 was my last performance,” Wilson says. “It’s important to stay in touch with all that it takes to perform, along with the fear that it takes.”

    Reflecting on the the existential humour of the show, Raby says: “How can something so terrifying, and so intellectually fascinating, be so light and funny?”

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, News