Faculty & Instructors

  • Donna Szőke presents ‘On Invisibility’, January 21 at the MIWSFPA

    On 21 January, the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture welcomes artist Donna Szőke, Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and a member of the recently created Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture, as a Walker Cultural leader for 2020.

    Szőke will present an artists’ talk “On Invisibility” at 7:00 pm at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts of Brock University (MIWSFPA). This is a free community event and everyone is welcome to attend.

    Invisibility is this year’s theme at The Small Walker Press, a small press valuing interdisciplinary cooperation and the exploration of image and text, homed in the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) at the MIWSFPA.

    Szőke creates expanded animation, media art, video, drawing, and collaborations. She investigates immanence, embodied perception, and the fluidity of lived experience.

    In her artist’s talk, she will present her work and her current book project The Dark Redacted in cooperation with author Gary Barwin, to be published in April 2020 by the Small Walker Press.

    In an excerpt from the forthcoming volume, editors Catherine Parayre and Derek Knight write:

    Donna Szőke thoughtfully investigates the fluidity of meaning and presence. Rather than elucidating a concept or an experience, she proposes a semi-abstract perusal of collective or intimate issues. Offering a reflection on the evocative instability of the biographical and the personal, and opting for an approach close to autofiction, her work constellates subtle possibilities and its scope defies the limitations of certainty. The artist is a compelling storyteller for whom the quest for meaning and the vagrancies of that search are more significant than plain facts. For The Dark Redacted Szőke proposes traces of a fragile story and never-faltering endurance. Her sequence of images alternates beautifully detailed natural life – a buffalo, intricate vegetation – and minimally sketched-out human presence and personal objects. As a result, her work addresses the viewers’ intuition and sensitivity to the environment.

    Join us on January 21, 2020 at 7-8:30 pm.  The presentation takes place in the Art & Val Fleming Smart Classroom (MWS 156), located on the lower level of the MIWSFPA.  Limited parking is available at the MIWSFPA, with additional parking nearby at the Garden Park/Carlisle Street Parking garage and adjacent lots.

    Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture: Walker Cultural Leader Artist’s talk
    ‘On Invisibility’, with Donna Szőke
    21 January 2020, 7-8:30 pm, MWS 156

    download the poster

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

  • Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Indigenous Art Practice: Candidate Research Presentations

    The Brock and wider community is invited to attend the presentations by the three Indigenous artist/researchers who are finalists for the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Indigenous Art Practice at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Our candidates are visiting the Marilyn I. Walker School in January. Each will give an hour-long presentation and engage in an additional half hour of discussion about their current research interests and focus, and about what they would hope to achieve as a Canada Research Chair at Brock University in the next five years.

    MATTHEW MACKENZIE

    Research presentation 5 – 6:30 pm,
    Friday January 10, 2020
    MWS 156

    Edmonton playwright, director and producer Matthew MacKenzie (Métis) is Artistic Director of Punctuate! Theatre, as well as the founder and an Artistic Associate with Pyretic Productions. In 2018, his play Bears won Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production, was named a co-winner of the Toronto Theatre Critics Outstanding New Canadian Play Award, and won the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Carol Bolt National Playwriting Award. This past fall, Punctuate! premiered MacKenzie’s play The Particulars, which was named one of the top ten productions of 2019 by The Globe and Mail.

    MARK IGLOLIORTE

    Research presentation 11:30 am – 1 pm,
    Friday January 17, 2020
    MWS 156

    Mark Igloliorte is an Inuk artist born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland with Inuit ancestry from Nunatsiavit, Labrador. His artistic work is primarily painting and drawing. Igloliorte’s work has been featured in several notable national exhibitions including the 2015 Marion McCain Exhibition of Contemporary Atlantic Canadian Art, curated by Corinna Ghaznavi; Inuit Ullumi: Inuit Today: Contemporary Art from TD Bank Group’s Inuit Collection; Beat Nation, curated by Kathleen Ritter and Tania Willard; and The Phoenix Art-The Renewed Life of Contemporary Painting, curated by Robert Enright. In addition, Igloliorte has been profiled in features in Canadian Art magazine and Inuit Art Quarterly. Igloliorte is an Assistant Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

    SUZANNE MORRISSETTE

    Research presentation 5 – 6:30 pm,
    Wednesday January 22, 2020
    MWS 207

    Suzanne Morrissette is a Métis artist, curator, and writer. Using various research-creation methods Morrissette addresses the philosophical roots of historical and contemporary forms of injustice facing Indigenous peoples. Her current and future research looks at the role of locally-based Indigenous knowledges within Indigenous community-based curatorial practice as a way of entering into conversations about robust and unexpected strategies for representing Indigenous art both within Canadian and international contexts. Currently she holds the position of Assistant Professor at OCAD University.r University of Art and Design.


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  • Visual Art professor’s work chosen for prestigious U.K. exhibition

    “Wayfinding in Cold Light from the Multi-Verse Series” by Amy Friend, an Assistant Professor in Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, is one of just 55 photographs included in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, U.K.

    (published in The Brock News TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 05, 2019 | by  )

    Nearly 4,000 portraits by more than 1,000 photographers from 70 countries were submitted, but only 55 were chosen for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Exhibition in the United Kingdom.

    One of those portraits is by Amy Friend, an Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Art.

    The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is a prestigious annual award that attracts amateur and professional photographers alike. Only 55 of the 3,700 submissions were chosen for the exhibition. Three photos are shortlisted for the top award of £15,000 (approximately $25,000 CAD).

    “Having my work included in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Exhibition is an exciting adventure in my creative practice,” said Friend. “I had been working on this long-term project for several years, so it is uplifting to see this new work recognized. The piece has personal connections, which extends this recognition in a meaningful way.”

    Friend’s series Multi-Verse draws on her own and found photographs featuring diverse subject matter and imagery from across several time periods to explore the idea of a multi-verse. The series references both the idea of alternate realities and the numerous stories or ‘verses’ the viewer encounters in the photographs.

    She uses experimental photographic methods and manual manipulation to alter photos. While they are not overtly political photographs, her works references darker elements such as floodwaters and images of soldiers.

    “I reference the past, the here and now, the visible and invisible, literally and poetically, albeit not through overtly political photographs,” said Friend. “The medium of photography has always had a currency of possibility. In this series I work to find meaning in the chaos, to be with it and to look for an alternate story from where we are — a multiverse.”

    The exhibition opens at the National Portrait Gallery in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and carries through to February 2020. The exhibition will then go on tour throughout the U.K.

    In 2017, a portrait by Finnish artist Maija Tammi, who studied under Friend, won third place in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.

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

  • Re-imagining power relations in Canadian theatre: A special Walker Cultural Leader event!

    (published WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 06, 2019 | by The Brock News )

    Equity, diversity, inclusion.

    We’re hearing these words more and more, as Canadian universities and other institutions strive to address historic, systemic biases and structural inequities. For the award-winning theatre director Ravi Jain, however, the language of “EDI” is already shopworn.

    “I’m not interested in using those words anymore,” said Jain, Artistic Director of the Toronto-based company Why Not Theatre. “You either do it or you don’t, and how you do it demonstrates to me how invested you actually are in the conversation.”

    For Jain, concepts such as innovation and leadership are much more interesting. He’ll be covering these topics in a keynote address, “Alternative Visions of Existence,” that he’s delivering as part of a series of events taking place from Nov. 9 to 10, co-sponsored by Brock’s Walker Cultural Leaders Series and the St. Catharines-based theatre company Suitcase in Point.

    The events also include a staged reading of Pipeline, a 2017 play by Dominique Morisseau, the title of which refers to the widespread perception of a school-to-prison pipeline for young African American men. It’s the story of a black teacher’s struggle to protect her son, Omari, after he assaults his high school teacher for aggressively singling him out to answer why a book character behaved like an “animal” and murdered a woman.

    Toronto-based actor, director and producer Lisa Karen Cox is directing a cast largely made up of seasoned and emerging professional actors, with Brock students also participating onstage and behind the scenes. Of the six-person cast, five are people of colour. Jain’s keynote runs from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, with the Pipeline reading from 4 to 5:15 p.m., followed by a Q&A session.

    The events, being presented under the title “Pipeline to a Better Way,” are spearheaded by Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) Assistant Professor Danielle Wilson and Suitcase in Point’s Outreach Coordinator Marcel Stewart, a 2007 DART graduate.

    “The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is a place of both learning and artistic creation,” said Wilson. “I felt the play was a perfect fit as part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series.”

    Suitcase in Point’s “Pipeline to a Better Way” programming on Nov. 9 includes a forum and panel discussion around questions of power, privilege, race and theatre in Niagara.

    The Brock-based events on Sunday, Nov. 10 are free of charge, but tickets are required and can be found online. Information about the Suitcase in Point events on Saturday, Nov. 9 can be found at suitcaseinpoint.com

    This article was written by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

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    Categories: Alumni, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, Uncategorised, Walker Cultural Leader Series

  • Fluid identities onstage at DART: “The question generation” takes on Woolf and Ruhl’s Orlando

    (From: DARTCritics, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2019 | by )

    Contemporary theatre companies are making strides in representing individuals whose voices society has tried to silence, especially those who identify as transgender, or don’t identify with a gender at all. Transgender performance artist Travis Alabanza’s one-person show, Burgerz, has been getting rave reviews around Europe. Two-spirited actor Ty Defoe and non-binary actor Kate Bornstein made headlines when both made their Broadway debuts in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men. Canadian transgender artist Vivek Shraya is creating and performing in her first theatre piece, How to Fail as a Pop Star, at Canadian Stage next February. There’s clearly an increasing amount of work created by and/or featuring individuals who don’t identify as cisgender, but nevertheless mainstream theatre and the theatrical canon seems to me to still be dominated by heteronormative stories.

    I asked David Fancy, director of Orlando, Brock University’s first Mainstage production of the 2019-20 season, why he thinks much mainstream theatre hasn’t treated gender non-conformity or gender fluidity. “I think humans are continuously in survival mode and think in terms of binary logic because it’s a way of cutting to the chase, and it’s simple habituation,” says Fancy. “I think it actually takes work to think outside of that, and I think there’s a lot of energy and anger that goes into reinforcing those perimeters simply because historically, properties have been perpetuated along these patrilineal lines.” He explains that there’s “a history of privileging the cisgender hetero matrix that [Judith] Butler talks about, what she describes as the false stabilisation of certain sets of binaries, and so many cultural institutions are organized around that.”

    Taj Crozier and Paige Hunt-Harman in Orlando. Photos by Neil Silcox.

    Enter Orlando, a play that directly tackles questions of gender identity and how we perceive it. Orlando: A Biography was written by Virginia Woolf in 1928 and adapted into a play by Sarah Ruhl in 1998. The play follows the titular character through six centuries, starting with the reign of Elizabeth I and ending in the present day. When Orlando turns 30, they stop aging and go to sleep as a man and wake up as a woman. They stay in the biological body of a woman for the rest of the play, but nothing else about them has changed. Paige Hunt-Harman, the actor who plays Orlando, feels the character doesn’t necessarily identify as either gender: “he/she/they don’t necessarily know who they are when it comes to gender,” says Hunt-Harman. “They kind of see themselves as just this ever-flowing entity that is kind of always going to be there, always there to ask those questions, to say, ‘who am I?’ and ‘what’s to come?’ and ‘what will people think, or do I even care what people think?’”

    Orlando premiered Off-Broadway in 2010; in July of 2018, Soulpepper Theatre produced its Canadian premiere with Sarah Afful in the title role. With Brock University staging the play this year, are we moving towards a theatrical landscape (and perhaps consequently, a society) where gender fluidity is moving further into mainstream representation? Both Fancy and Hunt-Harman agree that we are. And good thing, too – especially in a university setting in which many students identify as gender non-binary or gender non-conforming, representation on the stage is important. We still live in a heteronormative society and works like Orlando are needed to disrupt and question that thinking, to advocate that people of all genders and sexualities have avoice.

    The play certainly challenges questions of gender and how we perceive it. Hunt-Harman shared the story of an early rehearsal in which Fancy asked the ensemble what masculinity meant to them, after which there was an awkward pause before someone suggested, “big muscles?” And maybe that is how many see masculinity today – the big, strong, protective man versus the frail, delicate, damsel-in-distress. But do these traits have to be separate and rigid between the sexes? This play works to blur these lines: “Orlando really starts at the beginning of the play as a very stereotypical, heroic male, the hegemonic hero of the story,” Hunt-Harman says, “and I believe by playing that up we really show the audience just how we as a society perceive masculinity — and the same goes for femininity. But throughout the play we see… that stylized gender kind of transform into something that we now are able to connect with, where it’s not necessarily one thing or the other. It’s very grey… I see masculine in the feminine and feminine in the masculine.”

    It’s not just gender that this production of Orlando addresses – it also touches on issues of racialization. While Ruhl’s adaptation has eliminated Woolf’s uses of words like “moor,” there are still remnants of racializing language that the ensemble has worked to challenge by, for example, cutting out all mentions of the word “gypsy.” When Orlando transitions from man to woman, they do so in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which is highly exoticized and orientalised in Woolf’s novel, and consequently Ruhl’s script. “There’s a whole tradition in colonial literature of white people from Europe going to a foreign place that’s exotic and they have all kinds of discoveries. This is a repeated trope in colonial texts,” Fancy explains, “and it’s left unexamined by Woolf because she takes on the question of gender, but it’s almost like it’s first-wave feminism where you have a white woman, upper class, going through these discoveries.” Without giving too much away, the ensemble has taken this scene in Constantinople and over-emphasized the racialization by being hyper-theatrical about it, before then deconstructing it.“We establish it and then just… almost campily, certainly almost cheesy, with theatrical means, take it apart,” says Fancy. “You have to make sure that if you’re foregrounding something, you’re foregrounding that it’s a construction. And you’re showing how it’s made, and how you take it apart.”

    Sid Malcolm in Orlando.

    Orlando and the questions intertwined with it come at the right time, especially with an audience likely primarily composed of university students. Young people are recognizing their power now more than ever and are questioning what has always been presented as “natural and inevitable,” as Fancy would say. “We are now the question generation,” Hunt-Harman says. “We want to ask more questions; we want to challenge the norms that society has brought upon us and I really think that this play brings that to the forefront.”

    Orlando plays at the Marilyn I Walker Theatre, 15 Artists’ Common, from October 25 – November 2. Purchase your tickets online.


    DARTCritics is a project of the Department of Dramatic Arts, founded by Dr. Karen Fricker.  Launched in 2013, the site originated as a practical way for students to train in the art of reviewing, and also sought to bring the artistic community of Brock University and St. Catharines closer together. The website features writing about theatre produced and seen in Niagara, Hamilton, Stratford and Toronto. Please follow DARTCritics as they continue to search for awesome theatre, meeting fascinating artists along the way.

    You can also follow DARTcritics here:

    @DARTCritics
    Facebook: DARTCritics
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    DARTcritics.com is partially funded by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, in support of student learning; experiential education; student professionalization; public engagement with the teaching, learning and production activities of the Department of Dramatic Arts; new ways of thinking; and the nurturing of links with our communities.

    The opinions expressed by the writers of the DARTcritics.com website are their own.

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  • Bernhard Cella shortlisted for LA MENTION SPÉCIALE DU JURY for Queer Publishing: A Family Tree

    The Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) is pleased to announce that Queer Publishing: A Family Tree designed and published by Bernhard Cella, has been shortlisted for LA MENTION SPÉCIALE DU JURY of the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation and to be awarded in November. This is a significant recognition of Cella’s important contribution to scholarship in this field. Founder of The Salon für Kunstbuch in Vienna, Austria, Cella is the book designer of the Small Walker Press (SWP), a project of the Centre and generously funded by the legacy of Marilyn I. Walker. Cella was the Centre’s Walker Cultural Leader for 2017-18.

    “In the twenty years since Horacio Fernández first wrote Fotografía Pública (MNCARS, 1999), the first landmark book to position the scholarship of books and magazines as a topic of critical importance to the photographic medium, “book about books” has become a genre of publishing unto itself. Each year, the PhotoBook Awards jury sees at least one well-researched, richly illustrated publication that presents some new facet of photobibliophilia—often using the filter of a particular region or city or even a particular thematic niche. This year, however, the jury noted a rise in the number of books about books that exceeded expectation in terms of design, like Printed Photography in Venezuela; or ventured into new territory, telling the story of a single notable magazine, like Camera Austria International: Laboratory for Photography and Theory. Each of these volumes, in its own way, adds additional detail and texture to the evolving connoisseurship and scholarship dedicated to the photobook.” (from https://programme.parisphoto.com/programme-2019/le-prix-du-livre-photographique-paris-photo-aperture-foundation/la-mention-speciale-du-jury.htm, 19/10/18)

    With the co-editors of the Small Walker Press, Professors Parayre and Derek Knight of Brock University, and accompanied by David Vivian, Director of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Cella presented the first two volumes of the SWP at Belvedere 21, Vienna on June 19, 2019. The books were published under the theme of environmental degradation and include Inland, by Associate Professor of Visual Arts Shawn Serfas (Brock University) with creative writing by Atlanta-based New York Times journalist Richard Fausset and an essay by Associate Professor of Visual Arts Derek Knight, and The Quarry, by Associate Professor Adam Dickinson (Brock University) and artist Lorène Bourgeois (Toronto).  The books are available for purchase from the Centre.

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

  • Brock project aims to improve long-term care for veterans and brain injury patients

    Brock University alumni now with Mirror Theatre perform a scene in Understanding person-centred care: Finding dignity within the shadows, a video series as part of a research project between Brock and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

    (From: The Brock News, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2019 | by Dan Dakin)

    Two Brock University faculty members from seemingly unrelated disciplines have collaborated on a project aimed at improving the relations of those involved in long-term care.

    Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Colleen Whyte, and Professor of Dramatic Arts Joe Norris, were at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto Wednesday, Oct. 2 for the premiere of Understanding person-centred care: Finding dignity within the shadows.

    Two years ago, Sunnybrook Professional Practice and Education Leader Leanne Hughes came to Whyte with a research idea about how to help staff and family deal with the challenges associated with two specific groups in long-term care: veterans living with dementia and patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries.

    “I’ve known Leanne for 15 years and we’ve done research together in the past,” Whyte said. “She came to me and said: This is an issue we have. How do you think we could look at researching it?’”

    “What we’re looking at are person-centred approaches,” said Hughes, referring to a growing emphasis in health care that invites patients and family members to be involved in decision-making and strategizing ways to care for individual patients from a wide-range of services. It’s a more collaborative care model than a traditional top-down medical approach to care.

    In the fall of 2018, Whyte led research that included focus groups of those working in long-term care at the Toronto hospital such as doctors and hospital staff, as well as families of those in care.

    Brock University professors Joe Norris and Colleen Whyte hand a USB drive to Leanne Hughes from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Brock and Sunnybook partnered on a research project that included a 20-part video around patient-centred care. Pictured from left are Brock alumni Nadia Ganesh, Candice De Freitas Braz and Mike Metz, Hughes, Norris, Brock master’s student Kevin Hobbs, Whyte and Brock alumni Bernadette Kahnert.

    “We interviewed people who are doing this every day,” Whyte said. “This research is about taking the principles of person-centred care and trying to see how they are translated on a daily basis, when all partners experience unexpected challenges.”

    With the focus group data in hand, Whyte then turned to Norris, Chair of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, who worked with the student-run Mirror Theatre to translate the conversations into dramatic action, known as ethnodrama and applied theatre.

    “We took the focus group transcripts, read them, analyzed them and created dramatic scenes,” said Norris. “The purpose is to evoke conversations.”

    The result is a 20-part video series, each dealing with a different component of the long-term care experience. They range from something as simple the challenge of what to pack when a family member is moved into a new living situation to what to do when a patient whose mind no longer has much of a filter says something that crosses a line.

    “It’s all about answering the question of ‘How do we treat each other with respect in stressful situations?’” Norris said.

    He said the Dramatic Arts students who were acting the parts in the videos — including the patients who are represented as shadowed silhouettes rather than specific people — learned about more than just acting.

    “Many cast members say they don’t only get extra-curricular experience with theatre, they get the experience of dealing with a range of topics. It’s like an extra class for them,” he said.

    With the video series now complete, the next stage of the project is to create workshops for staff and families.

    “It gives staff some insight and helps them think, ‘If I’m in this situation, let me strategize and be thoughtful about what options I have,’” she said. “It will equip new staff with possibilities and allow existing staff to be reflective about their approaches.”

    Brock University alumni Nadia Ganesh, Bernadette Kahnert, Lindsay Detta and Candice De Freitas Braz interpret a scene from Finding dignity within the shadows at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto Wednesday, Oct. 2.

    Hughes said when the final videos were shown to those working with veterans suffering from dementia and patients dealing with brain injuries, the staff were impressed with how accurate they were in reflecting the situations they deal with.

    “It has been an absolute pleasure to see students take this data and enact it,” Hughes said. “We were in awe of their ability. They did a fantastic job.”

    The project, which was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant and a Practice-Based Research and Innovation Seed Grant from Sunnybrook, will continue with the development of facilitator tools and training sessions. Those will be developed and led by Norris and Kevin Hobbs, a master’s student in Social Justice and Equity Studies, who directed the Finding dignity within the shadows series and incorporated the research into his master’s thesis.

    “They’re training videos, but not in the sense of, ‘Here’s how you give a needle,” said Norris. “It’s more of a dialogic conversation where our audiences are invited to comment on the scenes and add their own insights and stories.”

    Watch the full Understanding Person-Centred Care video below and individual scene videos can be found at this link

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    Categories: Alumni, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Uncategorised

  • Meaningful Movements Reshape: Come to the Edge at Brock University and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    (From: The Sound, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 | by Kerry Duncan)

    Being invited into a space not built by you, or for you, offers the inherent need for trust and vulnerability. When audiences entered into the Come to the Edge Cafe on August 24/25 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, audience members were transported to a land of imagination built by, and for, wheelchair users with Cerebral Palsy (CP). This evolving storyscape replaced the traditional confines of theatre with an unlimited creation of shape and space, prioritizing the communication options for performers and participants with CP. The team working on this production aimed to foster an empathetic and reflective space for participants to sit in a potential level of unknown, discomfort, and to ultimately trust that they could not necessarily know the answers to questions like ‘Where are we? What’s it like to not know exactly what’s happening around you? What’s it like when you have to re-evaluate the things that don’t exactly apply?’.

    Come to the Edge is a collaborative development of immersive theatre, creating a new understanding of performance through dance, play, and improvisation. The central performance elements built by and for the Imagining Possibilities Leadership Team, made up of automatic and manual wheelchair users with CP. The group has been working with St. Catharines based creative collaborators from the March of Dimes Canada and the Brain Injury Community PET (Personal Effectiveness Training) Re-Entry Program to welcome audiences to trust in the idea that ‘not knowing’ is an opportunity for learning and empathy. The performances are supported by facilitators Jenny Jimenez and Stephen Sillett from Toronto-based organization, Aiding Dramatic Change in Development (ADCID), as well as a much broader team of musicians, artists, and support workers.

    With a long-standing history in St. Catharines, the ADCID has been working with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) since 2016 with the first iteration of Imagining Possibilities, the precursor to Come to the Edge. As a facility that was built under the universal standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) for inclusive physically spaces, this began a longstanding partnership for reshaping how St. Catharines builds and understands performance theatre. Professor David Vivian, Director of the MIWSFPA and an ongoing collaborator with ADCID explained that “Inviting the lead artistic team to join us and local artists in our first spring season at the MIWSFPA theatre was one of the highlights of our inaugural year in 2015-16. Come to the Edge is a long term project that has continued to develop over the years and bring together artists in a number of Ontario communities”.

    The development of the show over the past several years has taken this community and discussions about it global with performances and workshops in Toronto, Belgium, Prague, Hamilton and St. Catharines. Connecting with the Imaging Possibilities Movement through the Engaging Possibilities project at Brock University in 2015, Kris Daunoravicius has been involved with the growth and evolution of this project ever since. A local to St. Catharines and core member of the Leadership Team, Daunoravicus travelled with the ADCID team to Belgium in 2017 for a week of Envisioned Scenography workshops for the disability-focused Huize Eyckerheyde Residence. In speaking with Daunoravicus and Elaine Drover, another member of the Leadership Team, both utilized a range of augmented technology, body movement, facial expressions, and sound to showcase the range of experiences and stories that were being brought into the creative process during the years of work it took to create the latest version of this production.

    In speaking with Come to the Edge performer and ADCID collaborator, Frank Hull and long-time Leadership Team member Laura Leskur, they shared how the creation of this show was rooted in growing one another’s understandings of the other performers, and building a movement vocabulary unique to each performer and each moment of interaction. With a long-term career as a professional wheelchair dancer, Hull spoke to the multiple layers of relationality and equity between those involved in the show, “there has to be those moments where we are becoming equal together, regardless of how my ability may be different from Laura’s. But if we are moving together, we need to find a way to move together and not overpower one another”.

    As a verbal CP performer, he explained that “my world is very instant when I communicate. What I’m learning with this group is I’m facing my own ableism. It got me thinking about how from my role I have not been patient enough, not just with this group”. He elaborated on his reflections of needing to be more cognizant of not finishing other people’s sentences, but instead, learned to give people time to communicate within their abilities in order to share and explain their perspectives on the situation. Utilizing her bespoke communication board system*, Leskur also elaborated on these points, highlighting the necessity for patience as to “not miss the magical moments” and the necessity of utilizing body movements and the range of abilities in each performers arms and legs to construct meaningful exchanges.

    In discussing the necessity of moving towards an inclusive way of facilitating theatre for the performers, Sillett explained that “we created the processes with the community of those who are non-verbal in mind. There’s a lot of routes we could take which would be much easier to get an impact in the short-term, but it wasn’t our aim to go there. Our aim was to try and work honouring the deep engagement. The idea of re-establishing the relationship between the audience, and what their journey is going to be, the community making it”. Hull asserted that his role in adding the movement and dance elements to the show has been “a dream come true to work with manual and power wheelchairs to create movement together,” emphasizing the liberation of spaces focused on the lived experiences of the team rather than a more traditional methodology of prioritizing the audience.

    In reflecting on his work with the Imagining Possibilities Movement, Vivian explained how “my specific interests in working with the company lie in aspects of accessibility, universal design and the development process of improvisational, immersive performance spaces under very specific conditions. It has been a very humbling learning experience that we will adapt for my university course development and professional practice”. Breaking from the expected traditions of theatre development, the broad range of creative in communities in St. Catharines can take the fundamental ideas of change to expand who is in the audience, who is on stage, and how can we expand the experiences and interactions between these world.

    *Laura Leskur’s communication board is a bespoke system created at Bloorview and extended over the years. Laura has now memorized 1000 words with corresponding numbers. Elaine Drover and and Christine Jimenez have experience using Blissymbols to communicate. Blissymbolics is a semantic graphical language that is currently composed of more than 5000 authorized symbols – Bliss-characters and Bliss-words. It is a generative language that allows its users to create new Bliss-words as needed. It is used by individuals with severe speech and physical impairments around the world, but also by others for language learning and support, or just for the fascination and joy of this unique language representation. Elaine and Christine are both on the Board for Bliss Communication Institute Canada. See blissymbolics.org for more information.

    [The creators and producers of Come to the Edge wish to thank the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University, for the generosity of their support by providing rehearsal space and technical support in the studios and the MIW Theatre through July and August 2019.

    The article was edited and amended for accuracy and reprinted with permission.]

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    Categories: Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Uncategorised

  • Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Indigenous Art Practice

    Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) invites applications for a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Indigenous Art Practice at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor.

    The CRC in Indigenous Art Practice will be appointed to one or more of the School’s academic units, depending on the successful applicant’s area(s) of knowledge and expertise. We recognize that in Indigenous art there may be no formal divisions between visual, theatrical, and musical art forms. Brock embraces diverse perspectives and pedagogical practices; it is hoped that the CRC in Indigenous Art Practice will help foster new collaborations across academic units and assist the School and university to move towards Indigenization. The CRC will be welcomed into a tight-knit, friendly, and dynamic community of artists, scholars, staff, and students that respects, promotes, and actively engages with Indigenous arts and culture within the University and Indigenous communities.

    Review of applications will begin on October 31, 2019, and will continue until the position is filled.

    For more information see the complete posting at brocku.wd3.myworkdayjobs.com/brocku_careers/job/St-Catharines-Downtown-Campus/Canada-Research-Chair—Tier-2—Indigenous-Art-Practice—Assistant-Associate-Professor-Tenure-Track_JR-1002413

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    Categories: Announcements, Faculty & Instructors, News, Uncategorised

  • Dramatic Arts grad gets rave reviews in Soulpepper’s The Brothers Size

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07), centre, plays the role of Elegba in the Soulpepper production of The Brothers Size alongside Daren A. Herbert, left, and Mazin Elsadig. Photo by: Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Soulpepper.


    The reviews are in, and Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07) is earning praise for his performance in what the Toronto Star calls a “stunning Canadian premiere.”

    Stewart stars as Elegba in The Brothers Size, the newest offering from Toronto-based production house Soulpepper.

    He describes the experience as a “whirlwind,” especially after Toronto-based rapper Drake made a surprise appearance at the May 10 opening night performance.

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07), second from right, and his castmates from The Brothers Size got a surprise visit from rapper Drake, third from right, at the opening night performance of the Toronto show.

    “It has been amazing; it’s such a gift to do something like this,” Stewart said. “Through my whole journey as an actor, I have wanted to work on a play that speaks to my experience, one that I can easily dive into, and this text was so comfortable it was like putting on a jacket that was made for me.”

    The Brothers Size is the second play in the Brothers/Sisters series, written by Oscar-winning screenwriter and Tony Award-nominated playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.

    Set in a fictional town in Louisiana, it tells the story of two brothers, Ogun and Oshoosi, who find themselves living together after Oshoosi’s release from prison.

    Stewart plays Oshoosi’s best friend, who formed a bond with him during their incarceration together.

    “I think on a micro level, Brothers Size is about the experience of black men today in the world,” Stewart said. “But on the macro level, what the characters go through are things that all people experience: grief, trauma and searching for a sense of belonging.”

    Stewart’s performance marks his return to the Soulpepper stage, where he has previously performed three times and was a member of the Soulpepper Academy.

    Some of his other credits include the role of Miles in The Drawer Boy at Prince Edward County’s Festival Players, Coutts in the Mirvish Theatre Production of King Charles III in Toronto, and roles on popular Canadian television series’ Kim’s Convenience and Murdoch Mysteries.

    While he focused primarily on acting for several years after graduation, Stewart also developed a passion for doing outreach work and giving back to young, aspiring actors.

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07).

    When he’s not on stage, he gives private acting lessons and hosts workshops in communities across Canada. He’s worked with school groups at the Toronto International Film Festival, for example, and was the creator of What Noise is This, a workshop that explores William Shakespeare’s canon through the lens of hip-hop music.

    Stewart is also involved in the local theatre industry, both as the outreach co-ordinator with St. Catharines theatre company Suitcase in Point and the volunteer co-ordinator for the upcoming In The Soil Arts Festival, taking place this June in downtown St. Catharines.

    Brock Assistant Theatre Professor Danielle Wilson offered her congratulations on Stewart’s success.

    “Marcel was bright and hungry to learn and is an example of the breadth of career opportunities that become available after studying in DART,” she said. “We congratulate him on his success as a working artist and are very proud of the contributions he has made in the theatre community over the years.”

    Stewart attributes his ability to “wear many hats” in his career to the skills he gained from studying at Brock.

    “The ‘motor’ that I developed at Brock was probably my biggest takeaway that I still rely on 12 years later,” the 33-year-old said. “To keep going, to keep pursuing, and if a door is closed in my face, then there’s 10 more doors that I can open.”

    After the wrap of Brothers Size in Toronto, Stewart is headed back to work in St. Catharines.

    He wants to continue his outreach work and bring more eclectic and diverse artists to St. Catharines.

    He said instructors at Brock encouraged him to explore his sense of self and find cultural connections through the performing arts — and he wants to do the same for others.

    “My experience at Brock helped open me up to recognizing who I am as a black man and encouraged me use that voice and speak from my perspective whenever I can,” he said. “Now I’m on this representation kick, running workshops, doing outreach and looking at how to bring some more colour — in more ways than one — to the artistic landscape.”

    Brothers Size runs until Saturday, June 1 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts at 50 Tank House Lane in Toronto. More information and tickets are available at Soulpepper.ca.

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    Categories: Alumni, Faculty & Instructors, News