Media Releases

  • Virtual auditions for Brock University choirs now open to community

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2021 | by 

    Image caption: Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is excited for Brock choir auditions to get underway in advance of the fall 2021 season.

    Brock choirs are back this fall and singing a hopeful tune for a busy season of choral activities for the University and wider Niagara community.

    Choir auditions are now open and will be running online throughout the summer for two ensembles: University Choir and Sora Singers.

    University Choir is a mixed voice ensemble for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices and is open to all members of the Brock community, including students, faculty and staff.

    Sora Singers (formerly the Brock Women’s Choir) is an upper-voice ensemble for anyone with a soprano or alto voice. Auditions for Sora Singers are open to the Brock community as well as the wider Niagara community.

    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is hopeful that choir members will be able to sing together in person, pending public health and Brock University protocols.

    “It has been a really tough year and as singers, we are all feeling rusty,” she said. “Building our vocal technique will certainly be the top priority when we convene in the fall to rebuild our singing community.”

    While the past year posed challenges for Brock’s choirs, Rensink-Hoff feels there were key lessons learned through experimentation with digital platforms, which she hopes will be integrated into the program going forward.

    “Because we are all familiar with collaborative opportunities in online formats, this coming year we will be virtually welcoming several composers whose works we will be studying and performing,” she said.

    Diversity and inclusion are also top of mind for Rensink-Hoff as the she plans for the coming season.

    “I am committed to diversifying our performance repertoire and spending more intentional time together exploring the voices of under-represented composers and communities,” she said.

    All audition details and rehearsal times can be found on the Sing at Brock! website. The audition is a two-part process involving a singing recording followed by a meeting over Zoom. Students who are interested can enrol in a choir for credit as a Brock course elective.

    The last day to audition for both the University Choir and Sora Singers will be Monday, Sept. 13.

    Choir rehearsal and performance formats are subject to change and will be delivered in adherence with Brock and public health protocols.

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

  • Brock grad raising awareness of trans identities through film

    Image caption: Roy Wol (BA ’06), former student in the Departments of Communication, Popular Culture and Film and Dramatic Arts, at the South by Southwest premiere of The Garden Left Behind, a film he recently brought to a Brock audience.

    Originally posted in The Brock News MONDAY, MAY 17, 2021 | Written by

    Brock alumnus and award-winning filmmaker Roy Wol (BA ’06) is starting important conversations about trans identities through his work.

    And earlier this spring, he brought that meaningful discussion virtually to the Brock community.

    In March, Brock’s Pride Week kicked off with a special screening of Wol’s film, The Garden Left Behind. The 2019 release won the Audience Choice Award when it premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) and has gone on to screen at more than 70 festivals and 50 community events.

    The Brock screening was followed by a panel discussion, which can be viewed online here, featuring Wol, the film’s producer, alongside actresses Carlie Guevara and Ivana Black.

    The event was sponsored by Gender and Sexual Violence Support and Education, Human Rights and Equity (HRE), the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

    The Garden Left Behind tells the story of Tina (played by Guevara), a Mexican trans woman, and her grandmother, both living as undocumented immigrants in New York City (NYC).

    Wol, a former double-major in Film Studies and Dramatic Arts (DART), describes bringing the film and industry panel to Brock as “the greatest feeling ever.”

    He was encouraged by the interest in the film he experienced right from his initial meeting with event organizers.

    Carlie Guevara, who stars in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    “I was expecting only to meet with a single person, but I found myself meeting seven people from different departments asking about the film and chatting about possibilities,” Wol says. “Personally, I felt so welcomed but more importantly, I felt that Brock saw the mission of the film. The impact was aligned — I feel and see the hunger for these types of projects at Brock and I was so honoured to share our work with the Brock audience.”

    Guevara also enjoyed participating in the panel.

    “I’m thankful I was able to enjoy a Friday evening with Brock,” she says. “University communities are super interesting for me, because the audience is within my peer group and I’m exposed to new ideas and experiences whilst sharing my stories.”

    Guevara felt “immediately akin” to Tina’s character after first reading the script, noting there is much to unpack about her story and the themes it touches on.

    “I was drawn by the story and the badass transness of it all,” she says. “I felt happy to read a script and be a part of a film that gave depth, light and breadth to a trans-POC(Person of Colour)-immigrant-NYC narrative.”

    Supporting actress Ivana Black says spending time with the Brock community was “freeing.” She emphasizes that the film requires its audience members to consider their own responsibility.

    “I am hopeful the conversation will open minds and help people see the history of trans identities as a positive and important part of the Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) history,” says Black. “I think the film has reinforced the plight that trans women have and still face, and it questions how far the community has moved when one part of the community is still suffering.”

    Mackenzie Rockbrune, one of the event organizers from HRE and a co-host of the panel discussion, says the team wanted to “create an event to bring awareness to the trans community and the intersectional issues they face every day.”

    Showing a film made by a Brock grad, she adds, made it all the more special.

    “The event had a wide range of attendees from the 2SLGBTQ+ community and Roy Wol’s former departments,” says Rockbrune. “The film allowed for an entry point for students to join the conversation about intersectionality and transgender rights, and inspired students by highlighting an alumnus who used his degree to cultivate activism.”

    Hamed Karaghi, also an organizing committee member and panel co-host, says the intersectionality of the film made it an ideal way to kick off Brock Pride Week.

    “Our audience was informed of the many sacrifices the trans community have made so that queer people can experience liberty and freedom here in North America,” says Karaghi. “The movie was especially valuable for Applied Health Sciences students at Brock, since we got an overview of the challenges that trans people experience while navigating the health-care system to get their gender confirmation surgery.”

    According to Wol, community screenings like the one at Brock have laid bare a great need for conversation and sharing.

    “At some point, we had seven simultaneous community screenings with our team spread around the globe as representatives creating opportunity for discussions,” he says. “The film became larger than itself, a catalyst to share our wounds with each other — it provided a platform to bridge communities.”

    Ivana Black, a supporting actress in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    Wol says he makes film because he wants to learn about life. With The Garden Left Behind, he learned not only from the film’s main character, but also from the community building that went into both the making and the marketing of the film.

    He notes that some 48 people from the trans community worked on the film, and more from the broader 2SLGBTQQIA+ rounded out the cast and crew. For many, it was their first job in film — but not their last.

    “More than a handful have since landed jobs at HBO, New York Film Festival Lincoln Center’s Artist Academy, POSE creator Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative directing fellowship, and jobs in commercials and plays,” says Wol. “I am proud to say we were at the forefront of the trans representation movement in cinema, giving maximum visibility to the community behind and in front of the camera as actors, producers and crew staff.”

    Wol, who came to Brock as an international student and a third-culture kid (an individual raised in a culture other than their parents’), says his experiences at Brock gave him the courage to become his best self.

    “In the DART department, I was encouraged to be playful, to experiment with my art, and in Film Studies, the course options were fundamentally very inspiring and helped me narrow down what I wanted to pursue,” he says. “Communication, Popular Culture and Film courses and instructors made me question everything beyond film — my existence and how narratives impact our lives.”

    Wol says he spent a long time finding his own voice and navigating the challenges of being a “serial immigrant” unable to access government funding through bodies like Telefilm or to work on union productions, which were limited to permanent residents of Canada.

    “This pushed me to be completely independent and create my projects outside of the insular industry, which was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “Within the film industry there are many pockets of sub-industries, and I got in and out of most of them, which gave me a good understanding of the overall picture and grew my network.”

    Wol believes that “storytellers can create bridging opportunities instead of parallel universes,” and builds his art around this belief.

    “We are as good as our community is,” he Wol. “It is more important than ever to do our best to tolerate and create a dialogue with people from experiences that might be conflicting with our core beliefs.”

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Events, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Visual Arts grad catches the eye of WIRED magazine

    Image caption: “Three Polaroids” is a piece from Amber Lee Williams’ collection “Tethered” that uses a Polaroid emulsion lift technique. “Through self-portraits, photos of my own children and other mothers with their children, “Tethered” is part observation and part documentation of daily life,” Williams says.

    Originally published in The Brock News FRIDAY, MAY 07, 2021 | by 

    While the look of a classic Polaroid picture is familiar to most people, interdisciplinary artist Amber Lee Williams (BA ’20) is challenging that standard and garnering international attention with her creative use of the iconic medium.

    Among those captivated by the St. Catharines’ artist’s compelling work is WIRED magazine, which recently commissioned Williams’ art for an article about adoption. The international publication reaches 30 million readers each month.

    Originally interested in painting, Williams, who graduated from Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) last year with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,  discovered a passion for experimental photography when introduced to the darkroom in her second-year Analogue Photography class.

    Williams developed her art practice during her degree based on a technique called Polaroid emulsion lifts. In this treatment, the top layer of a Polaroid photo (known as the emulsion layer) is separated from the physical print by soaking it in water. After the separation of the emulsion image has occurred, it is often transferred to other surfaces such as watercolour paper or hard surfaces like rocks.

    Through creative and scholarly exploration undertaken by Williams during her time in the Visual Arts program, she reimagined the Polaroid emulsion lift technique by capturing digital images of the emulsion lift in process. She was excited by how the images looked floating in water and found them to have an “ephemeral quality.”

    Brock alumna and local artist Amber Lee Williams was recently commissioned by WIRED magazine for her innovative work with Polaroid images.

    In her current work, Williams continues to explore the interplay between analogue and digital media, weaving this theme through her pieces.

    “My time at Brock put me on a very experimental path. My professors encouraged me to use unconventional materials, or to invent new ways to use materials. I was never told ‘this wasn’t the assignment’ — even when I handed in some weird stuff,” she said with a smile.

    Associate Professor of Visual Arts Amy Friend, who taught Williams’ Analogue Photography class, said that Williams consistently challenged her studio assignments, and with each critique, brought in a plethora of work that demonstrated a clear commitment to pushing process and result.

    “Her unique approach of blending alternate materials within the folds of photographic practice wonderfully represents the explorative nature of studio-based courses and the progression of her practice as an artist,” Friend said.

    Opportunity called in December 2020 when a senior editor of WIRED reached out to Williams — a connection made through Friend — to commission her Polaroid works for an upcoming article. With that, Williams embarked on her first big job in the creative sector.

    Fuelled by excitement and a touch of nervousness, she began her creative work for Adoption Moved to Facebook and a War Began written by Samantha M. Shapiro.

    “First, photographer Juan Diego Reyes took some photos using colour film of the family featured in the adoption article. The film was developed, scanned and sent to me to print as Polaroids to turn into lifts,” Williams explained.

    The lead image of the article created as a result is one of her favourite images that she has ever made.

    “The way Reyes photographed the family — with these big shadows cast behind them — felt so symbolic of what the story was all about, which was this dark side of adoption,” she said.

    Williams also created her own still life images featuring children’s items. With a toddler and seven-year-old at home, she had what she needed on hand to create original images for the rest of the article.

    Creating original images took her out of her comfort zone and posed an exciting challenge, Williams said.

    “I’m usually just making art about myself (or my own family), and for myself. Trying to make the work fit someone else’s ideas was very different than what I’m used to.”

    Williams, who recently completed her second term in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program at the University of Waterloo, hasn’t slowed since graduating from Brock. The busy mother of two looks forward to what the future holds.

    “I didn’t think I would be doing my MFA mostly online with my kids home, but here we are. I got through the first year and now I’ll have the summer to make more work and enjoy some time with my family,” she said.

    Williams hopes to showcase her work, “Tethered,” this fall at an exhibition in St. Catharines pending public health protocols.

    As she continues her schooling, she is contemplating what her next moves will be.

    “What I know now is that I just want to make art, and help other people make art,” she said.

    Williams’ art portfolio can be found on her website, amberleeart.com, and on her Instagram page.

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

  • Small Walker Press launches publications exploring music, choreography

    Image caption: The Small Walker Press has announced two new spring publications: Arc, a choreographed poem and Improvising Places / Improvising Time.

    Originally published in The Brock News on TUESDAY, MAY 04, 2021 | by 

    The Small Walker Press (SWP) is announcing two new spring publications with an online book launch page.

    With in-person book launches still on hold due to public health restrictions, the innovative publishing house within Brock’s Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) opted for a virtual celebration.

    The online launch page features two new books: Arc, a choreographed poem written by Paul Savoie with accompanying choreography by Mélanie Mesager, and Improvising Places / Improvising Time with music notation by Devon Fornelli, creative writing by Thomas Ayouti and essays by Derek Knight and Matthew Royal. Graphic design for both publications was done by Bernhard Cella.

    The concept for the books, “music and choreography,” was outlined by Small Walker Press editors Catherine Parayre, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Derek Knight, Associate Professor of Visual Arts. The creative texts were inspired by these themes, drawing on inspiration from participating artists incorporating dance, music and creative writing.

    The book launch page features excerpts from the publications as well as notes from both SWP editors.

    To learn more about The Small Walker Press, please visit the website.

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

  • Grad Fair to connect IBPOC theatre students with professional artists across Canada

    Image caption: Among the theatre leaders taking part in the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair are Jeff Ho (left), actor, playwright and company dramaturg, Outside the March, and Luke Reece (right), playwright, spoken word artist and Associate Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre.

    Brock University students will have the opportunity to learn about a career in theatre from the perspectives of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) theatre leaders during an upcoming online Grad Fair.

    Open to students across the country, the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair takes place Monday, May 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Zoom and is specifically designed for students who identify as Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.

    The fair is free to attend, but registration is required through Eventbrite. The event is open to recent theatre graduates, graduating students and students entering their final year of study in a theatre program.

    Organized by Brock’s Karen Fricker, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer, Department of Dramatic Arts, and Marlis Schweitzer, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at York University, the Grad Fair is presented in partnership with more than 30 academic institutions and arts and scholarly organizations across Canada. A full list of partners is available on the event website.

    In addition to meeting other graduating students, participants will have the chance to learn from experienced IBPOC artists about the transition from post-secondary theatre education to the professional realm.

    The fair will begin with a roundtable discussion chaired by Tanisha Taitt (director, writer, educator, and artistic director of Cahoots Theatre) and featuring Miriam Fernandes (co-artistic director, Why Not Theatre), Luke Reece (playwright, spoken word artist, and associate artistic director, Soulpepper Theatre), Quelemia Sparrow (actor and playwright) and theatre maker Jeff Ho. These dynamic artists will speak to their experiences in many areas of theatre practice and about building a career in the industry.

    Following the discussion, students will be invited to breakout sessions with two theatre professionals in each group answering questions about specific career paths. These include playwriting, directing, acting, producing, dramaturgy, theatre criticism, production and design, public relations and marketing, and the intersections of theatre creation, producing and activism.

    An additional room led by recent York University graduates Davinder Mahti and Sanskruti Marathe will focus on navigating the first year out of theatre school.

    The fact that the event is organized and sponsored by theatre educators and educational institutions is significant, says Ho, who graduated from the National Theatre School’s acting program.

    “It’s about institutions recognizing that it’s important for students to see faces from many different backgrounds, and more representation,” says the award-winning playwright and company dramaturg of Toronto’s Outside the March theatre.

    Ho is proud to be a part of an event that demonstrates “that diverse artists also have diverse career paths.”

    Diego Blanco, a fourth-year Dramatic Arts student minoring in Economics who is assisting in organizing the event, said the Grad Fair is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for graduating students to connect with IBPOC artists working in the field.

    “Students will get to meet IBPOC theatre leaders who work in different arenas and who have made outstanding impacts on the theatre industry in positive ways,” he says.

    The event, Blanco says, may act not only as inspiration for emerging artists, but also as a confidence booster as they start on their professional path.

    “This is a great opportunity to actually see how your career can start by talking to different theatre artists.”

    Fernandes, of Why Not Theatre, shares this enthusiasm and is eager to participate in the roundtable.

    The fair is a “great chance for recent grads and graduating students to connect with arts professionals to explore their areas of interest,” she says.

    In addition to the roundtable speakers, participating theatre professionals include Akosua Amo-Adem, Nina Lee Aquino, Stafford Arima, Ghazal Azerbad, Arthi Chadra, Kat Chin, Lisa Karen Cox, Jordan Laffrenier, Shaista Latif, Owais Lightwala, Matthew MacKenzie, Erin Macklem, Aidan Morishita-Miki, Marilo Nuñez, Tarndeep Pannu, Jiv Parasaram Malina Patel, Luke Reece, Jamie Robinson, Tetsuro Shigematsu and Syrus Marcus Ware.

    Blanco hopes to see more events like the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair in the future.

    “As someone who is graduating and part of the IBPOC community, this event is rare,” he says. “It is just amazing to see so many IBPOC theatre artists joining in one room and discussing what they love; coming together as a community to help graduates with their next adventure.”

    Fricker says the event has drawn considerable interest from across the country.

    “We have been excited and struck by the levels of enthusiasm and eagerness to participate in this fair from all quarters, from the artist-speakers to IBPOC students themselves to partnering organizations,” she says. “We intend to learn from this year’s event, and work on making this an ongoing tradition.”

    For details and how to register for the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair, please visit the website.

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

  • Student art exhibition explores isolation, identity during a pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Upcoming Walker Cultural Leaders events:

    Saturday, March 20

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

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

    Sunday, March 21

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

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

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

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