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  • Inaugural theatre festival showcases talents of Niagara student artists

    Image caption: As part of the inaugural Niagara Regional STAR Festival held at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School staged a short performance in Studio C following a morning of workshops honing their creative skills.

    Elementary and high school students from across Niagara recently gathered at Brock to take the stage and put their theatre skills to the test.

    Hosted by Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) in partnership with the Theatrical Arts Education Association, the inaugural Niagara Regional STAR Festival(School Theatrical Arts Recognition) saw more than 150 students, teachers and theatre professionals gather for a day of workshops, performances and community building on Thursday, Dec. 14.

    The festival allows young people to compete against a rubric created by theatre educators while receiving valuable feedback from professionals in the industry.

    Throughout the day, students participated in workshops led by local theatre professionals and educators exploring topics such as vocal techniques, improvisation and community building.

    A.N. Myer Secondary School student Leah Miller said that it was a fun day learning about different art forms.

    “Having the opportunity to try out new things like improv and vocal skills has been a wonderful experience,” said Miller.

    Students presented skills developed in their school drama classes and performed theatrical pieces in categories including contrasting monologues, musical theatre ensembles, solos and short plays. The categories were adjudicated by theatre experts, including Brock faculty and Dramatic Arts students.

    “The only requirement was that students bring their best efforts. No costumes, sets, lighting or makeup was required, just their best work and theatre blacks,” said Tracy Garratt, Program Leader for the Arts, School Culture and Student Engagement with the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) and Teacher at A.N. Myer Secondary School in Niagara Falls.

    Associate Professor and Scenographer David Vivian, the Brock faculty lead, said the community partnership with the STAR Festival not only offered emerging student artists the opportunity to showcase their talents and creativity, but also to receive feedback fostering creative growth in a supportive environment.

    “The faculty and senior students of the Dramatic Arts program at the MIWSFPA were thrilled with the opportunity to discover the emerging talent of the region and to share our excellent facilities with the high school community,” Vivian said.

    The event was supported by local organizations sharing a common mandate of supporting youth and their families with wellness resources, especially focusing on mental health.

    In addition to the participation of local arts organizations, representatives of the Vancouver Film School (VFS) travelled to Niagara to lead workshops on acting for the camera, strengthening ties between DART’s undergraduate programming and a professional program such as VFS.

    For more information about the event, please visit the Theatrical Arts Education Association website.

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  • Putting theatre skills to work at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

    Pictured above: Fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Manikham Marianne Vongboutdy recently returned from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where she put her Brock theatre training to work gaining international experience.

    THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 09, 2023 | by

    Carrying with her the skills she’s learned as a Brock Dramatic Arts (DART) student, Manikham Marianne Vongboutdy recently headed overseas to work at the world’s largest performance arts festival.

    The fourth-year student spent time this summer with the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she was invited by her high school to work as a stage manager on the St. Catharines Collegiate and West Niagara Secondary School production, Piece of Me.

    With a concentration in production and design, Vongboutdy said her Brock theatre training was key to her landing the stage management gig in Scotland.

    “Working with Brock’s state-of-the-art technology in Dramatic Arts has been invaluable,” she said. “Learning tech in the theatre has been a special experience. I am developing the skills I will need in the professional theatre world.”

    Piece of Me navigates the relationship of a mother and daughter in a coming-of-age tale offering an innovative take on adolescence told through a teenager’s eyes. Like the characters in the play, Vongboutdy has found many moments of personal reflection as she has grown in her creative practice at Brock.

    Piece of Me was an adaptation based on two different plays exploring similar subject matter, which from a stage management perspective, meant merging two plays into one. This complex staging posed interesting challenges that Vongboutdy was prepared to take on.

    As an upper-year DART student, she was able to transfer the skills gained in her first few years at Brock to her international experience, such as learning to sew in wardrobe classes so she could step up and help with costumes or painting props using skills from props classes.

    “A unique thing about studying at the Marilyn is that we get to learn about different aspects of staging a show, which served me so well during my Edinburgh experience,” she said. “We are stronger artists because of it.”

    After her experience abroad, Vongboutdy said she has a wider perspective of what theatre can look like.

    “It was eye-opening for me,” she said. “As a stage manager, we try and put forward the best show possible, but part of our job is to work with what is happening in the moment. I am thrilled to put my experience into practice.”

    Vongboutdy is now working as stage manager for Brock’s upcoming winter mainstage production, The Mysterious Mind of Molly McGillicuddy, written and directed by DART Instructor Mike Griffin. The play explores brain injury and related mental health issues through the styles of full-mask, puppetry and physical theatre.

    Working with Griffin is a valuable experience for Vongboutdy, who aims to pursue a master’s degree in puppetry. Exploring the medium is especially important to her Laotian heritage, a culture in which many teachings occur using masks and puppets.

    “As an immigrant, I always hold my home and culture in Laos very close, and I try to incorporate elements of my culture into the work I do every day creating theatre,” she said.

    The Mysterious Mind of Molly McGillicuddy will run at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre Feb. 15 to 19. More information can be found on the DART website.

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

  • Dramatic Arts mainstage production puts modern spin on classic play

    Pictured above: Third-year Dramatic Arts student Lucas Charters (left) and second-year student Victoria Marshall rehearse on the set of the upcoming Dramatic Arts mainstage production at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, opening Friday, Oct. 27.

    THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2023 | by

    More than a hundred years after it was written, a celebrated play by famed playwright Anton Chekhov is getting a contemporary reboot that invites audiences to explore how love and art fuel the pursuit of happiness.

    Stupid F**king Bird, the mainstage production from Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), opens at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre on Friday, Oct. 27.

    Directed by retired Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Gyllian Raby and fourth-year DART student Hayley King, the play is a contemporary adaptation of Chekhov’s classic 1896 play The Seagull written by Aaron Posner. The story follows the lives and complicated love triangles of characters Con, Mash, Dev and Nina, teenagers coming of age in rural Ontario.

    Third-year Dramatic Arts student Lucas Charters rehearses on set for the upcoming Dramatic Arts mainstage, an adaptation of the famous play The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, whose face is displayed as an artistic rendering seen here as part of the staging.

    As the characters wrestle with the disappointments of love, rejection and growing up in the shadow of the boomer generation, they also find hope for the future through artistic expression when they stage their own play their way.

    Raby said the adaptation is faithful to Chekhov’s original comedic work, exploring themes of human relationships in society that are as relevant today as they were in 1896 when the play was written, although it was considered revolutionary at the time.

    “This is a production with big ideas attempting to reproduce theatrical innovation that Chekhov sought during his time. It is irreverent and laugh-out-loud funny, even given the character’s tendencies to self-destruct,” she said.

    King, who is in her final year of study with a concentration in performance, said she has greatly enjoyed working on this innovative production as Associate Director and Choreographer, especially reimagining the theatrical conventions used by Chekhov and staging them in a fresh way for new audiences.

    “Working alongside Gyllian Raby, I have learned so much about creating theatre. Investigating the metatheatrical nature of the play through staging, choreography and design has been both a great learning experience and a lot of fun,” King said.

    Stupid F**king Bird opens Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Performances will also take place Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 29 at 1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

    General admission tickets are available for $20 and tickets for students and seniors are available for $16. Visit the Dramatic Arts event website to reserve tickets.

  • Brock co-led community organization explores creativity in sound art

    Pictured above: Brock Visual Arts graduate Taylor Elliott (BA ’23) has been engaging in creative sound work at the Sound Art Innovation Lab in downtown St. Catharines.

    Early on, Brock researcher Troy Ouellette realized the power of electronics to create virtual instruments.

    Merging this lifelong passion and his academic interest in sound art, Ouellette is bringing his expertise to the local community to connect people interested in experimental sound work.

    An Assistant Professor of Digital Media in Brock’s Department of Visual Arts (VISA), Ouellette specializes in technology and conceptual art. He co-founded the Sound Art Innovation Lab (SAIL) earlier this year in partnership with Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) alongside a powerhouse team of local artists.

    SAIL brings together community participants, scholars and students to generate interdisciplinary discussion around sound art and aims to encourage underrepresented groups to participate in all aspects of sound production.

    The fully equipped recording studio and control room in downtown St. Catharines houses an audio suite with thousands of plug-ins for virtual instruments for users to experiment with. The space also includes an electronic drum set, guitars and keyboards to create dynamic sound works.

    Ouellette said SAIL is encouraging people to think about sound and acoustics differently and to promote scholarly discourse in the community.

    “We have a library of about 50 books that are dedicated to sound art and its history, especially within the practice of field recording,” he said. “In addition, there are important texts about composers who have contributed to minimalism, experimental and electroacoustic music.”

    SAIL is also affiliated with local musicians such as Wayne Petti, who has worked as an audio engineer with Blue Rodeo, giving Brock students the chance to network with the professionals in the music industry.

    Ouellette’s work with SAIL was largely inspired by his grandfather.

    “He had a home recording studio, which fascinated me,” he said. “I noticed immediately that the different switches on his keyboard created different effects, like ‘reverb’ or ‘vibrato’ and ‘sustain’ and I was enamoured with these new possibilities.”

    The name SAIL was also inspired by the small sailboat in which he plied the waters of Lake Erie as a kid, immersing himself in the natural soundscape and profoundly impacting his sonic experiences while on the water.

    At Brock, Ouellette teaches classes engaging with digital foundations and interactive arts, sharing the rich history of sound art in Canada and exploring how sound in the digital age can feed into a human’s emotional capacities whether through a film or video score or an experimental recording.

    Third-year VISA student Caleb Awinoron and recent graduate Taylor Elliott (BA ’23) have collaborated at the SAIL facilities, developing their creative skills and making valuable community connections.

    “I’ve really enjoyed my time working at SAIL; there’s a sense of exploration and playfulness while keeping an academic interest,” Elliott said. “Sound art and design opens up so many possibilities and is such a versatile medium. It’s a great thing to become familiar with.”

    Awinoron found he became more creative with repeat visits to the SAIL studio.

    “Because I work with a lot of rap music, I’ve learned the different styles individual musicians use when recording and how to add to those moments as a developing producer,” he said.

    SAIL will be hosting tours of the space on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 2 to 5 p.m. and will be hosting an artist talk for the public featuring sound artist Ellen Moffat on Saturday, Oct. 20 at NAC. Brock University and Moffat will also host a contact mic workshop for Brock students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts on Sunday, Oct. 21. Details can be found on the SAIL website.

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  • Brock co-led team awarded $2.5M for project giving minoritized voices centre stage in transforming theatre education

    Pictured above: The cast of Brock’s 2022 Mainstage production ‘Red Bike’ by Caridad Svich, directed by Mike Griffin. Mainstage productions will be among the focus of Brock Dramatic Arts faculty, including Griffin, as they develop more inclusive approaches to teaching theatre as part of the new partnership project, Staging Better Futures/ Mettre en scène de meilleurs avenirs (SBF/MSMA).

    Red Bike, production principale (Mainstage) de l’Université Brock en 2022, écrite par Caridad Svich, mise en scène par Mike Griffin au Marilyn I. Walker Theatre. 

    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2023

    Deneh’Cho Thompson, a displaced and dispossessed member of the Pehdzeh ki Nation, became an academic because he wanted others to have a better experience with theatre education than he did.

    Responding to experiences such as Thompson’s, a Brock University co-led research project is putting the spotlight on minoritized voices.

    Staging Better Futures/Mettre en scène de meilleurs avenirs (SBF/MSMA) is the first national, cross-sectoral partnership approach to decolonizing, anti-racist, equitable, diverse and inclusive systemic change ever undertaken in post-secondary theatre education in Canada.

    On Tuesday, Aug. 29, it was announced the project has been awarded a $2.5-million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant. Contributions from partner organizations bring the project budget to more than $5.5 million, with Brock making the largest partner organization contribution of $1.57 million in cash and in-kind contributions over seven years.

    The funding announcement — made by Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, on behalf of François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Mark Holland, Minister of Health — included more than $960 million supporting more than 4,700 researchers and research projects across Canada.

    Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Professor and Chair of Dramatic Arts (DART) at Brock, is co-leader of SBF/MSMA along with Nicole Nolette, University of Waterloo Associate Professor of French Studies and Canada Research Chair in Minority Studies. They observed that while Canadian universities and colleges have been working on local equity initiatives, there is no platform yet for sharing valuable information on providing an equitable and welcoming environment for minoritized theatre students and educators.

    Thompson dropped out of high school and college and took more than 10 years to finish his undergraduate degree because of the systemic racism he experienced. He is now a member of the governance committee on the project.

    Even while he was a student, as interest increased in Indigenous theatre, Thompson found people, including faculty and mentors, looked to him to provide Indigenous expertise.

    But “I was alone,” he said of his time studying in Vancouver. “I didn’t have supports in the university or in my program. I didn’t have anyone I could look up to.” Thompson has since become an Assistant Professor and co-ordinator of the wîcêhtowin Theatre Program at the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Drama.

    SBF/MSMA’s key areas of focus are racialization; Indigeneity; gender diversity; disability; and linguistic minoritization. The project’s guiding principle is that it centres the voices of students and educators with lived experiences of exclusion, such as Thompson.

    Brock DART students Hayley King and Benoit St-Aubin echo Thompson’s calls for greater representation of faculty from historically under-represented backgrounds in theatre departments.

    “In attempts to sympathize with and accurately represent the experience of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) students onstage, non-BIPOC individuals fall prone to tokenism and misrepresentation,” said King, who is of biracial Black and South Asian descent. “Having someone in the department with the same lived experiences as these students can serve as a voice for them when injustices are committed.”

    For St-Aubin, who is from the Niagara region and whose first language is French, it’s also important to decolonize curriculum and repertoire.

    “Historically, Canadian theatre has subscribed to Eurocentric ideologies, which has skewed the education we receive,” they said. “By introducing non-Western, non-European theatre practices to students, our department can shape us into well-rounded theatre practitioners and academics.”

    Roberts-Smith said there needs to be a transition “from small-scale solutions within our own institutions to thinking collaboratively about how we do post-secondary theatre education more equitably across Canada.”

    In the course of preparing the grant, the project leaders developed a wide network of collaborators with lived experience of systemic inequity and expertise in combating it. The fully bilingual project now involves more than 90 participants across Canada, with representation from colleges, universities, theatre companies, arts services organizations, a student caucus and a freelance artist-educator consultancy. There are seven Brock faculty members involved in the project, mostly from Dramatic Arts.

    “Receiving this prestigious, highly competitive award is an outstanding achievement,” said Brock University Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    “The research team’s success demonstrates the need for systemic practices and structures in dramatic arts education to be transformed so that knowledge and expertise from minoritized artist-educators form a core part of the education,” he said.

    The Partnership Grant covers a period of seven years.

    Partnership Grants are the largest that SSHRC offers, supporting formal partnerships between academic researchers, businesses and other partners that will advance knowledge and understanding on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.

    In addition to the Partnership Grants, SSHRC announced Tuesday that seven Brock researchers were awarded a total $965,636 in Insight Grants, which support research judged worthy of funding by fellow researchers and/or other experts. The University also received more than $4.8 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for a variety of projects.

    Une équipe codirigée par l’Université Brock reçoit 2,5 millions de dollars pour un projet visant à placer les personnes minorisées au cœur de la transformation de l’enseignement du théâtre

    Deneh’Cho Thompson, membre déplacé et dépossédé de la Nation Pehdzeh ki, est devenu universitaire afin que d’autres vivent une meilleure expérience de l’enseignement du théâtre que la sienne.

    En réponse à des vécus comme celui de Thompson, le projet de recherche, mené conjointement par l’Université Brock, souhaite mettre en lumière les voix des personnes minorisées.

    Staging Better Futures/Mettre en scène de meilleurs avenirs (SBF/MSMA) se veut le premier projet partenarial national et intersectoriel visant un changement systémique à des fins de décolonisation, d’antiracisme, d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion dans l’enseignement postsecondaire du théâtre au Canada.

    Le mardi 29 août, l’octroi d’une subvention de partenariat de 2,5 millions de dollars du Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines (CRSH) pour ce projet a été annoncé. Les contributions des organismes partenaires portent son budget à plus de 5,5 millions de dollars. La contribution de l’Université Brock est la plus importante, soit 1,57 million de dollars en espèces et en nature sur une période de sept ans.

    L’annonce officiellement a été faite aujourd’hui par Randy Boissonnault, ministre de l’Emploi, du Développement de la main-d’œuvre et des Langues officielles, au nom du ministre de l’Innovation, des Sciences et de l’Industrie, François-Philippe Champagne, et du ministre de la Santé, Mark Holland. Ce financement fait partie d’une enveloppe dépassant les 960 millions de dollars pour soutenir plus de 4 700 projets et équipes de recherche à travers le pays.

    Jennifer Roberts-Smith, professeure et directrice du Département d’art dramatique (DART) de l’Université Brock, codirige SBF/MSMA avec Nicole Nolette, professeure agrégée en Études françaises à l’Université de Waterloo et titulaire de la Chaire de recherche du Canada en études des minorités. Toutes deux ont remarqué les efforts des universités et des collèges canadiens pour mettre en œuvre des initiatives locales en matière d’équité. Cependant, aucune plateforme ne permet de partager des informations précieuses sur la création d’un environnement équitable et accueillant pour le corps étudiant et les pédagogues en théâtre issu·e·s de minorités.

    Thompson a abandonné ses études secondaires et supérieures et a mis plus de dix ans à obtenir son diplôme de premier cycle en raison du racisme systémique. Aujourd’hui, il est membre du comité de gouvernance du projet.

    Ce dernier était aux études à l’époque de l’engouement grandissant pour le théâtre autochtone. M. Thompson a alors constaté que certaines personnes, y compris des professeur·e·s et des mentor·e·s, se tournaient vers lui pour son expertise à titre de personne autochtone.

    Mais « j’étais seul, » dit-il à propos de son séjour à Vancouver. « Je ne recevais pas de soutien de mon université ou de mon programme. Je n’avais personne vers qui me tourner. » Depuis, M. Thompson est devenu professeur adjoint et coordinateur du programme de théâtre wîcêhtowin au Département d’art dramatique de l’Université de Saskatchewan.

    Les principaux domaines d’intérêt de SBF/MSMA concernent la racisation, l’autochtonie, la diversité des genres, le handicap et la minorisation linguistique. Le projet a pour principe directeur de faire entendre les voix d’étudiant·e·s et de pédagogues ayant vécu l’exclusion, comme M. Thompson.

    Hayley King et Benoit St-Aubin, étudiant·e·s à l’Université Brock, font écho aux appels de Thompson en faveur d’une plus grande représentation de professeur·e·s issu·e·s de milieux historiquement sous-représentés dans les départements de théâtre.

    « En essayant de sympathiser avec les personnes noir·e·s, autochtones et de couleur (PANDC) et de représenter fidèlement leur expérience sur scène, les personnes non-PANDC sont sujettes à une représentation symbolique et erronée, » a déclaré King, d’origine biraciale noire et sud-asiatique. « Le fait d’avoir au sein du département quelqu’un avec les mêmes expériences que ces étudiant·e·s leur assurent d’être entendu·e·s lorsque des injustices sont commises. »

    Pour St-Aubin, qui est originaire de la région de Niagara et dont la langue maternelle est le français, la décolonisation du programme d’études et du répertoire s’avère tout aussi importante.

    « Historiquement, le théâtre canadien a souscrit à des idéologies eurocentriques, ce qui a faussé notre éducation, » a-t-iel déclaré. « En présentant aux étudiant·e·s des pratiques théâtrales non occidentales et non européennes, notre département peut former des praticien·ne·s du théâtre et des universitaires bien équilibré·e·s.

    Selon Mme Roberts-Smith, il faut passer « de solutions à petite échelle au sein de nos propres institutions à une réflexion commune sur la manière de dispenser l’enseignement postsecondaire du théâtre de manière plus équitable dans l’ensemble du Canada. »

    Au cours de la préparation de la subvention, les responsables du projet ont développé un vaste réseau de collaborateur·trice·s avec une expérience vécue de l’iniquité systémique et une expertise dans la lutte contre celle-ci. Le projet entièrement bilingue compte aujourd’hui plus de 90 participant·e·s à travers le Canada, dont des collèges, des universités, des compagnies de théâtre, des organismes professionnels, un caucus d’étudiant·e·s et un groupe d’artistes pédagogues indépendant·e·s. Sept membres du personnel de l’Université Brock participent au projet, notamment dans le domaine de l’art dramatique.

    « Recevoir ce prix prestigieux et hautement compétitif est une réussite exceptionnelle, » a déclaré Tim Kenyon, vice-président chargé de la recherche à l’Université Brock.

    « Le succès de l’équipe de recherche démontre la nécessité de transformer les pratiques et les structures systémiques de l’enseignement de l’art dramatique afin que les connaissances et l’expertise des artistes pédagogues minorisé·e·s fassent partie intégrante de l’enseignement, » a-t-il déclaré.

    La subvention de partenariat couvre une période de sept ans.

    Les subventions de partenariat, les plus importantes offertes par le CRSH, favorisent la collaboration entre les chercheur·euse·s universitaires, les entreprises et d’autres partenaires afin d’approfondir les connaissances sur d’importantes questions d’ordre intellectuel, social, économique et culturel.

    De plus, le CRSH a annoncé ce mardi l’octroi d’un total de 965 636 $ en subventions Savoir à sept chercheur·euse·s de l’Université Brock, pour soutenir des projets proposés par des pair·e·s et/ou d’autres expert·e·s. L’Université a également obtenu plus de 4,8 millions de dollars du Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada pour financer divers projets.

  • Visual Arts exhibition presents creative exploration of death

    TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2023 | by 

    A new faculty art exhibition featuring the work of Linda Carreiro, Visual Arts Professor and Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock, is now open for viewing.

    Afterthoughts’, an exhibition showcasing Carreiro’s text-based artworks, runs until Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Visual Arts Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    While Carreiro initially set out to make a confessional, emotive set of works about the afterlife, she found that words were inadequate to fully reflect her thoughts about the unknowable.

    “Vacillating between terror, anger and derision, the resulting writings try to express the inexpressible while acknowledging their limitations. The incongruence of the texts, alongside the ghostly ladder and boxes, come together as extracts rather than narrative,” Carreiro said.

    In her artist’s statement, Carreiro addresses the notion that the sea and space are seemingly infinite places, containing the unknown in their vastness and depth.

    “They are also environments where humans cannot sustain life without the aid of breathing apparatus. Therefore, stars and water are referenced here in the writings and application of materials. Swirls of ink, vapoury washes and hole-punched ‘stars’ with fallen perforations allude to this connection,” Carreiro said.

    All are invited to attend the ‘Afterthoughts’ closing reception at the gallery on Friday, Sept. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the MIWSFPA located at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines.

    Summer gallery hours:

    • Monday, Aug. 29 to Friday, Sept. 1 from 1 to 5 p.m.
    • Wednesday, Sept. 6 to Saturday, Sept. 9 from 1 to 5 p.m.

    The gallery resumes its regular hours on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

    For more information, please visit the MIWSFPA Visual Arts gallery website.

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

  • New summer workshop puts students at centre of creative process

    Image caption: Dramatic Arts (DART) Research Assistants Geneviève Batista (left) and Ezri Fenton participated in the DART Summer Institute of Performance Research workshop session ‘Anthr-Apology.’

    Brock arts students have been honing their creative skills and working alongside professional theatre artists through a new summer workshop series presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The inaugural DART Summer Institute of Performance Research ran from May 29 to July 7 at the University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Conceptualized by DART Chair and Professor Jennifer Roberts-Smith, the workshop allowed students to be at the centre of the creative process as professional theatre-makers, artists and DART faculty explored performance ideas, working scripts and scenic possibilities for future work.

    Roberts-Smith said DART’s Summer Institute was founded to expand opportunities for what the department calls ‘vertically-integrated’ experiential learning.

    “It’s ‘vertical’ because members of the DART community at all career stages are learning together,” she said. “Collaborative research means we’re asking questions that none of us — not even the most seasoned professionals and faculty — know how to answer.”

    Roberts-Smith said the model sees students’ perspectives and contributions as just as important as workshop leaders.

    Anthr-Apology, a session led by DART Professor David Fancy and DART Scenographer and Associate Professor David Vivian, explored the creative possibilities of a new performance collective, with the first stage of presentation slated for 2024, building on creative research undertaken on the fall DART Mainstage production AnthropoScene.

    Fancy and Vivian are motivated by exploring the ways in which theatre and performance as art forms can be truly responsive to the climate crisis.

    “The project is based on the idea that the world needs a truth and reconciliation commission for all humans and their relationship with one another, as well as their individual and collective relationships with the planet,” Fancy said.

    Vivian said the workshop also generated opportunities for participating graduate- and senior-level MIWSFPA students “to bridge their undergraduate studies to the next level of scholarship and professional opportunities.”

    In another session, Packing a Punch, students worked directly with theatre artist Trevor Copp, Artistic Director and Founder of Tottering Biped Theatre (TBT). Students participated in the creative process of developing TBT’s new multimedia live-action play, Mr. Punch, adapted from a lesser-known Neil Gaiman graphic novel.

    “It was a brilliant week. In the end, what we really found was momentum and artistic excitement about this piece and its possibilities,” Copp said.

    Evalyn Parry, DART’s 2022-23 Walker Cultural Leader and award-winning queer performance-maker, theatrical innovator and artistic leader, led a workshop engaging with choral performance and text from their master’s research-creation thesis, “An Unsettled Account,” reflecting on queer arts leadership, decolonial futures and systems change.

    “Together with my longtime collaborator Karin Randoja (music director for the workshop), rich discoveries were made about how the choral arrangements — both sung and spoken — work on the page and translate into the bodies and voices of singers and actors,” Parry said.

    DART Instructor Mike Griffin, Faculty of Humanities’ 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, workshopped ideas for his DART winter mainstage production, The Mysterious Mind of Molly McGillicuddy. An original new work written and directed by Griffin, the play explores brain injury and related mental health issues.

    “A set of very strong projects with exciting futures emerged from the inaugural Summer Institute,” Roberts-Smith said. “DART students brought fresh and wise perspectives essential to the success of each project.”

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

  • Fine and performing arts grads ready to make impact in industry

    Image caption: A. gathering of some of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts graduates from the departments of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and Studies in Arts and Culture at Brock’s 113th Convocation.

    Some of the the newest graduates from the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are poised to take centre stage as they pursue their next challenges.

    After graduating on Friday, June 16 during Brock’s 113th Convocation, Dramatic Arts (DART) alumni Alyssa Campbell, Ava Robitaille, Thea Van Loon and Claire Stoll will get straight to work this summer on a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, put on by Tottering Biped Theatre (TBT), a Hamilton-based social justice inspired theatre company

    Having worked with TBT as Brock students, Campbell and Robitaille are thrilled to be with a professional theatre company again.

    Campbell said she is grateful to have made valuable connections during her time in DART that have turned into work opportunities.

    “I’m very excited to return to work with Tottering Biped with familiar and new faces post-graduation,” she said. “Outdoor theatre is a unique challenge that will be great revisit.”

    Mari Brint, who graduated with a double major in Visual Arts (Studio Art) and History of Art and Visual Culture, and a minor in English Language and Literature, fused their artistic practice with a passion for libraries which has shaped their future professional path.

    Working at the James A. Gibson Library, Brint enjoyed connecting with students and assisting library users with their requests. They also curated collaborative exhibitions on display for library users, further sparking their interest in curation.

    Currently working at the main circulation desk at St. Catharines Public Library, Brint hopes to pursue a master’s degree in library science or art history.

    “I love the community connection in libraries, and I am lucky to work with diverse populations,” Brint said. “Brock set me on the path for my future work and studies, and I look forward to giving back to the community.”

    Similarly to Brint, Music student Chloe Racho was committed to the Brock community and participated in many student activities in and around the MIWSFPA.

    In addition to her studies and composing instrumental music for ensembles, Racho worked as Stage Manager for Department of Music concerts at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and led tours of the downtown arts campus as part of Brock’s Smart Start team.

    An aspiring educator, Racho will begin working toward a Bachelor of Education with a teachable in vocal music at Brock in the fall.

    “The music program has equipped me with transferable skills that I will use in future music endeavours and other aspects of my life,” she said.

    Sarah Fisher, who earned an Honours degree in Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC), with a concentration in Cultural Management and minor in Tourism Studies, said the STAC program’s interdisciplinary nature allowed her to explore a wide range of subjects and pursue her passions while acquiring additional certifications throughout her degree program.

    “My four years at Brock University have been an incredible journey filled with academic achievements, unforgettable experiences and personal growth,” Fisher said. “As a graduate of the STAC program, I am happy to reflect on my time at Brock and eagerly look forward to what the future holds.”

    Having learned about her passion for building relations in the world of arts and culture, Fisher looks forward to continuing her studies in public relations.

    “I am always so heartened by the graduating students at the MIWSFPA, who seem to flow seamlessly into opportunities of employment, internship and advanced study,” said Linda Carreiro, Visual Arts Professor and Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts. “They relish each new learning moment, which equips them with an openness to challenges and an impressive layering of skills.”

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  • Dramatic Arts student to learn behind the scenes at Shaw Festival

    Image Caption: Ava Robitaille, a fourth-year Dramatic Arts student, has been selected for an internship at the Shaw Festival for the 2023 season.

    Originally published THURSDAY, MAY 04, 2023 | by

    Like many fourth-year students, Ava Robitaille is excited to see what the future holds after graduation.

    Her vision will soon be a little clearer thanks to a valuable experiential learning opportunity in the world of professional theatre production.

    The Dramatic Arts (DART) student has been selected for an internship at the Shaw Festival for the 2023 season, which will allow her to dive deeper into directing and add to her growing list of skills.

    During the eight-week internship, which began May 2, Robitaille will learn how the Shaw season runs by working behind the scenes on a number of shows and performances.

    She is particularly excited about the opportunity to work with women directors.

    “The Shaw has a really wonderful set of female directors in this season, and I cannot express how important this is to me,” Robitaille says. “I really want to learn about the experiences of those women who have been involved in the industry for an extended period of time.”

    Having worked as a director and associate director in many DART productions, Robitaille is grateful for all the feedback from instructors throughout her time at Brock. She plans to take those remarks and hone in on developing her skills through this opportunity.

    “The biggest thing I want to focus on is learning how I use my directing voice in a room,” she says. “As I’ve been developing as a director through Brock and in DART, my No. 1 feedback has been ‘you’ve got it technically, but you need to bring yourself into the work.’”

    Robitaille recognizes the Shaw internship’s potential to impact her future in the industry. She says it’s a great opportunity for her to get to know some of the individuals involved in the profession, and provides her with a foot in the door with a local, but well-known, production company.

    “This really is the cherry on top of my whole experience with Brock,” she says while reflecting on her final days as a Brock student.

    Robitaille feels the confidence and skills she developed during her time at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts were crucial in preparing her for the internship.

    “What I learned at DART through my four years was incredible,” she says. “From not knowing where I was going in my first year to slowly figuring it out and being given opportunities like this, this is just everything I could have asked for.”

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  • Exhibition builds bridges for community members

    Image caption: Exhibiting artist Katherine Sunita (left) engages with her artwork Invisible Contents with Shauna MacLeod, Founder/Director of Willow Arts Community as part of an exhibition now on show at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    A new exhibition is celebrating the work of local artists while breaking down barriers for individuals facing stigma and social isolation.

    ‘Visible: An Exploration of Intersecting Identities,’ which showcases work by Willow Arts Community members, is now open at the Visual Arts Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    The exhibition explores themes of intersecting identities and overcoming personal challenges through creative expression. Original works include paintings, sculpture, interactive videos and listening stations.

    Located in downtown St. Catharines, Willow Arts Community (Willow) is an arts and peer support organization providing low-barrier opportunities for artists with lived experiences of mental illness or substance use disorder in Niagara.

    The partnership between Brock University and Willow aims to provide an enriching gallery experience for community members. For Shauna MacLeod, Willow Founder and Executive Director, the ability to publicly showcase artwork is significant and allows diverse perspectives to be shared.

    “This is an incredible opportunity for us to celebrate the original work of 41 Willow Arts members. This partnership provides a highly visible platform that helps us reduce stigma and break down barriers for the members of our community,” she said. “The artwork is exceptional, and the people we are proud to support are able to be visible in new ways.”

    Sonya Marie de Lazzer, Gallery Co-ordinator at the MIWSFPA, co-curated the exhibition alongside MacLeod and was struck by the uplifting and positive energy surrounding the experience.

    “From the early discussions of this show to the final exhibition coming together, there is so much spirit. We hope to continue to dream big with Willow, cultivating this special friendship,” she said.

    The exhibition runs until Tuesday, June 6 and is open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the MIWSFPA, 15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines.

    More information about Willow Arts Community can be found on the organization’s website.

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    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, News, Uncategorised