Articles by author: mbalsom

  • Media Release: Jehanne of the Witches

    jehanne_promo_dvBrock University
    Media Release
    St. Catharines, ON
    January 28, 2014

    The Department of Dramatic Arts’ mainstage production of Jehanne of the Witches is beset with twists and turns, black magic, illusion, sexuality, and the use – and abuse – of power!

    Students of Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts present Jehanne of the Witches, a Canadian play that probes into the nature of magic, truth and illusion. Performances will be held at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, Brock University on February 13, 14 and 15, 2014.

    Jehanne of the Witches, written by award-winning Canadian playwright Sally Clark, recounts Joan of Arc’s story with historical accuracy, and explores modern, feminist ideals, as well as Christianity and Paganism. Using historical facts, Clark weaves a story exploring the strange relationship that existed between Joan of Arc and her comrade-in-arms, Gilles de Rais – the notorious Bluebeard. In this production, Gilles de Rais is in his own personal purgatory where he is condemned to endlessly relive the events of his life from his first contact with Jehanne to his own death.
    Directed by Virginia Reh, with scenography by David Vivian, and lighting by Cameron More, this second mainstage production of the Department of Dramatics Arts’ 2013-14 Season showcases the talents of students in the undergraduate program: Katie Coseni, Mallory Muehmer, Rachel Romanoski, Hayley Malouin, Elizabeth Smith, Nikki Morrison, Erik Bell, Derek Ewert, Josh Berard, and Lewis Whiteley.

    “Sally Clark’s unique and unorthodox look at the Joan of Arc legend has called to me for a very long time,” states Reh. “This multi-layered play questions the very nature of history: how and by whom it is relayed and manipulated. It deals in power, mystery, a yearning to believe and the very nature of theatre itself. Layers behind layers are torn away in a search for the elusive “truth.” Who is a saint? and who is a monster?”

    This play contains sexual themes and occasional strong language.

    Performances for Jehanne of the Witches will be held in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, Brock University on February 13, 14, and 15, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinée performance on February 14 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, $12 for groups, and $5 for the eyeGo high school ticket program. Available from the Centre for the Arts Box Office: 905-688-5550 x3257 or visit: For more information about this production and the Department of Dramatic Arts visit:

    Productions from the Department of Dramatic Arts are an integral part of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ mandate to build connections between the community and the breadth of talent and creativity at Brock University.

    If you wish to experience the legend of Joan of Arc through the media of classic film and live choral performance, then you won’t want to miss Chorus Niagara’s CN CINEMA – The Passion of Joan of Arc, taking place on February 28 and March 1 at 7:30 p.m., held at St. Thomas Anglican Church in St. Catharines. Tickets can be purchased through the Centre for the Arts Box Office (purchase information is listed above).


    Media call: Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 6 p.m., held in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, Brock University

    For interviews please contact:
    Marie Balsom, Communications
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    T: 905.688.5550, x4765| E: | W:

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    Categories: Media Releases

  • TWELFTH NIGHT, (or what you will) a comedy by William Shakespeare at the Department of Dramatic Arts

    image by Nitin Vadukul

    image by Nitin Vadukul

    TWELFTH NIGHT, (or what you will)

    a comedy by William Shakespeare

    November 7 – 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM
    Student Matinee November 08 at 11:30 AM

    DIRECTED BY Gyllian Raby
    Co-Director and Vocal Coach: Danielle Wilson
    Assistant Director and Dramaturge: Keavy Lynch

    If music be the food of love, play on!
    “Twelfth Night, (or what you will)” presented on stage at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre

    The Department of Dramatic Arts’ rendition of Twelfth Night gives this classic Shakespearean comedy a 20th century twist, setting it in the 1950s and taking audiences to the era of soul-searching country blues. This production runs November 7, 8 and 9, 2013 at 7:30 p.m., and November 8 at 11:30 a.m., held at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, Brock University.

    The magical fictitious kingdom of Illyria is a modern world where boys are boys and girls are girls and subterranean passions blow apart rigid conventions. Fools, lovers, and shipwrecked souls grapple adverse fortunes and comic misunderstandings to find what truth and love might mean. To meet Shakespeare’s demand that Illyria be a land where music is “the food of love,” we present the fool musician Feste as the leader of a country blues band.

    The production is a directorial collaboration between Dramatic Arts faculty Gyllian Raby and Danielle Wilson, assisted by Keavy Lynch. Raby states, “We are performing Twelfth Night using music rooted in contemporary culture, so although this production is not a musical, music is threaded throughout the play.” Wilson adds, “The play has many of the elements common to Elizabethan romantic comedy, including the devices of mistaken identity, separated twins, and gender-crossing disguise, and its plot revolves around whether one can manage betrayal, and overcome the obstacles to truth and love.“

    Have a look at our media release (PDF).

    Let us know you’re coming by joining our Facebook Event.

    High-School teachers should read this letter about the Matinee performance opportunities available for Twefth Night (November 2013) and Jehanne of the Witches (February 2014)  (PDF)

    A Study Guide is available for review,
    prepared by Gyllian Raby and Keavy Lynch:
    download to print a copy (PDF, 2.0 MB)

    watch this preview on Cogeco TV:

    see the article in the Brock News!

    (From left): Sean Rintoul, Chris Chapman and Bri Lidstone perform in the Department of Dramatic Arts production of Twelfth Night, which opens Nov. 7 at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre.

    (From left): Sean Rintoul, Chris Chapman and Bri Lidstone perform in the Department of Dramatic Arts production of Twelfth Night, which opens Nov. 7 at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.

    Announcing $5.00 Fridays!

    all holders of Brock ID cards – students, staff and faculty – are invited to take advantage of a special new price for the Matinee mainstage performance. Please present your ID card upon purchase of your ticket.
    Tickets for all performances including the $5.00 Friday Matinees are available through the  Box Office of the Centre for the Arts
    or  905.688.5550  x 3257

    For more information, please contact Marie Balsom, Co-ordinator of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, at 905-688-5550, ext. 4765; e-mail:

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    Categories: Events, Plays

  • The Walker Cultural Leader Series 2013-14 at the Department of Dramatic Arts


    The Walker Cultural Leader series brings leading artists, performers, practitioners and academics to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University. Engaging, lively and erudite, these sessions celebrate professional achievement, artistic endeavour and the indelible role of culture in our society. Please join us.

    This educational program is generously funded by Marilyn I. Walker.

    Here is the programming hosted by the Department of Dramatic Arts for the WCL2013-14.
    For complete program information please see the MIWSFPA.


    jill-dolan-image-220x220Jill Dolan

    Jill Dolan is the Annan Professor of English and Professor of Theater at Princeton University, where she also directs the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

    Dolan will give a masterclass in online arts criticism, as well as a public lecture on “Moving the Body Politic: How Feminism and Theatre Inspire Social Re-imaginings.” She will participate in a colloquium and open roundtable on the changing face of arts criticism in the digital age.


    Feb. 20

    • Masterclass in Online Arts Criticism: DART 3P95/96 students 2 – 5 pm, Rm. TH 257 (closed session)

    Feb. 21

    • Public Lecture: “Moving the Body Politic: How Feminism and Theatre Inspire Social Re-imaginings” 10 am, Sankey Chambers (free community event). Presented in association with the Department of Dramatic Arts and the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies
    • Colloquium: “The changing face of arts criticism in the digital age,”     2 – 6 pm, Sankey Chambers Keynote and presentations. (free community event)

    2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

    • WELCOME AND PRESENTATION by students in DART 3P96: Studies in Praxis – Theatre Criticism

    2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

    • PANEL DISCUSSION: Critics and the arts in Niagara
    • Chair: David Fancy, associate professor of Dramatic Arts, Brock University, co-artistic director, neXt Company Theatre.
    • Participants: Monica Dufault, artistic director, Essential Collective Theatre; John Law, arts and entertainment writer, Sun Media; Sara Palmieri, Marketing Manager at the Centre for the Arts, Brock University and co-founder of the In the Soil Arts Festival; Stephen Remus, minister of energy, minds, and resources, Niagara Arts Centre; Steve Solski, director, St. Catharines Centre for the Performing Arts; Candice Turner-Smith, managing director, Niagara Symphony Orchestra
    • Respondent: Jill Dolan

    4:15 pm – 5:45 pm

    • PANEL DISCUSSION: Embedded criticism: a new way forward, or criticism-as-PR?
    • Chair: Lawrence Switzky, assistant professor of Drama, University of Toronto at Mississauga
    • Participants: Maddy Costa, critic and blogger, London, UK; Karen Fricker, assistant professor of Dramatic Arts, Brock University; Andy Horwitz, founder,, New York; Jackie Maxwell, artistic director, Shaw Festival
    • Respondent: Jacob Gallagher-Ross, assistant professor of Theatre, State University of New York at Buffalo

    Feb. 22

    • Colloquium cont’d.: “The changing face of arts criticism in the digital age,” 10 am – 1 pm, Sankey Chambers. There will be a roundtable component (free community event)

    10:00 am – 10:30 am

    • WELCOME AND PRESENTATION by students in DART 3P96: Studies in Praxis – Theatre Criticism

    10:30 am – 12:00 pm

    • PANEL DISCUSSION: Bloggers, critics, and cultural legitimation
    • Chair: Karen Fricker
    • Participants: Jill DolanJ. Kelly Nestruck, lead theatre critic, The Globe and MailRichard Ouzonian, lead theatre critic, Toronto StarHolger Syme, Chair, Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto at Mississauga, and blogger; Odette Yazbeck, director of public relations, Shaw Festival
    • RespondentAndy Horwitz

    12:15 pm – 1:00 pm

    • Chair: Karen Fricker
    • ParticipantsMaddy CostaJill DolanRosemary Drage Hale, Director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Brock University; Andy Horwitz


    DOWNLOAD THE POSTER (click to download)

    INFORMATION SHEET (click to download): The Changing Face of Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age A Colloquium at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University 21-­22 February 2014

    In addition to the support of the Walker Cultural Leaders series, the colloquium is funded by Brock’s Humanities Research Institute and its SSHRC Institutional Grant scheme, and by the St Catharines Performing Arts Centre.
    We are grateful for these important investments by our collaborating partners.

    CONTACT: Prof. Karen Fricker, Dramatic Arts,

    Jill Dolan is the author of The Feminist Spectator as Critic (1989, 2012); Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theatre (2005); Theatre & Sexuality (2010); and many other books and essays. She won the 2011 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and a lifetime achievement award from the Women and Theatre Program (2011). She writes The Feminist Spectator blog at, for which she won the 2010-11 George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism. A book of her selected blog posts and new essays, The Feminist Spectator in Action: Feminist Criticism for Stage and Screen, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in July 2013. Her full bio can be found at



    patrice-baldwin_dart-image-220x220Patrice Baldwin

    Patrice Baldwin is a world leader in Drama, Education and the Arts in learning, and their connections to the latest developments in Neuroscience.

    Baldwin will spend eight days teaching, speaking, and giving demonstration classes at Brock and throughout the Niagara peninsula.


    Oct. 3 & 8

    • Teaching/Demonstrations: DART 1F95, 2P01, 3P03, 3F92 students, scheduled class times (closed session)

    Oct. 5

    • Drama in Education Intensive Workshop: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm,Centre Stage Theatre School and Productions, 3505 Mainway, Burlington, ON (free for DART students; all others $20 to cover costs for refreshments and venue). Limited registration.

    Oct. 7

    • Teaching/Demonstration Classes: FOE pre-service and DART students and alumni, 8 am – 2 pm, Faculty of Education (FOE), Hamilton Campus, 1842 King St. East, Hamilton, ON (closed session)

    Oct. 9

    • Teaching/Demonstrations in Niagara Schools: FOE pre-service students, DART students and alumni, and Niagara teachers (closed session)
    • Public Lecture: “Neuroscience, Creativity, and Learning: Recent Research and Connections to Drama in Education and Arts-Based Learning,” 7:30 – 8:30 pm, Pond Inlet (free community event)

    CONTACT: Georgann Watson, Administrative Assistant, Dramatic Arts,

    Patrice Baldwin is president of the International Drama, Theatre and Education Association (IDEA), and Chair of National Drama (the UK’s leading professional association for drama teachers and theatre educators), and is also an Executive Forum member of the World Alliance for Arts Education. A renowned advocate for the Arts and Drama Education, she is a prolific and respected author, with a particular interest in: Drama as a way of teaching literacy and as a way of learning across the curriculum; Drama and Arts-based creativity; and Drama and Neuroscience. Baldwin, a visiting lecturer at the University of Warwick, is known for her lectures, keynote addresses, and workshops at international conferences.



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    Categories: Events

  • An Acre of Time by Jason Sherman (DART 4F56)

    anacreoftimeApril 11, 12 & 13, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
    A government land surveyor (Julia) uncovers the history of an acre of land near the Ottawa River, a barren rectangle that contains the memories of all who passed through it, from the last native hunter to the first white settler. Somehow, the layers of loss, land and remembrance enable Julia to grasp what she needs in order to let go.
    Location: Room ST107 (Studio Theatre) Schmon Tower, Brock Campus
    Admission: Donations accepted

    This is part of the Industrial Fabric 3 program. (Click the link for more information.)

    April 2, 2013
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    905.688.5550 x4765

    An Acre of Time by Jason Sherman, presented on stage at the Studio Theatre, Brock University Inspired by the book of the same title by Phil Jenkins.
    Graduating Dramatic Arts students enrolled in Advanced Studies in Theatre (DART 4F56) at Brock University, will perform An Acre of Time by Canadian award-winning playwright Jason Sherman, held at the Studio Theatre at Brock University, from April 11 – 13, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

    An Acre of Time tells the story of government land surveyor (Julia) who uncovers the history of an acre of land on the LeBreton Flats near the Ottawa River. This barren rectangle contains the memories of all who passed through it, from the last native hunter to the first white settler. Somehow, the layers of loss, land and remembrance enable Julia to grasp what she needs in order to let go.
    The LeBreton Flats is a blank urban space that has been in limbo for decades. In 1962, the government expropriated it and knocked down its community. The Flats represent not only a government’s abdication of responsibility, but also an emotional void that can only be filled by recognizing and honouring the ghosts who still live there.

    Julia, played in different time periods by three actors: Kaitlin Race, Cassandra van Wyck, and Olivia Jackson, learns that there are different kinds of mapping processes, and that the most important survey brings our own lives to light. Julia’s government work crew colleagues, played by Kanthan Annalingam, Karyn Lorence, Shauna James and Emma Strong, become guides on Julia’s journey as she encounters the ghosts of Samuel de Champlain, played by Erica Charles, and surveyor John Stegmann, played by Jessi Robinson. The speculator John LeBreton is played by Stephanie Neale. Tom, a first nations artist played by James Lowe, conjures the spirit of Constant Penency, an Algonquin hunter who has joined the spirit of Julia’s daughter, Louise, played by Grace Ruppenthal. Evan Mulroney plays Bill, Julia’s husband who lost their daughter Louise to a river drowning.

    The set, lighting and video design, by Dylan O’Connor, James McCoy and Nathan Heuchan, is a meditation on mapping and memory that pulls the layers of story into a unified whole with props and costumes designed by Jo Pacinda and John McGowan. The production, in its complex entirety, is stage managed by Kate Hardy and directed by professor Gyllian Raby.

    An Acre of Time performances run: Thursday, April 11, Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, 2013, at 7:30 p.m., and will be held at the Studio Theatre (Rm. ST107) Schmon Tower, Brock University. Admission is by donation.

    For more information about this production, e-mail

    Such productions from the Department of Dramatic Arts are an integral part of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ mandate in building connections between the community and the breadth of creative talent that defines our academic programs at Brock University.

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    Categories: Events, Media Releases, Plays

  • The Walker Cultural Leader Series: Daniel Levinson, leading movement and stage fighting expert to present a Movement and Stage Combat Intensive program

    Daniel Levinson


    February 12, 2013
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    905.688.5550 x4765

    New Walker series opens doors for arts students and the public

    A major series of cultural events, workshops and performances being launched this fall by Brock University will provide new learning experiences for students, and in many cases will also be open to the public.

    The Walker Cultural Leader Series will see leading artists, performers and academics convene more than a dozen events in disciplines ranging from animation to classical music and theatrical performance. The events will take place on campus as well as in the community.

    Presented by Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the series opens Oct. 16-19 with workshops, studio visits and performances by Sobey Award-winning performer and animator Daniel Barrow.

    The series will also feature presentations by Joan Watson, principal horn of the Canadian Opera Company; performer and author Stephen Nachmanovitch; acclaimed Canadian pianist Robert Silverman; and Daniel Levinson, an expert in movement and stage combat.

    The new series is being funded thanks to the Marilyn I. Walker Fund, an endowed fund created in 2008, when Marilyn Walker donated $15 million to Brock’s school of fine and performing arts.

    Derek Knight, director of the Walker School, said the main objective of the series is to engage students, but pointed out many sessions are open to the community.

    “The new series is committed to inviting varied and interesting guest speakers,” said Knight. “It will be engaging, lively and erudite. These sessions celebrate professional achievement, artistic endeavour and the indelible role of culture in our society.”

    Douglas Kneale, Dean of Humanities at the University, said the initiative is another step forward for Brock on the academic, cultural and community fronts.

    “Thanks to the generosity of Marilyn I. Walker, we are able to offer students unique interactions with creative leaders in the fine and performing arts, and also extend to the community educational and cultural opportunities that will be enormously enriching.”

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is comprised of the departments of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts & Culture.

    For more info and follow-up interviews: Marie Balsom, Communications, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4765;


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    Categories: Media Releases, News

  • The Blue Room

    blue_room_poster_image_220_no_border_0By David Hare, freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde

    Director: Virginia Reh
    Scenographer: David Vivian
    Lighting Design: Ken Garrett
    Assistant Director: Jessi Robinson

    February 14, 15 & 16, 2013: 7:30pm – 9:30pm
    Matinee: February 15, 2013: 1pm – 3 pm

    Directed by Professor Virginia Reh, The Blue Room is David Hare’s 1998 adaptation of Schnitzler’s Reigen (La Ronde), first produced in 1921. The plot is a “sexual daisychain”: the Girl couples with the Cab Driver, then the Cab Driver with the Au Pair, etc. Each time the new participant in one scene moves on to the next scene and so on, until in the final scene the Girl returns and encounters the Aristocrat. The play looks at casual sexual encounters as a (mostly) unsatisfactory substitute for human connection. This is a universal and timeless quest. The play is an important exploration with diverse current points-of-view: as each character has encounters with two different partners, the play explores the shifting status relationships (both social and personal). The relational dynamics of the play have interesting correspondences to explorations on social media.

    Tickets: Adults $15.00, Students/Seniors $12.00, Groups $10.00, eyeGo $5.00. H.S.T. extra.

    Theme-oriented and moderated workshops will be available. DART 3F93: Social Issues Theatre for Community Development, taught by Professor Joe Norris,  will employ Process Drama and Applied Theatre techniques to explore themes that underlie the Blue Room. Scenes will be created that delve into issue of identity, innocence, risks, thresholds, secrets, awkwardness, beliefs, mores, taboos, exploitation and power. With a participatory dimension cast and audience will enter into conversations to explore the issues further.

    Please contact us for more information.

    THE BLUE ROOM: A Primer 
    is available for review before you come to see the production

    low res 709kb
    high res 2139 kb
    print res 3690 kb


    Interactive Arts and Science program student Patrick Gagliardi has put together a sultry trailer for the show.

    from COGECO TV, Published on Feb 8, 2013: The Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University are hoping to spice up your Valentines Day with their new production “The Blue Room’.


    In the buff with Brock’s Blue Room:
    A fun full-first-page-of-the-section article about our upcoming mainstage in the city paper – another great reason to study dramatic arts at Brock University. Come see the play and discover what its really all about.


    See the article about the show in The Brock Press, the independent student newspaper.

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    Categories: Events, Plays

  • The Suicide – A Russian Comedy

    final_october_04_12_no-layers_web_thNovember 8-10, 2012 at 7:30 PM
    Student Matinee: November 09 at 11:30 AM

    A Russian Comedy by Nikolai Erdman
    Adapted by: Gyllian Raby and Anna MacAlpine
    Director: Gyllian Raby
    Russian Consultant: Larisa Brodsky
    Set Design: Nigel Scott
    Costume Design: Roberta Doylend
    Lighting Design: Ken Garrett
    Assistant Director: Dylan Sylvester
    Assistant Designer and Poster Design: Stephanie Baxter
    Music Director: Anna MacAlpine
    Movement: Trevor Copp, with Rachel Romanowski

    A classic comedy that satirizes the New society which was developing in Russia under Lenin’s New Economic Policy of 1924 – a program that many communists considered to be a step backwards for communism. A fast moving, unpretentious examination of hubris and lifestyle and its expression in style: physical poise, dress and drawl. An examination of conformity. The play is ultimately very homely in its definition of human happiness with the physicalized characters, balancing serious satire and comedy.

    Themes: big items in the human condition: love, ego, appetite, meaning of life and social convention.

    There is NO mature language or sexual content and the violence is “keystone cops” – this show is fine for youth.

    High-School teachers should read this letter about the Matinee performance opportunity (PDF, 247 KB)
    A Study Guide is available for review, prepared by Gyllian Raby and Anna MacAlpine.

    A copy of this special new adaptation of the script is available for download here. (PDF, 120kb)

    The Suicide, By Nicolai Erdman
    Adapted by Gyllian Raby and Anna MacAlpine
    Thanks to Larisa Brodsky.
    Royalty free with permission, 2012.
    Gyllian Raby
    Department of Dramatic Arts
    Brock University


    Director Gyllian Raby and Set Designer Nigel Scott present the concept of the set design for this innovative new production of The Suicide, seen below:

    Production images below courtesy of Naturally in Niagara. Click the link to see more of their images from our media call.

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    Categories: Events, Plays