Articles by author: Nikki Prudden

  • Shadows of a Toymaker

    A new play starts April 11 in ST 103 “Black” at Brock University. The graduating students of DART 4F56 present the outcome of their year-long exploration in collective creation.

    April 11, 2012 – 7:00pm
    April 12, 2012 – 7:00pm
    April 13, 2012 – 7:00pm

    Shadows of a Toymaker is written and created by the graduating students of the Department of Dramatic Arts, Brock University, inspired by the gothic stories of writers Edgar Allen Poe and Angela Carter.  This play explores the fictitious lives of the toymaker Mattel and his family, exposing their bizarre methods of survival as they confront the monsters lurking in the darkness within themselves and each other. Come join the madness as we search for the light!

    This is the story of a house on a hill,
    A house full of secrets sure to make your blood chill.
    Nobody knows of what’s taken place,
    In this house full of misfits all fallen from grace.
    So take a peek inside these walls,
    As the door swings open and the curtain falls.
    For they are not enough to hide,
    All of the madness that takes place inside…

    Gather round everyone and open your ears,
    I will tell you a story to quiet your fears.
    We live in a world of darkness and sorrow,
    But we have to believe in a brighter tomorrow.
    Yes, there are monsters that live on this earth,
    There were monsters before that had given them birth.
    There have always been evils to put us to test,
    But there have always been people to put them to rest…

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  • Lion in the Streets

    Written by Judith Thompson

    Directed by Danielle Wilson
    Designed by David Vivian

    Lion in the Streets is a beautiful nightmare.
    – Danielle Wilson, director

    February 16, 2012 – 7:30 pm
    February 17, 2012 – matinee 11:30 am AND 7:30 pm
    February 18, 2012 – 7:30 pm

    Adult $15 : Students/Seniors $12 : eyeGO $5 : Group Rates $10
    Buy tickets at

    All DART Students receive ONE free ticket.

    Lion in the Streets is a play in which the obsessions of the characters erupt forth in heightened, surreal and imagistic language. The young protagonist, a Portuguese immigrant to Toronto named Isobel, is a ghost in a purgatorial condition. She deftly moves in and out of critical, extreme moments in each of the characters lives while searching for the man who killed her seventeen years prior. Twentieth century music underscores the critical moments in these characters’ lives animated with contemporary movement inspired by dance company La La La Human Steps. This unique mixture complements and elucidates surreal moments while revealing Thompson’s brilliant, sparkling humor. The production embodies our contemporary quest for faith, truth, and a ‘state of grace’ while contending with the absurdity of daily life.

    Lion in the Streets is written by award-winning Canadian Playwright Judith Thompson.  Premiered at the Tarragon Theatre in 1990 the play won the Chalmers Outstanding New Play Award in 1991. Thompson’s plays embrace subconscious elements of human experience not often seen on stage, capturing audience’s attention across the country. Canadian theatre companies regularly perform her work, such as Soulpepper’s 2011 production of White Biting Dog at the Young Center in Toronto.Lion in the Streets continues to be one of Thompson’s most known and most popular plays. High School students will be confronted with daring subject matter which could provide context and relevance to their lives. The play explores themes of repressed violence and sexuality, the search for identity and the powerful nature of love and forgiveness.  While the subject matter is dark, Thompson has crafted this exquisitely surreal play with moments of humor, hope and redemption or what she calls “moments of grace”.

    Contemporary movement will be choreographed by Gerald Trentham, Artistic Director of Toronto’s Pounds Per Square Inch Performance company. Our production will showcase 8 second to fourth year Brock students, playing a total of 29 roles, with additional assistance from students studying the areas of production, stagecraft, design and directing.

    With this production both Director Danielle Wilson and scenographer David Vivian look forward to honoring the wit and intelligence of our departed colleague, Dr Marlene Moser, a leading scholar of the oeuvre of Judith Thompson. Moser’s published thesis entitled “Postmodern Feminist Readings of Identity in selected works of Judith Thompson, Margaret Hollingsworth and Patricia Gruben” (Ph.D. Thesis, 1998. Graduate Center for Study of Drama University of Toronto) and the article “Identities of Ambivalence: Judith Thompson’s Perfect Pie” (Theatre Research in Canada, Volume 27 Number 1/ Spring 2006), explore themes of gender, narrative, identification of the subject and patriarchal abuse, dwelling upon their relationship to the stage, the language and how the audience will perceive them.

    High School Teachers and Educators: please read this letter for detailed information about the production, curriculum ties, and student matinee booking.


    Lion in the Streets: A Study Guide, is an introduction to our production, prepared by our Dramaturge and Third Year DART student, Erica Charles. Included are: 1) Collaboration, 2) Play Synopsis, 3) The Playwright: Judith Thompson, 4) Director’s Notes, 5) Designer’s Notes, 6) Isobel and her Lion, 7) Symbolism, 8) Images, 9) An Interview with Judith Thompson by Eleanor Wachtel, 10) Additional References, 11) List of Figures, 12) Endnotes and Bibliography.

    Download your PDF copy of Lion in the Streets: A Study Guide
    (PDF, 8.7 MB, remotely hosted)

    Download a copy of the poster (PDF, 1 MB)
    Download a copy of the poster (PDF, 1 MB)

    Buy tickets at


    “Dramatic Arts play explores the death of a young girl” – see the article in The Brock News


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  • Orpheus Descending

    Written by Tennessee Williams

    Directed by Virginia Reh
    Designed by Michael Greves

    The tragedy of a closed society, destroying the ‘other’ within and without.
    – Virginia Reh, director

    November 10, 2011 – 7:30 pm
    November 11, 2011 – matinee 1 pm AND 7:30 pm
    November 12, 2011 – 7:30 pm

    Adults $15 : Students/Seniors $12 : eyeGO $5 : Group Rates $10. Buy tickets at

    All DART students receive ONE free ticket.

    Orpheus Descending is a modern version of the Greek myth in which Orpheus, the beloved musician of the gods, goes down to the underworld to rescue his dead wife Eurydice. Orpheus is forbidden to look at his wife until they are clear of the underworld, but he cannot resist, looks, and loses her forever. In Williams’ play, Valentine Xavier (Val), a guitar-playing stranger, comes into a small town in the U.S South and “rescues” an unhappy Lady Torrance. He breaks the rules of the tight society of the town, with catastrophic results.

    The play was first performed on Broadway in 1957 and was adapted for the screen in 1959, starring Marlon Brando. With this presentation the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is celebrating the 100th birthday of this great twentieth century American playwright. This is one of many productions from the Williams’ canon to be seen this season, including The Night of the Iguana at Hart House Theatre in Toronto, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Shaw Festival, Camino Real at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and The Wooster Group’s innovative rendition of Vieux Carré in New York.

    Director Virginia Reh is delighted to have Brock alumnus Michael Greves design this production of Orpheus Descending. Since graduating from the Department of Dramatic Arts Greves has been involved in countless productions including the Shaw Festival and was seen recently on stage in Stray Theatre’s production of Les chaises at the Sullivan Mahoney Theatre. Our production stars 17 second through fourth year students supported by student colleagues in direction, dramaturgy, stagecraft and production.

    High School Teachers and Educators: please read this letter for detailed information about the production, curriculum ties, and student matinee booking.

    Orpheus Descending: A Study Guide, is an introduction to our production, prepared by our creative production team. Chapter titles include: Collaboration, List of Characters, The Plot, The Playwright: Tennessee Williams, Director’s Notes, Production History, Faith, Myth and Spirituality, Aunt Conjure and the Choctaw, Historical Content, Dramaturge’s Notes, Discussion Questions, List of Terms, List of Figures, Endnotes and Bibliography.

    Download your PDF copy of Orpheus Descending: A Study Guide
    (PDF, 2 MB)

    Selected Press Coverage:

    Brock University’s Orpheus Descending points spotlight at outsiders
    see the article by Jonathan van Ekelenberg in The Niagara News

    preview article and video in the St. Catharines Standard

    Celebrating 100 years of Tennessee Williams in The Brock Press

    This year, the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University presents Tennesse Williams’ Orpheus Descending directed by Virginia Reh. Pictured is a screenshot from a video feature in the series “Artist Profiles” by BROCK TV, which includes questions answered by Virginia Reh, and actors Trevor Ketcheson and Rebekka Gondosch. This video is not currently online.


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  • Dramatic Arts performance of Phèdre examines passion, politics and jealousy

    (Source: The Brock News, Monday, February 14, 2011)

    Suppressed desire and ancient power struggles collide in this week’s production of Phèdre at Brock.

    Phèdre, written by Jean Racine, will be presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre. Phèdre – translated into English by British poet Ted Hughes – mixes poetry, political intrigue and sexual jealousy.

    The play contains a principal love triangle of Phèdre, her husband Theseus and his son Hippolytus. Phèdre has a forbidden passion for her stepson that unleashes a wave of tragic consequences.

    The roles are played by Dramatic Arts undergraduate students, including Kasey Dunn, Michael Pearson, Eric Frank, Emma Bulpin, Lauren Beaton, Josh Davidson, Kedie McIntyre, and Madison Roca. The play is directed by Virginia Reh and designed by David Vivian, both Dramatic Arts faculty members.

    The myths around Theseus, Phaedra and Hippolytus have fascinated playwrights for ages, Reh said.

    “Racine’s masterpiece distils the best of his major sources, particularly Euripides’ Hippolytus,” she said. “From Euripides he borrows the fundamentally principled Phaedra, an essentially moral woman who is tormented by a forbidden passion and chooses to die rather than surrender to it. The tragedy is at once epic and domestic.“


    • Thursday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, Feb. 18, 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.

    Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. To order, call 905-688-5550 x3257 or email

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    Categories: In the Media, News

  • Blood Relations

    Written by Sharon Pollock

    Directed by Danielle Wilson
    Designed by Kelly Wolf

    November 11, 12, 13, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
    Student Matinee: Friday, November 12, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.

    “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks…” In June of 1893, Lizzie Borden stood trial for the brutal murders of her father and stepmother, thus inspiring the popular children’s rhyme. Borden was acquitted but the crime was never solved. So did she, or didn’t she?

    Held at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, call the Centre for the Arts Box Office, 905-688-5550, ext. 3257 for tickets.
    Adult $15 / Seniors $12 / Students $12 / Groups $10 / eyeGo $5
    Presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts.

    Please see the MEDIA RELEASE

    High School teachers and Educators: A description of the play and the performance is available for download (3 mb, PDF). Subjects include: The Play, Artistic Direction, Curriculum Ties, Student Matinee Booking, Study Guide/School Outreach.

    Blood Relations: A Primer, is an introduction to our production, written by our Dramaturge and Fourth Year DART student, Spencer Smith. Included are: 1. Production Synopsis; 2. Lizzie Borden: The Legend; 3. Veins of Blood Relations; 4. Director’s Notes; 5. Sharon Pollock: The Playwright; 6. Collaboration; 7. List of Figures; 8. Bibliography.

    Download your PDF copy of Blood Relations: A Primer (PDF, 10.3 MB, remotely hosted)

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  • Big Love

    Director: Gyllian Raby
    Scenographer: Karyn McCallum
    Click here for Media Release  in PDF format, or here to see it online.

    Performance 1 (Opening): Thursday February 11, 7:30 pm
    Performance 2: Friday February 12, 1:00 pm
    (group and student Matinee)
    Performance 3: Friday February 12, 7:30 pm
    Performance 4: (Closing): Saturday February 13, 7:30 pm

    DART’s February production, Big Love, is American Charles Mee’s contemporary update of Aeschylus’ The Suppliants. First performed circa 423 BC, The Suppliants is one of the oldest plays in the world and the only play to survive from the trilogy in which it originated. Aeschylus titled the trilogy The Danaids after the daughters of Danaius who are also the protagonists of his play.

    Big Love took America by storm in 2000 to 2003 precisely because Mee is in tune with his age. It is not just the ideas and the exhilarating physicality within Mee’s plays that caught the attention of America, but also his use of freeware. Posting the script online provided an open invitation for people to re-make the play however they would like.

    The intensity of the scenario bursts the bounds of rational discourse and must sometimes be danced, sung, howled and fought out. Designer Karyn McCallum has set our production in an installation where Mattel’s gendered Ken and Barbie dolls hang from the lighting grid and punch-bag forms are anchored to the stage floor. Together, they reach for one another in an uneasy balance. Some of the music proposed by Mee will be used in the production but paired with contemporary pieces selected for this version. A deeply passionate movement score with some choreography from Allen Kaeja (of Toronto’s independent dance company Kaeja d’dance) moves the play through an exhaustive demonstration of the gender anxieties felt by men and women alike, to a finale that lies beyond justice. The production aims to move seamlessly from pop culture to philosophy to physical extremes. This is in an attempt to convey the chaotic savagery of love, the dark psyche of the survivor and, at the end, the impossibility of justice or forgiveness.

    Educators and Counsellors:
    Big Love : A Primer, is an introduction to our production, written by our Director, Gyllian Raby
    Download your PDF copy of Big Love: A Primer

    Big Love is an intellectually and theatrically challenging show recommended to the campus community (and with teacher guidance to students in grade 11 or 12) who are interested in law, philosophy and/or classics. Students can study and discuss Big Love (which Mee has posted free online!) prior to attending the production. This will enable students to look beyond the pop-culture surface and see the underlying issues that echo yet vary from its classic antecedent.



    Click on the screenshot to the left to watch a video about our production, including an interview of the Director and DART Professor, Gyllian Raby, by DART student, Tanisha Minson (produced by Brock TV).  (NOTE: link currently broken. We are tracking down the original video.)

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  • A Little Night Music

    Music and Lyrics by STEPHEN SONDHEIM
    Book by HUGH WHEELER
    Suggested by a film by Ingmar Bergman

    Director: Virginia Reh
    Scenographer: David Vivian

    Three households, three generations, twisted love triangles, upstairs/downstairs come together for “A Weekend in the Country”. Tangled romance and passion in the relentless daylight of the northern midsummer night, all in 3/4 waltz time. The musical, probably best known for the song “Send in the Clowns”, is based on Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of a Summer Night, which was set in turn-of-the-20th century Sweden. A fresh young approach from major collaboration between the Departments of Dramatic Arts and Music. A whirl of intoxicating music, dance and witty lyrics.

    Performance 1 (Opening): Thursday Nov. 12th, 7:30 pm
    Performance 2: Friday November 13th, 1:30 pm (group and student Matinee) ***new time/ new price!***
    Performance 3: Friday November 13th, 7:30 pm
    Performance 4: (Closing): Saturday November 14th, 7:30 pm

    Educators and Counsellors:
    A Little Night Music: A Primer is an introduction to our production, written by our Director, Virginia Reh
    Download your PDF of A Little Night Music: A Primer.

    To prepare this gem of lyric theatre the director and company of actors and singers recently took their questions right to the source. Using a video conference link-up from the famed Friars Club in Manhattan, the Canadian actor and director Len Cariou answered our students probing questions about the development of A Little Night Music for the 1973 Broadway premiere.



    A Little Night Music - BrockTV screenshotClick on the screenshot to the left to watch a video about our production, including an interview with DART actors Becca Pleschke and Jordan Imray, and with the Director and DART Professor, Virgina Reh (produced by BrockTV). (NOTE: link currently broken. We are tracking down the original video.)

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