Performance Season

  • Brock’s fall mainstage returns in person to explore fate of Judas Iscariot

    Image caption: Brock Dramatic Arts students and mainstage actors Celine Zamidar (left) and Simon Bell (right) rehearse a scene from The Last Days of Judas Iscariot with Guest Director Leighton Alexander Williams (centre).

    Originally published in The Brock News MONDAY, | OCTOBER 18, 2021 | by 

    Brock University’s fall mainstage production will make its much-anticipated return next week for the first live, in-person performance on the stage of the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in more than a year and a half.

    Although the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stifle its creativity, hosting virtual mainstage productions when public health restrictions prevented in-person performances, the cast and crew of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is eager to welcome their first live audience Friday, Oct. 29.   

    Written by award-winning American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, the play is an exploration of sin and unconditional love and speaks to all about guilt, regret and redemption.

    Set in a satirical version of a contemporary American courtroom, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot sees a host of saints and villains (including Mother Theresa and Satan) convene to determine the fate of Judas Iscariot after he has been stuck in purgatory for a few thousand years.

    Emerging Ontario director Leighton Alexander Williams is the Brock production’s Guest Director, with assistant direction by DART student Michael Cicchini.

    Based in Toronto, Williams is a stage and screen actor, writer, director and producer and is co-founder of Big Dreamers Brotherhood Productions Inc., a company of seven black male artists committed to telling provocative stories. With an academic background in drama and English and an interest in education, Williams is thrilled to be guest directing the production.

    “It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of us experience feelings of isolation and being ‘stuck’ — two things Judas experiences throughout this story,” Williams said. “I felt it was important to set this play in the here and now.”

    Williams added that because of a recent boost in the popularity of the science fiction genre, the production’s version of purgatory is set in a cosmic void.

    “The intersectionality of religion and science makes for a fresh take on a classic tale,” he said.

    The show runs Oct. 29, 30 and Nov. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. There will be a matinee performance on Nov. 5 at 11:30 a.m. for DART students and faculty.

    The MIW Theatre, in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) in downtown St. Catharines, is operating at a reduced capacity, with 100 seats available for each performance in the interest of student and audience member safety.

    Tickets are $20 for the general public and $16 for youth and seniors. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

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  • Much work to be done on live theatre’s road to recovery, says Brock prof

    Brock Dramatic Arts graduate Amanda McDonnell (BA ’15), who is part of the front of house team at the Shaw Festival, welcomed audiences back this summer. Photo credit: Michelle Mohammed. 

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

    After 17 months, the live theatrical experience is slowly making its return — but not without challenges ahead, says Brock theatre expert Karen Fricker.

    “Amidst the adversity that live performing arts have been faced with through the pandemic, a wonderful thing has happened this summer: the return of live theatrical performance, because it has been able to be outside,” says the Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer in Dramatic Arts (DART), who is an expert in theatre criticism, theatre theory and contemporary theatre.

    The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, two of Ontario’s most celebrated repertory companies, have been staging performances outdoors under canopies (tents with no walls) with mandatory masks for audiences in addition to capacity limits in accordance with provincial guidance. Both festivals are taking audience, artist and staff safety seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, says Fricker, who is also a theatre critic for the Toronto Star, writing about performances in the city as well as the Shaw and Stratford Festivals each summer.

    Although these outdoor performances do not come close to hosting the usual number of spectators, Fricker says this is a “big step in the right direction.”

    “Artists are being paid and creativity is happening,” she says, adding that while “innovative digital work has been heroic during the pandemic, experiencing live performances in a shared space is a joyous return.”

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department engages with the Shaw Festival in numerous ways, including the annual DART/Shaw internship and course-based experiences with Shaw artists and arts workers. A number of DART students and graduates work at the festival in front of house, producing and administration, and creative capacities.

    Seeing some of those familiar faces at Shaw this summer has been a particular highlight, Fricker says.

    While outdoor performances are a step in the right direction, Fricker says there is still more work to do. There will be limited live, in-person programming in the performing arts sector this fall, mainly due to unclear guidance from the provincial government around reopening, she says.

    In the early summer, the performing arts industry lobbied the government to address live performances in the official stages of reopening. Now that the performing arts have been included, companies have been able to plan. However, “you can’t just lift a theatre production off in a few weeks; you need a runway,” Fricker says.

    Colleen Smith, Executive Director of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) adjacent to Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says the team at the PAC has experienced these challenges first-hand.

    “Never did any of us whose lives revolve around bringing together artists and audiences believe that we would witness the end of the age-old adage, ‘the show must go on,’” she says. “In fact, the show stopped for months at a time. It’s been an unbelievable period of disruption, heartache and loss of purpose for so many artists and arts workers.”

    Smith says that “buoyed by our partners at the City of St. Catharines and Brock University, as well as the support from our Board of Directors, we have used the first half of 2021 to develop a three-year recovery strategy that will place the PAC firmly within our community as a centre for creative and artistic experiences and learning.”

    The PAC is planning a gradual return, starting with the annual Celebration of Nations gathering, which will be in a hybrid format in September.

    Among the local theatre organizations taking important steps to make innovative work and engage the public in Niagara safely is the young people’s theatre company Carousel Players, which is focusing on new play development in August and September.

    “We are experimenting with a range of forms, including clown, puppetry and mask,” says Artistic Director and Brock graduate Monica Dufault (MA ’11). “We want to offer new pieces that are dynamic and theatrically alive when we meet our audiences again.”

    The company will present an outdoor performance, The Giant Puppet Party, for Culture Days in October, a new digital play for ages 12 to 17 called Meet Chloe starting in November, and a school touring production of The Velveteen Rabbit for ages four to seven in March 2022.

    Suitcase in Point, another St. Catharines-based theatre company, recently announced the launch of a reimagined In the Soil Arts Festival running Friday, Aug. 27 to Saturday, Sept. 25. The festival includes opportunities to see live, original theatre, new music, comedy acts, installations and participatory workshops. All-inclusive festival passes are available for purchase online.

    DART graduate Deanna Jones (BA ’02), the Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point and In the Soil, says the limits of the last 17 months have been a “unique test on our arts organization and the arts community at large.”

    “We knew this 13th edition of our annual In the Soil Arts Festival would be different, and we were determined to find inspired ways to get off of our screens and offer artists and audiences safe ways to connect — in person.”

    During In the Soil, artists from Essential Collective Theatre will be set up on James and St. Paul Street interviewing community members about their pandemic experiences. Working on this initiative are DART graduates Jordine de Guzman (BA ’20), Kristina Ojaperv (BA ’19) and Ren Reid (BA ’20). The project will culminate in the Pandemic Stories Project, a new play to be read at St. Catharines’ Culture Days in early October.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • Brock students selected to participate in national Black theatre initiative

    Caption: Sid Malcolm (left), fourth year Dramatic Arts student with a minor in Music, and Soji Cole, second year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities, are two of 21 students selected for “Seeding the Future”, a new initiative highlighting young Black voices. 

    Two Brock University students will be joining a historic group of Black theatre makers as part of the digital performance series “21 Black Futures.”

    Presented by Obsidian Theatre in partnership with CBC Arts, “21 Black Futures” has brought together 63 Black Canadian playwrights, actors and directors to create art during the pandemic and answer the question, “What is the future of Blackness?”

    The result is 21 filmed monodramas (theatre pieces featuring one person) that are currently premiering on CBC’s streaming channel, CBC Gem.

    Now, 21 students from across the country will join the movement, including fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Sid Malcolm, and Soji Cole, a second-year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities.

    From a national call that attracted more than 60 applicants, Malcolm and Cole have each been awarded a spot in “Seeding the Future,” which invites Black students to create theatre pieces in response to each of the 21 monodramas of “21 Black Futures.”

    “Seeding the Future” is a partnership between Brock University, York University, Obsidian Theatre and CBC Arts, and allows students to create spoken word poetry, audio recordings, video recordings or written responses.

    “As we work at Obsidian to develop and advance Black artists across the country, we also recognize the glaring lack of Black voices in arts criticism and journalism,” said Michael Sinclair, General Manager of Obsidian Theatre. “Black and other BIPOC artists deserve to have voices at the table from their own communities engaging in dialogue about their work. We can’t wait to see what these 21 Black students have to say.”

    For Malcolm and Cole, being a part of this creative response highlighting young Black voices is very meaningful.

    Malcolm said being part of the project gives her and a large group of Black theatre students the chance to have their voices heard.

    “This is a space specifically intended to cultivate young Black artists and help them express what their experience is, and how that shapes the future of Blackness,” she said. “As a young woman of colour, it is often extremely difficult to find pieces of theatre I am able to connect with. There’s often very little representation for People of Colour within the world of theatre. Being a POC in theatre is seen as a rarity and is often trivialized.”

    Cole is excited about the project, and said it speaks to him on many fronts.

    “As a Black person, a migrant and an international student, I have been involved in conversations on the theme of Blackness and racism since I came to Canada in 2019,” he said. “This is the first one that intersects with a discipline and profession that I have identified with all my life.

    “This means a lot to me, as I have always believed that beyond the rhetoric of racism, arts — and especially theatre — can be used as twine to bind community together and dismantle the boundary of segregation.”

    The 21 student responses, including those of Malcolm and Cole, will be released in three instalments, initially on the students’ own social media channels and then re-published on the CBC Arts website. The first group of responses are now live. Malcolm’s work will be published on Monday, March 1 and Cole’s will be published on Monday, March 8.

    Cole, who is a playwright, director and actor, anticipates using his creative and critical wits to respond.

    “As someone who has a deep interest in the sociology of arts, I might want to connect my response to the social implication of the performance,” he said.

    Malcolm anticipates she may draw on specific aspects of her artistic practice.

    “I have a recent reignited passion for poetic writing,” she said. “Typically, I enjoy weaving controversial topics into my writing, which often means critiquing the way that race is perceived around me today.”

    She is also intrigued by the marriage of critical thought and artistic expression.

    “The arts are a dialogue and having Black theatre students continue the conversation begun by “21 Black Futures” is a hugely exciting prospect,” said Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and the co-ordinator of Brock’s participation in “Seeding the Future.” “I can’t wait to see and hear how they all respond.”

    David Fancy, Chair of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said the Department is committed to “the ongoing labour of decolonization, Indigenization, and anti-racism. We are particularly pleased to be involved in such an important initiative,” he said.

    Malcolm is energized by the many conversations “Seeding the Future” ignites, noting the opportunity for discussion while fostering growth through shared experiences.

    “I think a large outcome from this project will be the amount of networking that is possible for young Black artists that would be difficult to do without this project,” she said.

    Cole acknowledges the significance and enduring nature of this project.

    “While this is not a policy project, the expectation is that it will strengthen our understanding of memory, redress, and inclusivity,” he said. “The outcome should be able to resonate with every community; it should generate a peculiar echo of its own that will resound in the heart and mind of everyone.”

    To read the entries in “Seeding the Future,” visit CBC Arts.

    To view the performances in “21 Black Futures,” visit CBC Gem.

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  • Theatre in the age of climate change the focus of virtual events

    Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) are continuing their partnership in 2021, offering online performances and virtual discussions exploring the intersection of performing arts and climate change in the Walker Cultural Leaders Series.

    Taking place from Friday, Feb. 12 to Sunday, Feb. 14, the event is convened by DART Professors David Fancy and Karen Fricker and is a continuation of a series of events presented in November 2020.

    “Following the success of our first round of collaborative events with the PAC last fall, we are looking forward to this continued focus on the relationship between performance and climate crisis,” said Fricker.

    The second part of the series includes:

    • Three commissioned performances meant to inspire conversation and critical thought
    • A live-streamed sharing by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Santee Smith of the company’s new work in development called Skén:nen
    • A panel discussion entitled Honouring Balance in Times of Crisis and Change: Strength in Indigenous Women’s Perspectives

    Artists participating in the panel discussion include Audra Maloney, Diane Simon and Santee Smith, and Lyn Trudeau will moderate.

    “We are enthusiastic about the intersections between the Indigenous women’s panel, responses to the climate crisis, and the moves towards Indigenization and decolonization at Brock,” said Fancy.

    As part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series, Brock commissioned 10 regional theatre artists to create short online presentations exploring the climate crisis in relation to any area of their interest.

    In this part of the series, commissioned artists explored a multitude of themes in relation to climate change including capitalism, consumerism, mental health and more. Excerpts of these works in progress will be shown, followed by a discussion.

    “Between the commissioned performances from local artists, nearly all of whom are DART graduates, and the focus on Indigenous women’s perspectives and creativity, this is going to be a memorable weekend,” Fricker said.

    “Renowned Indigenous scientist, professor and author Robin Wall Kimmerer recently said ‘People cannot see the world as a gift unless someone shows them how.’ Throughout history, artists have often been beacons to new ways of being,” said Annie Wilson, PAC’s Programming Supervisor. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to continue our collaboration with Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department to share emerging and established artistic works that centralize the climate crisis and imagine new ways forward.”

    All digital events are free and accessible for viewing on the PAC and MIWSFPA Facebook and YouTube pages until Sunday, Feb. 28.

    The full weekend program schedule includes:

    Friday, Feb. 12:
    Walker Cultural Leaders Series commissioned artists – 5 p.m.
    Kristina Ojaperv presenting “Travelling Roots”
    Trevor Copp presenting “Water, water, everywhere”
    Meryl Ochoa and Kaylyn Valdez Scott of Tethered the Ghost presenting “Bakunawa”
    Excerpts will be followed by a discussion chaired by Michelle Mohammed.

    Saturday, Feb. 13:
    Skén:nen – Prequel: On the edge of collapse – 2 p.m.
    A sharing by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Santee Smith on the company’s new work in development, Skén:nen.
    Presented by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre with support from the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Presents.

    Sunday, Feb. 14:
    Honouring Balance in Times of Crisis and Change: Strength in Indigenous Women’s Perspectives: A discussion panel – 2 p.m.
    Featuring Audra Maloney, Diane Simon and Santee Smith.
    Lyn Trudeau is moderating this panel with the generous support of the Well Earth Collaborative (WEC).

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  • Dramatic Arts students mount ominous play from award-winning Canadian playwright

    Caption: Members of Sandbox Theatre, Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts fourth-year student-run company, rehearse a scene for their online production of Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill.

    Sandbox Theatre, Brock University’s fourth-year Dramatic Arts student company (DART 4F56 – Advanced Studies in Theatre) is presenting an evocative story about ten teenagers who must face their guilt – and their past.

    The play Concord Floral written by Jordan Tannahill and directed by Dramatic Arts Instructor Ali Joy Richardson will be streamed on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel. The performances run Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.

    Written by Canadian theatre maker Jordan Tannahill, two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, Concord Floral was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2016 and has been produced by theatre companies across the country.

    Concord Floral follows a group of suburban teens as they contend with their increasing social awareness and consequences of their past actions. Inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s thirteenth-century literary classic The Decameron, the teenagers are “fleeing a plague of their own making” after a rumour spreads that two girls have found a body in an abandoned greenhouse called Concord Floral.

    From costume and set design, to lighting, video and sound design, this production is entirely created and produced by fourth-year Dramatic Arts students and directed by playwright and director Ali Joy Richardson. The cast and crew, including student choreographers and composers, are currently spread out across Ontario due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The stage manager for Concord Floral is connecting virtually from Mexico.

    This adaptation of Concord Floral is set in the Niagara region and takes place in the intimate, personal space of the bedrooms of teenagers. Performed on Zoom, the show captures the spirit of adolescence with all its jagged edges. This play amplifies the voices of young people and is proudly presented by the next generation of theatre artists.

    To reserve your viewing spot on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel, please visit Brock University Tickets.

    There is no cost for tickets. Donations are recommended to support the Black Health Alliance, a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada.

     

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  • Dramatic Arts rewrites script for online learning with Shaw Festival

    Pictured above: Shaw Festival Theatre actors Jonathan Tan, left, and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane coached Brock students online in DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors. (Photos by David Cooper)

    Originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2020 | by 

    Brock Dramatic Arts students got a virtual backstage pass to the revered Shaw Festival Theatre this summer.

    An innovative teaching initiative gave students taking DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors the opportunity to connect online with and receive personalized coaching from professional actors Jonathan Tan and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane from the Shaw Festival Theatre permanent company.

    For third-year student Jordan Henderson, the virtual experience was both valuable and uplifting.

    “Jonathan Tan had many wise words that really helped me build confidence in my acting skills,” he said. “He also helped me to understand that what I might consider a mistake, audiences may interpret as something completely different.”

    David Fancy, Professor and Chair in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, developed the course’s online teaching material with the future in mind and produced 700 minutes of lessons over 70 separate videos.

    This foundational acting course, which Fancy describes as “extreme monologuing,” is designed to help students discover the underlying principles of acting. Students explore the actor’s process, including awareness, stimulus, impulse, intention and action.

    “We’re making some exciting changes to DART 1F01,” Fancy said. “We’re using this opportunity to build a course that we can also share with students who have to work remotely in the future.”

    In the virtual coaching sessions, students rehearsed monologues they’d written themselves with the Shaw actors, soaking in their expertise and knowledge.

    Second-year student Benoit St-Aubin gained unique perspective on the acting world, and it left him craving more.

    “I absolutely loved the session that I had with Olivia. We had the opportunity to run through our monologues with her and she gave us great tips to improve them,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed being in class, but this meeting really made me want to go back in September.”

    Fourth-year student Alexandra Hunter was able to immerse herself in the story of her monologue, giving her a deeper connection and understanding of her character and the creative process.

    “I learned so much from Olivia,” Hunter said. “She helped me illustrate the emotions in a strong way so that I knew how to perform them and react accordingly.”

    This opportunity to leverage technology and connect students to professional actors was co-ordinated by Fancy and Dramatic Arts instructor Carolyn Mackenzie in partnership with the Shaw Festival. They worked alongside Shaw’s Senior Manager for Education Suzanne Merriam, Education Assistant Melissa Domingos and Education Co-ordinator Megan Gilchrist.

    This course is just one of the ways Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is using innovative thinking and a creative approach to lead the charge on the future of performing arts. This fall, audiences can expect riveting new work, pushing the boundaries of live theatre with the Dramatic Arts mainstage production Scenes from an Execution by Howard Barker.

    More details on the Department of Dramatic Arts and the fall mainstage virtual production are available online.

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  • Scenes from an Execution: Dramatic Arts in the era of Covid-19! opens Oct.30

    scenes from an Execution
    by HOWard Barker

    Scenes from an Execution is a genre-bending feeding frenzy of high impact theatre, art film, and social media. This production features the story of a 16th century punk feminist painter named Galactia. She outsmarts and out-arts all the other hangers-on with her ability to wield a paintbrush and her prowess with a video camera. She stores her lover in a plexiglass box, and, well, everything takes off from there… Taking place in an in-between pandemonium of dozens of separate performance spaces around the region and the world, Scenes From and Execution integrates the live and the recorded, and blood and paint, in festival of good-times-for-all that won’t be easily ignored!
    Directed by David Fancy.

    Live streamed on:
    October 30 at 7:30 PM
    October 31 at 7:30 PM
    November 01 at 2:00 PM
    November 06 at 7:30 PM
    November 07 at 7:30 PM

    Where: created at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, 15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines with content from the performance spaces of students and artists in Canada and Mexico, streamed to the MIWSFPA YouTube Channel.

    Reservations to view the Scenes from an Execution performance of your choice can now be made at brocku.universitytickets.com
    There is no charge for reservations, but numbers are limited. Please book your ticket soon.

    Behind the Screen: See this student video showing how we made Scenes from an Execution,

    Program including statements of purpose from the student artists for Scenes from an Execution is available on the website or for download here

    click to open program

    CREATIVE TEAM:

    Director: David Fancy
    Associate Director: Molly Lacey*
    Set/Costume Designer: Kelly Wolf
    Assistant Designer: Wyatt Hoskins*
    Dramaturg: Asenia Hall*
    Choreographer: Trevor Copp
    Dance Captain: Marley Mahon*
    Audio Design: James Dengate*
    Stage Manager: Peter Herbert*
    Asst Stage Manager Alyssa Ruddock*

    CAST:

    Galactia – Holly Hebert*
    Carpeta – Neo Moore*
    Urgentino – Jesse Caines*
    Suffici – Jackson Wagner*
    Rivera – Heidi Nickel*
    Ostensible – Diego Blanco*
    Prodo/Third Sailor – Jarrod Vandenbogaerd*
    Sketchbook/Pastaccio – Celine Zamidar*
    Supporta – Sammie Marett*
    Dementia – Chloe Petrou*
    Sorda/Sailor – Maiya Irwin*
    Official/Gaoler – Isaiah Alton*
    Lasagna/Sailor – Marley Mahon*
    Sailor/Workman/Woman in the next cell – Thea Van Loon*

    PRODUCTION:

    Production Manager: Brian Cumberland
    Technical Director: Gavin Fearon
    Assistant TD: Sid Malcolm*
    Sound Operator: Alex Sykes*
    Head of Wardrobe: Roberta Doylend
    Wardrobe Assistant: Julian Corlett*
    Construction Head: Ed Harris
    SM Supervisor: Carolyn MacKenzie

    ( * DART student)

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Performance Season, Plays, Uncategorised