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.