Plays

  • Public roundtable to explore Antigone’s relevance to modern society

    Students in Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts have been working for months to bring the classic Greek tragedy Antigone to the mainstage this weekend. The production will have a six-show run at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in downtown St. Catharines, opening on Friday, Oct. 26. Seen during last week’s media call are actors Catherine Tait (Antigone), left, and Alexandra Chubaty Boychuk (Ismene).


    (From The Brock News, Thursday Oct. 25, 2018 | By Jaquelyn Bezaire)

    Gender inequality, corruption and the conflict between personal beliefs and the laws of society are all at the centre of Brock’s new mainstage production, Antigone.

    And although the classic Greek tragedy is more than 2,500 years old, a roundtable discussion will be held at the University next week to discuss its relevance to today.

    Elizabeth Vlossak, History Professor and Director of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), hopes to delve into the reasons why Antigone is one of the most read, performed and adapted plays in all of dramatic literature.

    On Wednesday, Oct. 31, she will moderate the roundtable that will include a panel of professors from Brock’s departments of Classics, Political Science, Philosophy and Dramatic Arts.

    Faculty, staff, students and the community are invited to join the panellists in the conversation, which begins at 3 p.m. in the Scotiabank Atrium of the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex.

    The informative and lively discussion will highlight the importance of Antigone and the connections that can be made across academic disciplines.

    The panellists will explain why Antigone is not only studied in courses about Ancient Greece but is also used to explore political theory, gender dynamics and various religious and moral problems.

    Panellists include professors Roberto Nickel (Classics), Adam Rappold (Classics), Athena Colman (Philosophy), Stefan Dolgert (Political Science) and Mike Griffin (Dramatic Arts).

    Vlossak organized the event in part to promote the upcoming production of Antigone, which opens Friday, Oct 26. The play is presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts.

    “One of my goals as Director of the MIWSFPA has been to increase student, faculty and public awareness, interest and participation in our programming at the school,” said Vlossak. “But this interdisciplinary panel discussion is also about bridging the two campuses. It’s bringing faculty from different departments together to share their expertise with students and the public, and it’s showcasing how the fine and performing arts can be incorporated into all of our teaching, learning and research, as well as our everyday lives, in meaningful ways.”

    The roundtable will begin by exploring the world of Sophocles and Antigone’s significance in ancient drama and performance.

    Other topics of discussion include the legacy of Antigone in the fields of politics and philosophy, the continued pedagogical value of studying Antigone, and the play’s relevance in the current political climate.

    “Antigone still inspires political rebels today, who find in her obstinate resistance a role model for action in the present,” said Dolgert. “Antigone is for those who refuse to accept the tired cliché that politics is ‘the art of the possible,’ as it is her seemingly irrational affirmation of the impossible that ultimately prevails.”

    Griffin, a Dramatic Arts lecturer and the production’s Director, will join the panel and explain why he chose the play for Brock’s mainstage performance.

    He hopes to “paint Antigone as a strong woman,” and aims to show how themes of the #MeToo movement are reflected throughout the production.

    Antigone runs Oct. 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a high school matinee on Nov. 2 at 11:30 a.m.

    The production will be held in MIWSFPA’s Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in downtown St. Catharines. Tickets are available through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office at 905-688-0722 or on the PAC website.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Performance Season, Plays

  • Antigone explores modern ideas through classic Greek tragedy

    Students in the DART undergraduate program have been rehearsing for months to bring the classic Greek tragedy Antigone to life on stage with a run beginning Oct. 26


    (From The Brock News, Friday Oct. 15, 2018 | By Sarah Moore)

    Sophocles’ Antigone may be more than 2,500 years old, but its relevance to the #MeToo and civil rights movements of today makes it resonate as strongly now as when it was first written.

    The new mainstage production from Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) tells the story of a woman rebelling against patriarchy and the establishment — a woman who is willing to sacrifice everything to stand up for what she believes is right.

    Antigone’s tragic protest against King Creon’s prohibition of mourning her dead brother makes the audience question what choice we have when our personal beliefs conflict with the laws of the state. The play also examines the effects that gender inequality and unbridled power have on society.

    DART faculty member Mike Griffin, who adapted and directs the production that will run at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, said the classic Greek tragedy was the perfect fit for the first mainstage performance of the 2018-19 season.

    “Antigone is one of the oldest examples of a powerful, independent female character in theatre and literature,” he said. “It is eerily unfortunate that this ancient world, in which she was born, has many similarities to the one we currently live in, and through that I think the play really speaks to today.

    “I also think it’s a fantastic challenge for my students to dive into a story that is really valued as such an influential, classical text.”

    Adam Rappold, Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics, worked with Griffin and the cast to dissect the Greek text and highlight major themes of the play pertinent to today’s audiences.

    “It is a work which manages to be, at once, both bewitchingly alien while still also familiar enough that it could have been ripped from today’s headlines,” Rappold said. “More pressingly for our current moment, it is likely the voice and personality of Antigone herself who continues to speak to audiences — a powerful and decidedly female scream of rage against iniquity and oppression, which, even after more than two centuries, refuses to be silenced.”

    With a contemporary approach to an ancient story, this production blends classical text with movement and image-based storytelling and explores a rich score of ensemble choral voices. The adaptation explores a shattered world touched by both contemporary and ancient times through a collage of poetry and physical theatre.

    “My vision is to paint Antigone as a strong woman, with the caveat that a strong woman should not be a stereotype but a norm that we are very familiar with,” Griffin said. “Hopefully her presence in standing up for what she believes in is something that can potentially propel audiences forward to feel confident in thinking that ‘when injustice happens to me, I will stand up for what’s right.’”

    The set and costumes for Antigone were designed by Brock Dramatic Arts Instructor Kelly Wolf, lighting was designed by Chris Malkowski and sound designed by Visual Arts Media Resource Co-ordinator Max Holten-Anderson (BMus ’10).

    The production showcases the talents of students in the DART undergraduate program. Student performers include Catherine Tait, Tristan Holmes, Alexandra Chubaty Boychuk, Matt Burt, Taj-Alexander Crozier, Tyler Simpson, Colin Williams, Mae Smith, Grace Martins, Samantha Rideout, Katie Cole, Diego Blanco, Heather Janser and James Dengate.

    Other student crew members include: Avery Delaney (Dresser), Peter Herbert (Stage Carpenter), Molly Lacey (Dresser), Sid Malcolm (Sound Operator), Heidi Nickel (Lighting Operator) and Jackson Wagner (Props Runner).

    Antigone runs Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 28 at 2 p.m., and Nov. 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a high school matinee on Nov. 2 at 11:30 a.m. The evening performance on Nov. 2 will include an American Sign Language interpreter for members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

    The production will run at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

    Tickets for the show are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. There’s also a $10 group rate and a $5 eyeGo high school program rate available. Tickets are available through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office at 905-688-0722 or on the PAC website.

    Categories: Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Plays

  • Sabina’s Splendid Brain opens at MIWSFPA Sept. 14

    Cellist Grace Snippe (BMus ’16), left, and Danielle Wilson bring the story of 20th century psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein to life in Sabina’s Splendid Brain. The performance opens on Sept. 14 at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. (Photo by George Enns.)


    (From The Brock News, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018 | by Sarah Moore)

    While Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung have become synonymous with psychoanalysis, the name Sabina Spielrein might leave you drawing a blank.

    The Stolen Theatre Collective hopes to change that by bringing the rarely told story of the Russian-Jewish psychoanalyst to life in a new production at Brock beginning next week.

    Sabina’s Splendid Brain, which opens Sept. 14 at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), chronicles the life of the tenacious and passionate Spielrein as she struggles through the circumstances of her family, her education and her therapy, the professional barriers facing women and wartime anti-Semitism.

    Spielrein was often known in relation to her famous colleagues: first as a patient, then as a lover of Jung, and later as a student and friend of Freud. As a psychoanalyst in her own right, however, she moved beyond them both to become one of the great thinkers in 20th century psychology.

    Her work was all but wiped from the history books due to Joseph Stalin’s repression of intellectuals and the Nazi invasion of her hometown of Rostov-on-Don, where she and her daughters were killed. Her diaries were recently discovered, however, and her publications were re-examined to reveal the profound impact that her work had on her teachers and peers.

    “Sabina had to fight for her voice,” said Brock Associate Theatre Professor Gyllian Raby, the production’s Director. “She walks the boundary between genius and delusion, and this production invites the audience to experience her journey from a screaming teenager with spittle in her hair to the woman who wowed Freud’s intellectual Vienna Circle.”

    Scripted by Carol Sinclair, Sabina’s Splendid Brain is rendered on stage in sets by Nigel Scott, projections by Karyn McCallum and lighting by James McCoy (BA ’14), and features performances by Brock Assistant Theatre Professor Danielle Wilson and cellist Grace Snippe (BMus ’16).

    “This is a project that fully explores the interdisciplinarity between the arts that was the founding dream of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts,” said Wilson, who is also the co-founder and co-artistic director of Stolen Theatre Collective. “Music, theatre and philosophy are a natural trio in this story of how psychoanalysis helped shape modern consciousness.”

    Fides Krucker, a Canadian interpreter, vocalist, opera singer and teacher, collaborated on the interdisciplinary production with Stolen Theatre. Her innovative vocal techniques and interdisciplinary work will be further highlighted later this month as part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the MIWSFPA.

    Sabina’s Splendid Brain opens with back-to-back weekend performances Sept. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22, all beginning at 7:30 p.m. Additional matinee performances will take place on Sept. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.

    All performances are held at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, located at 15 Artists’ Common in St. Catharines.

    Tickets are pay-what-you-can-afford ($10, $25, $40 and $55) and can only be purchased in advance through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office.

    Limited paid parking is available on-site, but city parking is available within close proximity to the venue.

    For more information on the production, please contact info@stolentheatrecollective.ca

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    Categories: Alumni, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Plays

  • Dramatic Arts grads in Toronto Fringe Festival spotlight

    (From The Brock News, Tuesday, August 18, 2018)

    Two plays featuring Brock Dramatic Arts graduates will be playing this week in Toronto as part of the Best of Fringe.

    First Dates, a play about love, loss and people aching to connect, is written and directed by Niagara Falls native and former DART student Wes Berger and features music by his brother, musician and Brock alumnus Aaron Berger (BA ’17).

    Also featured during the Best of Fringe event is Anywhere, the newest work by award-winning playwright Michael Ross Albert starring Brock alumna Cass Van Wyck (BA ’13). The thriller, set in an Airbnb, follows a cordial relationship between strangers that escalates into a tense battle for control.

    Anywhere and First Dates were both selected as 2018 Patron’s Picks at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

    “On behalf of the department, we want to congratulate Wes, Cass and Aaron,” says Professor Joe Norris, Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts. “As always, we celebrate our students’ successes and are pleased their hard and talented work is recognized in the Ontario theatre community.”

    The Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival provides opportunities for emerging and established artists to share their productions with the community in an affordable and accessible way. The Best of Fringe remounts selected productions at the Studio Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts to give patrons a second chance to see the shows.

    Also in July was the Hamilton Fringe Festival, which showcased another production filled with Brock talent. September Songs was directed by Colin Bruce Anthes (BA ’14) and featured five Brock grads. The show will be coming to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Nov. 1 to 3.

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    Categories: Alumni, Events, News, Plays

  • Breaking the Silence at In the Soil

    (Source: The Brock News | Wednesday, May 03, 2018 by Matthew Melnyk)

    Students from Stamford Collegiate took to the stage at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre to present their original play, Breaking the Silence, as part of In the Soil Arts Festival on Friday, April 27. The public performance was sponsored by Brock University. The play — based on the stories of British Home Children who were torn from their families and sent to Canada for a ‘better life’ — earned Stamford the top prize at this year’s National Theatre School Drama Festival. Friday’s performance featured a quilt made up of historic photos of British Home Children.

    Stamford Collegiate at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Seen l to r: Colin Anthes, BA (Honours) Dramatic Arts and Psychology, Minor in Philosophy, 2014; MA Philosophy (Contemporary Continental Philosophy), 2016; Certificate in Public Law (in process) is an alumnus of Stamford Collegiate, an instructor at the Department of Dramatic Arts, Artistic Director of Essential Collective Theatre and founder of Twitches & Itches Theatre; Angela Menotti, program leader of Drama at Stamford Collegiate; and Ethan Yando, who has a placement at Stamford Collegiate as he completes his BA (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Minor in English Language and Literature, BEd Teacher Education – Intermediate Senior in 2018.

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    Categories: Events, Future students, News, Plays

  • Graduating students present gritty play about oil in Canada

    The cast of Lac/Athabasca takes the stage from April 12 to 14 in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre for the last Dramatic Arts production of the 2017-18 season.

    For the final production of the regular 2017-18 season, Brock’s fourth-year Dramatic Arts students will tackle some hard-hitting Canadian issues.

    The DART 4F56 ensemble will present Len Falkenstein’s award-winning play Lac/Athabasca in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre. The production, inspired by the Lac-Mégantic train explosion of 2013, tells the dark truth of the forces behind the disaster.

    Co-directed by Professor Gyllian Raby and student Mark Dickinson, the play premiered at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts on Thursday, April 12 and will continue nightly until Saturday, April 14.

    Production poster designed by Michelle Mohammed. click to download a PDF copy.

    Audiences follow the train filled with explosive fuel as it journeys across time and place, beginning with townsfolk sharing their experiences of the tragic event and lamenting for the lives lost. The crowd is taken to tour the magnificent Athabasca glacier and meets workers at the oil sand companies in Fort McMurray, witnessing Canada’s exploitation of its land and peoples from the 1800s to now. The beauty and terror of these encounters reveal a Canadian dream as twisted as the train tracks that stretch across it.

    The DART 4F56 students unanimously picked the play not only because of its Canadian roots, but also because “it’s about something that matters,” says Raby. The production tells the story of the train explosion, but audiences can also “expect to see a First Nations story play out,” she says.

    “We were fortunate enough to be advised by Adrienne Smoke of the Six Nations and William Constant, a Cree mentor, to make sure we were approaching the Indigenous story correctly.”

    On a daily basis, Canadians are reading about the problem of oil and the exploitation of natural resources. Lac/Athabasca is a deeply Canadian play that provokes reflection on corporate greed, environmental policies and the future transportation of oil.

    In addition to Dickinson, the 2017-18 Dramatic Arts fourth-year ensemble features cast members Mackenzie Kerr, Adrian Marchesano, Sarah Marks, Michelle Mohammed, Tarndeep Pannu, Naomi Richardson and Kaylyn Valdez-Scott. Set construction is by Helena Ciuciura, costume design by Samantha Mastrella, properties design by Rebecca Downing, sound design by Jillian Wardell, lighting design by Meryl Ochoa, and projections design and production management by Chelsea Wilson, assisted by guest instructor and Brock University Dramatic Arts alumnus, James McCoy. The production team also includes Allie Aubry as stage manager and Candice Burn as head of publicity.

    Lac/Athabasca plays Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the MIWFSPA in downtown St. Catharines. Tickets are $5 (plus taxes and fees) from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office at 905-688-0722 or online. Tickets will also be available at the door. Limited parking is available onsite.


    see the preview article by Mike Balsom on YourTV Niagara/Cogeco

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Performance Season, Plays

  • Dramatic Arts students explore the theme of Expectation and Reality

    The popular One Act Festival is coming back to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts this weekend. Pictured is the performance of All by Myself from the 2017 One Act Festival directed by Naomi Richardson, designed by Chelsea Wilson and featuring Rebecca Downing, Jessica Johnson, Alex Boychuk, Lauren Reed and David Poirier.

    The popular One Act Festival is returning to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts this weekend.

    Students from the Dramatic Arts Directing II course (DART 3P54) have been hard at work developing their plays under the supervision and guidance of instructor Neil Silcox and teaching assistant Kevin Hobbs. The experiential course offers students practical and real-world experience as directors, dramaturges, performers, designers and theatre technicians, often for the first time.

    Silcox says “Brock does a great job of balancing out the theoretical and experiential aspects of dramatic arts” compared to the other programs he’s worked for.

    “Developing a strong understanding of theories and then being able to get on your feet and actually do it is the only way to learn to do performing arts,” Silcox says.

    Directing II students are responsible for selecting a script, auditioning a cast, rehearsing, designing the show and co-ordinating with the dramatic arts production team on all technical needs.

    This year, the festival is presenting six shows under the theme “Expectation and Reality.”

    Silcox says he discovered the theme “after reading through each of the students’ chosen acts side by side.”

    “We didn’t offer this theme to the students and make them try to select something,” he says.

    This process allows the students to have full control and individuality with their acts, but also challenges them to tweak their shows in a way that highlights the theme more.

    “Although it may seem cliché, audience members should expect the unexpected,” says Silcox.

    The shows range from century old to extremely contemporary, absurdism to strongly political, all exploring this year’s theme from a unique angle.

    Shows being presented this year include Articulation by Alicia Richardson, Your Mother’s Butt by Alan Ball, Echo by Joseph T. Shipley, The Little Stone House by George Calderon, The Lesson by Eugene Ionesco, and The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre by Allan Knee.

    All shows take place in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre of the MIWSFPA on Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25 starting at 7 p.m. each night. Admission is pay-what-you-can and limited paid parking is available nearby. For more information on the 2018 One Act Festival, visit the Dramatic Arts website.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, In the Media, News, Performance Season, Plays

  • MIWSFPA offers ticket promotion in honour of International Women’s Day

    Brock Dramatic Arts students Manchari Paranthahan and Meryl Ochoa in the production of Top Girls playing at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts March 2 to 10.

    (Source: The Brock News | Wednesday, March 13, 2018)

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is offering a special Top Girls promotion in honour of International Women’s Day.

    Tickets for the Brock production’s March 9 and 10 performances will be two for the price of one when buyers mention International Women’s Day.

    The promotion will be available in person at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office or by phone at 905-688-0722. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Top Girls, Brock’s second mainstage production of the year, is a contemporary play that takes a critical look at women and their relationship to power and success.

    More information on the show is available on the Brock News.

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    Categories: Announcements, Events, In the Media, News, Plays

  • Community collaboration leads to a new play by Brock prof

    (Source: The Brock News | Monday, February 12, 2018 by Alison Innes)

    It was a simple, yet powerful statement.

    “We need to pay attention to the lives of Niagara’s migrant agricultural workers,” René Lopez, a worker advocate, said to Brock University Associate Professor David Fancy in 2010.

    That conversation began a journey of community collaboration that lead to the production of Our Lady of Delicias by the Essential Collective Theatre, which runs from Friday, Feb. 23 until Sunday, March 4 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    Fancy, a professor with the Dramatic Arts program, collaborated with dozens of migrant workers and Dramatic Arts students for two years to develop the play. The story features the character of Rangel, a Mexican migrant worker who has been travelling to Canada for years to work in the vineyards and greenhouses of Niagara.

    “I’m excited by this new script,” says Essential Collective Theatres’ Monica Dufault, a long-term Brock instructor who is directing the production. “It explores migrant worker issues in considerable depth with a real artistry that I’m keen to share with audiences.”

    “Having lived in Niagara for more than a dozen years now, I still feel that this is a reality that is consciously ignored: the lives of people who are our neighbours,” says Fancy.

    The cast of four, including Carla Melo, Juan Carlos Velis, Camila Diaz-Varela and Josée Young, features an exceptional range of Canadian acting talent with extensive stage and screen credits. Brock Dramatic Arts graduates James McCoy and Jo Pacinda are creating the design and costume design for the production.

    What: Our Lady of Delicias, performed by the Essential Collective Theatre

    When: Friday, Feb. 23 to Sunday, March 4

    Where: Robertson Theatre, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    SPECIAL OFFER: Present your ECT show program or ticket stub to receive a 20% discount on tickets for Top Girls presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts!

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    Categories: Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Plays

  • TOP GIRLS: opens March 2!

    by Caryl Churchill.

    Directed by DANIELLE WILSON
    Set Design by NIGEL SCOTT
    Costume Design by KELLY WOLF
    Lighting Design by JENNIFER JIMENEZ
    Original Music by MAX HOLTEN-ANDERSEN
    Assistant Direction by MICHELLE MOHAMMED
    Dialect Coaching by JANE GOODERHAM

    When: March 2-10, 2018

    FRIDAY, MARCH 2 and SATURDAY, MARCH 3 at 7:30 pm
    SUNDAY, MARCH 4 at 2:00 pm
    FRIDAY, MARCH 9 at 11:30 am and 7:30 pm
    SATURDAY, MARCH 10 at 7:30 pm

    What would you sacrifice to get to the top?
    Top Girls opens at the MIWSFPA on March 2.

    TOP GIRLS, by celebrated playwright Caryl Churchill and directed by Danielle Wilson, runs from Friday, March 2, 2018 to Saturday, March 10, 2018 in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines.

    Manchari Paranthahan as Nell, Meryl Ochoa as Win, in Top Girls at Brock University.

    The Department of Dramatic Arts, part of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, is proud to present an original production of this venerable play about women and power. First produced in 1982, last seen in Niagara at the Shaw Festival in 2015, this contemporary play tells the story of Marlene, a career-driven woman who is only interested in women’s success in business.

    The play is an exploration and critical look at women and their relationship to power and success. For the director, Professor Danielle Wilson, the main question at the heart of the play is “what would you sacrifice to get to the top?”

    The play follows the story of Marlene, who in 1980’s London has just been promoted to managing director of the Top Girls Employment Agency. With a magic realist twist we see Marlene celebrate her success at a dinner party with five women from history, literature, and art, and as the drink begins to flow, so do their stories of family, adventure, and loss which overlap in witty and humorous dialogue.

    Manchari Paranthahan as Nell, Meryl Ochoa as Win, Helena Ciurciura as Marlene, in Top Girls at Brock University.

    Throughout the play we also meet the real-life women in Marlene’s life at the office. They struggle to rise to the top of the corporate ladder but are held back by lack of opportunity and the harsh competitiveness of the business world.

    The themes and story of the play are extremely topical.  The play examines the challenges of working women who choose self-promotion and career over motherhood, family, domesticity. We learn of the cost of Marlene’s ‘successful’ life. Set during the reign of the British Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher, known as the “Iron Lady”, the play asks whether it was an advance to have a woman prime minister if we elected someone with policies like hers.

    TOP GIRLS highlights the contradictions between feminism and capitalism. A running theme throughout the play is the secrets that underpin Marlene’s success which in some ways serve to perpetuate the patriarchal structure common in many workplaces. We only learn of these secrets in the final confrontational scene with her closest family, Joyce and her daughter, Angie.

    The play is directed by Dramatic Arts faculty Danielle Wilson. Professional collaborating artists include set designer Nigel Scott, costume designer by Kelly Wolf, lighting designer Jennifer Jimenez and music composer Max Holten-Andersen. Jane Gooderham is the Dialect Coach.

    Helena Ciurciura as Marlene, Emma McCormick as Angie, in Top Girls at Brock University.

    TOP GIRLS showcases the talents of students in the Department of Dramatic Arts undergraduate program. Michelle Mohammed is the Assistant Director, Alicia Marie Bender is the Stage Manager, Whiney Braybrook-Byl is Assistant Stage Manager. Performers include: Helena Ciuciura, Emma McCormick, Samantha Mastrella, Meryl Ochoa, Manchari Paranthahan, Catherine Tait and Kristina Ojaperv.

    READ ALL ABOUT IT!

    Director Danielle Wilson discusses feminism, ambition, #MeToo and the unique challenge of mounting this play in a brief interview found at the bottom of this page.

    Fourth-year student and Assistant Director for the production, Michelle Mohammed, is writing about the development of the show in a dedicated blog: darttopgirls.wordpress.com and dartcritics.com

    The public presentation program of the Department of Dramatic Arts is an integral part of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ mandate to contribute to regional cultural development and build community connections by engaging our audiences with the breadth of talent and creativity of the students, staff, guest artists and faculty of Brock University.

    The Department invites teachers and educators to bring their students to see this exciting production of TOP GIRLS.
    Read the Special Invitation to learn more.

    Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    Limited parking onsite.

    Purchase tickets at the FirstOntario PAC Box Office
    905.688.0722 or online firstontariopac.ca
    Tickets: $18 Adults|$15 Seniors/Students| $5 eyeGo | $12 Groups
    *Applicable fees and taxes are extra

    See the article in the Brock News.


    We asked the director of Top Girls, Professor Danielle Wilson, about feminism, ambition, and the unique challenges of mounting this play.

    What type of feminist beliefs does Top Girls draw upon?

    The play is an exploration and critical look at women and their relationship to power and success. For me the main question at the heart of the play is “what would you sacrifice to get to the top?” Something is always sacrificed, whether it be relationships, personal integrity, mental health, leisure time etc., in the pursuit of success. Top Girls looks specifically at women’s responsibilities and relationships with each other in a capitalistic and individualistic society. It tackles these issues in a broader political spectrum vs. it being about women overcoming their oppression. You can’t get away from being a woman in this play, no matter how hard these women try. What I understand is that the play was inspired by two streams of feminism: one which is about changing the economic situation for everyone which is more collectively oriented and one that accepts and supports an individual’s success over the collective gain. Top Girls examines an individualistic society in which the few thrive at the expense of many and one in which isolated female success overshadows the plight of the majority.

    How do you connect the feminism of the 1980’s portrayed in Top Girls to feminist movements and/or beliefs today? How do you think our students will understand the representation of feminist thought in your production?

    Fourth wave feminism, which we are seeing now, tends to be more collectively oriented. Social media started an entire #MeToo movement, which questions abuse of power. Top Girls discusses power and success in relationship to women. The main character in the play, Marlene, tends to use what one might call more ‘masculine’ tactics in the workplace. The entire corporate structure has been built on more masculine characteristics of leadership. When a woman is in a top position, masculine qualities can run contrary to what is expected of her gender, so she may be perceived as cold or distant or a bitch. Margaret Thatcher, who serves as an unseen character in the play was described as the ‘Iron Lady”, but no man who ruled in the way she did was ever called the ‘Iron Man’, he was just a man. She even had voice lessons to help her sound more masculine so that her cabinet would take her seriously. One of the characters in the play, Nell says that “an employer is going to have doubts about a lady, whether she’s got the guts to push through to a closing situation. They think we’re too nice. They think we listen to the buyer’s doubts. They think we consider his needs and his feelings.” We’re becoming aware that there is more than one way to lead and it is not an imperative to oppress or step on others in order to succeed.

    I think students will recognize the issues being debated between Marlene and Joyce as they each argue opposite political viewpoints. Today, there is definitely a more collectively oriented mindset as evidenced by the Occupy movement, Idle No More, and the #MeToo movement. There is resistance to the social and economic status quo. Young people, both men and women, are building strength through bonds with each other and challenging systemic abuse, racial profiling, and poor economic prospects.

    What is “the top”?

    I think it depends on the person. Success and reaching ‘the top’ is complicated and is defined by each person differently. For some it may be reaching the top over someone else, for others it may be reaching the top of one’s own potential.

    Marlene’s character seems to be the one striving for the “top” and stepping on anyone in her way, should we be feeling empathy for her? Should we like or dislike her? What should we be learning from her actions?

    I think ultimately it will be up to the audience to decide how they feel about her.  We learn a lot about her personal life in the third act and what she has sacrificed to get to where she is. Caryl Churchill, the playwright, has written a complex character who is flawed, but what human being isn’t? Some may admire and empathize with her actions. She did what she had to do. Others may not. We see both sides of the story in the final act in which she has a showdown with her sister, Joyce, who has taken a very different path in life. Ultimately, Churchill has written a play that involves more questions than answers, but that’s the beauty of it, you get to chew over these questions after the play is over. To me, that’s the mark of a great play.

    Are there significant challenges with this production that our audience would be interested in knowing about?

    The play involves a big dinner party at the very beginning. Caryl Churchill has written overlapping dialogue where people are talking over each other, like at a real dinner party. It has been challenging to choose what the audience hears and doesn’t hear.  Sometimes the audience will hear both and have to choose which to listen to. It has been both a challenge as a director and as an actor. Not only must the actors learn their lines, but they must also learn when they begin speaking in the middle of someone else’s line.

     

    February 17, 2018
    /dv

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    Categories: Events, Performance Season, Plays