News

  • 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

  • Dramatic Arts presents: Tensions of Engagement in the Canadian Immigrant Theatre Context

    featuring Lina de Guevara, founder of Puente Theatre (Victoria) and Ruth Howard of Jumblies Theatre (Toronto), with Dr. Yasmine Kandil of Brock University (Niagara)

    March 16 and 17, 2018

    A panel conversation and workshops on the theme of Tensions of Engagement in the Canadian Immigrant Theatre Context. This event will look at how theatre has been used to create collaborative opportunities with immigrants and refugees in Canada, and what struggles lay ahead of us to bridge the divide between settler Canadians and newcomers.

    All events take place at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines ON L2R 0B5
    A free community event!
    Registration required for workshops only.
    tensions-of-engagement-workshops.eventbrite.com
    Limited parking available.
    Contact Dr. Yasmine Kandil ykandil@brocku.ca for more information.

    PROGRAM:
    Friday March 16 7:00pm
    PANEL Discussion in the MIW THEATRE:
    Tensions of Engagement in the Canadian Immigrant Theatre Context

    This panel, moderated by Dr. Natalie Alvarez (Brock University), will feature three of Canada’s applied theatre artists who have devoted a large portion of their creative work towards working on issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and creating opportunities for immigrants and refugees to explore their narratives of settlement through theatre.

    This comes at a crucial time, as our society is witnessing an awareness of the insidious racism that exists in our country, as revealed by the Angus Reid Institute report of October 2016. Our panel will discuss how applied theatre with immigrants and refugees in Canada has evolved over the past few decades, and whether there has been a positive and tangible impact that this medium has had on this community, and on settler Canadians.

    Saturday March 17 10:00am – 3:00pm
    WORKSHOPS: STUDIOS B and C at the MIWSFPA

    Workshop STUDIO B (MW 247)
    10:00-12:00pm (Ruth Howard)
    This workshop will explore Jumblies’ recent Four Lands touring project, which brings together settler, newcomer, Indigenous residents of all ages and backgrounds in a gentle exploration of different perspectives on a place.
    jumbliestheatre.org/jumblies/about/staff/ruth-howard

    Workshop STUDIO C (MW 243)
    1:00-3:00pm (Lina de Guevara)
    This workshop will explore the different tools used to do research related to immigrant and refugee narratives: interviews, storytelling of personal stories, image creation, forum encounters, audience participation, etc. Lina will share the tools that she uses and those she avoids.
    linadeguevara.ca

    Registration required for workshops only.
    tensions-of-engagement-workshops.eventbrite.com

    PANELISTS:

    Lina de Guevara

    Lina de Guevara was the first immigrant artist to establish a theatre company in Victoria that solely focused on promoting the narratives of immigration and settlement with the purpose of bridging the gap between this minority group and the predominantly white culture of Victoria. Her work has spread to other provinces in Canada since she began her Canadian journey almost 40
    years ago.

    Ruth Howard

    Ruth Howard is the founder and Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre, based in Toronto. Her work with professional artists and diverse communities has won her recognition and awards. Jumblies is known for its large-scale collaborative community-engaged theatre and interdisciplinary arts residencies, projects and productions, as well as its dedication to learning and mentorship in community arts.

     

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Yasmine began her immigrant journey in Victoria, BC, where she worked on multiple projects exploring celebration as a means for immigrant youth to claim a space in their new Canadian home. She is presently engaged in the second phase of devising a theatre piece that examines narratives of immigration and settlement for Brock students and local immigrants and refugees in relation to expectations, obstacles, and assimilation.

     

    Our guests, Lina de Guevara and Ruth Howard, are two of our Walker Cultural Leaders for 2017-18.  This series brings leading artists, performers, practitioners and academics to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University. Engaging, lively and erudite, these  sessions celebrate professional achievement, artistic endeavour and the indelible role of culture in our society.
    This education program is generously founded by Marilyn I. Walker. Please join us!

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    Categories: Announcements, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Visiting Artists

  • Playwright/Actor Damien Atkins to Visit Brock Department of Dramatic Arts

    Toronto based actor and playwright Damien Atkins will do a reading from his work followed by a conversation with students in DART 3P92 Scriptwriting

    Date: Tuesday Feb. 13

    Time: 10:30 am

    Location: STUDIO B MW247 Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

    This is a free community event! All are welcome to attend.

    Damien Atkins is a playwright and actor who has performed across Canada and the United States. Playwriting credits include miss chatelaine (The Grand Theatre/Theatre Passe Muraille), Real Live Girl (Buddies in Bad Times/Manitoba Theatre Centre/The Grand), the adaptation (with Marjorie Chan) of Hisashi Inoue’s play In The Garden, Two Suns for Crow’s Theatre, Good Mother (Stratford Festival), Lucy (Canadian Stage Co./Ensemble Studio Theatre – NYC/Delaware Theatre Co.), The Mill, Part Four: Ash (theatrefront), The Gay Heritage Project (with Andrew Kushnir and Paul Dunn – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre), and We Are Not Alone (Crow’s Theatre/Segal Centre). He is the youngest playwright ever produced by the Stratford Festival. Damien has been nominated for nine Dora Mavor Moore Awards for acting and writing, including nominations for Best New Play for Lucy and The Gay Heritage Project. He has received the PRISM/UBC Creative Writing Residency Prize for Good Mother and a Dora for Best New Musical for Real Live Girl. Damien has been playwright-in-residence at UBC, Canadian Stage, Crow’s Theatre, and Factory Theatre, as well as a Guest Instructor at The National Theatre School.

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    Categories: Events, News, Visiting Artists

  • Dramatic Arts presents: In Transit: Artistic Interventions in Precarious Times

    featuring Dr. Kerr Mesner, Arcadia University (performer) with
    Dr. Stephen Low (Moderator, Discussant and Talkback Facilitator)

    Thursday, March 15, 2018 7:00-9:00 pm, in the MIW THEATRE

    In Transit: Artistic Interventions in Precarious Times is a one-person performance piece, combining multimedia, live theatrical performance, and audience engagement to create an evocative and thought provoking dramatic experience. This autoethnographic theatrical piece explores the intersections of queer identities, Christianity’s contributions to antiqueer
    violence, and the challenges of embodying transgender identities within our current political contexts. Mesner weaves a narrative arc between current live theatrical performances from his 2017 piece, In Transit and multimedia excerpts from the filmic
    version of his 2014 play, Intervention, that was part of his doctoral dissertation.

    This performance will be of interest to scholars, graduate students, practitioners, and activists working in such areas as arts based educational research, performance studies, transgender and queer studies, religion/theology, and anti-oppressive education.

    All events take place at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    15 Artists’ Common, St Catharines ON L2R 0B5
    A free community event!
    Tickets and registration not required. Limited parking available.

    Contact Dr. Joe Norris jnorris@brocku.ca for more information.

    Dr. Mesner is one of our Walker Cultural Leaders for 2017-18.  This series brings leading artists, performers, practitioners and academics to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University. Engaging, lively and erudite, these  sessions celebrate professional achievement, artistic endeavour and the indelible role of culture in our society.
    This education program is generously founded by Marilyn I. Walker. Please join us!

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    Categories: Announcements, Events, Visiting Artists

  • Acting exercise helps prepare co-op students for workplace

    From small talk at the water cooler to encounters with testy photocopiers, students embarking on co-op work-terms never quite know the situations they may experience in their new workplace.

    To help lessen stress and increase comfort heading into a new environment, Brock Dramatic Arts students recently visited their co-op peers to share some scenarios they may be faced with.

    Comprised primarily of Dramatic Arts students under the direction of Joe Norris, Dramatic Arts Chair and Professor of Drama in Education and Applied Theatre, Mirror Theatre spent time in three Co-op Education classes over the past few weeks to provide guidance and reassurance by acting out scenes in Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.

    Dramatic Arts exercise in co-op class

    Co-op students Daniel O’Leary, left, and Marsel Avdic, right, play tug of war with fourth-year Dramatic Arts student and Mirror Theatre member Sumer Seth during an ‘Awkward Elevator’ scene.

    The group write and present interactive scenes on a variety of social issues, with the latest art-based research project exploring the interpersonal dynamics of work placements from entry to exit.

    Using applied theatre, experiential and problem-based learning theories and techniques, the students present scenes that address worker safety, on-site learning, asking for help, dealing with unreasonable demands and degree of personal sharing and assessment. Audience members redirect the scenes from their seat and, at times, come on stage to try to act out their thoughts through role-play.

    The initiative was intended to generate discussion amongst the co-op students on a variety of work-related topics in the 0N90 class.

    Students were asked to put themselves in the actors’ shoes in order to understand how they would handle each of the given situations in real life.

    “I would recommend this type of interactive learning in future classes,” said second-year Public Health co-op student Micaela Snow following the exercise. “I feel like the presentation gave us a deeper understanding of expectations and work etiquette rather than if we just listened to the professor talking about it.”

    Julia Zhu, Brock’s Associate Director of Co-op Education, hoped the experience helped to “facilitate ‘a rehearsal for life’ by offering an opportunity for students to safely test out their approach to impromptu social, ethical and culture situations.”

    Course facilitator Ashley Haroutunian said she was impressed by the level of engagement students displayed as they watched the vignettes and participated in the discussions and re-enactments.

    “They demonstrated a keen ability to reflect and contribute thoughtful observations and suggestions to help the players navigate the challenging workplace scenarios and conflicts,” she said. “Professor Norris and his students did an excellent job of supporting their learning by inviting, encouraging and involving students in the process.”

    Mirror Theatre has previously worked with Brock’s English as a Second Language Services in addressing academic integrity issues; Student Health, examining mental health and drinking issues; Health and Safety, discussing violence in the workplace; a Health Sciences class, articulating challenges of patient care; and the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation’s TA training sessions. The group’s members are heading to New York in April to present their arts-based research at the American Educational Research Association.

    Mirror Theatre members who participated in the recent co-op exercises include fourth-year Con-Ed Dramatic Arts students Mike Metz and Lindsey Abrams, third-year Psychology and Dramatic Arts student Nadia Ganesh, fourth-year Dramatic Arts and Education student Aaron Drake, fourth-year Con-Ed student Abby Rollo, second-year Con-Ed Dramatic Arts student Dani Shae Barkley, fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Sumer Seth and first-year Dramatic Arts student Dawson Strangway.

    Speaking with Mirror Theatre members on how this group has impacted their lives, Mike Metz, fourth year Con-Ed Dramatic Arts student says, “When I started Mirror Theatre in my first year, I was a Con-Ed math student. Mirror Theatre was one of the major reasons I decided to switch my major to Drama.”

    Lindsey Abrams, fourth year Con-Ed Dramatic Arts student adds, “Mirror Theatre has given me the opportunity to explore my love for theatre through different lenses as an actor, prospective educator, and learner.  I get the opportunity to explore all different areas of theatre that can be presented, and feel as though I am always a part of a team.”

    When Nadia Ganesh, third year Psychology and Dramatic Arts student was asked what she enjoys about participating in Mirror Theatre, she said, “I love the fact that Mirror Theatre gives me the ability to impact the lives of others even if it is only in a minor way. If it’s just making one person laugh, I’m happy that I’ve had the opportunity to affect that individual in a positive way.”

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News

  • The State of Our Art: Drama in Education and Applied Theatre in Ontario

    The Department of Dramatic Arts, Brock University and the Walker Cultural Leader Series presents:

    The Second Drama in Education and Applied Theatre Symposium.

    January 26 and 27, 2018

    Our world as we know it is rapidly changing, with scholars identifying present events as ‘post-normal’ (O’Connor and Anderson 2015). In this climate of anxiety and political uncertainty, how is the practice of drama in education and applied theatre a means to respond to and attempt to speak back to these times? The lectures and workshops will offer key insights into how our scholars use this practice to grapple with these issues.

    Featuring Julie Salverson (Queens University), Kathleen Gallagher (OISE), and workshops by by Professors: Kathleen Gallagher, Joe Norris (replacing Kathy Lundy as listed in the PDF), Julie Salverson, Larry Schwartz, and Belarie Zatzman.

    for more information download this PDF.

    Keynote: Friday, January 26 7:30pm
    Professor Julie Salverson, Queens University

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

    All of us today, as scholars, artists and citizens, are challenged with listening to and telling forward the story of this home we call Canada. As we consider this task, where are the possibilities for change, for hope, and for honest listening – listening not to consume and extract (what scholar Dylan Robinson calls hungry listening) but to acknowledge and attend? I will talk about ways to think and feel about what it means to witness and respond to calls for justice as whole people who draw upon a rich variety of resources. How do all of us, individually and collectively, honour our own heritage, traditions and teachers? How do we bring these to the table and to how we live, work and attend? What do each of us offer to the conversation? This is about what it means to be “on the ground”, to negotiate the challenge to witness with the alarm and feeling of consequence that entails a meeting with a traumatized environment. I will draw on Karen Barad’s performative metaphysics, Donna Haraway’s “staying with the trouble” and E.V.Walter’s discussion of “places of experience” to re-imagine my ideas of foolish witness.

    Keynote: Saturday, January 27 9:00am
    Professor Kathleen Gallagher, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

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

    In this keynote, I will use a case study of one research site in Lucknow, India, in my current multi-sited, applied theatre research, Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement (2014-2019) to consider how drama can ‘speak back to these times’ if we deem- as some social innovation theorists do- the social world as made and imagined. How have the students in India, and how might we in our various pedagogical and creating contexts, use theatre to understand social systems and imagine a progressive sociality? In India, using drama, performance and critical dialogues, the work is both deeply political and radically hopeful through the ways in which it reorients, redefines and revisions the social world. Their classroom practice follows from a 19th century feminist theatre history, I will argue, that enables a transformative ambition, just what is needed in these harrowing global times. As democracies thin under populist and neoliberal regimes across most nation states, the young people and their teachers in India have long understood the power of collective opposition as a social practice and political resistance, but they have also seized upon drama and performance as the most powerful means to this end. Social innovation scholars have suggested that by harnessing what they are calling “collective intelligence”, it may be possible to dramatically improve societies’ ability to tackle seemingly intractable social problems. The students at Prerna school in India have positioned theatre as a “language of care” and a central tool for understanding the political economy and deconstructing the forces of oppression. It is time for all of us to harness the unimaginable, in our classrooms, on our stages, and in the street.

    Workshops: Saturday, January 27, 2018
    DART Studio A workshops: Julie Salverson (10:30 am-1:00 pm) / Belarie Zatzman (2:30-5:00 pm)
    DART Studio C workshops: Joe Norris (10:30 am-1:00 pm) / David Booth (2:30-5:00 pm)
    DART Studio D workshops: Larry Swartz (10:30 am-1:00 pm) / Kathleen Gallagher (2:30-5:00 pm)

    Julie Salverson, Queens University.
    10:30 – 1:00, Studio A
    Who we are as witnesses
    I have facilitated a few sessions this year based on a Quaker practice of holding a question in the light. The question for this workshop is: how can we live together better? I will speak for a few minutes about the deep preparation I require to enter the thorny territory of witnessing, the heritage, traditions and teachings that inform my work, and what a response to these times means to me. I will then invite people in the room to speak to this. There will be no direct interaction or discussion, this is about witnessing and listening.

    Joe Norris, Department of Dramatic Arts, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University.
    10:30 – 1:00 Studio C
    Reexamining Canadian History through Story Circles, Picture Interpretation, Tableaus, Choral Speech and Writing in Role
    Award winner for his publications in his pioneering work in playbuilding as research, duoethnography, a form of dialogic research, and alternative forms of arts-based assessment, Joe also devotes considerable time developing and piloting units of teaching the curriculum through drama. While this workshop will focus specifically on the Klondike, the approaches used can be applied to many curricular topics.

    Larry Swartz, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto.
    10:30 – 1:00 Studio D
    MORE THAN A PLAY
    This practical interactive workshop will demonstrate strategies for using minimal and dialogue scripts to enhance interpretation skills, to build community and to address social justice issues. Handout provided.

    Belarie Zatzman, Department of Theatre, School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design, York University.
    2:30 -5:00 Studio A
    Performing Objects
    In this workshop, we will consider participatory practices that can be used in history, art and drama classes, or in museum / gallery contexts. We will explore applied theatre strategies for examining and interpreting “performing objects” in order to help us construct our encounters with archival objects or artworks, from the present.

    David Booth, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto.
    2:30 -5:00 Studio C
    A Novel Approach to Drama
    This workshop will explore the Young Adult novel as a source and inspiration for improvised role playing leading to dramatic scene building. This genre of contemporary literature is written especially for our students, and explores issues of coming of age, relationships, social justice, and identity. As teachers, we can use the themes and events in these texts as stimuli for interpreting, exploring and inventing situations and scenarios as a whole class, working in groups and partners, as we construct our scenes into a playmaking conclusion.

    Kathleen Gallagher, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.
    2:30 -5:00 Studio D
    Verbatim Theatre: telling other people’s stories
    Physical, ethical, social, and artistic questions converge at the centre of Verbatim Theatre practice. This session will invite participants to explore and examine some of the techniques and practices that are currently in use, in the evolving genre of Verbatim Theatre. Part story-telling, part composite, part-mimicry, part invention, the work will invite critical discussion about the skills, the social value, and the creative impulses connected to this form of theatre-making. Extending its reach beyond theatre and performance, Verbatim has found a place, too, in social science research. Harnessed to ideas about power relations and ‘collaborative’, multi-vocal, qualitative research practices and forms of dissemination, this genre of theatre further opens up discussions about the ever-expanding defi nitions of research methodology.

    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University
    A free community event, please register for the workshops:
    the-state-of-our-art-symposium-workshops.eventbrite.com
    (Maximum 20 per session)

    for more information download this PDF.

    Please note that limited parking is available at the MIWSFPA for guests and presenters on a first come, first served basis.

    Due to multiple event programming on the evening of Friday, January 26 please allow ample time to find nearby parking.

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    Categories: Events, News, Visiting Artists

  • Dramatic Arts mourns the loss of Katherine Oswald

    Katherine Oswald, a Dramatic Arts student passed away Monday after a battle with cancer. She was an inspiration to us with her dedication to her craft, her courage to live life to the fullest, and her caring nature towards all with whom she worked. The Department of Dramatic Arts and the Brock University community were enriched by her presence and we are fortunate that she chose Brock to share her exuberance for theatre and the performing arts.

    Katherine and fellow cast member Sarah Marks during preshow costuming and make-up for the production of “Gormenghast” in the dressing room at the Marilyn I Walker Theatre, November 2016. Seen in the mirror is student Nicole James, student Propsmaster for the 2016-17 season.

    Mike Griffin, faculty member and director of Gormenghast (MIWSFPA Theatre, November 2016) remembers:

    From the first moment I met Katherine at the DART Invitational she was a shining light. She beamed with excitement to be part of our Department. She was so full of energy and passion for theatre and her spirit was contagious to everyone she came into contact with. She wanted to do everything and was driven like no student I had ever met. She was an absolute pleasure to work with in Gormenghast. I gave her a role that was nothing like she had ever played before and she brought everything in her being to the part of Swelter because that is what Katherine did, everything she did she committed to with the fullness of her heart. In my Commedia class she was vibrant and hilarious. I will never forget her version of Pedrolino. Katherine was an incredible  woman, student, and performer. She was a model student in so many ways, truly inspiring to other students and to me. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with her.

    Katherine performing the role of the mad butcher Swelter in the stage adaption of “Gormenghast” by Mervyn Peake, performed by students in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in November, 2016.

    Faculty and Technical Production Staff in the Department echo Mike’s comments: she will be  remembered as one whose presence lit up a room; a warm-hearted, beautiful and courageous human being, who brought humour, positivity, and determination to everything she did.  She greeted everyone in the hallways with a radiant smile.

    Katherine’s recent and courageous journey to health was documented here:
    www.gofundme.com/katherines-journey-to-health

    Her light went out far too soon.

    See the article in the Brock News.

    Funeral Services are being arranged at Paterson Funeral Home www.pattersonfuneralhome.com in Niagara Falls, at 6062 Main St.

    read the obituary

     

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    Categories: Current Students, News

  • PANTALONE’S PALACE, DART’S First Mainstage for 2017-18, opens October 27!

    Pantalone’s Palace

    Love and power collide in this fun-filled, fast paced physical comedy.

    Written and Directed by Mike Griffin

    Set & Costume Design by: Kelly Wolf
    Lighting Design by Chris Malkowski
    Sound Design by: James McCoy
    Mask Maker: Gina Bastone
    Assistant Direction by: Helena Ciuciura

    Hardworking Columbina just wants to enjoy the majestic Wooers’ Woods in peace after a long day’s work, but the greedy business tycoon Pantalone is scheming. When Columbina discovers his plot to build the biggest casino in the world, she knows she must take action. Armed with her wits and her lovesick friends, she aims to set things right in this fun-filled, fast paced, physical comedy that explores the meeting of contemporary life and classical Commedia dell’Arte.

    When: October 27 – November 4, 2017
    FRIDAY, OCT. 27 & SATURDAY, OCT. 28 at 7:30 pm
    SUNDAY, OCT. 29 at 2:00 pm
    FRIDAY, NOV. 3 at 11:30 am & 7:30 pm
    SATURDAY, NOV. 4 at 7:30 pm

    The Department invites teachers and educators to bring their students to see this exciting new production of Commedia dell’arte.
    Read the Special Invitation to learn more.

    See the article in the Brock News.

    See the teaser video.

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

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    Categories: Events, News, Performance Season, Plays

  • Brock University engages with community at Burlington Performing Arts Centre

    Brock University Dramatic Arts faculty and students engage with young theatre artists and teachers at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre

    This past Tuesday Oct. 17, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts participated in “Career Day – Life in the Theatre Industry” at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. This event welcomed approximately 150 students/teachers from seven different schools and three different district school boards.

    The day consisted of interactive workshops and demonstrations to explore the many diverse careers available in the theatre industry, a live theatrical performance, and the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with representatives and students of the leading college and university programs offering performance and production related theatre courses. It was a great opportunity for students to delve into the vocations of the theatre world in a creative and experiential manner.

    Throughout the day many teachers mentioned how successful the event was and how it fits so successfully into the secondary curriculum.

    The Department of Dramatic Arts looks forward to meeting these young artists again when they apply for future studies at Brock University!

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    Categories: News

  • Brock co-led research to study police training in mental illness

    Dr. Natalie Alvarez, an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts

    (Source: The Brock NewsWednesday, September 13, 2017 | by Cathy Majtenyi)

    It’s the heat of the moment. A person in mental health distress is waving a knife in the air, yelling or screaming or perhaps even silent. A police officer is on the scene.

    What happens next?

    It’s a question that undoubtedly will come up in Toronto police Constable James Forcillo’s appeal trial, which started Monday. Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder for the 2013 shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar.

    It’s also a question that Brock University researchers Natalie Alvarez and Yasmine Kandil are exploring in their research on how to use theatre to train police officers.

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Alvarez, an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts, along with Yasmine Kandil, an assistant professor in Dramatic Arts, are co-leading a study that will create and evaluate the effectiveness of a type of scenario-based police training grounded in problem-based training methods the team refers to as ‘forum scenarios.’

    In forum scenarios, a scene is played out for an audience. The scene is then performed again, but an audience member can step in to intervene by making different choices, creating a different outcome and changing the way a particular issue is viewed or dealt with. It’s a form of teaching and learning that promotes the principles of procedural justice.

    Theatre educators Alvarez and Kandil of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, and Wilfred Laurier forensic psychologist Jennifer Lavoie, alongside their cross-Canada team with specializations in mental illness and de-escalation training, are partnering with the Durham Regional Police and collaborators from the Ontario Police College.

    The federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has awarded the team a $310,960 grant to carry out the four-year study.

    “Experiential learning through forum methods is much more effective in integrating knowledge, being able to apply that knowledge and retain it long term,” says Alvarez. The study builds on Alvarez’s upcoming book that examines the use of immersive simulations in a variety of training and educational contexts.

    Experts involved in the scenarios aim to teach police officers how to recognize behavioural characteristics of various mental illnesses that may present barriers to communication in high-stakes encounters, the impacts and consequences that certain actions will have on the person in crisis, and how to de-escalate volatile situations.

    “We want to recreate situations where the officer perceives a situation where there’s an imminent threat, they’re under extreme stress, and they have to make refined, ethical judgments in that moment of stress,” says Alvarez.

    The team will also address mental health stigmas and misconceptions.

    For Alvarez, the research is not just academic.

    “My oldest sister suffers from schizophrenia and she’s become an advocate for the rights of people living with mental illness,” says Alvarez, adding that her sister frequently gives talks to RCMP officers on the subject.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, Media Releases, News