Current Students

  • 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

  • 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

  • A public lecture in applied theatre with guest speaker Juliana Saxton, Professor Emeritus

    The Department of Dramatic Arts is pleased to invite you to attend a lecture by:

    Juliana Saxton

    Professor Emeritus, Master Teacher, and International Speaker

    “Seeing the World instead of Numbly recognizing it: witnessing & representation in Applied Theatre”
    This lecture examines the means by which embodied representation of “direct speech” may, through the devices of distancing (Eriksson, 2009)/ différance (Derrida, 1963) /ostranenie (Shklovsky, 1917) engage audiences and actors alike in ”seeing the world” in all its ambiguities, more clearly.

    Friday September 22nd 7:30pm
    Marilyn I. Walker Theatre

    Open to the Brock and DART community, and friends.

    Sponsored by the Social Justice Research Institute

    For more information contact: Dr. Yasmine Kandil, ykandil@brocku.ca

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, News

  • Dramatic Arts alumna honoured with Faculty of Humanities Distinguished Graduate Award

    Brock alumna and puppeteer Sarah Argue will be giving a talk about her business at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts on Friday, Sept. 15, before being honoured at the Alumni Recognition Reception on Saturday, Sept. 16 as part of Homecoming weekend.

    (Source: The Brock NewsWednesday, September 13, 2017 | by Alison Innes)

    With a little felt and a lot of talent, Sarah Argue (BA ’06) has created a career for herself in the world of puppetry.

    Through her business, Rock the Arts, the Brock dramatic arts alumna has been touring across Canada with her crew of unique characters sharing shows about compassion, enjoying the little things in life and the power of choice.

    She will return to her alma mater Friday, Sept. 15 to share insight into her professional puppet company. The presentation will take place at 1 p.m. in Studio A of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. All members of the Brock community are invited to attend.

    Argue is in town to receive the Faculty of Humanities Distinguished Graduate Award, to be presented on Saturday, Sept. 16 during the Alumni Recognition Reception held as part of Brock’s Homecoming weekend.

    It has been seven years since Argue launched her successful business after quitting what she described as a “normal job” — working as a program co-ordinator for the City of Ottawa — to pursue her passion.

    She taught herself how to make the felt creations and began taking her show on the road.

    Argue now has a roster of 80 puppets that she uses to perform shows in schools, libraries and theatres. She has also produced a children’s CD and currently has multiple projects on the go, including a film, children’s book and book to support other artists wanting to build their own careers.

    Argue credits the diverse theatre experience she received at Brock — where she performed in The Crucible and directed a Norm Foster play, among other productions — for preparing her for the stage.

    “I didn’t realize at the time what a gift it was,” Argue said of her Brock degree. “I didn’t realize what a well-balanced degree I was getting in theatre.”

    Her time as an undergrad had her touch on lighting, acting, directing and costuming — all beneficial to her career. That experience gave her the confidence to walk into any theatre and comfortably speak to the techs in charge about how her show is set up.

    Argue’s love for creating puppets is matched only by the experience of giving them a voice and watching them evolve into life-like characters.

    Turning her passion into a business hasn’t always been easy, but Argue has relied on the support of other artists. Puppeteer Noreen Young, from Under the Umbrella Tree, has been a mentor to Argue, helping her learn how to pitch to networks and encouraging her to keep going when times get tough.

    Workshops with puppeteer Trish Leeper of Muppets fame have introduced Argue to the idea of puppetry on camera, guiding her toward more film work, including the #IHopeFor awareness campaign for childhood cancer.

    “You need a lot of support from other artists to keep going,” Argue said, while expressing her desire to pay that sentiment forward.

    Carol Merriam, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, said the Faculty is pleased to recognize Argue with the Distinguished Graduate award.

    “The skills that she learned in her studies in dramatic arts and the creativity, enthusiasm and drive that were fostered at Brock have led her to create her own niche,” she said. “Hers is the kind of success we hope and expect from graduates of Brock.”

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, News, Visiting Artists

  • Brock community mourns longtime Dramatic Arts instructor

    (Source: The Brock NewsFriday, April 28, 2017 | by Dan Dakin)

    See below for information about the dedication of the theatre in Burlington.

    A woman who dedicated her life to teaching drama to students of all ages is being remembered by her colleagues, family and friends.

    Helen Zdriluk, who had been an instructor at Brock University for two decades, died Wednesday after a brief illness.

    “She was extremely dedicated to the power of drama in both teaching and performance,” said Professor Joe Norris, Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts. “She lived and breathed drama 24-7 when you consider she taught high school for many years during the day and then came here and taught at least two evenings a week. And she was running an after-school program.”

    Dramatic Arts Associate Professor and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Director David Vivian said the whole school is saddened by the loss.

    “Longtime colleagues will remember Helen for her joyous and industrious leadership in Drama in Education and Applied Theatre, including her Connections projects in the old Studio theatre.”

    Norris said DART Connections was a group of education students who rehearsed and performed plays that dealt with social justice and education issues.

    Zdriluk taught drama at Burlington Central High School and was the owner and artistic director of Centre Stage Theatre School and Productions. In addition to teaching at Brock, she also completed her master’s at the University in 2010.

    The drama in education community has lost one of the most talented, dynamic and authentic educators and practitioners we have ever seen,” said former student Rox Chwaluk. “Helen was my mentor, my friend and colleague. She was fierce, hardworking, witty and passionate about her craft. She was instrumental in my education, provided me opportunities to ignite my passions, and solidified many of my values.”

    Zdriluk is survived by her husband Gerald and children Jennifer and Beth.

    A visitation will be held at Smith’s Funeral Home on Brant St. in Burlington Monday, May 1 from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral service will be held Tuesday, May 2 at 10:30 a.m. Those wishing to make a donation in Helen’s memory are asked to consider the Canadian Cancer Society.

    We are sharing our memories below. If you have any memories you’d like to contribute, please share with us.


    Remembering Helen Zdriluk

    Reflections from Former Brock Students

    “I’ve heard it said
    That people come into our lives for a reason
    Bringing something we must learn
    And we are led
    To those who help us most to grow
    If we let them
    And we help them in return
    Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
    But I know I’m who I am today
    Because I knew you…
    Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
    But because I knew you
    I have been changed for good.” — For Good, Wicked

     

    Most of us met Helen Zdriluk in a classroom at Brock University, maybe ST103, ST105 (affectionately called blue and black – as per the paint colour of the room). Maybe it was ST107 – that hallway with one random non-DART classroom. Once we met Helen — our former instructor, mentor, colleague and friend — we were forever changed. For good.

    Maybe it was by the smile emerging on her face at the end of a particularly interesting question she had just posed to us, that she knew we would need to think hard about before answering. Or the simple, embedded image of her with her hands in her pockets, looking with calculation at our set because we remember that meant we knew she was going to suggest changes we would find annoying (wouldn’t it just be easier if we kept it the same?). And she wouldn’t exactly spare our feelings while delivering the news.

    “This needs work,” she would say in her blunt tone.

    Of course, we also remember, she always ended up being right about them and her directness was only because she cared so much about making us as good as we could be — and that we were infinitely glad we listened to her.

    Maybe it was how when you first met Helen, you could feel like you wanted to drop her class because it was too tough. But then she taught you to check your ego at the door and get past your insecurities, and then you realized you wanted to take all of Helen’s classes, because you wanted to learn — and learn from the best.

    That was Helen.

    Maybe it was when, for all of Helen’s demands on you to be the best student you could be, you suddenly realized that she had even higher ideals.

    That if your mother was suddenly rushed to the hospital and the rest of your family wasn’t nearby, and you were worried about missing a dress rehearsal for a major project because Helen had taught you not to let the group down — and you hated the idea of letting Helen down, the blunt directions would suddenly disappear.

    Instead you’d feel the comfort of her hug that would help ease your tears, as she told you to go home and take care of your family.

    “In that moment, I remember feeling this overwhelming peace come over me,” said Karen McDonald, who still remembers the impact of that hug years later. “I needed that hug, but I didn’t realize it until I got it.

    “That’s who Helen was. She always knew exactly what her students needed even before we did.”

    Helen taught many of us for 3-5 hour-long classes, once a week, usually on a Thursday. We’d learn as the weeks passed by that Helen was determined, passionate, driven, hardworking, creative, supportive, a force, patient, witty, caring, and saucy (in the best way possible).

    We would hear from fellow classmates about the amazing courses she was teaching: Community Theatre (3P07 or 3F77), Children’s Theatre (3P06 or 3F66/3F92), Musical Theatre (3F98), and Production (DART 2P70). These are course codes that we can still remember because they are not numbers to us, but experiences that have shaped us into who we are.

    Some of us had to beg the administration to be in Helen’s classes because they were so popular, and Helen had to request to have more students in her classes. Helen always advocated for us — for our work, for our marks, and for ourselves. Helen saw the potential in all of her students and helped them to see the potential in themselves.

    Her classroom was a place of magic. A place where we would take off our shoes, literally, but also a place where we could ground ourselves, tell stories, and make meaning of our world. Helen believed that theatre was an integral part of every community, and that it was the best way to tell the hardest stories. Stories that no one wanted to hear because they made you uncomfortable, but Helen believed that the best work came from being uncomfortable.

    Helen legitimized what many of us felt — she showed us that “drama” wasn’t just Shakespeare or watching people perform; it could be a tool to teach; a vehicle to work with and within communities; a transformative power for actors and audiences.

    She always asked us “What’s the point?” Helen instilled a sense of purpose that allowed us to balance the process of a production and the result. While she had high standards for the final product — “I’m not putting (garbage) on stage. I would rather cancel the show than put (garbage) on stage” — she had the same low tolerance for people who thought their talent or hard work gave them license to be difficult during the process.

    She was unbelievably smart, passionate and dedicated not only to Dramatic Arts but to sharing that passion through education in the most meaningful ways possible. She wanted to make the world a better place and she wanted to do that through drama — using it as a tool to help people express themselves in the comfort of a character but that allowed them to share their thoughts, fears and insecurities.

    She was fierce, she was sassy, and above all she was passionate about ensuring that the arts continued to be developed and encouraged in the school system and she would put no limitations on pursuing that goal.

    But there was more to Helen than the classroom. Helen was always so busy, always doing something. She barely had time for herself. In between classes, on her break, you would usually see her having a Diet Coke and an egg salad sandwich (which usually one of us picked up for her, as she was too busy supporting students). As a part-time instructor, Helen was also involved in many co-curricular activities, including Brock Connections, a club on campus that focused on using theatre as a tool for education about various social issues.

    As our faculty advisor, she produced and directed The Laramie Project (2007-2008), Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 (2008-2009), Bhopal (2009-2010), Shatter (2010-2011), and Colours in the Storm (2011-2012). We learned about social, and historical issues and were able to take these shows into the Niagara community.

    Helen was our rock. Many of us owe pretty much everything that we have done, and who we have become to Helen. For aspiring teachers, she was the type of teacher that we wanted to be. She had a way of identifying our most triumphant strengths and limiting weaknesses with grace and compassion. She was able to genuinely inspire growth in us because of her keen awareness of them.

    She always knew exactly what her students needed, often even before we did. She supported us in our low points, and celebrated with us in our highs. If she thought you could do better work, she let you know, she challenged you.

    But even when she was dishing out tough love, she followed it up with a smile, and a healthy dose of encouragement. She took the time to get to know each of us personally, to understand our goals, and then to find or create a way to connect us to the community so that we could achieve them.

    Helen never doubted us for a second. She was quick to give us advice, but we think the most important advice she gave us was that we were fully capable and that she knew we had the skills to put on a great show. We felt her acceptance for all of us as individuals, especially for all of our unique talents and experiences. That was one of the most beautiful things about Helen, her ability to see beyond a student’s cover and see what they could be.

    She pushed and she challenged, she called you out when you needed it and she made you a better team member because of it. The belief and trust she had in us when we doubted ourselves is one of the most important lessons we learned from her, and every day we try to put that same belief and trust into those around us.

    Most of us think about Helen often in our daily lives. Many of us have gone on to teaching careers. We thank Helen for the opportunities we were given in our program. Many of the skills and teaching methods we use were learned directly through her.

    The Drama in Education Community has lost one of the most talented, dynamic, and authentic educators and practitioners we have ever seen. There is a sense of sadness to know that so many future educators will not have the opportunity to learn through Helen, but there is some comfort in knowing her methods and teachings will be passed on to the next generation through all of us.

    She built herself an army of her endearing students to go out into the world and provide arts education by any means necessary, and that is the legacy that she leaves behind her.

    But as they say, the show must go on. And Helen is sitting front row, smiling.

    “She was a force, and how could a force like that be stopped? The answer is that it can’t,” Rebecca Durance Hine said. “What she accomplished in her life, the lives she touched, the people she changed, all of that will continue in her place. She will never, ever be forgotten, and the effects of her life will continue to be seen for a very long time.

    “You are wonderful Helen, simply wonderful, and I hope that you rest in peace knowing the difference your life made in the lives of so many.”

    “The greatness of a teacher can be measured not by what someone can achieve, but by what they thought they couldn’t achieve.” — Helen Zdriluk

    Article contributors:

    Brandon Pachan
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Drama in Education, 2011; Bachelor of Education, 2012

    Celine Allen
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Applied Theatre, 2011.

    Connie McDougall
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Drama in Education (2008-2013)

    Dorothy Kane
    Bachelor of Science (Honours) Biological Sciences, With First-Class Standing, Minor in Dramatic Arts, 2012; Bachelor of Education, 2012

    Jayne Laari
    Bachelor of Arts (3 Year) in General Studies, 2010

    Jess Straus
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Child and Youth Studies and Psychology, 2011

    Jordan Tucker
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Integrated Studies, With First-Class Standing, Minor in English Language and Literature, 2012; Bachelor of Education, 2012

    Kaitlyn Welch
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, 2010; Bachelor of Education, 2011

    Kanthan Annalingam
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Performance, 2013

    Karen McDonald
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Drama in Education and Society Stream, 2012

    Katherine Gottli
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, With First-Class Standing, 2010
    Master of Education, Teaching, Learning and Development, 2013

    Kathy Cavaleri
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, With First-Class Standing, 2012; Bachelor of Education, 2013

    Lescia Poppe
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, With First-Class Standing, Concentration in Drama in Education, 2012; Bachelor of Education, 2013

    Matt DaCosta
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Drama in Education, 2012; Bachelor of Education, 2013

    Meaghan Lugsdin
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, 2009; B Bachelor of Education, 2010

    Meaghan McKeag
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Drama in Education, 2013

    Patrick Monaghan
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, Drama in Education and Society Stream, 2011; Bachelor of Education, 2012

    Rachael Bason (Verschoor)
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, With First-Class Standing, Concentration in Drama in Education (Co-op Option), Minor in History, 2013;
    Bachelor of Education, 2014

    Rebecca Durance Hine
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, With First-Class Standing, Drama in Education and Society Stream, 2010; Bachelor of Education, 2014

    Rox Chwaluk
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, With First-Class Standing, Drama In Education and Society Stream, 2009; Bachelor of Education, 2010; Master of Education, Social and Cultural Contexts of Education, 2013

    Whitney Shantz (Lee)
    Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Dramatic Arts, With First-Class Standing, 2011; Bachelor of Education, 2011


    Notice of the dedication of a theatre in honour of our departed Department of Dramatic Arts colleague, Helen Zdriluk:

    Burlington, Thursday October 05, 2017

    Dear Friends, Colleagues, Alumni and Family
    It has now been several months since the passing of Helen Zdriluk, an educational icon whose loss continues to weigh heavily on all of our hearts. However, due in no small part to her unparalleled commitment to Burlington Central and the Arts, I am happy to say that Helen’s memory and influence continues to reverberate in our great building, helping to inspire future
    generations of students at BCHS.

    Now you may already be aware that over the last few months many groups have rallied to pay tribute to Helen’s legacy in a variety of ways , including the creation of the Helen Zdriluk Memorial Fund for the Performing Arts, which will be
    administered by the Burlington Community Foundation.

    Well through some of those discussions another idea began to take root and with the support and blessing of Helen’s
    Family, we at Central could think of no tribute more fitting than the renaming of the auditorium to the Helen Zdriluk Memorial Theatre.

    With that process now complete we would like to cordially invite you to share in the honour of officially dedicating the theatre in Helen’s name (details below).

    Helen Zdriluk Memorial Theatre Dedication Ceremony
    Date: Thursday, October 5th, 2017
    Location: Burlington Central H.S. Auditorium (1433 Baldwin St.,
    Burlington)
    Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm (dedication at 7:15pm, social to follow)
    Please RSVP to Lynn Jones if you plan to attend.
    (phone:905-634-7768 or email:jonesly@hdsb.ca )

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Return to the Nile: a newcomer’s journey

    “Return to the Nile: a newcomer’s journey” was performed this morning by a group of six students who have studied Applied Theatre. They teamed up with Dr. Yasmine Kandil to interview and engage with six immigrant and refugee participants from the Niagara Folk Arts Centre.

    There are two more performances at the MIWSFPA this Friday and Saturday at 6 pm.

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

  • Escape room with a historical twist

    (Source: The St. Catharines Standard, Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | by Bob Tymczyszyn)

    Niagara Falls is about to gain another escape room site, but this one comes with a twist.

    In the basement of the Niagara Military Museum on Victoria Avenue, Brock University students are busy readying for live testing as they prepare for launch at the end of the summer.

    Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Natalie Alvarez said the idea was just by chance. “I phoned the Niagara Military Museum just to investigate to see the possibility of taking my students through a tour, and through a conversation, I found out they were interested in developing escape rooms.”

    “As a professor of dramatic arts it occurred to me that this was a very rare opportunity to have students in the department of dramatic arts collaborate with students in interactive arts and science bringing their two specializations together, skills in directing, scriptwriting, acting, props and set design with students that were refining their skills in interactive narrative, puzzle, and cipher building.”

    Alvarez says the half-term course of 13 weeks is completely devoted to creating escape rooms designed to the site’s history.

    The site was formed in 1911 as an armoury and used during the First World War then later used for social functions before becoming a museum.

    She explained that one of the room designs is tapping into factual events that unfolded on the site.“And the cold war room is tapping into its latent cold war history,” said Alvarez.

    “In a way, this is an escape room that isn’t just an escape room. It’s bridging other traditions of immersive performance and site-specific theatre, we’re straddling all those traditions and hence this collaboration of disciplines.”

    Museum vice-president Berndt Meyer said this form of escape room is bringing history to a generation, through the subterfuge of play.

    “There are a lot of static displays at every museum, but this one brings it into context,” he said.

    “Because we have real stories that took place here. This place is full of history.”

    Students in the control room monitored the progress of teams in the two rooms, and as the clocks ticked closer to the hour, they were hoping someone would find enough clues to set their way to freedom.

    After several run-throughs, no one had yet escaped in the allotted time.

    Tynan Manuel, one of the room designers, said it’s meant to be hard.

    “Most of the time in escape rooms you go in, and you will fail.“

    “Getting out is great, getting close is still a great feeling.”

    (See the original article at the St. Catharines Standard to watch the featured video on the escape room!)

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

  • Brock escape rooms at Niagara Military Museum ready for testing

    (Source: The Brock NewsThursday, April 13, 2017 | by )

    Two new escape rooms carefully crafted by Brock University students are undergoing final testing while readying for their public debut.

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts and Interactive Arts and Science students have been working since January to create the physical adventure games through a partnership with the Niagara Military Museum in Niagara Falls.

    The interactive experience sees players locked in a series of rooms and challenged to solve puzzles in exchange for their freedom as they race against the clock.

    Brock University Dramatic Arts and Interactive Arts and Science students have been working since January to create two escape rooms in the Niagara Military Museum in Niagara Falls.

    A group of about 30 students worked at the Victoria Avenue museum throughout the winter term to develop each aspect of the rooms, from the costumes to the puzzles to the props and sets.

    The building, which dates back to 1911 and was once used as an armoury, inspired the historical First World War and Cold War escape room themes.

    The rooms are unique in that they include live actors who guide players through the narrative.

    “That’s how students hope to differentiate their rooms within Niagara’s escape room market,” said Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Natalie Alvarez, who was the driving force behind the experiential education project.

    “I’m really hoping this will be a niche for students.”

    Students are now working to test the rooms and will be evaluated on their work during an upcoming live testing event on Tuesday, April 18.

    In attendance to evaluate the rooms will be representatives from Casa Loma’s escape room team, Canadian author and historian Christian Cameron, curator Kathleen Powell and archivist Alicia Floyd of the St. Catharines Museum, and Brock University faculty.

    The escape rooms are set to open to the public at the end of May at a cost of roughly $25 per person.

    Brock University Dramatic Arts and Interactive Arts and Science students have been working since January to create two escape rooms in the Niagara Military Museum in Niagara Falls.

    Proceeds will assist in the maintenance and continued operation of the museum.

    “It’s meant to leave a lasting mark on Niagara tourism, helping to make the museum more sustainable,” Alvarez said, while expressing gratitude to museum operators Jim and Kathy Doherty for their ongoing support.

    “It’s been really rewarding to see the students form what I hope will be a lasting relationship with the museum,” she said.

    Students will have the opportunity to remain at the helm of the escape rooms going forward, first on a voluntary basis and then potentially in paid positions if the rooms become financially viable.

    The museum’s partnership with Brock was made possible through a cultural development grant provided by the City of Niagara Falls, as well as a service-learning grant provided by the University.

    Students who created the escape rooms will be doing a takeover of Brock’s Snapchat account on the afternoon of April 18 when the escape room testing takes place. To follow along and view behind-the-scenes footage, add brockuni to Snapchat.

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

  • Humanities students partner with Falls museum on escape rooms

    (Source: The Brock NewsTuesday, January 17, 2017 | by . Photo: Brock University Dramatic Arts and Interactive Arts and Science students are developing two escape rooms in partnership with the Niagara Military Museum. Students are in the initial stages of the project and have been brainstorming the path the two rooms will take.)

     

    They’re planning a great escape from a 100-year-old building.

    Brock University Dramatic Arts and Interactive Arts and Science students have come together for an innovative project that in a few months will open for the public to experience.

    Throughout the winter term a group of nearly 30 students will work to create two escape rooms at the Niagara Military Museum in Niagara Falls.

    The physical adventure games, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, lock players in a room — or in this case a series of rooms — and challenge them to solve puzzles in exchange for their freedom.

    The museum’s partnership with Brock was made possible through a cultural development grant provided by the City of Niagara Falls, as well as a service-learning grant provided by the University.

    Work on the project began Jan. 10 with students touring the Victoria Avenue museum, learning its background and brainstorming the direction the escape rooms will take.

    The building, which dates back to 1917 and was used as an armoury in the First World War, has an “incredible history,” said Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Natalie Alvarez, who was the driving force behind Brock’s involvement.

    That history, which includes an “infamous escape” by Austrian spy George Heinovitch, will act as inspiration for the stories students are planning to tell through the project, she said.

    “They’re going to build an escape room that tries to uncover that history.”

    Students will be responsible for each aspect of the project, including the narrative, puzzles, costumes, props and sets.

    “We’re building it from the ground up, tapping into my students’ expertise in costume design, directing, acting and scriptwriting,” Alvarez said.

    It was also a natural fit to include Interactive Arts and Science students and their skills with interactive narrative, game structure and puzzle building.

    “Escape rooms are this interesting hybrid of different theatre traditions,” Alvarez said.

    “It’s immersive performance. It’s kind of like a living museum. It’s also tapping into site-specific theatre, where you build a theatre piece that’s intimately attached to the site itself and its own history.”

    The escape rooms will be ready for testing by an invited audience April 4.

    “The assessment is going to be entirely in the hands of those experiencing it,” Alvarez said. It will include museum personnel as well as members of Brock’s Service-Learning Resource Centre.

    Museum operators have created a rubric based on what they hoped to see accomplished through the project and students will be evaluated accordingly.

    The escape rooms will go live to the public in May at a cost of $20 per person.

    Proceeds will assist in the maintenance and continued operation of the museum.

    Students will have the opportunity to remain at the helm of the escape rooms going forward, first on a voluntary basis and then potentially in paid positions if the rooms become financially viable.

    “That’s the incentive for them to build the social media machine to advertise it and get people out to experience it,” Alvarez said, adding she’s seen “100 per cent investment” from the students involved.

    She credited Brock for investing in such an innovative approach and nurturing the University’s connection with the community.

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    Categories: Current Students, In the Media, News

  • Brock students on the Royal Botanical Garden stage

    (Source: The Brock NewsMONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2016 | by . Photo: “Performers in Midsummer Night’s Dream playing at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. Back left: John Wamsley, Zach Parsons, Jesse Horvath, Sean McLelland, Caitlin Popek, Nicole James and Dana Morin. Front left: Trevor Copp, Sean Rintoul, Claudia Spadafora, Michael Hannigan and Alma Sarai.”)

    A troupe of Brock University students is putting their dramatic arts talents to work this summer.

    Tottering Biped Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – on now at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton – features a number of familiar Brock faces.

    The production, held at the newly opened David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden, has been three years in the making. Director and Brock drama instructor Todd Copp says his goal is to offer local opportunities to recent theatre grads.

    “We’ve noticed the difficulty emerging artists have here in getting off the ground and we lose artistic talent to Toronto and further cities every year as a result,” he says on the production’s Facebook page. “In casting this piece, we searched this area’s post secondary theatre programs for the most talented senior students/recent graduates – and offered them paid theatre work. It’s unprecedented in our area.”

    The production links young actors with more experienced ones, teaching the next generation of actors that they don’t need to move away to pursue their passion.

    A number of recent and current Brock drama students are involved on the stage and behind the scenes including Sean McClelland, Sean Rintoul, Caitlin Popek, Nicole James and Dana Morin.

    Nicole James, who is pursuing her BA in dramatic arts with a concentration in production and design, is the production’s stage manager and embraces the challenge of managing a nine-person cast. She works with assistant stage manager and fellow Brock student, Dana Morin.

    James credits Carolyn Mackenzie’s stage management course for giving her the skills she needs for the job.

    “I have the privilege to work professionally in the theatre,” she says. “It’s so obvious that the instructors at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Dramatic Arts department actually care and are invested in the education of every single student.”

    Copp was an instructor with Brock’s Dramatic Arts program in 2016 and is the artistic director of Burlington’s Tottering Biped Theatre. Founded in 2009, the company is inspired by social justice. They have toured regionally and internationally.

    “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs August 10-14 and 17-21 at RBG Rock Garden 1185 York Blvd, Hamilton. Performances start at 7 p.m.; tickets are available at http://tickets.rbg.ca/PEO/default.asp.

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    Categories: Alumni, Current Students, In the Media, News