Current Students

  • Dramatic Arts criticism course returning to in-person theatre

    Image caption: Students in DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism will be experiencing a variety of live productions this summer after two years of digital offerings.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022 | by 

    After two years of viewing performances online, Brock University students learning the art of theatre criticism will experience indoor, in-person theatre at the celebrated Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre.

    DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism is an online intensive Summer Term course run between July 11 and 22, bolstered by field trips to see live productions at Canada’s leading theatre companies.

    Taught by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for The Toronto Star, the course introduces students to the practical craft of theatre criticism and dives into the theoretical background of the discipline.

    Fricker said that after two years of running the course during the pandemic and having students review digital theatre exclusively, it will be thrilling to view live productions again.

    “Both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals have full indoor seasons this year and I’m looking forward to bringing the course to shows there,” she said. “We’re setting up some post-show talks so that students will be able to ask questions about the productions they’ve seen with the artists who made them.”

    Stratford Festival is welcoming back audiences beginning in May with a season theme of ‘New Beginnings’ and featuring plays such as Hamlet and Little Women and the musical Chicago. The largest classical repertory theatre in North America celebrates a its milestone 70th year in 2022.

    Shaw Festival Theatre, in its 60th season, will feature 13 plays across three stages in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Productions include The Importance of Being EarnestEverybody and The Doctor’s Dilemma.

    After seeing productions, students will write and discuss responses to them and learn about alternative, digital, performative and visual forms of critical response, while engaging with theatre culture.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website. Students interested in learning more about the course are encouraged to contact Fricker at kfricker@brocku.ca

    Learn more about the 2022 seasons at Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre online.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, News, Plays, Uncategorised

  • Brock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

    Image caption: Dramatic Arts Mainstage actor Yasmine Agocs rehearses a scene from the upcoming production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich, opening Friday, March 4 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Originally published MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2022 in The Brock News | by 

    Through an epic journey on a beloved red bicycle, an 11-year-old girl reflects on the small town she sees before her, taking audiences along for the ride. Venturing to the outer edges of town and encountering challenges unlike any she has ever experienced, she must face her fears to see the world in a new way.

    The Brock University spring 2022 Mainstage production of Red Bike brings the poetic words of celebrated playwright Caridad Svich to life with an exhilarating performance exploring movement, physical theatre and puppetry.

    Dramatic Arts student and Red Bike cast member Arnelle Douglas in
    rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    The show runs March 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 6 and 12 at 2 p.m. at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    The production’s unique style of fractured storytelling explores diverse themes as seen through the eyes of a child, including capitalism, consumerism, gentrification, globalization, immigration and isolation. Director and Dramatic Arts Instructor Mike Griffin was drawn to the play because of its whimsical nature.

    “While reading the play, I became a kid again; running out of the house to go on adventures down the street. Red Bike is the perfect balance of getting lost in imagination while reflecting on society,” he said.

    One of six actors in the all-female cast, fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Asenia Lyall said the unique script and dialogue provided her with a valuable opportunity to explore her creativity.

    “Being a part of Red Bike meant working with a small cast to tell a complicated and wonderful story in an unconventional way,” she said. “Learning how to perform this kind of script is a great opportunity for me as an actor. Embracing the abstraction and surrealism of the piece is something I’ve learned from.” While the cast and crew faced various challenges mounting the show during a pandemic, both the director and actors feel there was a silver lining.

    “We have bonded together as a community to create something fantastic,” Griffin said. “For me, the community that emerges out of the creative process is the reason that I keep doing theatre.”
    Lyall agreed, adding that creating theatre during the pandemic has taught her how to be flexible as an artist.

    “There is a real sense of humanity in this play, with a lot of exciting moments and big reveals that I think audiences will enjoy,” she said.

    The MIWSFPA will welcome a live audience for the production to the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the downtown arts campus in St. Catharines. In the interest of student and audience member safety, the theatre is operating at a reduced capacity with 120 seats available for each performance.

    Tickets are $20 for the public, $16 for youth and seniors and $15 for Brock students. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

    All visitors to Brock University and MIWSFPA must complete the Brock University Self-Screening Tool.

    The all-female cast of the upcoming Brock University production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich includes (from left) Asenia Lyall, Arnelle Douglas, Yasmine Agocs, Joanna Tran, Abby Malcolm and Sarah Row.

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

  • Performing arts production professionals bring ‘real world’ experience to MIWSFPA students

    The MIWSFPA welcomes leaders in live performance production and company operations for two presentations about challenges and opportunities in the field, bringing ‘real world’ experience to STAC/DART 3P93 students.

    All are welcome to a maximum of 17 guests. Bring your questions!
    Please contact stac@brocku.ca if you wish to reserve a seat (walk-in’s welcome as capacity allows).

    EVENT INFORMATION:

     

    Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event
    Kathleen Ross, Director of Operations, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
    Tuesday, February 8, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

    Kathleen will be discussing the topic of Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event, addressing such topics as: selecting a site; space requirements – production (staging layouts, technical requirements, load in/load out requirements, broadcasting, or other capabilities); audience capacity (seating capacity and layout, accessibility, parking, transit); front of house requirements (staffing, box office, food and beverage options and costs); legal and safety issues.

    Kathleen Ross is an experienced operations professional with a focus on the most valuable asset…our human capital. She has an extensive history of working in government administration and entertainment industries, and is skilled in Emergency Procedures, Human Resources Management, Disability Management, Special Events and Entertainment.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) is a 95,000 square foot academic and  cultural complex, located in downtown St. Catharines, comprised of four performance venues:  Partridge Hall  (770 seats), Recital Hall (304 seats), Robertson Theatre (flexible black box space) and The Film House (199 seats). Located adjacent to the MIWSFPA, Brock University students attend courses and perform at the PAC.

     

     

    Production Priorities
    Kate Leathers, General Manager, Carousel Players.
    Tuesday, February 15, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

     

    Kate will be discussing Production Priorities, including such topics such as: The roles and responsibilities associated with various productions; co-ordination of creative and production priorities and requirements; production planning, contracting, legal, safety and human resources issues; consideration of planning a safe event in re-opening theatres (Covid-19).

    Kate Leathers has worked in the cultural sector for more than 20 years. She has held a variety of roles ranging from administrator to production technician and worked at dozens of theatres including the Shaw Festival and more across Canada. She has an MBA in Strategic Marketing. Currently Kate is planning Carousel Players’ 50th Anniversary Festival that will take place regionally over three days.

    Carousel Players present inspiring and creative plays for children ages five to 15 in schools, community venues, and performing arts centres across Southern Ontario. The company has also toured nationally to theatres and festivals in Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, and as far away as England and Japan.

    About STAC/DART 3P93 – Producing a Performance Event

    STAC/DART 3P93 introduces students to the commitment, hard work, and collaboration required to plan and execute a performance event. Students have the opportunity to bring their practical and leadership skills to work with their peers as a team to replicate a professional experience, including financial, organizational, communication and technical roles. In 2022 this course is taught by Jill Planche, PhD. Jill has a professional background in marketing and fundraising for theatre, opera, film and visual arts, including the Shaw Festival, TIFF and the McMichael Gallery.

    Please note: All Brock University COVID-19 protocols and vaccination policies apply. For more information, please visit Brock’s Coronavirus webpage.

     

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, News, Uncategorised, Visiting Artists

  • Audition and Casting Workshop for DART students, faculty and staff

    AUDITION AND CASTING WORKSHOP FOR DART STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF

    EVENT UPDATE: The Department regrets that the ongoing Brock University COVID-19 mitigation strategy requires that we pause our planned event: WCL Audition and Casting Workshop, with Kimberley Rampersad and Marcel Stewart, originally scheduled for Nov 28, 2021 and rescheduled for January 23, 2022. Please monitor your emails for forthcoming information about the learning, research, and presentations we will continue in our series on Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training.

    Event Information:

    In this day-long event, Kimberley Rampersad and Marcel Stewart will lead workshops in equitable and safe audition and casting processes.The event is open to current DART students, faculty, and staff who have the option to attend as observers or as active participants in a mock-audition process.

    Those who wish to actively participate by auditioning are asked to have a two-minute monologue prepared. If there are more people wanting to audition than we have time to accommodate, we will draw names for those who will audition.

    Kimberley Rampersad is an actor, choreographer, director, and associate artistic director of the Shaw Festival.
    Marcel Stewart is an actor, writer, director, and arts educator.

    Registration closes Friday, Nov. 19

    REGISTER HERE: https://forms.office.com/r/MB1S7LNQNy

    This event is part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leaders series “Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training” presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts.

     

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  • BIPOC theatre leaders to discuss new industry approaches at Brock event

    Theatre leaders participating in the upcoming Brock discussion panel include (top row, from left) Haui, Carmen Alatorre, (centre, from left) Shanna Miller, Samantha McCue, Wladimiro A. Woyno R., (bottom row, from left) Giselle Clarke-Trenaman and Kat Chin.

    Originally published in The Brock News Wednesday, | NOVEMBER 10, 2021 | by 

    Prominent Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Canadian theatre production and design professionals will come together to discuss recent experiences in their fields and new strategies in production at an upcoming Brock University digital panel.

    This is the second event presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART)  in a new series as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL Series), “Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training.” The series is organized by DART Professors Karen Fricker and David Vivian with longtime instructor Carolyn Mackenzie.

    “Industry Panel with BIPOC Canadian Theatre Artists” will take place Monday, Nov. 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Zoom. The Brock and wider community are invited to attend and asked to register ahead of time on the Zoom registration page.

    Moderating the panel is Giselle Clarke-Trenaman, Production Co-ordinator at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver and creator of Black History Matters, an educational program addressing gaps in Black history in elementary schools.

    Panelists include Haui, a mixed media director and designer working in theatre, opera and film; Samantha McCue, an Anishinaabekwe and Ned’u’ten theatre professional based in Ottawa; Carmen Alatorre, a Latinx artist and theatre designer based in Vancouver; Kat Chin, a Toronto-based stage manager who has worked across Canada, off-Broadway and at the Palace of Versailles; Shanna Miller, the Technical Director at Young Peoples Theatre; and Wladimiro A. Woyno R., a live performance designer and Assistant Professor of Theatre Production and Design at School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University.

    The panel will cover a range of topics, from how to bring more BIPOC artists to the theatre industry and cultivate new audiences, to the use of technology and how the pandemic has affected the performing arts industry.

    “We’ve invited these important artists from diverse fields of Canadian theatre design and production to share their journeys of the past 20 months and to encourage our students with the vision and passion that informs their professional practice,” said Vivian.

    “Whether through the lens of anti-racism, decolonization, accessibility or the drive for professional and economic sustainability, this evening promises a vivid invitation to join progressive voices for change in live performance and theatre production in Canada.”

    The third and final event in the DART WCL series is a daylong Casting and Audition workshop on Sunday, Nov. 28 for DART students, staff and faculty. This closing event will be led by Kimberley Rampersad, actor, choreographer, director and Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival; and Marcel Stewart, actor, writer, director and arts educator.

    To learn more, please visit the WCL Series website.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised, Visiting Artists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    See the feature article by DART alumna Holly Hebert and featuring the voices of some of the students involved in the show, photos by VISA student Julie Luth and DART’s own Edgar Harris at dartcritics.com/2021/10/29/from-purgatory-to-purgatory-welcome-the-last-days-of-judas-iscariot/

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

  • Brock series to address transformation, adaptation in Canadian theatre

    Image caption: Mike Payette (left), Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, and Philip Akin (right), former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, will take the virtual stage on Monday, Sept. 20, reflecting on changes in the Canadian theatre industry as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 | by 

    A panel of prominent Black Canadian theatre leaders will explore the industry’s evolving landscape during an upcoming community discussion hosted by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The webinar, “Black Canadian Theatre Leadership: Embracing Transformation and Adaptation,” takes place Monday, Sept. 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is the first presentation of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL Series).

    The online event will feature panelists Philip Akin, former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, and Mike Payette, Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, with moderator Luke Reece, Associate Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre. Registration is required through the Zoom webinar page.

    The speakers and moderator will reflect on changes in Canadian theatre in recent years, with a focus on the artistic missions of theatre organizations. Discussion points will include how the panelists have approached season planning within existing and evolving organizational missions and how programming can bring in the audiences they intend to cultivate.

    This is the first of three presentations in a new series launched by DART called Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training. The series will run throughout the academic year and is supported by the WCL fund.

    “This fall’s Walker Cultural Leader program follows on from DART’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) Speaker Series last year and intends to build on its momentum,” said DART Associate Professor Karen Fricker, who co-organizes the series with DART sessional instructor Carolyn Mackenzie and DART Associate Professor David Vivian. “We are excited to welcome this intergenerational group of Black theatre leaders for our first event. This is an all-star panel.”

    The WCL Series celebrates the legacy and vision of Marilyn I. Walker and her contributions to Brock University’s Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). Through her generous gift, the four academic programs at the MIWSFPA invite recognized cultural leaders, top researchers, artists, scholars, musicians and theatre professionals to contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the School and the Niagara region.

    To learn more about upcoming WCL Series events, please visit the website.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • DART Orientation + Dance Party 2021

    Hey DART! You are invited! Join DART students, faculty, and staff for the:

    DART ORIENTATION + DANCE PARTY 2021
    TUESDAY SEPT. 14, 2021, 6-7 PM

    Outdoors in the courtyard between the Marilyn I. Walker School and the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre (The Mann Raceway Plaza).

    At this festive gathering, you’ll meet the departmental faculty, staff, and fellow students. This meeting is for all – especially for first- and second-year students, who we’ve not been able to welcome to the department in person yet.
    No RSVP necessary.

    Masks required; Brock vaccination policies apply.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, Uncategorised

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

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

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Performance Season, Plays, Shaw Intern Blog, Uncategorised

  • Dramatic Arts grad receives textile award for creative work in costuming

    Dramatic Arts graduate Avery Delaney was honoured with the Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for 2021 for her outstanding, creative use of textiles.

    Originally published in The Brock News on FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2021 | by 

    When Dramatic Arts (DART) graduate Avery Delaney began her studies at Brock, she never dreamed she would find her calling behind the scenes in wardrobe — especially in theatrical cobblery.

    But that’s where Delany, who graduated June 18 during Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation, found her stride.

    She was recently recognized with the 2021 Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for her creative talent and skilled use of textiles. Presented to a graduating student at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) who shows outstanding work in textiles for artistic expression, the annual award provides recipients with financial support for continuing education or professional development.

    Delaney always had a desire to pursue teaching and performance, but a second-year course in stage production and crewing changed the course of her academic journey when she began working in the MIWSFPA costume shop under the guidance of Roberta Doylend, Head of Wardrobe.

    Inspired by her love of fashion and design, Delaney began working on costumes for the 2018 DART fall mainstage production of the Greek tragedy Antigone. She assisted Doylend with building and repairing costumes for the production which premiered in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Antigone was such a physically demanding show that there were many problems with the actor’s shoes,” Delany said. “Roberta and I had to figure out a solution, and I took on the task of working on the shoes.”

    Gaining “confidence by doing,” Delaney discovered her love of theatrical cobblery and the costume shop environment. In her third-year, she got a job working with Doylend assisting with DART productions. During this time, Delaney’s creative exploration with textiles blossomed as she experimented with new materials and methods.

    Delaney came to view cobblery and working on shoes as her own creative world with the space to try out new techniques and take chances.

    “MIWSFPA staff did an incredible job facilitating this kind of hands-on learning,” she said.

    Doylend explained how Marilyn I. Walker created the award to celebrate a student’s passion for art and creativity.

    “Watching Avery thrive in the costume shop and find her love of theatrical cobbling in her four years at the MIWSFPA makes her the perfect candidate to have received this award,” Doylend said.

    Delaney continued her costuming work on the DART mainstages, building and repairing costumes for the various shows. She began experimenting with painting leather and working with new textiles to create different types of shoes and boots.

    As part of her coursework, she was the Head Dresser on Orlando, the 2019 fall mainstage production. She co-ordinated all the footwear for the show, made a costume for Sasha (played by fellow DART student Sid Malcolm) and assisted the second-year production students during the build of the show.

    “Following our pivot to remote collaboration and online transmission during the past year of the pandemic, I commend Avery for her perseverance and excellent work for the two graduating students’ productions: as Costume Designer for Concord Floral and Head of Wardrobe for Ouroboros,” said Associate Professor, Scenographer and DART Acting Chair David Vivian. “These polished online productions were a vivid testament to the deep skills of creative collaboration and technical production that our graduates are carrying forth into their post-graduation futures.”

    In addition to her studies at the MIWSFPA, Delaney spent time working with the Boot and Shoe Specialist at the Shaw Festival Theatre, Brock DART alumna Sadie Ducroix (BA ’10). Delaney shadowed the professional cobbler as she worked on the Shaw’s 2019 production of Brigadoon, and even painted some of the shoes herself.

    Delaney’s acting and costuming skills collided when she both performed in and worked on Perdita or The Winter’s Tale, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic (adapted by Gyllian Raby) performed in spring 2020. Delaney played Florizel and worked in wardrobe helping with bouquets and dresses for the show.

    As a designer and actor, she was able to draw on her knowledge of both disciplines to understand the best materials and comfort for costumes and shoes.

    “One interest informs the other,” Delaney said. “By allowing my passions to bleed together, I was constantly learning new things.

    “The passion I have now, I am grateful to Roberta for. It has been life-changing; I have discovered what I want to pursue as a career and unleashed my passion for this craft,” she said.

    “I am happy to have been here to spark her interest and help her follow her dream,” Doylend said. “Now that she has graduated, Avery is continuing her study of this very specialized field and will love her career in theatre as an integral part of a costume team.”

    Supported by the Department of Dramatic Arts, Vivian and Doylend, Delaney is set to attend a four-day intensive shoemaking course this fall at Off the Wall at the Stratford Artists Alliance, a centre for excellence in theatre production arts education in Stratford, Ont.

    Next year, Delaney will attend a boot and shoemaking course at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She will continue to study her craft as she embarks on her professional career in costuming with a specialization in cobblery, but notes that she still aspires to be on stage.

    Performing will always be important to Delaney and she would like to find a healthy balance of her passions.

    “My love of performance informs my work in costuming and shoemaking. I have an appreciation for both sides of it, on and off the stage,” she said.

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