Current Students

  • Joining us for your first year of studies? Interested in a DART minor or elective?

    Welcome to Brock University for September 2020!

    The Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts, Dr. David Fancy, welcomes you!
    Watch the brief video (also posted on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel.)

    Minor in Dramatic Arts!

    Students in other disciplines may obtain a Minor in Dramatic Arts by successfully completing the following courses with a minimum 60 percent overall average.  You begin with courses in Praxis (Introduction to Theatre and Performance, and Performance as Cultural Practice I), or Drama in Education and Applied Theatre, or Performance and Production and Design, and then select three credits from the entire catalog of DART courses.  Be sure to check for prerequisites!

    -DART 1P91 and 1P92, or DART 1P94 and 1P95, or DART 1P97 and 1P99

    -three DART credits

    If you are seeking information about the courses at Dramatic Arts during this
    autumn of the covid-19 pandemic, check out this google doc advising sheet.
    You do not require a google account to read the document.

    click on the image to open the google doc

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  • DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors, now available ONLINE

    [including content from an article published in The Brock News on TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020 | by ]

    Enliven your TikTok feed, gain the confidence of your own creativity, study acting with the Department of Dramatic Arts!

    The switch to online learning is offering Brock University’s Dramatic Arts students new ways of exploring their craft.

    download 2 portrait posters in pdf

    “We’re making some exciting changes to DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors,” says Professor David Fancy. “We’re using this opportunity to build a course that we can also share with students who have to work remotely in the future.”

    The course, which Fancy describes as “extreme monologuing,” is designed to help students discover the underlying principles of acting. Students will explore the actor’s process, including awareness, stimulus, impulse, intention and action. Exercises will help students become aware of their ingrained habits and develop playfulness and vitality.

    “We’ve drawn on expertise from actor trainers around the globe,” says Fancy, who has been working on a series of videos featuring professional actors being led through drama exercises. The course consists of 24 modules involving video, reading, and writing.

    Performance submissions (in the form of three separate monologues throughout the course) will be made to the teaching team by video, and there are no specific class times. You can proceed at your own pace though the course during the month-long duration (July). The instructor will be available regularly by phone or video to provide assistance as necessary.

    The course is offered online, July 2-29, 2020.  Please register before July 1, 2020

    For more information: David Fancy dfancy@brocku.ca

    download 2 landscape posters in pdf

     

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

  • Announcing DART 3P94: Theatre Criticism, an Online Intensive beginning June 2

    [edited on May 25 reflecting the continuing closure of theatre around the world and with content from an article published in The Brock News on TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020 | by ]

    DART 3P94: Theatre Criticism
    Online intensive, June 2-12, 2020

    DART 3P94: Theatre Criticism is a new course that introduces students to the practical craft of and the theoretical background to theatre criticism. The activity of the course is divided between seeing productions and writing reviews of them; workshopping these reviews with the instructor and classmates; editing the reviews towards assessed submission, and eventual possible publication on a dedicated course blogsite; reading and discussing relevant academic and journalistic articles about criticism; and learning about alternative, digital, performative, and visual forms of criticism.

    download the poster

    The instruction of this summertime intensive will be online, conducted using a combination of video conferencing, online chatrooms, animated Powerpoint lectures, and related formats. There will be designated course times during which students will be required to be virtually present; other activities during the two-week course will include reading/class preparation; writing and editing reviews and other forms of written response to theatre; creating digital critical responses using social media and other online platforms; participating in digital forums; and developing a summative criticism project. A final research paper about criticism will be due at the end of June.

    Students will be required to see a minimum of four theatre productions as part of the course. While Fricker had hoped to take students on field trips to see live theatre, the pandemic situation has meant that students will be exploring theatre through video.

    “There is an increasing amount of video-captured theatre performances available online, both through online subscriptions and packages that the Brock Library already holds, to theatres and festivals making some of their captured content available to the public,” says Fricker. It may be that a combination of live and recorded viewing is possible but all the performances will be viewed online.

    “One of the interesting wrinkles of critiquing such performances is that you’re not reviewing live theatre but rather a recording of live theatre, and so questions of camera angles, cuts and actors’ relationships to each other and the camera come into play.”

    This is an intensive course experience and prospective students are advised to be prepared to engage with it full-time during the two weeks of the course.

    Prerequisite(s) are DART 2P96 and 2Q92 (2F94) or permission of the department. Interested students are invited to write to the instructor, Prof. Karen Fricker (kfricker@brocku.ca), as she is willing to consider relevant course experiences from other programs than DART.

    Please register before May 1, 2020.

    Karen Fricker is an associate professor in Dramatic Arts at Brock, a theatre critic at the Toronto Star, and vice-president of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association.

    A PDF version of this page is available for download.

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  • Dramatic Arts presents the ONE ACTS Festival 2020, opening March 20

    EDITOR’S NOTE: This event has been cancelled as part of Brock University’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    March 20 and March 21 at 7:30 pm

    performed in the The Marilyn I. Walker Theatre,
    15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines

    Admission: pay-what-you-can at the door
    Limited paid parking available

    Six Emerging Directors Present a Varied Festival of One Act Theatre Plays

    This year’s play festival offers plays of all moods, from somber to joyful.

    Three Canadian plays by Victoria Dawe, John Lazarus, and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard explore the meaning of Art, why Playwriting might be illegal in some places, and what happens when Feminazis emerge from their bunker to take over the world!

    From Ireland and the US, Deirdre Kinahan and Laurie Powers bring poignant explorations of ageing, of reflection and regret, while Slavomir Mrozek’s expressionist satire of freedom politics in 1968 Poland resonates in many countries today.

    download the poster

    The emerging directors from Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts are Dillon Bernier, Wyatt Hoskin, Holly Hebert, Juan-Carlos Figueroa, Molly Lacey, and Peter Herbert. These student directors are completing the course DART 3P54 Directing II, a directing practicum focusing on creating action, total theatre composition, team management and communications, lead by Associate Professor Gyllian Raby and instructor/teaching assistant Colin B. Anthes of Twitches and Itches Theatre and Essential Collective Theatre. The directors each selected a play that spoke to them about the world we live in, and worked through all production elements from casting through to design and rehearsal. The Department of Dramatic Arts is proud to launch these young artists with this exciting Spring event.

    THE ILLEGAL PLAYWRITING CLASS
    by John Lazarus
    Directed by Wyatt Hoskin

    THE TRUNK
    by L. Elizabeth Powers
    Directed by Molly Lacey

    SALAD DAY
    by Deirdre Kinahan
    Directed by Juan-Carlos Figueroa

    THE WORK OF ART
    by Victoria Dawe
    Directed by Dillon Bernier

    SAY THE WORDS
    by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
    Directed by Holly Hebert

    OUT AT SEA
    by Sławomir Mrozek
    Directed by Peter Herbert

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  • Studio Taxi Theatre presents TomorrowLove, opening April 3 at the MIW Theatre

    EDITOR’S NOTE: This event has been cancelled as part of Brock University’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone decided to erase you from their memory completely? Would you use an app that could match you with your soulmate? What if you could communicate with the dead via video chat?

    Rosamund Small’s TomorrowLove is a collection of stories about love, sex, technology, and the future. Studio Taxi Theatre’s (DART 4F56 – Advanced Studies in Theatre) production features 9 of Small’s stories performed as an immersive experience around the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The stories range from the poignant and comedic, to the dramatic and heartbreaking.

    Every audience member will see 4 stories as they travel through this experience, therefore, audiences are encouraged to see the show at least twice in order to catch as many stories as they can. The number of audience members is limited to 40 per show, split into 2 groups in order to allow for intimate audience/actor relationships, so it is recommended that audience members buy their tickets in advance and arrive early to choose their own adventure!

    Each location in the production is accessible and will have seating for audience members.
    If you anticipate extra assistance being needed, please contact studiotaxitheatre@gmail.com

    Content warning: contains scenes with sexual content, strong language, and references to sexual and physical violence.

    This is a presentation by the DART 4F56 (Advanced Studies in Theatre)/DART 4P97 (Collaborative Stage Production) graduating students’ ensemble for Spring 2020. All productions are created, produced and performed by DART students under the direction of Mike Griffin.

    Presented at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts.
    Purchase your tickets at https://brocku.universitytickets.com/.

    When:
    April 3, 2020 — 5:00 p.m.
    April 3, 2020 — 9 p.m.
    April 4, 2020 —1:00 p.m.
    April 4, 2020 —5:00 p.m.
    April 4, 2020 —9:00 p.m.

    Where: Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, 15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines

    Director: Mike Griffin
    Assistant Director: Josh Loewen
    Set Designer: Josh Loewen
    Props Designer/Set Decoration: Joanna Trann
    Costume Designer: Rachel Frederick
    Lighting Designer: Lauren Reid
    Sound Design: Taylor Bogaert
    Dramaturge: Alexandra Chubaty Boychuk
    Stage Manager: Shannon Fletcher
    Assistant Stage Manager: Jasmine Case
    Production Manager: Jordine De Guzman
    Head of Publicity: Shannon Fletcher

    Cast:

    Alexandra Chubaty Boychuk
    Emily Clegg
    Paige Hunt-Harman
    Samantha Rideout
    Beth Martin
    Frances Johnson

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

  • MIWSFPA production explores relationships in today’s connected world

    Brock students from the fourth-year Advanced Studies in Theatre course rehearse for their upcoming performance of Love and Information, opening Nov. 29 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.


    published in the Brock News THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2019 | by 

    A fourth-year Dramatic Arts class from Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is putting its spin on the Caryl Churchill production Love and Information. 

    Opening on Friday, Nov. 29 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in downtown St. Catharines, Love and Information examines relationships in a world of excess and access, where fragmented individuals struggle to connect despite having everything at their fingertips.

    The show is produced by Studio Taxi Theatre, run by students in the Advanced Studies in Theatre course, and is part of the MIWSFPA’s mandate to contribute to regional cultural development and build community connections.

    Through more than 100 characters in 60 scenes, the production looks at how love and information impacts their lives and relationships. The play moves from one scene to the next with rapid dexterity, as if the audience was flipping through the channels on a television. Viewers catch snippets of real human beings in the heart of conflicts, connection and catastrophe.

    Dramatic Arts Professor Mike Griffin, who directs the performance, says Love and Information is an exciting show because of how it structurally and thematically reflects today’s society.

    “Churchill comments on what it is like to be in the ‘swipe’ generation, constantly switching from app to app, staying connected as long as the entertainment lasts,” he says. “The play examines how information affects our relationships.”

    Griffin calls Churchill one of the most dynamic playwrights alive, paving the way to experiment with form and content. Her plays often challenge societal ideals and abuses of power, and her writing explores unconventional structures. Love and Information was first produced in 2012 at the Royal Court Theatre in London, U.K., directed by James MacDonald, and has since then met incredible success with productions across the world.

    Churchill’s script gives theatre companies the flexibility to shuffle the order of the scenes, allowing the artists to makes strong choices about how to shape the production. It means no two versions of the play will ever be the same. The stage is set up in alley-style seating, with audiences on either side of the stage and actors in the middle, providing for an intimate engagement.

    Love and Information showcases the talents of the Brock University student performers Jasmine Case, Joanna Tran, Joshua Loewen, Lauren Reid, Rachel Frederick, Shannon Fletcher and Taylor Bogaert.

    Students in production and design roles include: Frances Johnson, set designer; Rachel Frederick and Paige Hunt-Harman, costume designers; Elizabeth Martin, sound designer; Samantha Rideout, production manager/choreographer; Alexandra Chubaty Boychuk, prop designer/choreographer; Jordine De Guzman, stage manager; and Emily Clegg, dramaturg. Lighting design is by Brock Dramatic Arts alumni James McCoy.

    Director of the MIWSFPA David Vivian said student productions like this one set the Dramatic Art students up for a successful career in the arts.

    “The DART 4F56 course is a capstone experiential education-oriented course that often serves as a launching pad for the post-graduation founding of new companies and projects of creative research and theatre production in Niagara and the GTA,” he said. “Students build, produce, perform, direct, dramaturge and market these original events.  It sets them up to be highly qualified to work for a theatre or production company, and gives them the confidence to launch their own projects.”

    Love and Information runs:

    Friday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

    Saturday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

    Sunday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m.

    The show is suitable for ages 10 and over. Tickets are $5 and are available through Brock University’s ticket hub online at brocku.universitytickets.com

    see the BrockTV video moment

    see the official trailer produced by Studio Taxi Theatre

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Performance Season, Plays, Uncategorised

  • Identities Relocated: A LGBTQ Newcomer’s Story, at the Folk Arts Multicultural Centre

    In collaboration with the Folk Arts Multicultural Centre and Pride Niagara, Brock students in the Dramatic Arts Social Issues Theatre for Community Engagement course created a play based on interviews with LGBTQ+ newcomer and second-generation Canadians.

    The play blends direct quotations and true stories into Aminah’s journey trying to find her place as a lesbian newcomer from Pakistan in St. Catharines.

    The performance also includes a Forum Theatre segment, which invites audience members to join the characters onstage in dealing with conflicts faced by Aminah.

    As Alejandro, a gay Colombian Canadian character, says, “LGBTQ, newcomers, and everyone else is invited!”

    Please join us Monday, November 25th @ 5pm at the Folk Arts Multicultural Centre for the play entitled, Identities Relocated: A LGBTQ Newcomer’s Story.

    for more information please contact:

    Rachel Rhoades, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Applied Theatre
    Department of Dramatic Arts, Brock University
    rrhoades @ brocku.ca

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  • Grand finale weekend for Orlando at the MIW Theatre

    Orlando, on stage at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, closes Nov. 2, 2019. Dramatic Arts student Taj Crozier, in the role of Queen Elizabeth, with Jane Smith as Clorinda, on the set of Orlando.

    Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts is set to present the final performances of an original presentation of Orlando, at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation takes viewers from the witty pages of Virginia’s Woolf’s timeless novel into the sensual world of the stage, where identity is learned and unlearned. Join the ensemble as they salsa dance with gender, dash through carefully cut English gardens and land centuries farther than they began, but with the same question: Can we learn who we truly are in a world constructed to tell us who we should be?

    The students performing Orlando write about the premise of the production, the urgency of its themes and their deep work as artists. In the program notes they ask:

    “Orlando showcases the highs, lows, and complications of love. But not just love in the sense of relationships, but love in all its forms, love in all its beauty. How do we, in the 21st century, re-ground ourselves in our roots in nature?”

    Dramatic Arts student Alexandra Chubaty Boychuk has published an insightful and revealing look at the story of Orlando and this production in her article for DARTcritics.com: “Fluid identities onstage at DART: “The question generation” takes on Woolf and Ruhl’s Orlando”. Boychuk reviews some recent initiatives in contemporary theatre to represent voices that society “has tried to silence, especially those who identify as transgender or don’t identify with gender at all”:

    “Enter Orlando, a play that directly tackles questions of gender identity and how we perceive it. Orlando: A Biography was written by Virginia Woolf in 1928 and adapted into a play by Sarah Ruhl in 1998. The play follows the titular character through six centuries, starting with the reign of Elizabeth I and ending in the present day. When Orlando turns 30, they stop aging and go to sleep as a man and wake up as a woman.”

    Paige Hunt-Harman, the third-year student and actor who plays Orlando, tells us how important this work is to the students of the Department, and of Brock University:

    “We are now the question generation,” Hunt-Harman says. “We want to ask more questions; we want to challenge the norms that society has brought upon us and I really think that this play brings that to the forefront.”

    Dramaturge and fourth-year student Emily Clegg shares her thoughts about the play and their production:

    “What can be said about a play that goes through multiple centuries, including characters that all have very similar questions of identity? Perhaps what we can take from Orlando is the utmost joy in the difficulties of navigating our identities, and the resistance against the social world which tries to tell us who we should be, rather the who we actually are. It’s a beautiful tragedy that continues to mark our current moment in history.“

    Directed by Dramatic Arts faculty, Dr. David Fancy, the set, lighting and media is designed by Dramatic Arts alumnus James McCoy, with costumes designed by Hamilton-based designer and Dramatic Arts instructor Kelly Wolf and Sound Design by Dramatic Arts student James Dengate.

    Orlando showcases the talents of students in the Department of Dramatic Arts undergraduate program. Josh Loewen is the Assistant Director, Emily Clegg is the dramaturge and Frances Johnson is the Stage Manager, assisted by Peter Herbert. Performers include: Diego Blanco, Taj Crozier, Holly Hebert, Paige Hunt-Harman, Asenia Lyall, Sid Malcolm, Beth Martin, Nathan Rossi, and Jane Smith.

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

    This production premiered the weekend of October 25th through 27th. The final presentations are Friday Nov. 1 and Saturday Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m., at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines.

    Tickets are $20 for Adults or $16 for Students/Seniors and are available through the BrockU university tickets website. brocku.universitytickets.com
    Group Sales and special orders are available by contacting Brian Cumberland, Production Manager, at bcumberland@brocku.ca .

    Parking is not available on-site, however, there are more than 1,000 spots available in nearby parking garages, surface lots, and on city streets within a five-minute walk to our address at 15 Artists’ Common. Visit stcatharines.ca/en/livein/ParkingLotsGarages for a list of parking locations.

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  • Fluid identities onstage at DART: “The question generation” takes on Woolf and Ruhl’s Orlando

    (From: DARTCritics, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2019 | by )

    Contemporary theatre companies are making strides in representing individuals whose voices society has tried to silence, especially those who identify as transgender, or don’t identify with a gender at all. Transgender performance artist Travis Alabanza’s one-person show, Burgerz, has been getting rave reviews around Europe. Two-spirited actor Ty Defoe and non-binary actor Kate Bornstein made headlines when both made their Broadway debuts in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men. Canadian transgender artist Vivek Shraya is creating and performing in her first theatre piece, How to Fail as a Pop Star, at Canadian Stage next February. There’s clearly an increasing amount of work created by and/or featuring individuals who don’t identify as cisgender, but nevertheless mainstream theatre and the theatrical canon seems to me to still be dominated by heteronormative stories.

    I asked David Fancy, director of Orlando, Brock University’s first Mainstage production of the 2019-20 season, why he thinks much mainstream theatre hasn’t treated gender non-conformity or gender fluidity. “I think humans are continuously in survival mode and think in terms of binary logic because it’s a way of cutting to the chase, and it’s simple habituation,” says Fancy. “I think it actually takes work to think outside of that, and I think there’s a lot of energy and anger that goes into reinforcing those perimeters simply because historically, properties have been perpetuated along these patrilineal lines.” He explains that there’s “a history of privileging the cisgender hetero matrix that [Judith] Butler talks about, what she describes as the false stabilisation of certain sets of binaries, and so many cultural institutions are organized around that.”

    Taj Crozier and Paige Hunt-Harman in Orlando. Photos by Neil Silcox.

    Enter Orlando, a play that directly tackles questions of gender identity and how we perceive it. Orlando: A Biography was written by Virginia Woolf in 1928 and adapted into a play by Sarah Ruhl in 1998. The play follows the titular character through six centuries, starting with the reign of Elizabeth I and ending in the present day. When Orlando turns 30, they stop aging and go to sleep as a man and wake up as a woman. They stay in the biological body of a woman for the rest of the play, but nothing else about them has changed. Paige Hunt-Harman, the actor who plays Orlando, feels the character doesn’t necessarily identify as either gender: “he/she/they don’t necessarily know who they are when it comes to gender,” says Hunt-Harman. “They kind of see themselves as just this ever-flowing entity that is kind of always going to be there, always there to ask those questions, to say, ‘who am I?’ and ‘what’s to come?’ and ‘what will people think, or do I even care what people think?’”

    Orlando premiered Off-Broadway in 2010; in July of 2018, Soulpepper Theatre produced its Canadian premiere with Sarah Afful in the title role. With Brock University staging the play this year, are we moving towards a theatrical landscape (and perhaps consequently, a society) where gender fluidity is moving further into mainstream representation? Both Fancy and Hunt-Harman agree that we are. And good thing, too – especially in a university setting in which many students identify as gender non-binary or gender non-conforming, representation on the stage is important. We still live in a heteronormative society and works like Orlando are needed to disrupt and question that thinking, to advocate that people of all genders and sexualities have avoice.

    The play certainly challenges questions of gender and how we perceive it. Hunt-Harman shared the story of an early rehearsal in which Fancy asked the ensemble what masculinity meant to them, after which there was an awkward pause before someone suggested, “big muscles?” And maybe that is how many see masculinity today – the big, strong, protective man versus the frail, delicate, damsel-in-distress. But do these traits have to be separate and rigid between the sexes? This play works to blur these lines: “Orlando really starts at the beginning of the play as a very stereotypical, heroic male, the hegemonic hero of the story,” Hunt-Harman says, “and I believe by playing that up we really show the audience just how we as a society perceive masculinity — and the same goes for femininity. But throughout the play we see… that stylized gender kind of transform into something that we now are able to connect with, where it’s not necessarily one thing or the other. It’s very grey… I see masculine in the feminine and feminine in the masculine.”

    It’s not just gender that this production of Orlando addresses – it also touches on issues of racialization. While Ruhl’s adaptation has eliminated Woolf’s uses of words like “moor,” there are still remnants of racializing language that the ensemble has worked to challenge by, for example, cutting out all mentions of the word “gypsy.” When Orlando transitions from man to woman, they do so in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which is highly exoticized and orientalised in Woolf’s novel, and consequently Ruhl’s script. “There’s a whole tradition in colonial literature of white people from Europe going to a foreign place that’s exotic and they have all kinds of discoveries. This is a repeated trope in colonial texts,” Fancy explains, “and it’s left unexamined by Woolf because she takes on the question of gender, but it’s almost like it’s first-wave feminism where you have a white woman, upper class, going through these discoveries.” Without giving too much away, the ensemble has taken this scene in Constantinople and over-emphasized the racialization by being hyper-theatrical about it, before then deconstructing it.“We establish it and then just… almost campily, certainly almost cheesy, with theatrical means, take it apart,” says Fancy. “You have to make sure that if you’re foregrounding something, you’re foregrounding that it’s a construction. And you’re showing how it’s made, and how you take it apart.”

    Sid Malcolm in Orlando.

    Orlando and the questions intertwined with it come at the right time, especially with an audience likely primarily composed of university students. Young people are recognizing their power now more than ever and are questioning what has always been presented as “natural and inevitable,” as Fancy would say. “We are now the question generation,” Hunt-Harman says. “We want to ask more questions; we want to challenge the norms that society has brought upon us and I really think that this play brings that to the forefront.”

    Orlando plays at the Marilyn I Walker Theatre, 15 Artists’ Common, from October 25 – November 2. Purchase your tickets online.


    DARTCritics is a project of the Department of Dramatic Arts, founded by Dr. Karen Fricker.  Launched in 2013, the site originated as a practical way for students to train in the art of reviewing, and also sought to bring the artistic community of Brock University and St. Catharines closer together. The website features writing about theatre produced and seen in Niagara, Hamilton, Stratford and Toronto. Please follow DARTCritics as they continue to search for awesome theatre, meeting fascinating artists along the way.

    You can also follow DARTcritics here:

    @DARTCritics
    Facebook: DARTCritics
    YouTube: DART critics
    Instagram: dartcritics

    DARTcritics.com is partially funded by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, in support of student learning; experiential education; student professionalization; public engagement with the teaching, learning and production activities of the Department of Dramatic Arts; new ways of thinking; and the nurturing of links with our communities.

    The opinions expressed by the writers of the DARTcritics.com website are their own.

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  • Brock researchers partner with community groups to dispel myths about homelessness in Niagara

    Nadia Ganesh (BA ’19), of community theatre group Mirror Theatre, dramatizes the lived experience of homelessness, addiction and mental illness of women in Niagara in a video that is part of a new research study between Brock University, YWCA Niagara Region, Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    originally published in The Brock News on Thursday, July 11, 2019 | by Sarah Ackles

    Through a partnership with local community organizations, Brock University is working to shed light on the complexities of homelessness for women in Niagara.

    In an effort to help break the ongoing cycle of mental illness, addiction and homelessness experienced by many women in the region, a pilot project was launched last year between Brock, YWCA Niagara Region, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    Mental health and addictions services were brought in-house at the YWCA, providing women in need with the necessary services in a single location, reducing the need to repeatedly share their story to access different resources and helping to eliminate stigma related to their situation.

    Brock researchers Lynn McCleary and Joe Norris watch videos produced as part of a collaborative research project on homelessness, mental health and addictions with the YWCA Niagara, Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    Brock researchers Lynn McCleary and Joe Norris watch videos produced as part of a collaborative research project on homelessness, mental health and addictions with the YWCA Niagara, Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    Brock researchers and students investigated the impact of providing addictions and mental health counselling at YWCA Niagara emergency shelters, deeming the single-stop model more effective.

    The resulting research study, titled “The experiences of homeless women with mental illness of onsite partnership between women’s homeless shelters and mental health service providers,” was led by Principal Investigators Lynn McCleary, Professor of Nursing at Brock, and Elisabeth Zimmermann, Executive Director of YWCA Niagara.

    Co-investigators on the project included Joe Norris, Chair of Dramatic Arts at Brock, Brenda Grant, Mental Health Coach at the Canadian Mental Health Association and Cindy Jennings, Addictions Coach at Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    The Women’s Xchange $15K Challenge, which supports research projects that address women’s health issues at the local level, funded the study.

    Zimmerman said it has been a positive and rewarding experience working with Brock on this important initiative.

    “It is very important to dispel myths and for the community to understand the complex nature of homelessness and the need for access to affordable housing, which has, and continues to be, at a crisis state in our community,” she said. “Too often, in terms of research, we find there isn’t a gender lens attached to the project — this seems to be particularly true of homelessness — so the other powerful result of this project is that it speaks to women’s experiences of homelessness.”

    McCleary said working on the study gave her a better appreciation for the importance of services like the YWCA, Canadian Mental Health Association and Addiction Service of Niagara, and the impact these services can have on people’s lives when they work collaboratively.

    It also connected the outreach work she does with social services in the community, both as a registered nurse and as a co-chair of Brock’s United Way Committee.

    “I know community agencies that receive United Way funding make a difference in the well-being of my students, my neighbours and my friends,” McCleary said. “Having the opportunity to listen to the women’s stories also connected me to my early clinical work as a mental health nurse and provided me with insights that will be helpful when I’m teaching Nursing students about nurse-client relationships and about mental health nursing.”

    The results of the study will be shared with service users and providers, and funders of mental health, addictions and housing services through forthcoming research publications and a series of videos created by Norris and community theatre group Mirror Theatre.

    Currently comprised of Brock students, staff and other community members, Mirror Theatre has created more than 70 social issues plays that explore everything from workplace safety, mental health, academic integrity, patient-centred care, alcohol abuse and the first-year university experience.

    “We dramatized testimonials from the women who accessed support services at the YWCA in order to develop short, educational videos that show the experiences these women felt on the street and in the shelter,” Norris said. “They are meant to be conversation starters that challenge our preconceptions of homelessness and those who experience it.”

    Mirror Theatre President and recent graduate Mike Metz (BA ’19, BEd ’19) hopes the videos will help to give a face to the issue of homelessness.

    “Ultimately, we are including the component of empathy into academic research, something that you do not always see,” he said. “We take research and we turn it into something that people can relate to, something they can understand. In doing this work, I have realized that people can act in different and more positive ways.”

    The videos are currently being edited by videographer Brad McDonald, a master’s student in Social Justice in Equity Studies at Brock. When completed, they will be available on Joe Norris’ Playbuilding website.

    Research publications are forthcoming.

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