Faculty & Instructors

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Brock hosts 28th annual national CITT/ICTS RENDEZ-VOUS

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts of Brock University and the Meridian Centre extend a generous warm welcome to our professional colleagues, researchers, producers, specialist manufacturers, distributors, technicians and students from across the country for the:

    CITT/ICTS 28TH RENDEZ-VOUS ANNUAL CONFERENCE & TRADE SHOW

    CITT/ICTS holds an annual RENDEZ-VOUS every mid-August.The conference offers three days of sessions, workshops, backstage tours, trade show, social events and networking opportunities. The location varies from year to year to allow members from different regions of Canada to more easily attend.

    The Meridian Centre is located adjacent to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts of Brock University

    CITT/ICTS RENDEZ-VOUS 2018
    Annual Conference & Trade Show
    in St Catharines, ON
    at the Meridian Centre and the
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA)

    August 15 – 18, 2018
    Opening night: Wednesday, August 15
    Pre-conference: Tuesday August 14 to Wednesday August 15

    #citticts @CITTICTS

    on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CITTICTS
    website: www.citt.org/annual_conference

    STUDENT VOLUNTEER PROGRAM!
    Get INVOLVED
    Be CONNECTED
    Live the EXPERIENCE

    CITT/ICTS Annual Conference and Trade Show Rendez-vous has been held for over 25 years. During that time, student volunteers have played a key role in guaranteeing its success. Whether they assist in mounting the trade show, setting up the social events, or helping out at the registration desk, the student volunteers contribute in making our annual event a tremendous hit!

    During the conference, student volunteers are assigned various task, which includes setting up and tearing down the Trade Show, troubleshooting technical problems such AV projectors, sound equipment, etc. helping out with hospitality, giving a hand at the registration desk, and more… !

    for more information about the Student Volunteer Program

    CONFERENCE LEARNING opportunities include:

    2-day ETC Ion Xe Console Training
    CITT/ICTS along with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), have arranged with ETC to hold a 2-day Ion Xe console training course prior to the CITT/ICTS Annual Conference and Trade Show. ETC’s Ion Xe lighting console provides simple and approachable programming and control for conventional systems as well as fully integrated lighting rigs. Join us to learn more about the features and functions of this amazing control system.

    ERD Certified Pyrotechnics Safety and Legal Awareness Course
    CITT/ICTS and AirMagic Special Effects are partnering to present a ERD Certified Pyrotechnics Safety and Legal Awareness Course with Mark Fine prior to the CITT/ICTS Rendez-vous 2018. Completion of the Pyrotechnics Safety and Legal Awareness Course is mandatory prior to certification as Pyrotechnician – Fireworks/Operator by ERD.

    Foliage – Past and Present Painting Techniques
    Jenny Knott from Rosco and Wendy Waszut-Barrett from Historic Stage Services LLC are returning to Rendez-vous for a third workshop, Foliage: Past and Present Painting Techniques.
    Explore a variety of painting techniques for foliage painting. Learn how to use historic techniques for contemporary applications, as well as some short cuts to make your job easier.

    for more information, registration and schedules

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

  • Dramatic Arts TA recipient of multiple awards

    Brock’s Three Minute Thesis winner Kaitlyn Kerridge, and award winners Shasha Hu and Jonathan Brower all spoke at the Graduate Student Awards and Donor Recognition Celebration on Thursday, May 10.

    (adapted from: The Brock News Monday, May 14, 2018 | by )

    It wasn’t until he started at Brock University that Jonathan Brower was able to marry his passions: theatre, LGBTQ2 studies and spirituality.

    During the Graduate Student Awards and Donor Recognition Celebration held on campus Thursday, May 10, the Master of Social Justice and Equity Studies student spoke about how the University and its donors have made a difference in his life.

    An actor, playwright and producer, Brower told the more than 100 guests in attendance about how support from donors allows him to focus on his research and continue artistic pursuits, without having to worry about financial pressures.

    “For research to truly be enriched, you need to be able to immerse yourself in it completely,” he said. “Support from donors allows me to focus my creative energy on academia, rather than having to worry about how my bills are being paid. Every layer of support I have received lifts me closer to success.”

    Brower was the recipient of multiple awards at the celebration: a Bluma Appel Graduate Entrance Scholarship for Excellence in Social Sciences, the Scotiabank Graduate Award and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council CGS Master’s Scholarship.Hosted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the awards event celebrated student success and thanked donors for their generous support of graduate students.

    Brower came to Niagara from Calgary, where he co-founded and ran a queer theatre company and wrote and produced a play, oblivion, about the struggle to reconcile faith and sexuality. The production toured Canada over three years, visiting major cities including Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto, with a stop in St. Catharines last year.

    Starting his master’s at Brock seemed a fitting next step for the student researcher, whose work explores “queer religious agency through narrative inquiry and applied theatre.”

    “My own experience as a queer person in the Christian faith was marginalized, which led to the creation of oblivion,” Brower said. “This thesis project takes things a step further using collective theatre creation to bring the experiences of queer individuals from different faith backgrounds into conversation.”

    In 2017-18 Brower was a teaching Assistant in the Department of Dramatic Arts for the courses DART 1F91 Introduction to Theatre and Performance (Dr. Jacqueline Taucar, Instructor) and DART 4F56 Advanced Studies in Theatre (Professor Gyllian Raby).  He recently collaborated on WE WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HIAWATHA ARE PROUD TO PRESENT HIAWATHA as part of the Rhizomes for the 2018 In The Soil Festival.

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    Categories: Current Students, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Brock students on Broadway

    Cast members from the student-run Mirror Theatre had the unique opportunity to perform in the heart of the New York City theatre district recently.

    On Wednesday, April 25, the cast members performed vignettes from their applied theatre work at the Marriott Marquis hotel.

    Mirror Theatre is a comprised primarily of Brock Dramatic Arts students that produce and perform interactive scenes on a variety of social issues. The group is coached by Dramatic Arts Chair and Professor of Drama in Education and Applied Theatre Joe Norris. It gives students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they learn in their courses in real-world situations. Through experiential education, the students develop life and learning skills that will prepare them for their careers and future studies.

    Mirror Theatre was invited to attend the Arts Based Educational Research (ABER) business meeting in New York City by the ABER Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. At the conference, they presented “Employing Playbuilding Research and Pedagogy in Addressing Educational and Social Issues Facing Youth.” Their scenes addressed issues of academic integrity, seeking help, dealing with gossip, refusing unsafe working conditions, parental pressures and healthy eating.

    Regent cheque for Mirror Theatre

    Regent cheque presented to Mirror Theatre for $500.

    The trip was partially funded by the Regent Student Livings’ Dramatic Arts Student Independent and Outreach Projects fund. Recently, Mitch Allanson (BA ’16) presented Abby Rollo, Mirror Theatre’s President and Lindsey Abrams, Treasurer a cheque for $500. This award will be available to DART students each year and is part of Regent Student Livings investment in the success of the students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Cast members of Mirror Theatre include, Lindsey Abrams, Dani Shae Barkley, Kaedyn Brouse, Candice De Freitas Braz, Aaron Drake, Nadia Ganesh, Rosa Moreno, Mike Metz, Abby Rollo, Sumer Seth, Dawson Strangway and Director Joe Norris.

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

  • Brock faculty, staff, students and grads performing at In the Soil

    (Source: The Brock News | Wednesday, April 25, 2018 by Alison Innes)

    It’s a festival born out of love for the local community and the arts.

    In the Soil, the three-day, multi-layered and multi-disciplinary festival in St. Catharines, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend, and Brock has played an important role in its growth.

    The festival started as an idea sparked at a Centre for the Arts performance in Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, where Annie Wilson (BA’03), Joe Lapinski (BA’99) and Sara Palmieri (BA ’03) wondered how they help showcase Niagara talent. Three more former Brock students came on board to found the festival in 2009: Deanna Jones (BA ’02), Natasha Pedros (BA ’04) and Jordy Yack.

    They wanted to bring people together with local artists to create a shared experience and celebrate Niagara’s arts scene.

    Brock’s support of In the Soil has been important from the start, says Wilson, who studied Theatre and English.

    “To have the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts right in the downtown core is a dream come true and so is the opportunity to collaborate with so many incredible profs and friends over there,” says Wilson. “Brock University has supported In the Soil Arts Festival from day one and the ongoing investment in us has allowed us to grow it into what it is today.”

    Suitcase in Point Theatre Company, a theatre group founded by graduates from Brock’s Dramatic Arts program, took over organizing the festival in 2012. The group worked to sharpen the festival’s interdisciplinary approach and now has a tradition of showcasing the latest work in theatre, literature, music, film, comedy and site-specific installations.

    Many Brock students, staff, faculty, and grads are exhibiting and performing at this year’s festival in various venues around the downtown core, including:

    • Adrian Thiessen (BA ’10), president and creative head of Fourgrounds Media, will be showing his piece “Please Do Not Disturb the Grapes,” which gives a bird’s perspective of Niagara wine country as part of Rhizomes at Silver Spire United Church.
    • We Who Know Nothing, a theatre group centred in the Department of Dramatic Arts and led by Associate Professor Gillian Raby, will be performing a short piece on colonialism and First Nations histories.
    • Also at Rhizomes, Twitches & Itches Theatre, an ensemble made up largely of Dramatic Arts graduates, will be presenting emerging theatre voices in “The Comments Section,” a collaboration between young artists.
    • Arnie McBay (MA ’13), Visual Arts Facilities Technician at MIWSFPA, and English Professor Gregory Betts will be showing “Signs of Our Discontent” (The Textures of Our Solitude). The site-specific installation at the corner of St. Paul and Garden Park responds to the fading advertisements painted on downtown buildings.
    • Fourth-year Visual Arts student Amber Lee Williams video performance “Self Portrait As A Female Fountain” explores themes of identity and is an extension of her exhibition “Hidden Mother” on until Saturday, April 28 at the MIWSFPA.
    • Dramatic Arts student Matthew Beard is the founder of Big Chicken Improv, an improv group that includes various Brock students. They will be performing long- and short-form improv on Saturday evening.

    Prior to the festival, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts will be hosting a special event on the evening of April 27 for students from Stamford Collegiate.
    The MIWSFPA is also a festival sponsor.

    What: In the Soil Arts Festival

    When: Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29

    Where: Downtown St. Catharines

    Tickets and event details: inthesoil.on.ca

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

  • Graduating students present gritty play about oil in Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    March 16 and 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PANELISTS:

    Lina de Guevara

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

    Ruth Howard

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

     

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

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

     

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

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

  • Community collaboration leads to a new play by Brock prof

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

    It was a simple, yet powerful statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Where: Robertson Theatre, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

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

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

  • 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

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

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

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

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

    What happens next?

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

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

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The team will also address mental health stigmas and misconceptions.

    For Alvarez, the research is not just academic.

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

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