Faculty & Instructors

  • PERDITA, OR THE WINTER’S TALE: our first mainstage for the new decade!

    PERDITA, OR THE WINTER’S TALE,
    ADAPTED BY GYLLIAN RABY

    Join us for our second Mainstage production of the 2019-20 season: a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic co-directed by Professors Gyllian Raby and Danielle Wilson, with Gerry Trentham.

    Perdita, or The Winter’s Tale, views through the eyes of a child the chaos set in motion by a father’s paranoid jealousy. King Leontes’ psychosis is terrifying as he plots to kill his best friend Polixenes on suspicion of adultery with Queen Hermione. But when he threatens the lives of the Queen and her newborn daughter, Leontes succeeds only in killing his heir, the ailing prince Maximillius. In the storm of recrimination that follows, Max steps out of Time to save his baby sister, manipulating the Winter’s Tale by imagining reality anew.

    The Department of Dramatic Arts presents this sad tale with a happy ending. The Winter’s Tale is Maximillius’ attempt to explore the situation that is destroying him, to understand its consequences and to bind his world together.

    perspective drawing view of the set, designed by Nigel Scott

    Artistic Direction for our production of Perdita, or The Winter’s Tale.

    The text of 1612 has been re-imagined into the Cold War era of 1970’s where Shakespeare’s ‘evil’ Sicilia is an Iron Curtain country kind of power imagined by John LeCarré and ‘festive’ Bohemia is a flower-power realm where kids rebel against their parents’ values.

    It is a tale of lostness and belonging, of trust-betrayed and loyalty. The craving of a child or youth to understand adulthood, and of people stuck in a role or gender to experience its opposite, is our focus. This is a production where the god and mortal “he” is socially constructed and can be played by actors of any biological sex.

    costume designs by Alexandra Lord. (l-r: Leontes, Polixenes, Dorcas, and Perdita)

    Bring your students to a special matinee performance of Perdita, or The Winter’s Tale on March 06, 2020 at 11:30 am. Group tickets start at $13 each, and discounts available. We are pleased to offer a talkback and Q & A with the actors and creative team after the matinée on March 6th. Should you be interested, contact us for more information. Curriculum connections include Shakespeare Studies, English Literature, World Studies, History, Gender Studies and Drama Studies. The performance of Perdita is appropriate for high school audiences.

    To book your school, please contact the Production Manager Brian Cumberland for all group ticket purchases: bcumberland@brocku.ca . If you are interested in booking a tour of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts prior to the show, please e-mail mroca@brocku.ca .

    download the poster

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

    When: Feb. 28 and 29, 2020 — 7:30 p.m.
    March 1, 2020 — 2 p.m.
    March 6, 2020 —11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
    March 7, 2020 — 7:30 p.m.

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

    The Marilyn I. Walker Theatre is situated at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, located at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines, L2R 0B5. We are adjacent to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and the Meridian Centre.

    See our website for maps and contact information:
    brocku.ca/miwsfpa/dramatic-arts/contact/

     

    Directed by Danielle Wilson and Gyllian Raby, with Gerry Trentham
    Set Design by Nigel Scott
    Costume Design by Alexandra Lord
    Lighting Design by Chris Malkowski
    Sound Design and Music by Max Holten-Andersen
    Assistant Direction by Rina Wilkins and Emma McCormick.

    Stage Manager: Jordine De Guzman
    Asst Stage Manager Elizabeth Martin and Diego Blanco
    Production Manager: Brian Cumberland
    Technical Director: Gavin Fearon
    Shop Supervisor: Ed Harris
    Theatre Technician: Dawn Crysler
    Head of Wardrobe: Roberta Doylend

    CAST:

    Avery Delaney Florizel 
    Jackson Wagner Leontes 
    Jasmine Case Perdita 
    Jesse Caines Court Judge/Jailer/Servant 
    Joanna Tran Hermione 
    Juan-Carlos Figueroa Polixenes 
    Lauren Reid Paulina/Shepherd 2 
    Leah Rantala Emilia 
    Meryl Ochoa Maximilius/Time
    Mike Hammond Antigonus/Shepherd 3
    Molly Lacey Clio/Dorcas
    Rachel Frederick Dion/Mopsa
    Taylor Bogaert Camillo

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  • Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Indigenous Art Practice: Candidate Research Presentations

    The Brock and wider community is invited to attend the presentations by the three Indigenous artist/researchers who are finalists for the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Indigenous Art Practice at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Our candidates are visiting the Marilyn I. Walker School in January. Each will give an hour-long presentation and engage in an additional half hour of discussion about their current research interests and focus, and about what they would hope to achieve as a Canada Research Chair at Brock University in the next five years.

    MATTHEW MACKENZIE

    Research presentation 5 – 6:30 pm,
    Friday January 10, 2020
    MWS 156

    Edmonton playwright, director and producer Matthew MacKenzie (Métis) is Artistic Director of Punctuate! Theatre, as well as the founder and an Artistic Associate with Pyretic Productions. In 2018, his play Bears won Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production, was named a co-winner of the Toronto Theatre Critics Outstanding New Canadian Play Award, and won the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Carol Bolt National Playwriting Award. This past fall, Punctuate! premiered MacKenzie’s play The Particulars, which was named one of the top ten productions of 2019 by The Globe and Mail.

    MARK IGLOLIORTE

    Research presentation 11:30 am – 1 pm,
    Friday January 17, 2020
    MWS 156

    Mark Igloliorte is an Inuk artist born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland with Inuit ancestry from Nunatsiavit, Labrador. His artistic work is primarily painting and drawing. Igloliorte’s work has been featured in several notable national exhibitions including the 2015 Marion McCain Exhibition of Contemporary Atlantic Canadian Art, curated by Corinna Ghaznavi; Inuit Ullumi: Inuit Today: Contemporary Art from TD Bank Group’s Inuit Collection; Beat Nation, curated by Kathleen Ritter and Tania Willard; and The Phoenix Art-The Renewed Life of Contemporary Painting, curated by Robert Enright. In addition, Igloliorte has been profiled in features in Canadian Art magazine and Inuit Art Quarterly. Igloliorte is an Assistant Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

    SUZANNE MORRISSETTE

    Research presentation 5 – 6:30 pm,
    Wednesday January 22, 2020
    MWS 207

    Suzanne Morrissette is a Métis artist, curator, and writer. Using various research-creation methods Morrissette addresses the philosophical roots of historical and contemporary forms of injustice facing Indigenous peoples. Her current and future research looks at the role of locally-based Indigenous knowledges within Indigenous community-based curatorial practice as a way of entering into conversations about robust and unexpected strategies for representing Indigenous art both within Canadian and international contexts. Currently she holds the position of Assistant Professor at OCAD University.r University of Art and Design.


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  • 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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  • 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
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    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 project aims to improve long-term care for veterans and brain injury patients

    Brock University alumni now with Mirror Theatre perform a scene in Understanding person-centred care: Finding dignity within the shadows, a video series as part of a research project between Brock and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

    (From: The Brock News, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2019 | by Dan Dakin)

    Two Brock University faculty members from seemingly unrelated disciplines have collaborated on a project aimed at improving the relations of those involved in long-term care.

    Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Colleen Whyte, and Professor of Dramatic Arts Joe Norris, were at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto Wednesday, Oct. 2 for the premiere of Understanding person-centred care: Finding dignity within the shadows.

    Two years ago, Sunnybrook Professional Practice and Education Leader Leanne Hughes came to Whyte with a research idea about how to help staff and family deal with the challenges associated with two specific groups in long-term care: veterans living with dementia and patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries.

    “I’ve known Leanne for 15 years and we’ve done research together in the past,” Whyte said. “She came to me and said: This is an issue we have. How do you think we could look at researching it?’”

    “What we’re looking at are person-centred approaches,” said Hughes, referring to a growing emphasis in health care that invites patients and family members to be involved in decision-making and strategizing ways to care for individual patients from a wide-range of services. It’s a more collaborative care model than a traditional top-down medical approach to care.

    In the fall of 2018, Whyte led research that included focus groups of those working in long-term care at the Toronto hospital such as doctors and hospital staff, as well as families of those in care.

    Brock University professors Joe Norris and Colleen Whyte hand a USB drive to Leanne Hughes from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Brock and Sunnybook partnered on a research project that included a 20-part video around patient-centred care. Pictured from left are Brock alumni Nadia Ganesh, Candice De Freitas Braz and Mike Metz, Hughes, Norris, Brock master’s student Kevin Hobbs, Whyte and Brock alumni Bernadette Kahnert.

    “We interviewed people who are doing this every day,” Whyte said. “This research is about taking the principles of person-centred care and trying to see how they are translated on a daily basis, when all partners experience unexpected challenges.”

    With the focus group data in hand, Whyte then turned to Norris, Chair of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, who worked with the student-run Mirror Theatre to translate the conversations into dramatic action, known as ethnodrama and applied theatre.

    “We took the focus group transcripts, read them, analyzed them and created dramatic scenes,” said Norris. “The purpose is to evoke conversations.”

    The result is a 20-part video series, each dealing with a different component of the long-term care experience. They range from something as simple the challenge of what to pack when a family member is moved into a new living situation to what to do when a patient whose mind no longer has much of a filter says something that crosses a line.

    “It’s all about answering the question of ‘How do we treat each other with respect in stressful situations?’” Norris said.

    He said the Dramatic Arts students who were acting the parts in the videos — including the patients who are represented as shadowed silhouettes rather than specific people — learned about more than just acting.

    “Many cast members say they don’t only get extra-curricular experience with theatre, they get the experience of dealing with a range of topics. It’s like an extra class for them,” he said.

    With the video series now complete, the next stage of the project is to create workshops for staff and families.

    “It gives staff some insight and helps them think, ‘If I’m in this situation, let me strategize and be thoughtful about what options I have,’” she said. “It will equip new staff with possibilities and allow existing staff to be reflective about their approaches.”

    Brock University alumni Nadia Ganesh, Bernadette Kahnert, Lindsay Detta and Candice De Freitas Braz interpret a scene from Finding dignity within the shadows at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto Wednesday, Oct. 2.

    Hughes said when the final videos were shown to those working with veterans suffering from dementia and patients dealing with brain injuries, the staff were impressed with how accurate they were in reflecting the situations they deal with.

    “It has been an absolute pleasure to see students take this data and enact it,” Hughes said. “We were in awe of their ability. They did a fantastic job.”

    The project, which was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant and a Practice-Based Research and Innovation Seed Grant from Sunnybrook, will continue with the development of facilitator tools and training sessions. Those will be developed and led by Norris and Kevin Hobbs, a master’s student in Social Justice and Equity Studies, who directed the Finding dignity within the shadows series and incorporated the research into his master’s thesis.

    “They’re training videos, but not in the sense of, ‘Here’s how you give a needle,” said Norris. “It’s more of a dialogic conversation where our audiences are invited to comment on the scenes and add their own insights and stories.”

    Watch the full Understanding Person-Centred Care video below and individual scene videos can be found at this link

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  • Meaningful Movements Reshape: Come to the Edge at Brock University and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    (From: The Sound, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 | by Kerry Duncan)

    Being invited into a space not built by you, or for you, offers the inherent need for trust and vulnerability. When audiences entered into the Come to the Edge Cafe on August 24/25 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, audience members were transported to a land of imagination built by, and for, wheelchair users with Cerebral Palsy (CP). This evolving storyscape replaced the traditional confines of theatre with an unlimited creation of shape and space, prioritizing the communication options for performers and participants with CP. The team working on this production aimed to foster an empathetic and reflective space for participants to sit in a potential level of unknown, discomfort, and to ultimately trust that they could not necessarily know the answers to questions like ‘Where are we? What’s it like to not know exactly what’s happening around you? What’s it like when you have to re-evaluate the things that don’t exactly apply?’.

    Come to the Edge is a collaborative development of immersive theatre, creating a new understanding of performance through dance, play, and improvisation. The central performance elements built by and for the Imagining Possibilities Leadership Team, made up of automatic and manual wheelchair users with CP. The group has been working with St. Catharines based creative collaborators from the March of Dimes Canada and the Brain Injury Community PET (Personal Effectiveness Training) Re-Entry Program to welcome audiences to trust in the idea that ‘not knowing’ is an opportunity for learning and empathy. The performances are supported by facilitators Jenny Jimenez and Stephen Sillett from Toronto-based organization, Aiding Dramatic Change in Development (ADCID), as well as a much broader team of musicians, artists, and support workers.

    With a long-standing history in St. Catharines, the ADCID has been working with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) since 2016 with the first iteration of Imagining Possibilities, the precursor to Come to the Edge. As a facility that was built under the universal standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) for inclusive physically spaces, this began a longstanding partnership for reshaping how St. Catharines builds and understands performance theatre. Professor David Vivian, Director of the MIWSFPA and an ongoing collaborator with ADCID explained that “Inviting the lead artistic team to join us and local artists in our first spring season at the MIWSFPA theatre was one of the highlights of our inaugural year in 2015-16. Come to the Edge is a long term project that has continued to develop over the years and bring together artists in a number of Ontario communities”.

    The development of the show over the past several years has taken this community and discussions about it global with performances and workshops in Toronto, Belgium, Prague, Hamilton and St. Catharines. Connecting with the Imaging Possibilities Movement through the Engaging Possibilities project at Brock University in 2015, Kris Daunoravicius has been involved with the growth and evolution of this project ever since. A local to St. Catharines and core member of the Leadership Team, Daunoravicus travelled with the ADCID team to Belgium in 2017 for a week of Envisioned Scenography workshops for the disability-focused Huize Eyckerheyde Residence. In speaking with Daunoravicus and Elaine Drover, another member of the Leadership Team, both utilized a range of augmented technology, body movement, facial expressions, and sound to showcase the range of experiences and stories that were being brought into the creative process during the years of work it took to create the latest version of this production.

    In speaking with Come to the Edge performer and ADCID collaborator, Frank Hull and long-time Leadership Team member Laura Leskur, they shared how the creation of this show was rooted in growing one another’s understandings of the other performers, and building a movement vocabulary unique to each performer and each moment of interaction. With a long-term career as a professional wheelchair dancer, Hull spoke to the multiple layers of relationality and equity between those involved in the show, “there has to be those moments where we are becoming equal together, regardless of how my ability may be different from Laura’s. But if we are moving together, we need to find a way to move together and not overpower one another”.

    As a verbal CP performer, he explained that “my world is very instant when I communicate. What I’m learning with this group is I’m facing my own ableism. It got me thinking about how from my role I have not been patient enough, not just with this group”. He elaborated on his reflections of needing to be more cognizant of not finishing other people’s sentences, but instead, learned to give people time to communicate within their abilities in order to share and explain their perspectives on the situation. Utilizing her bespoke communication board system*, Leskur also elaborated on these points, highlighting the necessity for patience as to “not miss the magical moments” and the necessity of utilizing body movements and the range of abilities in each performers arms and legs to construct meaningful exchanges.

    In discussing the necessity of moving towards an inclusive way of facilitating theatre for the performers, Sillett explained that “we created the processes with the community of those who are non-verbal in mind. There’s a lot of routes we could take which would be much easier to get an impact in the short-term, but it wasn’t our aim to go there. Our aim was to try and work honouring the deep engagement. The idea of re-establishing the relationship between the audience, and what their journey is going to be, the community making it”. Hull asserted that his role in adding the movement and dance elements to the show has been “a dream come true to work with manual and power wheelchairs to create movement together,” emphasizing the liberation of spaces focused on the lived experiences of the team rather than a more traditional methodology of prioritizing the audience.

    In reflecting on his work with the Imagining Possibilities Movement, Vivian explained how “my specific interests in working with the company lie in aspects of accessibility, universal design and the development process of improvisational, immersive performance spaces under very specific conditions. It has been a very humbling learning experience that we will adapt for my university course development and professional practice”. Breaking from the expected traditions of theatre development, the broad range of creative in communities in St. Catharines can take the fundamental ideas of change to expand who is in the audience, who is on stage, and how can we expand the experiences and interactions between these world.

    *Laura Leskur’s communication board is a bespoke system created at Bloorview and extended over the years. Laura has now memorized 1000 words with corresponding numbers. Elaine Drover and and Christine Jimenez have experience using Blissymbols to communicate. Blissymbolics is a semantic graphical language that is currently composed of more than 5000 authorized symbols – Bliss-characters and Bliss-words. It is a generative language that allows its users to create new Bliss-words as needed. It is used by individuals with severe speech and physical impairments around the world, but also by others for language learning and support, or just for the fascination and joy of this unique language representation. Elaine and Christine are both on the Board for Bliss Communication Institute Canada. See blissymbolics.org for more information.

    [The creators and producers of Come to the Edge wish to thank the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University, for the generosity of their support by providing rehearsal space and technical support in the studios and the MIW Theatre through July and August 2019.

    The article was edited and amended for accuracy and reprinted with permission.]

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

  • Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Indigenous Art Practice

    Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) invites applications for a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Indigenous Art Practice at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor.

    The CRC in Indigenous Art Practice will be appointed to one or more of the School’s academic units, depending on the successful applicant’s area(s) of knowledge and expertise. We recognize that in Indigenous art there may be no formal divisions between visual, theatrical, and musical art forms. Brock embraces diverse perspectives and pedagogical practices; it is hoped that the CRC in Indigenous Art Practice will help foster new collaborations across academic units and assist the School and university to move towards Indigenization. The CRC will be welcomed into a tight-knit, friendly, and dynamic community of artists, scholars, staff, and students that respects, promotes, and actively engages with Indigenous arts and culture within the University and Indigenous communities.

    Review of applications will begin on October 31, 2019, and will continue until the position is filled.

    For more information see the complete posting at brocku.wd3.myworkdayjobs.com/brocku_careers/job/St-Catharines-Downtown-Campus/Canada-Research-Chair—Tier-2—Indigenous-Art-Practice—Assistant-Associate-Professor-Tenure-Track_JR-1002413

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    Categories: Announcements, Faculty & Instructors, News, Uncategorised

  • Dramatic Arts grad gets rave reviews in Soulpepper’s The Brothers Size

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07), centre, plays the role of Elegba in the Soulpepper production of The Brothers Size alongside Daren A. Herbert, left, and Mazin Elsadig. Photo by: Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Soulpepper.


    The reviews are in, and Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07) is earning praise for his performance in what the Toronto Star calls a “stunning Canadian premiere.”

    Stewart stars as Elegba in The Brothers Size, the newest offering from Toronto-based production house Soulpepper.

    He describes the experience as a “whirlwind,” especially after Toronto-based rapper Drake made a surprise appearance at the May 10 opening night performance.

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07), second from right, and his castmates from The Brothers Size got a surprise visit from rapper Drake, third from right, at the opening night performance of the Toronto show.

    “It has been amazing; it’s such a gift to do something like this,” Stewart said. “Through my whole journey as an actor, I have wanted to work on a play that speaks to my experience, one that I can easily dive into, and this text was so comfortable it was like putting on a jacket that was made for me.”

    The Brothers Size is the second play in the Brothers/Sisters series, written by Oscar-winning screenwriter and Tony Award-nominated playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.

    Set in a fictional town in Louisiana, it tells the story of two brothers, Ogun and Oshoosi, who find themselves living together after Oshoosi’s release from prison.

    Stewart plays Oshoosi’s best friend, who formed a bond with him during their incarceration together.

    “I think on a micro level, Brothers Size is about the experience of black men today in the world,” Stewart said. “But on the macro level, what the characters go through are things that all people experience: grief, trauma and searching for a sense of belonging.”

    Stewart’s performance marks his return to the Soulpepper stage, where he has previously performed three times and was a member of the Soulpepper Academy.

    Some of his other credits include the role of Miles in The Drawer Boy at Prince Edward County’s Festival Players, Coutts in the Mirvish Theatre Production of King Charles III in Toronto, and roles on popular Canadian television series’ Kim’s Convenience and Murdoch Mysteries.

    While he focused primarily on acting for several years after graduation, Stewart also developed a passion for doing outreach work and giving back to young, aspiring actors.

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07).

    When he’s not on stage, he gives private acting lessons and hosts workshops in communities across Canada. He’s worked with school groups at the Toronto International Film Festival, for example, and was the creator of What Noise is This, a workshop that explores William Shakespeare’s canon through the lens of hip-hop music.

    Stewart is also involved in the local theatre industry, both as the outreach co-ordinator with St. Catharines theatre company Suitcase in Point and the volunteer co-ordinator for the upcoming In The Soil Arts Festival, taking place this June in downtown St. Catharines.

    Brock Assistant Theatre Professor Danielle Wilson offered her congratulations on Stewart’s success.

    “Marcel was bright and hungry to learn and is an example of the breadth of career opportunities that become available after studying in DART,” she said. “We congratulate him on his success as a working artist and are very proud of the contributions he has made in the theatre community over the years.”

    Stewart attributes his ability to “wear many hats” in his career to the skills he gained from studying at Brock.

    “The ‘motor’ that I developed at Brock was probably my biggest takeaway that I still rely on 12 years later,” the 33-year-old said. “To keep going, to keep pursuing, and if a door is closed in my face, then there’s 10 more doors that I can open.”

    After the wrap of Brothers Size in Toronto, Stewart is headed back to work in St. Catharines.

    He wants to continue his outreach work and bring more eclectic and diverse artists to St. Catharines.

    He said instructors at Brock encouraged him to explore his sense of self and find cultural connections through the performing arts — and he wants to do the same for others.

    “My experience at Brock helped open me up to recognizing who I am as a black man and encouraged me use that voice and speak from my perspective whenever I can,” he said. “Now I’m on this representation kick, running workshops, doing outreach and looking at how to bring some more colour — in more ways than one — to the artistic landscape.”

    Brothers Size runs until Saturday, June 1 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts at 50 Tank House Lane in Toronto. More information and tickets are available at Soulpepper.ca

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    Categories: Alumni, Faculty & Instructors, News