Faculty & Instructors

  • Dramatic Arts Professor directs Canadian premiere of a Benjamin Britten opera

    vb-glorianaThe 2013-2014 season of Toronto’s Voicebox/Opera in Concert showcases some ‘rarities of performance’ and features Gloriana by Benjamin Britten.

    The one-time concert performance at the Jane Mallet Theatre in Toronto is directed by Brock University Dramatic Arts Professor Virginia Reh.

    Gloriana was composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953 and VOICEBOX’s performance marks the 100Th Anniversary of the Composer’s birth.

    Queen Elizabeth I is approaching the end of her reign. Her affection for the impressive Earl of Essex is tested when he grows increasingly ambitious. Should she listen to the guidance of her advisors or be swayed by emotion? Moving from the pomp of state ceremony to the intimacy of the Queen’s private rooms, Gloriana depicts the public and private faces of the Virgin Queen, and the deterioration of her relationship with the impulsive Earl of Essex.

    The opera features 15 soloists. In this concert production 10 of the soloists will be coming out of the chorus. The production is in memory of Reh’s friend Stephen Ireland who passed away last October from complications arising from prostate cancer.  The production is sponsored by his foundation.

    Professor Reh will be directing the next Mainstage production of the Department of Dramatic Arts, Jehanne of the Witches, opening February 13, 2014.

    BENJAMIN BRITTEN
    GLORIANA

    Sunday, November 24, 2013 — 2:30pm
    IN english
    Jane Mallett Theatre (at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts) Sunday, November 24 @2:30 p.m.

    purchase tickets here

    Featuring
    Peter Tiefenbach, Music Director and Pianist
    Virginia Reh, Dramatic Advisor
    Robert Cooper, Chorus Director

    Betty Waynne Allison as Queen Elizabeth I
    Jennifer Sullivan as Penelope (Lady Rich)
    Adam Luther as Lord of Essex
    Dion Mazerrole as Cecil
    Jesse Clark as Lord Mountjoy
    Christina Campsall as Countess of Essex
    Marco Petracchi as Sir Walter Raleigh
    Domenico Sanfilippo as Henry Cuffe
    Fabian Arciniegas as The Recorder of Norwich
    Joshua Wales as The Spirit of the Masque
    Keenan Viau as The Master of Ceremonies
    Gregory Finney as Old Man
    Lise Maher as Page
    Jessika Monea as Lady in Waiting

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  • Dramatic Arts Professor gives plenary address “Performance and Its Genealogies of War” in Gothenburg, Sweden

    (Source: Skogen)

    Department of Dramatic Arts Professor Natalie Alvarez will be presenting her plenary address lecture “Performance and Its Genealogies of War” in the Seminar: CREATIVITY AND AUTHORSHIP IN WARFARE to be held November 27, 2013 at the Skogen performance space in Gothenburg, Sweden (Göteborgs Konsthall).

    Professor Alvarez moves through several sites of her field research at military bases in the US, Canada, and the UK to observe the ways in which the performance paradigm has been taken up by the military-industrial-academic complex as it attempts to advance training methodologies nimble enough to take on a new frontier of irregular and asymmetrical warfare. Each site raises a particular set of concerns that, when taken together, trace the genealogies of performance and war. In her studies of scenarios at an insurgent training camp for US Special Forces in Utah, USA, and mock Afghan villages at CFB Wainright, Canada, and the Stanford Training Area in England, Alvarez raises questions concerning how the affective entrainment of soldiers through large-scale immersive improvisations converges in unsettling ways with histories of performance theory. She examines the instrumental use of empathy in military strategy and queries how the immersion of soldiers in the mise en scène of an Afghan village designed to foster Cultural Intelligence (CQ)—positioned by military strategists as a “force multiplier”—prepares soldiers to engage in an irreconcilable paradox of punitive, yet culturally “sensitive,” militarism.

    Professor Alvarez is an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University, Ontario, Canada, where she teaches in the Theatre Praxis concentration. She holds a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of Toronto. In 2010, she received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her current book project on immersive simulations and intercultural performance in military training and dark tourism, which allowed her to conduct field research at military bases and tourist sites in Mexico, the US, Canada, and the UK. Her research on performance and simulation, performance theory, and contemporary experimental performance in the Americas has been published in a variety of periodicals, as well as national and international book collections. She is the editor of the first two collections on Latina/o-Canadian performance, which establish the field of Latina/o performance studies in Canada. She is the recipient of the 2013 Richard Plant Essay Prize and the Robert G. Lawrence emerging scholar prize, both by the Canadian Association of Theatre Research.

    The seminar is curated by Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt and Skogen. It is presented in collaboration with Göteborgs Konsthall and Glänta with support from Västra Götalandsregionen and Goethe-Institut Schweden.

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  • Dramatic Arts Professor receives prestigious Richard Plant Award

    1770911480_2The Canadian Association for Theatre Research has, since its inception, been the principal catalyst for expansion of theatre research in Canada. The Association works to promote research and publication of the results of this research into Canadian theatre and drama. Every year, CATR announces the results of awards for innovative and forward thinking research into theatre and drama in Canada.

    Dr. Natalie Alvarez, associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University was recently awarded the Richard Plant Award by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research for her essay “Realisms of Redress: Alameda Theatre and the Formation of a Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Politics”. This essay, published in New Canadian Realisms: New Essays on Canadian Theatre edited by Roberta Baker and Kim Solga, digs deeply into the pressing practical and scholarly debates concerning racial embodiment on Canadian stages. It is grounded in a rich historical survey of policies, practices and theoretic debates on identity and casting that have shaped Canadian theatre practice. Her arguments draw from the perspective of a Latina/o Canadian theatre culture in formation, particularly as demonstrated by the distinctive casting practices of Toronto’s Alameda Theatre that seek a repressive realism. Professor Alvarez provocatively argues for the potential of an indexical realism to build the foundation for a more viable realism of redress.

    At the 2013 Congress, Alvarez’s two edited books on Latina/o Canadian theatre and performance Fronteras Viventes: Eight Latina/o Canadian Plays and Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Performance were launched at the annual Playwrights Canada Press luncheon. These books are the first collections on Latina/o Canadian theatre and performance and engage in a cross-border dialogue with prominent and emerging US and Canadian scholars who take a hemispheric perspective in their examinations of Canadian “Latinidad.”

    Professor Alvarez has been busy the last few years traveling for her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded research project in performance studies which investigates live, immersive simulations in a variety of contexts. In her investigation into the emergence of “dark-tourism”, Alvarez has observed interactions between soldiers and Afgan actors in mock Afgan villages constructed for the final phase of intensive training. She also spent a week in the Utah mountains at an immersive “insurgent training camp” for US military and law enforcement personnel. She presented her research findings at the 2011 American Society of Theatre Research in Montreal in a working session on war and war-time performance. Prior to 2011, Alvarez’s proposal on the illegal border crossing reenactments for tourists in El Alberto, Mexico was selected for the American Society of Theatre Research’s opening plenary panel at the 2009 conference in Puerto Rico.

    The Department of Dramatic Arts congratulates Professor Alvarez for her award and looks forward to the new knowledge and experiences she will share with the students when she rejoins the department in July 2014.

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  • Dramatic Arts Professor launches a new look at the Eurovision Song Contest

    Performing the 'New' Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics at the Eurovision Song Contest

    Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics at the Eurovision Song Contest

    Professor Karen Fricker of Brock University’s Dramatic Arts Department has spent the last decade attending “Europe’s favourite TV show”, the Eurovision Song Contest.

    Professor Fricker, who lectures in the praxis concentration, spent a week last May in Malmö, Sweden where she launched her new co-edited book Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics at the Eurovision Song Contest at the centre of the annual pop song festival watched by over 170 million people all over the world.

    Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics at the Eurovision Song Contest argues that this popular music competition is a symbolic contact zone between European cultures: an arena for European identification in which both national solidarity and participation in a European identity are confirmed, and a site where cultural struggles over the meanings, frontiers and limits of Europe are enacted.

    With her new book, Karen has received much attention as a Eurovision media expert. She covered the contest as a journalist for the Irish Times and wrote a blog post this year for the Guardian about the U.K. and Eurovision.

    The Department of Dramatic Arts is celebrating the launch of Professor Fricker’s book on September 26th in TH 235 from 5:00pm – 6:00pm. Refreshments and musical entertainment will be provided, as well as a brief and entertaining introduction to all things Eurovision.

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  • Dramatic Arts Professor Karen Fricker receives Excellence in Teaching Award at McGill University

    The Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University congratulates Professor Karen Fricker for her recent Award for Excellence in Teaching at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.  Professor Fricker is the first recipient of The Charles Bronfman and Rita Mayo Award for Excellence in Teaching at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. This is based on evaluations of her Fall, 2013 course, Performing Québec in the Global Age. The award was granted by a jury consisting of Professors Robert Leckey and Nathalie Cooke, and MISC Director Will Straw.

    The Award was established in 2012 with a gift from Heather Munro-Blum and Leonard Solomon-Blum. The Award recognizes outstanding teaching at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada in the Faculty of Arts, with special emphasis on advancing the interest of students in the study of Canada. All faculty in the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada are eligible for the Award, which has a total value of $1,000.

    The MISC congratulates Professor Fricker on this Award and thanks her for her excellent contributions to their teaching program.
    See the original news posting on the website of the MISC at McGill University.

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  • Khalida: a play for the Arab Spring, opens in St. Catharines at the Sullivan-Mahoney Theatre

    khalida_12r15By Dr. Karen Fricker and staff

    The story told in Khalida, a new theatre production playing this week in St Catharines, might at first glance seem somewhat removed from the experience of many Canadians. Subtitled ‘a play for the Arab Spring’, it takes the form of the confession and testimony of Said, a man on the run from his native Middle Eastern country, which has become a battle zone.

    But the play’s origins couldn’t be more local: it springs from the friendship between author/director David Fancy, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts at Brock, and the Iraqi actor Addil Hussain, who received a BA in Dramatic Arts degree from Brock in 2006.

    ‘Addil was Saddam Hussein’s favourite actor,’ Fancy explains. ‘He fled Iraq during the first Gulf War and, after living as a refugee in Jordan for six or seven years, finally ended up in Canada. He did a degree in the Drama in Education and Society stream at Brock and became a Canadian citizen’. Audiences might remember Hussain’s performances in two of the three plays performed in An Arabian Trilogy, a departmental Mainstage production in 2006. In the third play he performed the role of the father in Leila Tatadaffah Bil Rasass. Mun Youaniquha? (By the Warmth of the Bullet that Kills) set in modern-day Baghdad and written by another Brock graduate Abbas Aldilami.

    Fancy says he wrote the play ‘for the express purpose of continuing a conversation with Addil, having witnessed the challenges that he experienced as an individual and as an artist finding a voice as a new Canadian.’ The play is being produced by neXt Company Theatre, of which Fancy is co-artistic director.

    While his friendship with Hussain offers fascinating insight into Khalida’s origins, Fancy believes an appreciation of the production does not rely on this backstory. ‘This is about a person somewhere in the world who has experienced difficulty and is using creativity to frame that and move beyond it,’ he explains.

    The role of Said is being played by Toronto-based actor Jason Jazrawy, whose father is from Iraq. Jazrawy calls Said ‘an Arabic Everyman who whom all ethnicities can relate’ and says he welcomes the opportunity to ‘portray an Arab as a positive role model for a change,’ having found himself often cast as a terrorist jihadi because of his heritage.

    Alongside Khalida, neXt Company Theatre has facilitated a community engagement project, The Arab Spring Monologues, which features 9-10 Niagarans, including four Brock students and recent graduates, writing about how the Arab Spring connects with their own experience or with the region.

    Students from across the DART concentrations – Applied Theatre and Drama in Education, Theatre Praxis, Performance, and Production and Design – will be attending the production. The production presents an excellent model for the Brock students’ creative investigations in writing and dramaturgy, performance, and production, as well as personal and social identities and citizenship, remarks the Chair or the Department, David Vivian.

    As for Addil Hussain, he returned to the Middle East in 2010, and is now working as an actor in Baghdad. Despite being half a world away, this production of Khalida is very much on his radar. Via Facebook, he sent this message to Fancy and his collaborators: ‘Khalida was just a wish, and an idea, then became reality… I’m fully confident that Khalida is in great hands, hands with a great level of professionalism. Break a leg!’
    ———-
    Khalida plays at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre from 26 February-2 March. Tickets are available here. The Arab Spring Monologues play 5-7 pm on Saturday, March 2 at Robertson Hall, 85 Church Street, St. Catharines. Admission free; groups are requested to contact the company in advance here.

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  • DART Professor at 2013 Congress in Victoria, British Columbia

    Associate Professor Natalie Alvarez will be serving on the Program Committee for the Canadian Association for Theatre Research’s (CATR) 2013 meeting at Congress 2013 of the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2014 DART will be hosting the annual meeting of the CATR as part of the complete Congress event to be held at the St. Catharines campus.

    In addition to participating in a seminar on performance studies and sport, her two edited books on Latina/o Canadian theatre and performance will be launched during a conference lunch in Victoria.

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  • Dramatic arts prof interviewed on national radio

    Karen Fricker, assistant professor of Dramatic Arts, was inteviewed on CBC Radio's Q Monday morning.

    Karen Fricker, assistant professor of Dramatic Arts, was inteviewed on CBC Radio’s Q Monday morning.

    (Source: The Brock NewsMonday, January 21, 2013 | by )

    A Brock University dramatic arts professor was interviewed on national radio about the current state of affairs of entertainment giant Cirque du Soleil.

    Karen Fricker was a guest Monday on CBC Radio’s Q, a daily arts and culture magazine. The assistant professor talked about the implications of Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil’s recent announcement that it was laying off 400 people.

    “This is significant because Cirque du Soleil is a very strong brand and usually the coverage around it is positive,” Fricker said.

    The segment of the show, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, looked at whether the company was in crisis and if the layoffs meant the end of a Canadian success story made world famous for its performances that incorporate gravity-defying acrobatics and stunning choreography.

    From Fricker’s perspective, Cirque du Soleil isn’t going anywhere but it has grown at an unsustainable rate.

    The company has even admitted to not having appropriate control over its spending.

    “That’s an important admission,” Fricker said. “They’re making money but they’re spending too much and (cutting jobs) is a line in the sand, a signal their practices need to change .”

    Fricker was joined by J. Kelly Nestruck, a theatre critic for the Globe and Mail, on the show.

    The segment will air again Monday night on CBC Radio One at 10 p.m. and can be heard online or as a podcast.

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  • Design instructor in the Department of Dramatic Arts receives notice in the Globe and Mail 

    Christine Horne and Susan Coyne in Between The Sheets. (John Lauener, from the Globe and Mail, link to source adjacent)

    Christine Horne and Susan Coyne in Between The Sheets. (John Lauener, from the Globe and Mail, link to source adjacent)

    Kelly Wolf, sessional instructor for DART 1P97 Introduction to Stagecraft, Production and Design and DART 3F61 Design: Theatrical Design, recently designed the world premiere at Nightwood Theatre in Toronto, Between the Sheets. This “short, sharp new play” is noticed for its brilliant and heart-pounding performance.

    Nightwood describes the play: “What begins as an ordinary parent teacher interview unravels into a gripping and raw confrontation between two women on the brink of disaster. One woman is fighting to protect her family. The other is fighting for the family she always wanted. With razor sharp intensity, Mand has crafted a rollercoaster ride of high stakes drama.”

    Globe Critic Martin Morrow congratulates Kelly for “the perfect character-defining costumes and … the set, an exact replica of an elementary-school classroom.” Her design proposes a scenographic space that gives the feeling of a “boxing ring in director Kelly Thornton’s tightly coiled staging.”

    The Globe concludes their notice with “If you handed out report cards for shows, Between the Sheets would get straight As.”

    Congratulations to Kelly!

    for the full review please see the article in the Globe and Mail.

    information about the season at Nightwood Theatre may be found here.

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  • Incoming DART professor reports about the Eurovision Contest from Baku, Azerbaijan

    karenfrickerA spotlight is shining on Azerbaijan this May as it hosts Eurovision, the annual European song contest known for its outlandish performances, and viewed on TV by more than 100 million people. But it’s not all glitz this year. While Azerbaijan attempts to show off its strength to the world, it’s also come under scrutiny by activist groups for its unsavoury human rights record, and its crackdown on anti-government protestors and journalists leading up to the contest.

    Karen Fricker is co-founder of the Eurovision and ‘New’ Europe academic research network who is covering the contest for the Irish Times. She recently reported on what these negative reports mean for the Eurovision Contest and Azerbaijan for the program Q hosted by Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio. She is a lecturer in contemporary theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London and deputy London theatre critic for Variety.  You can read more about her research activities in her profile at Royal Holloway. We are delighted that she will be joining her new colleagues at the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University in January 2013.

    You can listen to the report here or here. (22:44)

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