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  • 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

  • DART Shaw Festival Internship 2019: WEEK 2, Stumbling but Still Going

    Mae Smith is the Department of Dramatic Arts’ 2019 Shaw Intern.
    Read her weekly blogs about her work in lighting design and props building.
    Learn more about the internship


    (From: The DART Shaw Intern Blog, May 9, 2019 | By: Mae Smith)

    This week, I’m in the prop shop almost every day for at least a couple hours. I’m back to pumping out high volume items which is satisfying once you start filling up boxes and boxes. No one in the shop passes up an opportunity to make a joke about taking all the fake money and running away.

    On Tuesday, my lack of skill in sewing becomes painfully obvious as I’m tasked with hemming napkins for Getting Married. I can’t keep the hem even or straight – it’s just a mess. I’m quite embarrassed to say the least as I’ve thrown a bit of a wrench in the productivity. Later, I confide in Kimberley Rampersad, Intern Artistic Director at the Shaw, about how I feel and she’s able to help me see it as not a wholly negative thing. See, my experience working with props previously has been mostly painting, hot gluing, and carving styrofoam. I hadn’t considered sewing at all part of that because I hadn’t been exposed to it in this context. Now, at least I know it’s something that I need to work on for props building and not something I can just forever put to the side. In the mean time, I’ll return to making stacks of fake money.

    When I’m not in the prop shop, I’m all around the main building.

    I pop into the design studio a couple times to go through the lighting design bibles from previous seasons. Scanning through the paper work is a little overwhelming at first. I have a very basic familiarity with Vectorworks and Lightwright so there’s a lot of documents that I’ve never seen or heard of. It takes me a good 15 minutes of staring at the paper to figure out what’s going on in the focus charts because there are so many lines overlapping. Luckily, Mikael Kangas is around to answer my questions and explain how the paperwork useful in the grand scheme and in specific situations.

    String lights under the risers in the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre. This is partly used for storage for the shows.

    I have my first visit to the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre of my internship to observe the SPASM for The Glass Menagerie. SPASM stands for “Set & Props with Assistant Stage Manager.” This is where the crew of the theatre meet with the assistant stage manager to see where all set pieces, props, and dressing need to go on the set. Stage manager Kate Hennigar shares a copy of the paperwork detailing where everything is set with me so that I can follow along with Joe and Jeff (the change-over crew for the studio theatre). I help them move furniture from the rehearsal hall, upstairs to the theatre and unload it on stage.

    As we work, everyone shares a bit of their insight with me and happily explains the process. I’m glad to be engaged and helpful in the process but I’m careful to step back to make sure I’m not doing the work Joe and Jeff need to do so that they know their tracks for setting the show.

    The ghost light in the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre.

    I also attend the tech rehearsal and invited dress rehearsals for Brigadoon. I find that every time I see the show, I love it more and more. The show is so much about love, as director Glynis Leyshon makes clear in her introduction before the dress rehearsal begins, and I’m head over heels for every romance in the show. I smile ear to ear watching the characters fall in love each time.

    To my eye, the show’s lighting looks perfect; however, Kevin Lamotte and Mikael Kangas are continuously working and making changes to cues. I listen in over the com to hear what they’re changing. This helps me learn what to pay attention to when I’m designing. It’s also encouraging to know that not everything is figured out with the plot and focus. There’s always things changing and you’ll always be adapting.

    Later, I move further into the Historical Old Town of N.O.T.L.

    I get to visit the Courthouse theatre for a The Ladykillers rehearsal again, which is just such a joy. The show is so funny and both the cast and creative team present in rehearsal bring such a great energy that you can’t help but enjoy.

    On my last day of the week, I spend my time in the Royal George Theatre, attending the tech dress for Getting Married and then a preview of Rope.
    I personally love the George as it is a much smaller space than the Festival Theatre but maintains such a grand elegance about it. The house of the theatre is a luxurious red which is rich but comforting at the same time.

    Seats in the Royal George Theatre.

    When I arrive at the theatre in the morning, the lighting operator, Mel, takes me on a full backstage tour of the theatre while completing pre-show duties at the same time. Mel is quite in depth with their explanations and I’m grateful for all the details. The assistant lighting designer, Nick Andison, tells me about how the lighting grid is planned and divided between shows in theatre. It helps answer that part of me that’s constantly looking at the shows and asking “But how do you start?!”

    Nick explains some of the design to me. The intent and focus of the lighting design is quite different for Getting Married than it is for the huge musical that is Brigadoon. It’s interesting to note the difference and speak to Nick about what to look for and what they’re trying to do.

    When I get to Rope in the evening I’m a little taken aback at the change-over of the set. It’s incredible how much the space transforms. I was really captivated by the set design, which featured scrim walls and a window with an incredible rain effect. I’m not here to review the show, but if I was, I don’t think I’d have a bad thing to say. I’m going to end on that note. This week made me very excited about how I get to work in theatre and reminded me that there’s so much about it to love.

    The view from my seat for ROPE (2019). Directed by Jani Lauzon. Designed by Joanna Yu. Lighting Designed by Louise Guinard.

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    Categories: Alumni, News, Shaw Intern Blog

  • DART Shaw Festival Internship 2019: WEEK 1, Getting Started

    Mae Smith is the Department of Dramatic Arts’ 2019 Shaw Intern.
    Read her weekly blogs about her work in lighting design and props building.
    Learn more about the internship.


    (From: The DART Shaw Intern Blog, May 2, 2019 | By: Mae Smith)

    Despite my many visits to the Shaw Festival in recent years, and having already met Kevin Lamotte (Shaw’s Lighting Design Director) in a meeting last month, I am incredibly nervous before I even step foot out of my car onto the property.

    The friendliness I am greeted with from everyone, however, quickly washes those nerves away. Kimberley Rampersad meets with me to take me on a tour of the main building. Kimberley is a director at the Shaw, who will be directing the upcoming production of Man and Superman. In addition to showing me the rehearsal halls, theatre, and efficient pathways around the building, I’m introduced to almost everyone we pass, who greet me with smiles and hearty handshakes. I’m hoping some subconscious part of my brain is storing everyone’s names somewhere and will pull them out when I need them.

    Me, near my usual seat in the theatre.

    When my tour finishes, I am whisked back to the festival theatre where I find my – now usual – seat next to Kevin Lamotte and Mikael Kangas, the assistant lighting designer for Brigadoon. I’m joining them towards the end of the design process of this show, during tech rehearsals. I listen over headset to the many voices co-ordinating their parts and then relaying all that back to the stage manager, Dora Tomassi. It’s quite chaotic, but not altogether unfamiliar from my experience at Brock. I mostly listen to pick out Kevin and Mikael’s voices, giving the operator instructions to update cues while I follow along on my copy of the show’s magic sheet (a sheet that shows you where every light lands on stage), which is no easy feat. I’ve never seen so many lights in on one sheet ever. I’m even more awestruck when I move to the stage and peer up at the LX pipes to see so many different instruments placed as close as possible next to each other. As I gather from overhearing conversations and asking a couple questions, the plot is shared over the season so practically every lighting fixture for all the shows in the festival theatre is up there right now. When I ask Kevin, on a later day, how that’s even managed, he laughs and says, “That would take your whole internship to answer.”

    I spend half of my week at Kevin’s side, observing how he does things and taking notes whenever I come across something new. Occasionally, Kevin will lean over and explain a choice he’s made, or what exactly is going around us, helping me understand his process more. In general, everyone is very kind about answering my questions, including technicians, stagehands, and other designers. Many of the process is familiar but there is so much I haven’t even scratched the surface of yet.

    The ceiling of the Court House Theatre’s beautiful main hall where The Ladykillers rehearses.

    On top of Brigadoon, I attend rehearsals for The Ladykillers with Kevin, which are held in the Court House Theatre. This time, I’ve caught Kevin in the early stages of designing. He walks me through what he’s thinking and what challenges he foresees with the set design (Judith Bowden) which leaves few hiding spaces for lighting fixtures. I take note of his format for planning in the script for future reference. I’m very interested in seeing this part of the process. A lot of the questions I had in my head during Brigadoon‘s tech could be boiled down to: “How do you even start?” Now I get to see.

     

     

     

     

    The instructions for water confetti

     

    The other half of the week, I work in the prop shop. As a newer, less experienced worker I’m not surprised to be given some simpler more repetitive tasks. I chop up iridescent cellophane to be used for as water in a bucket for Brigadoon; I cut fake money for The Ladykillers; and paint styrofoam to tone down the brightness. Although less complex, they are still necessary and important. But I also get to try my hand at upholstering a foot stool for The Ladykillers and replacing the ribbon on powder puffs for The Glass Menagerie.Sewing is one of my weaker skills so I’m grateful for the trust and elated when I finish both tasks with approval.

    The footstool for THE LADYKILLERS (2019). Directed by Tim Carroll. Designed by Judith Bowden. Constructed in the Prop Shop.

    On my second day in the shop, I’m sent out with one of the drivers to deliver and retrieve props. After picking up some tables and a faux fireplace from a rehearsal, we head out to the warehouse which I am very excited to see because it’s massive. There are rows and rows of benches, tables, chairs, dummies, lamps (see featured image), etc. There are so many pieces in the warehouse; the aisles are long and multiple levels high, stacked with various furniture. I was in awe the whole time. If the whole week itself hadn’t already been one big highlight, I could say that seeing the warehouse was the highlight of my week.

    For next week, I have a lot of prop time and a lot of tech rehearsals to attend so stay tuned!

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    Categories: Alumni, News, Shaw Intern Blog

  • All the world’s a stage for Brock student turned Shaw Festival intern

    Brock Dramatic Arts student Mae Smith gets acquainted with the Shaw Festival theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake on her first day as the festival’s newest intern.


    (From The Brock News, April 25, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Brock Dramatic Arts student Mae Smith is ready to put her in-class learning to the test as she embarks on an eight-week internship with the venerable Shaw Festival.

    Smith, who began in the new role this week, will use her production and design skills as she works alongside Kevin Lamotte, Shaw’s Head of Lighting, Wayne Reierson, Head of Props, and other Shaw staff on the productions of BrigadoonThe Lady Killers, and Sex.

    The shows will run at the festival this summer and fall in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

    Kate Hennig, Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, said the internship allows students to gain experience in a range of festival activities under the direction of industry professionals.

    Kate Hennig (left), Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, meets with Mae Smith, Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts 2019 Shaw Festival intern.

    “In addition to her daily work calls, Mae will have access to the onstage and backstage life of one of North America’s busiest repertory theatres,” she said. “She will meet theatre artists from across Canada and around the world, and will have unique opportunities to attend many lectures, discussions and ancillary events during her residency.”

    Smith said she’s looking forward to the experiential learning opportunities the internship provides and to developing techniques and strategies for staging a production.

    “I’ve had a lot of practical experiences at Brock, but this internship will be quite specific and I’m excited to learn more about lighting design and props construction,” she said. “I also hope I can gain connections with other professionals that will open more career opportunities for me.”

    Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) has partnered with the Shaw Festival to provide student internships since 2011.

    Dramatic Arts alumna Michelle Mohammed (BA ’18) was 2018’s intern and worked alongside Peter Hinton on Oh! What a Lovely War. She vlogged about her experiences at the festival on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Art’s YouTube channel throughout the process.

    Smith will provide weekly updates as well, which will also be shared through the Marilyn I. Walker social media accounts.

    DART students are eligible to apply for this intensive residency following the successful completion of DART 4Y92: Text and Performance at the Shaw Festival Theatre, taught by instructor Barbara Worthy. Students attended festival performances and interacted with festival staff and actors during the course.

    Co-ops and summer contract work at the Shaw has also been available to DART students over the years, and some alumni of the program have even gone on to work for the festival full time.

    Department Chair Joe Norris said all of the internship candidates this year were exceptional students, but Smith was ultimately chosen because her skills and interests were the “best fit” for the particular productions the Shaw Festival is staging this season.

    “The Shaw internship creates a stepping stone between the university world and the student’s future career path,” he said. “Mae will be able to bridge what she’s learned in the classroom with the processes that the Shaw utilizes, and gain experience in a professional environment.”

    Smith is excited to learn more about the inner-workings of the festival and utilize the experience to bolster her resume going forward.

    “I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “I feel the internship will help me figure out where I want to situate myself in theatre and help me plan my professional path.”

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    Categories: Current Students, News

  • Brock grad lands leading role in off-Broadway Big Bang Theory parody

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus John McGowan (BA ’14) is playing the role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the off-Broadway production of The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody. He is pictured with castmate Meagan Michelson (left), who plays the role of Q/Leslie Winkle. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Daniel)


    (From The Brock News, April 9, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    “Stick with it, don’t be afraid and take chances.”

    That’s the advice Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus John McGowan (BA ’14) has for those looking to make it big in New York City.

    McGowan was recently cast for the starring role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the off-Broadway production The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody.

    While this isn’t his first off-Broadway gig — he recently played Gabe Goodman in the Pulitzer Prize winner, Next to Normal — the buzz from this production is what McGowan describes as a “breakout role.”

    Brock dramatic arts alumni John McGowan (BA ’14) is playing the role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the off-Broadway production of The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody. He is pictured with castmate Teresa Hui (right), who plays the role of Amy Farrah-Fowler. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Daniel)

    “I have fan groups following me on Instagram and other social media — yes, there are fan groups for this show — and I’ve been getting a lot of international attention, doing a lot of interviews and people are sending me a lot more job offers because word is starting to travel,” he said.

    Although he has been cast as “extreme” characters in the past, McGowan said playing a beloved pop culture character in a long-running comedy has been a new and exciting challenge.

    “The thing about comedies is that some audiences are absolutely with you, and it’s easy to feed off of their energies, and then some are dead silent and you have to overcome that,” he said. “That’s been a bit of a learning curve, but it’s been going quite well.”

    Shelley Huxley, Brock’s Director of Alumni Relations, offered her congratulations to the actor.

    “It’s wonderful to see Brock grads finding their way in such a competitive industry after leaving Brock,” she said. “The University’s fine and performing arts programs were designed to enrich the lives of students pursuing careers in arts and culture, and it’s exciting to see this vision come to life through success stories like John’s.”

    McGowan was bitten by the theatre bug at the age of nine, when he began auditioning for a wide range of productions on stage and screen.

    He then enrolled to study at Brock, where he majored in Dramatic Arts with a Concentration in Production and Design.

    Although he had talent both on the stage and behind the scenes, acting eventually became his sole focus.

    He was also an active member of Brock Musical Theatre, playing the part of Nicky in Avenue Q and Angel Dumott Schunard in Rent, and would later land other roles in the Niagara region and Greater Toronto area, including Link in Hairspray.

    After graduation, McGowan set his sights on New York City and was accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) with three scholarships.

    “It was everything you’d think a performing arts school in New York would be, it was like a boot camp,” he recalled. “I was glad that I went to Brock before going to AMDA because it instilled a maturity in me. Because AMDA is very challenging, the skills I developed at Brock really powered me through and helped me out a lot.”

    It doesn’t get any less challenging after graduating, either, he added.

    “When you want to be a performer, everyone tells you it’s hard, and that kind of goes without saying because it is hard, and you always want to retreat to that more stable job because you get rejected, and rejected, and rejected,” he said.

    Even the process of becoming eligible to work in another country can be what McGowan describes as “somewhat traumatizing,” because “your career, your life’s work and your validity to stay in their economy and industry” is being judged.

    How did he overcome those hurdles?

    “Endurance is key if this is what you really want to do,” McGowan said. “You just have to keep going and things will eventually start to fall into place. If you keep showing up, they are going to see you have the drive and eventually pick you up.”

    In addition to his most recent role, McGowan has also appeared in several theatrical productions and in venues such as Feinstein’s/54 Below, The West End and The Green Room 42 while working in New York.

    With a mounting body of work under his belt, McGowan is now looking toward the future and taking on his next challenge.

    “I’d like to branch into film and television more, that’s the next thing I have my eye on,” he said.

    And while he wants to give it a few more years in New York, he plans to return to Canada someday.

    “Just not quite yet; I’m not quite done with New York,” he said.

    The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody is scheduled for an open-ended run and is currently playing at the Anne Bernstein Theatre (The Theater Center) in New York City. Tickets are available online.

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    Categories: Alumni, News

  • Drama students to tackle tough topics in Sunday on the Rocks

    Brock dramatic arts students and cast members Catherine Tait, left, and Kristina Ojaperv rehearse for their upcoming production of Sunday on the Rocks. Produced by dramatic arts students under the company name OverHead Theatre, the show is being staged at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts from Friday, April 12 to Sunday, April 14. Photo courtesy of OverHead Theatre.


    (From The Brock News, Friday, March 29, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Brock Dramatic Arts students are bringing the work of Broadway heavyweight Theresa Rebeck to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) this April with their production of Sunday on the Rocks.

    The show is produced by students in the University’s DART 4F56 class, under the company name Over Head Theatre, and is the follow-up to their successful first production A History of Everything.

    It opens at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre on Friday, April 12 and runs until Sunday, April 14.

    Set in 1994, Sunday on the Rocks is a comedic drama about four roommates stepping into adulthood and struggling with issues of harassment, sexual assault and abortion.

    It features the talents of fourth-year Dramatic Arts students Adria Dearden, Kristina Ojaperv, Tsipporah Shendroff and Catherine Tait as the cast, and is being staged by the production team comprised of Alicia Bender, Whitney Braybrook-Byl, Leah Eichler, Juan-Carlos Figueroa, Heather Janser, Holly Kurelek, Ryan Mahon, Emma McCormick, Mae Smith and Geoff Turner.

    Director and course instructor Neil Silcox said he was drawn to this play because of the rich and complex characters.

    “Living in 1994, they are struggling with all the same issues that women face today, but without the short-hand to talk about it that we’ve developed in the past 25 years with the rise of the #MeToo movement.”

    Assistant Director Colin Williams added: “Theresa Rebeck’s writing never shies away from difficult and sensitive subjects, is never preachy and is, above all, funny.”

    Rebeck, who has four plays under her belt, was presented the PEN/Laura Pels Award in 2010 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. Her other notable plays include Seminar, starring Alan Rickman, Dead Accounts, starring Katie Holmes, and most recently, the 2018 Broadway hit Bernhardt/Hamlet, starring Janet McTeer.

    Sunday on the Rocks runs from Friday, April 12 to Sunday, April 14 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre of the MIWSFPA, located at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines. Tickets are $5 (plus taxes and fees) and are available for purchase through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre online box office or by phone at 905-688-0722.

    For more information and showtimes visit the DART web page. Limited parking is available on site.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, News, Performance Season, Plays

  • Popular One Act Festival returns to Marilyn I. Walker Theatre

    Dramatic Arts students in the Directing II course are presenting a series of short plays as part of the upcoming One Act Festival on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.


    (From The Brock News, March 18, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts students will bring the intricacies of human interaction, the banality of small-town life and even the future of ‘designer babies’ to the stage in the upcoming One Act Festival.

    Opening at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) on Friday, March 22, the popular One Act Festival will stage eight student-led productions in a two-night run.

    A yearly endeavour, the festival puts students in the Directing II course in the spotlight as they bring a selection of one-act plays to life. The students are responsible for the entire production process, including the selection of a script, auditioning the cast, rehearsing, designing the show and co-ordinating with the Dramatic Arts (DART) production team on all technical needs.

    The course’s instructor, Mike Griffin, said the One Act Festival is one of his favourite parts of the DART program.

    An exciting mentoring process happens, he explained, as students from all years collaborate to create theatre under the leadership of the third-year directing class.

    “As the student actors and directors come together, they put into practice the skills they have been developing throughout their courses, which supports them as they teach each other, grow as artists and inspire the next round of future directors,” he said.

    This year’s productions are all being presented under the theme ‘Rise.’

    Lauren Reid, a third-year DART major and Director of On the Porch One Crisp Spring Morning, said the inclusive and collaborative nature of the One Act Festival makes for a valuable learning experience.

    “Everyone is so open and willing to help me with this great opportunity and to make it the best it can be,” she said. “I have a great team on all sides that are there to support me whenever I need help, and I think this course is a great way for people to explore different opportunities within the DART and theatre community, in general.”

    For second-year DART student Holly Hebert, the festival allows her to “actively participate in the growth of a production.”

    “As an actor in Winter Games, Director Chris Murillo had us engage in a number of exercises that built our relationships, our impulses and developed our One Act to become an incredibly stimulating process,” she added.

    The students encourage the community to attend, promising the roster of shows in the festival are “emotionally active” and will often have audiences “on the edge of their seats.”

    The One Act Festival runs on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. each night. All shows take place in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre of the MIWSFPA at 15 Artists’ Common.

    Admission is pay-what-you-can at the door.

    For more information on the 2018 One Act Festival, visit the Current Season page on the DART website.

    One Act Festival 2019

    Inside the Department of the Exterior
    Directed by: Josh Loewen
    Playwright: Philip Hall
    Actors: Jared Geden, Samantha Rideout

    Another Sense
    Directed by: Rina Wilkins
    Playwright: Melissa Major
    Actors: Madison Andrews, Bianca Taylor

    Winter Games  
    Directed by:Chris Murillo
    Playwright: Rachel Bonds
    Actors: Alex Sykes, Holly Hebert, Leah Rantala

    The Worker
    Directed by: Rachel Frederick
    Playwright: Walter Wykes
    Actors: Paige Hunt-Harmon, Asenia Lyall, Diego Blanco

    Baby Factory  
    Directed by: Tyler Simpson
    Playwright: Stephen Bittrich
    Actors: Tristan Holmes, Luke Huffman, Meryl Ochoa, Nathan Rossi, Elizabeth Martin

    Nightstand  
    Directed by: Uchenna Edozie-Egbuna
    Playwright: Fergus Church
    Actors: Molly Lacey, Luca D’Amico

    One Night Fran
    Directed by: Frances Johnson
    Playwright: Adam Szudrich
    Actors: Kristina Miller, Aly Markov, Sarah Rowe

    On the Porch One Crisp Spring Morning
    Directed by: Lauren Reid
    Playwright: Alex Dremann
    Actors: Alexandra, Chubaty Boychuk and Joanna Tran

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

  • Community discussion to focus on King Ubu’s relevance to today

    Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is excited to bring King Ubu to the mainstage this weekend at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in downtown St. Catharines. The show runs from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 9. Cast member Emma McCormick (centre) was interviewed during last week’s media call.


    (From The Brock News, February 28, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    St. Catharines city councillor Karrie Porter will join a group of Brock Dramatic Arts (DART) students and Brock faculty members next week in a roundtable discussion on the relevance of King Ubu to today’s political climate.

    The free, public event, “Folly, feces and fake news: King Ubu, then and now,” will be held in the Scotiabank Atrium in the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex on Wednesday, March 6 from 10 to 11 a.m.

    “We’re really happy to have Karrie’s participation,” said Director and DART Associate Professor David Fancy. “She has a rich background in social justice, community engagement and lived experience of being a woman in politics in the age of social media.”

    Students in Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts are excited to bring King Ubu to the mainstage this weekend at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in downtown St. Catharines. The show runs from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 9.

    The plot follows Pa Ubu (a patriarchal, racist, megalomaniac who constantly talks about poop, loves himself a lot and kills everybody around him) and his wife, Ma Ubu (who pushes her husband to increasing feats of violence and narcissism), as they go on a bloodthirsty quest to take over the world.Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is staging the classic French production in a run from March 1 to 9.

    Fancy said he is looking forward to generating discussions on the work’s timeless themes at the upcoming roundtable.

    “Whenever we’re programming productions, we attempt to provide students and the department, and by extension the wider community, the opportunity to work through a set of themes that resonate with what is going on with the world,” Fancy said. “Given this is about a person who is obsessed with their own power, King Ubu seemed like a good fit, thematically.”

    The controversy surrounding the play’s opening run is also going to be discussed. Panelists will debate whether King Ubu opened and closed in a single night because of its controversial content, or, whether the hubbub was an example of 19th century “fake news,” intentionally manufactured and exaggerated to promote the production.

    Panelists will also explore Fancy’s adaptation of the play and the queering of main character Pa Ubu (who will be played by female cast member Emma McCormick in the Brock production).

    In addition to Fancy and Porter, panelists will include Professors Leah Bradshaw (Political Science), Tim Conley (English) and Karen Fricker (Dramatic Arts), and DART students McCormick, Kristina Ojaperv (Assistant Director), Mae Smith and Catherine Tait.

    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Director Elizabeth Vlossak will moderate the discussion.

    “The roundtable provides a unique opportunity to foster discussion and the sharing of ideas and debate between people who may not interact academically otherwise,” she said. “Hosting the event on the main campus with a variety of different panelists also brings the work taking place at the MIWSFPA into the community, showcasing the connections that visual arts, music and theatre can have to our everyday lives.”

    The roundtable discussion is free and open to the public.

    No registration is required but seating is limited and first-come, first-served. Light refreshments will be served, and attendees will be eligible to enter into a draw for free King Ubu tickets.

    King Ubu runs at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts from March 1 to 9. For more information, visit the Department of Dramatic Arts website. Tickets are available through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office at 905-688-0722 or on the PAC website.

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  • King Ubu coming to Marilyn I. Walker Theatre

    Cast and crew members of the upcoming mainstage production King Ubu have been busy preparing for opening night on Friday, March 1. Tickets are on sale now for the production, presented by Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts.


    (From The Brock News, February 13, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Alfred Jarry’s controversial classic King Ubu will bring audiences face-to-face with the absurdity of modern life when the production comes to Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker Theatre starting Friday, March 1.

    Presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), the show is an avant-garde and hilarious commentary on human folly and the dangers of unchecked political ambition.

    Director and Associate Professor David Fancy said Ubu’s references to populism and the blurred lines between celebrity culture and politics are fitting themes for our current climate. Although first performed in 19th century France, King Ubu, he added, offers “an invitation to look critically at, but not disengage with, the current moment in time.”

    The play centres on Ma and Pa Ubu’s bloodthirsty quest to become the new king and queen of a fictionalized version of Poland.

    Between their continuous bickering, Pa, an egotistical and inept tyrant who wields an enormous toilet brush while speaking nonsense, and Ma, his enabling and devious wife, scheme to take over the world through a series of antics that play out like a reality show gone wrong.

    To emphasize the theatrical nature of Ma and Pa Ubu’s political exploits, the show features puppets, karaoke numbers and a giant puppet head that eats half the cast.

    Although the production stays true to the absurdist spirit of Jarry’s original work, Fancy said there is also a layer of introspection that exists beneath all the silliness.

    “On one side we’re being playful, irreverent and sarcastic like Jarry, but on the other side there are also lots of heartfelt moments,” he said. “We can use laughter on some level to celebrate, criticize and escape, but we will also be forced to confront the fact that these are real people having difficult experiences. We question what caused them to become such trainwrecks — and whether we need to have compassion for these people who are perhaps not so different from us.”

    The show’s gender-bending lead role selection also provides a unique twist.

    Ubu admonishes supremacy logic in all of its forms and casting a woman as Ubu helps heighten the critique of patriarchy. At the same time, this casting points out that anyone, given the right context, can engage in human folly,” Fancy said of the distribution of roles across genders. “Everybody can behave like a dangerous fool.”

    All these aspects of the production, combined with intense and moving performances, make for an entertaining experience, he added.

    “I think a big part of it is tapping into the creative possibility of what theatre can be as an art form,” Fancy said. “The experience gives our cast and crew the creative confidence to respond to the world around them, like Jarry did, using their own, creative voices.”

    King Ubu is translated by David Edney and directed by David Fancy, with costume design by Jo Pacinda and scenography and scenography by James McCoy.

    The production showcases the talents of students in the DART undergraduate program, including Ash McEachern, Avery Delaney, Chris Murillo, Emma McCormick, Jackson Wagner, Jasmine Case, Juan-Carlos Figueroa, Lauren Reid, Leah Eichler, Rachel Frederick, Samuel Donovan, Taylor Bogaert and Tsipporah Shendroff.

    Brock students, staff and faculty members of the creative and production team include Kristina Ojaperv (Assistant Director), Jordine De Guzman (Stage Manager), Alicia Bender (Assistant Stage Manager), Meryl Ochoa (Assistant Lighting Designer), Trevor Copp (Choreographer), Holly Kurelek (Wardrobe Supervisor), Diego Blanco and Molly Lacey (Dressers), Brian Cumberland (Production Manager), Gavin Fearon (Technical Director), Ed Harris (Shop Supervisor), Dawn Crysler (Theatre Technician), Danielle Wilson (Shakespeare Coach) and Roberta Doylend (Head of Wardrobe).

    King Ubu runs from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 9 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines. Showtimes are March 1, 2 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., March 3 at 2 p.m. and March 8 at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

    Tickets for the show are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. A group rate is also available. Tickets are available through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office at 905-688-0722 or on the PAC website.

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  • King Ubu tickets on sale now!

    Tickets for our spring mainstage presentation of King Ubu, presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts, are on sale now!

    The show runs from March 1 to 9 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.


    King Ubu

    Written by Alfred Jarry
    Translated by David Edney
    Directed by David Fancy
    Set and lighting by James McCoy
    Costumes by Jo Pacinda

    Alfred Jarry wrote King Ubu in the 1890’s in large part to poke fun at the idiocy, capriciousness and vanity of political and personal power. it is almost like its author could see into the future and predict the very political climate we are living in today.

    The character of King Ubu is a complete fool who talks about poop, loves himself a lot and kills everybody around him whenever he feels like it. He is a patriarch, a racist and a megalomaniac.

    His wife, Ma Ubu, is very much like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth and pushes King Ubu to increasing feats of violence and narcissism. When they are not bickering or having food-fights, Ma Ubu demands King Ubu kill off their adversaries and take over the world. They spend the show chasing their enemies all over a fairy-tale-like Poland before sailing off into a sunset.

    In short: the Ubus are the ultimate reality TV show gone wrong.

    Read more about the performance.

    PERFORMANCES:
    Friday, March 1, 2019 @ 7:30 PM
    Saturday, March 2, 2019 @ 7:30 PM
    Sunday, March 3, 2019 @ 2:00 PM
    Friday, March 8, 2019 @ 11:30 AM
    Friday, March 8, 2019 @ 7:30 PM
    Saturday, March 9, 2019 @ 7:30 PM

    Tickets:
    $18 Adult
    $15 Student/Senior
    $12 Group (10+) each
    $5 EYEGO Highschool Student (with Valid ID upon ticket Pick-Up)

    General Admission seating.

    Performance location:
    The Marilyn I. Walker Theatre
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts – downtown campus – Brock University
    15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines, ON

    Tickets for all performances are available online through the Box Office of the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre. by email at boxoffice@firstontariopac.ca, or in person in downtown St. Catharines at 250 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, ON, L2R 3M2.

    Open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Holiday and summer hours may vary).

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