News

  • Brock mourns loss of champion of Dramatic Arts

    Mary-Jane Miller (right) with her late husband Jack Miller shortly before her retirement in June 2004.


    Originally published in The Brock News FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2022 | by 

    The Brock community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of Mary-Jane Miller, who spent 36 years with the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    Miller, who began teaching at Brock in 1968 and served as both Associate Professor and Chair of the department during her tenure, passed away peacefully at home on June 22.

    A crucial member of the DART program, she was part of the early academic cohorts at Brock.

    Miller’s level of dedication and commitment over her 36 years with the University still resonates with many.

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby has many fond memories of Miller, who impacted not only the department, but also its students.

    “MJ set an example, consciously; she was a teacher in her every move. Her profound sense of duty made her step up for several years after her migraines undermined her desire to Chair the Department of Dramatic Arts,” Raby says. “She didn’t want to retire until she felt our fledgling department was stable and had found its identity; she cared so very deeply.”

    DART Professor David Fancy says Miller “left a very strong legacy of commitment to theatre and dramatic arts in the Humanities and at Brock.”

    “She was a key architect to the development of the Department of Dramatic Arts in the 1960s and ’70s,” he says.

    After retiring in 2004, Miller went on to become Professor Emerita, maintaining strong ties to the Brock Dramatic Arts community.

    Miller and her late husband, Jack Miller, who passed away in 2016 and also had a significant impact on the University, are remembered for their lasting contributions.

    “Their combined generosity to the department was legion and they led forward with a most steady and loving personal relationship that taught me about the beauty of being quietly grand in later years,” says David Vivian, Professor and Chair of the Studies in Arts and Culture.

    Miller’s family will receive friends on Friday, July 1 from 11 a.m. to noon at Patrick J. Darte Funeral Chapel, 39 Court St., St. Catharines, with a memorial service to follow in the chapel.

    Memorial donations to either the Stephen Lewis Foundation or the Brock University Scholarship Fund would be appreciated by the family.

    Tags: , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Visiting Artists

  • Roberta Doylend to retire after over a decade as Head of Wardrobe

    Image: Roberta Doylend and the late Marilyn Walker working on the Tree of Learning, a nine-foot-tall quilt that incorporates uncommon fabrics and techniques from textile and fibre art to depict a dream about studying the arts, now displayed in the MIWSFPA. Credit: Norris Walker 


    Roberta Doylend looks to exit stage left, as she sets to retire on May 31, 2022.

    Doylend is Head of Wardrobe at the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), in addition to running the costume shop and storage for the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    She has over a decade of fond memories to look back on, as well as a storage room full of breathtaking costumes to show for her passion and devotion. From day one, she has committed all her time to the DART program and its students.

    “I arrived at the Thistle side of the department with my suitcase and my dog in the morning after a red-eye flight from Victoria,” she says reflecting on her first day at Brock. “It has been a whirlwind of teaching, creating theatre and supporting the next generation of theatre creators,” she adds.

    She’s found joy in every aspect of her position and beyond the love of teaching, there are certain moments that stand out for her.

    “For my first several years at Brock, I designed and dressed students for the Annual General Brock’s Soiree. Over the years, the Soiree was the event to attend, dress up and meet The General (Sir Isaac Brock). Dressing students in period clothing from 1812, to the final celebration of Brock’s 50th Anniversary with original ’60s clothing on 30 plus student interpreters. Lots of work, but so much fun,” she says.

    “The transformative announcement by Marilyn and Norris Walker to create a School for Artists was a significant milestone. Being able to design the Costume Shop and Storage and having several years to teach students in our stunning new facility is a dream realized,” she says.

    Over the years, Doylend has contributed to the evolution of the department. Developing many production courses with students, for mainstage and festival performances on both the Brock Main Campus and the Downtown Campus.

    Doylend may be leaving the school, but it seems her journey in the Dramatic Arts doesn’t end here. With all her experiences and passion in hand, she sets her eyes on a long-awaited homecoming.

    “I am returning to my roots as a Costume Designer and business owner on Vancouver Island. I look forward to designing costumes for live theatre and working at my new company that will facilitate the re-creation of vintage products, techniques and repair over purchasing new,” said Doylend.

    She sees this new opportunity to not only continue teaching and inspiring young theatre costumers, but also as a way she can continue to do something she loves.

    “I will offer drafting, stitching, specialty craft workshops and mentor theatre costumers in an atelier in Chemainus, BC.”

    Doylend has been and will always remain a beloved faculty member. While she will be missed by faculty, staff, and students at the Marilyn, we know she will bring the same spirit of enjoyment to her amazing new journey.

    There is a celebration in the works for May 31 starting at 4:00 pm in the Wardrobe Shop where students, alumni and colleagues are welcome.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Brock to partner with Suitcase in Point on youth theatre program

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, located in the heart of downtown St. Catharines, will host an intensive two-week theatre program for youth this summer.


    This summer, Brock University will welcome creative youth for an electrifying experience at its downtown arts school.

    Electric Innovations, a two-week intensive theatre program, will be hosted at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and presented by celebrated local multi-arts company Suitcase in Point in partnership with the National Theatre School of Canada.

    Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) will join the initiative as a community partner, offering studio and performance space in the University’s state-of-the-art facilities.

    Held July 11 to 23, Electric Innovations begins with a week of presentations and workshops led by some of the finest theatre artists in Canada, including Miriam Fernandes, Cole Alvis, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster and Joanna Yu. In week two, participants will devise an original piece of work under the mentorship of the program’s Lead Artists Marcel Stewart and Michelle Mohammed (BA ’18).

    Mohammed, Artistic Associate at Suitcase in Point and a Brock DART graduate, is pleased the groundbreaking program will run in person this year after taking place virtually in 2021.

    “We believe in investing in the training and development of young artists and providing a space for new talent to emerge, create, play and find their artistic voices,” she said.

    Co-ordinating the program alongside Mohammed is fellow DART grad and Suitcase in Point Artistic Associate Kaylyn Valdez-Scott (BA ’18), who acknowledged the challenges that existed in finding motivation in the arts during the pandemic.

    “Electric Innovations will provide a brave space where young artists can breathe and laugh with like-minded souls, while creating meaningful work that expresses our current state of being with each other and ourselves,” Valdez-Scott said.

    DART Chair Jennifer Roberts-Smith said she is thrilled to welcome young artists and their mentors into the MIWSFPA spaces and introduce them to faculty and staff.

    “Dramatic Arts is so pleased to support this new way of mentoring young artists,” she said. “We have a lot to learn from the participant-centred approach, and we are very excited to see what the young artists will bring to the program.”

    Applications are now open to youth 15 to 18 years of age in the Niagara or Greater Toronto-Hamilton regions. Eight participants will be selected for the program.

    The deadline to apply is Monday, June 13. For application details, please visit the Electric Innovations website.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Dramatic Arts criticism course returning to in-person theatre

    Image caption: Students in DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism will be experiencing a variety of live productions this summer after two years of digital offerings.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022 | by 

    After two years of viewing performances online, Brock University students learning the art of theatre criticism will experience indoor, in-person theatre at the celebrated Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre.

    DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism is an online intensive Summer Term course run between July 11 and 22, bolstered by field trips to see live productions at Canada’s leading theatre companies.

    Taught by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for The Toronto Star, the course introduces students to the practical craft of theatre criticism and dives into the theoretical background of the discipline.

    Fricker said that after two years of running the course during the pandemic and having students review digital theatre exclusively, it will be thrilling to view live productions again.

    “Both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals have full indoor seasons this year and I’m looking forward to bringing the course to shows there,” she said. “We’re setting up some post-show talks so that students will be able to ask questions about the productions they’ve seen with the artists who made them.”

    Stratford Festival is welcoming back audiences beginning in May with a season theme of ‘New Beginnings’ and featuring plays such as Hamlet and Little Women and the musical Chicago. The largest classical repertory theatre in North America celebrates a its milestone 70th year in 2022.

    Shaw Festival Theatre, in its 60th season, will feature 13 plays across three stages in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Productions include The Importance of Being EarnestEverybody and The Doctor’s Dilemma.

    After seeing productions, students will write and discuss responses to them and learn about alternative, digital, performative and visual forms of critical response, while engaging with theatre culture.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website. Students interested in learning more about the course are encouraged to contact Fricker at kfricker@brocku.ca

    Learn more about the 2022 seasons at Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre online.

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

  • Student-run podcast provides guidance, inspiration for future artists

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines is home to the student-run podcast, Dear Marilyn, named in honour of the late textile artist and philanthropist.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022 | by 

    What started as a passion project for two Brock University students in search of career tips has become a robust podcast series providing invaluable insight to the next generation of creators.

    Produced for students by students, the popular podcast Dear Marilyn is now in its second season of connecting the student community with professional artists, with plans to continue production on an ongoing basis.

    Created in 2021 by Dramatic Arts (DART) students Danielle Letourneau and Luca D’Amico, the podcast name honours celebrated textile artist, philanthropist and arts advocate Marilyn I. Walker. In 2008, Walker made a historic donation to Brock that led to the creation of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Letourneau, the podcast’s producer who is now in her fourth year of study with a concentration in Drama and Education and minor in History, says that she has often felt anxiety about entering theatre as a profession.

    “I started this podcast to give students like myself a resource for practical job advice,” Letourneau said. “The arts industry is not always considered the most conventional career path, but we do it because this is what we love; the arts nurture our souls.”

    Supported by Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund in 2021, the Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts and MIWSFPA department Chairs, the Dear Marilyn team invites local and surrounding artists from a range of artistic disciplines to share their stories.

    Co-hosts Hayley Bando, a second-year Dramatic Arts major with a concentration in Production and Design, and Chloe Racho, a third-year Music major with a minor in French Studies, are thrilled to be part of the project.

    “We are honoured to help bring these diverse perspectives about professional journeys in the arts to the Brock community,” Bando said.

    Recent podcast guests include actor, writer and producer Thet Win, voice actor Keegan Vaillancourt and singer-songwriter Glenn Marais.

    MIWSFPA faculty have been supportive since day one, with Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, championing the podcast idea in its early stages.

    “I was happy to support Dear Marilyn initially because it’s a great idea, and a positive student-led project during the hard time of the pandemic,” she said. “I looked forward to each episode and was entertained and educated by the hosts’ sparky exchanges with guests.”

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby guided the grant proposal for Dear Marilyn resulting in the expansion of the podcast to include all four departments at the downtown arts campus (Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture).

    “What’s not to like about Dear Marilyn? It relates directly to our mission to create experiential, professionalized learning for students producing, hosting, editing and broadcasting,” Raby said. “And, it’s entertaining and insightful.”

    DART Associate Professor Danielle Wilson has been working with the team on the second season. Episodes are edited by Alex Sykes, a fourth-year DART student with a concentration in Production and Design.

    Available on Spotify, the next episode goes live this week. For the latest news, follow Dear Marilyn on Instagram.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Faculty & Instructors, News, Uncategorised, Visiting Artists

  • Dramatic Arts students’ original play takes the stage Thursday

    Image caption: Little Raincoat Collective in rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, including (back row, from) Brenley Charkow (co-director) with company members Celine Ayesha, Sammie Marett, Alex Sykes, Jonah Pace, Michael Cicchini, Asenia Lyall and (front row, from left) Julian Valentin, Alyssa Ruddock and Abby Etling.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2022 | by 

    A compelling collective creation from nine fourth-year Brock Dramatic Arts (DART) students is set to premiere this week at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    The new play, The Storm Left Behind, is presented by Little Raincoat Collective (DART 4F56 Advanced Studies in Theatre) and directed by instructors Colin B. Anthes and Brenley Charkow.

    The a coming-of-age tale is about finding lightness in the darkest of times. Following the story of a girl who is navigating her way through life, the play takes audiences on a journey that combines different forms of storytelling.

    The production runs Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines.

    Tickets for the show, which is suitable for ages 15 and up, are $5 and can be purchased through Brock University Tickets.

    For more information about The Storm Left Behind, please visit the play’s website.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Brock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

    Image caption: Dramatic Arts Mainstage actor Yasmine Agocs rehearses a scene from the upcoming production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich, opening Friday, March 4 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Originally published MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2022 in The Brock News | by 

    Through an epic journey on a beloved red bicycle, an 11-year-old girl reflects on the small town she sees before her, taking audiences along for the ride. Venturing to the outer edges of town and encountering challenges unlike any she has ever experienced, she must face her fears to see the world in a new way.

    The Brock University spring 2022 Mainstage production of Red Bike brings the poetic words of celebrated playwright Caridad Svich to life with an exhilarating performance exploring movement, physical theatre and puppetry.

    Dramatic Arts student and Red Bike cast member Arnelle Douglas in
    rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    The show runs March 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 6 and 12 at 2 p.m. at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    The production’s unique style of fractured storytelling explores diverse themes as seen through the eyes of a child, including capitalism, consumerism, gentrification, globalization, immigration and isolation. Director and Dramatic Arts Instructor Mike Griffin was drawn to the play because of its whimsical nature.

    “While reading the play, I became a kid again; running out of the house to go on adventures down the street. Red Bike is the perfect balance of getting lost in imagination while reflecting on society,” he said.

    One of six actors in the all-female cast, fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Asenia Lyall said the unique script and dialogue provided her with a valuable opportunity to explore her creativity.

    “Being a part of Red Bike meant working with a small cast to tell a complicated and wonderful story in an unconventional way,” she said. “Learning how to perform this kind of script is a great opportunity for me as an actor. Embracing the abstraction and surrealism of the piece is something I’ve learned from.” While the cast and crew faced various challenges mounting the show during a pandemic, both the director and actors feel there was a silver lining.

    “We have bonded together as a community to create something fantastic,” Griffin said. “For me, the community that emerges out of the creative process is the reason that I keep doing theatre.”
    Lyall agreed, adding that creating theatre during the pandemic has taught her how to be flexible as an artist.

    “There is a real sense of humanity in this play, with a lot of exciting moments and big reveals that I think audiences will enjoy,” she said.

    The MIWSFPA will welcome a live audience for the production to the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the downtown arts campus in St. Catharines. In the interest of student and audience member safety, the theatre is operating at a reduced capacity with 120 seats available for each performance.

    Tickets are $20 for the public, $16 for youth and seniors and $15 for Brock students. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

    All visitors to Brock University and MIWSFPA must complete the Brock University Self-Screening Tool.

    The all-female cast of the upcoming Brock University production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich includes (from left) Asenia Lyall, Arnelle Douglas, Yasmine Agocs, Joanna Tran, Abby Malcolm and Sarah Row.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Performance Season, Plays, Uncategorised

  • Performing arts production professionals bring ‘real world’ experience to MIWSFPA students

    The MIWSFPA welcomes leaders in live performance production and company operations for two presentations about challenges and opportunities in the field, bringing ‘real world’ experience to STAC/DART 3P93 students.

    All are welcome to a maximum of 17 guests. Bring your questions!
    Please contact stac@brocku.ca if you wish to reserve a seat (walk-in’s welcome as capacity allows).

    EVENT INFORMATION:

     

    Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event
    Kathleen Ross, Director of Operations, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
    Tuesday, February 8, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

    Kathleen will be discussing the topic of Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event, addressing such topics as: selecting a site; space requirements – production (staging layouts, technical requirements, load in/load out requirements, broadcasting, or other capabilities); audience capacity (seating capacity and layout, accessibility, parking, transit); front of house requirements (staffing, box office, food and beverage options and costs); legal and safety issues.

    Kathleen Ross is an experienced operations professional with a focus on the most valuable asset…our human capital. She has an extensive history of working in government administration and entertainment industries, and is skilled in Emergency Procedures, Human Resources Management, Disability Management, Special Events and Entertainment.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) is a 95,000 square foot academic and  cultural complex, located in downtown St. Catharines, comprised of four performance venues:  Partridge Hall  (770 seats), Recital Hall (304 seats), Robertson Theatre (flexible black box space) and The Film House (199 seats). Located adjacent to the MIWSFPA, Brock University students attend courses and perform at the PAC.

     

     

    Production Priorities
    Kate Leathers, General Manager, Carousel Players.
    Tuesday, February 15, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

     

    Kate will be discussing Production Priorities, including such topics such as: The roles and responsibilities associated with various productions; co-ordination of creative and production priorities and requirements; production planning, contracting, legal, safety and human resources issues; consideration of planning a safe event in re-opening theatres (Covid-19).

    Kate Leathers has worked in the cultural sector for more than 20 years. She has held a variety of roles ranging from administrator to production technician and worked at dozens of theatres including the Shaw Festival and more across Canada. She has an MBA in Strategic Marketing. Currently Kate is planning Carousel Players’ 50th Anniversary Festival that will take place regionally over three days.

    Carousel Players present inspiring and creative plays for children ages five to 15 in schools, community venues, and performing arts centres across Southern Ontario. The company has also toured nationally to theatres and festivals in Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, and as far away as England and Japan.

    About STAC/DART 3P93 – Producing a Performance Event

    STAC/DART 3P93 introduces students to the commitment, hard work, and collaboration required to plan and execute a performance event. Students have the opportunity to bring their practical and leadership skills to work with their peers as a team to replicate a professional experience, including financial, organizational, communication and technical roles. In 2022 this course is taught by Jill Planche, PhD. Jill has a professional background in marketing and fundraising for theatre, opera, film and visual arts, including the Shaw Festival, TIFF and the McMichael Gallery.

    Please note: All Brock University COVID-19 protocols and vaccination policies apply. For more information, please visit Brock’s Coronavirus webpage.

     

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, News, Uncategorised, Visiting Artists

  • Dramatic Arts instructor honoured at St. Catharines Arts Awards

    Image caption: Curtis Tye, winner of the Arts in Education Award at the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards. Photo credit: Alex Heidbuechel, BLVD. Photography, courtesy of the City of St. Catharines.

    Published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2021 | by 

    Brock University Dramatic Arts instructor Curtis Tye was among the winners of the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards livestreamed from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) recently.

    At the ceremony held Sunday, Nov. 21, the Brock educator, arts facilitator and public speaking expert was named the recipient of the Arts in Education Award, which celebrates individuals and groups committed to engaging residents through arts education.

    For Tye, arts education is always a collective endeavour.

    “I like the idea of people learning in a community and partnering together. If people did not want to actively participate in learning, it wouldn’t happen in a successful way,” he said.

    Tye teaches DART 2P21 Drama in Education at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). Along with teaching and a successful career as a corporate public speaking and leadership coach, he also serves as a committee member for Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute.

    Striving for an open and inclusive learning environment is a priority for him.

    “Both the students and my colleagues in Dramatic Arts are willing to take risks for what we think is important. This support and openness are key to a successful educational environment,” said Tye. “So many Brock folks understand how the arts can be used to study humanities and the human condition.”

    Tye’s passion for arts education extends to his work in the local arts community with Start Me Up Niagara, Willow Arts Community and past contributions as a former board member of Carousel Players.

    Other award winners from the Brock community included OPIRG Brock for the Making a Difference Award and Jean Bridge, retired Visual Arts faculty member and former professor of Digital Humanities for a Jury’s Pick Award.

    Watch the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards ceremony courtesy of the PAC and the City of St. Catharines below:

    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Audition and Casting Workshop for DART students, faculty and staff

    AUDITION AND CASTING WORKSHOP FOR DART STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF

    EVENT UPDATE: The Department regrets that the ongoing Brock University COVID-19 mitigation strategy requires that we pause our planned event: WCL Audition and Casting Workshop, with Kimberley Rampersad and Marcel Stewart, originally scheduled for Nov 28, 2021 and rescheduled for January 23, 2022. Please monitor your emails for forthcoming information about the learning, research, and presentations we will continue in our series on Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training.

    Event Information:

    In this day-long event, Kimberley Rampersad and Marcel Stewart will lead workshops in equitable and safe audition and casting processes.The event is open to current DART students, faculty, and staff who have the option to attend as observers or as active participants in a mock-audition process.

    Those who wish to actively participate by auditioning are asked to have a two-minute monologue prepared. If there are more people wanting to audition than we have time to accommodate, we will draw names for those who will audition.

    Kimberley Rampersad is an actor, choreographer, director, and associate artistic director of the Shaw Festival.
    Marcel Stewart is an actor, writer, director, and arts educator.

    Registration closes Friday, Nov. 19

    REGISTER HERE: https://forms.office.com/r/MB1S7LNQNy

    This event is part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leaders series “Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training” presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts.

     

    Tags: , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Uncategorised