Articles tagged with: Department of Dramatic Arts

  • Brock series to address transformation, adaptation in Canadian theatre

    Image caption: Mike Payette (left), Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, and Philip Akin (right), former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, will take the virtual stage on Monday, Sept. 20, reflecting on changes in the Canadian theatre industry as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 | by 

    A panel of prominent Black Canadian theatre leaders will explore the industry’s evolving landscape during an upcoming community discussion hosted by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The webinar, “Black Canadian Theatre Leadership: Embracing Transformation and Adaptation,” takes place Monday, Sept. 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is the first presentation of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL Series).

    The online event will feature panelists Philip Akin, former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, and Mike Payette, Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, with moderator Luke Reece, Associate Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre. Registration is required through the Zoom webinar page.

    The speakers and moderator will reflect on changes in Canadian theatre in recent years, with a focus on the artistic missions of theatre organizations. Discussion points will include how the panelists have approached season planning within existing and evolving organizational missions and how programming can bring in the audiences they intend to cultivate.

    This is the first of three presentations in a new series launched by DART called Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training. The series will run throughout the academic year and is supported by the WCL fund.

    “This fall’s Walker Cultural Leader program follows on from DART’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) Speaker Series last year and intends to build on its momentum,” said DART Associate Professor Karen Fricker, who co-organizes the series with DART sessional instructor Carolyn Mackenzie and DART Associate Professor David Vivian. “We are excited to welcome this intergenerational group of Black theatre leaders for our first event. This is an all-star panel.”

    The WCL Series celebrates the legacy and vision of Marilyn I. Walker and her contributions to Brock University’s Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). Through her generous gift, the four academic programs at the MIWSFPA invite recognized cultural leaders, top researchers, artists, scholars, musicians and theatre professionals to contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the School and the Niagara region.

    To learn more about upcoming WCL Series events, please visit the website.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Much work to be done on live theatre’s road to recovery, says Brock prof

    Brock Dramatic Arts graduate Amanda McDonnell (BA ’15), who is part of the front of house team at the Shaw Festival, welcomed audiences back this summer. Photo credit: Michelle Mohammed. 

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

    After 17 months, the live theatrical experience is slowly making its return — but not without challenges ahead, says Brock theatre expert Karen Fricker.

    “Amidst the adversity that live performing arts have been faced with through the pandemic, a wonderful thing has happened this summer: the return of live theatrical performance, because it has been able to be outside,” says the Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer in Dramatic Arts (DART), who is an expert in theatre criticism, theatre theory and contemporary theatre.

    The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, two of Ontario’s most celebrated repertory companies, have been staging performances outdoors under canopies (tents with no walls) with mandatory masks for audiences in addition to capacity limits in accordance with provincial guidance. Both festivals are taking audience, artist and staff safety seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, says Fricker, who is also a theatre critic for the Toronto Star, writing about performances in the city as well as the Shaw and Stratford Festivals each summer.

    Although these outdoor performances do not come close to hosting the usual number of spectators, Fricker says this is a “big step in the right direction.”

    “Artists are being paid and creativity is happening,” she says, adding that while “innovative digital work has been heroic during the pandemic, experiencing live performances in a shared space is a joyous return.”

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department engages with the Shaw Festival in numerous ways, including the annual DART/Shaw internship and course-based experiences with Shaw artists and arts workers. A number of DART students and graduates work at the festival in front of house, producing and administration, and creative capacities.

    Seeing some of those familiar faces at Shaw this summer has been a particular highlight, Fricker says.

    While outdoor performances are a step in the right direction, Fricker says there is still more work to do. There will be limited live, in-person programming in the performing arts sector this fall, mainly due to unclear guidance from the provincial government around reopening, she says.

    In the early summer, the performing arts industry lobbied the government to address live performances in the official stages of reopening. Now that the performing arts have been included, companies have been able to plan. However, “you can’t just lift a theatre production off in a few weeks; you need a runway,” Fricker says.

    Colleen Smith, Executive Director of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) adjacent to Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says the team at the PAC has experienced these challenges first-hand.

    “Never did any of us whose lives revolve around bringing together artists and audiences believe that we would witness the end of the age-old adage, ‘the show must go on,’” she says. “In fact, the show stopped for months at a time. It’s been an unbelievable period of disruption, heartache and loss of purpose for so many artists and arts workers.”

    Smith says that “buoyed by our partners at the City of St. Catharines and Brock University, as well as the support from our Board of Directors, we have used the first half of 2021 to develop a three-year recovery strategy that will place the PAC firmly within our community as a centre for creative and artistic experiences and learning.”

    The PAC is planning a gradual return, starting with the annual Celebration of Nations gathering, which will be in a hybrid format in September.

    Among the local theatre organizations taking important steps to make innovative work and engage the public in Niagara safely is the young people’s theatre company Carousel Players, which is focusing on new play development in August and September.

    “We are experimenting with a range of forms, including clown, puppetry and mask,” says Artistic Director and Brock graduate Monica Dufault (MA ’11). “We want to offer new pieces that are dynamic and theatrically alive when we meet our audiences again.”

    The company will present an outdoor performance, The Giant Puppet Party, for Culture Days in October, a new digital play for ages 12 to 17 called Meet Chloe starting in November, and a school touring production of The Velveteen Rabbit for ages four to seven in March 2022.

    Suitcase in Point, another St. Catharines-based theatre company, recently announced the launch of a reimagined In the Soil Arts Festival running Friday, Aug. 27 to Saturday, Sept. 25. The festival includes opportunities to see live, original theatre, new music, comedy acts, installations and participatory workshops. All-inclusive festival passes are available for purchase online.

    DART graduate Deanna Jones (BA ’02), the Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point and In the Soil, says the limits of the last 17 months have been a “unique test on our arts organization and the arts community at large.”

    “We knew this 13th edition of our annual In the Soil Arts Festival would be different, and we were determined to find inspired ways to get off of our screens and offer artists and audiences safe ways to connect — in person.”

    During In the Soil, artists from Essential Collective Theatre will be set up on James and St. Paul Street interviewing community members about their pandemic experiences. Working on this initiative are DART graduates Jordine de Guzman (BA ’20), Kristina Ojaperv (BA ’19) and Ren Reid (BA ’20). The project will culminate in the Pandemic Stories Project, a new play to be read at St. Catharines’ Culture Days in early October.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Performance Season, Plays, Shaw Intern Blog, Uncategorised

  • Fine and Performing Arts grads poised to shape the future with creative skills

    Image caption: Soo Myung Oh, at her piano, will graduate with a Bachelor of Music and plans to perform professionally in addition to pursuing teaching performance after completing her degree at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Image credit: Photo by Shannon Peebles, Ventures & Vows Photography.

    Students graduating from Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are ready to make their mark in the world.

    From creating innovative art in support of social justice causes, to utilizing professional art practices in the mental health field and pursuing careers in live performance bringing joy to audiences, MIWSFPA grads are drawing on their academic experiences and diverse skill sets to propel them forward on their career paths.

    For Ian Ball, who will graduate Friday, June 18 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts and History of Art and Visual Culture, continuing his creative work in digital media is a top priority.

    Music graduand Nick Braun will continue to write and record his own music after graduation.

    Ball is currently working with Toronto-based [elephants collective]’s Telethon Telethon! This collaborative project is a monthly digital performance experiment that aims to provide aid to various social justice causes and is currently supporting the Anishnawbe Health Foundation.

    Ball is looking forward to the easing of public health restrictions within the arts when it is safe to do so.

    “I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to develop a follow-up to work I co-created in 2019’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto,” he said.

    Combining his interests in dramatic arts and visual culture, Ball will be pursuing a master’s degree in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University in the fall, with hopes of one day completing a PhD and working in the cultural field.

    As Music graduand Soo Myung Oh looks to the future, she reflects on her time at Brock. The busy mother of three pursued her degree during the day, reserving her evenings for family time.

    “My four years in the Music program were about the process of identifying myself as a musician,” said Oh, who graduates Friday with a Bachelor of Music, Concentration in Music Education and Minor in Applied Linguistics. “Although I played piano for years in my youth, I was completely new to public performance and I had to learn how to play music and deliver it to audiences.”

    Oh fondly remembers the experience of performing in the Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, adjacent to the MIWSFPA in downtown St. Catharines. Performing on a professional stage was a defining moment for the musician.

    “I can still recall the way the piano sounded as I played, and the interaction between the sound and the air in the hall on that special day. It was simply an amazing experience,” she said.

    After she graduates, Oh will continue to perform professionally and would like to eventually teach performance, inspired by her concentration in Music Education. Her current interest for further study is therapeutic recreation and gerontology.

    “Since my musical experience at Brock started from my own experience of retrieving memories, and my process for preparing my solo piano recital relied heavily on the cognitive process of music and brainwork, I became interested in the connection between the two and implications of aging,” Oh said.

    “My degree has allowed me to write music and produce my own recordings,” Braun said.Nick Braun, who will also graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, is excited to continue writing music.

    His studies have given him a unique skill set “to make modern, unique and refreshing music,” he said, adding his style fits somewhere in the alternative rock realm.

    Braun will take some time after graduation to work locally, save money and continue to work on his personal music projects.

    “Between me and my network of friends in the music industry, I will be taking on opportunities to work with various people and explore our creative potential as young artists,” Braun said.

    Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture graduand Maya Meyerman is excited to continue her scholarly and creative work in the cultural field and will pursue a graduate certificate in the arts and culture sector at Humber College in September.

    Graduand Maya Meyerman, who will receive her Bachelor of Arts in Studies in Arts and Culture with a concentration in Cultural Management on Friday, discovered her career pathway through diverse experiences within the interdisciplinary program.

    Gaining a critical view of contemporary culture and connecting with the local arts scene led Meyerman to pursue a graduate certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management at Humber College.

    “I’m excited to pursue opportunities in Toronto and build upon my experience at Brock,” she said. “The MIWSFPA is such an inspiring place to learn and connect with the arts, and I have made deep connections with the arts community.”

    Meyerman recently produced an arts festival for youth ages 13 to 30 in Kingston and will be spending the summer preparing for next year’s edition.

    “As someone who didn’t want to study just one branch of the arts, the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture and the MIWSFPA provided me with a creative and safe venue to explore my personal interests, introducing me to the many versions of what ‘the arts’ can be,” she said. “I know that it has prepared me to take on the next step towards my career in the arts industry.”

    Visual Arts (VISA) graduand Kendra Bosse has developed her art practice and realized her passion for photography as therapy.

    Bosse, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Psychology and Minor in Indigenous Studies, is committed to engaging with her art to positively impact individuals experiencing mental health issues and addiction.

    “After graduation, I will be attending Canadore College to study mental health and addictions counselling to gain experience in the field before pursuing graduate school,” she said.

    Bosse and fellow VISA graduand Cree Tylee are capping off their final year at Brock with a double exhibition “treasured | (A)part,” currently on view virtually in the VISA Gallery on the first floor of the MIWSFPA until Monday, July 5.

    Relationship as Deep as The Ocean, 2021, Cyanotype on Cotton (24 in x 36in) by Kendra Bosse as featured in the double exhibition “treasured” and “(A)part.”

    The bodies of work were developed under the supervision of Visual Arts Chair and Associate Professor Amy Friend for the students’ independent studies courses in the Visual Arts.

    “The double exhibition of treasured and (A)part was a cathartic way to finish the end of an unconventional graduating year,” said Tylee, who will graduate with her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Minor in the History of Art and Visual Culture. “Working with Visual Arts Media Resource Co-ordinator Max Holten-Andersen to create a virtual exhibition for our show (including a 360 virtual tour) was an insightful experience that wouldn’t have happened under different circumstances.”

    Even though they were unable to have a traditional gallery opening, the ability to learn and become well-versed in the creation of virtual exhibits is a valuable skill the students will take with them, she said, calling it a “silver lining.”

    Title wall of Cree Tylee’s body of work entitled (A)part. Tylee describes this exhibition as a “very introspective and multi-faceted body of work with multiplicities of concepts I’ll be able to draw on for further graduate studies.”

    Both artists agree that bringing this final exhibition into fruition has been an enlightening process, acknowledging that completing a thesis under the supervision of Friend and having a final exhibition made their final year very fulfilling.After graduation, Tylee, recipient of the Distinguished Graduating Student Award in Visual Arts, will be taking an accelerated studio program in Ceramics at the Haliburton School of Art + Design while preparing for further graduate studies.

    The virtual exhibition and 360 gallery tour of treasured | (A)part can be viewed on the Visual Arts website.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future students, In the Media, News, Uncategorised

  • Brock grad raising awareness of trans identities through film

    Image caption: Roy Wol (BA ’06), former student in the Departments of Communication, Popular Culture and Film and Dramatic Arts, at the South by Southwest premiere of The Garden Left Behind, a film he recently brought to a Brock audience.

    Originally posted in The Brock News MONDAY, MAY 17, 2021 | Written by 

    Brock alumnus and award-winning filmmaker Roy Wol (BA ’06) is starting important conversations about trans identities through his work.

    And earlier this spring, he brought that meaningful discussion virtually to the Brock community.

    In March, Brock’s Pride Week kicked off with a special screening of Wol’s film, The Garden Left Behind. The 2019 release won the Audience Choice Award when it premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) and has gone on to screen at more than 70 festivals and 50 community events.

    The Brock screening was followed by a panel discussion, which can be viewed online here, featuring Wol, the film’s producer, alongside actresses Carlie Guevara and Ivana Black.

    The event was sponsored by Gender and Sexual Violence Support and Education, Human Rights and Equity (HRE), the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

    The Garden Left Behind tells the story of Tina (played by Guevara), a Mexican trans woman, and her grandmother, both living as undocumented immigrants in New York City (NYC).

    Wol, a former double-major in Film Studies and Dramatic Arts (DART), describes bringing the film and industry panel to Brock as “the greatest feeling ever.”

    He was encouraged by the interest in the film he experienced right from his initial meeting with event organizers.

    Carlie Guevara, who stars in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    “I was expecting only to meet with a single person, but I found myself meeting seven people from different departments asking about the film and chatting about possibilities,” Wol says. “Personally, I felt so welcomed but more importantly, I felt that Brock saw the mission of the film. The impact was aligned — I feel and see the hunger for these types of projects at Brock and I was so honoured to share our work with the Brock audience.”

    Guevara also enjoyed participating in the panel.

    “I’m thankful I was able to enjoy a Friday evening with Brock,” she says. “University communities are super interesting for me, because the audience is within my peer group and I’m exposed to new ideas and experiences whilst sharing my stories.”

    Guevara felt “immediately akin” to Tina’s character after first reading the script, noting there is much to unpack about her story and the themes it touches on.

    “I was drawn by the story and the badass transness of it all,” she says. “I felt happy to read a script and be a part of a film that gave depth, light and breadth to a trans-POC(Person of Colour)-immigrant-NYC narrative.”

    Supporting actress Ivana Black says spending time with the Brock community was “freeing.” She emphasizes that the film requires its audience members to consider their own responsibility.

    “I am hopeful the conversation will open minds and help people see the history of trans identities as a positive and important part of the Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) history,” says Black. “I think the film has reinforced the plight that trans women have and still face, and it questions how far the community has moved when one part of the community is still suffering.”

    Mackenzie Rockbrune, one of the event organizers from HRE and a co-host of the panel discussion, says the team wanted to “create an event to bring awareness to the trans community and the intersectional issues they face every day.”

    Showing a film made by a Brock grad, she adds, made it all the more special.

    “The event had a wide range of attendees from the 2SLGBTQ+ community and Roy Wol’s former departments,” says Rockbrune. “The film allowed for an entry point for students to join the conversation about intersectionality and transgender rights, and inspired students by highlighting an alumnus who used his degree to cultivate activism.”

    Hamed Karaghi, also an organizing committee member and panel co-host, says the intersectionality of the film made it an ideal way to kick off Brock Pride Week.

    “Our audience was informed of the many sacrifices the trans community have made so that queer people can experience liberty and freedom here in North America,” says Karaghi. “The movie was especially valuable for Applied Health Sciences students at Brock, since we got an overview of the challenges that trans people experience while navigating the health-care system to get their gender confirmation surgery.”

    According to Wol, community screenings like the one at Brock have laid bare a great need for conversation and sharing.

    “At some point, we had seven simultaneous community screenings with our team spread around the globe as representatives creating opportunity for discussions,” he says. “The film became larger than itself, a catalyst to share our wounds with each other — it provided a platform to bridge communities.”

    Ivana Black, a supporting actress in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    Wol says he makes film because he wants to learn about life. With The Garden Left Behind, he learned not only from the film’s main character, but also from the community building that went into both the making and the marketing of the film.

    He notes that some 48 people from the trans community worked on the film, and more from the broader 2SLGBTQQIA+ rounded out the cast and crew. For many, it was their first job in film — but not their last.

    “More than a handful have since landed jobs at HBO, New York Film Festival Lincoln Center’s Artist Academy, POSE creator Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative directing fellowship, and jobs in commercials and plays,” says Wol. “I am proud to say we were at the forefront of the trans representation movement in cinema, giving maximum visibility to the community behind and in front of the camera as actors, producers and crew staff.”

    Wol, who came to Brock as an international student and a third-culture kid (an individual raised in a culture other than their parents’), says his experiences at Brock gave him the courage to become his best self.

    “In the DART department, I was encouraged to be playful, to experiment with my art, and in Film Studies, the course options were fundamentally very inspiring and helped me narrow down what I wanted to pursue,” he says. “Communication, Popular Culture and Film courses and instructors made me question everything beyond film — my existence and how narratives impact our lives.”

    Wol says he spent a long time finding his own voice and navigating the challenges of being a “serial immigrant” unable to access government funding through bodies like Telefilm or to work on union productions, which were limited to permanent residents of Canada.

    “This pushed me to be completely independent and create my projects outside of the insular industry, which was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “Within the film industry there are many pockets of sub-industries, and I got in and out of most of them, which gave me a good understanding of the overall picture and grew my network.”

    Wol believes that “storytellers can create bridging opportunities instead of parallel universes,” and builds his art around this belief.

    “We are as good as our community is,” he Wol. “It is more important than ever to do our best to tolerate and create a dialogue with people from experiences that might be conflicting with our core beliefs.”

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Uncategorised, Visiting Artists

  • Grad Fair to connect IBPOC theatre students with professional artists across Canada

    Image caption: Among the theatre leaders taking part in the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair are Jeff Ho (left), actor, playwright and company dramaturg, Outside the March, and Luke Reece (right), playwright, spoken word artist and Associate Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre.

    Brock University students will have the opportunity to learn about a career in theatre from the perspectives of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) theatre leaders during an upcoming online Grad Fair.

    Open to students across the country, the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair takes place Monday, May 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Zoom and is specifically designed for students who identify as Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.

    The fair is free to attend, but registration is required through Eventbrite. The event is open to recent theatre graduates, graduating students and students entering their final year of study in a theatre program.

    Organized by Brock’s Karen Fricker, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer, Department of Dramatic Arts, and Marlis Schweitzer, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at York University, the Grad Fair is presented in partnership with more than 30 academic institutions and arts and scholarly organizations across Canada. A full list of partners is available on the event website.

    In addition to meeting other graduating students, participants will have the chance to learn from experienced IBPOC artists about the transition from post-secondary theatre education to the professional realm.

    The fair will begin with a roundtable discussion chaired by Tanisha Taitt (director, writer, educator, and artistic director of Cahoots Theatre) and featuring Miriam Fernandes (co-artistic director, Why Not Theatre), Luke Reece (playwright, spoken word artist, and associate artistic director, Soulpepper Theatre), Quelemia Sparrow (actor and playwright) and theatre maker Jeff Ho. These dynamic artists will speak to their experiences in many areas of theatre practice and about building a career in the industry.

    Following the discussion, students will be invited to breakout sessions with two theatre professionals in each group answering questions about specific career paths. These include playwriting, directing, acting, producing, dramaturgy, theatre criticism, production and design, public relations and marketing, and the intersections of theatre creation, producing and activism.

    An additional room led by recent York University graduates Davinder Mahti and Sanskruti Marathe will focus on navigating the first year out of theatre school.

    The fact that the event is organized and sponsored by theatre educators and educational institutions is significant, says Ho, who graduated from the National Theatre School’s acting program.

    “It’s about institutions recognizing that it’s important for students to see faces from many different backgrounds, and more representation,” says the award-winning playwright and company dramaturg of Toronto’s Outside the March theatre.

    Ho is proud to be a part of an event that demonstrates “that diverse artists also have diverse career paths.”

    Diego Blanco, a fourth-year Dramatic Arts student minoring in Economics who is assisting in organizing the event, said the Grad Fair is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for graduating students to connect with IBPOC artists working in the field.

    “Students will get to meet IBPOC theatre leaders who work in different arenas and who have made outstanding impacts on the theatre industry in positive ways,” he says.

    The event, Blanco says, may act not only as inspiration for emerging artists, but also as a confidence booster as they start on their professional path.

    “This is a great opportunity to actually see how your career can start by talking to different theatre artists.”

    Fernandes, of Why Not Theatre, shares this enthusiasm and is eager to participate in the roundtable.

    The fair is a “great chance for recent grads and graduating students to connect with arts professionals to explore their areas of interest,” she says.

    In addition to the roundtable speakers, participating theatre professionals include Akosua Amo-Adem, Nina Lee Aquino, Stafford Arima, Ghazal Azerbad, Arthi Chadra, Kat Chin, Lisa Karen Cox, Jordan Laffrenier, Shaista Latif, Owais Lightwala, Matthew MacKenzie, Erin Macklem, Aidan Morishita-Miki, Marilo Nuñez, Tarndeep Pannu, Jiv Parasaram Malina Patel, Luke Reece, Jamie Robinson, Tetsuro Shigematsu and Syrus Marcus Ware.

    Blanco hopes to see more events like the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair in the future.

    “As someone who is graduating and part of the IBPOC community, this event is rare,” he says. “It is just amazing to see so many IBPOC theatre artists joining in one room and discussing what they love; coming together as a community to help graduates with their next adventure.”

    Fricker says the event has drawn considerable interest from across the country.

    “We have been excited and struck by the levels of enthusiasm and eagerness to participate in this fair from all quarters, from the artist-speakers to IBPOC students themselves to partnering organizations,” she says. “We intend to learn from this year’s event, and work on making this an ongoing tradition.”

    For details and how to register for the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair, please visit the website.

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  • Student-directed one-act plays featured in Brock Dramatic Arts mini-festival

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2021 | by 

    Image Caption: Brock Dramatic Arts students Maiya Irwin and Tyra Hayward star in The Barely Wives Club by playwright Sarah Segal-Lazar and director Michael Cicchini.

    Student directors and performers will showcase their talents in two plays this weekend as part of the spring 2021 One Acts Festival: Myth and Marriage.

    Presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) and open to the public, the online mini-festival will include nightly performances Thursday, April 22 to Saturday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel. The show is free to view, however, viewing spots must be reserved through Brock University Tickets.

    The One Acts Festival is the final presentation for student directors enrolled in the third-year Directing II (DART3P54) course. The plays are produced and performed by DART students with the supervision of Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts. They feature first- and second-year cast members from DART, making this a student-selected, student-centred collaboration.

    Brock Dramatic Arts students Jada Dawson and Paolo Bozzo star in The M Word by playwright Alan Ball and director Matt Martin.

    Myth and Marriage showcases two short works: The Barely Wives Club by playwright Sarah Segal-Lazar and director Michael Cicchini, and The M Word by playwright Alan Ball and director Matt Martin.

    The Barely Wives Club, starring Maiya Irwin, Tyra Hayward and Simon Bell, tells a harrowing tale of two famous fictional characters who are now trapped together in their own version of purgatory. Eurydice and Juliet are forced to watch their narratives unfold on multiple TV screens by their mysterious puppet master Hades, god of the Underworld. They contemplate the way their stories have been distorted to audiences, and the nature of freedom.

    The M Word, starring Jada Dawson and Paolo Bozzo, is a comedy that follows a couple attempting to construct a marriage along business principles. The M Word tackles how the pursuit of control ultimately leads to powerlessness, as the compulsion to schedule their lives leads the couple to disconnect from one another — and reality itself. The laughter and heartbreak of their negotiation causes their walls to crumble so that viewers get a peek of who they truly are beneath the silent battles they face every day.

    “I am incredibly excited to be directing this year,” Martin says of his role with The M Word. “I was fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented people to create something we are all very proud of. I hope people enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

    To book a viewing reservation, please visit Brock University Tickets.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, News, Performance Season, Plays, Uncategorised

  • Dramatic Arts spring mainstage production delivers comedy, whimsy and innovation in Zoom theatre

    Caption: A screenshot from the “Yellow Brick Road” scene in the DART 2021 spring Mainstage production of Fever/Dream, includes cast members (top row, from left) Jonah Pace, Emily Clegg, Jane Smith, (second row, from left) Violet Brown, Bianca Taylor, Joanna Tran, (third row, from left) Yasmine Agocs, Peter Herbert, Luca d’Amico, (bottom row, from left) Taj-Alexander Crozier, Lucas Irving and Matt Martin.

    Originally published in The Brock News THURSDAY, APRIL 01, 2021 | by 

    A collapsing stock market, an eccentric billionaire and a roller-coaster ride of parody and the surreal are just the beginning of what audiences can expect from the upcoming production of Fever/Dream presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The DART spring mainstage production runs from Wednesday, April 7 to Sunday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. as free livestreamed performances viewable on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel.

    In mounting the production virtually, the resilient cast and crew have had their fair share of challenges creating theatre during a pandemic and have masterfully emerged with exciting theatre to share with audiences.

    Director Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, has much gratitude for the dedication of the production team and the participating students.

    “Collaborating during these times could not be done without a production team fanatically dedicated to beating the odds,” she says.

    To bring the play to life, props, costumes and lighting supplies had to be distributed to students all over Ontario.

    “Actors are working as their own technicians, and the student directors are confronting scenes demanding live acting and intimacy with zest and imagination,” Raby says. “With this group of fevered dreamers, I think Calderón de la Barca and Sheila Callaghan would both be proud.”

    Assistant Directors and Dramatic Arts students Dillon Bernier and Samantha Rideout share Raby’s enthusiasm for the work put into the show and anticipation for opening night.

    “Working on Fever/Dream has taught me so much, not only about myself as a director, but also how theatre can still bring people together, even in a digital form,” Bernier says. “We need theatre in our lives, whether that be in person or digitally.”

    Rideout echoes this sentiment, acknowledging the impact of the experience.

    Fever/Dream is the first opportunity I have had to take my knowledge as a performer and try my hand at assistant directing,” she says. “The past eight months developing this show have opened my eyes to the potential of theatre to transcend our current understanding of the art form.”

    The play itself touches on many themes, such as corporate greed, complicated family dynamics, white supremacy and the healing power of love — all delivered in a comedy meant to defy logic and challenge convention.

    “As theatre makers, we are trying to use our talents to create a piece that is current and contemporary and with a strong social message. We also want audiences to feel the whimsical romance of the story and the magic of theatre,” Bernier says.

    While the new digital stage is a departure from traditional live theatre, the assistant directors and cast members have fully embraced “Zoom theatre.”

    “The Zoom platform has challenged the cast, while also providing us with an important learning opportunity to explore and play outside of our comfort zones — and we have made bold discoveries,” Rideout says.

    The production is free to view, however space is limited. The public can make a reservation to watch the show on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel by booking through brocku.universitytickets.com

    In addition to being directed by Raby alongside Bernier and Rideout, Fever/Dream’s Scenic design is by David Vivian, costumes by Roberta Doylend, lighting design by Chris Malkowski, sound and projections design, videography and postproduction by James McCoy, choreography by Rachel Romanoski, and stage management by Diego Blanco and Alyssa Ruddock.

    The cast and crew have dedicated this production to dawn e crysler, Theatre Technician and beloved MIWSFPA staff member who sadly passed away before the show was completed. crysler, who preferred her name referred to in all lowercase, will be remembered by students, faculty and staff for her commitment to the show, her delight in the process, quiet moments shared with the cast during online rehearsals, her exuberant spirit and her dancing.

    As noted by the Fever/Dream team, it takes a village to put on a theatre show; crysler was not only an integral part of the creative process, but she was also the all-around motivator of the village.

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  • Brock community mourns the loss of theatre artist and MIWSFPA staff member, dawn e crysler

    dawn e crysler, celebrated MIWSFPA staff member and Theatre Technician, will be remembered for her creativity and dedication to her work.


    originally posted in The Brock News on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 2021 | by 

    The Brock and local arts community is mourning the death of dawn e crysler, a theatre maker and artist who will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Faculty, staff and students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) were deeply saddened to learn of crysler’s passing earlier this week.

    crysler (BA ’00), who preferred her name referred to in all lowercase, had been a Theatre Technician at Brock’s MIWSFPA since 2018. Working in the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), the multi-talented artist played a pivotal role working with students and faculty to bring performances to life through her work as technician and scenic painter.

    “The entire DART community is shocked and saddened at the departure of this sensitive, observant and generous soul. As a former student of the program, dawn brought her many talents and insights to a wide range of theatrical activity at Brock and beyond,” says David Fancy, Professor and Chair of DART.

    crysler also worked as a theatre technician at the Shaw Festival and Carousel Players, and in Toronto on various film, TV and theatre projects. Most recently, she had been painting the Klingon ship on the set of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (a spinoff series currently being filmed in Toronto).

    A Brock graduate, crysler conferred on June 9, 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Literature and Theatre.

    Peter Feldman, retired Associate Professor and former Chair of DART taught crysler during her studies.

    “dawn was one of the most highly motivated students I had in my 20 years at Brock, working with distinction in almost every aspect of our program,” he says.

    Feldman also fondly recalls joining crysler and other former students in starting a St. Catharines-based fringe theatre group known as Stray Theatre in 2003. In addition to building and painting sets, crysler was a gifted actor, he says.

    “dawn played an astonishingly wide range of roles in drama and comedy, all beautifully, movingly and totally believably.”

    White Crow, drawn by Jana Bergsma, in honour of dawn e crysler. photo: Gavin Fearon.

    “All of us with whom she worked will remember dawn’s sunny personality, her always positive view of life, her gift for friendship, the enthusiasm she brought to everything she worked on, and her sense of wonder. ‘Awesome!’ must have been her favourite word,” Feldman says. “Altogether, dawn was one of the most remarkable young women I’ve known in the theatre.”

    David Vivian, Associate Professor, Scenographer and Director of the MIWSFPA, says hiring crysler felt like a puzzle piece falling into place.

    “When we hired dawn in 2018, it was as if she was coming home to the MIWSFPA. She was a celebrated member of the arts community and Brock graduate contributing to local arts and culture — it was so very right to have dawn join us here at the School,” he says.

    In addition to being a valued staff member and friend of Brock, crysler was a dedicated theatre artist with a strong presence in the Niagara arts scene. Born and raised on a farm in Pelham, crysler explored her roots though her artistry. She was a published playwright. Her play White Crow, which ran in November of 2012 mounted by Essential Collective Theatre, chronicled a family facing adversity on a Pelham farm.

    In 2013, crysler was nominated for the Emerging Artist Award for the eighth annual St. Catharines Arts Awards. She brought creativity and energy to cultural initiatives, such as In the Soil Arts Festival, where she held an interactive workshop entitled “Play!” that involved massive checker pieces, a giant Jenga set and oversized “pick-up sticks.”

    The flags in front of Brock’s Schmon Tower were lowered to half-mast on Friday, March 26 to commemorate crysler’s passing.

    MIWSFPA colleagues remember crysler for her energetic attitude and sense of play.

    Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, reflects on crysler’s bright personality and her professional talent and work ethic. Raby, along with other DART faculty and staff, were working closely with crysler on the spring Mainstage production.

    “Across the community she was known and loved for her infectious energy,” Raby says of crysler. “She was a beam of light, a roller-derby queen, a published playwright, cabaret performer, theatre-technician and maker-builder extraordinaire. She believed in art and was endlessly creative.”

    A space on the MIWSFPA website memorializing crysler will be created in the coming weeks, where colleagues, friends and family will be invited to share their memories.

     


    The obituary for dawn is available in the St. Catharines Standard.

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  • Dramatic Arts students to interview Canadian theatre leaders during online event

    An online panel discussion Monday, March 29 will see Brock University Dramatic Arts students interview Canadian theatre leaders (clockwise from top left) Jani Lauzon from Stratford Festival and National Theatre School; Kaitlyn Riordan from Shakespeare in the Ruff; Nikki Shaffeeulah, a theatre and community artist; and Kate Hennig from the Shaw Festival.


    An upcoming online panel discussion will explore life and careers in the arts, with Brock Dramatic Arts students interviewing celebrated Canadian theatre makers.

    Open to the Brock community as well as the public, The Act of Creation: A Panel Discussion will take place Monday, March 29 from 7 to 8:45 p.m. on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel.

    Hosted by Danielle Wilson, Associate Professor of Theatre, the event will include prominent theatre artists Kate Hennig from the Shaw Festival, theatre and community artist Nikki Shaffeeula, Kaitlyn Riordan from Shakespeare in the Ruff and Jani Lauzon from Stratford Festival and the National Theatre School.

    The special guests will be interviewed by DART students Joanna Tran, Holly Hebert, Heidi Nickel and Genevieve Batista. Conversations will explore what it is like to be a multi-faceted theatre artist, and how to sustain a career in the arts.

    The online event is free to attend and no registration is required. Watch by clicking here.

    The event is presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts and supported by the MIWSFPA and Faculty of Humanities.

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  • MIWSFPA community mourns the loss of Dramatic Arts graduate Dana Morin

    Pictured above: (Left) Elena Milenkovski, Roberta Doylend (Head of Wardrobe, holding Miss Bit), Paige Morris, and Dana Morin in the Green Room of the MIWSFPA Theatre. 

    Dana Morin standing in the hallway outside of the Costume Shop at the MIWSFPA, seen beside the emptied boxes and crates used to move costume inventory.  Dana assisted with the move from main campus to the new MIWSFPA at 15 Artists’ Common in the Summer of 2015.

    The staff, faculty and students at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are mourning the death of Dana Grace Morin, a beloved former student at the School.

    In 2017, Dana graduated with First-Class Standing in Dramatic Arts, Concentration in Production and Design.

    “Dana was a very large and generous heart in the student community of the Department of Dramatic Arts.  Following her updates to a Facebook group set up to keep everyone updated on her progress through treatment for cancer, we shared our hopes and encouragement for a successful outcome.  We are deeply saddened by the news of her passing and so very thankful for the time she shared with us at the MIWSFPA,” reflects David Vivian, Associate Professor of Scenography and Director of the MIWSFPA.

    Roberta Doylend is creating a rainbow for Dana in honour of her life and memory. Roberta will find a permanent location for the rainbow backstage at the MIW Theatre – a place that Dana loved to be.

    Memorial donations in Dana’s honour can be made to Pink Pearl Canada and Young Adult Cancer Canada.

    Dana Morin’s obituary can be found on Smith’s Funeral Homes website.

     

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