Articles tagged with: Department of Dramatic Arts

  • Brock instructor serves up laughs, treats in support of the arts

    Pictured above: Clown sister duo Jasp (left) and Morro and will host a virtual baking performance Saturday, Jan. 23 as part of the Next Stage Community Booster digital event presented by the Toronto Fringe.

    Heather Marie Annis is no stranger to clowning around — both in and out of the classroom.

    The Dramatic Arts Instructor, who teaches the art of clown at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), loves bringing joy to others.

    Annis will do just that this weekend, taking her talents to the virtual stage in support of the local arts community.

    Annis (Jasp) is one part of the Dora Award-winning clown duo, Morro and Jasp, along with Amy Lee (Morro). The clown sisters will host a special, one-time show “Bake Your Heart Out with Morro and Jasp” on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8:30 p.m.

    The unique blend of live theatre, baking and clown performance is part of the Next Stage Community Booster digital event presented by the Toronto Fringe — a charitable, not-for-profit arts organization based in Toronto — running Thursday, Jan. 21 through Sunday, Jan. 24.

    The digital events are being presented via Zoom with ticket sales supporting Toronto Fringe and its programming. While in-person theatre experiences are currently on pause due to the pandemic, the festival aims to boost energy and creativity during this time of isolation for audience members and performers alike.

    Annis, who is currently teaching the course DART3P07: Clown at Brock’s MIWSFPA, is thrilled to introduce the engaging performance tradition to Dramatic Arts (DART) students. She believes there are valuable teachings in the art form.

    “Each student in the class will get to delve into their own ‘funny’ and explore what brings them unique joy,” she says.

    The art of clown, Annis says, acknowledges an individual’s reality and allows performers to interact with any situation in life they may find themselves in.

    “Clown helps us to find the humour, lightness, horror and absurdness of it all. In a way, clown helps me navigate life because of that — the good and the bad. I hope that it will help the students do that as well.”

    Prior to the pandemic, DART students attended live performances at last year’s Next Stage Theatre Festival run by the Toronto Fringe. This piqued an interest in clowning for several students, introducing them to the thrill of live performance. Under normal circumstances, taking students to see live theatre, whether in Toronto or in Niagara, is an important part of the DART student experience.

    Because of these experiences, some students have gone on to pursue further courses in Clown and theatrical performance offered by the DART program, and are considering a career in the field.

    In addition to being accomplished clowns, Morro and Jasp are also seasoned gourmands and authors of Eat your Heart Out with Morro and Jasp. They are excited to collaborate with the Toronto Fringe, welcoming the opportunity to connect with a virtual, live audience.

    “This show, although we still can’t be in a room together, will at least allow us to interact and play live with an audience. I think it is going to fill all our souls with joy,” Annis says.

    Throughout the pandemic, Morro and Jasp have been hard at work creating online presentations and content for themselves and other clown artists. The duo has been focusing on experimenting with new mediums and promoting their craft.

    Part of this work includes a new project from Morro and Jasp called Send in the Clowns, an initiative that commissions clowns from across Canada to create digital performances that are then featured on the Morro and Jasp website.

    Annis hopes creating new, innovative content will pay off in the long run and shine a light on the art form when in-person theatre can continue.

    “Clown is a performance style that celebrates and makes use of the people in the room at that moment in time. I feel that in the future, clown will shine even more for doing this.”

    Tickets for Bake Your Heart Out with Morro and Jasp are $20 to $30 and can be purchased here. More information on the performance is available on the Toronto Fringe website.

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  • BIPOC Speaker Series welcomes Tanisha Taitt

    The DART/MIWSFPA 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series presents:

    Consciousness in Colour: Intercultural Scene Study for Contemporary Classrooms With Tanisha Taitt

    Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021
    7 to 8:30 p.m.
    Via Zoom
    To register and receive Zoom details, please RSVP via ExperienceBU: experiencebu.brocku.ca/event/172561

    Tanisha Taitt is Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre and a director/actor/playwright, musical artist, accidental essayist, and audiobook director with Penguin Random House Canada. In this talk she will focus on her work as a theatre and anti-racism educator.

    Supported by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation at Brock University in partnership with Niagara Community Foundations.

    2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series
    Conversations in which Black, Indigenous, and people of colour theatre leaders address issues of interest to the theatre community, and beyond. For more information and upcoming speaker announcements, please visit the BIPOC Speaker Series webpage. 

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  • Brock students and newcomers to Canada unite online to create socially conscious theatre

    Originally published in The Brock News TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2020 | by 

    The shift to online learning has not stopped Brock Dramatic Arts and Faculty of Education students from connecting with newcomers, educators and theatre makers around the globe.

    While in-person activities are limited or non-existent due to the pandemic, students in Social Issues Theatre for Community Engagement (DART 3F93) are virtually meeting with newcomers to learn about their journey to Canada.

    The result is meaningful collaboration and the creation of applied theatre pieces rooted in issues of social justice.

    Half of the students taking the course are studying Dramatic Arts. The other half are pursuing dramatic arts as a teachable subject through their Concurrent Education program, which allows students to earn both their undergraduate degree and a Bachelor of Education concurrently.

    The Social Issues Theatre for Community Engagement course builds on a long history between the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre (NFAMC) and Brock University.

    In August 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding between Brock and the NFAMC was signed, solidifying a partnership between the two organizations aiming to address challenges for newcomers to Niagara and provide them with support through community-based actions. It was part of Brock’s ongoing community engagement efforts which create meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships that support social and economic development.

    Over a number of years, DART has had many collaborations with the NFAMC that have enriched the educational and creative experiences of Brock students and community members.

    This community engagement and scholarship continues to thrive online during the pandemic, offering students an experiential learning opportunity to gain valuable skills developed through the teachings of Dramatic Arts.

    The year-long course is taught by Rachel Rhoades, Assistant Professor of Applied Theatre, Dramatic Arts. Rhoades has worked as an applied theatre practitioner, educator and researcher for 12 years in community- and school-based settings in Boston, Toronto and now at Brock.

    Rhoades describes applied theatre as a creative tool for social change that is often mounted in non-traditional performance spaces and says different communities can come together to exchange stories of their lived experiences and create art based on these exchanges.

    The outcome is evocative theatre that promotes learning and healthy discussion around strategies for change and social justice in marginalized communities.

    In a photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brock students from Social Issues Theatre for Community Engagement (DART 3F93) rehearse their applied theatre play Identities Relocated at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

     

    Applied theatre techniques can assist communities in articulating issues, enhancing understanding of their complexity and planning future actions.

    As learning shifted online this fall, Rhoades organized the “Global Guest Speaker Series” as part of the course. Each week, a guest artist facilitated virtual workshops.

    As a result of these workshops, students and volunteer newcomers from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Angola and China created theatre scenes together that were performed virtually as part of the course work.

    Guest speakers have included: Brisa Areli Muñoz, Artistic Director of the Applied Theatre Collective, and Manager of Community Partnerships for The Public Theatre in New York City; Varshini Pichemuthu, co-founder of the RootPrints Theatre company in London, England; Taiwo Afolabi, Canada Research Chair in Theatre and many more from India, Singapore and Toronto.

    Inviting guest speakers from the arts and education field is a way Rhoades is using online platforms to the classes’ advantage and embracing the opportunity to promote global connections during a time of isolation.

    “The community members (newcomers) have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share their stories and opinions on how to resolve major issues through their experiential knowledge,” Rhoades says.

    Rhoades’ academic background in education and applied theatre is connected to her ongoing research. She is guiding young people to develop relationships with marginalized communities so there can be a mutually beneficial experience.

    In this model, students listen to the experiences of newcomers allowing them to learn from a cross-cultural context. In turn, this process can help newcomers feel affirmed and valued, recognizing and honouring their strength through adversity.

    “The students have gained much inspiration from hearing the stories of resilience from the community members, and the collaboration has really opened their eyes to the struggles of peoples around the world,” Rhoades says, adding that the students are improving as educators and artists, and also acquiring knowledge on strategies to demand and develop a more just society. Now, more than ever, these community collaborations are vital to a bright and inclusive future, she says.

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    Categories: Alumni, Current Students, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Visiting Artists

  • Canada Games Research Spotlight: Karen Fricker

    Photo caption: Choreographer Monica Dottor (left) and Brock swimmer Ashley Falconer develop choreography for Circus on the Canal, a creative research project by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts at Brock.

    Originally published THURSDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2020 | by The Brock News

    NOTE: This is the latest in a series of Q&A stories featuring Brock University faculty members who are integrating the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games into their research projects. For more information on Brock’s academic activities around the Games, visit brocku.ca/canada-games

    Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, is author of the monograph, The Original Stage Productions of Robert Lepage: Making Theatre Global, which was published this year by Manchester University Press. She is the co-director of the international research project Circus and its Others, a theatre critic at the Toronto Star and is involved in a number of research projects about the future of theatre criticism.

    Fricker is one of 11 Brock researchers and scholars who received funding under the 2019-2020 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, she discusses her creative research project titled “Circus on the Canal.” 

    Please give a brief overview of your research project.

    Circus on the Canal is a creative research project exploring the connections between water sports and circus performance, which will result in a live performance in and around the Welland Canal during the Niagara 2022

    Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts.

    Canada Games. It’s a collaboration between me and the circus artist and producer Holly Treddenick of Femmes du Feu Creations.

    The first stage of this research project, funded by a Brock Canada Games grant, took place in summer 2020. It involved Holly working with Brock varsity swimmer Ashley Falconer, technician Peter Benedetti of Upstage Dynamics, circus artist Emily Hughes, choreographer Monica Dottor and musician Eugene Draw to develop a physical vocabulary for the performance, and to explore locations on and around the Welland Canal where the performance will take place.

    What do you expect will be the outcome of your research?

    The goal is for Femmes du Feu Creations to create a live performance for the 2022 Games, in collaboration with Upstage Dynamics and the City Of Welland, that will involve performers on paddleboards, canoes or kayaks, in addition to elements expanding on the previously mentioned creative work,. I will write a scholarly article about the creative process and performance documenting the work and discoveries made about the ways in which the physical experience and knowledge of sportspeople and circus artists mutually informed each other in the work.

    How will this contribute to knowledge or understanding of the Canada Summer Games?

    Our hope is that this performance will engage audiences in the Games who may not necessarily have direct interest in sports themselves. Circus has a broad public appeal and the sights and sounds of a performance may draw people down to the canal and spark interest in the sports taking place there. Conversely, the performance is likely to enhance the experience of sports spectators and sportspeople by adding a creative and aesthetic element to the Games.

    How did you become interested in this research?

    I have been doing research about contemporary circus for seven years and am the co-director of Circus and its Others, a research project that organizes international conferences and publishes scholarly work about the ways in which difference is manifested and performed in contemporary circus. The dominance of Québec in the global circus scene has meant the work of circus artists and companies elsewhere in Canada is lesser known and under-resourced (Canadian circus is Québec circus’ “other”). It’s through research into circus in Ontario that I met Holly and became interested in her work as a creator, producer and promoter of innovative physical practice at the intersections of circus, dance and theatre.

    How do you plan on sharing your research? 

    We are preparing a video presentation about the first stage of this project for the Brock Research Showcase in January. The plan now is to apply for more funding so that we can bring the project to fruition during the 2022 Games, which will in turn lead to my academic writing about the project.

    Do you have any advice or tips on how colleagues in your Faculty can incorporate the Canada Games into their research?

    My advice around this, as with most things, is to network and build on relationships and proximity. Our project came about thanks to Holly’s and my desire to create a project together, to the fact that the Games have come to Niagara and to the location of her workplace and home right on the banks of the Welland Canal near the Flatwater Centre. We will need to do further networking as the project develops. The hardest part has been finding Brock partners on the sports and sports research side; the pandemic has made this particularly challenging.

    We hope to discover Brock students, faculty and staff who are paddleboarders, canoers or kayakers who might want to collaborate on the fully-realized performance. A related goal for us is to connect with Indigenous students or colleagues who have a particular connection to Niagara waterways.

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  • Dramatic Arts students mount ominous play from award-winning Canadian playwright

    Caption: Members of Sandbox Theatre, Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts fourth-year student-run company, rehearse a scene for their online production of Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill.

    Sandbox Theatre, Brock University’s fourth-year Dramatic Arts student company (DART 4F56 – Advanced Studies in Theatre) is presenting an evocative story about ten teenagers who must face their guilt – and their past.

    The play Concord Floral written by Jordan Tannahill and directed by Dramatic Arts Instructor Ali Joy Richardson will be streamed on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel. The performances run Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.

    Written by Canadian theatre maker Jordan Tannahill, two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, Concord Floral was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2016 and has been produced by theatre companies across the country.

    Concord Floral follows a group of suburban teens as they contend with their increasing social awareness and consequences of their past actions. Inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s thirteenth-century literary classic The Decameron, the teenagers are “fleeing a plague of their own making” after a rumour spreads that two girls have found a body in an abandoned greenhouse called Concord Floral.

    From costume and set design, to lighting, video and sound design, this production is entirely created and produced by fourth-year Dramatic Arts students and directed by playwright and director Ali Joy Richardson. The cast and crew, including student choreographers and composers, are currently spread out across Ontario due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The stage manager for Concord Floral is connecting virtually from Mexico.

    This adaptation of Concord Floral is set in the Niagara region and takes place in the intimate, personal space of the bedrooms of teenagers. Performed on Zoom, the show captures the spirit of adolescence with all its jagged edges. This play amplifies the voices of young people and is proudly presented by the next generation of theatre artists.

    To reserve your viewing spot on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel, please visit Brock University Tickets.

    There is no cost for tickets. Donations are recommended to support the Black Health Alliance, a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada.

     

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  • Dramatic Arts rewrites script for online learning with Shaw Festival

    Pictured above: Shaw Festival Theatre actors Jonathan Tan, left, and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane coached Brock students online in DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors. (Photos by David Cooper)

    Originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2020 | by 

    Brock Dramatic Arts students got a virtual backstage pass to the revered Shaw Festival Theatre this summer.

    An innovative teaching initiative gave students taking DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors the opportunity to connect online with and receive personalized coaching from professional actors Jonathan Tan and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane from the Shaw Festival Theatre permanent company.

    For third-year student Jordan Henderson, the virtual experience was both valuable and uplifting.

    “Jonathan Tan had many wise words that really helped me build confidence in my acting skills,” he said. “He also helped me to understand that what I might consider a mistake, audiences may interpret as something completely different.”

    David Fancy, Professor and Chair in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, developed the course’s online teaching material with the future in mind and produced 700 minutes of lessons over 70 separate videos.

    This foundational acting course, which Fancy describes as “extreme monologuing,” is designed to help students discover the underlying principles of acting. Students explore the actor’s process, including awareness, stimulus, impulse, intention and action.

    “We’re making some exciting changes to DART 1F01,” Fancy said. “We’re using this opportunity to build a course that we can also share with students who have to work remotely in the future.”

    In the virtual coaching sessions, students rehearsed monologues they’d written themselves with the Shaw actors, soaking in their expertise and knowledge.

    Second-year student Benoit St-Aubin gained unique perspective on the acting world, and it left him craving more.

    “I absolutely loved the session that I had with Olivia. We had the opportunity to run through our monologues with her and she gave us great tips to improve them,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed being in class, but this meeting really made me want to go back in September.”

    Fourth-year student Alexandra Hunter was able to immerse herself in the story of her monologue, giving her a deeper connection and understanding of her character and the creative process.

    “I learned so much from Olivia,” Hunter said. “She helped me illustrate the emotions in a strong way so that I knew how to perform them and react accordingly.”

    This opportunity to leverage technology and connect students to professional actors was co-ordinated by Fancy and Dramatic Arts instructor Carolyn Mackenzie in partnership with the Shaw Festival. They worked alongside Shaw’s Senior Manager for Education Suzanne Merriam, Education Assistant Melissa Domingos and Education Co-ordinator Megan Gilchrist.

    This course is just one of the ways Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is using innovative thinking and a creative approach to lead the charge on the future of performing arts. This fall, audiences can expect riveting new work, pushing the boundaries of live theatre with the Dramatic Arts mainstage production Scenes from an Execution by Howard Barker.

    More details on the Department of Dramatic Arts and the fall mainstage virtual production are available online.

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  • Dramatic Arts students build connections through Buddy System

    Originally published in The Brock News: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2020 | by 

    Pictured above: Student representatives for Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts Luca D’Amico (left) and Diego Blanco (right) connect virtually to discuss their new mentorship program, the DART Buddy System.

    Although they’re not physically on campus this term, Diego Blanco and Luca D’Amico want to ensure Brock’s familiar sense of community is not lost amongst Dramatic Arts (DART) students.

    To that end, the two student representatives created the DART Buddy System, a new mentorship program that was launched at the start of the Fall Term.

    The initiative pairs first- and second-year students with mentors who are in their upper years of study. Mentors provide guidance and answer questions throughout the school year, while also offering moral support and words of wisdom gained through their own experiences in the Department of Dramatic Arts.

    Currently, there are 14 mentors and 42 mentees participating in the program.

    This system provides a helpful structure for new students, quickly connecting them to the strong sense of community that is foundational to DART at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Despite the challenging circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining that community feel and sense of belonging was a driving force behind the project, says Blanco. “We want to make this year easier and enjoyable for every student in DART,” he says.

    “During these crazy times, connection with each other is so crucial — and that’s why the Buddy System is important,” adds D’Amico. “It provides students with as much support as possible, building the family that Dramatic Arts is known for.”

    Blanco and D’Amico also lead the planning of weekly and monthly activities that allow all Buddy System participants to get to know each other better.

    Due to public health restrictions, the landscape has drastically changed for new students, meaning those initial connections are harder to make, Blanco says.

    “The reason I love the DART program is because of the relationships that happen outside the classroom, in the common rooms, in the computer commons or even just waiting for the bus,” he says. The Buddy System helps to encourage those connections in a virtual format until in-person activities can resume on campus. Blanco and D’Amico, under advisement from DART faculty and staff, are committed to providing safe opportunities for students to enjoy.

    In addition to the DART Buddy System, Blanco and D’Amico assist the department with orientation sessions and facilitate communication between students and faculty. This year, they have also created the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Student Council, which promotes open conversation among students and faculty specific to the concerns of the BIPOC student population.

    Please click here to fill out the DART Buddy System form.

    More information on Dramatic Arts at Brock is available on the department’s website.

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  • Health Sciences students learn to confront personal biases

    Though she may have appeared to be relaxing on a bench, Larissa DellaVentura was hard at work trying to see the world through the eyes of those around her.

    The third-year Medical Sciences student recently completed an observation exercise where she evaluated the behaviours of people while sitting in a public space and maintaining physical distancing. However, her preparation to complete the exercise started a few days earlier from the comfort of her home office.

    To become accustomed to observing the actions of others while also factoring in circumstances that are not initially obvious, DellaVentura and her Health in Canadian Society class completed an online experiential learning activity designed to heighten their perception of people’s body language as well as their own unintentional biases.

    In order to ensure the activity was completed in a physically distanced manner, local theatre company Mirror Theatre, which is mostly comprised of Dramatic Arts students and alumni, led the class through a virtual exercise that involved analyzing prepared photos and the body language of participants, while also attempting to make assumptions based only on what they had seen.

    “It really demonstrated how we have our own biases and our own unique perspectives,” said DellaVentura of the exercise. “Even as we were looking at the same pose on our screen, some interpreted it as embarrassed, while others believed the person was praying.”

    The course’s instructor, Assistant Professor Valerie Michaelson, said the lessons of empathy and self-reflection the exercise promoted are critical for aspiring health professionals.

    “When we are in professions in the health and medical sciences and don’t take the time to examine our biases, it can very literally be deadly,” she said. “This observation assignment also helps us to see how easy it is to make assumptions about why people have the health experiences they do. When we start to really pay attention, we see that some neighbourhoods have access to safe parks and fresh, affordable produce, but others just don’t. We start to consider how health is about a lot more than self-discipline, and that some of the most important health choices we make are often shaped by matters that are outside our control.”

    In addition to the broadened perspectives experienced by students taking part, those leading the exercise were also able to participate and grow.

    “We successfully accomplished our goal to assist us all in playfully and critically exploring our implicit perspectives on how we read the world,” said Mirror Theatre Artistic Director and Brock Professor of Drama in Education and Applied Theatre Joe Norris. “Feedback from a number of participants indicated that they became more aware of the assumptions that they make.”

    Mirror Theatre member and Brock graduate Bernadette Kahnert (BA, BEd ’19) said her team learned valuable lessons about their own assumptions when it came to online instruction.

    “The workshop was very informative of what can be done online,” she said. “It showed me that remote learning can open up doors I would not have in a traditional face-to-face atmosphere and has given me hope that I can still deliver an in-depth, reflective and educational experience.”

    Once the online portion wrapped up, DellaVentura put the reflective skills she learned to the test in a north-end St. Catharines plaza.

    As an aspiring physician, she said the exercise has encouraged her to look within herself while also being more aware of the circumstances of those around her.

    “We all have our own implicit biases that we may not even be aware of,” she said. “As a health-care professional, it’s important that we confront those biases and not let them influence our decisions.”

    Along with DellaVentura, some members of the class have chosen to safely visit outdoor public spaces, while others have decided to observe from their windows or through other means.

    Regardless of where they chose to conduct their observation, Michaelson is confident that the exercise will have a lasting effect.

    “These exercises light a flame in people, and it grows into something that is long-lasting and transformative,” she said. “We want our students to be leaders in the health-care system who have the skills to identify inequities so that they can then participate in the urgent work of dismantling them.”

    To learn more about Brock’s experiential education programs and in-class workshops, visit the Experiential Education website.

    Mirror Theatre is recruiting new participants from the Brock community with an online orientation meeting on Wednesday, October 7 from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. Anyone interested in participating is asked to contact Norris at jnorris@brocku.ca for login instructions.

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  • Dramatic Arts graduate’s web series selected for digital innovation grant

    Image:Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) graduate Marley Kajan (BA ’14) and Connor Ferris, co-creators of new web series Like Comment Subscribe.

    (Originally FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 | by 

    Marley Kajan (BA ’14), who majored in Dramatic Arts during her time at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, has good reason to celebrate.

    Last week, it was announced that the web series she co-created, Like Comment Subscribe, has been selected for the Canada Council for the Arts and CBC Digital Originals initiative. Kajan noted she and her co-creator, Connor Ferris, are honoured to be recipients of the grant and are excited to kick-off production of their pilot.

    Like Comment Subscribe follows millennial influencers and BFF’s Meaghan and Avery, who seem to have it all: fortune, fame and followers,” said Kajan. “But when COVID-19 sends their lives into lockdown, the impact begins to reveal the people behind the profiles.”

    In addition to co-creating and co-writing the web series, Kajan, alongside Ferris, will play the two leading roles. In partnership with the CBC, the series will be produced by Hamilton and Toronto-based production company Dei Gratia Pictures.

    Kajan, a bright talent in the Canadian dramatic arts scene, originally hails from Welland. Graduating with a concentration in Performance, she achieved First Class Standing. She was recently invited by the Department of Dramatic Arts to virtually perform for this year’s orientation, inspiring the next generation of students for what promises to be a historic year ahead for the arts.

    “The CBC’s Digital Originals initiative funded by the Canada Council aims to assist artists as they pivot their work, or create new original work, for online distribution as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes the Canada Council for the Arts. “While many artists are discovering new performance platforms, the creative team behind Like Comment Subscribe will certainly help forge the path to bring compelling stories to audiences across Canada, and beyond.”

    This story was written by Gillian Minaker.

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  • The show must go on: Brock prof encouraged by theatre’s resiliency in midst of cancellations

    Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, says that despite the impact of COVID-19 on the performing arts, she’s encouraged by what she’s seen from the industry.

    (published WEDNESDAY, APRIL 08, 2020| by The Brock News {Alison Innes})

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating blow on the performing arts, but a Brock University Dramatic Arts professor is encouraged by what she has seen from the industry.

    “A vibrant industry went to ground over a matter of days, with theatres at first announcing cancelled or postponed productions and then, in most cases, cancelling the remainder of their winter-spring seasons,” says Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for the Toronto Star. “Most performing artists are precarious gig workers who are seeing current and future bookings evaporate.”

    In St. Catharines, arts organizations including the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, the Meridian Centre, Essential Collective Theatre and Carousel Players are among those that have cancelled or postponed programming through May.

    The Stratford Festival has cancelled performances through to late May, and Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Shaw Festival through June. While Shaw has not laid-off workers and is conducting rehearsals online, Stratford has temporarily laid off 470 employees, including actors, technicians and box office workers.

    But Fricker sees hope among the gloomy news.

    “Theatre companies and artists have been demonstrating amazing resilience and ingenuity during this time of crisis,” she says. “A lot of activity has gone online.”

    Essential Collective Theatre is turning its annual vaudeville fundraiser into an online affair. “Quarantine Cabaret” will feature short video recordings of various acts, including singing, magic, clowning, drag and melodramatic readings, which will be live-streamed at the end of April.

    Several Toronto-based companies are putting on telephone plays: one-on-one shows in which an audience member gets a hand-made personal story delivered to them over the phone, says Fricker.

    “DLT (DopoLavoro Teatrale), known to local audiences for their immersive shows including That Ugly Mess that Happened in St. Catharines, is producing a series of phone and online performances,” says Fricker. Some of the performances are inspired by Boccacio’s Decameron, a 14thcentury collection of novellas about a group of youth sheltering outside Florence to escape the Black Death.

    “I have been uplifted by engaging with online theatre over the past few weeks,” Fricker says.

    “Watching theatre this way is not the same as sharing the same physical space and time with fellow audience members and the artists themselves, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lesser experience. It’s different, and theatres and audiences alike are adapting to what is, for now, the new normal.”

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