Articles tagged with: FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

  • Meaningful Movements Reshape: Come to the Edge at Brock University and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    (From: The Sound, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 | by Kerry Duncan)

    Being invited into a space not built by you, or for you, offers the inherent need for trust and vulnerability. When audiences entered into the Come to the Edge Cafe on August 24/25 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, audience members were transported to a land of imagination built by, and for, wheelchair users with Cerebral Palsy (CP). This evolving storyscape replaced the traditional confines of theatre with an unlimited creation of shape and space, prioritizing the communication options for performers and participants with CP. The team working on this production aimed to foster an empathetic and reflective space for participants to sit in a potential level of unknown, discomfort, and to ultimately trust that they could not necessarily know the answers to questions like ‘Where are we? What’s it like to not know exactly what’s happening around you? What’s it like when you have to re-evaluate the things that don’t exactly apply?’.

    Come to the Edge is a collaborative development of immersive theatre, creating a new understanding of performance through dance, play, and improvisation. The central performance elements built by and for the Imagining Possibilities Leadership Team, made up of automatic and manual wheelchair users with CP. The group has been working with St. Catharines based creative collaborators from the March of Dimes Canada and the Brain Injury Community PET (Personal Effectiveness Training) Re-Entry Program to welcome audiences to trust in the idea that ‘not knowing’ is an opportunity for learning and empathy. The performances are supported by facilitators Jenny Jimenez and Stephen Sillett from Toronto-based organization, Aiding Dramatic Change in Development (ADCID), as well as a much broader team of musicians, artists, and support workers.

    With a long-standing history in St. Catharines, the ADCID has been working with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) since 2016 with the first iteration of Imagining Possibilities, the precursor to Come to the Edge. As a facility that was built under the universal standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) for inclusive physically spaces, this began a longstanding partnership for reshaping how St. Catharines builds and understands performance theatre. Professor David Vivian, Director of the MIWSFPA and an ongoing collaborator with ADCID explained that “Inviting the lead artistic team to join us and local artists in our first spring season at the MIWSFPA theatre was one of the highlights of our inaugural year in 2015-16. Come to the Edge is a long term project that has continued to develop over the years and bring together artists in a number of Ontario communities”.

    The development of the show over the past several years has taken this community and discussions about it global with performances and workshops in Toronto, Belgium, Prague, Hamilton and St. Catharines. Connecting with the Imaging Possibilities Movement through the Engaging Possibilities project at Brock University in 2015, Kris Daunoravicius has been involved with the growth and evolution of this project ever since. A local to St. Catharines and core member of the Leadership Team, Daunoravicus travelled with the ADCID team to Belgium in 2017 for a week of Envisioned Scenography workshops for the disability-focused Huize Eyckerheyde Residence. In speaking with Daunoravicus and Elaine Drover, another member of the Leadership Team, both utilized a range of augmented technology, body movement, facial expressions, and sound to showcase the range of experiences and stories that were being brought into the creative process during the years of work it took to create the latest version of this production.

    In speaking with Come to the Edge performer and ADCID collaborator, Frank Hull and long-time Leadership Team member Laura Leskur, they shared how the creation of this show was rooted in growing one another’s understandings of the other performers, and building a movement vocabulary unique to each performer and each moment of interaction. With a long-term career as a professional wheelchair dancer, Hull spoke to the multiple layers of relationality and equity between those involved in the show, “there has to be those moments where we are becoming equal together, regardless of how my ability may be different from Laura’s. But if we are moving together, we need to find a way to move together and not overpower one another”.

    As a verbal CP performer, he explained that “my world is very instant when I communicate. What I’m learning with this group is I’m facing my own ableism. It got me thinking about how from my role I have not been patient enough, not just with this group”. He elaborated on his reflections of needing to be more cognizant of not finishing other people’s sentences, but instead, learned to give people time to communicate within their abilities in order to share and explain their perspectives on the situation. Utilizing her bespoke communication board system*, Leskur also elaborated on these points, highlighting the necessity for patience as to “not miss the magical moments” and the necessity of utilizing body movements and the range of abilities in each performers arms and legs to construct meaningful exchanges.

    In discussing the necessity of moving towards an inclusive way of facilitating theatre for the performers, Sillett explained that “we created the processes with the community of those who are non-verbal in mind. There’s a lot of routes we could take which would be much easier to get an impact in the short-term, but it wasn’t our aim to go there. Our aim was to try and work honouring the deep engagement. The idea of re-establishing the relationship between the audience, and what their journey is going to be, the community making it”. Hull asserted that his role in adding the movement and dance elements to the show has been “a dream come true to work with manual and power wheelchairs to create movement together,” emphasizing the liberation of spaces focused on the lived experiences of the team rather than a more traditional methodology of prioritizing the audience.

    In reflecting on his work with the Imagining Possibilities Movement, Vivian explained how “my specific interests in working with the company lie in aspects of accessibility, universal design and the development process of improvisational, immersive performance spaces under very specific conditions. It has been a very humbling learning experience that we will adapt for my university course development and professional practice”. Breaking from the expected traditions of theatre development, the broad range of creative in communities in St. Catharines can take the fundamental ideas of change to expand who is in the audience, who is on stage, and how can we expand the experiences and interactions between these world.

    *Laura Leskur’s communication board is a bespoke system created at Bloorview and extended over the years. Laura has now memorized 1000 words with corresponding numbers. Elaine Drover and and Christine Jimenez have experience using Blissymbols to communicate. Blissymbolics is a semantic graphical language that is currently composed of more than 5000 authorized symbols – Bliss-characters and Bliss-words. It is a generative language that allows its users to create new Bliss-words as needed. It is used by individuals with severe speech and physical impairments around the world, but also by others for language learning and support, or just for the fascination and joy of this unique language representation. Elaine and Christine are both on the Board for Bliss Communication Institute Canada. See blissymbolics.org for more information.

    [The creators and producers of Come to the Edge wish to thank the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University, for the generosity of their support by providing rehearsal space and technical support in the studios and the MIW Theatre through July and August 2019.

    The article was edited and amended for accuracy and reprinted with permission.]

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    Categories: Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Plays, Uncategorised

  • King Ubu tickets on sale now!

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

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


    King Ubu

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more about the performance.

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

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

    General Admission seating.

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

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

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

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Performance Season, Plays

  • Dramatic Arts grads in Toronto Fringe Festival spotlight

    (From The Brock News, Tuesday, August 18, 2018)

    Two plays featuring Brock Dramatic Arts graduates will be playing this week in Toronto as part of the Best of Fringe.

    First Dates, a play about love, loss and people aching to connect, is written and directed by Niagara Falls native and former DART student Wes Berger and features music by his brother, musician and Brock alumnus Aaron Berger (BA ’17).

    Also featured during the Best of Fringe event is Anywhere, the newest work by award-winning playwright Michael Ross Albert starring Brock alumna Cass Van Wyck (BA ’13). The thriller, set in an Airbnb, follows a cordial relationship between strangers that escalates into a tense battle for control.

    Anywhere and First Dates were both selected as 2018 Patron’s Picks at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

    “On behalf of the department, we want to congratulate Wes, Cass and Aaron,” says Professor Joe Norris, Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts. “As always, we celebrate our students’ successes and are pleased their hard and talented work is recognized in the Ontario theatre community.”

    The Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival provides opportunities for emerging and established artists to share their productions with the community in an affordable and accessible way. The Best of Fringe remounts selected productions at the Studio Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts to give patrons a second chance to see the shows.

    Also in July was the Hamilton Fringe Festival, which showcased another production filled with Brock talent. September Songs was directed by Colin Bruce Anthes (BA ’14) and featured five Brock grads. The show will be coming to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Nov. 1 to 3.

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    Categories: Alumni, Events, News, Plays

  • MIWSFPA offers ticket promotion in honour of International Women’s Day

    Brock Dramatic Arts students Manchari Paranthahan and Meryl Ochoa in the production of Top Girls playing at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts March 2 to 10.

    (Source: The Brock News | Wednesday, March 13, 2018)

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is offering a special Top Girls promotion in honour of International Women’s Day.

    Tickets for the Brock production’s March 9 and 10 performances will be two for the price of one when buyers mention International Women’s Day.

    The promotion will be available in person at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office or by phone at 905-688-0722. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Top Girls, Brock’s second mainstage production of the year, is a contemporary play that takes a critical look at women and their relationship to power and success.

    More information on the show is available on the Brock News.

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    Categories: Announcements, Events, In the Media, News, Plays

  • Community collaboration leads to a new play by Brock prof

    (Source: The Brock News | Monday, February 12, 2018 by Alison Innes)

    It was a simple, yet powerful statement.

    “We need to pay attention to the lives of Niagara’s migrant agricultural workers,” René Lopez, a worker advocate, said to Brock University Associate Professor David Fancy in 2010.

    That conversation began a journey of community collaboration that lead to the production of Our Lady of Delicias by the Essential Collective Theatre, which runs from Friday, Feb. 23 until Sunday, March 4 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    Fancy, a professor with the Dramatic Arts program, collaborated with dozens of migrant workers and Dramatic Arts students for two years to develop the play. The story features the character of Rangel, a Mexican migrant worker who has been travelling to Canada for years to work in the vineyards and greenhouses of Niagara.

    “I’m excited by this new script,” says Essential Collective Theatres’ Monica Dufault, a long-term Brock instructor who is directing the production. “It explores migrant worker issues in considerable depth with a real artistry that I’m keen to share with audiences.”

    “Having lived in Niagara for more than a dozen years now, I still feel that this is a reality that is consciously ignored: the lives of people who are our neighbours,” says Fancy.

    The cast of four, including Carla Melo, Juan Carlos Velis, Camila Diaz-Varela and Josée Young, features an exceptional range of Canadian acting talent with extensive stage and screen credits. Brock Dramatic Arts graduates James McCoy and Jo Pacinda are creating the design and costume design for the production.

    What: Our Lady of Delicias, performed by the Essential Collective Theatre

    When: Friday, Feb. 23 to Sunday, March 4

    Where: Robertson Theatre, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    SPECIAL OFFER: Present your ECT show program or ticket stub to receive a 20% discount on tickets for Top Girls presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts!

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    Categories: Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Plays

  • Brock alumni showcase talents in The Bacchae

    (Source: The Brock News, Thursday, January 19, 2017 | by . Photo: “The Bacchae, a Twitches & Itches Theatre production, is hitting the stage at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre from Jan. 19 to 21. (Photo by David Vivian)”)

    The worlds of ancient Athens and modern Niagara have come together in a theatrical production led in part by Brock alumni.

    The Bacchae, a modern adaptation of a play originally performed in 405 BCE, is hitting the stage at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre from Jan. 19 to 21.

    The Twitches & Itches Theatre production challenges ideas of identity and explores what happens when extreme left- and right-wing politics collide.

    When the ensemble began working on the play in February 2015, they had no idea how timely it would be when presented on the eve of the presidential inauguration of 2017.

    “We had no idea Brexit and Donald Trump’s rise to power were just around the corner,” said director Colin Bruce Anthes (BA ’14, MA ’16).

    “The play was miles ahead of us. Many of the play’s original themes are shockingly reflected in our present society.”

    The play engages with current social issues, as Dionysus, an androgynous foreigner, arrives in St. Cadmus and starts changing the entrenched norms. The conservative rule of King Pentheus is challenged by this new god of wine, theatre and ritual madness and the women who abandon the city core to follow him.

    “Some of the dialogue looks like headlines stolen from today’s newspapers,” Anthes said.

    “In our production, the priest of a new religion arrives as a David Bowie-esque glam-rock star, bursting through a city’s eternalized film-noir surface.”

    Issues of identity are central to this play, as xenophobia, transphobia and intolerance of different body types are all challenged.

    Brock student Iain Lidstone found playing the role of Dionysus both rewarding and exhausting.

    “I am a trans man playing a gender-fluid character,” he said.

    “On the one hand, I find utter relief and excitement that as a queer artist I get the opportunity to give a voice to queer identities on the stage.”

    Lidstone’s own experiences informed the development of his character.

    “My character’s gender-fluidity and effeminate nature means I am constantly challenging my own internalized transphobia and trans-masculine identity in order to authentically portray our ‘queerified’ image of Dionysus.”

    Hayley Malouin (BA ’15) plays the role of Agave, mother to King Pentheus.

    “As a fat actor I’ve seen my inordinately unfair share of motherly characters,” she said, while adding that her most recent role has been different.

    “(Agave) is a person before she is a mother and this production pays particular attention to her journey as an intelligent, politically savvy, but ultimately oppressed agent.”

    General manager Marcus Tuttle (BA ’15) describes the production as a play that “makes sense for St. Catharines.”

    Niagara issues are woven throughout the play: the disappearing manufacturing economy and the experiences of migrant workers, as well as challenges faced by the LGBTQIA community.

    Twitches & Itches Theatre is committed to developing local acting talent.

    The group was founded by Anthes and Tom DiMartino in 2009 and moved to St. Catharines in 2013.

    They have gradually built up a core ensemble of nine performers, eight of whom trained at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    This is the group’s sixth full production and their first independent production at the Performing Arts Centre.

    Tickets are available on the FirstOntario Performing Art Centre’s website.

    Brock students/alumni included in the production: Iain Lidstone, Hayley Malouin, Sean Rintoul, Kaitlin Race, Sean Aileen McClelland, Chelsea Wilson, Marcus Tuttle, Colin Bruce Anthes.


    Media:

    TVCogeco’s feature on The Bacchae:

     

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    Categories: Alumni, In the Media, News

  • POOR

    By Essential Collective Theatre

    Co-presented by FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre with production assistance by the Department of Dramatic Arts

    Showtimes: February 18 – 28, 2016: Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 2pm

    Tickets are available at firstontariopac.ca

    Location: Robertson Theatre, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, 250 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines

    A new one-woman play by Vancouver playwright Suzanne Ristic, this darkly comic piece was first produced in 2014 at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. ECT’s production will be performed by DART part-time faculty member Monica Dufault and will be directed by Kim Selody, Artistic Director of Presentation HouseTheatre.

    The play centres on an ultra rich Canadian woman, Shelly Cormorant, who pretends to be homeless in order to better understand the plight of the 99%. A contemporary Marie-Antoinette in her ignorance, Shelly unwittingly offends everyone she meets in her attempt to empathize with the “poor”, all the while taking advice from a vision of Scarlett O’Hara. She has sex with a homeless man, and is titillated by the prospect of continuing the liaison in the filth of this man’s squat. The man sees through her façade and seizes the opportunity to profit from their relationship. Ultimately, Shelly loses her status and power, and makes a desperate attempt to affect real change through an act of terrorism.

    This script explores current socio-economic disparity through the character of a woman of extreme privilege and her oblivious attitude toward the rest of the world. Shelly is at once detestable and hilarious, outrageous and pitiable. She recognizes that her status as a “trophy wife” (as the character self identifies) is embedded in her physical appearance,  and that this currency is quickly diminishing as she ages. Her rebellion against the valuation of women based on their looks is tied up with her drive to play at being impoverished.

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    Categories: Events, Plays

  • Dramatic Arts welcomes the new Foster Festival to St. Catharines

    foster_festival_launch_220The Department of Dramatic Arts is excited to be part of the new Foster Festival and their inaugural 2016 season at the new FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario.  Celebrated Canadian playwright Norm Foster recently joined festival executive director Emily Oriold and artistic director Patricia Vanstone (see photo, at left) for the launch of the festival – which is the first in Canada to celebrate the work of a living playwright.

    Mike Zettel recently wrote about the festival launch in Niagara This Week:

    Vanstone said one of the first partnerships they formed was with Brock’s dramatic arts department, which will be housed in the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts right behind the performing arts centre. The Foster Festival will have access to a state-of-the-art production facility and will offer summer employment and educational opportunities to the department’s brightest and best current and graduating students, giving them their first crucial work experience in a professional environment.

    “It’s a tremendous partnership,” Vanstone said, adding it’s an example of welcoming atmosphere across the city and the willingness of groups to band together for a common cause. “This is a community that understands a great work ethic and the ability to pull together.”

    Professors Gyllian Raby and David Vivian (Chair) were present for the launch along with Alesia Dane (Coop Programs) and Jana Boniferro (Development and Communications Officer for the Faculty of Humanities) from Brock University and Sara Palmieri and Steve Solski of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, among others.  To read about the launch see the articles in Niagara This Week and the St. Catharines Standard and visit the Festival website.

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    Categories: Announcements, News

  • Niagara Centre for the Arts Receives $36 Million

    (Source: Brock University Web News)

    The city-owned Niagara Centre for the Arts will be adjacent to Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The project is “the cornerstone of Council’s vision for a revitalized downtown,” St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan said.

    Brock University President Jack Lightstone hailed the announcement. “This is a day we have all been looking forward to for a long time,” he said, “not just because this cultural landmark will complement our Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, but because it illustrates how a whole community can benefit when people work together.”

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