Articles tagged with: Karen Fricker

  • 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

  • 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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  • Brock students selected to participate in national Black theatre initiative

    Caption: Sid Malcolm (left), fourth year Dramatic Arts student with a minor in Music, and Soji Cole, second year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities, are two of 21 students selected for “Seeding the Future”, a new initiative highlighting young Black voices. 

    Two Brock University students will be joining a historic group of Black theatre makers as part of the digital performance series “21 Black Futures.”

    Presented by Obsidian Theatre in partnership with CBC Arts, “21 Black Futures” has brought together 63 Black Canadian playwrights, actors and directors to create art during the pandemic and answer the question, “What is the future of Blackness?”

    The result is 21 filmed monodramas (theatre pieces featuring one person) that are currently premiering on CBC’s streaming channel, CBC Gem.

    Now, 21 students from across the country will join the movement, including fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Sid Malcolm, and Soji Cole, a second-year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities.

    From a national call that attracted more than 60 applicants, Malcolm and Cole have each been awarded a spot in “Seeding the Future,” which invites Black students to create theatre pieces in response to each of the 21 monodramas of “21 Black Futures.”

    “Seeding the Future” is a partnership between Brock University, York University, Obsidian Theatre and CBC Arts, and allows students to create spoken word poetry, audio recordings, video recordings or written responses.

    “As we work at Obsidian to develop and advance Black artists across the country, we also recognize the glaring lack of Black voices in arts criticism and journalism,” said Michael Sinclair, General Manager of Obsidian Theatre. “Black and other BIPOC artists deserve to have voices at the table from their own communities engaging in dialogue about their work. We can’t wait to see what these 21 Black students have to say.”

    For Malcolm and Cole, being a part of this creative response highlighting young Black voices is very meaningful.

    Malcolm said being part of the project gives her and a large group of Black theatre students the chance to have their voices heard.

    “This is a space specifically intended to cultivate young Black artists and help them express what their experience is, and how that shapes the future of Blackness,” she said. “As a young woman of colour, it is often extremely difficult to find pieces of theatre I am able to connect with. There’s often very little representation for People of Colour within the world of theatre. Being a POC in theatre is seen as a rarity and is often trivialized.”

    Cole is excited about the project, and said it speaks to him on many fronts.

    “As a Black person, a migrant and an international student, I have been involved in conversations on the theme of Blackness and racism since I came to Canada in 2019,” he said. “This is the first one that intersects with a discipline and profession that I have identified with all my life.

    “This means a lot to me, as I have always believed that beyond the rhetoric of racism, arts — and especially theatre — can be used as twine to bind community together and dismantle the boundary of segregation.”

    The 21 student responses, including those of Malcolm and Cole, will be released in three instalments, initially on the students’ own social media channels and then re-published on the CBC Arts website. The first group of responses are now live. Malcolm’s work will be published on Monday, March 1 and Cole’s will be published on Monday, March 8.

    Cole, who is a playwright, director and actor, anticipates using his creative and critical wits to respond.

    “As someone who has a deep interest in the sociology of arts, I might want to connect my response to the social implication of the performance,” he said.

    Malcolm anticipates she may draw on specific aspects of her artistic practice.

    “I have a recent reignited passion for poetic writing,” she said. “Typically, I enjoy weaving controversial topics into my writing, which often means critiquing the way that race is perceived around me today.”

    She is also intrigued by the marriage of critical thought and artistic expression.

    “The arts are a dialogue and having Black theatre students continue the conversation begun by “21 Black Futures” is a hugely exciting prospect,” said Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and the co-ordinator of Brock’s participation in “Seeding the Future.” “I can’t wait to see and hear how they all respond.”

    David Fancy, Chair of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said the Department is committed to “the ongoing labour of decolonization, Indigenization, and anti-racism. We are particularly pleased to be involved in such an important initiative,” he said.

    Malcolm is energized by the many conversations “Seeding the Future” ignites, noting the opportunity for discussion while fostering growth through shared experiences.

    “I think a large outcome from this project will be the amount of networking that is possible for young Black artists that would be difficult to do without this project,” she said.

    Cole acknowledges the significance and enduring nature of this project.

    “While this is not a policy project, the expectation is that it will strengthen our understanding of memory, redress, and inclusivity,” he said. “The outcome should be able to resonate with every community; it should generate a peculiar echo of its own that will resound in the heart and mind of everyone.”

    To read the entries in “Seeding the Future,” visit CBC Arts.

    To view the performances in “21 Black Futures,” visit CBC Gem.

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  • Theatre in the age of climate change the focus of virtual events

    Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) are continuing their partnership in 2021, offering online performances and virtual discussions exploring the intersection of performing arts and climate change in the Walker Cultural Leaders Series.

    Taking place from Friday, Feb. 12 to Sunday, Feb. 14, the event is convened by DART Professors David Fancy and Karen Fricker and is a continuation of a series of events presented in November 2020.

    “Following the success of our first round of collaborative events with the PAC last fall, we are looking forward to this continued focus on the relationship between performance and climate crisis,” said Fricker.

    The second part of the series includes:

    • Three commissioned performances meant to inspire conversation and critical thought
    • A live-streamed sharing by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Santee Smith of the company’s new work in development called Skén:nen
    • A panel discussion entitled Honouring Balance in Times of Crisis and Change: Strength in Indigenous Women’s Perspectives

    Artists participating in the panel discussion include Audra Maloney, Diane Simon and Santee Smith, and Lyn Trudeau will moderate.

    “We are enthusiastic about the intersections between the Indigenous women’s panel, responses to the climate crisis, and the moves towards Indigenization and decolonization at Brock,” said Fancy.

    As part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series, Brock commissioned 10 regional theatre artists to create short online presentations exploring the climate crisis in relation to any area of their interest.

    In this part of the series, commissioned artists explored a multitude of themes in relation to climate change including capitalism, consumerism, mental health and more. Excerpts of these works in progress will be shown, followed by a discussion.

    “Between the commissioned performances from local artists, nearly all of whom are DART graduates, and the focus on Indigenous women’s perspectives and creativity, this is going to be a memorable weekend,” Fricker said.

    “Renowned Indigenous scientist, professor and author Robin Wall Kimmerer recently said ‘People cannot see the world as a gift unless someone shows them how.’ Throughout history, artists have often been beacons to new ways of being,” said Annie Wilson, PAC’s Programming Supervisor. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to continue our collaboration with Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department to share emerging and established artistic works that centralize the climate crisis and imagine new ways forward.”

    All digital events are free and accessible for viewing on the PAC and MIWSFPA Facebook and YouTube pages until Sunday, Feb. 28.

    The full weekend program schedule includes:

    Friday, Feb. 12:
    Walker Cultural Leaders Series commissioned artists – 5 p.m.
    Kristina Ojaperv presenting “Travelling Roots”
    Trevor Copp presenting “Water, water, everywhere”
    Meryl Ochoa and Kaylyn Valdez Scott of Tethered the Ghost presenting “Bakunawa”
    Excerpts will be followed by a discussion chaired by Michelle Mohammed.

    Saturday, Feb. 13:
    Skén:nen – Prequel: On the edge of collapse – 2 p.m.
    A sharing by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Santee Smith on the company’s new work in development, Skén:nen.
    Presented by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre with support from the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Presents.

    Sunday, Feb. 14:
    Honouring Balance in Times of Crisis and Change: Strength in Indigenous Women’s Perspectives: A discussion panel – 2 p.m.
    Featuring Audra Maloney, Diane Simon and Santee Smith.
    Lyn Trudeau is moderating this panel with the generous support of the Well Earth Collaborative (WEC).

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  • 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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  • Graduate Studies honours Dramatic Arts professor for outstanding mentorship and leadership

    Associate Professor Karen Fricker, recipient of the Michael Plyley Graduate Mentorship Award, virtually meets with her graduate student, Russ Martin, and his dog Odee.

    (Excerpted from the article published WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2020 in The Brock News | by  )

    The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) has named the five recipients of the annual FGS Awards, which were delivered the news in a virtual format for the first time in the awards’ nine-year history.

    The awards, typically handed out at the Mapping the New Knowledges Graduate Student Conference in April, celebrate the accomplishments and excellence of members of Brock University’s graduate community.

    “Despite not being able to recognize our winners in-person at this time, handing out these awards is still an important and meaningful celebration of the outstanding graduate culture that Brock has worked hard to grow,” says Diane Dupont, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies. “Our winners have all greatly contributed to making Brock an excellent place to pursue graduate education.”

    Michael Plyley Graduate Mentorship Award

    The Michael Plyley Graduate Student Mentorship Award normally awards two Faculty members for their outstanding mentorship of graduate students, one in the category or mentorship of only master’s students, and one in the category of mentorship of both master’s and PhD students. However, this year the adjudication committee was unanimous in their decision to name four award winners.

    Michael Pisaric, Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, and Karen Fricker, Associate Professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts, were awarded the Mentorship Award in the master’s only category.

    Pisaric says receiving the award was “easily one of the highlights of my career.”

    “When my students approached me about the nomination, I was touched that they thought of me in such regard as to nominate me. To actually receive the award, however, is humbling. Graduate students are at the heart of my research program. Without my amazing students, my research program would not be nearly as successful. We are creating the scientists and leaders of tomorrow ,and my goal is to ensure they are well prepared for whatever path they follow when they leave Brock.”

    Pisaric says one of the most important aspects of being a mentor to his students is cultivating a thoughtful and supportive experience for his students in the same way he received while he was a student.

    The award is equally as meaningful to Fricker, whose advice to students is to “seek out opportunities and giver ‘er. Such mentorship is one of the deepest rewards of academic life.”

    As there are currently no graduate programs in Dramatic Arts, the opportunity for Fricker to supervise graduate students is small. Working with her current student in the master of Arts in Popular Culture has been educational and helped her stay on her own theoretical and critical game.

    When asked to provide advice and insight to others on effectively mentoring students, all winners felt similar in that there was no perfect recipe, but touted open communication, understanding and kindness.

    The full list of this year’s FGS Awards recipients are below.

    Marilyn Rose Graduate Leadership Award

    Rachel Yufei Luan

    Michael Plyley Graduate Mentorship Award

    Karen Fricker
    Michael Pisaric
    Madelyn Law
    Miriam Richards

    Jack M. Miller Excellence in Research Awards (at least one recipient from each Faculty)

    Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

    Talia Ritondo, MA, Applied Health Sciences
    Nigel Kurgan, PhD, Applied Health Sciences

    Faculty of Education

    Monica Louie, MEd, Education
    Susan Docherty-Skippen, PhD, Education

    Goodman School of Business

    Ardalan Eyni, MSc, Management

    Faculty of Humanities

    Simone Mollard, MA, Classics
    Brett Robinson, PhD, Interdisciplinary Humanities

    Faculty of Mathematics and Science

    Scott Cocker, MSc, Earth Science
    Parisa Abbasi, PhD, Chemistry

    Faculty of Social Sciences

    Madeline Asaro, MA, Applied Disability Studies
    Megan Earle, PhD, Psychology

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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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    Categories: Announcements, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Performance Season

  • Announcing DART 3P94: Theatre Criticism, an Online Intensive beginning June 2

    [edited on May 25 reflecting the continuing closure of theatre around the world and with content from an article published in The Brock News on TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020 | by ]

    DART 3P94: Theatre Criticism
    Online intensive, June 2-12, 2020

    DART 3P94: Theatre Criticism is a new course that introduces students to the practical craft of and the theoretical background to theatre criticism. The activity of the course is divided between seeing productions and writing reviews of them; workshopping these reviews with the instructor and classmates; editing the reviews towards assessed submission, and eventual possible publication on a dedicated course blogsite; reading and discussing relevant academic and journalistic articles about criticism; and learning about alternative, digital, performative, and visual forms of criticism.

    download the poster

    The instruction of this summertime intensive will be online, conducted using a combination of video conferencing, online chatrooms, animated Powerpoint lectures, and related formats. There will be designated course times during which students will be required to be virtually present; other activities during the two-week course will include reading/class preparation; writing and editing reviews and other forms of written response to theatre; creating digital critical responses using social media and other online platforms; participating in digital forums; and developing a summative criticism project. A final research paper about criticism will be due at the end of June.

    Students will be required to see a minimum of four theatre productions as part of the course. While Fricker had hoped to take students on field trips to see live theatre, the pandemic situation has meant that students will be exploring theatre through video.

    “There is an increasing amount of video-captured theatre performances available online, both through online subscriptions and packages that the Brock Library already holds, to theatres and festivals making some of their captured content available to the public,” says Fricker. It may be that a combination of live and recorded viewing is possible but all the performances will be viewed online.

    “One of the interesting wrinkles of critiquing such performances is that you’re not reviewing live theatre but rather a recording of live theatre, and so questions of camera angles, cuts and actors’ relationships to each other and the camera come into play.”

    This is an intensive course experience and prospective students are advised to be prepared to engage with it full-time during the two weeks of the course.

    Prerequisite(s) are DART 2P96 and 2Q92 (2F94) or permission of the department. Interested students are invited to write to the instructor, Prof. Karen Fricker (kfricker@brocku.ca), as she is willing to consider relevant course experiences from other programs than DART.

    Please register before May 1, 2020.

    Karen Fricker is an associate professor in Dramatic Arts at Brock, a theatre critic at the Toronto Star, and vice-president of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association.

    A PDF version of this page is available for download.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The roundtable discussion is free and open to the public.

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

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

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