Articles tagged with: Karen Fricker

  • 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.

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

  • 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).

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

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.”

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
    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.

    Tags: , , ,
    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.

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

  • DART prof wins national award for theatre criticism

    (From The Brock News, Tuesday Oct.30, 2018 | By: )

    Karen Fricker is getting rave reviews from a respected national audience.

    The associate professor in Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is being honoured with the 2018 Nathan Cohen Award for excellence in critical writing by the Canadian Theatre Critics Association.

    Fricker won the award’s short category for her 2016 Toronto Star review of Michel Tremblay’s classic Hosanna, as revived by Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre.

    Fricker, whose research areas include Quebec theatre, said the play is a complicated touchstone of Quebecois culture.

    “A big challenge of writing this review was trying to use the research-based knowledge I had about the play without being overwhelmed by it,” she said. “It was a really hard review to write, so it’s gratifying that it’s being recognized.”

    Fricker has a long history with theatre criticism, having written for outlets including The Guardian and Varietyas well as being the founding editor-in-chief of Irish Theatre Magazine, a publication that operated from 1998 to 2014. She has written for the Toronto Star since March 2016.

    Fricker joined Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts in 2013. Her research interests include contemporary theatre and globalization, popular performances of nation and cultural identities, and theatre criticism. Recent projects have included work on circus performance.

    “The benefits between my work at Brock and at the Toronto Star flow both ways,” Fricker said.

    “I try to connect students in my courses to what’s happening in GTA theatre, and we learn from each other’s responses to the work. When we publish their edited reviews on the DARTcritics website, their voices enter the broader dialogue.”

    As part of her interest in arts criticism in the digital age, Fricker established the blog DARTcritics.com to provide students with an opportunity to publish their work. The site grew from a space for student coursework to a year-round source of quality arts criticism in Niagara. The site now includes reviews and features by students and graduates who are paid for their work.

    The Nathan Cohen Awards were established in 1981 and are given out every two years to honour outstanding critical writing about theatre and performance in print or electronic media. The awards are named after legendary Toronto Star and CBC critic Nathan Cohen.

    A history of the awards and past recipients may be found on the CTCA website.

    Fricker will receive her award in December at a special luncheon in Toronto.

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

  • Brock prof and alumna explore circus performance in joint publication

    Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker and MA graduate Hayley Malouin at the conference Circus and its Others II in Prague this past August. The two have recently published a special double issue of Performance Matters, titled “Circus and Its Others,” exploring questions around circus performance and gender, difference and dis/ability. (Photo by David Konecny)


    (From The Brock News, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    For many people, the circus is a place of mystery and wonder, filled with the extraordinary, unusual and strange.

    But what does it mean to be different and what does it mean to perform those differences?

    For Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker and Brock alumna Hayley Malouin (BA ’15, MA ’17), these questions have led to a joint publication in the emerging field of circus studies.

    The pair launched a special double issue of the journal Performance Matters, titled “Circus and Its Others,” Aug. 28 in Prague at the similarly named Circus and Its Others II conference.

    Inspired by the inaugural Encounters with Circus and its Others conference organized by Fricker with assistance from Malouin in 2016, the publication features contributions from established scholars, graduate students and circus artists from around the world. Many of the contributors were in Prague to participate in the second conference and celebrate at the launch.

    The conference series brings together scholars from around the world to explore questions about the place of difference and “otherness” in contemporary circus.

    “We’re asking questions about circus in a way that allows people who have been working at these questions from different perspectives and different places to jump on board,” says Fricker.

    Malouin, who has an undergraduate degree from Brock in Dramatic Arts, explored ideas of public performance, political protest and public performance of the grotesque as part of her MA in Studies in Comparative Literature and the Arts.

    “Circus is an interesting cultural touchstone because it reflects societal norms about people, community and politics. This is in contrast to the image of circus – which circuses themselves cultivate – as existing on the margins of society,” says Malouin.

    The special issue of Performance Matters was her first foray into academic publishing. In addition to co-editing the issue with Fricker, Malouin worked with other circus scholars, including Brock student Taylor Zajdlik (BA ’15, MA ’17), on a section of the journal exploring questions of queerness and freakery in the circus.

    “It was a great experience to establish myself as someone with those skills,” says Malouin. “I really care about the work, I feel it’s important. It’s a substantial contribution to an emerging field.”

    The special edition also includes work by DART Associate Professor David Fancy on disability and the circus, making reference to a creative research project in which he participated involving intellectually disabled survivors of institutional abuse.

    The questions Fricker and Malouin are researching have application beyond the circus to culture as a whole.

    “What we’re looking at is how questions about difference and otherness play out in certain practices in the contemporary moment,” says Fricker. “And more broadly we’re asking, how do we work to make culture more inclusive?”

    The full issue can be read online for free.

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Events, Media Releases, Uncategorised

  • Brock research team studies the evolution of circus performers

    bromance-220(Source: The Brock NewsTuesday, July 12, 2016 | by )

    Flying trapeze artists, elephants standing on one foot while balancing a ball, jugglers, sword swallowers, bearded ladies: these are among the images of the traditional travelling circus.

    The circus is still going strong today and has gone mainstream. Think Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based entertainment company that has become a worldwide phenomenon.

    “This positive news for circus companies, artists and audiences with a taste for thrilling entertainment also raises questions about circuses’ historic status as site for the celebration and exploitation of differences, from stagings of exceptional performing bodies to the display of ‘freakery,’” says Assistant Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker.

    Fricker is part of an international team of academics, artists and producers researching the relationship of contemporary circus to the widespread practice in traditional circus of featuring people with unusual physical features, such as Siamese twins, women who grow beards, and in extreme cases, people living with a disease or condition that exaggerates certain body parts.

    The team is interested in the ways in which today’s circus artists relate to this “freak show” tradition. Fricker is one of three leaders of the project, called “Circus and its Others,” along with Charles Batson of Union College, in New York and L. Patrick Leroux of Concordia University.

    This month, they are co-organizing a conference about this subject as part of the Montreal Complètement Cirque Festival, with the assistance of two Brock graduate students, Hayley Rose Malouin and Taylor Zajdlik.

    “There’s a large history of profound racism, sexism and ableism that I don’t think is present in contemporary circus in the same way, mostly because contemporary ideologies are very transformed,” says Malouin. “However, it’s interesting to see how some of those elements of sideshow ‘freakishness’ and how we view those born bodies finds its way into contemporary circus.”

    Fricker explains that circuses are, in essence, “variety shows” that feature highly-trained people with extraordinary skills performing daring, risky and spectacular feats.

    These acts are very physical; as a result, a lot of attention is focused on performers’ bodies. In traditional circuses, this focus extended to viewing bodies that were born unusual or made different from diseases or other factors beyond someone’s control.

    But societies eventually became more aware of the struggles and rights of people living with physical challenges, and also increasingly became more sensitive to animal exploitation. For example, after 145 years of featuring elephants in its circus acts, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced that it has plans to retire its elephant herd by 2018.

    The creation of Cirque du Soleil was a turning point in circus history. In the early 1980s, a troupe “juggled, danced, breathed fire and played music” for audiences in Baie-Saint-Paul near Quebec City, says the group’s website.

    One of the performers, Guy Laliberté, took the show on the road in 1984 to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s discovery of Canada.

    “The show was a striking, dramatic mix of circus arts (without animals) and street performance that featured wild, outrageous costumes, magical lighting, and original music,” according to the website. Notably, one of the key features that distinguishes Cirque du Soleil from traditional circus is that it does not include animal acts, and rarely puts born difference on display in its shows.

    Zajdlik says contemporary circuses such as Soleil largely feature “achieved bodies,” bodies “transformed into these powerful vessels that become circus performers” through intensive physical training.

    “Are we gazing upon these spectacular bodies because they represent something that we nostalgically long for in what the freak once gave us?” says Zajdlik. “From aerial feats to contortions, these bodies are doing extraordinary things that you would not normally get to see. In a way, that kind-of represents what the ‘freak’ once represented for circus.”

    The researchers note that there are circuses that feature unusual bodies, but in a very different way than in the past.

    The keynote speaker at this month’s conference is Jennifer Miller, who founded Circus Amok in New York City and is also a professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

    Miller has had a beard since her early 20s. She is known as the “Bearded Lady,” who uses her performances to “ask people who look at her to think critically about what they understand as normatively female or male, masculine or feminine,” says Fricker.

    “She challenges those boundaries,” says Fricker. “We’re in the age of gender fluidity. I think she speaks from, and to that, culture in an interesting way.”

    The Circus and its Others conference was held in Montreal July 15 to 17, 2016.

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