Articles tagged with: MIWSFPA

  • Welcome to Dramatic Arts: Orientation for 2020!

    (a screen shot from the welcome by Dr. David Fancy. Watch the video below.)


    Brock University is launching the first-ever Virtual Welcome Week.
    During this year of the pandemic the Orientation activities are all online.
    Watch the welcome below and visit the official Orientation page for all the details!


    THE DEPARTMENT OF DRAMATIC ARTS (DART)

    Dr. David Fancy, Professor of Theatre Praxis, is the Chair of the Department:

    “I wish you a warm welcome to this new academic term, one that DART staff, faculty, and instructors have been carefully preparing for over the spring and summer. And now, with all of its adjustments and changes in delivery, this term is upon us.
    Please know that we are here to support you, to encourage you, and, perhaps most importantly: to collaborate with you to create contexts where much creativity, inquiry, and service will take place.
    Can’t wait to see you, virtually, and perhaps eventually otherwise, soon!
    Vive le théâtre!”

    Join Dramatic Arts Faculty on Tuesday, September 8th from 12 noon to 1pm for a drop-in session about Dramatic Arts. Non-Majors are especially welcome. Dramatic Arts Chair, David Fancy and David Vivian, Director of the Marilyn I Walker School and DART Faculty, will talk informally about the Department. David Fancy will answer your questions about how to take courses as a non-Major and should you how to achieve a Minor in Dramatic Arts. Find us on Lifesize. (click here)

    All Major students are invited to JOIN US at the Annual DART Orientation!
    Tuesday, September 15, 6:00 – 7:15 PM

    Online at :  https://brocku-ca.zoom.us/j/83578938305

    Meeting ID: 835 7893 8305
    (also available via telephone and mobile! contact dvivian@brocku.ca for details)

    The DART community is cordially invited to our 2020 online departmental orientation. This invitation is especially extended to DART first year students: We look forward to seeing you at the Orientation so that you can meet faculty, staff, and fellow students, and learn about the many opportunities for engagement – from auditions to performances to clubs – at DART.

    First-year students who visit at least three of the DART Orientation Zoom breakout rooms will be entered into a draw to win a $50 Brock Campus Store gift card!

    Be it online or face-to-face, DART is a vibrant and welcoming community, and we can’t wait to see you on Tuesday, September 15.


    The Department of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture are all part of the Faculty of Humanities.

    The Associate Dean, Dr. Neta Gordon, Professor of English, welcomes you to Brock University! She’s prepared an 11 minute video to introduce to you to the Faculty of Humanities:


    Michael Gicante is your Academic Advisor for studies at the MIWSFPA.
    He prepared this video for the April open House:


    Koreen McCullough is the Experiential Education Coordinator for the Faculty of Humanities.
    Watch her 3 minute presentation about Experiential Education opportunities at Brock University:


    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

    Located at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines, the MIWSFPA is home to four academic programs. We are right next door to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on the main street of St. Catharines, St. Paul.

    Each program at the MIWSFPA is offering a special welcome to their students.  For example, if you are a beginning your studies as a major in Dramatic Arts, check out what that Department has scheduled for you and plan to join in the fun.  You are also welcome to join the activities of each program at the School even if you are only taking one course or beginning a minor program.  The activities and welcome messages from each program are listed below.

    Professor David Vivian, of the Department of Dramatic Arts (he teaches design and production for theatre), is the Director of the School:

    David will be hosting office hours on September 8, 2020, from 12-3:00 pm,on Teams.
    Drop in and say hi! (click here)


    We all wish you a very successful year at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

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  • Joining us for your first year of studies? Interested in a DART minor or elective?

    Welcome to Brock University for September 2020!

    The Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts, Dr. David Fancy, welcomes you!
    Watch the brief video (also posted on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel.)

    Minor in Dramatic Arts!

    Students in other disciplines may obtain a Minor in Dramatic Arts by successfully completing the following courses with a minimum 60 percent overall average.  You begin with courses in Praxis (Introduction to Theatre and Performance, and Performance as Cultural Practice I), or Drama in Education and Applied Theatre, or Performance and Production and Design, and then select three credits from the entire catalog of DART courses.  Be sure to check for prerequisites!

    -DART 1P91 and 1P92, or DART 1P94 and 1P95, or DART 1P97 and 1P99

    -three DART credits

    If you are seeking information about the courses at Dramatic Arts during this
    autumn of the covid-19 pandemic, check out this google doc advising sheet.
    You do not require a google account to read the document.

    click on the image to open the google doc

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Future students, News, Uncategorised

  • Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Indigenous Art Practice: Candidate Research Presentations

    The Brock and wider community is invited to attend the presentations by the three Indigenous artist/researchers who are finalists for the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Indigenous Art Practice at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Our candidates are visiting the Marilyn I. Walker School in January. Each will give an hour-long presentation and engage in an additional half hour of discussion about their current research interests and focus, and about what they would hope to achieve as a Canada Research Chair at Brock University in the next five years.

    MATTHEW MACKENZIE

    Research presentation 5 – 6:30 pm,
    Friday January 10, 2020
    MWS 156

    Edmonton playwright, director and producer Matthew MacKenzie (Métis) is Artistic Director of Punctuate! Theatre, as well as the founder and an Artistic Associate with Pyretic Productions. In 2018, his play Bears won Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production, was named a co-winner of the Toronto Theatre Critics Outstanding New Canadian Play Award, and won the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Carol Bolt National Playwriting Award. This past fall, Punctuate! premiered MacKenzie’s play The Particulars, which was named one of the top ten productions of 2019 by The Globe and Mail.

    MARK IGLOLIORTE

    Research presentation 11:30 am – 1 pm,
    Friday January 17, 2020
    MWS 156

    Mark Igloliorte is an Inuk artist born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland with Inuit ancestry from Nunatsiavit, Labrador. His artistic work is primarily painting and drawing. Igloliorte’s work has been featured in several notable national exhibitions including the 2015 Marion McCain Exhibition of Contemporary Atlantic Canadian Art, curated by Corinna Ghaznavi; Inuit Ullumi: Inuit Today: Contemporary Art from TD Bank Group’s Inuit Collection; Beat Nation, curated by Kathleen Ritter and Tania Willard; and The Phoenix Art-The Renewed Life of Contemporary Painting, curated by Robert Enright. In addition, Igloliorte has been profiled in features in Canadian Art magazine and Inuit Art Quarterly. Igloliorte is an Assistant Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

    SUZANNE MORRISSETTE

    Research presentation 5 – 6:30 pm,
    Wednesday January 22, 2020
    MWS 207

    Suzanne Morrissette is a Métis artist, curator, and writer. Using various research-creation methods Morrissette addresses the philosophical roots of historical and contemporary forms of injustice facing Indigenous peoples. Her current and future research looks at the role of locally-based Indigenous knowledges within Indigenous community-based curatorial practice as a way of entering into conversations about robust and unexpected strategies for representing Indigenous art both within Canadian and international contexts. Currently she holds the position of Assistant Professor at OCAD University.r University of Art and Design.


    Please share and post this poster in your community.

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

  • Brock project aims to improve long-term care for veterans and brain injury patients

    Brock University alumni now with Mirror Theatre perform a scene in Understanding person-centred care: Finding dignity within the shadows, a video series as part of a research project between Brock and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

    (From: The Brock News, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2019 | by Dan Dakin)

    Two Brock University faculty members from seemingly unrelated disciplines have collaborated on a project aimed at improving the relations of those involved in long-term care.

    Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Colleen Whyte, and Professor of Dramatic Arts Joe Norris, were at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto Wednesday, Oct. 2 for the premiere of Understanding person-centred care: Finding dignity within the shadows.

    Two years ago, Sunnybrook Professional Practice and Education Leader Leanne Hughes came to Whyte with a research idea about how to help staff and family deal with the challenges associated with two specific groups in long-term care: veterans living with dementia and patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries.

    “I’ve known Leanne for 15 years and we’ve done research together in the past,” Whyte said. “She came to me and said: This is an issue we have. How do you think we could look at researching it?’”

    “What we’re looking at are person-centred approaches,” said Hughes, referring to a growing emphasis in health care that invites patients and family members to be involved in decision-making and strategizing ways to care for individual patients from a wide-range of services. It’s a more collaborative care model than a traditional top-down medical approach to care.

    In the fall of 2018, Whyte led research that included focus groups of those working in long-term care at the Toronto hospital such as doctors and hospital staff, as well as families of those in care.

    Brock University professors Joe Norris and Colleen Whyte hand a USB drive to Leanne Hughes from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Brock and Sunnybook partnered on a research project that included a 20-part video around patient-centred care. Pictured from left are Brock alumni Nadia Ganesh, Candice De Freitas Braz and Mike Metz, Hughes, Norris, Brock master’s student Kevin Hobbs, Whyte and Brock alumni Bernadette Kahnert.

    “We interviewed people who are doing this every day,” Whyte said. “This research is about taking the principles of person-centred care and trying to see how they are translated on a daily basis, when all partners experience unexpected challenges.”

    With the focus group data in hand, Whyte then turned to Norris, Chair of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, who worked with the student-run Mirror Theatre to translate the conversations into dramatic action, known as ethnodrama and applied theatre.

    “We took the focus group transcripts, read them, analyzed them and created dramatic scenes,” said Norris. “The purpose is to evoke conversations.”

    The result is a 20-part video series, each dealing with a different component of the long-term care experience. They range from something as simple the challenge of what to pack when a family member is moved into a new living situation to what to do when a patient whose mind no longer has much of a filter says something that crosses a line.

    “It’s all about answering the question of ‘How do we treat each other with respect in stressful situations?’” Norris said.

    He said the Dramatic Arts students who were acting the parts in the videos — including the patients who are represented as shadowed silhouettes rather than specific people — learned about more than just acting.

    “Many cast members say they don’t only get extra-curricular experience with theatre, they get the experience of dealing with a range of topics. It’s like an extra class for them,” he said.

    With the video series now complete, the next stage of the project is to create workshops for staff and families.

    “It gives staff some insight and helps them think, ‘If I’m in this situation, let me strategize and be thoughtful about what options I have,’” she said. “It will equip new staff with possibilities and allow existing staff to be reflective about their approaches.”

    Brock University alumni Nadia Ganesh, Bernadette Kahnert, Lindsay Detta and Candice De Freitas Braz interpret a scene from Finding dignity within the shadows at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto Wednesday, Oct. 2.

    Hughes said when the final videos were shown to those working with veterans suffering from dementia and patients dealing with brain injuries, the staff were impressed with how accurate they were in reflecting the situations they deal with.

    “It has been an absolute pleasure to see students take this data and enact it,” Hughes said. “We were in awe of their ability. They did a fantastic job.”

    The project, which was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant and a Practice-Based Research and Innovation Seed Grant from Sunnybrook, will continue with the development of facilitator tools and training sessions. Those will be developed and led by Norris and Kevin Hobbs, a master’s student in Social Justice and Equity Studies, who directed the Finding dignity within the shadows series and incorporated the research into his master’s thesis.

    “They’re training videos, but not in the sense of, ‘Here’s how you give a needle,” said Norris. “It’s more of a dialogic conversation where our audiences are invited to comment on the scenes and add their own insights and stories.”

    Watch the full Understanding Person-Centred Care video below and individual scene videos can be found at this link

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

  • 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

  • Brock researchers partner with community groups to dispel myths about homelessness in Niagara

    Nadia Ganesh (BA ’19), of community theatre group Mirror Theatre, dramatizes the lived experience of homelessness, addiction and mental illness of women in Niagara in a video that is part of a new research study between Brock University, YWCA Niagara Region, Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    originally published in The Brock News on Thursday, July 11, 2019 | by Sarah Ackles

    Through a partnership with local community organizations, Brock University is working to shed light on the complexities of homelessness for women in Niagara.

    In an effort to help break the ongoing cycle of mental illness, addiction and homelessness experienced by many women in the region, a pilot project was launched last year between Brock, YWCA Niagara Region, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    Mental health and addictions services were brought in-house at the YWCA, providing women in need with the necessary services in a single location, reducing the need to repeatedly share their story to access different resources and helping to eliminate stigma related to their situation.

    Brock researchers Lynn McCleary and Joe Norris watch videos produced as part of a collaborative research project on homelessness, mental health and addictions with the YWCA Niagara, Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    Brock researchers Lynn McCleary and Joe Norris watch videos produced as part of a collaborative research project on homelessness, mental health and addictions with the YWCA Niagara, Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    Brock researchers and students investigated the impact of providing addictions and mental health counselling at YWCA Niagara emergency shelters, deeming the single-stop model more effective.

    The resulting research study, titled “The experiences of homeless women with mental illness of onsite partnership between women’s homeless shelters and mental health service providers,” was led by Principal Investigators Lynn McCleary, Professor of Nursing at Brock, and Elisabeth Zimmermann, Executive Director of YWCA Niagara.

    Co-investigators on the project included Joe Norris, Chair of Dramatic Arts at Brock, Brenda Grant, Mental Health Coach at the Canadian Mental Health Association and Cindy Jennings, Addictions Coach at Community Addictions Services of Niagara.

    The Women’s Xchange $15K Challenge, which supports research projects that address women’s health issues at the local level, funded the study.

    Zimmerman said it has been a positive and rewarding experience working with Brock on this important initiative.

    “It is very important to dispel myths and for the community to understand the complex nature of homelessness and the need for access to affordable housing, which has, and continues to be, at a crisis state in our community,” she said. “Too often, in terms of research, we find there isn’t a gender lens attached to the project — this seems to be particularly true of homelessness — so the other powerful result of this project is that it speaks to women’s experiences of homelessness.”

    McCleary said working on the study gave her a better appreciation for the importance of services like the YWCA, Canadian Mental Health Association and Addiction Service of Niagara, and the impact these services can have on people’s lives when they work collaboratively.

    It also connected the outreach work she does with social services in the community, both as a registered nurse and as a co-chair of Brock’s United Way Committee.

    “I know community agencies that receive United Way funding make a difference in the well-being of my students, my neighbours and my friends,” McCleary said. “Having the opportunity to listen to the women’s stories also connected me to my early clinical work as a mental health nurse and provided me with insights that will be helpful when I’m teaching Nursing students about nurse-client relationships and about mental health nursing.”

    The results of the study will be shared with service users and providers, and funders of mental health, addictions and housing services through forthcoming research publications and a series of videos created by Norris and community theatre group Mirror Theatre.

    Currently comprised of Brock students, staff and other community members, Mirror Theatre has created more than 70 social issues plays that explore everything from workplace safety, mental health, academic integrity, patient-centred care, alcohol abuse and the first-year university experience.

    “We dramatized testimonials from the women who accessed support services at the YWCA in order to develop short, educational videos that show the experiences these women felt on the street and in the shelter,” Norris said. “They are meant to be conversation starters that challenge our preconceptions of homelessness and those who experience it.”

    Mirror Theatre President and recent graduate Mike Metz (BA ’19, BEd ’19) hopes the videos will help to give a face to the issue of homelessness.

    “Ultimately, we are including the component of empathy into academic research, something that you do not always see,” he said. “We take research and we turn it into something that people can relate to, something they can understand. In doing this work, I have realized that people can act in different and more positive ways.”

    The videos are currently being edited by videographer Brad McDonald, a master’s student in Social Justice in Equity Studies at Brock. When completed, they will be available on Joe Norris’ Playbuilding website.

    Research publications are forthcoming.

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

  • First students to complete entire four-year degree at downtown MIWSFPA graduate June 14

    Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.


    The first group of students to have completed their entire four-year degree at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ downtown St. Catharines facility crossed the stage at Spring Convocation on Friday, June 14.

    Sixty-three students from Brock’s Departments of Music, Visual Arts and Dramatic Arts graduated from the downtown arts school, which opened its doors in 2015. Nine students who minored in programs at the MIWSFPA will also graduate on Friday.

    The milestone is not lost on the 2019 graduating class.

    “It’s a cool honour to be part of Brock history and I’m grateful to have trained in such a professional environment,” said Emma McCormick, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts, Performance Concentration. “I feel that I’ve gained a lot of skills that will serve me in my career, specific to the learning I received at the MIWSFPA.”

    The London, Ont. native is the recipient of the Jean Harding Prize, which is awarded to the student who achieves the highest standing in fourth-year Dramatic Arts. She plans to remain in St. Catharines after graduation, where she will continue her studies in Brock’s Adult Education program and working in the performing arts sector.

    Providing students like McCormick with a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility was the vision of the School’s namesake, the late Marilyn I. Walker.

    When the famed textile artist and philanthropist donated $15 million to Brock University in 2008, she envisioned the creation of an arts facility that would revitalize downtown St. Catharines and encourage students to study and practice the arts here in the Niagara region.

    Her generosity and foresight allowed for the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building to be converted into the new home for the Departments of Music, Dramatic Arts and Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, which had previously been housed at Brock’s main campus.

    The $45.5-million project also received a $26.2-million investment from the Ontario government, numerous private and corporate donors, and relied heavily on the insight and contributions of hundreds of partners such as then-Dean of Humanities, Rosemary Hale, and the City of St. Catharines.

    MIWSFPA Director Elizabeth Vlossak, who joined the School on an interim basis from the Department of History, said she has seen first-hand the impact the facility and its programming has on students.

    “Although the School is a cultural hub that acts as a living, breathing connection between the city’s past and future, it’s also so much more than that,” she said. “In my short time here, I have seen how these incredible facilities and engaged, passionate faculty benefit our students.”

    Graduand Alyssa Shanghavi, of St. Catharines, said she appreciated the availability of unique practice spaces on campus for music students like herself, which allowed her to focus on her studies and hone her skills on the trombone.

    The Bachelor of Music recipient said being around other artists all the time and in such close proximity to the downtown core was an invaluable complement to her education.

    Gianna Luisa Aceto, a graduand from Mississauga, said that as a painter, she “enjoyed and most definitely appreciated the space the MIWSFPA provided.”

    As well as making new friendships and plenty of memories, Aceto attributes the successful completion of her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art to the artistic identify she forged while studying at the School.

    “One of the biggest takeaways for me is finding my passion, my niche,” she said.
    “I struggled a lot in finding out what I wanted to create and the reasons for creating it. My time spent within the walls of the MIWSFPA allowed me to uncover that knowledge.”

    She also said she has an undeniable gratitude for her professors, and that “the drive they instilled in me has not gone unnoticed.”

    Faculty of Humanities Dean Carol Merriam said this milestone serves as time to reflect on the importance of the arts and its ability to create healthy and flourishing communities.

    “This first class of students to have spent their entire Brock careers in this splendid facility serve this mission in downtown St. Catharines and in the broader community, but they have also been a defining force within the MIWSFPA itself,” she said. “They have been largely responsible for creating the culture of the School as a place to learn, create and serve as a community. Their impact will last a very long time, and we are proud to see their graduation day.”

    Longstanding former MIWSFPA Director Derek Knight echoed Merriam’s sentiments.

    The Associate Professor said the class of 2019 should receive their degrees with pride having been part of an extraordinary university experience and contributing to the legacy of the arts, both at Brock and in the community.

    With the MIWSFPA’s fifth anniversary on the horizon, the School will continue to offer students unique teaching and learning experiences while honouring the spirit of its benefactor, he said.

    “What was interesting about Marilyn is that she was always very curious and engaged with how we, the faculty, envisioned the future,” Knight said. “She thought it was our job to rise to the challenge and define the potential of what she had given to us in the form of this extraordinary gift. I think, in many ways, we’ve done that.

    “Now, we are charged to think about not only what we will offer today, but in the long-term, and how we will define pedagogy and the School’s identity long into the future.”

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    Categories: Alumni, News

  • Dramatic Arts grad gets rave reviews in Soulpepper’s The Brothers Size

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07), centre, plays the role of Elegba in the Soulpepper production of The Brothers Size alongside Daren A. Herbert, left, and Mazin Elsadig. Photo by: Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Soulpepper.


    The reviews are in, and Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07) is earning praise for his performance in what the Toronto Star calls a “stunning Canadian premiere.”

    Stewart stars as Elegba in The Brothers Size, the newest offering from Toronto-based production house Soulpepper.

    He describes the experience as a “whirlwind,” especially after Toronto-based rapper Drake made a surprise appearance at the May 10 opening night performance.

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07), second from right, and his castmates from The Brothers Size got a surprise visit from rapper Drake, third from right, at the opening night performance of the Toronto show.

    “It has been amazing; it’s such a gift to do something like this,” Stewart said. “Through my whole journey as an actor, I have wanted to work on a play that speaks to my experience, one that I can easily dive into, and this text was so comfortable it was like putting on a jacket that was made for me.”

    The Brothers Size is the second play in the Brothers/Sisters series, written by Oscar-winning screenwriter and Tony Award-nominated playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.

    Set in a fictional town in Louisiana, it tells the story of two brothers, Ogun and Oshoosi, who find themselves living together after Oshoosi’s release from prison.

    Stewart plays Oshoosi’s best friend, who formed a bond with him during their incarceration together.

    “I think on a micro level, Brothers Size is about the experience of black men today in the world,” Stewart said. “But on the macro level, what the characters go through are things that all people experience: grief, trauma and searching for a sense of belonging.”

    Stewart’s performance marks his return to the Soulpepper stage, where he has previously performed three times and was a member of the Soulpepper Academy.

    Some of his other credits include the role of Miles in The Drawer Boy at Prince Edward County’s Festival Players, Coutts in the Mirvish Theatre Production of King Charles III in Toronto, and roles on popular Canadian television series’ Kim’s Convenience and Murdoch Mysteries.

    While he focused primarily on acting for several years after graduation, Stewart also developed a passion for doing outreach work and giving back to young, aspiring actors.

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus Marcel Stewart (BA ’07).

    When he’s not on stage, he gives private acting lessons and hosts workshops in communities across Canada. He’s worked with school groups at the Toronto International Film Festival, for example, and was the creator of What Noise is This, a workshop that explores William Shakespeare’s canon through the lens of hip-hop music.

    Stewart is also involved in the local theatre industry, both as the outreach co-ordinator with St. Catharines theatre company Suitcase in Point and the volunteer co-ordinator for the upcoming In The Soil Arts Festival, taking place this June in downtown St. Catharines.

    Brock Assistant Theatre Professor Danielle Wilson offered her congratulations on Stewart’s success.

    “Marcel was bright and hungry to learn and is an example of the breadth of career opportunities that become available after studying in DART,” she said. “We congratulate him on his success as a working artist and are very proud of the contributions he has made in the theatre community over the years.”

    Stewart attributes his ability to “wear many hats” in his career to the skills he gained from studying at Brock.

    “The ‘motor’ that I developed at Brock was probably my biggest takeaway that I still rely on 12 years later,” the 33-year-old said. “To keep going, to keep pursuing, and if a door is closed in my face, then there’s 10 more doors that I can open.”

    After the wrap of Brothers Size in Toronto, Stewart is headed back to work in St. Catharines.

    He wants to continue his outreach work and bring more eclectic and diverse artists to St. Catharines.

    He said instructors at Brock encouraged him to explore his sense of self and find cultural connections through the performing arts — and he wants to do the same for others.

    “My experience at Brock helped open me up to recognizing who I am as a black man and encouraged me use that voice and speak from my perspective whenever I can,” he said. “Now I’m on this representation kick, running workshops, doing outreach and looking at how to bring some more colour — in more ways than one — to the artistic landscape.”

    Brothers Size runs until Saturday, June 1 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts at 50 Tank House Lane in Toronto. More information and tickets are available at Soulpepper.ca

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    Categories: Alumni, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • All the world’s a stage for Brock student turned Shaw Festival intern

    Brock Dramatic Arts student Mae Smith gets acquainted with the Shaw Festival theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake on her first day as the festival’s newest intern.


    (From The Brock News, April 25, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Brock Dramatic Arts student Mae Smith is ready to put her in-class learning to the test as she embarks on an eight-week internship with the venerable Shaw Festival.

    Smith, who began in the new role this week, will use her production and design skills as she works alongside Kevin Lamotte, Shaw’s Head of Lighting, Wayne Reierson, Head of Props, and other Shaw staff on the productions of BrigadoonThe Lady Killers, and Sex.

    The shows will run at the festival this summer and fall in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

    Kate Hennig, Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, said the internship allows students to gain experience in a range of festival activities under the direction of industry professionals.

    Kate Hennig (left), Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, meets with Mae Smith, Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts 2019 Shaw Festival intern.

    “In addition to her daily work calls, Mae will have access to the onstage and backstage life of one of North America’s busiest repertory theatres,” she said. “She will meet theatre artists from across Canada and around the world, and will have unique opportunities to attend many lectures, discussions and ancillary events during her residency.”

    Smith said she’s looking forward to the experiential learning opportunities the internship provides and to developing techniques and strategies for staging a production.

    “I’ve had a lot of practical experiences at Brock, but this internship will be quite specific and I’m excited to learn more about lighting design and props construction,” she said. “I also hope I can gain connections with other professionals that will open more career opportunities for me.”

    Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) has partnered with the Shaw Festival to provide student internships since 2011.

    Dramatic Arts alumna Michelle Mohammed (BA ’18) was 2018’s intern and worked alongside Peter Hinton on Oh! What a Lovely War. She vlogged about her experiences at the festival on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Art’s YouTube channel throughout the process.

    Smith will provide weekly updates as well, which will also be shared through the Marilyn I. Walker social media accounts.

    DART students are eligible to apply for this intensive residency following the successful completion of DART 4Y92: Text and Performance at the Shaw Festival Theatre, taught by instructor Barbara Worthy. Students attended festival performances and interacted with festival staff and actors during the course.

    Co-ops and summer contract work at the Shaw has also been available to DART students over the years, and some alumni of the program have even gone on to work for the festival full time.

    Department Chair Joe Norris said all of the internship candidates this year were exceptional students, but Smith was ultimately chosen because her skills and interests were the “best fit” for the particular productions the Shaw Festival is staging this season.

    “The Shaw internship creates a stepping stone between the university world and the student’s future career path,” he said. “Mae will be able to bridge what she’s learned in the classroom with the processes that the Shaw utilizes, and gain experience in a professional environment.”

    Smith is excited to learn more about the inner-workings of the festival and utilize the experience to bolster her resume going forward.

    “I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “I feel the internship will help me figure out where I want to situate myself in theatre and help me plan my professional path.”

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    Categories: Current Students, News

  • Brock grad lands leading role in off-Broadway Big Bang Theory parody

    Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus John McGowan (BA ’14) is playing the role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the off-Broadway production of The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody. He is pictured with castmate Meagan Michelson (left), who plays the role of Q/Leslie Winkle. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Daniel)


    (From The Brock News, April 9, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    “Stick with it, don’t be afraid and take chances.”

    That’s the advice Brock Dramatic Arts alumnus John McGowan (BA ’14) has for those looking to make it big in New York City.

    McGowan was recently cast for the starring role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the off-Broadway production The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody.

    While this isn’t his first off-Broadway gig — he recently played Gabe Goodman in the Pulitzer Prize winner, Next to Normal — the buzz from this production is what McGowan describes as a “breakout role.”

    Brock dramatic arts alumni John McGowan (BA ’14) is playing the role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the off-Broadway production of The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody. He is pictured with castmate Teresa Hui (right), who plays the role of Amy Farrah-Fowler. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Daniel)

    “I have fan groups following me on Instagram and other social media — yes, there are fan groups for this show — and I’ve been getting a lot of international attention, doing a lot of interviews and people are sending me a lot more job offers because word is starting to travel,” he said.

    Although he has been cast as “extreme” characters in the past, McGowan said playing a beloved pop culture character in a long-running comedy has been a new and exciting challenge.

    “The thing about comedies is that some audiences are absolutely with you, and it’s easy to feed off of their energies, and then some are dead silent and you have to overcome that,” he said. “That’s been a bit of a learning curve, but it’s been going quite well.”

    Shelley Huxley, Brock’s Director of Alumni Relations, offered her congratulations to the actor.

    “It’s wonderful to see Brock grads finding their way in such a competitive industry after leaving Brock,” she said. “The University’s fine and performing arts programs were designed to enrich the lives of students pursuing careers in arts and culture, and it’s exciting to see this vision come to life through success stories like John’s.”

    McGowan was bitten by the theatre bug at the age of nine, when he began auditioning for a wide range of productions on stage and screen.

    He then enrolled to study at Brock, where he majored in Dramatic Arts with a Concentration in Production and Design.

    Although he had talent both on the stage and behind the scenes, acting eventually became his sole focus.

    He was also an active member of Brock Musical Theatre, playing the part of Nicky in Avenue Q and Angel Dumott Schunard in Rent, and would later land other roles in the Niagara region and Greater Toronto area, including Link in Hairspray.

    After graduation, McGowan set his sights on New York City and was accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) with three scholarships.

    “It was everything you’d think a performing arts school in New York would be, it was like a boot camp,” he recalled. “I was glad that I went to Brock before going to AMDA because it instilled a maturity in me. Because AMDA is very challenging, the skills I developed at Brock really powered me through and helped me out a lot.”

    It doesn’t get any less challenging after graduating, either, he added.

    “When you want to be a performer, everyone tells you it’s hard, and that kind of goes without saying because it is hard, and you always want to retreat to that more stable job because you get rejected, and rejected, and rejected,” he said.

    Even the process of becoming eligible to work in another country can be what McGowan describes as “somewhat traumatizing,” because “your career, your life’s work and your validity to stay in their economy and industry” is being judged.

    How did he overcome those hurdles?

    “Endurance is key if this is what you really want to do,” McGowan said. “You just have to keep going and things will eventually start to fall into place. If you keep showing up, they are going to see you have the drive and eventually pick you up.”

    In addition to his most recent role, McGowan has also appeared in several theatrical productions and in venues such as Feinstein’s/54 Below, The West End and The Green Room 42 while working in New York.

    With a mounting body of work under his belt, McGowan is now looking toward the future and taking on his next challenge.

    “I’d like to branch into film and television more, that’s the next thing I have my eye on,” he said.

    And while he wants to give it a few more years in New York, he plans to return to Canada someday.

    “Just not quite yet; I’m not quite done with New York,” he said.

    The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody is scheduled for an open-ended run and is currently playing at the Anne Bernstein Theatre (The Theater Center) in New York City. Tickets are available online.

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    Categories: Alumni, News