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 Variety, as 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.