Alumni

  • Much work to be done on live theatre’s road to recovery, says Brock prof

    Editor’s note: The following article tells about the challenges, enthusiasm for, and success in relaunching the performing arts in the Niagara Region, now 18 months into the pandemic. Students of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture may register for the course taught by Professor Fricker, DART 1P91 Introduction to Theatre and Performance, as part of their degree program.


    (above) Brock Dramatic Arts graduate Amanda McDonnell (BA ’15), who is part of the front of house team at the Shaw Festival, welcomed audiences back this summer.

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

    After 17 months, the live theatrical experience is slowly making its return — but not without challenges ahead, says Brock theatre expert Karen Fricker.

    “Amidst the adversity that live performing arts have been faced with through the pandemic, a wonderful thing has happened this summer: the return of live theatrical performance, because it has been able to be outside,” says the Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer in Dramatic Arts (DART), who is an expert in theatre criticism, theatre theory and contemporary theatre.

    The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, two of Ontario’s most celebrated repertory companies, have been staging performances outdoors under canopies (tents with no walls) with mandatory masks for audiences in addition to capacity limits in accordance with provincial guidance. Both festivals are taking audience, artist and staff safety seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, says Fricker, who is also a theatre critic for the Toronto Star, writing about performances in the city as well as the Shaw and Stratford Festivals each summer.

    Although these outdoor performances do not come close to hosting the usual number of spectators, Fricker says this is a “big step in the right direction.”

    “Artists are being paid and creativity is happening,” she says, adding that while “innovative digital work has been heroic during the pandemic, experiencing live performances in a shared space is a joyous return.”

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department engages with the Shaw Festival in numerous ways, including the annual DART/Shaw internship and course-based experiences with Shaw artists and arts workers. A number of DART students and graduates work at the festival in front of house, producing and administration, and creative capacities.

    Seeing some of those familiar faces at Shaw this summer has been a particular highlight, Fricker says.

    While outdoor performances are a step in the right direction, Fricker says there is still more work to do. There will be limited live, in-person programming in the performing arts sector this fall, mainly due to unclear guidance from the provincial government around reopening, she says.

    In the early summer, the performing arts industry lobbied the government to address live performances in the official stages of reopening. Now that the performing arts have been included, companies have been able to plan. However, “you can’t just lift a theatre production off in a few weeks; you need a runway,” Fricker says.

    Colleen Smith, Executive Director of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) adjacent to Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says the team at the PAC has experienced these challenges first-hand.

    “Never did any of us whose lives revolve around bringing together artists and audiences believe that we would witness the end of the age-old adage, ‘the show must go on,’” she says. “In fact, the show stopped for months at a time. It’s been an unbelievable period of disruption, heartache and loss of purpose for so many artists and arts workers.”

    Smith says that “buoyed by our partners at the City of St. Catharines and Brock University, as well as the support from our Board of Directors, we have used the first half of 2021 to develop a three-year recovery strategy that will place the PAC firmly within our community as a centre for creative and artistic experiences and learning.”

    The PAC is planning a gradual return, starting with the annual Celebration of Nations gathering, which will be in a hybrid format in September.

    Among the local theatre organizations taking important steps to make innovative work and engage the public in Niagara safely is the young people’s theatre company Carousel Players, which is focusing on new play development in August and September.

    “We are experimenting with a range of forms, including clown, puppetry and mask,” says Artistic Director and Brock graduate Monica Dufault (MA ’11). “We want to offer new pieces that are dynamic and theatrically alive when we meet our audiences again.”

    The company will present an outdoor performance, The Giant Puppet Party, for Culture Days in October, a new digital play for ages 12 to 17 called Meet Chloe starting in November, and a school touring production of The Velveteen Rabbit for ages four to seven in March 2022.

    Suitcase in Point, another St. Catharines-based theatre company, recently announced the launch of a reimagined In the Soil Arts Festival running Friday, Aug. 27 to Saturday, Sept. 25. The festival includes opportunities to see live, original theatre, new music, comedy acts, installations and participatory workshops. All-inclusive festival passes are available for purchase online.

    DART graduate Deanna Jones (BA ’02), the Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point and In the Soil, says the limits of the last 17 months have been a “unique test on our arts organization and the arts community at large.”

    “We knew this 13th edition of our annual In the Soil Arts Festival would be different, and we were determined to find inspired ways to get off of our screens and offer artists and audiences safe ways to connect — in person.”

    During In the Soil, artists from Essential Collective Theatre will be set up on James and St. Paul Street interviewing community members about their pandemic experiences. Working on this initiative are DART graduates Jordine de Guzman (BA ’20), Kristina Ojaperv (BA ’19) and Ren Reid (BA ’20). The project will culminate in the Pandemic Stories Project, a new play to be read at St. Catharines’ Culture Days in early October.

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  • Celebrated Canadian artist Michael Snow’s contribution to Brock revisited in new documentary

    A still image from the new documentary short Timed Images premiering Friday, Aug. 20 at the Mighty Niagara Film Fest. The film was produced and researched by Lesley Bell with video work and direction by Tracy Van Oosten.

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2021 | The Brock News | by 

    The legacy and impact of artwork created for Brock University in 1972 by internationally regarded Canadian artist Michael Snow has been captured on film and is being premiered Friday, Aug. 20 at a local film festival.

    Part of the Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC), Timed Images is a new documentary that intimately explores two works of public art created by Snow when he was engaged by Brock University and architect Raymond Moriyama during the construction of Brock’s Mackenzie Chown Complex in 1972. Snow holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brock University received in 1974.

    The short documentary is produced and researched by Lesley Bell, artist and retired support staff for the Department of Visual Arts (VISA) at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), and directed by Brock graduate Tracy Van Oosten (BA ’10), artist, filmmaker and current VISA Instructor at the MIWSFPA.

    Bell, who managed Brock’s Fine Art Collection for 18 years, was drawn to Snow’s work and wanted to uncover the story behind his pieces and appreciate how they found their home in St. Catharines.

    Bell and Van Oosten, a filmmaker and artist who works with text, video and installations and explores moving images within immersive contexts, collaborated to create an artistic documentary that retraces Snow’s innovative art that delighted the University population in 1972.

    “In order to tell the story about these two artworks by Snow, I envisioned a video document. I had no understanding of the process,” Bell said. “With patience and skill, Tracy Van Oosten crafted the information that I found into an intelligent and visually stimulating artistic video work. This has been a satisfying collaboration.”

    Timed Images screens Friday, Aug. 20 at the RiverBrink Art Museum in Queenston, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Doors open at 8 p.m., with the screening scheduled to start at sunset. The documentary is part of an art-inspired program at NAC’s film fest called ‘An Ode to Escarpment School Films.

    For more information about Timed Images and to purchase tickets, visit the Mighty Niagara Film Fest website.

    This project is supported by David Vivian, the Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities, through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund (2020). An installation for the public to view Timed Images at the MIWSFPA and online is currently in development.


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  • Small Walker Press launches publications exploring music, choreography

    Image caption: The Small Walker Press has announced two new spring publications: Arc, a choreographed poem and Improvising Places / Improvising Time.

    Originally published in The Brock News on TUESDAY, MAY 04, 2021 | by 

    The Small Walker Press (SWP) is announcing two new spring publications with an online book launch page.

    With in-person book launches still on hold due to public health restrictions, the innovative publishing house within Brock’s Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) opted for a virtual celebration.

    The online launch page features two new books: Arc, a choreographed poem written by Paul Savoie with accompanying choreography by Mélanie Mesager, and Improvising Places / Improvising Time with music notation by Devon Fornelli, creative writing by Thomas Ayouti and essays by Derek Knight and Matthew Royal. Graphic design for both publications was done by Bernhard Cella.

    The concept for the books, “music and choreography,” was outlined by Small Walker Press editors Catherine Parayre, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Derek Knight, Associate Professor of Visual Arts. The creative texts were inspired by these themes, drawing on inspiration from participating artists incorporating dance, music and creative writing.

    The book launch page features excerpts from the publications as well as notes from both SWP editors.

    To learn more about The Small Walker Press, please visit the website.

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  • Art residency “A River Rises” now on view

    Caption: Brown Homestead (Photo by Shawn Serfas)

    STAC’s Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture presents “A River Rises,” a collective investigation of a creative-writing piece, resulting in the creation of photography work, a recorded performance, an inverted sculpture, an experimental book, and more fiction writing. The project also documents the Brown Homestead, in close proximity of Short Hills Provincial Park and the oldest building in St. Catharines.

    View A River Rises here.

    To learn more about the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, please visit the STAC website.

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  • STAC’s journal ti< listed on Mir@bel

    STAC’s online, free-access journal ti< A JOURNAL OF TEXT-AND-IMAGE CRITICISM/CREATION – UN JOURNAL DE CRITIQUE/CREATION TEXTE-ET-IMAGE publishes creative work by students, their instructors, as well as by artists and writers whose work combines literature and the visual arts.

    All languages are welcome, including endangered languages. No translation is needed.

    ti< has recently been included in the Mir@bel database, an initiative by top higher-education institutions in France and Europe, such as Sciences Po and ENA.

    To submit work, please consult the website of the journal: https://journals.library.brocku.ca/index.php/ti/index

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  • Interiors, a new online exhibit from the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, now on view virtually

    (Image: Trieste 2, Derek J.J. Knight.)

    As part of its 2020-2021 programming, the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture opens a virtual space on the theme of interiors, interiority, and confinement, the role they play in collective life and/or how they may be contested. The exhibit seeks to explore the shifting boundaries of intimacy and domesticity in a dynamic virtual space, presenting multi-disciplinary content and critical engagement.

    Interiors features the work of various artists, authors and musicians, and invites viewers to participate in creative activities.

    Curatorial Team: Alexandra Fraser, Marcie Bronson, Derek Knight, Catherine Parayre, Nicholas Hauck

    https://exhibits.library.brocku.ca/s/interiors/page/welcome

    Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture / Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture

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  • Post-Industrial Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics exhibition catalogue published

    CATHERINE PARAYRE, BROCK UNIVERSITY /
    REINHARD REITZENSTEIN, SUNY-BUFFALO, CURATORS

    The exhibition Post-Industrial Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics took place in 2017 at Silo-City, Buffalo, NY as a joint project funded by the Agreement for Scholarly Exchange and Collaboration between the State University of New York at Buffalo and Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario.

    The exhibition catalogue is now available for download.

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  • Post-Industrial Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics

    Photo credit: Derek Knight

    Post-Industrial Ephemera: Soundings, Gestures and Poetics
    Silo-City welcomes you to an exhibition featuring artists on both sides of the Niagara River

    April 22 – 29, 2017
    105 Silo-City Row, Buffalo, NY 14203, U.S.
    Opening Reception: Saturday, April 22 from 2 – 5 pm
    http://www.silo.city
    Click here for directions
    Free community event

    Buffalo, New York and St. Catharines, Ontario are neighboring cities separated by a river and a border, but they also nurture a strong sense of regional togetherness and cultural kinship. Colleagues in Sculpture, Arts, Comparative Literature, English Studies, Visual Arts, Studies in Arts and Culture, and French Studies at SUNY on the U.S. side and Brock University on the Canadian side will share a common space at Silo-City, Buffalo between April 22 – 29. Coming from different places and practices, we wish to foster interdisciplinarity.

    Together, we want to reflect on the notion of dispersal. A concrete monument, an overwhelming structure, Silo-City is also a crucible of ephemeralities – sounds dissipating as they echo up the walls, the wind blowing through hollow buildings, the decay of objects deposited in the empty halls, the temporary presence of others, productive resonances of creative experiences. Is Silo-City a memorial? Silos are built to maintain large networks of commodity exchange for human and animal sustenance. Here, however, the workers are gone; the buildings are exposed to inclement weather; the projects we bring with us will disappear, be dispersed or displaced. Silo-City, despite its imposing constructions, invites visitors to become more perceptive to the transience of human endeavours.

    We will plant colourful seedpods, install a neon sign in tribute to the Buffalo river that flows by Silo-City, crush words out of their discourse, scatter mourning songs for long gone lives, bring images, noise and stories from other places. We will capture the brilliance of a moment.

    A follow-up one-day symposium at Rodman Hall Art Centre, St. Catharines will document and revive the exhibition on September 16, 2017.

    The opening will include performances by Harmonia Chamber Singers, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Lauren Regier, Continuous Monument, Catherine Parayre and Jim Watkins 

    Curators: Catherine Parayre, Reinhard Reitzenstein

    Click here to download the performance program.

    For more images and information, please visit the exhibition website.

     


    Participating artists: 

     

    ArtIndustria+
    Untitled (neon sign)

    ArtIndustria+ was formed in 1995 by Derek Knight and Franc Petric, two Canadian artists who reside in the Niagara region. Motivated by the desire to work collaboratively, they have developed projects over the years with a focus on art, research and technology. Underlining their concerns with the dialectical relationship between ecology and industry, their conceptual models combine installation techniques and situational aesthetics to further examine the artist’s role in post-industrial society.

     

    Continuous Monument
    Silo Sessions at the American (noise/drone performance)

    Continuous Monument is an affiliation of interdisciplinary culture-makers working among design, text, architecture and sound fields. Born from the ashes of a contaminated political landscape, Continuous Monument gathers to spatialize sound and signal in temporary, site specific soundscape improvisations. Monument will perform at The American in Silo City as an acoustic inhabitation; live ghosts active in remnant industrial anatomy.

     

    Akasya Crosier
    Likeness (typeface study)

    Akasya Crosier is a multifaceted artist based in Western New York. She is currently a senior at UB studying Studio Art and Communication. In her artwork, she focuses on effective communication skills, idealized spaces, and bright imagery.

     

    Catherine Parayre (assisted by Josh Dawson, SUNY and Paul Savoie, Brock U)
    Ingrained Words (14 posters: assembled fragments from texts by 33 writers)

    Catherine works in Arts and Culture, and in Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Brock University. She is particularly interested in contemporary Occitan literature, as well as the co-presence of literatures and visual arts. She includes her four languages in her creative work.

     

    Catherine Parayre and Jim Watkins
    The Silo-Minder (recording, reading)

    Jim Watkins lives in Silo-City and is our silo-minder/keeper. His passion for the arts and for Silo-City is central to our cross-border project.

     

    Lauren Regier
    Where I stand is fair and square (performance/grass seed & dirt)

    Lauren Regier is Honours graduate from Brock University’s Visual Arts program, and is an emerging artist based in the Niagara Region. Much of her work is inspired by the notion of functionality and relationships between the industrial world and the natural realm. Interested in the experiential nature of contemporary art, her practice includes photography, installation, performance, drawing and video.

     

    Reinhard Reitzenstein
    ArbreTreeBaum (vocal piece in 5 languages)

    Reitzenstein has held over 100 solo exhibitions and over 300 group exhibitions globally, and has completed over 25 public and private art commissions. His work is represented in more than 50 public and corporate collections internationally. Reitzenstein has been Director of the Sculpture Program at, SUNY, Buffalo since 2000. He is represented by the Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto.

     

    Casey Ridings
    Untitled Emotion (acrylic paint)

    Casey Ridings is currently a Graphic Design student at the University at Buffalo. She is intrigued by the geometric nature of organic patterns; through a spontaneous and intuitive process she creates intricate paintings and drawings inspired by the exploration of her experiences and emotions.

     

    Cody Schriever
    Vanity Case / Skeletons of Perception (painting/sculpture)

    Cody Schriever is a student in the University at Buffalo art department. His paintings and sculptures deal with human nature, and the structures of its self-perception. By combining various styles of painting and modes of expression he creates a complex narrative of the global condition.

     

    Shawn Serfas
    Alloyed (acrylic)

    Shawn is an Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Department, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University. His research interests include contemporary painting, drawing and printmaking practices concerning relational abstraction, environmental aesthetics, religion, the landscape as well as issues bordering abstraction and representation.

     

    Lucas Veraldi
    2mp (inkjet prints)

    Lucas is an artist currently residing in Buffalo, NY. His practice examines the different methods of representation that exist within the realm of photography and explores the truth value that a photograph holds as a piece data that showcases life.

     

    Sophia Yung
    Voyage Voyage 

    Sophia Yung is a Chinese American graphic designer and artist from Brooklyn, NY. Her most recent work involves the analysis of Asian American culture shock, language barriers, mixed martial arts and the role of financial capital in the precarious 21st century.

     

    Jean Zhu
    bacteria (video)

    Jean Zhu is currently a Media Study student at the University at Buffalo. She is both a photographer and a filmmaker. Her experimental films and straightforward photographs of everyday objects and scenes are noted for their color combination, explicit composition and rich content.


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  • DART, MUSI and MARS present in Toronto at PLS (Poculi Ludique Societas) Festival of Medieval Theatre

    vsCOLLEAGUES, STUDENTS, FRIENDS & FAMILY, If you were in Toronto in early June you were fortunate to see a performance of:

    Visitatio Sepulchri
    (the Visit to the Sepulchre)

    A 12th-CENTURY EASTER MUSIC DRAMA
    acting version transcribed and translated
    by W. L. Smoldon from the ‘Fleury Playbook’

    A collaboration between:
    Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies,
    Department of Dramatic Arts, Department of Music

    Part of the PLS (Poculi Ludique Societas) Festival of Medieval Theatre.

    When: Saturday, June 6, 7 p.m.
    Sunday, June 7, 2:30 p.m.
    Where: Trinity College Chapel University of Toronto,  6 Hoskin Avenue

    Music Director: Dr. Brian Power, Department of Music
    Stage Director: Professor Virginia Reh, Department of Dramatic Arts

    img_1284cr_400px

    The company of Visitatio Sepulchri in the Trinity College Chapel. Photograph by Mrs. Chin Tso.

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  • Graduates of the Department of Dramatic Arts are on the boards again and this time they are playing IN THE SOIL.

    clockmaker-poster-three-220w

    The Clockmaker by Stephen Massicotte

    April 27 @ 8:00pm and April 28 @ 2:00pm
    Sullivan Mahoney  Courthouse Theatre 101 King Street,  St Catharines

    Tickets: $10 at the door
    Festival pass: $25 through inthesoil.on.ca

    Nathan Tanner MacDonald – Director
    Geoffrey Heaney – Performer
    Dylan Mawson – Performer
    Michael Pearson – Performer
    Caitlin Popek – Performer
    Kate Hardy – Stage Manager
    Finn Archinuk – Designer

    Nathan Tanner Mac Donald – a resident of the St Catharines and recent graduate of the Department of Dramatic Arts – has brought together a company of DART students to present The Clockmaker by Stephen Massicotte.  A metaphysical rollercoaster, The Clockmaker may seem like little more than a love story set inside a murder-mystery-to-be, but it just might end up exposing the very truth of existence itself. The show will be performed April 27 @ 8:00pm and April 28 @ 2:00pm at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre in downtown St Catharines.

    Nathan recently performed in the 2011 STRUTT wearable art show and this past summer he wrote and directed Circus, which played at Factory Theatre in the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival. Nathan’s company includes graduates and Geoffrey Heaney, Dylan Mawson, Michael Pearson, Caitlin Popek as Performers, current student Kate Hardy as Stage Manager and graduate Finn Archinuk as the Designer.

    In the Soil Arts Festival brings Niagara artists from a range of disciplines together to provide unique audience experiences. The festival nurtures the creation of new work, showcases talent, encourages innovation, offers learning opportunities for youth and provides intimate and uncommon platforms for audiences to experience work by contemporary performing and literary artists, musicians and media artists. In the Soil is Niagara’s homegrown arts festival and is working to make a Niagara that is self-determining and culturally distinct.

    for more information see the IN THE SOIL website.

    Break-a-leg, Nathan, Caitlin, Dylan, Finn, Geoffrey, Kate and Michael!

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