Articles tagged with: community engagement

  • Brock series to address transformation, adaptation in Canadian theatre

    Image caption: Mike Payette (left), Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, and Philip Akin (right), former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, will take the virtual stage on Monday, Sept. 20, reflecting on changes in the Canadian theatre industry as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 | by 

    A panel of prominent Black Canadian theatre leaders will explore the industry’s evolving landscape during an upcoming community discussion hosted by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The webinar, “Black Canadian Theatre Leadership: Embracing Transformation and Adaptation,” takes place Monday, Sept. 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is the first presentation of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL Series).

    The online event will feature panelists Philip Akin, former Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company, and Mike Payette, Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, with moderator Luke Reece, Associate Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre. Registration is required through the Zoom webinar page.

    The speakers and moderator will reflect on changes in Canadian theatre in recent years, with a focus on the artistic missions of theatre organizations. Discussion points will include how the panelists have approached season planning within existing and evolving organizational missions and how programming can bring in the audiences they intend to cultivate.

    This is the first of three presentations in a new series launched by DART called Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training. The series will run throughout the academic year and is supported by the WCL fund.

    “This fall’s Walker Cultural Leader program follows on from DART’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) Speaker Series last year and intends to build on its momentum,” said DART Associate Professor Karen Fricker, who co-organizes the series with DART sessional instructor Carolyn Mackenzie and DART Associate Professor David Vivian. “We are excited to welcome this intergenerational group of Black theatre leaders for our first event. This is an all-star panel.”

    The WCL Series celebrates the legacy and vision of Marilyn I. Walker and her contributions to Brock University’s Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). Through her generous gift, the four academic programs at the MIWSFPA invite recognized cultural leaders, top researchers, artists, scholars, musicians and theatre professionals to contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the School and the Niagara region.

    To learn more about upcoming WCL Series events, please visit the website.


     

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, News, Uncategorised, Walker Cultural Leader Series

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

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

    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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  • Brock will require COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff, faculty to access campus

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 2021 | by The Brock News

    As Brock continues to prepare for a significant return to campus for the Fall 2021 term, the University will require COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty, staff and visitors who wish to access campus this fall. This is the latest in several measures the University is taking as part of its ongoing commitment to the health and safety of its community.

    At least a first dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine will be required by September 7, and a second dose will be required by October 15. Anyone who cannot be vaccinated, based on medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code, can request an accommodation. Those who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine on the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing are deemed to have met this requirement.

    All members of the Brock community returning to campus will be required to attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status and be prepared to furnish proof of vaccination to the University.

    A protocol that includes screening and frequent testing will be established for those who are not vaccinated.

    Brock had previously announced a vaccination requirement for those living in residence as well as for all student-athletes.

    The health and well-being of the Brock community remains the University’s top priority. Vaccination against COVID-19 is, by far, the best way to protect the community against the spread of COVID-19, and to ensure the return to campus this fall is as safe as it can be. Brock encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

    Early results of a survey sent to students indicate the vast majority — more than 90 per cent — are already vaccinated against COVID-19 or intend to be by the beginning of the Fall Term.

    We would like to thank our students, faculty, staff and bargaining partners for their support as we continue to plan for a safe return to campus in the fall. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to keep everyone safe and healthy as we begin the Fall Term and into the future.

    Brock has supported Niagara Region Public Health with on-campus public vaccination clinics, continues to engage in an awareness campaign about the importance of getting vaccinated, and provides regular COVID-19 updates on The Brock News and social media.

    The University has put in place a number of measures in preparation for a safe return to campus this fall, including making significant improvements to campus ventilation systems, using a booking system for access to recreational and other space, and increasing student wellness services, including access to a specialized COVID-19 nurse.

    Brock joins a number of post-secondary institutions across Ontario in making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement in order to be present on campus.

    Further details on the implementation of Brock’s vaccination requirements will be made available soon.

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  • Virtual auditions for Brock University choirs now open to community

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2021 | by 

    Image caption: Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is excited for Brock choir auditions to get underway in advance of the fall 2021 season.

    Brock choirs are back this fall and singing a hopeful tune for a busy season of choral activities for the University and wider Niagara community.

    Choir auditions are now open and will be running online throughout the summer for two ensembles: University Choir and Sora Singers.

    University Choir is a mixed voice ensemble for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices and is open to all members of the Brock community, including students, faculty and staff.

    Sora Singers (formerly the Brock Women’s Choir) is an upper-voice ensemble for anyone with a soprano or alto voice. Auditions for Sora Singers are open to the Brock community as well as the wider Niagara community.

    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is hopeful that choir members will be able to sing together in person, pending public health and Brock University protocols.

    “It has been a really tough year and as singers, we are all feeling rusty,” she said. “Building our vocal technique will certainly be the top priority when we convene in the fall to rebuild our singing community.”

    While the past year posed challenges for Brock’s choirs, Rensink-Hoff feels there were key lessons learned through experimentation with digital platforms, which she hopes will be integrated into the program going forward.

    “Because we are all familiar with collaborative opportunities in online formats, this coming year we will be virtually welcoming several composers whose works we will be studying and performing,” she said.

    Diversity and inclusion are also top of mind for Rensink-Hoff as the she plans for the coming season.

    “I am committed to diversifying our performance repertoire and spending more intentional time together exploring the voices of under-represented composers and communities,” she said.

    All audition details and rehearsal times can be found on the Sing at Brock! website. The audition is a two-part process involving a singing recording followed by a meeting over Zoom. Students who are interested can enrol in a choir for credit as a Brock course elective.

    The last day to audition for both the University Choir and Sora Singers will be Monday, Sept. 13.

    Choir rehearsal and performance formats are subject to change and will be delivered in adherence with Brock and public health protocols.

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  • Students showcase video art in local film festival through work-integrated learning

    Image caption: The opening image of Wind Sky, directed by Xudanlei Liu. Liu’s original video art is part of the Advanced Video Art student online screenings at the upcoming Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by the Niagara Artists Centre.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, JULY 05, 2021 

    Brock students have captured their experiences during the pandemic on film and are sharing their insights with the community.

    Exploring themes of identity, isolation and using everyday objects to create art, the project was born from an innovative work-integrated learning course and will see students present their videos during a professional film festival online.

    In Advanced Video (VISA/ISAC/STAC 3P10), students build upon their creative, technical and critical skills for video art production, post-production and critical evaluation, and are introduced to a variety of forms and approaches to video art, emphasizing its creation and contextualization in contemporary art discourses.

    Led by Donna Szoke, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the project is funded in part by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub (iHub), through the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning (IWIL) initiative, and supported by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC).

    Students created independent video art that is available online until Aug. 15 in affiliation with the NAC in downtown St. Catharines. The videos will also be presented as part of NAC’s Mighty Niagara Film Festival running Aug. 18 to 22. Both events are free to the public.

    This rich educational experience has allowed students to produce quality work in a professional setting while exploring their creativity.

    Thanks to the CEWIL grant awarded to Szoke for the course, students will be paid for their work being showcased in the festival. The project has also helped students to add valuable work to their portfolios and build their resumés for future opportunities.

    Minhal Enam, a third-year Interactive Arts and Science student in the Faculty of Humanities, is among those showcasing their video art.

    Enam said the past year has been difficult because of the pandemic and that participating in the film festival was a welcome and pleasant surprise.

    “When I was creating this project, I didn’t think my work would ever be screened at a film festival,” he said. “This shows me that you never know what lies next in terms of opportunities and open doors.

    “As an international student, I am lucky to be involved in a project like this,” Enam said. “Being born and raised in Saudi Arabia, I never thought I would express my thoughts and passion as I am doing now. I am trusting my own journey, and this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to create more.”

    The CEWIL funding also allowed for established artists to virtually visit students throughout Winter Term, delivering presentations focused on their practices as Canadian video artists exhibiting in international film festivals. After receiving advice during the mentorship sessions, students selected their best work from the term for the two public screenings.

    Szoke said it’s important that young artists feel their work, time and creative skills have value.

    “They need to know what they do matters,” she said. “This is a chance to craft their ability to make artwork and grow faith in themselves as artists.”

    Stephen Remus, the Minister of Energy, Minds and Resources at the NAC, has been involved with the artist-run centre in various capacities for the past 15 years.

    “NAC is always interested in what young and emerging artists are creating at the Marilyn I. Walker School,” he said. “There’s a give and take. We learn what their interests and preoccupations are and, in turn, we’re able to introduce them to the NAC and artist-run culture.”

    Remus said Canada can “lay a unique claim to the establishment of a national artist-run network.”

    “It’s unlike anything else in the world. And the NAC is one of the earliest nodes on that network, now more than 50 years old.”

    From Winnipeg to Vancouver to St. Catharines, Szoke has a long history of collaborating with artist-run centres across the country. As a passionate artist who engages with experimental education programs and uses media art as a form of activism, she believes video as a medium occupies a dynamic and vital space in visual arts with great impacts on community.

    Community engagement is at the centre of the Advanced Video course, with a focus on giving students an opportunity to showcase their creative work in a professional setting while earning an industry-standard wage. Educating students about the standards of professional wages in the creative sector is an important piece of the project.

    “Community is the bridge to the future,” Szoke said. “If students can have significant experiences making meaningful work that people in the community value, this real-world labour can change all of our lives and have a big impact on students’ futures.”

    Even though the structure of the NAC is “anarchistic in the best ways,” the centre can be a leader in community and audience engagement, and prioritize support of living artists,” Remus said. “This includes informing students about the professional rates for the payment of artists.”

    The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada or Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, News, Uncategorised

  • Brock grad raising awareness of trans identities through film

    Image caption: Roy Wol (BA ’06), former student in the Departments of Communication, Popular Culture and Film and Dramatic Arts, at the South by Southwest premiere of The Garden Left Behind, a film he recently brought to a Brock audience.

    Originally posted in The Brock News MONDAY, MAY 17, 2021 | Written by

    Brock alumnus and award-winning filmmaker Roy Wol (BA ’06) is starting important conversations about trans identities through his work.

    And earlier this spring, he brought that meaningful discussion virtually to the Brock community.

    In March, Brock’s Pride Week kicked off with a special screening of Wol’s film, The Garden Left Behind. The 2019 release won the Audience Choice Award when it premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) and has gone on to screen at more than 70 festivals and 50 community events.

    The Brock screening was followed by a panel discussion, which can be viewed online here, featuring Wol, the film’s producer, alongside actresses Carlie Guevara and Ivana Black.

    The event was sponsored by Gender and Sexual Violence Support and Education, Human Rights and Equity (HRE), the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

    The Garden Left Behind tells the story of Tina (played by Guevara), a Mexican trans woman, and her grandmother, both living as undocumented immigrants in New York City (NYC).

    Wol, a former double-major in Film Studies and Dramatic Arts (DART), describes bringing the film and industry panel to Brock as “the greatest feeling ever.”

    He was encouraged by the interest in the film he experienced right from his initial meeting with event organizers.

    Carlie Guevara, who stars in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    “I was expecting only to meet with a single person, but I found myself meeting seven people from different departments asking about the film and chatting about possibilities,” Wol says. “Personally, I felt so welcomed but more importantly, I felt that Brock saw the mission of the film. The impact was aligned — I feel and see the hunger for these types of projects at Brock and I was so honoured to share our work with the Brock audience.”

    Guevara also enjoyed participating in the panel.

    “I’m thankful I was able to enjoy a Friday evening with Brock,” she says. “University communities are super interesting for me, because the audience is within my peer group and I’m exposed to new ideas and experiences whilst sharing my stories.”

    Guevara felt “immediately akin” to Tina’s character after first reading the script, noting there is much to unpack about her story and the themes it touches on.

    “I was drawn by the story and the badass transness of it all,” she says. “I felt happy to read a script and be a part of a film that gave depth, light and breadth to a trans-POC(Person of Colour)-immigrant-NYC narrative.”

    Supporting actress Ivana Black says spending time with the Brock community was “freeing.” She emphasizes that the film requires its audience members to consider their own responsibility.

    “I am hopeful the conversation will open minds and help people see the history of trans identities as a positive and important part of the Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) history,” says Black. “I think the film has reinforced the plight that trans women have and still face, and it questions how far the community has moved when one part of the community is still suffering.”

    Mackenzie Rockbrune, one of the event organizers from HRE and a co-host of the panel discussion, says the team wanted to “create an event to bring awareness to the trans community and the intersectional issues they face every day.”

    Showing a film made by a Brock grad, she adds, made it all the more special.

    “The event had a wide range of attendees from the 2SLGBTQ+ community and Roy Wol’s former departments,” says Rockbrune. “The film allowed for an entry point for students to join the conversation about intersectionality and transgender rights, and inspired students by highlighting an alumnus who used his degree to cultivate activism.”

    Hamed Karaghi, also an organizing committee member and panel co-host, says the intersectionality of the film made it an ideal way to kick off Brock Pride Week.

    “Our audience was informed of the many sacrifices the trans community have made so that queer people can experience liberty and freedom here in North America,” says Karaghi. “The movie was especially valuable for Applied Health Sciences students at Brock, since we got an overview of the challenges that trans people experience while navigating the health-care system to get their gender confirmation surgery.”

    According to Wol, community screenings like the one at Brock have laid bare a great need for conversation and sharing.

    “At some point, we had seven simultaneous community screenings with our team spread around the globe as representatives creating opportunity for discussions,” he says. “The film became larger than itself, a catalyst to share our wounds with each other — it provided a platform to bridge communities.”

    Ivana Black, a supporting actress in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    Wol says he makes film because he wants to learn about life. With The Garden Left Behind, he learned not only from the film’s main character, but also from the community building that went into both the making and the marketing of the film.

    He notes that some 48 people from the trans community worked on the film, and more from the broader 2SLGBTQQIA+ rounded out the cast and crew. For many, it was their first job in film — but not their last.

    “More than a handful have since landed jobs at HBO, New York Film Festival Lincoln Center’s Artist Academy, POSE creator Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative directing fellowship, and jobs in commercials and plays,” says Wol. “I am proud to say we were at the forefront of the trans representation movement in cinema, giving maximum visibility to the community behind and in front of the camera as actors, producers and crew staff.”

    Wol, who came to Brock as an international student and a third-culture kid (an individual raised in a culture other than their parents’), says his experiences at Brock gave him the courage to become his best self.

    “In the DART department, I was encouraged to be playful, to experiment with my art, and in Film Studies, the course options were fundamentally very inspiring and helped me narrow down what I wanted to pursue,” he says. “Communication, Popular Culture and Film courses and instructors made me question everything beyond film — my existence and how narratives impact our lives.”

    Wol says he spent a long time finding his own voice and navigating the challenges of being a “serial immigrant” unable to access government funding through bodies like Telefilm or to work on union productions, which were limited to permanent residents of Canada.

    “This pushed me to be completely independent and create my projects outside of the insular industry, which was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “Within the film industry there are many pockets of sub-industries, and I got in and out of most of them, which gave me a good understanding of the overall picture and grew my network.”

    Wol believes that “storytellers can create bridging opportunities instead of parallel universes,” and builds his art around this belief.

    “We are as good as our community is,” he Wol. “It is more important than ever to do our best to tolerate and create a dialogue with people from experiences that might be conflicting with our core beliefs.”

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  • Online symposium celebrates new publication on theatre pedagogy and climate crisis

    Image caption:The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

    An upcoming weekend of online events will explore the role that theatre education plays in relation to climate crisis.

    To launch the new Routledge publication Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) is hosting a two-day online symposium featuring historians, theatre practitioners, playwrights, designers, professors and activists.

    Presented as part of the 2020-21 Walker Cultural Leader’s Series program, the online symposium “Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis” runs Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 and will be livestreamed free on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel.

    Convened by volume co-editors David Fancy, Professor and Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University, and Conrad Alexandrowicz, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Victoria, the event features four online panel discussions with contributing authors of the volume, each a theatre scholar and/or practitioner.

    Through these panel discussions, volume contributors will answer the question of how theatre pedagogy can be transformed in response to the global climate crisis. Panelists are purposely divided into groups that mix their different expertise, encouraging a rich and invigorating discussion.

    “Nothing could be more pressing than understanding how to evolve our theatre training and pedagogy to address the climate crisis,” says Fancy.

    The volume’s authors, he adds, also “unpack how supremacy thinking informing the climate crisis — that humans are more important than nature — is echoed across racial and gendered violence in contemporary societies.”

    Each panel is based on a theme in the anthology: Intersectionality and the Body of the Earth; Eco-Aesthetics in Performance and Design; Eco-literacies in Teaching Theatre; and Theatre Pedagogy and the Climate Crisis.

    A summary of the volume can be found in a manifesto signed by all contributing authors in the epilogue of the book.

    Upcoming Walker Cultural Leaders events:

    Saturday, March 20

    1 to 2:15 p.m. — Theatre Pedagogy and the Climate Crisis
    Moderated by David Fancy with Lara Aysal, Derek Davidson, Katrina Dunn and Beth Osnes.
    Watch the livestream.

    3 to 4:15 p.m. – Eco-Aesthetics in Performance and in Design
    Moderated Conrad Alexandrowicz with Tanja Beer, Rachel Bowditch, Joan Lipkin and David Vivian.
    Watch the livestream.

    Sunday, March 21

    1 to 2:15 p.m. – Eco-Literacies in Teaching Theatre
    Moderated by Sasha Kovacs with Mary Anderson, Dennis Gupa and David Fancy.
    Watch the livestream.

    3 to 4:15 p.m. – Intersectionality, Solidarity and the Body of the Earth
    Moderated by Rachel Rhoades with Gloria Akayi Asoloko, Soji Cole and Conrad Alexandrowicz.
    Watch the livestream.

    More event information, including full biographies of each panelist, can be found online at brocku.ca/tpcc

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised, Walker Cultural Leader Series

  • Brock students and newcomers to Canada unite online to create socially conscious theatre

    Originally published in The Brock News TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2020 | by 

    The shift to online learning has not stopped Brock Dramatic Arts and Faculty of Education students from connecting with newcomers, educators and theatre makers around the globe.

    While in-person activities are limited or non-existent due to the pandemic, students in Social Issues Theatre for Community Engagement (DART 3F93) are virtually meeting with newcomers to learn about their journey to Canada.

    The result is meaningful collaboration and the creation of applied theatre pieces rooted in issues of social justice.

    Half of the students taking the course are studying Dramatic Arts. The other half are pursuing dramatic arts as a teachable subject through their Concurrent Education program, which allows students to earn both their undergraduate degree and a Bachelor of Education concurrently.

    The Social Issues Theatre for Community Engagement course builds on a long history between the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre (NFAMC) and Brock University.

    In August 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding between Brock and the NFAMC was signed, solidifying a partnership between the two organizations aiming to address challenges for newcomers to Niagara and provide them with support through community-based actions. It was part of Brock’s ongoing community engagement efforts which create meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships that support social and economic development.

    Over a number of years, DART has had many collaborations with the NFAMC that have enriched the educational and creative experiences of Brock students and community members.

    This community engagement and scholarship continues to thrive online during the pandemic, offering students an experiential learning opportunity to gain valuable skills developed through the teachings of Dramatic Arts.

    The year-long course is taught by Rachel Rhoades, Assistant Professor of Applied Theatre, Dramatic Arts. Rhoades has worked as an applied theatre practitioner, educator and researcher for 12 years in community- and school-based settings in Boston, Toronto and now at Brock.

    Rhoades describes applied theatre as a creative tool for social change that is often mounted in non-traditional performance spaces and says different communities can come together to exchange stories of their lived experiences and create art based on these exchanges.

    The outcome is evocative theatre that promotes learning and healthy discussion around strategies for change and social justice in marginalized communities.

    In a photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brock students from Social Issues Theatre for Community Engagement (DART 3F93) rehearse their applied theatre play Identities Relocated at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

     

    Applied theatre techniques can assist communities in articulating issues, enhancing understanding of their complexity and planning future actions.

    As learning shifted online this fall, Rhoades organized the “Global Guest Speaker Series” as part of the course. Each week, a guest artist facilitated virtual workshops.

    As a result of these workshops, students and volunteer newcomers from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Angola and China created theatre scenes together that were performed virtually as part of the course work.

    Guest speakers have included: Brisa Areli Muñoz, Artistic Director of the Applied Theatre Collective, and Manager of Community Partnerships for The Public Theatre in New York City; Varshini Pichemuthu, co-founder of the RootPrints Theatre company in London, England; Taiwo Afolabi, Canada Research Chair in Theatre and many more from India, Singapore and Toronto.

    Inviting guest speakers from the arts and education field is a way Rhoades is using online platforms to the classes’ advantage and embracing the opportunity to promote global connections during a time of isolation.

    “The community members (newcomers) have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share their stories and opinions on how to resolve major issues through their experiential knowledge,” Rhoades says.

    Rhoades’ academic background in education and applied theatre is connected to her ongoing research. She is guiding young people to develop relationships with marginalized communities so there can be a mutually beneficial experience.

    In this model, students listen to the experiences of newcomers allowing them to learn from a cross-cultural context. In turn, this process can help newcomers feel affirmed and valued, recognizing and honouring their strength through adversity.

    “The students have gained much inspiration from hearing the stories of resilience from the community members, and the collaboration has really opened their eyes to the struggles of peoples around the world,” Rhoades says, adding that the students are improving as educators and artists, and also acquiring knowledge on strategies to demand and develop a more just society. Now, more than ever, these community collaborations are vital to a bright and inclusive future, she says.

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