Articles tagged with: Department of Dramatic Arts

  • The show must go on: Brock prof encouraged by theatre’s resiliency in midst of cancellations

    Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, says that despite the impact of COVID-19 on the performing arts, she’s encouraged by what she’s seen from the industry.

    (published WEDNESDAY, APRIL 08, 2020| by The Brock News {Alison Innes})

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating blow on the performing arts, but a Brock University Dramatic Arts professor is encouraged by what she has seen from the industry.

    “A vibrant industry went to ground over a matter of days, with theatres at first announcing cancelled or postponed productions and then, in most cases, cancelling the remainder of their winter-spring seasons,” says Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for the Toronto Star. “Most performing artists are precarious gig workers who are seeing current and future bookings evaporate.”

    In St. Catharines, arts organizations including the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, the Meridian Centre, Essential Collective Theatre and Carousel Players are among those that have cancelled or postponed programming through May.

    The Stratford Festival has cancelled performances through to late May, and Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Shaw Festival through June. While Shaw has not laid-off workers and is conducting rehearsals online, Stratford has temporarily laid off 470 employees, including actors, technicians and box office workers.

    But Fricker sees hope among the gloomy news.

    “Theatre companies and artists have been demonstrating amazing resilience and ingenuity during this time of crisis,” she says. “A lot of activity has gone online.”

    Essential Collective Theatre is turning its annual vaudeville fundraiser into an online affair. “Quarantine Cabaret” will feature short video recordings of various acts, including singing, magic, clowning, drag and melodramatic readings, which will be live-streamed at the end of April.

    Several Toronto-based companies are putting on telephone plays: one-on-one shows in which an audience member gets a hand-made personal story delivered to them over the phone, says Fricker.

    “DLT (DopoLavoro Teatrale), known to local audiences for their immersive shows including That Ugly Mess that Happened in St. Catharines, is producing a series of phone and online performances,” says Fricker. Some of the performances are inspired by Boccacio’s Decameron, a 14thcentury collection of novellas about a group of youth sheltering outside Florence to escape the Black Death.

    “I have been uplifted by engaging with online theatre over the past few weeks,” Fricker says.

    “Watching theatre this way is not the same as sharing the same physical space and time with fellow audience members and the artists themselves, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lesser experience. It’s different, and theatres and audiences alike are adapting to what is, for now, the new normal.”

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    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News, Uncategorised

  • 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, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Uncategorised

  • 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: Department/Centre News, 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, Events, 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, Department/Centre News, News

  • Brock University ready to welcome thousands to annual Open House

    Alexandra McDermid, Brock Student Life and Community Experience Events Assistant, shares details of summer orientation programs with visitors during the 2018 Spring Open House.


    (From The Brock News, Monday, April 1, 2019 | By: )

    With early signs indicating Brock continues to rise as a top choice for high school graduates, campus is expected be buzzing for the University’s annual Spring Open House this weekend.

    The entire Brock community will join together to welcome thousands of potential undergraduate and graduate students and their families Sunday, April 7.

    Running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Open House aims to give visitors a taste of all that Brock has to offer. In addition to a comprehensive information fair, prospective students will have the chance to tour campus, meet students, senior administrators, faculty and staff, attend presentations related to programs of interest, learn about student services and research opportunities, and even take in a first-year lecture.

    Tours of residences, research labs, athletic facilities and the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts downtown will also be available, and welcome sessions will be introduced to help visitors make the most of their time on campus.

    “The day will be action-packed, allowing for a ‘choose your own adventure’ style experience that meets students’ personal interests and passions,” said Beth Natale, Director, Recruitment for Brock University. “Open House is one of the best ways to solidify that Brock is the right choice for your future. It allows you to try us on for size and learn how you can shape your Brock experience to fit your own priorities and goals for your future.”

    One of the most important days on the recruitment calendar, Spring Open House comes on the heels of promising early signs for the University’s fall enrolment.

    Last September, Brock welcomed a record number of students to campus, taking enrolment past 19,000 for the first time. Recent figures compiled by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) indicate that trend may continue, with an increasing number of students shortlisting Brock as their possible destination for 2019-20:

    • Ontario high school students who put Brock in their Top 3 universities are up nearly 12 per cent over a year ago.
    • Those listing Brock as their No. 1 pick shot up more than 15 per cent.
    • In Brock’s home communities, applications from students across Niagara region are up nearly 10 per cent.
    • Globally, Brock has nearly 4,000 applications from international students, up 22.5 per cent over the same time last year. (This number reflects both students applying from overseas, as well as international students currently studying in Ontario high schools.)

    It will be a few months before universities know where students ultimately register, but the strong numbers combined with early interest in Brock’s Open House are promising.

    “We are seeing indicator after indicator that shows Brock is definitely in demand,” Natale said. “Our reputation as a career starter and place of interest for students is gaining serious momentum.”

    Online registration and a full schedule for Spring Open House can be found at discover.brocku.ca/openhouse/

    What: Brock University Spring Open House
    When: Sunday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Where: Information fair to begin in Ian Beddis Gymnasium on Brock’s main campus

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    Categories: Announcements, Future Students, News

  • Drama students to tackle tough topics in Sunday on the Rocks

    Brock dramatic arts students and cast members Catherine Tait, left, and Kristina Ojaperv rehearse for their upcoming production of Sunday on the Rocks. Produced by dramatic arts students under the company name OverHead Theatre, the show is being staged at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts from Friday, April 12 to Sunday, April 14. Photo courtesy of OverHead Theatre.


    (From The Brock News, Friday, March 29, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Brock Dramatic Arts students are bringing the work of Broadway heavyweight Theresa Rebeck to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) this April with their production of Sunday on the Rocks.

    The show is produced by students in the University’s DART 4F56 class, under the company name Over Head Theatre, and is the follow-up to their successful first production A History of Everything.

    It opens at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre on Friday, April 12 and runs until Sunday, April 14.

    Set in 1994, Sunday on the Rocks is a comedic drama about four roommates stepping into adulthood and struggling with issues of harassment, sexual assault and abortion.

    It features the talents of fourth-year Dramatic Arts students Adria Dearden, Kristina Ojaperv, Tsipporah Shendroff and Catherine Tait as the cast, and is being staged by the production team comprised of Alicia Bender, Whitney Braybrook-Byl, Leah Eichler, Juan-Carlos Figueroa, Heather Janser, Holly Kurelek, Ryan Mahon, Emma McCormick, Mae Smith and Geoff Turner.

    Director and course instructor Neil Silcox said he was drawn to this play because of the rich and complex characters.

    “Living in 1994, they are struggling with all the same issues that women face today, but without the short-hand to talk about it that we’ve developed in the past 25 years with the rise of the #MeToo movement.”

    Assistant Director Colin Williams added: “Theresa Rebeck’s writing never shies away from difficult and sensitive subjects, is never preachy and is, above all, funny.”

    Rebeck, who has four plays under her belt, was presented the PEN/Laura Pels Award in 2010 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. Her other notable plays include Seminar, starring Alan Rickman, Dead Accounts, starring Katie Holmes, and most recently, the 2018 Broadway hit Bernhardt/Hamlet, starring Janet McTeer.

    Sunday on the Rocks runs from Friday, April 12 to Sunday, April 14 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre of the MIWSFPA, located at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines. Tickets are $5 (plus taxes and fees) and are available for purchase through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre online box office or by phone at 905-688-0722.

    For more information and showtimes visit the DART web page. Limited parking is available on site.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, News

  • Popular One Act Festival returns to Marilyn I. Walker Theatre

    Dramatic Arts students in the Directing II course are presenting a series of short plays as part of the upcoming One Act Festival on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.


    (From The Brock News, March 18, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts students will bring the intricacies of human interaction, the banality of small-town life and even the future of ‘designer babies’ to the stage in the upcoming One Act Festival.

    Opening at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) on Friday, March 22, the popular One Act Festival will stage eight student-led productions in a two-night run.

    A yearly endeavour, the festival puts students in the Directing II course in the spotlight as they bring a selection of one-act plays to life. The students are responsible for the entire production process, including the selection of a script, auditioning the cast, rehearsing, designing the show and co-ordinating with the Dramatic Arts (DART) production team on all technical needs.

    The course’s instructor, Mike Griffin, said the One Act Festival is one of his favourite parts of the DART program.

    An exciting mentoring process happens, he explained, as students from all years collaborate to create theatre under the leadership of the third-year directing class.

    “As the student actors and directors come together, they put into practice the skills they have been developing throughout their courses, which supports them as they teach each other, grow as artists and inspire the next round of future directors,” he said.

    This year’s productions are all being presented under the theme ‘Rise.’

    Lauren Reid, a third-year DART major and Director of On the Porch One Crisp Spring Morning, said the inclusive and collaborative nature of the One Act Festival makes for a valuable learning experience.

    “Everyone is so open and willing to help me with this great opportunity and to make it the best it can be,” she said. “I have a great team on all sides that are there to support me whenever I need help, and I think this course is a great way for people to explore different opportunities within the DART and theatre community, in general.”

    For second-year DART student Holly Hebert, the festival allows her to “actively participate in the growth of a production.”

    “As an actor in Winter Games, Director Chris Murillo had us engage in a number of exercises that built our relationships, our impulses and developed our One Act to become an incredibly stimulating process,” she added.

    The students encourage the community to attend, promising the roster of shows in the festival are “emotionally active” and will often have audiences “on the edge of their seats.”

    The One Act Festival runs on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. each night. All shows take place in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre of the MIWSFPA at 15 Artists’ Common.

    Admission is pay-what-you-can at the door.

    For more information on the 2018 One Act Festival, visit the Current Season page on the DART website.

    One Act Festival 2019

    Inside the Department of the Exterior
    Directed by: Josh Loewen
    Playwright: Philip Hall
    Actors: Jared Geden, Samantha Rideout

    Another Sense
    Directed by: Rina Wilkins
    Playwright: Melissa Major
    Actors: Madison Andrews, Bianca Taylor

    Winter Games  
    Directed by: Rachel Bonds
    Playwright: Chris Murillo
    Actors: Alex Sykes, Holly Hebert, Leah Rantala

    The Worker
    Directed by: Rachel Frederick
    Playwright: Walter Wykes
    Actors: Paige Hunt-Harmon, Asenia Lyall, Diego Blanco

    Baby Factory  
    Directed by: Tyler Simpson
    Playwright: Stephen Bittrich
    Actors: Tristan Holmes, Luke Huffman, Meryl Ochoa, Nathan Rossi, Elizabeth Martin

    Nightstand  
    Directed by: Uchenna Edozie-Egbuna
    Playwright: Fergus Church
    Actors: Molly Lacey, Luca D’Amico

    One Night Fran
    Directed by: Frances Johnson
    Playwright: Adam Szudrich
    Actors: Kristina Miller, Aly Markov, Sarah Rowe

    On the Porch One Crisp Spring Morning
    Directed by: Lauren Reid
    Playwright: Alex Dremann
    Actors: Alexandra, Chubaty Boychuk and Joanna Tran

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, News

  • MIWSFPA host to roughly 60 high school arts teachers

    Visual Arts teachers were led through an Indigenous art workshop led by Brian Kon.


    On Feb. 15, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts hosted more than 60 Dramatic Arts, Music and Visual Arts teachers from the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN).

    Organized by Recruitment and Liaison Officer, Madison Roca, and NCDSB Arts Consultant, Teri Cristelli, the teachers were led through various workshops as part of their professional development day.

    “Many of the teachers had said it was the best professional development day they’d ever had,” said Cristelli.

    Among the different workshops were two visual arts workshops, the first on Indigenous art led by guest Brian Kon, followed by a session led by Visual Arts Assistant Professor Amy Friend on cyanotypes.

    There was also a Dramatic Arts workshop led by Dramatic Arts Chair Joe Norris and music workshop led by guest Kevin Hamlin from Yamaha Canada, held in the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

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    Categories: Events, News