Articles tagged with: dramatic arts

  • Brock’s fall mainstage returns in person to explore fate of Judas Iscariot

    Image caption: Brock Dramatic Arts students and mainstage actors Celine Zamidar (left) and Simon Bell (right) rehearse a scene from The Last Days of Judas Iscariot with Guest Director Leighton Alexander Williams (centre).

    Originally published in The Brock News MONDAY, | OCTOBER 18, 2021 | by 

    Brock University’s fall mainstage production will make its much-anticipated return next week for the first live, in-person performance on the stage of the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in more than a year and a half.

    Although the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stifle its creativity, hosting virtual mainstage productions when public health restrictions prevented in-person performances, the cast and crew of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is eager to welcome their first live audience Friday, Oct. 29.   

    Written by award-winning American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, the play is an exploration of sin and unconditional love and speaks to all about guilt, regret and redemption.

    Set in a satirical version of a contemporary American courtroom, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot sees a host of saints and villains (including Mother Theresa and Satan) convene to determine the fate of Judas Iscariot after he has been stuck in purgatory for a few thousand years.

    Emerging Ontario director Leighton Alexander Williams is the Brock production’s Guest Director, with assistant direction by DART student Michael Cicchini.

    Based in Toronto, Williams is a stage and screen actor, writer, director and producer and is co-founder of Big Dreamers Brotherhood Productions Inc., a company of seven black male artists committed to telling provocative stories. With an academic background in drama and English and an interest in education, Williams is thrilled to be guest directing the production.

    “It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of us experience feelings of isolation and being ‘stuck’ — two things Judas experiences throughout this story,” Williams said. “I felt it was important to set this play in the here and now.”

    Williams added that because of a recent boost in the popularity of the science fiction genre, the production’s version of purgatory is set in a cosmic void.

    “The intersectionality of religion and science makes for a fresh take on a classic tale,” he said.

    The show runs Oct. 29, 30 and Nov. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. There will be a matinee performance on Nov. 5 at 11:30 a.m. for DART students and faculty.

    The MIW Theatre, in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) in downtown St. Catharines, is operating at a reduced capacity, with 100 seats available for each performance in the interest of student and audience member safety.

    Tickets are $20 for the general public and $16 for youth and seniors. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

    See the feature article by DART alumna Holly Hebert and featuring the voices of some of the students involved in the show, photos by VISA student Julie Luth and DART’s own Edgar Harris at dartcritics.com/2021/10/29/from-purgatory-to-purgatory-welcome-the-last-days-of-judas-iscariot/

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    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Events, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • 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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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News, Uncategorised

  • Dramatic Arts grad receives textile award for creative work in costuming

    Dramatic Arts graduate Avery Delaney was honoured with the Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for 2021 for her outstanding, creative use of textiles.

    Originally published in The Brock News on FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2021 | by 

    When Dramatic Arts (DART) graduate Avery Delaney began her studies at Brock, she never dreamed she would find her calling behind the scenes in wardrobe — especially in theatrical cobblery.

    But that’s where Delany, who graduated June 18 during Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation, found her stride.

    She was recently recognized with the 2021 Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for her creative talent and skilled use of textiles. Presented to a graduating student at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) who shows outstanding work in textiles for artistic expression, the annual award provides recipients with financial support for continuing education or professional development.

    Delaney always had a desire to pursue teaching and performance, but a second-year course in stage production and crewing changed the course of her academic journey when she began working in the MIWSFPA costume shop under the guidance of Roberta Doylend, Head of Wardrobe.

    Inspired by her love of fashion and design, Delaney began working on costumes for the 2018 DART fall mainstage production of the Greek tragedy Antigone. She assisted Doylend with building and repairing costumes for the production which premiered in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Antigone was such a physically demanding show that there were many problems with the actor’s shoes,” Delany said. “Roberta and I had to figure out a solution, and I took on the task of working on the shoes.”

    Gaining “confidence by doing,” Delaney discovered her love of theatrical cobblery and the costume shop environment. In her third-year, she got a job working with Doylend assisting with DART productions. During this time, Delaney’s creative exploration with textiles blossomed as she experimented with new materials and methods.

    Delaney came to view cobblery and working on shoes as her own creative world with the space to try out new techniques and take chances.

    “MIWSFPA staff did an incredible job facilitating this kind of hands-on learning,” she said.

    Doylend explained how Marilyn I. Walker created the award to celebrate a student’s passion for art and creativity.

    “Watching Avery thrive in the costume shop and find her love of theatrical cobbling in her four years at the MIWSFPA makes her the perfect candidate to have received this award,” Doylend said.

    Delaney continued her costuming work on the DART mainstages, building and repairing costumes for the various shows. She began experimenting with painting leather and working with new textiles to create different types of shoes and boots.

    As part of her coursework, she was the Head Dresser on Orlando, the 2019 fall mainstage production. She co-ordinated all the footwear for the show, made a costume for Sasha (played by fellow DART student Sid Malcolm) and assisted the second-year production students during the build of the show.

    “Following our pivot to remote collaboration and online transmission during the past year of the pandemic, I commend Avery for her perseverance and excellent work for the two graduating students’ productions: as Costume Designer for Concord Floral and Head of Wardrobe for Ouroboros,” said Associate Professor, Scenographer and DART Acting Chair David Vivian. “These polished online productions were a vivid testament to the deep skills of creative collaboration and technical production that our graduates are carrying forth into their post-graduation futures.”

    In addition to her studies at the MIWSFPA, Delaney spent time working with the Boot and Shoe Specialist at the Shaw Festival Theatre, Brock DART alumna Sadie Ducroix (BA ’10). Delaney shadowed the professional cobbler as she worked on the Shaw’s 2019 production of Brigadoon, and even painted some of the shoes herself.

    Delaney’s acting and costuming skills collided when she both performed in and worked on Perdita or The Winter’s Tale, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic (adapted by Gyllian Raby) performed in spring 2020. Delaney played Florizel and worked in wardrobe helping with bouquets and dresses for the show.

    As a designer and actor, she was able to draw on her knowledge of both disciplines to understand the best materials and comfort for costumes and shoes.

    “One interest informs the other,” Delaney said. “By allowing my passions to bleed together, I was constantly learning new things.

    “The passion I have now, I am grateful to Roberta for. It has been life-changing; I have discovered what I want to pursue as a career and unleashed my passion for this craft,” she said.

    “I am happy to have been here to spark her interest and help her follow her dream,” Doylend said. “Now that she has graduated, Avery is continuing her study of this very specialized field and will love her career in theatre as an integral part of a costume team.”

    Supported by the Department of Dramatic Arts, Vivian and Doylend, Delaney is set to attend a four-day intensive shoemaking course this fall at Off the Wall at the Stratford Artists Alliance, a centre for excellence in theatre production arts education in Stratford, Ont.

    Next year, Delaney will attend a boot and shoemaking course at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She will continue to study her craft as she embarks on her professional career in costuming with a specialization in cobblery, but notes that she still aspires to be on stage.

    Performing will always be important to Delaney and she would like to find a healthy balance of her passions.

    “My love of performance informs my work in costuming and shoemaking. I have an appreciation for both sides of it, on and off the stage,” she said.

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  • Dramatic Arts students mount ominous play from award-winning Canadian playwright

    Originally published in The Brock News WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | by 

    Pictured above: Members of Sandbox Theatre, Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts fourth-year student-run company, rehearse a scene for their online production of Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill.

    Ten teenagers must face their guilt — and their past — in the latest online production offered by Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    Sandbox Theatre, Brock’s fourth-year DART student company, will present the evocative play Concord Floral next month through a virtual format.

    Written by Canadian theatre maker Jordan Tannahill, two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, Concord Floral was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2016 and has been produced by theatre companies across the country.

    Directed by Dramatic Arts Instructor Ali Joy Richardson, the play will be streamed on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.

    Inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s 13th century literary classic The Decameron, the story follows 10 teenagers who are fleeing a plague of their own making after a rumour spreads that two girls have found a body in an abandoned greenhouse called Concord Floral.

    The gripping production features original design, choreography and musical composition by the student cast as they perform virtually from their homes.

    To reserve your free viewing spot on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel, please visit Brock University Tickets.

    While there is no cost for tickets, donations are encouraged in support of the Black Health Alliance, a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada.

     

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

  • Dramatic Arts rewrites script for online learning with Shaw Festival

    Pictured above: Shaw Festival Theatre actors Jonathan Tan, left, and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane coached Brock students online in DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors. (Photos by David Cooper)

    Originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2020 | by 

    Brock Dramatic Arts students got a virtual backstage pass to the revered Shaw Festival Theatre this summer.

    An innovative teaching initiative gave students taking DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors the opportunity to connect online with and receive personalized coaching from professional actors Jonathan Tan and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane from the Shaw Festival Theatre permanent company.

    For third-year student Jordan Henderson, the virtual experience was both valuable and uplifting.

    “Jonathan Tan had many wise words that really helped me build confidence in my acting skills,” he said. “He also helped me to understand that what I might consider a mistake, audiences may interpret as something completely different.”

    David Fancy, Professor and Chair in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, developed the course’s online teaching material with the future in mind and produced 700 minutes of lessons over 70 separate videos.

    This foundational acting course, which Fancy describes as “extreme monologuing,” is designed to help students discover the underlying principles of acting. Students explore the actor’s process, including awareness, stimulus, impulse, intention and action.

    “We’re making some exciting changes to DART 1F01,” Fancy said. “We’re using this opportunity to build a course that we can also share with students who have to work remotely in the future.”

    In the virtual coaching sessions, students rehearsed monologues they’d written themselves with the Shaw actors, soaking in their expertise and knowledge.

    Second-year student Benoit St-Aubin gained unique perspective on the acting world, and it left him craving more.

    “I absolutely loved the session that I had with Olivia. We had the opportunity to run through our monologues with her and she gave us great tips to improve them,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed being in class, but this meeting really made me want to go back in September.”

    Fourth-year student Alexandra Hunter was able to immerse herself in the story of her monologue, giving her a deeper connection and understanding of her character and the creative process.

    “I learned so much from Olivia,” Hunter said. “She helped me illustrate the emotions in a strong way so that I knew how to perform them and react accordingly.”

    This opportunity to leverage technology and connect students to professional actors was co-ordinated by Fancy and Dramatic Arts instructor Carolyn Mackenzie in partnership with the Shaw Festival. They worked alongside Shaw’s Senior Manager for Education Suzanne Merriam, Education Assistant Melissa Domingos and Education Co-ordinator Megan Gilchrist.

    This course is just one of the ways Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is using innovative thinking and a creative approach to lead the charge on the future of performing arts. This fall, audiences can expect riveting new work, pushing the boundaries of live theatre with the Dramatic Arts mainstage production Scenes from an Execution by Howard Barker.

    More details on the Department of Dramatic Arts and the fall mainstage virtual production are available online.

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

  • Welcome to the MIWSFPA: Orientation for 2020!

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

    (screenshot)


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

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


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


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


    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

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

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

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

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


    THE DEPARTMENT OF DRAMATIC ARTS (DART)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    THE DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC (MUSI)

    Dr. Karin Di Bella, an accomplished pianist and educator, is the Chair of the Department:

    Dr. Di Bella will be holding office hours on September 8th from 2-3 pm on Teams.
    Drop-in and say hi! (click here)

    Reminders from your Music professors:

    • Check Sakai and your Brock email for info about your first class
    • Choir: if you still need to do your choir audition, please look here for more information:
      Sing at Brock!
    • Lessons: if you still need to set up your lesson, contact Dr. Di Bella kdibella@brocku.ca
    • For all other inquiries please contact the Music Office and we’ll be happy to direct you to the right place. nfedj@brocku.ca

    Classes start Wednesday, September 9th! Have fun! We are happy you’re here.

    PS. Our MUSI student yearly welcome/orientation for all new and returning MUSI students will take place on the first Tuesday@Noon.  Ask Professor Di Bella for details.


    The Department of Visual Arts (VISA)

    Welcome new VISA students to our asynchronous orientation video! It’s always nice to put a name to face, so we took some time to prepare this video, so that you can get acquainted with some of the awesome people in the Department of Visual Arts. We look forward to meeting you in person in the near future. Stay safe, VISA.

    Professor Shawn Serfas, Chair of the Department will be holding office hours on September 8th from 2-3 pm on Teams.
    Drop-in and say hi! (click here)


    The Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC)

    STAC Major student, Maya Meyerman has prepared this welcome message for you:

    Dr. Catherine Parayre, Director of the Centre, will be holding office hours on September 8th from 2-3 pm on Lifesize.
    Drop-in and say hi! (click here)

    Additional Office hours will be:

    • Tuesday 15 September, 3-4 pm
    • Wednesday 7 October, 2-3 pm
    • Tuesday 17 November, 3-4 pm
    • Wednesday 2 December, 1-2 pm

    Interiors, a curated virtual platform has been launched!  Interiors is the home of various creative projects by Affiliates of STAC’s Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture, also with student exhibitions. Check out our Outreach Activities: participate and be published on the site!

    ti< is an online journal (ISSN 1929-4336) that publishes creative work combining text and image. It is primarily interested in 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. Next issue: March 2021. Submissions accepted until 15 February 2020. Please send to cparayre@brocku.ca https://journals.library.brocku.ca/index.php/ti

    Check out the Advising Letter for more news about exciting opportunities at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture!

    STAC Majors: more info and regular updates are available on Sakai on the tab titled… ‘STAC Majors’.  Add this tab to your Sakai courses.


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

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

  • 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

  • Music Auditions and the DART Invitational: Applicants for September 2020, read this

    Auditions at the Department of Music for studies commencing September 2020

    As part of Brock University’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all face-to-face entrance auditions for Brock’s Department of Music have been cancelled until the end of May, 2020.  The Department will be contacting all auditionees by e-mail in the next little while to arrange on-line auditions.

    We look forward to meeting you online and to welcoming you in our studios and on the stage of the Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre this coming September!

    Dr Matthew Royal, Chair of Music


    Did you apply to study Dramatic Arts at Brock? We look forward to welcoming you in September!

    DEAR APPLICANTS!

    As part of Brock University’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Department is cancelling the DART Invitational scheduled for May 2, 2020.

    We very much regret not spending a remarkable day of theatre making with you!

    If you are registered for the Invitational you are no longer required to come to campus on that day.  Refunds will be issued to all registered participants.

    In place of the DART Invitational we will be conducting online interviews.  This will require you to prepare some material in advance, answer questions from the two faculty interviewers, and will give you an opportunity to ask questions of us.

    Please read about this online interview, conducted using skype or a similar app, at this url:

    https://brocku.ca/miwsfpa/dramatic-arts/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/Alternate-Arrangement-2020.pdf

    Beginning next week, the Department will be contacting registered applicants to schedule an online interview.  We will provide you with a variety of dates and times to select from.  We hope to complete all of these interviews by May 2, 2020.

    We look forward to meeting you online and to welcoming you in our studios and theatre this coming September!

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    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Events, Future Students, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Pipeline to a Better Way: A special Walker Cultural Leader Event!

    A series of events around questions of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Brock and St. Catharines theatre community and beyond, co-produced by the Walker Cultural Leaders Program at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University and the theatre company Suitcase in Point.

    Activities at Brock include a keynote address by Ravi Jain, artistic director of Why Not Theatre; a staged reading of Dominique Morisseau’s award-winning play Pipeline (directed by directed by Toronto-based actor, director, and producer Lisa Karen Cox; with a cast and creative team of professional actors and Brock Dramatic Arts students); and discussions about the St. Catharines artistic and cultural landscape.

    see the article from the Brock News

    On Nov. 9, Suitcase in Point Theatre Company presents a forum, roundtable and a cabaret in downtown St Catharines.
    Details at suitcaseinpoint.com

    Nov. 10th, 2019
    3:00pm to 6:30pm at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, 15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines ON

    3:00pm to 3:45pm  Keynote by Ravi Jain  “Alternative Visions of Existence”

    “While working in Nairobi, Kenya I learned of Ngugi wa’Thiongo. He was a pioneer of Kenyan theatre, who was exiled for rediscovering a Kenyan theatre which challenged the British rule and history of the country. Someone wrote of his work, ‘he was searching for alternative visions of existence’. That phrase has stuck with me ever since, and is the bedrock of everything I do.” – Ravi Jain

    How do we challenge the status quo and use the arts to create a vision of the world we want to see, a version of the world we want to live in? This talk will look at how artists can challenge their own assumptions of what theatre is, who gets to tell it, who it is for and what its purpose is. An exploration of the imagination, activism and the story of an artist who is always looking for a better way.

    4:00pm to 5:15pm  Staged Reading of Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau
    Directed by Lisa Karen Cox

    In this play, which premiered in 2017 in New York City, a mother’s hopes for her son clash with an educational system rigged against him. The title refers to the widespread perception of a school-to-prison pipeline for young African-American men.

    5:30pm to 6:30pm  Q & A discussion

    The event is presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts for the Walker Cultural Leader Series, generously founded by Marilyn I. Walker. The Walker Cultural Leader series brings leading artists, performers, practitioners and academics to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University. Engaging, lively and erudite, these sessions celebrate professional achievement, artistic endeavour and the indelible role of culture in our society. Please join us.

    Tickets are required for this free public event

    brocku.universitytickets.com

    DOWNLOAD THE POSTER

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    Categories: Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, News, Uncategorised, Walker Cultural Leader Series

  • Fluid identities onstage at DART: “The question generation” takes on Woolf and Ruhl’s Orlando

    (From: DARTCritics, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2019 | by )

    Contemporary theatre companies are making strides in representing individuals whose voices society has tried to silence, especially those who identify as transgender, or don’t identify with a gender at all. Transgender performance artist Travis Alabanza’s one-person show, Burgerz, has been getting rave reviews around Europe. Two-spirited actor Ty Defoe and non-binary actor Kate Bornstein made headlines when both made their Broadway debuts in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men. Canadian transgender artist Vivek Shraya is creating and performing in her first theatre piece, How to Fail as a Pop Star, at Canadian Stage next February. There’s clearly an increasing amount of work created by and/or featuring individuals who don’t identify as cisgender, but nevertheless mainstream theatre and the theatrical canon seems to me to still be dominated by heteronormative stories.

    I asked David Fancy, director of Orlando, Brock University’s first Mainstage production of the 2019-20 season, why he thinks much mainstream theatre hasn’t treated gender non-conformity or gender fluidity. “I think humans are continuously in survival mode and think in terms of binary logic because it’s a way of cutting to the chase, and it’s simple habituation,” says Fancy. “I think it actually takes work to think outside of that, and I think there’s a lot of energy and anger that goes into reinforcing those perimeters simply because historically, properties have been perpetuated along these patrilineal lines.” He explains that there’s “a history of privileging the cisgender hetero matrix that [Judith] Butler talks about, what she describes as the false stabilisation of certain sets of binaries, and so many cultural institutions are organized around that.”

    Taj Crozier and Paige Hunt-Harman in Orlando. Photos by Neil Silcox.

    Enter Orlando, a play that directly tackles questions of gender identity and how we perceive it. Orlando: A Biography was written by Virginia Woolf in 1928 and adapted into a play by Sarah Ruhl in 1998. The play follows the titular character through six centuries, starting with the reign of Elizabeth I and ending in the present day. When Orlando turns 30, they stop aging and go to sleep as a man and wake up as a woman. They stay in the biological body of a woman for the rest of the play, but nothing else about them has changed. Paige Hunt-Harman, the actor who plays Orlando, feels the character doesn’t necessarily identify as either gender: “he/she/they don’t necessarily know who they are when it comes to gender,” says Hunt-Harman. “They kind of see themselves as just this ever-flowing entity that is kind of always going to be there, always there to ask those questions, to say, ‘who am I?’ and ‘what’s to come?’ and ‘what will people think, or do I even care what people think?’”

    Orlando premiered Off-Broadway in 2010; in July of 2018, Soulpepper Theatre produced its Canadian premiere with Sarah Afful in the title role. With Brock University staging the play this year, are we moving towards a theatrical landscape (and perhaps consequently, a society) where gender fluidity is moving further into mainstream representation? Both Fancy and Hunt-Harman agree that we are. And good thing, too – especially in a university setting in which many students identify as gender non-binary or gender non-conforming, representation on the stage is important. We still live in a heteronormative society and works like Orlando are needed to disrupt and question that thinking, to advocate that people of all genders and sexualities have avoice.

    The play certainly challenges questions of gender and how we perceive it. Hunt-Harman shared the story of an early rehearsal in which Fancy asked the ensemble what masculinity meant to them, after which there was an awkward pause before someone suggested, “big muscles?” And maybe that is how many see masculinity today – the big, strong, protective man versus the frail, delicate, damsel-in-distress. But do these traits have to be separate and rigid between the sexes? This play works to blur these lines: “Orlando really starts at the beginning of the play as a very stereotypical, heroic male, the hegemonic hero of the story,” Hunt-Harman says, “and I believe by playing that up we really show the audience just how we as a society perceive masculinity — and the same goes for femininity. But throughout the play we see… that stylized gender kind of transform into something that we now are able to connect with, where it’s not necessarily one thing or the other. It’s very grey… I see masculine in the feminine and feminine in the masculine.”

    It’s not just gender that this production of Orlando addresses – it also touches on issues of racialization. While Ruhl’s adaptation has eliminated Woolf’s uses of words like “moor,” there are still remnants of racializing language that the ensemble has worked to challenge by, for example, cutting out all mentions of the word “gypsy.” When Orlando transitions from man to woman, they do so in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which is highly exoticized and orientalised in Woolf’s novel, and consequently Ruhl’s script. “There’s a whole tradition in colonial literature of white people from Europe going to a foreign place that’s exotic and they have all kinds of discoveries. This is a repeated trope in colonial texts,” Fancy explains, “and it’s left unexamined by Woolf because she takes on the question of gender, but it’s almost like it’s first-wave feminism where you have a white woman, upper class, going through these discoveries.” Without giving too much away, the ensemble has taken this scene in Constantinople and over-emphasized the racialization by being hyper-theatrical about it, before then deconstructing it.“We establish it and then just… almost campily, certainly almost cheesy, with theatrical means, take it apart,” says Fancy. “You have to make sure that if you’re foregrounding something, you’re foregrounding that it’s a construction. And you’re showing how it’s made, and how you take it apart.”

    Sid Malcolm in Orlando.

    Orlando and the questions intertwined with it come at the right time, especially with an audience likely primarily composed of university students. Young people are recognizing their power now more than ever and are questioning what has always been presented as “natural and inevitable,” as Fancy would say. “We are now the question generation,” Hunt-Harman says. “We want to ask more questions; we want to challenge the norms that society has brought upon us and I really think that this play brings that to the forefront.”

    Orlando plays at the Marilyn I Walker Theatre, 15 Artists’ Common, from October 25 – November 2. Purchase your tickets online.


    DARTCritics is a project of the Department of Dramatic Arts, founded by Dr. Karen Fricker.  Launched in 2013, the site originated as a practical way for students to train in the art of reviewing, and also sought to bring the artistic community of Brock University and St. Catharines closer together. The website features writing about theatre produced and seen in Niagara, Hamilton, Stratford and Toronto. Please follow DARTCritics as they continue to search for awesome theatre, meeting fascinating artists along the way.

    You can also follow DARTcritics here:

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    DARTcritics.com is partially funded by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, in support of student learning; experiential education; student professionalization; public engagement with the teaching, learning and production activities of the Department of Dramatic Arts; new ways of thinking; and the nurturing of links with our communities.

    The opinions expressed by the writers of the DARTcritics.com website are their own.

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