Articles tagged with: dramatic arts

  • Dramatic Arts grad earns double Dora nomination

    Brock graduate Cass Van Wyck (right) performs in The Huns, for which she was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award. (Photo courtesy of Matt Hertendy).


    Originally published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    For Brock University Dramatic Arts graduate Cass Van Wyck (BA ’13), two recent award nominations are about more than the potential hardware she could be taking home next week.

    The Dora Mavor Moore Award nominee believes the recognition is also a nod to the resilience of the performing arts community as it emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “When COVID hit, it was a very difficult time and there was a lack of motivation, especially given the restrictions,” she said. “As we slowly got back into it with the reopenings, the two productions I was part of were really a sign of resilience and a celebration of getting back into the rhythm of life.”

    Van Wyck said receiving two Dora Award nominations in the Outstanding Performance by an Individual in the Independent Theatre Division category for her performances in Minutes to Midnight and The Huns was “the cherry on top” and “ truly the surprise of a lifetime.”

    The Dora Awards recognize artistic excellence and unite the disciplines of theatre, dance and opera to celebrate and strengthen the performing arts in Toronto.

    Van Wyck is the Creative Director of One Four One Collective, an independent Canadian theatre and film production company that she and fellow Brock alumni launched after graduation.

    The production company’s name reflects their time at the University, where it all began.

    “We created the One Four One Collective as a way for all of us to collaborate and make productions together. The name of the company was a nod to one of our favourite rehearsal spaces in the basement of the Schmon Tower, where there was this beautiful space with floor-to-ceiling windows that looked over the escarpment,” Van Wyck said. “Although we don’t collaborate anymore, we still have a strong relationship, and they continue to be huge supporters of mine. I am constantly grateful for their lifelong friendship.”

    Van Wyck has put out a total of four productions under One Four One Collective and works as a Co-Artistic Director with the Assembly Theatre in Toronto. Both Minutes to Midnight and The Huns were collaborative projects by both production companies.

    She’s grateful for the support of the team she was surrounded by throughout the productions.

    “I was incredibly fortunate to work with remarkable artists this past year in both productions. The heart, resilience and strength are truly the reason these shows happened,” she said. “Producing and doing independent theatre work with little resources is hard in the regular world, but with a pandemic, it becomes nearly impossible. These nominations are a result of an amazing team that was able to come together. Even without the nominations, I am so proud of the work we’ve done together.”

    The Dora Mavor Moore Awards will be presented during a ceremony held Monday, Sept. 19 at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre in Toronto.

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    Categories: Alumni, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News

  • Public invited to explore Brock’s downtown arts school Saturday

    Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, AUG. 18, 2022 | by

    The Niagara community will have the chance to explore Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) this weekend while learning about the building’s past and present.

    The downtown St. Catharines facility, which houses Brock’s Departments of Dramatic Arts, Music and Visual Arts as well as the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC), will host a series of guided tours as part of Doors Open St. Catharines on Saturday, Aug. 20. Tours will take place at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and 1 and 2:30 p.m., with no registration required.

    Adapted from the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building, the MIWSFPA is a state-of-the-art learning facility that acts as a creative cultural hub for St. Catharines and surrounding areas.

    As part of this weekend’s event, STAC will have a collection of publications on display by the Small Walker Press (SWP). SWP publishes collaborative work that brings together authors and artists from the Niagara region as well as from Canadian or international contexts.

    The works explore all disciplines and creative practices taught and researched at the MIWSFPA (arts and culture, visual arts, music and dramatic arts) as well as creative writing. For more information about the SWP and publications available at Doors Open St. Catharines, please visit the STAC website.

    A full list of places participating in Doors Open St. Catharines is available on the event’s website.

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

  • Brock alumni, faculty take spotlight at Hamilton Fringe

    Rebekka Gondosh (right) worked with Spark Intensive participants during their rehearsals for their Hamilton Fringe Performance. (Photo Courtesy of Joginder Singh)


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, AUG. 9, 2022 | by

    When the Hamilton Fringe Festival got underway last month, Brock alumni and faculty not only shared their talent on stage, but also used their knowledge to inspire the next generation of performers.

    Among the artists who participated in the theatre festival, which returned July 21 to 30 after a two-year pandemic hiatus, were Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) alumni Rebekka Gondosch (BA ’12), Diego Blanco (BA ’21), Holly Hebert (BA ’21) and Asenia Lyall (BA ’22), as well as DART Associate Professors Gyllian Raby and Danielle Wilson.

    A high school Dramatic Arts and English teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Gondosch led the festival’s Spark Teen Intensive — a performance program for youth ages 13 to 18 living or studying in Hamilton.

    Through Spark, participants learn practical devising skills, work with local guest artists in a variety of disciplines such as movement, poetry, storytelling, theatre and music, and create an original performance piece that is performed during Hamilton Fringe.

    In addition to teaching for the past six years, Gondosch has been busy working with Passing Through Theatre and Light Echo Theatre, sharing her poetry as part of Suitcase in Point’s In the Soil Festival and creating works of her own. She recognizes the growing need for arts and performance programs in youth education and is doing what she can to help nurture the arts locally.

    A woman with a clown nose

    Brock University Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Danielle Wilson performed in the production Stage Fright as part of Hamilton Fringe Festival.

    “A hope I have for the Spark program is that it might encourage young emerging artists to continue making art in Hamilton,” she says.

    Meanwhile, fellow Brock alumni Blanco, Hebert and Lyall produced an original one-act play, Thy Name is Woman, at Hamilton Fringe through their new self-producing company, Into The Abyss Theatre.

    “Several of DART’s upper-year classes provide students with devising and production skills, as well as encouragement to go out and voice their ideas,” says Raby. “We are proud to see these fine artists making their mark.”

    Also taking part in the Fringe Festivities was Raby, who partnered with Wilson on a new production of their own, Stage Fright. The dynamic duo looked to trigger and assuage performers’ worst fears while getting in a few laughs along the way.

    Stage Fright was built on playwright Wilson’s experiences through the COVID-19 pandemic, including attachment to technology, social media consumption and her newfound interest in the art of clown.

    Wilson makes it a point to indicate that clown goes beyond the archetype popularized by circus.

    “Clown is a state of creative play and a state of connection with the audience. You don’t know what the clown is going to do next — the clown comes from the person who is performing. It’s a state of openness to failure,” she says.

    Raby assisted Wilson with dramaturgy and direction, dissecting and exploring the multi-faceted elements of stage fright — a condition of psycho-physical paralysis experienced by most people.

    “Death, taxes and speaking in public are top fears,” Raby says.

    Wilson adds the little-known fact that since many performers are introverts, they are even more deeply affected by stage fright.

    “I was eager to get back on stage, since 2018 was my last performance,” Wilson says. “It’s important to stay in touch with all that it takes to perform, along with the fear that it takes.”

    Reflecting on the the existential humour of the show, Raby says: “How can something so terrifying, and so intellectually fascinating, be so light and funny?”

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, News

  • First Studies in Arts and Culture certificate recipient making mark in industry

    Skye Rogers, the first recipient of Brock University’s Certificate in Arts and Culture Studies, will debut her project ‘PLAYGROUNDS: a joyful happening’ on Saturday, July 16 at In the Soil Arts Festival.


    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2022 | by 

    For the first recipient of Brock University’s Certificate in Arts and Culture Studies, the sky’s the limit.

    Skye Rogers, who received the first certificate from the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) this spring, has been using the knowledge she amassed at Brock to further her career.

    The one-year certificate program was a draw for the St. Catharines native, who returned to her hometown in spring 2021 upon completing her studies at Randolph College for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

    “It was a perfect time to get some more learning under my belt,” Rogers says. “The STAC program really allowed me to dive deeper into my interests in art history and the flexibility that I had in my course selection allowed me to continue my more hands-on learning in dramatic and visual arts.”

    Rogers says she found her time with STAC “academically enriching.”

    “The program set me up well with more of the entrepreneurial skills needed to be an artist,” she says. “Applying my knowledge was really significant for me and getting to research my own interests for our final project was crucial.”

    With her newly acquired skills and knowledge, Rogers is now flourishing professionally.

    “I’m so excited to be involved in some artist residencies this summer, including the Nest Residency with Suitcase in Point and In the Soil Arts Festival,” she says. “I’ve been developing a project called ‘PLAYGROUND: a joyful happening’ that’s centred around rekindling childlike joy, connecting with strangers, and reclaiming city spaces through play.”

    Her new project will debut at Nest Fest on Saturday, July 16 as part of the In the Soil Festival Summer Series. Nest Fest will also include participants from Suitcase in Point’s Electric Innovations Theatre Intensive. This two-week intensive theatre program will be hosted at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

    Reflecting on her studies, Rogers says it’s the connections she made during her time at Brock that she cherishes most.

    “All of my in-person group projects were especially profound. Art is all about connection for me, and that element must be kept sacred,” she says. “I could chat with a classmate, or even a professor, and develop a friendship with our shared interests.”

    More information on the Certificate in Arts and Culture Studies program is available on the STAC website.

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    Categories: Alumni, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News

  • Brock mourns loss of champion of Dramatic Arts

    Mary-Jane Miller (right) with her late husband Jack Miller shortly before her retirement in June 2004.


    Originally published in The Brock News FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2022 | by 

    The Brock community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of Mary-Jane Miller, who spent 36 years with the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    Miller, who began teaching at Brock in 1968 and served as both Associate Professor and Chair of the department during her tenure, passed away peacefully at home on June 22.

    A crucial member of the DART program, she was part of the early academic cohorts at Brock.

    Miller’s level of dedication and commitment over her 36 years with the University still resonates with many.

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby has many fond memories of Miller, who impacted not only the department, but also its students.

    “MJ set an example, consciously; she was a teacher in her every move. Her profound sense of duty made her step up for several years after her migraines undermined her desire to Chair the Department of Dramatic Arts,” Raby says. “She didn’t want to retire until she felt our fledgling department was stable and had found its identity; she cared so very deeply.”

    DART Professor David Fancy says Miller “left a very strong legacy of commitment to theatre and dramatic arts in the Humanities and at Brock.”

    “She was a key architect to the development of the Department of Dramatic Arts in the 1960s and ’70s,” he says.

    After retiring in 2004, Miller went on to become Professor Emerita, maintaining strong ties to the Brock Dramatic Arts community.

    Miller and her late husband, Jack Miller, who passed away in 2016 and also had a significant impact on the University, are remembered for their lasting contributions.

    “Their combined generosity to the department was legion and they led forward with a most steady and loving personal relationship that taught me about the beauty of being quietly grand in later years,” says David Vivian, Associate Professor of DART and Director of the Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC).

    Miller’s family will receive friends on Friday, July 1 from 11 a.m. to noon at Patrick J. Darte Funeral Chapel, 39 Court St., St. Catharines, with a memorial service to follow in the chapel.

    Memorial donations to either the Stephen Lewis Foundation or the Brock University Scholarship Fund would be appreciated by the family.

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  • Roberta Doylend to retire after over a decade as Head of Wardrobe

    Image: Roberta Doylend and the late Marilyn Walker working on the Tree of Learning, a nine-foot-tall quilt that incorporates uncommon fabrics and techniques from textile and fibre art to depict a dream about studying the arts, now displayed in the MIWSFPA. Credit: Norris Walker 


    Roberta Doylend looks to exit stage left, as she sets to retire on May 31, 2022.

    Doylend is Head of Wardrobe at the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), in addition to running the costume shop and storage for the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    She has over a decade of fond memories to look back on, as well as a storage room full of breathtaking costumes to show for her passion and devotion. From day one, she has committed all her time to the DART program and its students.

    “I arrived at the Thistle side of the department with my suitcase and my dog in the morning after a red-eye flight from Victoria,” she says reflecting on her first day at Brock. “It has been a whirlwind of teaching, creating theatre and supporting the next generation of theatre creators,” she adds.

    She’s found joy in every aspect of her position and beyond the love of teaching, there are certain moments that stand out for her.

    “For my first several years at Brock, I designed and dressed students for the Annual General Brock’s Soiree. Over the years, the Soiree was the event to attend, dress up and meet The General (Sir Isaac Brock). Dressing students in period clothing from 1812, to the final celebration of Brock’s 50th Anniversary with original ’60s clothing on 30 plus student interpreters. Lots of work, but so much fun,” she says.

    “The transformative announcement by Marilyn and Norris Walker to create a School for Artists was a significant milestone. Being able to design the Costume Shop and Storage and having several years to teach students in our stunning new facility is a dream realized,” she says.

    Over the years, Doylend has contributed to the evolution of the department. Developing many production courses with students, for mainstage and festival performances on both the Brock Main Campus and the Downtown Campus.

    Doylend may be leaving the school, but it seems her journey in the Dramatic Arts doesn’t end here. With all her experiences and passion in hand, she sets her eyes on a long-awaited homecoming.

    “I am returning to my roots as a Costume Designer and business owner on Vancouver Island. I look forward to designing costumes for live theatre and working at my new company that will facilitate the re-creation of vintage products, techniques and repair over purchasing new,” said Doylend.

    She sees this new opportunity to not only continue teaching and inspiring young theatre costumers, but also as a way she can continue to do something she loves.

    “I will offer drafting, stitching, specialty craft workshops and mentor theatre costumers in an atelier in Chemainus, BC.”

    Doylend has been and will always remain a beloved faculty member. While she will be missed by faculty, staff, and students at the Marilyn, we know she will bring the same spirit of enjoyment to her amazing new journey.

    There is a celebration in the works for May 31 starting at 4:00 pm in the Wardrobe Shop where students, alumni and colleagues are welcome.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Brock to partner with Suitcase in Point on youth theatre program

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, located in the heart of downtown St. Catharines, will host an intensive two-week theatre program for youth this summer.


    This summer, Brock University will welcome creative youth for an electrifying experience at its downtown arts school.

    Electric Innovations, a two-week intensive theatre program, will be hosted at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and presented by celebrated local multi-arts company Suitcase in Point in partnership with the National Theatre School of Canada.

    Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) will join the initiative as a community partner, offering studio and performance space in the University’s state-of-the-art facilities.

    Held July 11 to 23, Electric Innovations begins with a week of presentations and workshops led by some of the finest theatre artists in Canada, including Miriam Fernandes, Cole Alvis, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster and Joanna Yu. In week two, participants will devise an original piece of work under the mentorship of the program’s Lead Artists Marcel Stewart and Michelle Mohammed (BA ’18).

    Mohammed, Artistic Associate at Suitcase in Point and a Brock DART graduate, is pleased the groundbreaking program will run in person this year after taking place virtually in 2021.

    “We believe in investing in the training and development of young artists and providing a space for new talent to emerge, create, play and find their artistic voices,” she said.

    Co-ordinating the program alongside Mohammed is fellow DART grad and Suitcase in Point Artistic Associate Kaylyn Valdez-Scott (BA ’18), who acknowledged the challenges that existed in finding motivation in the arts during the pandemic.

    “Electric Innovations will provide a brave space where young artists can breathe and laugh with like-minded souls, while creating meaningful work that expresses our current state of being with each other and ourselves,” Valdez-Scott said.

    DART Chair Jennifer Roberts-Smith said she is thrilled to welcome young artists and their mentors into the MIWSFPA spaces and introduce them to faculty and staff.

    “Dramatic Arts is so pleased to support this new way of mentoring young artists,” she said. “We have a lot to learn from the participant-centred approach, and we are very excited to see what the young artists will bring to the program.”

    Applications are now open to youth 15 to 18 years of age in the Niagara or Greater Toronto-Hamilton regions. Eight participants will be selected for the program.

    The deadline to apply is Monday, June 13. For application details, please visit the Electric Innovations website.

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  • Dramatic Arts criticism course returning to in-person theatre

    Image caption: Students in DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism will be experiencing a variety of live productions this summer after two years of digital offerings.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022 | by 

    After two years of viewing performances online, Brock University students learning the art of theatre criticism will experience indoor, in-person theatre at the celebrated Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre.

    DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism is an online intensive Summer Term course run between July 11 and 22, bolstered by field trips to see live productions at Canada’s leading theatre companies.

    Taught by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for The Toronto Star, the course introduces students to the practical craft of theatre criticism and dives into the theoretical background of the discipline.

    Fricker said that after two years of running the course during the pandemic and having students review digital theatre exclusively, it will be thrilling to view live productions again.

    “Both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals have full indoor seasons this year and I’m looking forward to bringing the course to shows there,” she said. “We’re setting up some post-show talks so that students will be able to ask questions about the productions they’ve seen with the artists who made them.”

    Stratford Festival is welcoming back audiences beginning in May with a season theme of ‘New Beginnings’ and featuring plays such as Hamlet and Little Women and the musical Chicago. The largest classical repertory theatre in North America celebrates a its milestone 70th year in 2022.

    Shaw Festival Theatre, in its 60th season, will feature 13 plays across three stages in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Productions include The Importance of Being EarnestEverybody and The Doctor’s Dilemma.

    After seeing productions, students will write and discuss responses to them and learn about alternative, digital, performative and visual forms of critical response, while engaging with theatre culture.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website. Students interested in learning more about the course are encouraged to contact Fricker at kfricker@brocku.ca

    Learn more about the 2022 seasons at Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre online.

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  • Dramatic Arts students’ original play takes the stage Thursday

    Image caption: Little Raincoat Collective in rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, including (back row, from) Brenley Charkow (co-director) with company members Celine Ayesha, Sammie Marett, Alex Sykes, Jonah Pace, Michael Cicchini, Asenia Lyall and (front row, from left) Julian Valentin, Alyssa Ruddock and Abby Etling.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2022 | by 

    A compelling collective creation from nine fourth-year Brock Dramatic Arts (DART) students is set to premiere this week at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    The new play, The Storm Left Behind, is presented by Little Raincoat Collective (DART 4F56 Advanced Studies in Theatre) and directed by instructors Colin B. Anthes and Brenley Charkow.

    The a coming-of-age tale is about finding lightness in the darkest of times. Following the story of a girl who is navigating her way through life, the play takes audiences on a journey that combines different forms of storytelling.

    The production runs Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines.

    Tickets for the show, which is suitable for ages 15 and up, are $5 and can be purchased through Brock University Tickets.

    For more information about The Storm Left Behind, please visit the play’s website.


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  • Brock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

    Image caption: Dramatic Arts Mainstage actor Yasmine Agocs rehearses a scene from the upcoming production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich, opening Friday, March 4 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Originally published MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2022 in The Brock News | by 

    Through an epic journey on a beloved red bicycle, an 11-year-old girl reflects on the small town she sees before her, taking audiences along for the ride. Venturing to the outer edges of town and encountering challenges unlike any she has ever experienced, she must face her fears to see the world in a new way.

    The Brock University spring 2022 Mainstage production of Red Bike brings the poetic words of celebrated playwright Caridad Svich to life with an exhilarating performance exploring movement, physical theatre and puppetry.

    Dramatic Arts student and Red Bike cast member Arnelle Douglas in
    rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    The show runs March 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 6 and 12 at 2 p.m. at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    The production’s unique style of fractured storytelling explores diverse themes as seen through the eyes of a child, including capitalism, consumerism, gentrification, globalization, immigration and isolation. Director and Dramatic Arts Instructor Mike Griffin was drawn to the play because of its whimsical nature.

    “While reading the play, I became a kid again; running out of the house to go on adventures down the street. Red Bike is the perfect balance of getting lost in imagination while reflecting on society,” he said.

    One of six actors in the all-female cast, fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Asenia Lyall said the unique script and dialogue provided her with a valuable opportunity to explore her creativity.

    “Being a part of Red Bike meant working with a small cast to tell a complicated and wonderful story in an unconventional way,” she said. “Learning how to perform this kind of script is a great opportunity for me as an actor. Embracing the abstraction and surrealism of the piece is something I’ve learned from.” While the cast and crew faced various challenges mounting the show during a pandemic, both the director and actors feel there was a silver lining.

    “We have bonded together as a community to create something fantastic,” Griffin said. “For me, the community that emerges out of the creative process is the reason that I keep doing theatre.”
    Lyall agreed, adding that creating theatre during the pandemic has taught her how to be flexible as an artist.

    “There is a real sense of humanity in this play, with a lot of exciting moments and big reveals that I think audiences will enjoy,” she said.

    The MIWSFPA will welcome a live audience for the production to the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the downtown arts campus in St. Catharines. In the interest of student and audience member safety, the theatre is operating at a reduced capacity with 120 seats available for each performance.

    Tickets are $20 for the public, $16 for youth and seniors and $15 for Brock students. 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.

    All visitors to Brock University and MIWSFPA must complete the Brock University Self-Screening Tool.

    The all-female cast of the upcoming Brock University production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich includes (from left) Asenia Lyall, Arnelle Douglas, Yasmine Agocs, Joanna Tran, Abby Malcolm and Sarah RowBrock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

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