Articles tagged with: Karen Fricker

  • Brock series to address transformation, adaptation in Canadian theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


     

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

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

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

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Grad Fair to connect IBPOC theatre students with professional artists across Canada

    Image caption: Among the theatre leaders taking part in the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair are Jeff Ho (left), actor, playwright and company dramaturg, Outside the March, and Luke Reece (right), playwright, spoken word artist and Associate Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre.

    Brock University students will have the opportunity to learn about a career in theatre from the perspectives of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) theatre leaders during an upcoming online Grad Fair.

    Open to students across the country, the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair takes place Monday, May 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Zoom and is specifically designed for students who identify as Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.

    The fair is free to attend, but registration is required through Eventbrite. The event is open to recent theatre graduates, graduating students and students entering their final year of study in a theatre program.

    Organized by Brock’s Karen Fricker, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer, Department of Dramatic Arts, and Marlis Schweitzer, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at York University, the Grad Fair is presented in partnership with more than 30 academic institutions and arts and scholarly organizations across Canada. A full list of partners is available on the event website.

    In addition to meeting other graduating students, participants will have the chance to learn from experienced IBPOC artists about the transition from post-secondary theatre education to the professional realm.

    The fair will begin with a roundtable discussion chaired by Tanisha Taitt (director, writer, educator, and artistic director of Cahoots Theatre) and featuring Miriam Fernandes (co-artistic director, Why Not Theatre), Luke Reece (playwright, spoken word artist, and associate artistic director, Soulpepper Theatre), Quelemia Sparrow (actor and playwright) and theatre maker Jeff Ho. These dynamic artists will speak to their experiences in many areas of theatre practice and about building a career in the industry.

    Following the discussion, students will be invited to breakout sessions with two theatre professionals in each group answering questions about specific career paths. These include playwriting, directing, acting, producing, dramaturgy, theatre criticism, production and design, public relations and marketing, and the intersections of theatre creation, producing and activism.

    An additional room led by recent York University graduates Davinder Mahti and Sanskruti Marathe will focus on navigating the first year out of theatre school.

    The fact that the event is organized and sponsored by theatre educators and educational institutions is significant, says Ho, who graduated from the National Theatre School’s acting program.

    “It’s about institutions recognizing that it’s important for students to see faces from many different backgrounds, and more representation,” says the award-winning playwright and company dramaturg of Toronto’s Outside the March theatre.

    Ho is proud to be a part of an event that demonstrates “that diverse artists also have diverse career paths.”

    Diego Blanco, a fourth-year Dramatic Arts student minoring in Economics who is assisting in organizing the event, said the Grad Fair is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for graduating students to connect with IBPOC artists working in the field.

    “Students will get to meet IBPOC theatre leaders who work in different arenas and who have made outstanding impacts on the theatre industry in positive ways,” he says.

    The event, Blanco says, may act not only as inspiration for emerging artists, but also as a confidence booster as they start on their professional path.

    “This is a great opportunity to actually see how your career can start by talking to different theatre artists.”

    Fernandes, of Why Not Theatre, shares this enthusiasm and is eager to participate in the roundtable.

    The fair is a “great chance for recent grads and graduating students to connect with arts professionals to explore their areas of interest,” she says.

    In addition to the roundtable speakers, participating theatre professionals include Akosua Amo-Adem, Nina Lee Aquino, Stafford Arima, Ghazal Azerbad, Arthi Chadra, Kat Chin, Lisa Karen Cox, Jordan Laffrenier, Shaista Latif, Owais Lightwala, Matthew MacKenzie, Erin Macklem, Aidan Morishita-Miki, Marilo Nuñez, Tarndeep Pannu, Jiv Parasaram Malina Patel, Luke Reece, Jamie Robinson, Tetsuro Shigematsu and Syrus Marcus Ware.

    Blanco hopes to see more events like the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair in the future.

    “As someone who is graduating and part of the IBPOC community, this event is rare,” he says. “It is just amazing to see so many IBPOC theatre artists joining in one room and discussing what they love; coming together as a community to help graduates with their next adventure.”

    Fricker says the event has drawn considerable interest from across the country.

    “We have been excited and struck by the levels of enthusiasm and eagerness to participate in this fair from all quarters, from the artist-speakers to IBPOC students themselves to partnering organizations,” she says. “We intend to learn from this year’s event, and work on making this an ongoing tradition.”

    For details and how to register for the IBPOC Theatre Grad Fair, please visit the website.

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

  • Brock students selected to participate in national Black theatre initiative

    Caption: Sid Malcolm (left), fourth year Dramatic Arts student with a minor in Music, and Soji Cole, second year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities, are two of 21 students selected for “Seeding the Future”, a new initiative highlighting young Black voices. 

    Two Brock University students will be joining a historic group of Black theatre makers as part of the digital performance series “21 Black Futures.”

    Presented by Obsidian Theatre in partnership with CBC Arts, “21 Black Futures” has brought together 63 Black Canadian playwrights, actors and directors to create art during the pandemic and answer the question, “What is the future of Blackness?”

    The result is 21 filmed monodramas (theatre pieces featuring one person) that are currently premiering on CBC’s streaming channel, CBC Gem.

    Now, 21 students from across the country will join the movement, including fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Sid Malcolm, and Soji Cole, a second-year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities.

    From a national call that attracted more than 60 applicants, Malcolm and Cole have each been awarded a spot in “Seeding the Future,” which invites Black students to create theatre pieces in response to each of the 21 monodramas of “21 Black Futures.”

    “Seeding the Future” is a partnership between Brock University, York University, Obsidian Theatre and CBC Arts, and allows students to create spoken word poetry, audio recordings, video recordings or written responses.

    “As we work at Obsidian to develop and advance Black artists across the country, we also recognize the glaring lack of Black voices in arts criticism and journalism,” said Michael Sinclair, General Manager of Obsidian Theatre. “Black and other BIPOC artists deserve to have voices at the table from their own communities engaging in dialogue about their work. We can’t wait to see what these 21 Black students have to say.”

    For Malcolm and Cole, being a part of this creative response highlighting young Black voices is very meaningful.

    Malcolm said being part of the project gives her and a large group of Black theatre students the chance to have their voices heard.

    “This is a space specifically intended to cultivate young Black artists and help them express what their experience is, and how that shapes the future of Blackness,” she said. “As a young woman of colour, it is often extremely difficult to find pieces of theatre I am able to connect with. There’s often very little representation for People of Colour within the world of theatre. Being a POC in theatre is seen as a rarity and is often trivialized.”

    Cole is excited about the project, and said it speaks to him on many fronts.

    “As a Black person, a migrant and an international student, I have been involved in conversations on the theme of Blackness and racism since I came to Canada in 2019,” he said. “This is the first one that intersects with a discipline and profession that I have identified with all my life.

    “This means a lot to me, as I have always believed that beyond the rhetoric of racism, arts — and especially theatre — can be used as twine to bind community together and dismantle the boundary of segregation.”

    The 21 student responses, including those of Malcolm and Cole, will be released in three instalments, initially on the students’ own social media channels and then re-published on the CBC Arts website. The first group of responses are now live. Malcolm’s work will be published on Monday, March 1 and Cole’s will be published on Monday, March 8.

    Cole, who is a playwright, director and actor, anticipates using his creative and critical wits to respond.

    “As someone who has a deep interest in the sociology of arts, I might want to connect my response to the social implication of the performance,” he said.

    Malcolm anticipates she may draw on specific aspects of her artistic practice.

    “I have a recent reignited passion for poetic writing,” she said. “Typically, I enjoy weaving controversial topics into my writing, which often means critiquing the way that race is perceived around me today.”

    She is also intrigued by the marriage of critical thought and artistic expression.

    “The arts are a dialogue and having Black theatre students continue the conversation begun by “21 Black Futures” is a hugely exciting prospect,” said Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and the co-ordinator of Brock’s participation in “Seeding the Future.” “I can’t wait to see and hear how they all respond.”

    David Fancy, Chair of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said the Department is committed to “the ongoing labour of decolonization, Indigenization, and anti-racism. We are particularly pleased to be involved in such an important initiative,” he said.

    Malcolm is energized by the many conversations “Seeding the Future” ignites, noting the opportunity for discussion while fostering growth through shared experiences.

    “I think a large outcome from this project will be the amount of networking that is possible for young Black artists that would be difficult to do without this project,” she said.

    Cole acknowledges the significance and enduring nature of this project.

    “While this is not a policy project, the expectation is that it will strengthen our understanding of memory, redress, and inclusivity,” he said. “The outcome should be able to resonate with every community; it should generate a peculiar echo of its own that will resound in the heart and mind of everyone.”

    To read the entries in “Seeding the Future,” visit CBC Arts.

    To view the performances in “21 Black Futures,” visit CBC Gem.

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  • 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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  • Brock recruiting three more Canada Research Chairs

    Brock is recruiting three Canada Research Chairs between now and the beginning of June in the Faculties of Humanities, Applied Health Sciences and Mathematics and Science. Pictured are some of the faculty involved in the recruitment process. From left: Elizabeth Vlossak (Director, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts), Robson De Grande (Computer Science), Beatrice Ombuki-Berman (Computer Science), Doug Bruce (Biological Sciences) and Miya Narushima (Health Sciences).


    (From The Brock News, April 16, 2019 | By: Cathy Majtenyi)

    Brock University is expanding its research net with three Canada Research Chair (CRC) positions in the areas of Indigenous art practice, health and the interlinkage of biology and computer science.

    Recruitment for these positions, which began in mid-March, will wrap up between late April and June.

    Researchers and scholars within and outside Brock are encouraged to apply, especially Indigenous peoples, members of visible minorities and those with disabilities, says Interim Associate Vice-President, Research Michelle McGinn.

    “These scholars often bring new perspectives that lead to critical research advances, and they are important role models for the next generation of scholars,” she says.

    The Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Mechanisms of Health and Disease is centred on investigating ways of preventing, managing or treating a variety of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, immune diseases and brain disorders.

    “This chair will position Brock and the wider Niagara community with the opportunity to study mechanisms of health and disease, solidifying and expanding the current research capacity at Brock,” says Deborah O’Leary, Professor of Health Sciences and Director of the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being.

    O’Leary says those applying to the position need to propose “an original, innovative research program of the highest quality” in one of the following areas: inflammation and immunity; genetic and epigenetic programming; host response to infection; nutritional biology and metabolism; and physical or mental stress-induced tissue remodelling.

    The competition for that position closes Friday, April 26.

    The Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Indigenous Art Practice position will be cross-appointed to two or more of the academic units at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, including the Departments of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and Studies in Arts and Culture.

    The successful candidate will be an “innovative artist/scholar with the demonstrated potential to achieve a significant international reputation within five to 10 years,” says Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts.

    “The CRC will have an innovative creative practice across one or multiple art forms, working with Indigenous communities and establishing new Indigenous arts-based research and methodologies.”

    McGinn says the position demonstrates the University’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

    “Brock University has renewed its commitment to reconciliation and decolonization in its most recent strategic plan, and the CRC in Indigenous Art Practice responds directly to this priority,” says McGinn.

    The competition for that position closes Friday, May 10.

    The Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology will strengthen collaboration between the Departments of Biological Sciences and Computer Science with the aim of expanding research capacity, says Brian Ross, Professor of Computer Science and Chair of the Department of Computer Science.

    He says that, traditionally, researchers in the field of bioinformatics and computational biology are either “primarily biologists who use existing computer software tools, or computer scientists who develop tools that are then applied to biology problems.”

    The successful candidate will be proficient in both areas so as to develop software tools and applications in population genomics, proteomics and structural biology.

    “The areas of bioinformatics and computational biology have matured significantly, and having expertise in both biology and computer science is a distinct advantage these days,” Ross says.

    The competition for that position closes Tuesday, June 4.

    McGinn says the three CRC positions are a “key part” of Brock’s latest Strategic Plan, which “identifies a strengthened focus on building research capacity across the University.

    “Outstanding scholars who have or will build international reputations engage in high-impact research, and they provide exceptional opportunities for students and postdoctoral scholars who work and learn with them,” she says.

    These latest CRCs join Brock’s existing cadre of CRCs and three others in the areas of Psychology, Kinesiology and Child and Youth Studies, announced late last year.

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  • Community discussion to focus on King Ubu’s relevance to today

    Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is excited to bring King Ubu to the mainstage this weekend at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in downtown St. Catharines. The show runs from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 9. Cast member Emma McCormick (centre) was interviewed during last week’s media call.


    (From The Brock News, February 28, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    St. Catharines city councillor Karrie Porter will join a group of Brock Dramatic Arts (DART) students and Brock faculty members next week in a roundtable discussion on the relevance of King Ubu to today’s political climate.

    The free, public event, “Folly, feces and fake news: King Ubu, then and now,” will be held in the Scotiabank Atrium in the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex on Wednesday, March 6 from 10 to 11 a.m.

    “We’re really happy to have Karrie’s participation,” said Director and DART Associate Professor David Fancy. “She has a rich background in social justice, community engagement and lived experience of being a woman in politics in the age of social media.”

    Students in Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts are excited to bring King Ubu to the mainstage this weekend at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in downtown St. Catharines. The show runs from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 9.

    The plot follows Pa Ubu (a patriarchal, racist, megalomaniac who constantly talks about poop, loves himself a lot and kills everybody around him) and his wife, Ma Ubu (who pushes her husband to increasing feats of violence and narcissism), as they go on a bloodthirsty quest to take over the world.Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is staging the classic French production in a run from March 1 to 9.

    Fancy said he is looking forward to generating discussions on the work’s timeless themes at the upcoming roundtable.

    “Whenever we’re programming productions, we attempt to provide students and the department, and by extension the wider community, the opportunity to work through a set of themes that resonate with what is going on with the world,” Fancy said. “Given this is about a person who is obsessed with their own power, King Ubu seemed like a good fit, thematically.”

    The controversy surrounding the play’s opening run is also going to be discussed. Panelists will debate whether King Ubu opened and closed in a single night because of its controversial content, or, whether the hubbub was an example of 19th century “fake news,” intentionally manufactured and exaggerated to promote the production.

    Panelists will also explore Fancy’s adaptation of the play and the queering of main character Pa Ubu (who will be played by female cast member Emma McCormick in the Brock production).

    In addition to Fancy and Porter, panelists will include Professors Leah Bradshaw (Political Science), Tim Conley (English) and Karen Fricker (Dramatic Arts), and DART students McCormick, Kristina Ojaperv (Assistant Director), Mae Smith and Catherine Tait.

    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Director Elizabeth Vlossak will moderate the discussion.

    “The roundtable provides a unique opportunity to foster discussion and the sharing of ideas and debate between people who may not interact academically otherwise,” she said. “Hosting the event on the main campus with a variety of different panelists also brings the work taking place at the MIWSFPA into the community, showcasing the connections that visual arts, music and theatre can have to our everyday lives.”

    The roundtable discussion is free and open to the public.

    No registration is required but seating is limited and first-come, first-served. Light refreshments will be served, and attendees will be eligible to enter into a draw for free King Ubu tickets.

    King Ubu runs at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts from March 1 to 9. For more information, visit the Department of Dramatic Arts website. Tickets are available through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre box office at 905-688-0722 or on the PAC website.

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

  • DART prof wins national award for theatre criticism

    (From The Brock News, Tuesday Oct.30, 2018 | By: )

    Karen Fricker is getting rave reviews from a respected national audience.

    The associate professor in Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is being honoured with the 2018 Nathan Cohen Award for excellence in critical writing by the Canadian Theatre Critics Association.

    Fricker won the award’s short category for her 2016 Toronto Star review of Michel Tremblay’s classic Hosanna, as revived by Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre.

    Fricker, whose research areas include Quebec theatre, said the play is a complicated touchstone of Quebecois culture.

    “A big challenge of writing this review was trying to use the research-based knowledge I had about the play without being overwhelmed by it,” she said. “It was a really hard review to write, so it’s gratifying that it’s being recognized.”

    Fricker has a long history with theatre criticism, having written for outlets including The Guardian and Varietyas well as being the founding editor-in-chief of Irish Theatre Magazine, a publication that operated from 1998 to 2014. She has written for the Toronto Star since March 2016.

    Fricker joined Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts in 2013. Her research interests include contemporary theatre and globalization, popular performances of nation and cultural identities, and theatre criticism. Recent projects have included work on circus performance.

    “The benefits between my work at Brock and at the Toronto Star flow both ways,” Fricker said.

    “I try to connect students in my courses to what’s happening in GTA theatre, and we learn from each other’s responses to the work. When we publish their edited reviews on the DARTcritics website, their voices enter the broader dialogue.”

    As part of her interest in arts criticism in the digital age, Fricker established the blog DARTcritics.com to provide students with an opportunity to publish their work. The site grew from a space for student coursework to a year-round source of quality arts criticism in Niagara. The site now includes reviews and features by students and graduates who are paid for their work.

    The Nathan Cohen Awards were established in 1981 and are given out every two years to honour outstanding critical writing about theatre and performance in print or electronic media. The awards are named after legendary Toronto Star and CBC critic Nathan Cohen.

    A history of the awards and past recipients may be found on the CTCA website.

    Fricker will receive her award in December at a special luncheon in Toronto.

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  • Brock prof and alumna explore circus performance in joint publication

    Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker and MA graduate Hayley Malouin at the conference Circus and its Others II in Prague this past August. The two have recently published a special double issue of Performance Matters, titled “Circus and Its Others,” exploring questions around circus performance and gender, difference and dis/ability. (Photo by David Konecny)


    (From The Brock News, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    For many people, the circus is a place of mystery and wonder, filled with the extraordinary, unusual and strange.

    But what does it mean to be different and what does it mean to perform those differences?

    For Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Karen Fricker and Brock alumna Hayley Malouin (BA ’15, MA ’17), these questions have led to a joint publication in the emerging field of circus studies.

    The pair launched a special double issue of the journal Performance Matters, titled “Circus and Its Others,” Aug. 28 in Prague at the similarly named Circus and Its Others II conference.

    Inspired by the inaugural Encounters with Circus and its Others conference organized by Fricker with assistance from Malouin in 2016, the publication features contributions from established scholars, graduate students and circus artists from around the world. Many of the contributors were in Prague to participate in the second conference and celebrate at the launch.

    The conference series brings together scholars from around the world to explore questions about the place of difference and “otherness” in contemporary circus.

    “We’re asking questions about circus in a way that allows people who have been working at these questions from different perspectives and different places to jump on board,” says Fricker.

    Malouin, who has an undergraduate degree from Brock in Dramatic Arts, explored ideas of public performance, political protest and public performance of the grotesque as part of her MA in Studies in Comparative Literature and the Arts.

    “Circus is an interesting cultural touchstone because it reflects societal norms about people, community and politics. This is in contrast to the image of circus – which circuses themselves cultivate – as existing on the margins of society,” says Malouin.

    The special issue of Performance Matters was her first foray into academic publishing. In addition to co-editing the issue with Fricker, Malouin worked with other circus scholars, including Brock student Taylor Zajdlik (BA ’15, MA ’17), on a section of the journal exploring questions of queerness and freakery in the circus.

    “It was a great experience to establish myself as someone with those skills,” says Malouin. “I really care about the work, I feel it’s important. It’s a substantial contribution to an emerging field.”

    The special edition also includes work by DART Associate Professor David Fancy on disability and the circus, making reference to a creative research project in which he participated involving intellectually disabled survivors of institutional abuse.

    The questions Fricker and Malouin are researching have application beyond the circus to culture as a whole.

    “What we’re looking at is how questions about difference and otherness play out in certain practices in the contemporary moment,” says Fricker. “And more broadly we’re asking, how do we work to make culture more inclusive?”

    The full issue can be read online for free.

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    Categories: Alumni, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Brock Professor is the new theatre critic for the Toronto Star

    (Source: The Brock NewsThursday, March 3, 2016 | by )

    Professor Karen Fricker has spent the last three years training Brock University students to critique theatre.

    She will soon be practising what she teaches after landing the role of theatre critic for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest, most-read newspaper.

    The Brock University Dramatic Arts assistant professor isn’t new to the theatre beat – her resume includes 25 years of experience for outlets including The Guardian and Variety. She was also the founding editor-in-chief of Irish Theatre Magazine, a publication that operated from 1998-2014.

    At the Star, Fricker will be reviewing major show openings in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas as well as writing feature articles.

    “It just feels like an un-dreamed-of privilege to get to have a platform like this at this point in my career,” she says. “Toronto is a really exciting and mature theatre market.”

    The theatre scene in the GTHA is rich with plenty of interesting things happening – from major musicals to performance art to original Canadian plays in storefront theatres.

    Fricker can’t wait to see them all and share her observations and critiques with Canadians.

    And, she’s looking forward to sharing her excitement with students, whose critiques are published  on Brock’s DARTcritics.com blog. She started the blog in 2013 to offer students an avenue to be published and edited.

    She plans to make sure her students benefit from the work she’s doing for the Star.

    “Students will gain a strong sense of connection and understanding of how professional arts criticism works,” she says.
    “They will have the opportunity to see their professor go through the same exercises they do and maybe even give her some feedback.”

    Fricker says she’s grateful to be working at Brock both because it’s an exciting time in the arts with the opening of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and because it’s a university that encourages professors to pursue their creative interests.

    “Being a creator, being an artist, has equal standing to being a scholar and producing peer-reviewed research,” she says.

    Fricker says the Star opportunity fits her creative and research interests of questioning arts criticism in the digital age.

    “I consider this a part of my research,” she says. “It’s a time of extraordinary possibility and growth for criticism.”

    DARTcritics.com is a response to that research interest and the question of how to turn an earnest blog into trusted criticism. The site has grown from a space for outstanding reviews by third-year students as part of their coursework to include reviews and features by students and recent graduates who are paid for their work. Fricker hopes that the site will continue to blossom into a year-round source of quality arts criticism in Niagara.

    Fricker’s role with the Star was announced Thursday. She’s looking forward to reviewing her first production for the paper this month.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News