Articles tagged with: Karen Fricker

  • 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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  • Student-run podcast provides guidance, inspiration for future artists

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines is home to the student-run podcast, Dear Marilyn, named in honour of the late textile artist and philanthropist.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022 | by 

    What started as a passion project for two Brock University students in search of career tips has become a robust podcast series providing invaluable insight to the next generation of creators.

    Produced for students by students, the popular podcast Dear Marilyn is now in its second season of connecting the student community with professional artists, with plans to continue production on an ongoing basis.

    Created in 2021 by Dramatic Arts (DART) students Danielle Letourneau and Luca D’Amico, the podcast name honours celebrated textile artist, philanthropist and arts advocate Marilyn I. Walker. In 2008, Walker made a historic donation to Brock that led to the creation of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Letourneau, the podcast’s producer who is now in her fourth year of study with a concentration in Drama and Education and minor in History, says that she has often felt anxiety about entering theatre as a profession.

    “I started this podcast to give students like myself a resource for practical job advice,” Letourneau said. “The arts industry is not always considered the most conventional career path, but we do it because this is what we love; the arts nurture our souls.”

    Supported by Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund in 2021, the Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts and MIWSFPA department Chairs, the Dear Marilyn team invites local and surrounding artists from a range of artistic disciplines to share their stories.

    Co-hosts Hayley Bando, a second-year Dramatic Arts major with a concentration in Production and Design, and Chloe Racho, a third-year Music major with a minor in French Studies, are thrilled to be part of the project.

    “We are honoured to help bring these diverse perspectives about professional journeys in the arts to the Brock community,” Bando said.

    Recent podcast guests include actor, writer and producer Thet Win, voice actor Keegan Vaillancourt and singer-songwriter Glenn Marais.

    MIWSFPA faculty have been supportive since day one, with Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, championing the podcast idea in its early stages.

    “I was happy to support Dear Marilyn initially because it’s a great idea, and a positive student-led project during the hard time of the pandemic,” she said. “I looked forward to each episode and was entertained and educated by the hosts’ sparky exchanges with guests.”

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby guided the grant proposal for Dear Marilyn resulting in the expansion of the podcast to include all four departments at the downtown arts campus (Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture).

    “What’s not to like about Dear Marilyn? It relates directly to our mission to create experiential, professionalized learning for students producing, hosting, editing and broadcasting,” Raby said. “And, it’s entertaining and insightful.”

    DART Associate Professor Danielle Wilson has been working with the team on the second season. Episodes are edited by Alex Sykes, a fourth-year DART student with a concentration in Production and Design.

    Available on Spotify, the next episode goes live this week. For the latest news, follow Dear Marilyn on Instagram.

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  • BIPOC theatre leaders to discuss new industry approaches at Brock event

    Theatre leaders participating in the upcoming Brock discussion panel include (top row, from left) Haui, Carmen Alatorre, (centre, from left) Shanna Miller, Samantha McCue, Wladimiro A. Woyno R., (bottom row, from left) Giselle Clarke-Trenaman and Kat Chin.

    Originally published in The Brock News Wednesday, | NOVEMBER 10, 2021 | by 

    Prominent Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Canadian theatre production and design professionals will come together to discuss recent experiences in their fields and new strategies in production at an upcoming Brock University digital panel.

    This is the second event presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART)  in a new series as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL Series), “Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training.” The series is organized by DART Professors Karen Fricker and David Vivian with longtime instructor Carolyn Mackenzie.

    “Industry Panel with BIPOC Canadian Theatre Artists” will take place Monday, Nov. 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Zoom. The Brock and wider community are invited to attend and asked to register ahead of time on the Zoom registration page.

    Moderating the panel is Giselle Clarke-Trenaman, Production Co-ordinator at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver and creator of Black History Matters, an educational program addressing gaps in Black history in elementary schools.

    Panelists include Haui, a mixed media director and designer working in theatre, opera and film; Samantha McCue, an Anishinaabekwe and Ned’u’ten theatre professional based in Ottawa; Carmen Alatorre, a Latinx artist and theatre designer based in Vancouver; Kat Chin, a Toronto-based stage manager who has worked across Canada, off-Broadway and at the Palace of Versailles; Shanna Miller, the Technical Director at Young Peoples Theatre; and Wladimiro A. Woyno R., a live performance designer and Assistant Professor of Theatre Production and Design at School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University.

    The panel will cover a range of topics, from how to bring more BIPOC artists to the theatre industry and cultivate new audiences, to the use of technology and how the pandemic has affected the performing arts industry.

    “We’ve invited these important artists from diverse fields of Canadian theatre design and production to share their journeys of the past 20 months and to encourage our students with the vision and passion that informs their professional practice,” said Vivian.

    “Whether through the lens of anti-racism, decolonization, accessibility or the drive for professional and economic sustainability, this evening promises a vivid invitation to join progressive voices for change in live performance and theatre production in Canada.”

    The third and final event in the DART WCL series is a daylong Casting and Audition workshop on Sunday, Nov. 28 for DART students, staff and faculty. This closing event will be led by Kimberley Rampersad, actor, choreographer, director and Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival; and Marcel Stewart, actor, writer, director and arts educator.

    To learn more, please visit the WCL Series website.

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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, News

  • 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