Live from the set of Maureen Bradley’s feature film

Looking for creative practice and experiential learning all in one? Check out what Department of Writing professor Maureen Bradley is doing on her study leave: shooting the feature film Two 4 One, using a mix of professional and student crew. While Bradley is an award-winning short film veteran and the driving force behind the highly successful Writing 420 film production class (more on that later), Two 4 One marks her feature film debut. But it’s also notable for being the first transgendered romantic comedy, one created for a wide audience.

Director Maureen Bradley looks on from Club 9One9, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

Director Maureen Bradley looks on from Club 9One9, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

“I do want it to be a breakout film that a general audience sees,” Bradley said back in January before she started shooting. “I’ve had tons of films at film festivals but I want to reach a broader audience. Living life as a transgendered man is not something most people know anything about.”

Of course, they’ll know a lot more once Two 4 One is wrapped, edited and released. Starring Gavin Crawford (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Gavin Crawford Show), Gabrielle Rose (The Sweet Hereafter, The Five Senses) and Canadian TV veteran Naomi Snieckus (Second City), Two 4 One is described as “a bittersweet romantic comedy about oddball couple Miriam and Adam, who have an ill-advised one-night-stand and both wind up pregnant.” (Romantic comedy indeed!)

When asked why frame the story as a romantic comedy, Bradley opts for practicality. “I’m a lapsed activist, and storytelling is a way of reaching people that’s easier than activism,” she explains. “When people laugh, they’re open and might take in new ideas, and understand ‘the other’. From a film studies perspective, I’m dealing with ‘de-othering’ a huge ‘other’ in our culture—but in entertainment terms, I’m trying to tell a good story: it’s a familiar narrative, just with somebody new. As an activist, people will listen to me far more if I tell a good story than if I just shout, ‘You should accept difference!’ Humour is very subversive.”

Read more about her ideas behind Two 4 One in these recent interviews from The Martlet, Plenitude and the Times Colonist. And you can find out more about the long and arduous journey Bradley has taken to get this film made here . . . and here . . . and here.

Bradley speaks to actors dressed as construction workers on location (photo: Arnold Lim)

Bradley speaks to actors dressed as construction workers on location (photo: Arnold Lim)

Not only is Bradley shooting Two 4 One locally throughout February, but the $150,000 film is also set locally—a rare thing indeed for a city that has made its cinematic name as being able to stand in for American, British or European destinations. (Consider the TV series Gracepoint—starring David Tennant of Doctor Who fame—which is also currently shooting in Victoria, standing in for a fictional northern California town.) Reached during a hectic shooting schedule, Bradley juggled a conversation with her location manager while giving us the scoop on her shoot.

“The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter how much money you have—you’re always pushing it, you always want more, it’s never enough, you’re always racing the clock,” she says with a harried laugh. “We work these crazy days, it’s an adrenaline high—but that’s the nature of the beast. I can’t sleep because there’s still so much to do. It’s a lot like having kids: you think you’re never ready, but you’re never ready; then your baby is born and you just roll with it.”

Producer Daniel Hogg, (left) and first assistant director Lorne Hiltser look on from the Roundhouse, one of the locations for Two 4 One  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Producer Daniel Hogg, (left) and first assistant director Lorne Hiltser look on from the Roundhouse, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

With a 30-person crew drawn from California, Vancouver and Victoria—including Fine Arts digital staffer Daniel Hogg serving as the film’s producer (“we shot our longest day at Dan’s parent’s house, so we got to see baby photos of him,” she laughs)—Bradley is clearly practicing what she preaches in her Writing 420 film production classes by hiring past and present students as well. “I’ve got three students doing directed studies on set, and the other day I checked in with them and said, ‘You have completed plenty of hours and learned a ridiculous amount, so you really don’t have to be here anymore.’ But they’re sticking around—they’re into their jobs so much. The caliber of the crew is just so high.”

Not that she can focus on that. “I’m not very good at accepting and receiving and people giving me things or praising me—it freaks me out,” she admits. “So I look around and see 30 people working for peanuts and not sleeping all for my show, my vision, and it’s a bit overwhelming . . . so I just go back into the gopher hole and focus on the next scene.”

Gavin Crawford (left), Naomi Snieckus and Gabrielle Rose

Gavin Crawford (left), Naomi Snieckus and Gabrielle Rose

She’s also pleased with her cast, which is a similar mix of actors from Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria. “I was so happy to hear that the Toronto and Vancouver people are really impressed with our local talent,” she says. And it sounds like they’re all game for getting the job done, given that they’ve been shooting five script pages a day. “I’ve never shot that much in a day before. And every day it’s creeping up—five, six, seven pages. The other day we actually shot nine pages in one day.”

Bradley considering a shot on set  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Bradley considering a shot on set (photo: Arnold Lim)

Principal shooting on Two 4 One is due to wrap on March 1, but the work doesn’t end there; then comes the editing, the marketing, the promotion, the distribution . . . but for now, Bradley is just enjoying the process of shooting her first feature—if “enjoying” is the right word.

“I’ve only had two breakdowns on set,” she laughs. “And not in front of anybody yet.”

Latest Writing 420 film wins award

'Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

‘Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

Meanwhile, the latest film created by Bradley’s Writing 420 class—‘Til Death—recently picked up the Audience Favourite Short film award at the Victoria Film Festival. That makes three awards from various festivals for ‘Til Death—directed by recent MFA Connor Gaston, written by Writing alumnus Ryan Bright, produced by Bradley with Daniel Hogg as cinematographer.

‘Til Death also just played at the Sedona International Film Festival in Arizona, where director Gaston quipped, “Arrived just in time for the screening of ‘Til Death, which played before a feature film. Audience member: ‘The short was better than the feature!’”

That’s four festivals now for the well-received ‘Til Death (Sedona, Victoria, Whistler and the Vancouver Short Film Festival) with more no doubt to come. Read more about Writing 420 and their past successes here.

Jamie Kemp wins teaching award

Jamie Kemp is back in the news again. The busy History in Art and Medieval Studies PhD candidate was named one of three recipients of UVic’s Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Award for Graduate Students on February 6. Not that this is surprising for the 2012 TEDx Victoria alumna, who also just finished inspiring middle school students in her session for February’s Fresh Minds symposium here at UVic.

Jamie Kemp (left) with Andy Farquharson (Photo Services)

Jamie Kemp (left) with Andy Farquharson (Photo Services)

“Jamie is a gifted teacher who exemplifies the effective learning model, who is passionate about writing and who is a valued member of the History in Art Graduate Student community,” noted Dr. David Capson, Dean of Graduate Studies, in his award presentation. “Her students all attest that not only has she changed the way that they learn by fostering an open and collaborative environment free of boundaries, she also brings a sense of fun and excitement to whatever she is teaching.”

While only three recipients are selected to receive the Teaching Excellence Award, there were 16 nominations—so Kemp is indeed among the most outstanding Graduate Students here at UVic. She has participated in a number of teaching-related conferences and workshops over the past few years, including the 2012 Association of Learning Technology conference at the University of Manchester, and has led workshops for both UVic’s own Learning and Teaching Centre and the annual “Let’s Talk About Teaching at UVic” event. She has also been the Educator in Residence at MediaCore Technologies, an education software company, where she curated and created content for The Flipped Institute, a resource site for both K-12 and post-secondary educators. Clearly, Kemp is serious about her teaching.

Jamie Kemp at TEDx Victoria in 2012

Jamie Kemp at TEDx Victoria in 2012

Kemp’s own teaching philosophy is simple: “In our present ‘Age of Information,’ when students have a seemingly unlimited access to knowledge and ‘information overload’ is often the norm, my role as a teacher can’t revolve around transmitting facts from the front of a darkened room,” she says.

“I believe that in order to offer meaningful education, I need to create engagement in a positive and open learning environment, offer my students practical ways to apply their theoretical knowledge, and provide them with opportunities to share their work with each other, the wider university community, and the rest of the world. My goal is to give my students experiences that will get them as excited about learning as I am. Curiosity and intellectual pleasure push us to develop our minds and improve our work when it would be easier to do just enough to get by.”

Kemp in action with one of her classes (photo: Aurora Allen)

Kemp in action with one of her classes (photo: Aurora Allen)

How exactly does she do all that? “I’m really inspired by the flipped classroom method of teaching,” she says, “which is just an emphasis on making the time you spend in class with students count as much in possible—not always spending the time in front of a class lecturing, but also incorporating interactive projects, discussions and trips to special collections as well. I always ask myself what is my real function as a teacher—what can they do without me, and what do they need me for?”

When asked if she has any advice for other graduate students keen to improve their teaching, she doesn’t hesitate. “The key to effective teaching is actually quite simple,” she says. “You have to do what you can to stay passionate about the material you’re working with—I love the topic of every single course I teach, and that’s where the real passion comes from. If students see you’re enthusiastic about the topic, it’s easy for them to connect, get involved and really make a nice learning community out of the classroom.”

One of Kemp's students examines a medieval text (photo: Aurora Allen)

One of Kemp’s students examines a medieval text (photo: Aurora Allen)

But isn’t there a bit of a disparity between her academic specialization in ancient manuscripts and her yen for using  modern technology in teaching? Not at all, says Kemp. “To me, they’re exactly the same thing—in my research, I work on medieval encyclopedias that were designed as schoolbooks to help students with their reading processes by teachers who didn’t know how to connect with them,” she explains. “These are actually very early kinds of intellectual technologies, used as mind-expanding objects to help with the education process. Manuscripts, videos on iPads . . . all of this is about communicating the initial round of communication so class time can be spent on things like discussion, and really synthesizing the information.”

As the TEDx site notes, “Kemp is tackling some of the oldest problems in education: her mission is to help the world learn more, do more, think more clearly, and manage knowledge in better ways by thinking about what tools, technologies, and situations make this possible—and sharing that knowledge with those who are transforming the educational landscape through technology.”

Be sure to watch her TEDx talk, “Head in the Cloud,” to get a sense of what this award-winning educator is all about.

WordsThaw this weekend

The Malahat Review‘s annual “intellectual icebreaker at the cusp of spring” returns this week, and many Department of Writing faculty, alumni and graduate students are involved. It promises to be a fascinating and illuminating weekend of literary learning. Here’s what’s in the works—but you can get all the details, including ticket information, at WordsThaw 2014.

Landsowne Lecturer Daphne Marlatt (7:30pm Thursday, February 20, in Turpin A120)

Daphne Marlatt

Daphne Marlatt

In the opening event to WordsThaw 2014, Vancouver writer Daphne Marlatt celebrates the fluid relationship between language and place—in particular, Vancouver—and how they stream into and out of one another, both of them accruing allusive sediments. (Lansdowne Lectures sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities)

Words on Ice: Evolution of the Author (7:30pm Friday, February 21, in HSD A240)

David Leach

David Leach

A reading featuring writers at every stage of a writing career, hosted by Malahat Review editor John Barton and local poet Yvonne Blomer. From high school-aged writers, University writing students, authors without a first book, those who’ve published a first book, to those with an established writing career. Panelists include paulo da costa, Cynthia Flood, Phil Hall, Anita Lahey, Daphne Marlatt and Miranda Pearson, as well as Writing professor David Leach and Writing student Benjamin Willems.

Author as Avatar: Social Media and Blogging (10am-noon Saturday, February 22, HSD A250)

John Threlfall

John Threlfall

Fine Arts communications honcho and Writing instructor John Threlfall will lead a discussion with local writers, bloggers, and publishers about the importance of social media for writers. Questions to be covered will include: How important is it for an author to develop a following and community on social media? What is the best tactic for an author to take while participating in social media? Roundtable panelists include Times Colonist journalist Sarah Petrescu, Brindle & Glass publicist Emily Shorthouse and Writing alum Will Johnson.

Spirit of Place: Writing Local History (10am-noon Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)

John Adams

John Adams

What role does history play in contemporary society? Has the rapid pace of today’s world led us to lose contact with our past? How acquainted are we with Victoria’s rich and fascinating heritage, with the stories and lives behind the streets and buildings we pass each day? Local-history authors will discuss their research, their craft, and how the writing (and reading) of local history can shape our perception of the present in powerful ways. The past is not dead. But it relies on writers to keep its spirit alive. Readers include John Adams, Linda Eversole, and Peter Grant. Moderated by Rosemary Neering.

The Inner Life of our Words: Writing and the Human Spirit (1:30-3:30pm Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)

Tim Lilburn

Tim Lilburn

Is there a relationship between poetry and the inner life? And if there is, what form or direction—or directions—does this relationship take? Can writing and reading be a useful, even insightful tool to probe the spiritual life (or lives) of the self, of another person, of a community, or even of an age? With moderator Andrew Rippin as their “guide,” poets Jane Munro and Writing professor Tim Lilburn and Writing instructor Marita Dachsel—also the current Artist in Residence for UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society—each approaching the inner life of our words from a unique perspective, talk about how poetry can be a catalyst to discovering and expressing not only “what we know,” but about “what we want to know.”

Shining a Light: Writer as Witness (3:45-5:45pm Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)

Gary Geddes

Gary Geddes

All writers are observers, perceptually attuned. But what is the difference between seeing and witnessing? In many cases, to be a witness is to dare—to risk one’s emotions, or one’s reputation, in order to make known what others would keep hidden. Representing different backgrounds and genres—First Nations, environmental science, and poetry—panelists will explore the various ways writers use their craft to speak out, raise awareness, and shine a revealing light on some uncomfortable truths. Readers include Gary Geddes, Monique Gray Smith, and Andrew Weaver. Moderated by Amy Reiswig.

Brief Encounters: 15-minute Critiques of Your Work (noon-1:15pm Saturday, February 22, in the HSD Building)

wordsthaw poster letter sizeThis year WordsThaw will also have one-on-one critiques set up in several genres over the lunch break. Local writers will be available to critique your writing in the following genres: poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, life-writing, or young adult/children’s writing. Critique spots will be filled in advance (once registered for WordsThaw), on a first-come first-served basis. Writers include Maleea Acker, Dede Crane, Catherine Greenwood, Steve Noyes, Aaron Shepard, Robin Stevenson, Christine Walde and Writing instructor Matthew Hooton and Writing graduate student JoAnn Dionne.

Fine Arts at IdeaFest

Want to change the world? All you need is the right idea.

ideafestUVic’s third annual IdeaFest is back and ready to expand your mind with fascinating ideas from fascinating people. Running March 3 to 8 at various venues across campus, IdeaFest offers over 50 ideas worth celebrating.

This year’s theme is “Ideas that can change everything,” and Fine Arts is once again in the mix, with every department offering something. Here’s a quick rundown by date of what we’ve got scheduled, but be sure to see the main schedule for complete details. Remember, all events are free and don’t require registration—unless otherwise noted.

• Get an inside look at how musicians make music with a Cello Master Class featuring School of Music professor Pamela Highbau Aloni. (1:30-2:30pm Tuesday, March 4 in the Phillip T Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin B Wing)

Inside the Kwisitis Visitor Centre

Inside the Kwisitis Visitor Centre

• What do you do when you suddenly find yourself over your head with a creative project? Find out in “A Props Master Out of his Depth”, a slide lecture by Department of Theatre master props artist Bryn Finer. Finer will address how his theatre experiences translated to the development of sculptures and dioramas for the Kwisitis Visitor Centre at Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. (12:30-1:30pm Wednesday, March 5, in the Roger Bishop Theatre, Phoenix Theatres)

• The annual Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards feature new research produced by 115 young scholars—of which 10 are from Fine Arts: Caroline Baicy, Justin Barski and Evelyn Brotherston (History in Art); Alannah Bloch and Jocelyne Lamarche (Theatre); Abigail Laycock and Graham Macaulay (Visual Arts); Bethany Hughes and Benjamin Willems (Writing); and Sondra Moyls (Music).  Be sure to check out what they’ve got on hand in this fascinating exhibit. (11:30am-3pm Wednesday, March 5, Michelle Pujol room, SUB)

• Get an inside look at how musicians make music as School of Music professor Patricia Kostek leads a master class on the clarinet in this workshop. (1:30pm – 2:30pm Wednesday, March 5, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)

Lafayette String Quartet

Lafayette String Quartet

• Find out how young musicians hone their craft and learn from master musicians at this string chamber master class with UVic’s own artists-in-residence, the Lafayette String Quartet. (7-9pm Wednesday, March 5, in MacLaurin B016)

• Ever heard of Soundpainting? Find out what it’s all about at this presentation and interactive demonstration by UVic’s new music ensemble, Sonic Lab. All are invited to participate with movement, visual arts, spoken word, acting or music in a real-time, gesture-based group composition. (1-2:30pm Thursday, March 6, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)

• A late addition to our IdeaFest lineup: The 3-Minute Thesis competition! School of Music graduate student Michael Dias will have three minutes to explain the ideas behind “The Creative Process: A Composer’s Sketches and Drafts” with one slide, 180 seconds and no jargon. Can he do it? Find out 7-9pm Thursday, March 6, in the David Lam Auditorium.

IdeaFest_WR1• In this age of digital publishing, you don’t need a printing press to create your own magazine—unless you choose to go the traditional publishing route. So You Want To Launch A Magazine offers an interactive panel discussion and showcase of some of the very successful magazines—both digital and print—created by students in the Department of Writing to address social and literary concerns in society. The panel includes moderator Dr. Lynne Van Luven (Writing), Nadia Grutter (Coastal Spectator), Patrick Close (The Warren), Kimberley Veness (Concrete Garden), Patrick Grace (This Side of West) and Andrea Routley (Plenitude). (noon-1:30pm Friday, March 7, in HSD A270)

• If you’ve ever been to an opera, you’ve heard how the voice can be an instrument in itself. Learn more about this primordially human instrument when professor Benjamin Butterfield leads a master class in voice. (2:30-3:30pm Friday March 7, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)

Biro

Dániel Péter Biró and students

• Unless you’re a musician yourself, the process of creating music can offer be a complete mystery. Discover more in “Exploring Aesthetic Diversity Through Music,” an interactive workshop where you can experience the excitement of live music creation. School of Music composition and performance students will also perform their latest music compositions, created under the guidance of Music professors Dániel Péter Biró (Tsilumos Ensemble) and Joanna Hood (Lafayette String Quartet). The general public is welcome to attend! (7-9pm Friday, March 7 in MacLaurin B016)

Csaba rehearsing the UVic Orchestra (UVic Photo Services)

Csaba rehearsing the UVic Orchestra (UVic Photo Services)

• This year’s “Concert Without Borders” features the UVic Orchestra, under the direction of Ajtony Csaba, offering a program that includes Berlioz, Grisey and Beethoven and is punctuated by multi-media interventions highlighting Learning Without Borders projects from across campus. Theatre, song, visual art and spoken word shine a spotlight on the many ways in which members of the campus community are working to internationalize the curriculum and campus life. (8-10pm Friday, March 7 in the Farquhar Auditorium. Note: this is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased at the UVic Ticket Centre.)

Bruce Vogt

Bruce Vogt

• Finally, we offer the concert, A Night of Schubert. What makes a composer great? Why do we revere the music of one artist over another? Is it the beauty of the melody, a special harmonic sound, or something else? Discover the secrets of the romantic music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) as explained and performed by pianist and School of Music professor Bruce Vogt. There will be a pre-concert talk at 7:30pm as well. (8-10pm Saturday, March 8, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building. Note: this is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased at the UVic Ticket Centre.)

Reel Life Learning

The tools writing professor Maureen Bradley uses with her students may not immediately leap to mind when most people think about research at UVic. But for Bradley, lights and cameras are very much the focus of the action when it comes to film production.

Maureen Bradley and Daniel Hogg (photo: Nik West)

Maureen Bradley and Daniel Hogg (photo: Nik West)

“Research is the creation of new knowledge,” she says, “and literature, art and film are knowledge. Those images and stories explain to us who we are, and how we function as humans.”

Bradley has been teaching film-based courses at UVic since 2004, but her real success began with the creation of the writing department’s CFI Hi-Def Story Incubator Laboratory in 2009. This film production class allows her to take experiential learning to a whole new level.

Thanks to nearly $350,000 in funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the BC Knowledge Development Fund and UVic’s Office of Research Services, the Story Lab continues to have great success with their experiential “class as crew” model.

Filming an episode of "Freshman' Wharf"

Filming an episode of “Freshman’ Wharf”

Their inaugural effort—Freshman’s Wharf, a light-hearted, 10-episode web series looking at the first-year student experience—won a 2010 Leo Award, presented annually to the best in BC’s film and television industry.

Bradley and her writing students have since gone on to create three other short films: Stuck, How Socrates Bought the Farm and ‘Til Death—the latter of which won a pair of awards at the Vancouver Short Film Festival in November 2013, and will screen at the Victoria Film Festival in February.

With students taking on all the jobs of a film crew, from lighting and continuity to set decoration and film editing, Bradley has created a hands-on course that teaches how film production really works. “It’s just such a fantastic experience,” she says. “They love being on set.”

But while there’s clearly talent aplenty among the 20-odd students who enroll in her class each year, Bradley sees the writing department as the key to their success.

'Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

‘Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

“Film is just a development of writing’s already well-known streams—fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and drama,” she says. “I don’t know anywhere else in the country where this is happening. There are good student films being made, but they’re not being driven by faculty-led courses.”

Bradley has spent the past four years building up the technical equipment and supporting talent needed to create professional-looking 10-minute short films.

“Drama and film are really applied forms of learning,” she explains. “A screenplay and a play are not final products, and they’re always open to interpretation. Students need to see how hard it is to make a film, how to adjust the writing as the film is made, how to write with a budget in mind.”

With no other Vancouver Island college or university offering film production classes, UVic’s writing department is uniquely situated to help fill a gap locally and nationally.

“I think we have the best student screenwriters in Canada here,” she says. “This is a unique situation where the production comes through the writing first.”

“I’ve seen beautiful films at student screenings across Canada, but the story is usually lacking, so it’s really exciting to see story and surface come together here. Why make a film if there’s no heart to it?”

Other notable UVic-related film projects

  • Connor Gaston's Bardo Light

    Connor Gaston’s Bardo Light

    Previous Story Lab student films have played at the Whistler Film Festival, the Vancouver Short Film Festival and the Victoria Film Festival. Current master’s student Connor Gaston’s short film, Bardo Light, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.

  • ‘Til Death screens at the Victoria Film Festival as part of the “Love & Danger” short film series (8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street). “It’s quite extraordinary for a student film,” says Bradley, “and it’s really exciting seeing it screening at a local festival.”
  • Bradley will start shooting her film Two 4 One locally in February. It’s a transgender romantic comedy produced by Story Lab partner Daniel Hogg and featuring 10 former and current film students working on the set. Bradley sees Two 4 One as delving into new territory. “Living life as a transgendered man is not something most people know anything about,” she says. “But people are open when they laugh and might take in new ideas. I want to reach a broader audience with this one.” Read more about Two 4 One in this interview in Plenitude magazine.
  • D.W. Wilson & Daneil Hogg puttin' on the ritz in Cannes

    D.W. Wilson & Daneil Hogg puttin’ on the ritz in Cannes

    Writing department alumni Jeremy Lutter, Ben Rollo, D.W. Wilson and Daniel Hogg took their latest short film Floodplain to the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Floodplain recently won two awards at the Vancouver Short Film Festival, and was produced with support from the National Screen Institute and BravoFACT.

Learn more about Maureen Bradley’s research in this Faces of UVic Research video.

This article originally appeared as part of UVic’s KnowlEDGE series in the January 26 edition of the Times Colonist.

Jennifer Wise wins playwriting competition

Congratulations to Department of Theatre associate professor Jennifer Wise for winning The Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition for her 2013 play The Girl Rabbi of the Golden West.

Jennifer Wise

Jennifer Wise

Based on a true story, Wise’s Girl Rabbi explores the experience of Ray Frank, a young woman was hired to serve as the leader of Victoria’s then-orthodox synagogue Congregation Emanu-El throughout the High Holidays in 1895. Not only did Frank, a California native, make women’s history with this event but she also made world religious history as a female salaried rabbi. As the story goes, “three decades after British Columbia’s gold-rush-era pioneers laid the cornerstone of what is today the oldest place of continuous Jewish worship in Canada, a group of exceptional congregants brought an exceptional woman to their community against all odds. None of them would ever be the same.”

The Girl Rabbi of the Golden West was originally performed on April 10 & 11, 2013, as part of Congregation Emanu-El’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Read more about Girl Rabbi in this Ring article.

“I researched the events thoroughly,” Wise told Vancouver’s Jewish Independent newspaper in this article from May 2013. “The story of Ray Frank’s two weeks in Victoria turned out to be even more amazing than I could have guessed. She had a lasting positive impact on the community, and the country . . . . Her achievements, therefore, helped to make the idea of a female rabbi thinkable. She was a major pioneer in advancing women’s rights within Judaism – and it’s just amazing to realize that she did much of her trail-blazing right here in Victoria.”

No strange to award nominations, Wise‘s first book— Dionysus Writes (Cornell 1998)—was nominated for two book awards in the U.S., and her Broadview Anthology of Drama is a widely adopted textbook. Her translation of Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Methuen 2013)—staged here at Phoenix, at York University and at the Great Hall Black Box in Toronto in 2013—was selected by Brecht’s heirs as the first new English version of this play in almost 40 years. Wise’s translation of Aristophanes’ Frogs, created for the Phoenix in 2000, was also produced at the University of Denver in 2004; The Moons of Jupiter, her play about Galileo’s children written for the International Year of Astronomy (2009), was a finalist in the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition in 2011; and her articles have appeared in such venues as Theatre Research International, Theatre Survey, Reader’s Digest, and Arethusa.

The cast of the local staging of The Girl Rabbi of the Golden West

The cast of the local staging of The Girl Rabbi of the Golden West

Wise picks up a cash prize of $1,000, plus a professional Between Stages one-day workshop at Toronto’s Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre—directed by original Girl Rabbi director Liza Balkan—in the fall of 2014, followed by an informal public reading with feed-back from the audience. Past CJPC winners have gone on to appear at Vancouver’s Chutzpah! Festival and have full productions at The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre Company.

Awarded annually by the Toronto Jewish Theatre Committee, the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition was founded in 1989. The present jury consists of eight members of the MNjcc community who are also theatre professionals in some capacity in Toronto. Up to 20 plays are submitted for the CJPC from six Canadian provinces, the United States and Israel each year. This is the first time the prize has been won by a Victoria playwright.

Upcoming events

As always, there’s plenty going on in the Fine Arts faculty. Here’s a quick roundup of what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks:

Open Word: Reading and Ideas with Gillian Jerome

Gillian Jerome

Gillian Jerome

The founder of Canadian Women in the Literary Arts and celebrated co-creator of Hope in Shadows: Stories and Photographs from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Gillian Jerome will read from her latest book of poems, Red Nest. A live interview with UVic’s own Melanie Siebert will follow the Open Space reading.

7:30pm Wednesday, January 22, at Open Space, 510 Fort

Adaslā: The Movement of Hands

Thanks to the History in Art department, thousands of buttons and hundreds of metres of thread have now transformed one enormous swath of cloth into one huge button blanket. The companion exhibit, Adasla: The Movement of Hands, centres upon the creation and exhibition of what we’re calling the World’s Biggest Button Blanket. A project of Carolyn Butler Palmer, the Williams Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art of the Pacific Northwest, and sessional instructor Peter Morin, the blanket was created over the Fall 2013 academic term in collaboration with students at UVic’s First Peoples House. The finished blanket invites new conversations about indigenous button blanket makers and the artistic traditions that surround them.

Sewing button blankets at First Peoples House. (Photo: Michael Glendale)

Sewing button blankets at First Peoples House. (Photo: Michael Glendale)

Morin will offer the inaugural dance of the blanket on Wednesday, January 29, at First Peoples House as part of UVic’s 2014 Diversity Research Forum. There will also be a companion performance on at 2pm on Saturday, February 22, at the Legacy Gallery Downtown with Morin and Governor General’s Award-winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore, a former Audain Professor for the Department of Visual Arts.

Adaslā: The Movement of Hands continues to April 25 at the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates.

Visual Arts MFA Silent Auction

Just a few of the 60 pieces up for auction

Just a few of the 60 pieces now up for auction

Our Visual Arts MFA students are trying to get to New York City, and you can help by bidding on one (or more) of the 60 pieces on offer in this silent auction. Work by both students and faculty is up for sale, and the event culminates with a 5:30pm performance on Thursday, January 23, by Fantastico! (better known as Visual Arts instructor David Gifford.)

Bidding runs 9am-5pm daily, and up to 6pm Thursday, January 23, in the Visual Arts building’s Audain Gallery. You don’t have to be present to win your bid.

Visual Impetus XVII: Conceived, Created & Consumed

Visual_Impetus_XVII_posterJoin Visual Impetus, the annual History in Art department’s graduate student symposium, and the theme this year is “Conceived, Created & Consumed.” When attempting to analyze and understand the significance of visual culture in society, we must examine the various stages of development as it transitions from the artist’s idea to a tangible manifestation that audiences perceive and respond to. The organizers of Visual Impetus XVII offer presentations addressing visual culture within the moments of conception, creation, or consumption, and how significance and function can shift within these different stages.

Included among the presentations is the keynote address by Peter Morin of the Big Button Blanket Project, 4pm Friday, January 24. Click here to see the full schedule of presenters.

Visual Impetus XVII runs January 24 & 25 at the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates

A double dose of Sonik

Madeline Sonik

Madeline Sonik

Fans of Department of Writing sessional instructor Madeline Sonik will be excited to hear the multi-genre writer has a pair of events on the horizon: first up is her participation in the Malahat Review’s WordsThaw prequel “CNF Night in Canada!” Kicking off at 7:30pm Tuesday, January 28, at Russell Books (734 Fort), Sonk will be joined by Vancouver Island authors Maleea Acker and Jay Ruzesky at this free “intellectual icebreaker,” hosted by Malahat Review editor and fellow Writing instructor John Barton. They’ll all be discussing “the grace and agility of memoir, the essay, and travel writing.”

After that, the award-winning Sonik will be giving an interactive talk on literary magazine and book publishing, designed for new and emerging writers at UVic and the Victoria community at large who are interested in knowing how to make submissions, write pitches and book proposals, and approach literary agents. Other topics will include literary contests, grants, market studies, and how to keep track of it all. This equally free event runs 2:30-4pm Tuesady, February 4, in room A240 of UVic’s HSD Building.

Visiting Artist: Michael Klein

KleinMichael Klein has been exhibiting video and photo-based work for more than 30 years. He has curated, organized and programmed numerous exhibitions and publications. and opened the MKG127 gallery in Toronto in 2007. Recent exhibitions include The Other Side for Scotia Bank Nuit Blanche 2012, All in the Family at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Family Ties at Daniel Faria Gallery in 2013.

Michael Klein speaks at 8pm Wednesday, January 29, in Room A162 of the Visual Arts building 

Southam Lecture: Tom Hawthorn

Tom Hawthorn is the 2014 Southam Lecturer (Photo: Deddeda Stemler)

Tom Hawthorn is the 2014 Southam Lecturer
(Photo: Deddeda Stemler)

Just in time for the Sochi Winter Olympics, Tom Hawthorn—2014 Southam Lecturer for the Department of Writing—presents his free public lecture, In Defence of Sports Writing (Not All of It, Just the Good Stuff). Not only will Hawthorn discuss the importance of sports writing but also examine the more political side of the Olympics at his public lecture, from the move to boycott the Nazi Olympics and the Black Power salutes of 1968, to the African boycott of the Montreal Olympics and the contemporary protests over Russia’s anti-gay laws.

In addition to having covered the 1996 Olympic Games in Athens, Hawthorn has worked in the sports departments of the Globe and Mail, Province and Times Colonist newspapers, and is a well-respected journalist and magazine writer whose byline has appeared in magazines across the country. He is also the author of the recent book, Deadlines: Obits of Memorable British Columbians.

Tom Hawthorn speaks 7pm Wednesday, January 29, in room A240 of UVic’s Human & Social Development Building

Daniel Laskarin: fallen and found

Laskarin's "fallen and found"

Laskarin’s “fallen and found”

Hot off the Visual Arts faculty exhibition Paradox, Visual Arts chair Daniel Laskarin presents his latest solo show, fallen and found. In this, his fourth exhibition with Deluge Contemporary Art, Daniel Laskarin returns to a decades-old preoccupation with the role of the sculptor as matterist. A mix of sculptural pieces and newer works from an ongoing narrative of small wall pieces, Laskarin’s artistic production is object-based, and uses a diverse range of media including photography and video, optics, robotics systems, installation and sound works, set design and public projections

Opens 7pm Friday, January 31 and continues to March 8 at Deluge, 636 Yates

UVic Orchestra: Don Joyorchestra3.jpg

Csaba rehearsing the UVic Orchestra (UVic Photo Services)

Csaba rehearsing the UVic Orchestra (UVic Photo Services)

The School of Music’s Ajtony Csaba conducts the UVic Orchestra in a program of Mozart (Overture to Don Giovanni), Maurice Ravel (Piano Concerto in G Major), and Richard Strauss (Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24). Featured in the Ravel piece will be  piano soloist Barry Tan, winner of the annual UVic Concerto Competition.

Don Joy begins at 8pm Friday, January 31, in the University Centre’s Farquhar Auditorium. Click here for ticket information.

The Lafayette String Quartet: Quintets Old and New

Lafayette String Quartet

Lafayette String Quartet

The Shostakovich Op. 57 Piano Quintet has been in the Lafayette String Quartet’s repertoire from the very beginning. As students, three of the quartet members performed this work with the great Rostislav Dubinsky and his wife, Luba Edlina and the Quartet has performed this piece numerous times since. “This piece is an old friend—it’s in our blood,” says Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, violinist with the LSQ. In contrast, the Dvorak Op. 97 String Quintet, which uses idiomatic modalities common in Native American song and African Amercian spirituals, is a fresh undertaking for the group. The Quartet will bring both of these works to the stage with the help of guest performers Alexander Tselyakov (piano) and Yariv Aloni (viola).

The LSQ performs at 8pm Saturday, February 1, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall in UVic’s MacLaurin Building. Click here for ticket information

Department of Theatre Open House

Iwanttobeintheatre_HEADER_x508x261Choosing a career in theatre is a big decision, but new students who want to follow in the footsteps of UVic’s successful theatre alumni have a great opportunity to learn more about the program when the Department of Theatre welcomes prospective new students for a behind-the-scenes introduction at the annual I Want to Be In Theatre! event on Saturday, February 1.

This fun interactive afternoon offers an inside look at life as a theatre student and is ideal for high school students who are deciding about their university studies—or anyone who is interested in studying theatre at a post-secondary level. As well as a tour of the impressive facilities at the Phoenix Theatre, the day provides detailed information about the department’s many theatre specializations: acting, applied theatre, set, costume or lighting design, directing, production and management, and theatre history. Attendees will also see a rehearsal scene of the upcoming play Picnic, have an opportunity to chat with current students over a free pizza lunch, and get advice about choosing courses and the application process. Parents and teachers are welcome to attend with interested students.

I Want To Be in Theatre! runs 11:30am to 3pm Saturday, February 1 in the Phoenix Theatre. Tickets are free, but please register in advance with this registration form before Monday, January 27.

The 27th Annual Medieval Workshop

Medieval WorkshopSpend a full day in two of the most beautiful and prosperous cities of the Middle Ages—Cairo and Venice! Settled at the margins of powerful empires, defying prejudice and authority, both islands of culture and wealth—over the desert in Cairo and over the sea for Venice—these two cities write a story of dialogue, art, and trade. History in Art’s Catherine Harding and Marcus Milwright are both among the presenters.

In this full-day of workshops presented by UVic’s Medieval Studies and History in Art departments, you can explore the former slaves who became rulers under the name of Mameluks (the Jewish community in Cairo), the hostelries for merchants in Egypt, the fashions and trends found at rich Italian merchants’, and the friendship between Boccacio and Petrarch in Venice. You‘ll also discover music from Orient and Occident, performed on Venetian lute and Oriental oud. Most of all, you will be part of the vibrant Victoria community which gathers for the Annual Medieval Workshop. Click here to see the full itinerary.

The 27th Annual Medieval Workshop runs 9am-5pm Saturday, February 1, in Room B150 of UVic’s Bob Wright Centre. Click here for ticket information.

Visiting Artist: Jon Sasaki

Work by Jon Sasaki

Work by Jon Sasaki

Multidisciplinary Toronto artist Jon Sasaki borrows conceptual art strategies to make works with an emotionally resonant core. Sasaki’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions across Canada. His work has been seen in several editions of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, and Sasaki holds a BFA from Mount Allison University and is represented by Jessica Bradley Gallery in Toronto.

Jon Sasaki speaks 8pm Wednesday, February 5, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building

Open Word: Readings and Ideas with Nora Young

Nora Young

Nora Young

Whether hosting CBC Radio’s long-running technology & culture show Spark, creating documentaries for CBC’s Ideas, working online and in television, or in her previous role as the founding host and producer of CBC’s popular culture show Definitely Not the Opera, few know how to reflect life in the 21st Century better than Nora Young.

Now, Young will read from her non-fiction book, The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us. Young looks at the debates and challenges around virtual data-sharing and its potential for building responsive communities and governments. She has fascinating information at her disposal, unique insights into the intersection of virtual and real worlds, and a wonderful voice for making all of these clear to a general audience.

Following her Open Space reading, Nora Young will be interviewed live by Writing professor David Leach, also the director of UVic’s Technology & Society Program.

Nora Young’s first reading is at 1:30pm Wednesday, February 5, in room 104 of UVic’s Engineering & Computer Science Building. Her second reading is at 7:30pm Wednesday, February 5, at Open Space, 510 Fort.

Distinguished Alumni: Michael Whitfield

With over four decades of designing nationally and internationally for theatre, opera and ballet, Michael Whitfield is one of Canada’s most versatile and experienced lighting designers—and he has also been named the Distinguished Alumni for the Faculty of Fine Arts for 2014. Even better, Whitfield’s career at UVic has gone full circle, from his graduation way back in 1967 to his current work as a sessional instructor with the Department of Theatre. Now, Whitfield will be honoured by UVic Chancellor Murray Farmer at a special evening honouring Distinguished Alumni representing all 12 faculties, divisions and the UVic Libraries, from 7pm Wedneday, February 5 at the Hotel Grand Pacific.

Michael Whitfield

Michael Whitfield

Whitfield went on to become the Resident Lighting Designer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for 25 years, where he created the lighting for over 100 productions on the Festival, Avon and Tom Patterson stages. Concurrently with his work at the Festival, Michael also designed for the Shaw Festival and for many of Canada’s regional theatres, particularly the Grand Theatre, London and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Since the late 1970’s, Michael has designed extensively for the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto as well as for opera companies across the country. His work in the United States has included lighting designs for opera companies in San Diego, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, while overseas his lighting has been seen at the Welsh National Opera and the Netherlands Opera.

Michael’s lighting for ballet and dance has been featured at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the American Ballet Theatre, the Finnish National Ballet, the Canadian Native Arts Foundation and the Banff Centre. In addition to his extensive professional design career, since the early 1970’s Michael has taught at educational institutions including the University of Windsor, the University of Illinois, York University, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and the National Theatre School of Canada. By taking on apprentice designers as his assistants he has also mentored the careers of many young designers who are now illuminating stage productions across Canada.

University of Victoria Wind Symphony & the Naden Band

cal_21_event_93494The Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy has been an important part of naval tradition on the West Coast since 1940 and UVic’s School of Music has a long-standing relationship with the group. Many alumni have served as members of the ensemble and in 1994 the Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific Scholarship in Music Performance was established. The band, currently under the direction of Lieutenant (Navy) Matthew Clark, will join the Wind Symphony for a special concert supporting this valuable scholarship, awarded annually to second and third year School of Music students who demonstrate excellence in brass, woodwind and percussion performance.

The School of Music’s Eugene Dowling will be conducting the concert, which welcomes back to the Farquhar Auditorium stage bassoon soloist Petty Officer Second Class Robyn Jutras. “Although musicians in the Naden Band are from all over Canada, alumni from the UVic School of Music make up ten percent of their current membership,” says Dowling. “It is wonderful that our featured soloist, Robyn Jutras, was not only trained at UVic, but was a past recipient of the Naden Band Scholarship!” Featured works on the program include David Maslanka’s massive Symphony No. 8 and Eric Ewazen’s Concerto for Bassoon.

The Wind Symphony & the Naden Band perform 8pm Friday, February 7, at the University Centre’s Farquhar Auditorium. Click here for ticket information.

Phoenix Theatre: Picnic

Grant Wood, "Spring in Town" 1941

Grant Wood, “Spring in Town” 1941

On the last day of summer in small town Kansas, unfulfilled dreams and repressed desires come to a head when a charismatic young drifter arrives in town. His combination of rough manners and titillating charm sends everyone reeling, including the Owens sisters (Millie, the smart one, and Madge, the pretty one), their determined mother, Madge’s college-bound boyfriend, the watchful neighbour and the spinster schoolteacher who boards at the Owens’ house. This 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is an American classic from the post-war/pre-feminist era which speaks to the timeless themes of lost aspirations and the heart’s yearning to leave everything behind for a new adventure.

Directed by Peter J. McGuire with lighting by Allan Stichbury.

Picnic previews February 11 & 12, and runs February 13-22. Click here for more information and tickets.

Colleen Eccleston wins Rally Song contest

To the cheers of a tight game and the applause of a packed house, the winner of the School of Music / Vikes Nation Rally Song Contest was decided at the Vikes men’s basketball game on January 10—and first prize went to the School of Music’s own songwriting instructor Colleen Eccleston!

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad  (photo: Armando Turo)

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad (photo: Armando Tura)

With 18 submissions from across campus—including entries by students, faculty and administration alike—the top three finalists were performed live at half-time by fourth-year Music student and rising star Josh Lovell. And while the crowd enjoyed the first two songs by Kyell Erickson and Kevin Grout, they clearly cheered the loudest for Eccleston’s song . . . which made the decision by the celebrity judging panel—new UVic President Jamie Cassels, Director of Athletics and Recreation Clint Hamilton, Director of School of Music Dr. Susan Lewis Hammond and varsity athlete Kyle Irvine—that much easier. Eccleston picked up a brand new iPad for her winning song, titled (obviously enough) “Vikes Nation.” Attendees of future games will hear a recorded version of Lovell’s rendition before the starting lineups of each Vikes home game.

Click here to listen to Josh Lovell singing Eccleston’s winning song, with a montage of photos from the January 10 event.

Music student Josh Lovell rocked the house with his renditions of the Rally Song finalists (photo: Armando Tura)

Music student Josh Lovell rocked the house with his renditions of the Rally Song finalists (photo: Armando Tura)

“It was amazing and exciting to hear them live.” says Eccleston. “[Lovell] could really sing it, and that made a difference. And it was doubly thrilling for me because one of my students in my History of Rock & Roll class—Terrell Evans—was playing in the game. I was really cheering for him.”

Eccleston is no stranger to basketball herself, having spent years on the court when she was growing up. “I was a hard-core basketball player when I was growing up in Newfoundland and in high school in Calgary, so I understand the game, and what a cheer has to do—and I feel my song has that, the rhythm and the melody,” she says. “But I actually wrote five songs for the contest; I just wanted to come up with the right one.”

Judges Irvine, Lewis Hammond, Cassels  and Hamilton vote for their clear favourite (photo: Armando Tura)

Judges Irvine, Lewis Hammond, Cassels and Hamilton vote for their clear favourite (photo: Armando Tura)

Just to give it an audience test-run, Eccleston even played her entry for one of her classes before submitting it. “One of my students said he wished it had more about Vikings in it,” she chuckles. And of the five songs she wrote, how did she decide “Vikes Nation” was the right one to enter? “One was too fast, one was too slow, and one of them was almost hip-hop-ish, very modern—but I wanted something more primal.” she explains. “When I heard Josh sing it, I knew I had chosen the right one. And I used that Queen ‘We Will Rock You’ beat because I knew people would pick up on it so fast. It’s got that atmosphere of the opening game, to intimidate the other team.”

Colleen Eccleston

Colleen Eccleston

While Eccleston—a veteran local singer and actor who teaches not only songwriting and the history of rock and roll for the School of Music, but also courses on the top-20 albums of all time and the Beatles—may be better known for the folk and popular songs she performed with her long-running band The Ecclestons (“this was definitely out of my genre,” she admits with a laugh), she was keen to give it a shot when she heard about the contest. “I thought it would be good to do it in the spirit of the contest. Plus, it was fun to contribute to the school spirit. I teach people from all over the university, so anything that builds that interdisciplinary spirit is a good thing.”

When asked if there was any way to turn it into a teachable moment for her students, Eccleston laughs. “Maybe I’ll make writing a cheer a future assignment for my songwriting class,” she says. “I get my students to write all kinds of things, make them write outside of the box—people tend to write the same kind of songs over and over again, so I like getting them students to write things like arias, music that has different rules.”

UVic's Jazz Ensemble, with Patrick Boyle tucked in the corner (photo: Armando Tura)

UVic’s Jazz Ensemble, with Patrick Boyle tucked in the corner (photo: Armando Tura)

All in all, it was a fantastic night for the School of Music in the McKinnon Gym, with the UVic Jazz Ensemble—led by Music professor Patrick Boyle—also getting in on the action by playing upbeat songs at both the women’s and men’s game.

Oh, and the men’s Vikes even won the game, beating rivals the Saskatchewan Huskies 55 to 46. Go Vikes!

Media roundup for early January

2014 started off fast and furious for Fine Arts, with a flurry of media coverage coming out of the new year’s gate.

Eva Baboula's interview in The Jewish Independent

Eva Baboula’s interview in The Jewish Independent

Wrapping up 2013, History in Art’s Eva Baboula was interviewed by Vancouver’s Jewish Independent newspaper for this late December article. She was talking about her new course on Jewish art—the first of its kind in Canada!—and discusses the distinctive characteristics of ancient & medieval Jewish art.

Baboula was also asked why, as someone who isn’t Jewish but is Greek, she would teach a course on this subject. “I just love learning,” she explains. “Something that did intrigue me . . . was the history of the Jews of Greece. Up to the Second World War, Greece had very significant ancient Romaniote Jewish communities, as well as Sephardim who had originated in the Iberian Peninsula. The country witnessed an unprecedented loss of its Jewish communities in relation to its general population (about 80 percent were lost in the Holocaust). Often this kind of history, as well as the material remnants of the history of many centuries, is not really known or very visible. I think it is the history of all of us and it has to be preserved.”

Mary Jo Hughes with work by Daniel Laskarin (foreground) and Robert Youds (back). (photo: Don Denton)

Mary Jo Hughes with work by Daniel Laskarin (foreground) and Robert Youds (back). (photo: Don Denton)

VIsual Arts got one more piece on their Paradox faculty exhibit, courtesy of this end of the year story in the weekly Monday Magazine section of the Victoria News. Running just before the exhibit wrapped up at the downtown Legacy Art Gallery in early January, the article quoted curator and gallery director Mary Jo Hughes saying, “The main point of art is to help people look at the world a different way.”

Visual Arts professor Paul Walde‘s video & sound installation “Requiem for a Glacier”—shot last summer on the Farnham Glacier in the Kootenays—opened at Nelson’s Oxygen Art Centre in early January. The Nelson Star ran this article about the exhibit, noting that political motivation and diversity of the numerous collaborators is what gave the work a whole new dimension of social practice. You can read more about the backstory of “Requiem for a Glacier” here, and the exhibit itself runs to February 8.

CdnArt Glacier reviewWalde’s “Requiem” was also recently reviewed by Canadian Art magazine. Describing it as Walde’s “most ambitious work to date”, reviewer TE Hardy noted “it demonstrates an essential progress: the ideas are more expansive than in Walde’s past work; the compositional systems that define his practice create a richer intertextual field; and his efficacy as a multi-disciplinary artist is impressively enhanced.” Hardy also notes that Walde “successfully frames questions of mythic import” and mentions the “stark and beautiful” moments in the video. Read the full review here.

And in other Paul Walde news, he’s now curating the annual installation Audiospace 10 for downtown’s Open Space arts centre. Opening 7pm Friday, January 17, and running monthly through to Saturday, June 7, Audiospace is an exploration of digital sound, originally created as a venue for sound on the Internet (a novel idea when the series began back in 2003). Walde will bring audio back to the physical realm through the creation of a listening room at Open Space, which will feature a new artist each month. Keep up to date with the series here.

From Althea Thauberger's "Marat Sade Barnace"

From Althea Thauberger’s “Marat Sade Bohnice”

While we’re in Visual Arts, high-profile alumna Althea Thauberger was listed in the Vancouver Sun as having one of the “three of the most influential events in Vancouver galleries” for her show opening January 15 at SFU’s downtown Audain Gallery. The Vancouver-based Thauberger’s video installation Marat Sade Bohnice (first presented at Toronto’s Power Plant contemporary art gallery) examines the staging of Peter Weiss’s famed play Marat/Sade at a mental institution in Prague and questions the meaning of mental illness and art’s role in therapy. As the Sun writes, “Well-known for facilitating collaborative situations with groups such as military families, adolescent girls, and artists of the Downtown Eastside, Thauberger reveals social and political issues as she creates a space for collaborators to express themselves.”

The School of Music had an ambitious first week back in January, thanks to their fascinating Week with Gustav Mahler. A combination of open rehearsals, lectures, listening rooms and a full faculty recital, Mahler Week earned a fair bit of media coverage. As busy local arts blogger Janis LaCouvee noted, it was a great way to learn more about this under-appreciated composer. “My knowledge of Mahler—sadly—is limited to the 1974 biographical film by Ken Russell, so when Kristy Farkas, the Concert Manager for the UVic School of Music, contacted me with news of a week-long Mahler tribute, I knew that I had to add some of the events to my arts calendar.” You can read more about Janis’ Mahlerization here.

Butterfield and Pohran Dawkins talk Mahler (photo: Adrian Lam)

Butterfield and Pohran Dawkins talk Mahler (photo: Adrian Lam)

The Times Colonist did a nice job with a pair of articles about Mahler Week. As TC arts writer Amy Smart noted, “One doesn’t simply say, ‘Hey, let’s play Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde,’ on a whim. The large work not only requires a certain number of trained musicians, but a level of commitment to learning the complex rhythms, especially when performed in a chamber arrangement without a conductor.”

The aptly-named Smart then speaks to both Music faculty members Benjamin Butterfield and Alexandra Pohran Dawkins in this article, who noted the concert could only come about because of the size of the School of Music’s performance faculty—the largest in the country—and its emphasis on chamber music. “There aren’t many schools that could pull this off,” said Pohran Dawkins. “I won’t say it exactly fell into place, but the timing was right and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the project. We’re hoping it will be a bit of a splash.”

The music faculty in rehearsal for Mahler week (photo: Kristy Farkas)

The music faculty in rehearsal for Mahler week (photo: Kristy Farkas)

Classical music columnist Kevin Bazzana also highlighted the final concert of Mahler Week—the faculty performance of Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)—in his January 9 column.  (Alas, it’s not available online, but can be read here in the article UVic pays tribute to Mahler.) Bazzana provided the fascinating history of the symphony as well as some insight into the specific arrangement the faculty were performing. As Benjamin Butterfield notes, “It is the ultimate chamber music piece.”

The Times Colonist returned to the School of Music again with columnist Kevin Bazzana writing about the Galiano Ensemble in this article. The Galiano Ensemble includes not only School of Music faculty members but also alumni amongst its players.

But wait, there’s more—the TC also picked up a story about professor Eugene Dowling‘s A Mostly Canadian Recital on January 12. In this article, Dowling describes the many personal connections he has with many of the composers and the stories behind the compositions, noting that he will try to bring all those emotions and friendships to mind as he plays.

Colleen Eccleston

Colleen Eccleston

Music instructor Colleen Eccleston was also interviewed on the CFAX radio show Cafe Victoria with Bruce Williams, speaking about the legacy and role the Everly Brothers had in rock-and-roll history. (Phil Everly passed away on January 3.) Click here to hear a podcast of the show, then fast forward to timecode 16:15. Eccleston teaches the history of rock and roll for Music, among other classes—and she was also announced as the first-place winner of the School of Music/Vikes Rally Song contest on January 10 (but more on that in this separate post). All in all, that’s some outstanding Music coverage for just the first week of classes!

HIA booksBack in History in Art, both Allan Antliff and Erin Campbell have contributed to new books. Antliff’s chapter on “Ezra Pound, Man Ray and Vorticism in America, 1914-1917″ can be found in the new book Vorticism: New Perspectives (Oxford University Press), and Campbell’s is co-editor of The Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior, 1400-1700 (Ashgate), with her specific chapter “Art and Family Viewers in the 17th-century Bolognese Domestic Interior.”

Peter Morin & the world's biggest Button Blanket

Peter Morin & the world’s biggest Button Blanket

History in Art is also gearing up for the unveiling of their Big Button Blanket project, debuting at the Legacy Downtown on September 16 as part of the exhibit Adasla: The Movement of Hands. An ambitious collaborative project between professor Carolyn Butler Palmer, Tahtan Nation artist and sessional instructor Peter Morin, plus local indigenous blanket makers and History in Art students, watch for all sorts of coverage coming up about both the exhibit and the blanket itself. Get a taste of it with this CBC Radio All Points West interview with Morin and host Jo-Ann Roberts (scroll down to the January 7 entry).

Adasla runs January 16 to April 25, with a special performance on February 22 by Governor General’s Award winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore, a former Audain professor for the Department of Visual Arts, and Morin. Morin will also inaugurate the blanket in its debut performance at the start of UVic’s annual Diversity Research Forum on January 29.

Over in Writing, professor Maureen Bradley was featured in this Times Colonist article in late November, being interviewed about her upcoming feature film Two 4 One and the representation of transgendered people in the media. Two 4 One will be the first transgender romantic comedy.

Lee Henderson

Lee Henderson

Meanwhile, both professor Lee Henderson and alumna Eliza Robertson were included on the National Post‘s list of “The 25 most anticipated (Canadian) books of 2014.” Despite doom & gloom in the publishing industry, books writer Mark Medley feels we’re presently in the midst of another Can-lit boom. “While the industry still faces financial challenges, Canadian writers are in the midst of a creative peak that rivals anything we’ve seen before.” Tucked in with such literary luminaries as Michael Crummey, Emma Donoghue, Steven Galloway, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Miriam Toews, Medley includes books by Henderson and Robertson among the books he “can’t wait to devour” in 2014:

Orphans, by Lee Henderson (Hamish Hamilton Canada/August). Not much is known about Henderson’s first novel since 2008’s The Man Game (an audacious, wildly inventive novel that deserved a wider audience), and even the name will likely change. In a 2010 interview he told me it was ‘about creativity.’piece.”
Wallflowers, by Eliza Robertson (Hamish Hamilton Canada/August). A debut collection from a buzzy young author whose work has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize and won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her story ‘My Sister Sang’ is alone worth the price of admission.” But hey, no pressure!
Two other pieces of Writing grad news: Canadian literary biggie Timothy Taylor selected Jenny Boychuk as 2nd runner-up in PRISM literary magazine’s annual creative non-fiction contest for her story, “Notes on Breath” (beating our Writing instructor Madeline Sonik, who was long-listed for the same prize), and poet Kyeren Regher was the only Canadian selected for the American publication Best New
Poets 2013.
Michael Whitfield

Michael Whitfield

Finally, Department of Theatre sessional instructor, former student and veteran lighting designer Michael Whitfield has been announced as this year’s Fine Arts recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Whitfield was a student during the earliest days of UVic and literally got in on the ground floor of the nascent Theatre department. You can read some of his memories in this Torch article from the Spring 2013 issue (skip ahead to page 34). Learn more about the Distinguished Alumni Awards here. Congratulations, Michael!

 

Spend a week with Gustav Mahler

Like the idea of spending a week with Gustav Mahler—without the hassle of building a time machine? Then the School of Music is the place to be from January 6 to 11, when Song of the Earth: A Week with Gustav Mahler gets underway.

The music faculty in rehearsal for Mahler week

The music faculty in rehearsal for Mahler week

It’s often in times of hardship that great works of art are inspired, and that’s certainly the case with late-Romantic Austrian composer, Gustav Mahler. In 1907, he lost his favourite daughter to scarlet fever, was diagnosed with a dangerous heart condition, and gave up his longstanding directorship of the Vienna Court Opera. Then, the following year, Mahler composed Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth), considered by many to be his most significant work.

While a grand performance of Das Lied von der Erde is the main event of the week-long tribute, there will also be open rehearsals, lectures provided by Associate Professor Dániel Péter Biró and President’s Distinguished Scholar Harald Krebs, and an orchestral reading of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 conducted by Ajtony Csaba, as well as “Mahler Re-Imagined”, an open class of Alexandra Pohran Dawkins’ improvisation course during which students will improvise on fragments of Mahler’s work. There will also be a Listening Room featuring broadcasts from the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall archives of performances of some of Mahler’s work, as well as online presentations and interviews by noted Mahler scholars. (All of these events are open to the public.)

Butterfield and Pohran Dawkins talk Mahler

Butterfield and Pohran Dawkins talk Mahler

Be sure to read this Times Colonist interview with both Pohran-Dawkins and Head of Voice Benjamin Butterfield. “It is a really profound piece of music, very inward looking, without the exuberance of some of his earlier work,” says Pohran-Dawkins in the article. Noting the difficulty of the work, she adds, “It’s a bit of a coup to be able to pull this off.”

The week-long festival culminates with a performance of his profound work, Das Lied von der Erde, on January 11. Originally penned as “A Symphony for Tenor and Alto (or Baritone) Voice and Orchestra,” an ensemble of School of Music faculty, with a few alumni and guests, will treat the audience to a chamber arrangement (begun by Arnold Schoenberg, and completed in the 1980s by the German composer Rainer Riehn) for woodwind quintet, string quintet, keyboards (harmonium, piano and celeste) and percussion.

The concert “highlights our performance faculty and most importantly, the School’s continuing commitment to chamber music, in performance and in instruction,” explains Pohran Dawkins, oboist and producer of the event. “This is a significant event in the life of the School of Music.” Pohran Dawkins is one of a strong number of full-time world-class performance faculty at UVic—the most at any university in the country—which allows this notable to be performed.

Mahler Week poster - Jan14“I never thought I would sing [Das Lied von der Erde] in my life, but I feel particularly privileged to have recorded it two summers ago at Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival in Vermont with my friend Bill Sharp,” says Butterfield. “It therefore seemed logical to push for performing it at UVic.” Butterfield is delighted to sing alongside friend and colleague, baritone Nathanial Watson (Montreal).

Click here for a complete schedule of A Week with Mahler events.

Faculty Chamber Music Series concert Das Lied von der Erde starts at 8pm Saturday, January 11, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall in UVic’s MacLaurin Building. Tickets are $17.50 & $13.50, available online at the UVic Ticket Centre, by calling 250-721-8480 and at the door.

For those arriving by car, evening parking is $2.50. Click here for current parking info and campus maps.