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.

Vikes Nation Rally Song finalists debut Jan 10

Thanks to 18 submissions from across campus—including entries by students, faculty and administration alike—the School of Music / Vikes Nation fall Rally Song contest can definitely be considered a hit. And now that the judging panel has chosen the top three songs—submitted by contestants Kyell Erickson, Kevin Grout and Colleen Eccleston—all that remains is to find out who the winner will be on January 10.

“I’m delighted with the quality and creativity shown in all of the entries for the Rally Song contest,” says School of Music director Susan Lewis Hammond. “The three finalists offer up great lyrics and catchy tunes to cheer on the Vikes.” To hear the songs submitted by the top three finalists, just click on their names here: Kyell EricksonKevin Grout and Colleen Eccleston.

Get pumped to hear the Rally Song winners! (photo: Armando Tura)

Get pumped to hear the Rally Song winners! (photo: Armando Tura)

Entries ran the gamut from rap and rock to cheers and chants, and have been culled down to a top-three list of finalists. It’s now up to the  judging panel—new UVic President Jamie Cassels, Director of Athletics Clint Hamilton, gold medal-winning Vikes athlete Kendra Pomfret and Lewis Hammond herself—to select the winner at the Vikes Days of Thunder men’s basketball game on Friday, January 10, 2014.

But before the winner is announced, each finalist song will be performed live by top School of Music voice student and rising opera star Josh Lovell, and the UVic Jazz Ensemble, led by Jazz professor Patrick Boyle. Be sure to attend the game to find out who’s going to win an iPad for their original song, and to cheer on your personal favourite. “I can’t wait to hear them live on January 10!” says an enthusiastic Lewis Hammond.

(Click here for the full back-story on the contest.)

Regardless of who wins, the Rally Song contest proved to be an interdisciplinary success, thanks to collaboration between two UVic faculties—Fine Arts and Athletics—that haven’t traditionally done much work together. Here’s to more cross-pollination in the future!

Celebrating Lorna Crozier

With a sold-out house, gales of laughter, heartfelt reminiscences, touching readings and a few sincerely dewy-eyed moments, the Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier proved to be a smash success! And, thanks to the nearly 300 people filling the David Lam Auditorium on November 28, the Department of Writing also managed to raise a nice bit of money for the fledgling Lorna Crozier Undergraduate Poetry Scholarship.

It was a full house at the Lorna Crozier event

It was a full house at the Lorna Crozier event

Hilariously hosted by Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, and featuring a stellar lineup of poets—including Jane Urquhart, Brad Cran, Patrick Lane, Carla Funk, Melanie Siebert and Steven Price—the nearly two-and-a-half-hour event kept people alternately in stitches and silence, depending on the emotional tone of the readings . . . and anecdotes. (Alas, planned guests Anne Michaels had to cancel due to illness and Esi Edugyan was called out of town on book business.) Most of the poets read a mix of their favourite Crozier poems as well as some of their own work, much of which was either inspired by or had been critiqued by her as a teacher.

Jane Urquhart

Jane Urquhart

Celebrated author and poet Jane Urquhart set the tone for the evening, mixing personal—and often surprisingly frank—reminiscences of Lorna with her own readings. (Highlights included hearing about the two of them attending a literary event in Paris, which did Lorna’s fashion addiction absolutely no good.) Shelagh Rogers responded in kind with a side-splitting story about Urquhart, Crozier and herself breaking into an artistic director’s home after a reading on the Sunshine Coast to drink gin and tonics. An audience member paid $50 to hear this hilarious and totally impromptu bon mot, and it actually kicked off a cash-for-kooky-Crozier-stories frenzy that ran the entire night and saw about $500 extra raised for the scholarship. (Indeed, Crozier’s husband, Patrick Lane, offered to tell a particularly racy story about her for $100, which Crozier then outbid with another $100 for him not to tell it!)

From top left: Shelagh Rogers, Brad Cran, Carla Funk, Steven Price, Melanie Siebert, Alexandra Pohran Dawkins

From top left: Shelagh Rogers, Brad Cran, Carla Funk, Steven Price, Melanie Siebert, Alexandra Pohran Dawkins

The most memorable readings of the night came from Crozier’s former students—Cran, Price, Siebert and Funk—all of whom attested to her skill in the classroom and importance as a mentor; most of them have since become friends and colleagues, and their memories provided vivid illustrations of how important a professor can be in the lives of emerging artists. A highly emotional Brad Cran even got too choked up to finish his own reading, barely holding back the tears as he recounted his own experience with undiagnosed dyslexia, the difference Crozier made to him as a student, and the struggles his daughter is currently going through with the same thing—and the hope that she too would find such a supportive mentor one day.

Pohran Dawkins performs her musical tribute

Pohran Dawkins performs her musical tribute

Another highlight of the evening was the special performance by School of Music professor Alexandra Pohran Dawkins, who played her own charming and poetic improvisational piece on the English Horn titled, “A Musical Offering—For Lorna.”

Patrick Lane read out a message from Anne Michaels, noting that she was “very sad not to be with you all—only a doctor’s orders would keep me away.” Michaels wrote that she had known Crozier for over 30 years and had spent the past few weeks reading all of her books again, noting “how much love your poems contain, how much humour and quiet strength . . . in their grace, your poems embrace all of life.”

As Crozier's longtime partner, Patrick Lane was uniquely situated to offer, uh, insights

As Crozier’s longtime partner, Patrick Lane was uniquely situated to offer, uh, insights

Lane himself had much to say about his wife—much of it hilarious, much of it touching—before reading one of his poems that was written at a moment of indecision in their relationship. “A Red Bird Bearing On His Back An Empty Cup” silenced the house, and caused many to pause and reflect on their own emotional lives. Lane also mischievously noted the pros and cons of living with another poet: “Every now and then I come up with these phrases and Lorna says, ‘Write that down’ . . . and I do, before she steals it.”

Former City of Victoria Poet Laureate Carla Funk spoke glowingly about Lorna’s teaching legacy,  describing her “faith beyond faith” that a student’s poem would improve, and her ability to “encourage young poets, inspire them to continue, to strive, to grow, to give permission to write about things that were kept in shadows in your family’s history.”

A very moved Lorna Crozier

A very moved Lorna Crozier

By the time recently retired Crozier took the podium to a standing ovation, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. “I didn’t realize so much of the evening would be about me,” said an obviously moved Crozier, noting that “it shouldn’t be so much about me, but about raising money for our future students and aspiring poets.” Crozier also praised her former students, saying how lucky she was to have them in her classes. “Now they are peers, and I use their books as models for what one can write when you get so close to the heart.”

Crozier with Cran, Funk and Dean Blackstone (foreground)

Crozier with Cran, Funk and Dean Blackstone (foreground)

Indeed, many of the featured poets mentioned how they had been recipients of scholarships when they were in school, and how much a difference they can make in the life of a struggling student.  All in all, the evening raised about $6,000 towards the $25,000 needed to make the scholarship self-sustaining. This scholarship will continue to honour the academic life and legacy of the beloved poet now that she has retired from teaching. Please consider a donation to this important fund, which will be awarded annually to a third or fourth year undergraduate poetry student. You can give online simply by clicking this link. 

As Dr. Sarah Blackstone, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, noted at the close of the evening, “UVic has just celebrated our 50th anniversary—imagine, on our 100th anniversary, hearing the difference this scholarship has made to the lives and careers of 50 poets yet to come.”

Thanks go out to event sponsors Tanner’s Books, Marmalade Tart Boutique, Greystone Books, Harbour Publishing, plus UVic’s offices  of the Vice President Aademic & Provost and External Relations, as well as our own Faculty of Fine Arts and Department of Writing.

If you missed it in advance, be sure to check out some of the media coverage the event received: CBC Radio’s All Points West on-air column “Creative Class” which you can hear by clicking here, this short article in the Times Colonist and this piece in The Ring, UVic’s community newspaper.

Concrete Garden wants you (or your students)

Are you a keen student looking to gain some volunteer work experience in the magazine writing realm—or do you have a student who’s looking to get published and learn more about the world of magazines? Either way, check out Concrete Garden.

Concrete Garden - 2013SepUVic’s own Concrete Garden magazine is a great student success story, evolving from a project in the Writing department’s magazine writing class to an actual hard copy mag that’s now for sale around the city. Concrete Garden focuses on sustainable urban agriculture and is currently looking for an art director, photo editor, writing editors and a photographer for the Spring 2014 issue.

All positions are unpaid, except for photographers, but do offer valuable work experience, connections to the local writing biz, and the opportunity for students to publish their work in a print publication. Students should contact editor Kimberley Veness directly with “Position” in the subject line.

Here’s a quick breakdown on the various positions available:

  • Art Director – responsible for the aesthetics of the magazine, works closely with the editorial team to set editing schedules and design schedules to meet monthly production targets and ensure we meet our publication date of April, 2014. The art director will work with the photo editor and editorial team to determine which pictures (or art, comics, etc.) best suit each story, respectively, and is responsible for creating a unique design for Spring 2014 appropriate to the themes of the issue. Must show proven proficiency in Photoshop and Adobe InDesign or similar programs, and previous professional writing and editing experience considered an asset.
  • Concrete Garden staff show off their magazine at Congress 2013

    Concrete Garden staff show off their magazine at Congress 2013

    Photo Editor – responsible for coordinating photographers and businesses, groups, and individuals for photo shoots. The photo editor must fact check and attribute proper photo credit for all pictures in the magazine, and source additional pictures or visual media when requested by the art director or editor on chief. The photo editor should have proven previous photography or photo editor experience, be currently enrolled in photography or similar courses, or demonstrate recent or current involvement in photography groups/clubs within Victoria.

  • Contributing editors – We are looking to add two skilled editors to our editorial team. Under direction from the senior editor, editors must commit to at least two rounds of reading and editing each respective article, and “workshopping” articles at weekly or biweekly editorial meetings, are required to uphold the editing schedule and finish editing articles before the editorial meeting in which they will be workshopped, and should edit articles digitally so edited material can be easily distributed to the other editors and the editor in chief. Editors must have third or fourth year standing, with a declared major or minor in journalism, technical writing, or creative nonfiction at a post secondary institution, be recent writing alumni, or show proven previous editorial experience.
  • Concrete_Garden #1_Page_01Photographers – We are looking to add an additional photographer to our team. Photographers will remain easily accessible (via telephone and email) to the photo editor, art director, editorial team, and editor in chief. Photographers must be able to get to photo shoots within Victoria and surrounding communities, with the possibility of traveling to other locations around Vancouver Island. Photographers are required to shoot and upload pictures in a professional and timely manner, and work closely with the photo editor and art director. They must have own photography equipment to take on location for photo shoots. Having access to, or owning, a reliable vehicle considered an asset.

Concrete Garden is also now accepting pitches for the Spring 2014 issue. They are looking for short and long feature-length stories, but also pieces for our front and back of the book sections, which should complement the seasonal theme. As editor Veness says, “We prioritize writing students and recent graduates, but we are open to strong writers with good ideas from any background. Interested writers should review our online pitch and submission guidelines before contacting us.”

Note: all positions are volunteer and unpaid except for photographers.

Phoenix wins Critics Choice Awards—again

Phoenix Theatre picked up a pair of wins in the 13th annual local Critic’s Choice Spotlight Awards. Celebrating excellence in local theatre, Phoenix is no stranger to the Spotlights—they’ve frequently won in the past—and this year is no exception, with current students, faculty and alumni all sharing nominations.

Chosen by critics for CBC Radio’s On The Island, CVV Magazine and The Marble (alas, the Times Colonist chose to not participate this year), these shows stand as proof of the continuing vibrancy of Victoria’s theatrical community—and Phoenix’s place in it. Congratulations to all, nominees and winners alike!

The Peanuts gang with Charlie Brown (Kale Penny) (photo: David Lowes)

The Peanuts gang have now picked up a pair of Critic’s Choice Awards (photo: David Lowes)

Last spring’s production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown was the big winner for Phoenix this year, picking up the awards for both Musical Production and Performance in a Community Production Ensemble. (While the “performance” category typically chooses a single performer, the judges admitted that the Charlie Brown cast was so strong overall that they simply couldn’t narrow it down to a single person—high praise indeed for this show directed by Theatre prof Fran Gebhard!)

Reese Nielsen (left) with Robin Gadsby in Reasons to be Pretty (photo: David Lowes)

Reese Nielsen (left) with Robin Gadsby in Reasons to be Pretty (photo: David Lowes)

Fourth-year student Marisa Nielsen was nominated for Performance in a Community Production for her dynamic work in Phoenix’s February 2013 production of Reasons To Be Pretty (which CVV Magazine reviewer Erin Anderson described at the time as “an affecting, sharp performance . . . balancing intense emotion with intelligent convictions”). And interestingly, Nielsen’s Reasons co-star Robin Gadsby was also nominated this year, but not for his acting—instead, he picked up a Best New Play nomination for his show Judgement Day.

Three-time Phoenix alum and current sessional instructor Clayton Jevne was nominated in the Direction category for The Golden Dragon at his own Theatre Inconnu, which was also twice nominated—alongside You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown—in the Overall Production (Community) category, for The Golden Dragon and In the Next Room . . . which also won. Just as a quick recap, out of four shows nominated in that single category, three had Phoenix connections, including the winner—proving once again how vital our Department of Theatre is to the greater arts community.

Double nominee Patrick Du Wors was a talent to watch even when he was a student

Double nominee Patrick Du Wors was a talent to watch even when he was a student

Phoenix alum Patrick Du Wors won the set design category for My Fair Lady, which was mounted this past summer by Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre—run by Department of Theatre professor Brian Richmond. Du Wors was also nominated in the Costume Design category, alongside Shayna Ward & Allyson Leet for their work on last spring’s Phoenix production of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. Department of Theatre professor emeritus and former chair Giles Hogya also picked up a Lighting Design nomination for his work on Blue Bridge’s Uncle Vanya, and alum Mike Rinaldi was nominated in Sound Design for his work on the Belfry’s production of Helen’s Necklace. (It’s clearly been a good year for Rinaldi, whose earlier play Toothpaste & Cigars—co-written with alumnus TJ Dawe—made into the feature film  The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame!)

Will Weigler showing the labyrinthine set for From The Heart (photo: Times Colonist)

Will Weigler showing the labyrinthine set for From The Heart (photo: Times Colonist)

Phoenix alumnus and former instructor Will Weigler, along with Krystal Cook, picked up a win in the Best New Play category for his complex co-production From the Heart: Enter into the Journey of Reconciliation. Granted, while Weigler & Cook are credited as co-creators, we acknowledge there were many others involved in the creation of this challenging production, including the Victoria International Development Education Association and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, and based on UVic PhD Paulette Regan’s bestselling 2011 book, Unsettling the Settler Within. (As local critic and UVic professor Monica Prendergast noted, “Weigler worked at superhuman levels to bring this community-based theatre production to fruition, and it had powerful effects on many audience members who took it in . . . . New Canadians should encounter and come to terms with the history of their new homeland, and theatre can be an effective way to do so.”)

Savvy artistic director Janet Munsil

Savvy artistic director Janet Munsil

And while it didn’t win, Brian Richmond‘s Blue Bridge production of My Fair Lady was nominated in the Overall Production (Professional) category. Finally, Intrepid Theatre artistic director and Phoenix alumna Janet Munsil‘s UNO Festival had three shows nominated in the new Best of the Fests category—Huff, Mike Daisey’s American Utopias, and Till Death: The Six Wives of Henry the Vlll, with Huff winning the category. True, none of the nominees were her own shows (despite the fact that Munsil is an acclaimed playwright), but their selection does speak to her accomplishments as artistic director; Intrepid continuously programs some of the most dynamic and progressive contemporary theatre productions into their various festivals.

Listen to the CBC On The Island broadcast of the winners list on this podcast, and glean some insights into the winners and nominees courtesy of CBC theatre critic Monica Prendergast on her blog post about this year’s awards.

Early BC artists get a boost

Fresh in from the BC Arts Council is news of their new pilot program to support the development of artists and arts administrators across the province—but, there’s a January 20, 2014 deadline. Read on to find out if you fit the criteria.

BC-Arts-Council-fullThe BC Arts Council’s Early Career Development Program will help bridge the gap for emerging artists and practitioners, supporting their ability to work as artists and cultural workers, while building their body of work, portfolio, professional exposure and/or career experience through residency, internship and mentorship opportunities. This program is accessible to both individual artists and organizations.  Individuals can apply for the residencies or mentorship components.

The program will support the career development of B.C.-based early career and emerging practitioners through three components:

  • Component I: Internships
  • Component II: Residencies
  • Component III: Mentorships

For the purposes of this program, early career and emerging artists and arts practitioners are defined as artists and practitioners who either:

  • Are under the age of 30; or
  • Have less than five years professional experience since the completion of basic training in their discipline.

This pilot program is being launched through the BC Creative Futures strategy. Announced January 2013, BC Creative Futures supports opportunities for youth in communities throughout British Columbia to engage in the arts and creative thinking and encourages young people to pursue creative careers.

The application deadline is January 20, 2014.  For more information, including program guidelines, application forms and FAQs, please visit the BC Arts Council website.

If you have any questions about these programs, please contact the BC Arts Council at 250-356-1718 or BCArtsCouncil@gov.bc.ca.