Education, Bangkok-style

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From November 3 to 9, UVic will be celebrating International Education Week. Showcasing the significant contribution international education makes to our social, economic, and cultural well-being, IEW also supports Canada’s ongoing efforts to engage on the international stage.

Like to travel? Check out our exchange with Bangkok U (photo: Allan Stichbury)

Like to travel? Check out our exchange with Bangkok U (photo: Allan Stichbury)

Fine Arts will, of course, be participating in IEW. The Department of Theatre will be offering a panel discussion about their current student exchange between Bangkok University and Phoenix Theatre which was announced last year.

“There’s actually a lot of synchronicity between us,” Theatre professor Allan Stichbury said at the time. “Both departments are similar in size and have similar goals and objectives, balancing a sophisticated academic program alongside a very active production program—and both departments have very active Applied Theatre programs. The three prongs we have are the same as what they’ve got, which is actually remarkably rare.”

Learn more about Theatre’s student exchange with Bangkok University at the IEW panel discussion running from 12:30pm -1:30pm Wednesday, November 5, in Phoenix’s Roger Bishop Theatre.

IEW is packed full of information about international opportunities, and affords the chance to hear stories of international experiences and meet some of UVic’s international students and researchers from around the globe. Click here to read the full list of events—including info sessions about work & study abroad programs, film screenings, other panel discussions and more.

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

And you can find out more about Theatre’s other international initiatives by reading about PhD candidate Matthew Gusul, who is currently busy over in India running his intergenerational field school with 13 undergrads. (Be sure to watch this fun slide show of their first few weeks in India.)

Paphavee (Poe) Linkul, former UVic student and Bangkok University professor, with Allan Stichbury

Paphavee (Poe) Linkul, former UVic student and Bangkok University professor, with Allan Stichbury

The Department of Theatre’s exchange with Bangkok University was actually initiated by Theatre MFA and current Bangkok U faculty member Paphavee (Poe) Linkul. Intended to be a step towards internationalizing their university, Stichbury says, “This is not intended to remain simply an agreement between our Theatre department and their Performing Arts department; it’s intended to grow into a real relationship with Bangkok University.”

As the world gets smaller, UVic’s place in it keeps growing.

The colour of love

We all know the colour of money and the colour of jealousy, but leave it to acclaimed Department of Theatre design professor Mary Kerr to bring us the colour of love.

If you're in Toronto, don't miss Bella

If you’re in Toronto, don’t miss Bella

Kerr’s new play, Bella: The Colour of Love, debuts at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts’ Greenwin Theatre on October 15. Better still, the run is over 85% sold out, with two extra performances added already.

Inspired by the life of Bella Chagall—the writer, actress, scholar and revolutionary who was also the great love and creative muse for her famous husband—Bella is an intricate poetic look at the nature of love and creativity told through words and song, against the backdrop of Marc Chagall‘s colourful paintings. Written by Kerr and Theresa Tova, who also stars in the production, Kerr also (not surprisingly) did the production design for both this and the original 2011 cabaret, commissioned by the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

But the origins of Bella actually go back more than 30 years earlier, when a mutual Interest in Chagall led Kerr and choreographer Danny Grossman to create the show’s first incarnation in 1976. Danced to the music of Puccini on a painted horse in a bower of lilacs, this early Bella was described as “a satisfying, haunting and poetic observation about love and death.”

A scene from the original production of Bella

A scene from the original production of Bella

After standing ovations and four sold-out houses in 2011, Kerr and her artistic team began taking the production to its next stage. When approached to present a 30-minute segment at the Art Gallery of Ontario in conjunction with their 2011 exhibit Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde, choreographer Grossman was asked to come back on board (and he’s still the choreographer of this latest version of the show, also featuring music composed and performed by Matt Herskowitz). An expanded one-hour version then played at the Singer Festival in Warsaw Poland and the full two-act production appeared at Halifax’s Dalhousie University in fall 2013. This current Toronto production, however, offers a revamped theatrical run, complete with new paintings, costumes and musical numbers.

MaryKerr-NatPost-14Oct14As Tova tells the National Post in this article, she and Kerr “researched the life of this ‘unrealized artist’ in part to tell ‘the story of women, especially at that time, when Jews were not allowed to go to university’.” You can also read more about Bella in this piece from the Canadian Jewish News. This also marks the second play written by lifelong friends Kerr and Tova, following the success of their Holocaust musical Still the Night.

In the last decade of her life, Bella Chagall—born Berta Rosenfeld (1889-1944)—wrote a series of memory stories in Yiddish, the poetic and visually rich language of her youth. Chagall said of her writing: “She wrote as she lived, as she loved, as she greeted her friends. Her words and phrases were a wash of colour over the canvas.” These two published collections are the parallel poetic stories to Chagall’s paintings and drawings; together they constitute what we believe to be an intricate poetic dance between two friends about the nature of love and creativity.

A good sign: Bella in Toronto

A good sign: Bella in Toronto

“We feel their love—steeped in Hasidic traditions and imagery of 1909, their time in revolutionary Moscow, their life in Paris, escape to America and her subsequent death there—to be a back drop to the real story: a poetic discussion of what it is to be creative artists in the 20th century,” writes Kerr about the show. “Bella was a brilliant scholar, a privileged modern woman who went to university and also studied acting. The idea that she studied with Stanislavsky in Moscow while he studied design with Leon Bakst in St Petersburg, place these two young people at the epicenter of creative constructivism and cubism in the early years of the century.”

(Interesting side-note: Kerr was originally introduced to Chagall when her painting teacher accused her of copying his style in the first oil painting she ever made. She was mortified, but went on to write her thesis on Chagall and his Hasidic influences.)

Mary Kerr in her office at UVic

Mary Kerr in her office at UVic

Kerr has forged a celebrated career as a production designer in Canadian and
International theatre, dance, opera, feature film, television, exhibition and special events design. Her stage design has been described as“ kinetic sculpture on stage” and is characterized by experimentation with architectural concepts, scale, imaginative materials and colours, nonrealism and often satiric cultural commentary on the human condition through her unique sets and costumes.

She has created for the Canadian Opera Company, The Vancouver Opera, The Banff Opera of the Twentieth Century, Pacific Opera Victoria and The New Zealand Opera. In
1994, Kerr designed the internationally televised Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in Victoria. For Expo 86 she designed the First Theatre and
production in the Canadian Pavilion.

Mary Kerr, illustration of a costume designed for Copper Thunderbird (Legacy Gallery)

Mary Kerr, illustration of a costume designed for Copper Thunderbird (Legacy Gallery)

Among her dance commissions are productions for the Paris Opera Ballet, NYC Dance Umbrella, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, The Florida Ballet and 28 pieces for The Danny Grossman Dance Theatre Company in Toronto, New York
and Europe. In 2008, she was the subject of Copper Thunderbird at UVic’s Legacy Gallery, a groundbreaking exhibit which paired Ms. Kerr’s costume plates, model, built costumes, process photographs and nationally broadcast video of the production with Norval Morrisseauʼs (Copper Thunderbird) paintings.

Named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010, Kerr is the only scenographer to be so elected. A member the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, her work is housed in many collections including The Mary Kerr Collection at the Metro Toronto Library and The
Paris Opera Archival Museum. She was nominated for British Columbia Distinguished Academic of the Year Award in both 2003 and 2004.

Mary Kerr's bold design for Eurydice at the Phoenix in 2012 (photo: David Lowes)

Mary Kerr’s bold design for Eurydice at the Phoenix in 2012 (photo: David Lowes)

Kerr is also one of 10 Canadian designers judged to be included in the 2012 publication World Scenography: 1975-1990, as well a featured designer in the first published book on Canadian stage design Scenography in Canada (2004). A Bravo Fact Film Mary Kerr: the Creative Process has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and she is profiled in the 2008 Banff Centre publication Inspiring Creativity: 75 Years of Creation at the Banff Centre.

Kerr has taught at tUVic’s Theatre department since 1998, teaching general, directed and graduate studies in the aesthetics, design, history of scenography and culture, costume design and costume history. She continues to create bold designs for the Phoenix stage.

 

Is that meant to be funny?

If you think there’s nothing funny about censorship, Mark Leiren-Young would like to change your mind. A prolific freelance journalist, screenwriter, playwright, memoirist and award-winning author, Leiren-Young is this year’s Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction for the Department of Writing. And while his current Writing course Finding the Funny focuses on humour writing, his upcoming public lecture will examine the fine line between comedy and censorship.
Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

“I’m fascinated by the question of, ‘Where’s the line?’,” says Leiren-Young. “What can you make fun of? What can’t you make fun of? What’s taboo? How soon is too soon?” By way of example, Leiren-Young looks east to Toronto’s frequently lampooned mayor. “Rob Ford and his tumor—too soon for jokes?”

As the author of the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour-winning memoir Never Shoot A Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo and one-half of the long-running satirical comedy duo Local Anxiety, Leiren-Young well knows the fine art of funny. A graduate of both UVic’s Writing and Theatre departments, he is also the first UVic alumnus to hold the Southam position.

His October 15 annual Southam public lecture You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century will draw not only on his own experiences as a journalist and performer but also on examples from popular culture to illustrate how the line between comedy and censorship keeps shifting.

“Think about the first time you ever saw South Park,” he says. “We all said, ‘Oh my god, you can’t say that on television!’ And that’s one of the thing I’ve told my class—you can critique anything you want, just don’t tell me it’s not funny. It’s okay to say you’re offended by it, but I’m not talking about anything that people haven’t laughed at.”

After writing three plays about censorship and spending the past 25 years on the Freedom to Read organiztion’s free expression committee, it’s a topic that’s clearly close to Leiren-Young’s heart. “It gets at the heart of what we are ‘allowed’ to write, and why we write,” he says. “Riffing on what’s funny versus what’s offensive is going to make for a great conversation.”

Mark Leiren-YoungThe secret, he says, always lies in context: given our rapid-fire media messaging and instantaneous technology, it’s all too easy for a joke to cross the line. “These 10-second Youtube clips that are killing careers now—all too often they’re taken totally out of context. It’s one thing to be funny in a comedy club, but play that same joke on the evening news…”

As the eighth Southam Lecturer for the Writing department, Leiren-Young follows in the footsteps of the likes of CBC Radio’s Jo-Ann Roberts, author Richard Wagamaese and sports journalist Tom Hawthorn. And, given the topic, will his public lecture actually be funny?

“It better be,” he chuckes wryly,” or I’m already in deep trouble.”

You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century 7:00 pm Wednesday, Oct. 15 in room A240 of the Human & Social Development Building. Admission is free.

Alumni find love at the Phoenix

Most people come to UVic in pursuit of education. Two Phoenix alumni, however, found love and a life together in theatre

“It feels like coming full circle,” says alumna Kaitlin Williams (BFA’09).

Mack Gordon & Katlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Mack Gordon & Katlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Ten years ago, Williams met Mack Gordon (BFA ’08) when they were two fresh-faced first-year students in the Department of Theatre. Now married, they return to the stages of the Phoenix Theatre for our annual Spotlight on Alumni with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, running October 9-18, 2014.

Update: due to popular demand, this show has now been held over, with two extra shows added—8pm Friday October 24 & 2pm Saturday October 25.

“Kaitlin and I are blessed to work together as often as we do,” says Gordon. In 2012, they were cast as Peter and Lucy in Pacific Theatre’s much-loved adaptation of the classic Narnia tale.

Read more about the pair in this Times Colonist interview. And you can read some of the reviews here, where the TC calls it “enjoyable”, “engaging” and “charming,” while CVV Magazine says “there is much to praise in this production.”

Written and published in 1950 by C.S. Lewis, this novel is the first and most well-known story in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Ron Reed, the Artistic Director of Pacific Theatre, adapted The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for the stage, setting the play years later when Peter and Lucy are adults. Stopping off to tour their Uncle Digory’s house they find themselves returning to the same spare room where the old wardrobe sits and begin to recount all the adventures they had as children. Their imaginations take over: using only the furniture in the room and a few old coats from the wardrobe, they travel back to Narnia—bringing the audience along with them.

A seasonal favourite, Pacific Theatre has remounted this play many times to great acclaim since it first played in 1998. Over the past few years, Williams and Gordon have toured this show across the province sharing the clasic story with many BC communities, including stops at Kamloops’ Western Canada Theatre, West Vancouver’s Kay Meek Centre and, of course, the play’s home: Pacific Theatre. This presentation at the Phoenix Theatre brings the play to Vancouver Island for the first time.

Williams & Gordon in Barkerville

Williams & Gordon in Barkerville

Not many of us get to bring our spouses to work, but for Williams and Gordon, acting together makes their careers more rewarding. They keep an eye out for projects where they can perform together, whether it’s playing fiancés in the Jessie-winning production of The Foreigner or Mr. Jake and Nellie Webster, a gold miner and his wife at Barkerville Historic Town. “We joke that we are a 2-for-1 package,” laughs Williams.

Besides the built-in convenient carpool, working together makes a big difference on stage. “Sharing the stage with someone you already trust completely allows you to take risks that you might otherwise be apprehensive about,” says Gordon. “I sometimes feel akin to husbands and wives who work in the circus on the flying trapeze; our first safety net is always each other.”

Having their show selected as the Spotlight on Alumni presentation this year also means an opportunity to share post-graduating advice with current students. “Our comprehensive education helped get us involved in many areas of theatre, not just acting. The skills and connections we gained—whether backstage, studying marketing, working in the box office, or collaborating with community groups—have kept us working in theatre over the years,” says Williams.

Both actors have busy and multi-faceted careers that provide what they call their “patchwork pay cheque.” Gordon is an actor for theatre, film, and TV and also writes his own plays, works as a director—he recently assisted director Meg Roe (BFA ’04) at Bard on the Beach—and does simulation acting for training purposes. Williams has performed on stages around Vancouver and was also the Community Engagement Manager for Pacific Theatre, where she began right after university as an apprentice. She now finds acting takes up all her time.

Kaitlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Kaitlin Williams in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

For Williams especially, this show is close to her heart. As a 12-year old girl, she attended Pacific Theatre’s adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and watching the actors transform into the story’s various characters—from Mr. Tumnus and the Beaver, to the evil White Witch and the mighty lion Aslan—inspired her to become an actor herself. “Not only am I performing in this same play, but I get to perform with my husband at my side, at the school where we met, 10 years later! It feels like coming full circle—times 10!”

—Adrienne Holierhoek

If you’re planning to attend The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, take a look at our entire Phoenix season. For the regular ticket price of just two plays, you could attend all four plays by subscribing to the entire season for only $48. Or, choose just three plays for only $36.

Five for Fine Arts in GG list

When it comes to the really big awards, we always hope there will be at least one name on the list associated with our faculty—or, if we’re really lucky, sometimes even two. Colour us amazed then that this year’s list of the English-language finalists in the Governor General’s Literary Awards includes five people associated with the Faculty of Fine Arts: one Department of Writing faculty member, two former grad students, one Harvey Southam diploma grad plus one Theatre alum!

That’s five, count ‘em, five from Fine Arts out of 18 nominees in the Fiction/Poetry/Non-fiction/Drama categories of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, which are funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.

GG finalist Bill Gaston  9photo Jen Steele)

GG finalist Bill Gaston
9photo Jen Steele)

Congratulations go out to Writing professor Bill Gaston (Fiction) for his new short story collection Juliet Was a Surprise; MFA alumni Garth Martens (Poetry) for his debut collection of poems Prologue for the Age of Consequence and Arleen Paré (Poetry) for her latest volume, Lake of Two Mountains; Harvey Southam grad Arno Kopecky (Non-fiction) for his timely investigation The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway; and Department of Theatre alum Janet Munsil for her recently published play That Elusive Spark, which was mounted here at Phoenix Theatre in 2005.

“It was quite a surprise,” Martens told the local Times Colonist in this interview with the local nominees. “I was half asleep . . . I was really quite jubilant.” And you can click here to listen to an interview with local CBC’s On The Island.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards program with a total value of $450,000. Each winner will receive $25,000. The publisher of each winning book will receive $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000.

“This year’s list of finalists contains powerful novels and poems, imaginative children’s books, skillful translations, entrancing dramas and enlightening non-fiction,” says Canada Council Director and CEO, Simon Brault. “They are all meaningful books in which we can, as readers and Canadians, lose ourselves and find ourselves.”

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the 2014 GG Literary Awards at 6pm Wednesday, November 26 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

India field school spotlights intergenerational theatre

The buildings may have been repaired, but two key segments of the population in the southeastern coastal region of India are still struggling to overcome the effects of the 2006 tsunami: seniors and rural youth. Now, a new UVic field school hopes to bring a sense of joy to these marginalized people by creating India’s first intergenerational theatre company.

Matthew Gusul (centre) during a field trip to the region last year

Matthew Gusul (centre) during a field trip to the region last year

Led by PhD candidate Matthew Gusul, 13 Department of Theatre students will be traveling to Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, India, to participate in the two-month field school. Gusul, an applied theatre practitioner who has done similar fieldwork in Mexico and Guatemala, has been working with the 80 people in Tamil Nadu’s Tamaraikulam Elders’ Village (TEV) for the past two years.

By positively highlighting the life experiences of TEV residents and the 750 young students of the Isha Vidhya Matriculation School—both of which were created after the 2006 tsunami to address issues of displacement and vulnerability—Gusul will work with a team of Indian directors to encourage these seniors and rural youth to perform their own stories, develop strong community relations and create new lines of dialogue across generations.

Matthew Gusl_India8_smMany of the seniors at TEV were alive at the time of India’s independence in 1947 and offer rare opportunities for living history. But the idea of meeting the needs of seniors is still relatively new in India; in 1947, life expectancy was about 42 years, while today it’s closer to 64.

“India has a new population they don’t know how to deal with—they don’t have old age pensions or facilities for seniors,” says Gusul. “And when disasters happen, seniors are the last in the pecking order of importance. Often seniors tend to get put off to the side in what are commonly referred to as ‘granny dumps.’”

Intergenerational Theatre for Development is one example of the kind of community-engaged research happening at UVic, where undergraduates have the opportunity to take dynamic hands-on learning experiences beyond the traditional classroom and into communities around the world.

Matthew Gusl_India4_sm“Our students are there to bear witness to the process of getting this company up and running and creating the first performance,” says Gusul. He is working with the NGO HelpAge India, which will act as the organizational home for the theatre company. Once Gusul and his students arrive, the company will begin rehearsing with intergenerational theatre techniques used by the GeriActors and Friends in Edmonton, and Roots and Branches in New York City. The first performance will be on November 27, 2014.

Matthew Gusl_India3_sm“I really want to look at how the community is affected by this process—the performance and process leading up to it should be absolutely wonderful, filled with fun and joy and laughter,” says Gusul. “We really use the idea of intergenerational playfulness. You see it on the bus all the time: a young person will sit next to an old person, and the first thing the old person does is make a joke, then they start laughing together. It’s the same with seniors and their grandchildren. That’s what the company works with.”

Following the field school, the company’s Indian directors—Pondicherry University’s Dr. Bala Pazani and Sugantha Lakshmi, along with Dean of Performing Arts Dr. K.A. Gunasekaran as Creative and Cultural Consultant—will take what they learned from UVic’s theatre artists and adapt the model to be culturally appropriate for India.“Even though we have this desire to help, there have been a lot of projects with the exact same motivations that have really gone awry,” says Gusul. “Often times theatre projects with NGOs and in development situations can almost become tools for teaching or message giving—and you can see that in India right now. But we view theatre as more of a process, more about the celebratory nature.”

Matthew Gusl_India2_smKey to the whole project is its ability to survive and grow after Gusul and his students return to UVic in December. “Part of what I’m trying to do is make sure we’re as little involved as possible with the actual theatre work,” he says. “We’re there to support the idea getting generated and going; then it’s about the India community taking it on. Ultimately, it’s up to them—I can’t be too much of a cook in their kitchen.”

While Gusul notes success can be difficult to measure when it comes to theatre for development (“it’s a struggle for our entire discipline,” he admits), he’ll know the field school will have done well by the smiles on the participants faces. “The most important thing is to have one of the best days TEV has ever had, where the entire community is laughing and sharing a generational experience.”

New student welcome

Now that classes are back in session, it’s time again for our annual Fine Arts New Student Welcome soiree, where we welcome our first-year students in style.

ice-social_960x540But rather than offer yet another year of pizza, this time around the Fine Arts faculty and staff will be serving something different: ice cream! Yep, we’re throwing an ice cream social—but better still, this Sept 11 event will feature tasty gourmet ice cream sandwiches by Cold Comfort, local purveyor of high-end ice cream yumminess.

ColdComfortRather than just the humdrum likes of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, Cold Comfort offers ice cream sandwiches with flavours like Vanilla Bean sandwiched between chocolate cookies and Salted Caramel (that’s dairy and gluten-free, no less). We’ll also have a mystery box of random flavours for the more daring ice cream gourmands.

Coastal Giant

Coastal Giant

But there will be more than just ice cream up for grabs. In addition to popcorn and cookies (for those who don’t like chilly treats), we’ll also be featuring the music of local country funk band Coastal Giant.

Come for the food, stay for the fun! The New Student Welcome is always a great chance to connect with Fine Arts faculty and staff in a casual environment. All Fine Arts students, staff and faculty are welcome to join us from 4 to 6pm Thursday, September 11, in the Fine Arts Courtyard.

Fringe Festival—or Phoenix Festival?

It seems with each passing year, more and more Phoenix Theatre students and alumni are showing up in the annual Victoria Fringe Festival—and this year’s no different. For those who want to bat for the home team, here’s a quick list to those Phoenixers who are acting, writing, directing, designing or managing backstage at the Fringe.

Remember, these are only shows featuring Phoenix students or alumni—there are plenty of other great shows in the Fringe well worth checking out!

I, Claudia
High Wire Theatre

Directed by Joanne James, featuring Nikki Bell, Stage Manager Meaghan Danforth

A one-woman show written by Canadian playwright Kristen Thomson, I, Claudia explores the world of a 12 year old girl struggling through the life of a misfit adolescent. Detailed through the perspective of 4 different characters, including Claudia herself, the script is full of charm, wit, and moments of raw truth outlining the experience of simply “growing up.”

Improv on Trial
Singles Awareness Theatre Company

Written/Created by: Amy Culliford & Blair Moro, featuring Logan Mitev, Hayley McCurdy, Sean Dyer, Markus Spodzieja, Amy Culliford and Blair Moro, with marketing photo by Kate Loomer.

A completely improvised court case in the historic Maritime Museum’s court room. Each night will have a celebrity judge running the court (check the posters around the Fringe to see who our celebrity judges will be).

Kitt & Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future
SNAFU
Written/Created by Kathleen Greenfield, Ingrid Hansen with lighting design by Michael Franzmann

From creators of Little Orange Man comes this encore engagement of Kitt & Jane. Two socially-awkward 14-year-olds hijack their school assembly: the apocalypse will occur in five years, and they’re here to train you to survive. A poignant exploration of the world today’s youth are inheriting and what they’re prepared to do about it.

Medicine
BIG SANDWICH PRODUCTIONS
Written/Created by: TJ Dawe

Fringe road dog TJ Dawe (Lucky 9, The Slipknot) returns, with a story about a retreat led by Dr. Gabor Mate, involving the shamanic plant medicine ayahuasca . . . in Victoria. “Probably the best show he has ever brought us” – Edmonton Sun “Cathartic and never less than fascinating” – Now Magazine, Toronto “5 stars – storytelling at its best” – CBC Manitoba

Rope of Sand
WORKINGCLASSTHEATRE
Written/Created by Tristan Bacon (and Alyssa Kostello) featuring Nicholas Yee, Kaeden Derkson, Joanne James, Chase Heibert

Tear gas. Rubber bullets. Revolution. Against the backdrop of Egyptian violence in January 2011, Tracey Stoddard struggles against the age old question of financial security versus following your heart. Fast-paced and dream-like, Rope of Sand takes us on a whirlwind journey from the slick, wet streets of Vancouver to the scorching, arid desert in Egypt.

Tatterhood
KERPLODING THEATRE
Written/Created by Molison Farmer, featuring Kaeden Derksen, Kathleen O Reilly. Designed by Chelsea Graham and Halley Fulford. Stage Management and lights by Imogen Wilson (with music by UVIC music student Simon Dawkin)

Meet Tatterhood: a scraggly goat-riding wild child who must use her gumption to save her sweet and angelic sister from a hoard of trolls! Pick of the Fringe winner Kerploding Theatre brings this age-old folk tale to life with puppetry, live original music, and choreography. “The show delighted everyone in the audience… people young and old.” – Martlet
The Hatter
SPIRED THEATRE
Written/Created by: Andrew Wade

The Hatter is the story of a man trying desperately to get home. (It is also a tea party!) The Hatter has lost his madness, and now he needs your help. Come join in this performance jammed with storytelling, a song, emotional problems, and a chance to be the Jabberwock. With free tea! “4½ stars!” – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The Princess Rescue Force
NEW BLOOD THEATRE
Written/Created by Robin Gadsby, directed by Kieran Wilson. Design by Chelsea Graham and Simon Farrow. Stage Manager Becca Jorgenson.

Damsels, distress no more. The Princess Rescue Force is here!! Two young recruits set out to earn their tights within this prestigious company of men . . . only to discover that “happily ever after” is hard to find. Dragons have to be slain on the inside; love at first sight makes you question your sexuality; and kissing sleeping beauties is a criminal offense.

The Middle of Everywhere
WONDERHEADS
Written/created by Kate Braidwood (and Andrew Phoenix)

Two strangers. One bus stop. Infinite destinations. WONDERHEADS return with their larger than life masks and a story that bends time and space in a journey of epic proportions! 8-time Best of Fest Winners and creators of Fringe hits Grim & Fischer and Loon: “5 stars—pure magic.” – CBC “5 stars—wonderful, original, beautiful fun.” – Calgary Herald

The New Conformity
IMPLIED INTUITION
Written/Created by: Sean Brossard. Stage Manager Nic Beamish.

The New Conformity is a juggling show displaying contemporary exploration of the ever-evolving conformist trends through juggling. The four-man show entails an entertaining and exciting 45 minutes full of throws, pancakes, rolls, and much more. The story is carefully drawn through the eyes of the characters and their individual reaction to change.

The Rise of Basement Boy
SHANEBOB PRODUCTIONS
Written/Created Markus Spodzieja (and UVic Writing grad Shane Campbell). Featuring Hayley Mccurdy, Jenson Kerr, Francis Melling and Markus Spodzieja. Lighting design by Erin Osborne. Marketing photo by Kate Loomer.

What happens when a nerdy recluse meets the pizza-girl of his dreams? In this musical comedy Archibald Clarkson must brave the real world for the first time or face losing the game of love before he even presses start. It’s going to be an hour of laugher, lyricism, and live action role-playing.

The Stephen Harper Play
THEATRE THEATRE • VICTORIA
Written/Created by Ian Simms featuring Tyler Fowler, Laura Ramoso, LJ Tressider, Elliot Lupini
Francis Melling, Haley Garnett and Ian Simms. Designs by Shayna Ward and Erin Osborne. Stage Manager Jaymee Sidel.

Ever wonder what Stephen Harper does off-camera? We do . . . but we’ll never find that out, so instead we made this play. The Stephen Harper Play re-imagines the scandals and diplomatic decisions of our Prime Minister with some of the most out-there (literally, in the arctic) explanations ever. A lampoon on the man-in-charge as well as our own political ignorance that begs us to answer the question: how well do we know our leader?

Young Frankenstein
St. Michaels University School • VICTORIA
Directed by Cam Culham

Join in on monstrous mania in this contemporary tongue-in-cheek parody of the horror film genre, especially the Mary Shelley classic itself! This is family friendly fun, filled with plenty of lively show tunes, performed by a dynamic company of local teen performers. A musical retelling of the 1974 film classic!

POST-FRINGE:

Peter N’ Chris and the
KINDA OK CORRRAL
PETER N’ CHRIS
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
September 5, 2014
Metro Studio
Written/Created and performed by Chris Wilson and Peter Carlone
Phoenix alumni, dynamic comedy duo, Canadian Comedy Award-winners Peter N’ Chris return to Victoria to perform their newest hit show, where they continue to send up pop culture—this time taking on the classic western!

What is The F Word?

Let’s say right off the top that The F Word is not what you think. Not only is the “F” in question actually “friend”, but The F Word itself is a new movie starring Daniel Radcliffe—yep, he of Harry Potter fame.

poster+The+F+Word+CanadaBut the Fine Arts connection? The F Word is actually the brainchild of a pair of Phoenix Theatre alumni—solo performance guru TJ Dawe and now-Hamilton based actor Michael Rinaldi.

While they didn’t write the screenplay for The F Word, it is based on the 2003 play Toothpaste and Cigars co-written by Dawe and Rinaldi. A romantic comedy about unrequited love, Toothpaste and Cigars was first produced as a 15-minute playlet and was later expanded into a full-length play that toured across Canada.

A tale of unrequited love, The F Word follows Wallace (Radcliffe), a med-school dropout who falls for Chantry, an animator played by American actress Zoe Kazan. Upon meeting, the two develop an immediate connection. But because Chantry has a live-in boyfriend, they become best friends instead.

“I thought they were really true to the spirit of the original,” Dawe told Michael Reid of the local Times Colonist newspaper in this article. “For it to be made at all, and as  Canadian film, is a miracle.”

“I thought they were really true to the spirit of the original,” – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/university-of-victoria-grads-play-inspires-hollywood-film-1.1324032#sthash.c98DT5Nq.dpuf

“I loved the movie,” said Dawe. “For it to be made at all, and as a Canadian film, is a miracle.”

“I thought they were really true to the spirit of the original,”

– See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/university-of-victoria-grads-play-inspires-hollywood-film-1.1324032#sthash.c98DT5Nq.dpuf

Michael Rinaldi

Michael Rinaldi

For his part, Rinaldi has kind words for the film’s star, describing Radcliffe in this CBC article as “funny and humble,” saying he’s “perfect” for the role of Wallace—which was originally the part Rinaldi played in Toothpaste and Cigars.

“I had been told…that he’s really self-effacing,” Rinaldi told the CBC. “That’s still my default and that’s how the character was written—to be really self-deprecating and undercutting himself all the time.”

It’s been a 10-year journey for the transformation of Toothpaste and Cigars into The F Word, now directed by Calgary-raised director Michael Dowse, whose credits include the rock & roll mockumentary FUBAR and hilarious DJ lifestyle spoof, It’s All Gone Pete Tong.

TJ Dawe

TJ Dawe

Dawes & Rinaldi were approached with a development deal for their script in 2007, which started a bit of a “will it or won’t it” roller coaster ride for the project. In 2008, the script started generating Hollywood buzz with indie-film biggie Fox Searchlight picking it up and, in 2010, enlisting actor Casey Affleck for the lead role. Cue the typical Hollywood scenario, however, as Searchlight dropped Affleck and then pulled out of the project themselves.

Radcliffe and Kazan in The F Word

Radcliffe and Kazan in The F Word

But then it morphed back into a Canadian project, with Dowse as director and Daniel Radcliffe onboard. “Suddenly, with a star like that, there’s all this interest in distribution,” Rinaldi told CBC. “I guess that’s how it works.”

Beyond their initial work expanding the world of the play with screenwriter Elan Mastai, Rinaldi and Dawes had little creative input on the film project. They did get to visit the set and meet Radcliffe in September 2012, however, before The F Word debuted to strong reviews at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

what_if_movie_posterNow it opens across Canada on Friday, August 22—although it will be opening under a different name in the United States where, surprisingly, having any “F” word seems to be an issue. The film is being called What If? in America.

Here in Victoria, the timing is good for the film’s release—as TJ Dawe is back in town with his most recent 5-star solo show Medicine at the Victoria Fringe Festival. Medicine, a story about a retreat led by Dr. Gabor Mate and involving the shamanic plant medicine ayahuasca, runs August 25 to 31 at Langham Court Theatre.

So, if you’re one of the people who can say “I saw it when it was just Toothpaste and Cigars“, you can have a Dawes double-bill with the movie and his Fringe show.

Interesting side-note: Dawes also directed and dramaturged fellow Fine Arts alumnus Mark Leiren-Young award-winning memoir Never Shoot a Stampede Queen into a solo show starring another Phoenix alum, Zachary Stevenson.

Blackstone on the wing

Much like the birds she loves to photograph, Dean of Fine Arts Dr. Sarah Blackstone has flown the nest, thanks to her new appointment as Acting Associate Vice-President Academic Planning. Effective August 15, Dean Blackstone will be stepping up to fill the shoes of Dr. Katy Mateer, who is currently off on a medical leave. Not surprisingly, Dr. Lynne Van Luven will take over as Acting Dean of Fine Arts beginning September 1.

Dean Blackstone greeting new students in 2013

Dean Blackstone greeting new students in 2013

“Sarah will no doubt be a strong addition to the Office of the Vice President Academic and Provost given her substantial experience as Dean of Fine Arts and her engagement across the university,” says Dr. Valerie Kuehne, Acting Vice-President Academic and Provost.

Blackstone’s position as AVPAP will run to November 15, 2014, by which time it is hoped that Mateer will be able to return to her position in some capacity. Upon her return, Blackstone will take on a new role as Advisor to the Provost on Special Projects until June 30, 2015—the same date when Van Luven’s role as Acting Dean is scheduled to end.

In regard to her Provost position, Kuehne says, “Sarah’s priority . . . will be to provide leadership to our Enhanced Planning process, currently well underway. I am confident that with Sarah’s ongoing guidance and the excellent committee structures already in place, progress on this important initiative will continue in a timely way.”

Lynne Van Luven

Lynne Van Luven

As the former Associate Dean of Fine Arts, Van Luven is no stranger to the Dean’s office, having filled in as Acting Dean during Blackstone’s recent administrative leave. Describing Van Luven as “a recognized scholar and educator, with substantial administrative and professional experience,” Kuehne praises her as a “strong leader and advocate for the Faculty . . . I am very grateful to her for once again taking on this important leadership role.”

While Blackstone will no doubt be incredibly busy with her new positions, we’re sure she’ll also be keeping a sharp eye on Fine Arts—and will no doubt be present at various committee meetings where the AVPAP would normally be present.

“I am sorry to cause disruption in the Faculty, but I believe I have the needed skills and knowledge to help the University through a difficult period and I am excited to take on the challenges of this new post,” Blackstone said in a recent note to Fine Arts faculty and staff. “I am confident that the Faculty is strong and will weather this change very well.  I very much appreciate the support you have given me through the years and I will continue to advocate for the arts in my new role.”

We wish Dean Blackstone all the best in her challenging new position, and look forward to seeing her at Fine Arts events throughout the year!