Four on the Floor

New faces will soon be seen in the faculty boardroom, as four departmental mainstays step into fresh administrative roles for three-year terms. Three new Chairs have been announced: Allana Lindgren in Theatre; David Leach in Writing; and Paul Walde in Visual Arts. Not to be left out, Evanthia Baboula of History in Art has been named the new Associate Dean.

Baboula

Baboula

“As we welcome the new leadership team we should also remember to thank those who have been serving in these jobs over the past few years,” says Dean Sarah Blackstone. “These individuals—Lynne Van Luven, Bill Gaston, Daniel Laskarin, and Warwick Dobson—have been working very hard on behalf of the Faculty, sometimes sacrificing their own scholarship and creative activity to be sure everyone else had the proper support to be successful in their own endeavours.”

“Good leadership is key to everything we do and all we want to accomplish as a Faculty,” Blackstone continues. “We have been very well served by the outgoing team, and I am looking forward to working with the new team.”

Lindgren

Lindgren

While appreciating the amount of work the position will entail, Lindgren is clearly looking forward to her new post. “I am grateful to my colleagues for their support and encouragement, and buoyed by our collective desire to solidify our reputation as one of the best theatre departments in Canada,” says Lindgren, a specialist in theatre history. “We’re going to continue to produce exciting theatre while preparing our students to be creative leaders.”

For his part, Leach is “thrilled and honoured” to lead the department he first joined as a student 25 years ago. “Every day, we hear good news about the creative success of our alumni,” says Leach, currently the director of both the Professional Writing and Technology and Society programs.

Leach

Leach

“I hope to increase the awareness of our program, nationally and internationally, so that any student seriously considering a career in the literary arts will put UVic on the top of their wish list . . . I also hope my hair doesn’t turn completely grey until after my second year!”

Both Leach and Lindgren highlight the importance of interdisciplinarity—in Fine Arts and across campus—as well as UVic’s core values of experiential learning, socially engaged research and community outreach. (Walde was out of town as of this writing.) Lindgren also notes the importance of the Phoenix as one of UVic’s most public faces. “In the coming years, I encourage everyone to catch a show and see our ideals in action!”

Walde (photo: Pat Morrow)

Walde (photo: Pat Morrow)

When asked for some words of advice, outgoing Theatre Chair Warwick Dobson offered this sage wisdom to the new Chairs: “Visit your Dean briefly and infrequently,” he quipped. “And know that you can usually help students—but faculty is trickier.”

Dean Blackstone also appreciates the time and effort taken by those who assisted with the appointments. “Join me in thanking the search committees who undertook this important work and congratulating the new administrative team,” she says.

Growing the Concrete Garden

If you’re like many of the Garden City’s residents, you’ll be spending part of your summer getting your hands dirty. But whether you have a backyard garden, community plot or simply grown tomatoes on your balcony—or are part of one of the more serious urban agricultural projects like the Mason Street City Farm, City Harvest Co-op, Lifecycles Project Society or the Compost Education CentreConcrete Garden is the magazine for you.

The second issue

The second issue

Now heading into its third issue, Concrete Garden originally began as a project in the Department of Writing’s Magazine Publishing class but has since evolved into an actual hard copy magazine that’s now for sale around the city.

With its focus on sustainable urban agriculture, Concrete Garden is Victoria’s first magazine to focus on sustainable urban food production. As their website notes, “Concrete Garden showcases the agricultural ingenuity of communities, organizations and individuals . . . [and] walks a fine line between activism and educational entertainment.”

Concrete Garden is a magazine that focuses on how an urban population is feeding itself,” says editor Kimberley Veness. “That’s everything from growing your own food in a planter box to learning about city problems like the current food composting issue.”

“We’re also interested in the ‘culture’ aspect of agriculture—architecture, green businesses, the political structures that make us need to feed ourselves and create a better system—because you can’t have community gardening without community,” says senior editor Quinn MacDonald. “We want to engage younger people, young families who are worried about sustainable agriculture. It’s a best-solution oriented magazine too.”

Urban beekeeping (photo: Hugo Wong)

Urban beekeeping (photo: Hugo Wong)

With two issues already under their belt, 500 copies of the latest issue are due to come out near the end of July. A sneak-peek at their story list reveals features on urban beekeeping, land-based salmon farming, the Pedal to Pettle composting company and the problems with urban deer.

Both Veness and MacDonald are enthusiastic about the magazine’s future. “It’s had such a good reception,” says MacDonald. “We already have people watching for the next issue. And instead of just students, we now have a few professionals working with us.”

Do you know where your compost goes? (photo: Hugo Wong)

Do you know where your compost goes? (photo: Hugo Wong)

“It’s really nice to see it expand beyond the university,” says Veness. “We don’t just want it to be a student publication. We want good writing, whether that’s good student writers who we can help grow or people on more of a community engagement level.”

Concrete Garden was showcased during this spring during UVic’s IdeaFest, where they presented as part of the “So You Want To Launch A Magazine” panel alongside other UVic-created publications like The Warren, This Side of West, Plenitude and the online Coastal Spectator. Right now, Veness is focused on the magazine’s business plan. “We’re looking at getting long-term funding so we can focus on the magazine and not on the business side of things,” she says.

With that in mind, Veness just completed a fellowship at UVic’s Centre for Cooperative and Community-Based Economy. “I was looking at the transformative effects of modern print media, specifically magazines, and how they influence communities. Ideally, I’d like Concrete Garden to be a catalyst, a system-changer.”

MacDonald (left) and Veness

MacDonald (left) and Veness

As part of her fellowship, Veness interviewed professional magazine editors locally and in Vancouver about the recent changes in the print industry. “But what are doing well are the niche magazines that focus on one thing and are hyper-local in their content” she says. “That really brings people together and creates a community. That’s good for advertisers and good for content.”

And good for Concrete Garden, of course.

“We distributed more than 400 copies of the last issue all over the place—mostly downtown, but also up in Mill Bay and out in Sooke—so the demand is there. The Compost Education Centre in Fernwood took a stack of copies, and Swan’s even put them in their rooms for their guests,” says Veness.

“We’ve always been really focused and our aesthetic quality has always been really high,” says MacDonald. “That’s been important to us since the beginning. Our audience are the people who are out there in the community, the ones with green thumbs who want to talk about these kind of things.”

Summer plans (part two)

What else is on the horizon for Fine Arts faculty members?

book-U6-A146-B319-R493Department of Writing professor Lee Henderson has his sophomore novel, The Road Narrows As You Go, coming out this fall . . . which he’s, uh, still putting the finishing touches to this summer. But it has already been touted as “one of the most anticipated (Canadian) titles of 2014″ by the National Post . . . no pressure, eh? Henderson has previously released the short story collection The Broken Record Technique and the novel The Man Game (which the Post described as “an audacious, wildly inventive novel that deserved a wider audience”). For  The Road Narrows As You Go, Henderson is fusing his love of art and graphic novels into a story about Victoria-born comic artist Wendy Ashbubble, who may or may not be the illegitimate love-child of then-US President Ronald Reagan

Described as “a highly entertaining and unendingly surprising novel about love, comics, Ronald Reagan, and the true meaning of success,” The Road Narrows As You Go is “simultaneously the portrait of a young woman struggling to find her place and a bright, rollicking, unflinching depiction of the 1980s.” Stay tuned for more details.

Over in the School of Music, sessional instructor Anita Bonkowski spent the month of June performing in Europe and will have a full summer slate of playing gigs as well, both locally at out in Winnipeg.

Hogg, (left) on the set for Two 4 One  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Hogg, (left) on the set for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

After producing Maureen Bradley’s transgender rom-com Two 4 One this spring, busy digital media staffer and filmmaker Daniel Hogg just finished shooting the short film Gord’s Brother with Writing department alumnus filmmaker and frequent collaborator Jeremy Lutter. “Gord’s Brother is about a boy trying to find a place for his monster brother to fit in, the film grapples with unspoken issues of discrimination from a child’s perspective, accessible by a layer of fantasy,” says Hogg.

The Lafayette String Quartet has a busy recording session ahead of them this summer, thanks to the August release date set for their world premier recording of Piano Quintet by Canadian composer Kelly Marie-Murphy, featuring pianist Alexander Tselyakov. Marie-Murphy was commissioned by the Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival to compose a piano quintet for Alexander (the festival’s artistic director) and the LSQ in celebration of the festival’s 10th anniversary. As a bonus, the CD will also feature the Shostakovich piano quintet. The LSQ will perform the world premier of Marie-Murphy’s quintet at the fest in August, where they will also launch the CD.

The Lafayette String Quartet

The Lafayette String Quartet

And in other LSQ news, having just completed QuarteFest West here on campus, the busy quartet will be in Ontario for a large part of the summer performing in Leith, Waterloo, Ottawa, and the 35th annual Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound. Just by way of showing the range of works they’ll be tackling this summer, their lineup of composers includes Murray Adaskin, Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn, Benjamin Britten, Beethoven (“Op. 95 String Quartet and the 9th Symphony with a smash-up band organized to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Festival of the Sound,” says the LSQ’s Ann Elliott-Goldschmid), Alberto Ginastera, Felix Mendeslssohn, Luigi Boccherini, Arthur Foote, Rebecca Clarke, Joseph Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Dmitri Shostakovich (quartet and piano quintet), and Ernst Chausson.

David Leach

David Leach

In addition to getting up to speed on his duties as the new Department of Writing chair, David Leach will be off to Madison, Wisconsin, for the Games Learning Society conference. “I’ll be presenting a paper on the results of our research study into the benefits of ‘gamification’ tools—badges and leader boards—to promote online learning,” he says. “David Broome plus colleagues in Education, the Library and an undergrad research assistant are listed as co-authors for helping with the research.” Leach will also be on a panel about using augmented reality tools in the classroom, as his TS400 students created AR guides to the future of the campus, using a geolocative tool called ARIS. Got all that? (Good, ’cause there’s going to be a quiz!) Any extra spare time will find Leach “finally finishing my damn book! (Maybe…)”

Noted pianist and School of Music professor Arthur Rowe is back in his role as the artistic director of the 19th annual Victoria Summer Music Festival in July—a position he has held for at least 10 years now. “It’s a good festival, ever growing in stature and popularity,” he says.

poster-bellaAlthough it’s a bit further off than the summer, acclaimed theatrical set designer, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Department of Theatre professor Mary Kerr is in the planning stages of her upcoming musical about Bella Chagall—the wife of famed artists Marc Chagall. Titled Bella: The Colour of Love, Kerr designed and co-wrote the production with Theresa Tova, who will be playing Bella. The show will have a 3-week run at Toronto’s Harold Green Theatre in October

Also in the theatrical vein is news from famed playwright and Writing professor Joan MacLeod. “I’m just writing, starting a new play,” she says. “What it’s about? No clue!” MacLeod latest play, The Valley, was most recently mounted in Winnipeg, and the book of the script was released this spring by Talon Books.

Summer plans (part one)

Who doesn’t like summer? Classes are finished, the fall semester is still far enough away to not worry about and we’ve all got some time to put towards our own creative practices. What’s on deck for some of our faculty this summer? Let’s find out.

Lynne Van Luven

Lynne Van Luven

Outgoing Associate Dean Lynne Van Luven has been busy winding up her job in the Dean’s Office and trundling all her books back upstairs to her permanent home in the Department of Writing. But, before she assumes full teaching duties again, she’s taking a well-deserved administrative leave for the 2014/15 academic year.

“In the period of my leave, I hope to get a whole lot of work done on Flesh Wounds, which is the working title for my new book of essays about the hilarious and hair-raising process of ageing,” she says. “I have lots of research and writing to do, so I am most appreciative of the time off.” But having time off doesn’t come naturally to the diligent Van Luven. “I have never—since I started teaching at universities back in 1981—had a full year off to work on a project,” she admits. “I hope I just don’t blow all my time pursuing Skittles and beer . . . or, alternately, wine and roses.”

Bland with Canadian actress Neve Campbell

Bland with Canadian actress Neve Campbell

Busy Department of Theatre continuing sessional instructor Leslie Bland always has some fascinating side-projects on the go. Recently back from a trip to Paris and from attending the Banff World Media Festival in June, he’s currently completing his latest film project.

“I’m wrapping post production on our feature documentary Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood,” Bland reports. “There will a world premiere of it in August in Los Angeles hosted by the LA Consul General for Canada.” Word is the premier might even be held at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. (Maybe Bland can give a tour of all the famed Canadian hand-prints in the concrete there.) Gone South comes on the heels of the all-female stand-up comedy series She Kills Me that Bland recently produced and directedfor broadcast on APTN.

Lewis Hammond & Monteverdi

Lewis Hammond

School of Music director Susan Lewis Hammond is cracking the books this summer—her own book, that is. “I’ll be finishing a textbook titled Baroque Music: History, Culture, Performance—forthcoming with Routledge in 2015″, she says. On top of that, she’ll be presenting on a panel “on the value of a Bachelor of Music degree” at Congress 2015 at Brock University, and traveling to do research at the University of Toronto. Let’s hope there’s time for some relaxing in her schedule, too.

Writing professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley recently completed editing her locally-lensed debut feature film Two 4 One—Canada’s, and possibly the world’s, first mainstream transgender romantic comedy— and is now in the process of submitting it to major film festivals, both Canadian and international.

Dániel Péter Biró

Biró

As well as preparing for his prestigious Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University in 2014/15, School of Music professor Dániel Péter Biró will have his new composition Al Ken Kara (That Is Why It Was Called) performed on July 26 at the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove in Venice, Italy. This piece was originally composed as part of the Mediterranean Voices film project. In addition, the book The String Quartets of Béla Bartók: Tradition and Legacy in Analytical Perspective that he co-edited with fellow School of Music professor Harald Krebs, has just been released by Oxford University Press.

Youds photoVisual Arts professor Robert Youds currently has his light-based sculpture “turn on your electric* on view as part of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibit Out of Sight: New Aquistions, running to September 1. He’s also completing a major sculptural commission which will be opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite this fall. Locally, his piece “soft works for complicated needs*” is featured in the current AGGV exhibit Through the Looking Glass until September 7.  In addition to that, Youds will have the paintings “our aurora borealis and everything else” as part of the Transformation of Canadian Landscape Art: Inside and Outside of Being at the Xi’an Art Museum in China from August 10 – September 21. Better still, he’ll be travelling to Xi’an and Beijing to give talks and to meet foreign dignitaries as part of the exhibit.

Stay tuned for more summer plans!

Call for Courses

The Faculty of Fine Arts is requesting expressions of interest for the following sessional assignments:

Got a great course idea?

Got a great course idea?

Fall Term - FA 200 A0: Special Topics in Fine Arts (maximum enrollment: 150 students), September-December 2014.
A multi-disciplinary investigation into various aspects of the arts. Focus may vary from year-to-year. Class runs Monday and Wednesday, 4:30pm – 5:50pm.

Spring Term -FA 335 A01 – Popular Culture (maximum enrollment: 75 students), January – April 2015.
An interdisciplinary examination of the popular arts and their place in society. The topics for
examination will vary in different years and sections. Class runs Monday and Thursday, 8:30am – 9:50am.

Expressions of Interest are due by 4:30pm Thursday, June 19th, 2014. Positions will be assigned no later than June 27, 2014.

Insert your course here

Insert your course here

Please submit a written letter of interest indicating qualifications and experience,
potential course outline along with a current Curriculum Vitae to:
Samantha Knudson, Academic Administrative Officer
Faculty of Fine Arts (Fine Arts Building, Rm 116)
University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 Stn CSC, Victoria BC V8W 2Y2

If you are interested in proposing future courses that fit within the Fine Arts curriculum (see Undergraduate Calendar pg. 310), please contact the Dean of Fine Arts Office to schedule an appointment. Sessional Instructors are CUPE 4163 (Component 3) positions with Sessional Lecturers Certification.

The University of Victoria is an equity employer and encourages applications from women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, people of all sexual orientations and genders, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of the University. The University reserves the right to fill additional teaching assignments from the pool of applicants for this posting. All positions are subject to enrolment and budgetary approval.

Shelagh Rogers named next UVic chancellor

It’s the kind of news that will warm the heart of any arts supporter: famed CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers has been named the University of Victoria’s 11th chancellor.

UVic's new chancellor designate, Shelagh Rogers

UVic’s new chancellor-designate, Shelagh Rogers Credit: UVic Photo Services

The news was announced to a packed room in UVic’s Mearns Centre for Learning on May 29, as a beaming Rogers took to the stage and said, “To speak in a very non-chancellorian way, I’m thrilled out of my bean.” The genuine laughter and applause with which this statement was greeted was a strong indication of the popularity of the announcement. “I feel like over the last little while I’ve been dating UVic,” Rogers qiupped. “I’m glad now to be in a relationship with you.”

Click here to listen to her interview on CBC Radio’s All Points West with 2013 Southam professor Jo-Ann Roberts.

A longtime associate of the Department of Writing and friend to the Faculty of Fine Arts, Rogers will assume the office for a three-year term beginning January 1, 2015. As the titular head of UVic, the chancellor is the chair of convocation, confers all degrees and is a member of the university’s board of governors, as well as the senate (which governs the university’s academic affairs). The position carries no remuneration.

Rogers hosting the Litereary Celebration of Lorna Crozier in November 2013

“As UVic’s chancellor, Shelagh Rogers will enhance the excellence of our university. She will bring tremendous energy and great insight to her new role. Her national reputation as an advocate for Canadian arts and culture will serve the university well,” write nominators Dr. Sarah Blackstone, Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts, and Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Associate Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts. “Shelagh has a deep commitment to higher education and to the Aboriginal reconciliation process. She has the ability to ask the right questions and to tell the whole story so that others can understand complex and urgent issues and ideas. UVic could not ask for a better ambassador as we build on our reputation for excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.”

Speaking at the event, UVic President Jamie Cassels noted that Rogers “exemplifies the values that characterize our university. She is deeply connected with communities across Canada; her cultural contributions and ability to reach into people’s everyday lives as a well-known broadcaster and as an advocate for public awareness on important societal issues will make her an outstanding ambassador for the university. On campus, her trademark warmth, compassion and enthusiasm will help inspire our students and connect with them on a very authentic level.”

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

A veteran broadcast journalist, Rogers is currently the host and a producer of The Next Chapter, a CBC Radio program about Canadian writers and songwriters. She moved to BC in 2003 after 23 years working on CBC news and current affairs radio programs. In 2011, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contributions as a promoter of Canadian culture, and for her volunteer work in the fields of mental health and literacy. She has committed herself to working toward reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people from coast to coast to coast, and was inducted as an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 2011. As Shelley Ambrose, co-publisher of The Walrus Magazine, has said, “Think of her as Canada’s ear. Then add a brain, a heart . . . and a very recognizable voice. That’s Shelagh Rogers.”

Rogers hosting the 2011 Southam Lecture

Rogers hosting the 2011 Southam Lecture

No stranger to UVic events, Rogers recently hosted the Department of Writing scholarship fundraiser A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier in November 2103, as well as the Harvey S. Southam Lecture by Richard Wagamese in February 2011. Better still, it turns out that Writing professor Lynne Van Luven was the person who first thought of nominating Rogers.

“I remembered all the great interviews I had had with her over the years, how she always gets right to the heart of a book, and responds so warmly and honestly to her subject, whoever they are,” says Van Luven. “Then I remembered what a great time we had when she hosted the Lorna Crozier Scholarship fundraiser.  She seemed to be just the best person I could think of because of her wide range of interests, her great interviewing and communication skills and her obvious curiosity about the world around her.  I thought, ‘If I were convocating, I’d like someone like Shelagh presiding at the ceremonies.’”

While Rogers will be UVic’s second female chancellor, she is the first from the world of the arts. We congratulate her, and look forward with to her tenure great anticipation.

More Writing prizes & nominations

There’s never a slow season, it seems, when it comes to honouring faculty, students and alumni of the Writing department.

Newly minted Writing MFA Erin Frances Fisher was announced as the winner of the 20th annual $5,000 Writers’ Trust RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers on May 27, with the jury praising her as “a writer you will see again.” Fellow top-three finalist and $1,000 winner Leah Jane Esau is also a former Writing student. Both were selected by the jury from a field of 133 blind submissions. The winning and nominated stories can be downloaded free at iTunes.com/BronwenWallace.

Erin Frances Fisher

Erin Frances Fisher

Fisher (who also holds a BFA from the Department of Writing) has had her stories been shortlisted and won prizes from The Malahat Review and PRISM international. Her work has also been published in Riddle Fence, Little Fiction, and Granta; she is also a pianist and a faculty member at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

The Bronwen Wallace jury was quick to praise for her entry, “Girl,” as “a visceral tale guaranteed to make you shiver, ‘Girl’ reminds us of the truth that humans are more than blood and bone,” notes the jury. “With a surprising and perfect ending, flawless sentences throughout, and a consistently realistic tone, this short story is as vast and satisfying as a great novel.”

Leah Jane Esau

Leah Jane Esau

Former student Esau is a playwright and fiction writer based in Montreal, where she recently graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada. Her play Disappeared won the 2012 Pam Dunn Award as well as the 2012 Tom Hendry Award, and she holds an MA in drama from the University of Toronto. Her story Dream Interpretation” was singled out as being “Compressed and expansive at the same time, ‘Dream Interpretation’ is a story that will leave you both completely satisfied and wanting more. Each new revelation is surprising and disturbing, as Leah Jane Esau skilfully doles out the backstory and brings her characters to life. Nothing is what it seems, least of all dreams.”

Writing MFA alumnus Garth Martens was the 2011 poetry winner in the Bronwen Wallace Awards, and alumna Marjorie Celona won for fiction in 2008. The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award rewards writers who are under age 35 and unpublished in book form, and alternates between poetry and fiction each year.

Madeline Sonik

Madeline Sonik

Meanwhile, longtime Writing instructor Madeline Sonik and current student K’ari Fisher are both on the 12-writer shortlist for the Exile Quarterly $15,000 Carter V. Cooper short fiction prize.  Regardless of where they place in the contest, both will als be included in the forthcoming CVC4 Anthology. The winner of the  Carter V. Cooper short fiction prize will be announced at the end of May.

Congratulations also go out to Writing alum Ashley Little for her pair of wins at the BC Book Prizes in May: her book The New Normal won the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize while her other book Anatomy of a Girl Gang picked up the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize!

FH259Also in the “recent winner” category is alumna Kayla Czaga, who won first the $2,000 first-place prize in The Fiddlehead‘s 23rd annual Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize for her piece, “That Great Burgundy-Upholstered Beacon of Dependability.” Honourable mention in that same category also went to MFA alumna Kyeren Regehr for her poem, “Dorm Room 214, who picked up $250.

Two Writing department playwrights were also recently announced as winners of Theatre BC’s 2013 Playwriting Competition.

Sheldon Seigel (left) with Writing professor Maureen Bradley

Sheldon Seigel (left) with Writing professor Maureen Bradley

Congratulations to current undergrad Shedon Seigel and MFA grad Peter Boychuk. Siegel’s play Last Fall was selected as the winner of the One Act competition from a field of 23 entries, while Boychuk’s one-act play Gamergrlz was awarded the Special Merit prize. (Interesting side-note: Seigel’s play emerged from WR203, the second-year playwriting workshop, and was presented as a SATCO workshop production in the Department of Theatre in 2013.)

Seigel was also recently in the news as one of the final five finalists in the infamous Three-Day Novel Writing Contest.  And Boychuk garnered media attention with a full production of his play Shelter from the Storm by Touchstone Theatre at Vancouver’s fabled Firehall Arts Centre in 2012.

Peter Boychuk

Peter Boychuk

The winning playwrights will have their plays read by volunteer actors during the week of Theatre BC’s Annual Provincial Theatre Festival “Destination Mainstage”  led by host, jury member and Writing grad Michael Armstrong, July 8-10 at the Thompson Rivers University Actors Workshop Theatre in Kamloops BC.  The Playwrights will also be honored  at the Theatre BC “Destination Mainstage” Awards Ceremony on July 12. Seigel wins $750 and a trophy, while Boychuk receives $500 and a trophy.

Finally, Writing MFA alumna and busy playwright Sally Stubbs will be at Calgary’s Lunchbox Theatre in June, where her script Spinning You Home has been selected for the Suncor Energy Stage One Festival. After a week-long workshop process the play will be presented to the public in a staged reading.

Sally Stubbs

Sally Stubbs

Stubbs’ play Centurions was also selected from 75 cross-Canada submissions to be featured in Nightwood Theatre’s National Play Reading Series, part of the New Groundswell Festival which runs in September in Toronto. The script will receive a workshop and a public reading. Centurionshas also been shortlisted for the 2015 Women Playwrights International Conference in Cape Town.

And, after an intense period of rewrites, Stubbs’ revised script And Bella Sang with Us received a workshop and a very successful public reading at the Firehall Arts Centre’s BC Buds in May 11, and there will be a Winnipeg launch of the published script in October, sponsored by publisher Scirocco Drama.

Conrad Alexandrowicz’s new production earns praise

Linda-Quibell-Vanessa-Goodman-and-Peter-Anderson-with-the-other-members-of-the-company-cred-Tim-Matheson

Linda Quibell, Vanessa Goodman and Peter Anderson (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Mother Tongue, the latest stage production by Department of Theatre professor Conrad Alexandrowicz, earned praise and wowed audiences in its debut performance this month.

Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Alexandrowicz with text by recently retired Writing professor Lorna Crozier and Governor General’s Award-winning poet Erin Mouré, Mother Tongue ran May 14-18 at Vancouver’s Scotiabank Dance Centre. Presented by Alexandrowicz’s Wild Excursions, the productionuses a company of six actors and two dancers to explores the poets’ texts. And chalk one up for interdisciplinary mingling—the germ of Mother Tongue came from the 2011 Fine Arts faculty retreat, where Alexandrowicz met Crozier. From that opportunity came a nearly $175,000 SSHRC grant that resulted in the production that Vancouver theatre reviewer Jo Ledingham described as “cerebral . . . and mind-expanding.”

Mother Tongue1

Peter Anderson, Lucas Hall, Sandra Ferens, Brahm Taylor and Linda Quibell (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Georgia Straight reviewer Colin Thomas was also quite taken with the production, noting in one scene that, “Alexandrowicz’s choreography is powerfully simple . . .  the performers sit in two lines of stools and face one another, their arms raised . . . their hands float away: we know we’re in the memory of a destroyed church. In moments like these—and there are more than enough of them to make the evening worthwhile—Alexandrowicz and his company catch the ineffable in their net.”

Thomas also praised Crozier’s text: “[Her] language is so alert and sensual that listening to it feels intimate—even erotic.”

(Photo: Tim Matheson)

(Photo: Tim Matheson)

In his director’s notes, Alexandrowicz explains his inspiration for Mother Tongue: “If dance is a kind of ‘visual poetry’, so poetry is perhaps ‘dancing with language’”—and clearly, he has found success with this form. Describing the director/choreographer as “a big thinker who has gone on to explore and challenge the way language works or fails to work,” Ledingham notes the show has in fact inspired her to return to poetry. “I have all but given up on poetry but I will now seek out Crozier and Moure’s work. And I will try to let linearity go and give searching for ‘meaning’ a rest.”

Ledingham offers a concluding thought: “Alexandrowicz doesn’t let you out of the theatre without a desire to learn, to discover and to explore. Challenging your brain is seldom packaged so gorgeously.”

Fingers crossed for a local production!

Size matters at CCWWP

If there’s one thing Department of Writing delegates will know before arriving at the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs conference this week, it’s that size does matter. Unlike its American counterpart, the CCWWP is expecting about 200 attendees at their third biennial conference this weekend at UBC, instead of the thousands who attend the AWP.

Lynne Van Luven

CCWWP chair & Writing professor Lynne Van Luven

“We’re what you might call intimate,” says Department of Writing professor and current CCWWP chair Lynne Van Luven. “Because our numbers are manageable, students can meet with publishers and editors, as well as with each other—and while writers come to such events to renew old friendships, they also come to hear from new writers with new ideas, which is much easier at a small-scale conference.”

Formed in 2010 to address the need for a Canadian professional organization devoted to supporting the teaching of creative writing in its myriad forms, the goal of the fledgling CCWWP is to be as inclusive as possible. That means it’s an organization not only for academics and instructors, but also for creative writers and students working in various languages, and in all types of venues and situations.

Current Writing faculty members (from left) Kevin Kerr, Tim Lilburn, David Leach, Lynne Van Luven,  Lee Henderson, Maureen Bradley, Lorna Jackson, Bill Gaston and Joan MacLeod

Current Writing faculty members (from left) Kevin Kerr, Tim Lilburn, David Leach, Lynne Van Luven,
Lee Henderson, Maureen Bradley, Lorna Jackson, Bill Gaston and Joan MacLeod

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference include Giller Prize-winner Joseph Boyden, Commonwealth Award-winner Lisa Moore and noted author Amy Bloom. Attending on behalf of UVic’s Writing department are undergraduate students Nadia Grutter and Patrick Close, graduate students JoAnn Dionne and Danielle Janess, recent MFA graduates Frances Backhouse and Aaron Shepard, alumna Andrea Routely and faculty members Bill Gaston, David Leach, Tim Lilburn, Kevin Kerr and, of course, Van Luven herself.

“I’m delighted to see both our undergraduate and graduate students participating in the conference,” says Van Luven, who also sat on the first provisional board back in 2010. “This is a chance for them to network with key persons in the publishing industry, as well as with their peers.”

Grutter, Close and Routley are joining Van Luven in presenting “So you want to start an on-line magazine?” at Friday’s publishing, editing, & technology panel, showcasing some of the work that’s being done in departmental projects like the Coastal Spectator online review magazine and Routely’s queer literary magazine Plenitude. Meanwhile, Dionne and Janess taking part in the student reading event alongside alum Kayla Czaga (Arc). For their part, Backhouse and Shepard will be participating in the “From MFA to Page and Stage: Getting Your Thesis Published or Produced” panel on Saturday, alongside fellow Writing alumni Peter Boychuk and Melanie Siebert. Also attending is alumni novelist Aislinn Hunter (Stay), who is participating in the Friday panel “What’s the Matter? Thinking, Writing and Teaching through Things.”

“We have had a wonderful Conference Committee for this event, under the steady direction of Andrew Gray from UBC,” says Van Luven, who will also be hosting Saturday’s plenary session on “Writing Programs in a Global Context”, featuring a panel of international writing teachers. “I’ve had the opportunity to interface with writers and teachers all across the country, which has been an added benefit of being chair of the CCWWP board for the past two years.”

Pedagogie-et-Pratiques-canadiennes-en-creation-litteraire650UVic’s Department of Writing will also be represented at the conference’s book and magazine fair, which is open to the public and will feature some of Canada’s finest literary publications and presses: The Malahat Review, SubTerrain, PRISM international, Arc, Fiddlehead, Event, Geist, Rice Paper, Filling Station, The Capilano Review, Eighteen Bridges, New Quarterly, Room Magazine and Broken Pencil, as well as Alberta Book Publishers, Association of Book Publishers of BC, UBC Bookstore, PEN International, Anvil Press, McGill-Queens University Press, Granville Island Publishing, Reality Skimming Press, Kwantlen Creative Writing, Literary Press Group, UBC Press, Harbour Publishing, Nightwood Editions, Douglas & McIntyre, and Lone Pine Publishing.

The CCWWP conference runs May 15 to 18, 2014, on the UBC campus in Vancouver.

Fine Arts in the 2014 M Awards

While their printed format may have changed, the local Monday Magazine is still running their annual M Awards honouring what they describe as “Greater Victoria’s best and brightest in the arts and entertainment field.” Fine Arts faculty, students, staff and alumni have been frequent nominees and winners in the past, and this year’s lineup is no different.

12124925080832946964Rather than list all nominees in each category, we’ve just listed the Fine Arts associated nominees below, and you can vote online here. According to the rules, you can only vote online once, and must vote in a minimum of 20 categories. Voting closes at 5pm Friday, May 30—and you’ll automatically be entered to win $75 at Zambri’s.

MUSIC:

  • The Krells concert poster_2013Top Electronic Artist: The Krells (featuring School of Music’s Kirk McNally and John Celona)
  • Top Avant Garde/New Music Artist/Composer or Group: School of Music concert manager Kristy Farkas is nominated alongside Aventa Ensemble (under the direction of Music’s Bill Linwood), as well as Music alumni Daniel Brandes, Christopher Reiche and Alex Jang. It’s worth noting that every nominee in this category is associate with UVic’s School of Music!
  • Top Classical Artist or Group: the Lafayette String Quartet

THEATRE:

  • Top Overall Production: the Phoenix production The Skin of Our Teeth is nominated alongside Theatre professor Brian Richmond‘s production of My Fair Lady for his Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre (which he also starred in, alongside grad Kholby Wardell). Phoenix talent were also involved in nominated shows Calendar Girls (featuring Randi Edmunson) and Will Weigler‘s From the Heart.
  • Top Improv/Sketch or Variety Show: alumna Britt Small‘s Atomic Vaudeville company is nominated, alongside Paper Street Theatre, which features Monica Ogden.
  • The Skin of Our Teeth (photo: David Lowes)

    The Skin of Our Teeth (photo: David Lowes)

    Top Director: Phoenix alum Christine Willes is nominated for her UVic production of Reasons to be Pretty and Theatre professor Linda Hardy is nominated for The Skin of our Teeth.

  • Top Emerging Company/Artist: Kerploding Theatre, run by Phoenix alum Mollison Farmer; Impulse Theatre, run by Andrew Barrett, New Blood Theatre, Robin Gadsby and Kieran Wilson
  • Top Original Production: Kitt & Jane by the Phoenix Theatre alumni company SNAFU, featuring the talents of Ingrid Hansen and Katherine Greenfield, who are also nominated for the SNAFU/WHoS co-production Fractured Fables; From the Heart: Enter the Journey of Reconciliation, by Phoenix PhD alum and former instructor Will Weigler; Paper Street Theatre’s An Improvised Quentin Tarrantino featured Phoenix student Monica Ogden ; New Blood Theatre’s Judgement Day starred alumni Robin Gadsby and Kieran Wilson; and  also featured the talents of Greenfield and Hansen.

WRITING:

  • Jeremy Lutter's latest film

    Jeremy Lutter’s latest film

    Top Filmmaker: Oooh, it’s a tough race between alumni filmmakers Jeremy Lutter (Floodplain), Connor Gaston (’Til Death) and Writing professor Maureen Bradley (Two 4 One).

  • Top Local Book: Writing alum Thelma Fayle is nominated for her recent book, Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism.
  • Top Spoken Word Performer: Writing undergraduate and former City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate Aysia Law has earned a well-deserved nominated in this category

Be sure to add your vote to the efforts of our top achieving faculty, staff, students and alumni!