No question, it’s been a busy couple of weeks in the media for Fine Arts faculty and alumni. In case you haven’t been able to keep up on it all, here’s a quick roundup of recent media coverage.
Joan MacLeod – As the winner of this year’s $100,000 Siminovitch Prize for Theatre, the acclaimed playwright and acting chair of the Department of Writing was splashed across numerous front pages, including the Globe and Mail, the Times Colonist, the Vancouver Sun and MacLean’s magazine, among others, as well as being interviewed by CBC radio and CBC television.
Esi Edugyan – The $50,000 Giller Prize win by this uber-talented Writing graduate and former Writing instructor (mistakenly described as “Vancouver writer” by the Toronto Sun) has earned coverage in most Canadian media outlets, as well as some international headlines, as seen in the New York Observer and this BBC article. Check out the CBC coverage, which features an award clip and a morning-after interview. Geez, who’d wanna get up that early after winning the literary prize of a lifetime? She also talks with Q’s Jian Ghomeshi (November 9 podcast).
Plus, the National Post ran a lovely reflection on the crazy year that Edugyan and her husband, Writing instructor Steven Price, have had—including new books by both of them (Price’s was the local earthquake novel, Into That Darkness) and the recent birth of their first child. “You each became the other’s first reader, and most essential editor. You brainstormed together, solved the work together, sought out and quarreled with whatever you were in the thick of over dinner, or while washing up. You remember that first apartment, with the tiny kitchen, where one of you wrote on a card table next to the garbage can in the mornings, the other late into the nights—and how you often left work out for the other to read over, and make suggestions on.”
Sean Holman – In addition to teaching journalism in the Department of Writing, and filling in as the acting Director of Professional Writing, Holman got plenty of coverage recently with the news that he was shutting down the daily reporting aspect of his infamous investigative journalism watchdog blog, Public Eye Online. After seven years of scrums, breaking a whopping 6,000 stories and dealing with ever-dwindling resources, Holman’s announcement caught more than a few people off-guard. Here, he talks to Andrew MacLeod, legislative bureau chief for the Tyee, about why he’s bowing out. And then the Tyee ran an opinion piece by The Ubyssey student newspaper editor Justin McElroy called, “What Sean Holman Taught Me”. “As journalists, the world of public demand teaches us to focus on our ‘brand’ and our Klout score,” writes McElroy. “We’re told that having the skills of a writer, photographer, editor and on-air talent, all in one, is the best hope for success. But at the same time, we’re also told that investigative journalism skills are important, and that the role of the fourth estate is vital. Holman’s decision gives a hint as to which priorities are winning.”
Holman also offered the Canadian Centre for Investigative Journalism these five lessons learned from his years of doing Public Eye Online. And Shaw TV’s Dan Kahan offered this end-of-an-era interview with Holman. Finally, Vanessa Hawk of UVic’s own Martlet offered this in-house interview with Holman, which also offered some thoughts on the next generation of journalists he’s helping to teach: “It’s so fantastic when I see my students being able to write an exclusive story that could easily be published in any major newspaper across the country. That’s extraordinarily rewarding.”
Frances Backhouse – This MFA candidate in Writing and award-winning writer herself recently penned a fascinating and informative ode to the beaver for the Tyee, in response to Senator Nicole Eaton’s push to have this “dentally defective rat” and “toothy tyrant” removed as our national symbol.
Mike McLean – A Visual Arts alumnus and former sessional instructor, McLean’s new Open Space exhibit, Thirty-Five Thousand Forty, was featured in the Times Colonist. McLean took 96 photos a day for an entire year, from June 2010 to June 2011, which now cover every inch of the gallery’s walls. “Photography in the digital era is developing its own language, forging unique processes and technologies,” writes McLean in the show’s description. “It seems to have reached the democratic potential that George Eastman predicted one hundred years ago, when he took the process out of the studio of the trained craftsman and put it into the hands of the unskilled hobbyist.” As Open Space notes, “McLean turns the idea of digital photography inside out, conferring an analogue physicality and monumentality onto a format that proliferates effortlessly, flooding websites, Facebook, memory cards and hard drives in an unimaginably deep cloak of images.” The exhibit runs to December 10 at Open Space, 510 Fort Street in Victoria.
Will Weigler – A sessional instructor in Theatre specializing in Applied Theatre, Weigler’s doctoral dissertation about why audiences connect to live performances—what he describes as “ah-ha!” moments—was featured in both the Times Colonist and the Calgary Herald, as well as the Victoria News, and was interviewed for CFUV’s campus news show, U in the Ring, and on-air at CFAX 1070. “Weigler asked more than 90 people—including scholars and critics—to describe unforgettable moments they had experienced in theatre,” writes Chamberlain. “He then analyzed these descriptions to see if any identifiable patterns emerged. And they did. A theatre director and actor, Weigler will publish his dissertation in book form to help others create compelling and memorable theatre . . . . Weigler discovered a number of recurring factors that typify ‘ah-ha!’ theatre. For instance, something unorthodox might happen that alters the traditional actor/audience relationship. It works to yank us into the action. An actor may be suddenly held upside down, or have a pie thrown in his face. In his research, Weigler also found other physical things – perhaps an onstage gesture – can embody an emotion, a relationship or some other aspect in a powerful, revelatory manner. This, too, can break down any performer/ audience barrier.”
John Gould – This longtime Department of Writing instructor and acclaimed author was one of the three judges for the Times Colonist‘s second annual “So You Think You Can Write?”contest, alongside fellow professional writers Susan Stenson and Kathy Page. This year’s winner was UVic English graduate Maija Liinamaa, about whom Gould said, “A kid’s algebra class—what a superbly unlikely place to experience supernatural intervention! A fresh concept, brought to life with fresh prose and tons of finely observed detail.”