Celebrating 50 years of great theatre

This fall, UVic’s Department of Theatre will celebrate 50 years of creating great theatre—and great artists. Along they way, the Phoenix has also created some incredible moments on their stages. Generations of students (literally, they have several second-generation students from alumni families!) have become successes in the world of theatre, or wherever life has taken them.

Season-Brochure-coverThis year, UVic Theatre is celebrating not only their history but also their alumni, knowing full well these students—past and present—are what truly make the Phoenix such a special place . . . a place where young people become artists, and friendships are formed that last a lifetime. Whether alumni or treasured audience members, we  look forward to celebrating with everyone who has been touched by the Phoenix over the past five decades.

To mark its 50th anniversary, the Phoenix Theatre has expanded its usual fall “Spotlight on Alumni” into a three-week 50th Anniversary Alumni Festival. Internationally acclaimed artists and alumni have been invited to present five different shows during the festival, running from October 11-29.

Self-proclaimed “professional geek” Charles Ross — best known for his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy — will present all of his one-man nerd trilogies: One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, One-Man Lord of the Rings, and his newest, Dark Knight: A Batman Parody. These pop-culture hits have taken this alumnus around the world, from New York to London and Dubai to Glastonbury, including stops in Singapore, New Zealand, and even Lucasfilm’s Star Wars conventions!

50thProlific writer, performer, director, dramaturg and international Fringe icon, TJ Dawe will remount his play The Slipknot, which was performed as the very first “Spotlight” presentation in 2003. Dawe regularly performs his 14 autobiographical solo shows around the world. His play Toothpaste & Cigars (written with theatre alumnus Mike Rinaldi) inspired the Daniel Radcliffe movie The F Word. In The Slipknot, Dawe performs a spellbinding comic monologue about three equally lousy jobs—from stock boy, to driver, to post office customer service. In turns hysterical and heartbreaking, frantic and thoughtful, The Slipknot offers wise observations on relationships, Santa Claus, recreational Gravol, and why you should never put meat in the mail.

Cirque du Soleil clown and co-comedic director of Zumanity in Las Vegas, Shannan Calcutt returns for the festival with her hilarious solo show, Burnt Tongue. Calcutt, who is also a writer, actor and instructor, is best known as Izzy, the charming and radiant clown with a keen sense of timing and a razor sharp wit. In Burnt Tongue, Izzy has met a man on the internet and decides this is the guy for her! She arrives for their blind date wearing a wedding dress insisting she’s just “totally prepared to be spontaneous.”

This is all in addition to the Phoenix’s 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season, featuring Department of Theatre students, which begins in November with Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the Christopher Hampton play that was adapted into the Oscar-winning film, here directed by professor Fran Gebhard. In February, MFA candidate Alix Reynolds will direct Gut Girls by Sarah Daniels. With sharp dialogue and dazzling humour, Gut Girls is set in the Victorian era against the backdrop of women’s struggle for emancipation. The season closes with Nikolay Gogol’s The Inspector. Directed and adapted by professor Linda Hardy, this 19th-century Russian satire about greed, hypocrisy and corruption is no less relevant in today’s political landscape.

50thSite-screen-wwwThe Department of Theatre is also inviting all of its graduates to come back to campus for the 50th Anniversary Alumni Reunion, happening over the November 11-13 long weekend. The Phoenix will host three days of events for alumni to reminisce with old friends, and department faculty and staff.  “It will be an exciting weekend,” says Department Chair Allana Lindgren. “There are already hundreds of alumni interesting in coming—and bringing their families with them. The Department is looking forward to reconnecting and hearing what everyone has been up to in their lives and their careers.”

Phoenix alumni can learn more about these events on a special 50th Anniversary website the department has created. As well as the reunion weekend and Alumni Festival, the anniversary website also features a complete history of the Phoenix Theatre presented through a fun interactive timeline of the department’s growth, the plays they have produced, their faculty and when they worked, as well as many successful alumni and when they graduated. Alumni can send in their own biographies to be posted or share stories and photos from the past.

Vic-Fair-69Generations of Phoenix alumni have become successful artists, working across the world and playing important roles in Canada’s cultural institutions, including Michael Whitfield, Resident Lighting Designer for 35 years at the Stratford Festival; Denis Garnhum, most recently the Artist Director of Calgary Theatre and soon to be at The Grand Theatre in London ON; and Nathan Medd, the Managing Director of English Theatre at National Arts Centre. Many other alumni have created their own theatre companies that have become part of Canada’s cultural landscape, including Britt Small and Jacob Richmond of Atomic Vaudeville and the Broadway-bound hit Ride the Cyclone; Peter Balkwill of Calgary’s Old Trout Puppet Workshop; Ingrid Hansen and Kathleen Greenfield of the now Toronto-based SNAFU Dance Theatre; national three-time Canadian Comedy Award winners and CBC comedy writers Chris Wilson and Peter Carlone of Peter N’ Chris; and Kate Braidwood of Portland’s Wonderheads, to name but a few.

Here in Victoria, our faculty and alumni have been a driving part of the theatre community for the past 50 years, beginning in the early days with the Campus Players, Company One, and the adventurous city-wide fine arts festival, Victoria Fair (1969-71). Our alumni have founded enduring Victoria theatre companies like Theatre Inconnu (1978), Story Theatre (1981), the Victoria Fringe Festival and Intrepid Theatre (1986), the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival (1991), Theatre SKAM (1995), and, more recently, workingclasstheatre (2009) and Impulse Theatre (2011). The Department of Theatre is proud of the legacy these alumni have created for our community.

The Department of Theatre is also in the process of planning many other activities during the year, including an exhibition of Phoenix play posters at the UVic Archives, a human library event and historical displays. Stay tuned for more details!

Cedric Bomford wins $15,000 Canada Council award

Congratulations go out to Visual Arts professor Cedric Bomford, who was announced on July 12 as the visual arts winner of the $15,000 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award.

Cedric Bomford (photo by Maneul Wagner)

Cedric Bomford (photo by Maneul Wagner)

Presented annually by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Awards are awarded for outstanding artistic achievement by Canadian mid-career artists in the disciplines of dance, inter-arts, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, and writing and publishing.

“I’m extremely pleased on behalf of the Visual Arts department to congratulate our colleague Cedric Bomford on having his research recognized with this national award,” says Visual Arts chair Paul Walde. “Over the past year, Cedric has proven to be a tremendous asset to both the department and the UVic community and we are delighted to have him with us. He has a number of high profile research creation projects underway which will no doubt bring further accolades and recognition in the months and years to come.”

Bomford, who joined the Visual Arts department in September 2015, has seen his installation and photographic work exhibited internationally and has participated in residencies in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. His work often focuses on the power dynamics established by constructed spaces and takes the form of large-scale rambling ad hoc architectural installations.

The projects follow a methodology he calls “thinking through building” in which construction takes on an emergent quality rather than an illustrative one. Concurrent to this installation work is a rigorous photographic practice that operates at times in parallel with and at others tangentially to the installation works.

Deadhead-homepage-revisedWhile the majority of his projects are solo efforts, Bomford often works collaboratively with a number of different partners including his brother Nathan, and father Jim. He has also worked with other artists, including Verena Kaminiarz, Mark Dudiak and Carl Boutard. Recent projects include Deadhead, a production of Other Sights for Artists’ Projects in Vancouver and Substation Pavilion a public art commission in Vancouver, BC. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at the Esker Foundation in Calgary, Alberta and a public art commission in Seattle, Washington.

TC_BomfordThis fall, the work of the Bomfords will be featured in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria group exhibit It’s in the making, running from October 2016 to January 2017. The same exhibit will also present a site-specific work by Nicholas Galanin, the 2012 Audain Professor in Contemporary Arts of the Pacific Northwest with the Department of Visual Arts, along with three other artists.

Earlier this month, the the Bomford’s intricate, interactive truck-mounted sculptural installation “Deadhead Redux” was featured as a one-day-only installation on the lawn of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Summer in the city

While our classrooms and studios may be quiet this summer, that doesn’t mean our Fine Arts faculty, students and alumni are lazing in the summer haze. While many spend their time researching or working on creative projects, summer is traditionally a busy time in the cultural sector, with numerous arts festivals on the go. Check out some of the offerings below to get an idea of what just a few of our own creative community are up to.
Fran Gebhard

Fran Gebhard

Hot off their critically acclaimed production of A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre presents Oscar Wilde’s 19th century classic comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest. Considered by many theatre lovers to be, quite possibly, the greatest comedy ever written, artistic director and Department of Theatre professor Brian Richmond and show director & Theatre professor Fran Gebhard have assembled a powerhouse cast and creative team that is sure to add sparkle and fire to the illustrious production history of this enduring comedy of manners. A founding member of Blue Bridge, director Gebhard has also pulled together a highly talented creative team that includes a mix of Phoenix professors, alumni and students: Laurin Kelsey on set and props, Graham McMonagle on costumes, Giles Hogya on lights, plus cast members Kholby Wardell and James Kott. You can read an interview with director Gebhard here. The Importance of Being Earnest runs to July 17 at the Roxy, 2657 Quadra Street (at Hillside). Tickets $24-$46.

Back again for another summer of great theatre, the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival runs to July 30 outdoor on the grounds of Camosun College. Proving that the Bard is still active in his 400th anniversary year, the GVSS is presenting a pair of productions: Twelfth Night and The Winters Tale. Helmed by producing artistic director and Writing MFA alumna Karen Lee Pickett, the annual GVSS is a regular showcase for the talents of many Fine Arts alumni, instructors and students, this year including the likes of Cam Culham, Trevor Hinton, Emma Grabinsky and the directors of Twelfth Night and The Winters Tale, Janet Munsil and Barbara Poggemiller respectively. Tickets $19-$24, or $33-$42 for festival passes.

If you’re looking for visual art, don’t miss the Art Gallery Paint-In, running 10am-9pm on Saturday, July 16, all along Moss Street. Commonly known as the Moss Street Paint-In, this is the 29th year for the AGGV’s annual outdoor exhibition. With over 165 showing and demonstrating their work along the 10-block route, we know you’re bound to see some Visual Arts alumni among the artists—like Andrea Soos. Remember to bring water and put on the sun block!

The Lafayette String Quartet

The Lafayette String Quartet

For music fans, the Victoria Summer Music Festival is always a must-see. Running July 26 to August 11, VSMF artistic director & School of Music professor Arthur Rowe has once again lined up a spectacular mid-summer festival, featuring six exciting evenings of glorious music introduce new, award-winning talent as well as favourite performers from past seasons. Join the Lafayette String Quartet on July 28 in UVic’s Phillip T Young Recital Hall as they begin their 30th anniversary season in their home town, with a performance that will include Haydn Op. 33, No. 2 (Joke), Flothuis Quartetto II, and the Ravel String Quartet. Also appearing will be returning favourites Gary Karr and Harmon Lewis (celebrating the 20th anniversary of Basses Loaded), violinist Scott St John, and the Duke Piano Trio, as well as newcomers Cecilia String Quartet, Ensemble Made in Canada piano quartet, and mezzo-soprano Anita Krause.

Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre continues its summer season with the zany comedy Animal Crackers. A hallmark of Marx Brothers lunacy when it premiered on Broadway in 1928, audiences flocked and critics applauded the antics of Captain Spaulding and company at Mrs. Rittenhouse’s ritzy weekend gathering. Join Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo and their perennial foil Mrs. Rittenhouse as they tear the stage up with anarchic fun and song. Animal Crackers runs August 2 to 14 at the Roxy, 2657 Quadra Street (at Hillside). Tickets $29-$51.

Fringe-badge-16-mint-background-2008-1The Victoria Fringe Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary from August 22 – September 4 this year. Hands down one of the city’s favourite festivals of any kind, the Fringe takes over the city every summer for an 11-day celebration of live performance from around the world, featuring an eclectic mixture of spoken word, drama, musicals, comedy, magic, music, theatre for young audiences and more. While the schedule for this year hasn’t been announced yet, the Fringe is always full of Phoenix students and alumni! Watch for more details later in August.

Out of town, School of Music professor Patrick Boyle appeared at the Rochester International Jazz Festival this week. As one of the “friends” in the Jeff Johnston & Friends band, Boyle will be part of the televised “Oh Canada” series featuring nine Canadian jazz groups being filmed for national broadcast on PBS stations at a later date. The inaugural “Oh Canada” series, presented by The Canada Council For The Arts, will feature nine leading jazz artists and groups from Canada including Quinn Bachand’s Brishen, Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet, Jon Ballantyne Trio, Elizabeth Shepherd, Mike Murley Trio, Marianne Trudel Trio + Special Guest Ingrid Jensen, Jeff Johnston & Friends, Pugs and Crows, and Mike Herriott Quartet.

Dr Susan Lewis becomes the new Dean of Fine Arts

We are proud to announce that Dr. Susan Lewis has been selected as the new Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts for a five-year term beginning July 1, 2016. She will be the ninth Dean since Fine Arts became a faculty in 1969, and has already been serving as Acting Dean for the 2015/16 academic year.

New Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Susan Lewis

New Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Susan Lewis

“I know the Faculty will continue to benefit from her leadership and I am sure will join me in congratulating Dr. Lewis,” says Dr. Valerie S. Kuehne, UVic’s Vice-President Academic and Provost.

Prior to stepping into the role of Acting Dean, Dr. Lewis was the Director of the School of Music, and the School’s Acting Director in 2010 and 2012; she originally joined the School as an Assistant Professor in 2001. She holds a PhD in Musicology from Princeton University, a Master of Fine Arts (Princeton), Master of Music (University of Arizona), and Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from Queen’s University. Her international experience includes a year of study at the University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh, and active research networks that span North America and Europe.

“I was honoured to be appointed to the role of Acting Dean and to work together on key priorities of enhancing student success, highlighting research and creative activity, and building community this past year,” says Lewis.

“I had the privilege of learning more about the excellence that’s happening in every department and school, and the topics and methods of the Faculty’s research and creative practice — whether informally at monthly Fine Arts cafes, at research networking events, in individual and group meetings, and by attending productions, concerts, readings, and exhibits. What an amazing group of talented artists, practitioners, and scholars we have.”

One of the highlights of her term as Acting Dean was connecting with students, faculty, and staff, as well as advocating for Fine Arts across campus and in the greater community. With a distinguished record of achievement as a researcher, teacher and administrator, Lewis has a successful track record of arts advocacy, leadership, and support with a strong emphasis on student success, teaching excellence, creative activity, experiential learning, and research-inspired teaching.

Dr Lewis presiding at Fine Arts convocation in June 2016, with double-medal winner Kelsey Wheatley

Dr Lewis presiding at Fine Arts convocation in June 2016, with double-medal winner Kelsey Wheatley

Her extensive experience serving on a number of regional, national, and international organizations — including the American Musicological Society, Canadian University Music Society, Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, the Canadian Association of Fine Arts Deans, and Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences — will benefit the Faculty in the years to come.

Looking ahead to her five-year term as Dean, Lewis finds strength in our history. “With Fine Arts being one of only a few freestanding faculties in the country whose focus is entirely devoted to performance, arts scholarship, and creative expression, this gives us an edge as we look to enhance synergies across the faculty, campus and into the community.”

Already a very familiar face in classrooms, meetings and at events across campus, Lewis expects a smooth transition to her new role.

“Since I joined the Faculty in 2001, I’ve found deep satisfaction in my work with students, instructors, and staff, in my own creative engagement as a scholar of music and performance practice, and in my service as Director of the School of Music and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. I am deeply invested in the UVic community and delighted to begin my term as Dean of Fine Arts.”

The entire Faculty of Fine Arts formally welcomes Dr. Lewis to her new role, and looks forward to working together in the coming years.