Fine Arts fantastic at Fringe Fest

If it’s late August, it must be time for the Victoria Fringe Festival. Running August 22 to September 2, this annual explosion of live performance returns with 47 shows from around the globe in 12 venues, plus outdoor events for the whole family and late night programming in the Fringe Club. Pick up a program guide, get your Fringe button (you’ll need one in order to buy tickets) and get ready to Fringe!

Of course, Fine Arts is once again well-represented in the festival, with students, alumni and faculty from not only Theatre but also Music and Writing involved in creating, writing, designing, directing, performing and working behind the scenes in a number of shows. How many will you see?

ANGELS & ALIENS  – Co-created and featuring second-generation Phoenix alumnus Jeff Leard (son of local theatrical legend Jim Leard), Angels & Aliens poses questions like, are we alone in the universe? Are we living in a computer simulation? What do two irresponsible roommates eat for breakfast the morning after awkward sex? In short. No. Yes. And eggs.

BEGINNING/MIDDLE/ENDFeaturing current Theatre student Douglas Peerless,  this eponymous production includes three short plays that are broken into a Beginning, a Middle and an End. The cast will then take those nine parts and mix them around, allowing chance and audience participation to decide their order of appearance — with no performance being the same.

CAREY, OK! VOLUME 1: TIMELESS TIMELY TUNES – Featuring Phoenix alumnus Carey Wass—who first came to the city’s attention thanks to his notable role in the original mounting of the musical Ride the Cyclone—this show features a mash-up of monologues and music, that mixes beatboxing, rap-singing . . . and Sir Ian McKellen? It’s described as a must-see musical experience, and with Wass, we’d believe that.

CORNELIUS & TITANIA OR, A TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS (A COMEDY) – Written by Phoenix alumna playwright and director Pamela Bethel (whose After The Beep was a hit at the recent UNO Festival) and featuring current Theatre student Tallas Munro, this Shakespearean spin focuses on Cornelius who, having had barely one line in Hamlet, finds he usually gets cut and ends up here — with all the other inconsequential characters. Today Titania shows up. According to this fax that just came through, she’s been replaced by a hologram. A comedy about power, privilege and the age old question — who’s responsible for the dirty dishes in the shared kitchen?

DISASTER! – Directed by Phoenix alumnus Cam Culham, this recent Broadway hit musical lovingly parodies the 1970’s disaster-film genre is presented by the St. Michaels University Music Theatre Intensive. Join a colourful group of New Yorkers at the grand opening of a floating casino and disco as they fall prey to all sorts of tragic disasters. This hilarious “jukebox musical” revives popular ’70s songs performed by local teens. They’ll have you grooving and in emergency preparation mode all at the same time!

ERNIE AND BETHY – First performed as a Phoenix SATCo show in early 2018, this comedy examines what happens when puppets grow tired of being controlled and decide to overthrow the human regime. Expect puppet revolution, a struggle to create “real art,” and a healthy dose of existentialism as down-and-out Ernie and overachieving Bethy try to create a children’s show while the foul-mouthed puppets attempt to take over. This show is filled with Theatre students and recent alumni: written, created & assistant directed by Sophie Underwood, directed by Molly McDowell Powlowski, set design by Conor Farrell, costume design by Hailee Jake with an assist by Mackenzie Monroe, lighting design by Tori Isaak, sound design by Aaron Smail, stage managed by Siena Shepard, assistant stage manager Danny Handford, production manager by Logan Swain, puppet engineers Sasha Lazin and Christian Tervo. Featuring Sheldon Graham, Emma Grabinsky with puppeteers Rachel Myers.

FADO – A tale of love and ghosts told through the saddest music in the world—Portuguese fado — this show features the talents of Phoenix alumni Cyllene Richmond, with designs by Patricia Reilly. Brought to you by the creators of the 2015 Fringe Favourite Lieutenant Nun – featuring live music by local fado singer Sara Marreiros.

THE FITTING ROOMWritten by Writing grad Ellery Lamm and original mounted by local Vino Buono theatre in 2017, this is a play about growing up, coming out, facing loss and finding faith. Four teens, a mom, a rabbi and one fitting room: six people all linked to the sudden death of thirteen-year-old Noah. This Phoenix-heavy production is directed by Anna Marie Anderson, with stage manager/sound designer Aaron Smail, set/costume designer Delaney Tesch, lighting designer Elizabeth Martin, and featuring actors Ciaran Volke, Emma Newton, Emma Grabinsky and Eva Hocking.

FOOL’S PARADISE – France, 1686. Mathilde is a young nun whose life radically changes when she meets Julie d’Aubigny, a notorious Parisian opera singer and swordsmaster. Together they plan a daring escape from the convent and elope across France, but it isn’t long before Julie’s colourful past catches up with them. Featuring Phoenixers Julie McGuire and Sophie Chappell, with designs by Annie Konstantinova.

KITT & JANE: AN INTERACTIVE SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE NEAR-POST-APOCALYPTIC FUTURE – Co-created by Phoenix alumni Kathleen Greenfield and Ingrid Hansen, this encore presentation features Fringe favourite Hansen in the cast, with LX design by Michael Franzmann. Two 14-year-olds hijack their school assembly and train their classmates to survive the coming apocalypse. A poignant exploration of the world today’s youth are inheriting, and how they’re willing to fight for it. Last seen locally at Phoenix’s 2013 Spotlight on Alumni.

LA PALABRA EN EL TIEMPOWith bold rhythm and improvisation, local company Palabra Flamenco presents this mix of fierce dance, live guitar, troubled song and English-language poetry – a grief and praise that soak their way to dark corners. How to confront what’s buried? Hold death near, affirming life? This myth-inflected encounter honours what we’ve lost, what we’re going to lose. Written by Writing MFA alumnus Garth Martens, winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and author of Prologue for the Age of Consequence (Anansi). With acclaimed guitarist Gareth Owen, singer Veronica Maguire (co-founder of Alma de España), and principal dancer Denise Yeo.

THE MEASURE OF LOVE – Phoenix alumnus director Wendy Merk presents this remount of an earlier Fringe hit. Love, betrayal, redemption . . . The Measure of Love is a dramatic exploration of the friendship between two women. “This story of Catholic obsession with guilt and sin is a charmer and devilish fun and in the hands of these veteran performers it’s sensational. Powerful, moody and rewarding. Who said there are no good roles for women anymore?” – Times Colonist.

RATFISH COMEDY SHOW – Join musical director and School of Music professor Patrick Boyle and experience everything that’s made Ratfish Victoria’s favourite local comedy show for 7+ years, all jammed into less than an hour: amazing hosts, a great band, surprise guest performers, hilarious headliners, roast battles — even open mic spots where you can sign up at the show for a chance to grab a 3-minute spot to perform your own original comedy at the Fringe!

SHERLOCK HOLMES & THE CURSE OF MORIARTY Sherlock Holmes is back in his deadliest adventure yet in this new show from Victoria’s Triple Fringe Award-winners Outpost 31. This brand new re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless classic by David Elendune (Leer, Winnie The Pooh, Casino Royale) features Phoenix alumni Trevor Hinton, Ian Simms, Ellen Law and Connie McConnell.

WAR OF 1812 – Phoenix alumnus Ian Case directs this hilarious historical romp, featuring a who’s-who of the local comedy scene—including Wes Borg, Morgan Cranny, Rod Peter Jr and Mike Delamont. A young boy hates Canada until the ghost of Pierre Burton  takes him on a tour of Canadian History, from the tennis ball battle fields of York to a Laura Secord mega musical, all in a Birchbark time canoe. Get ready for the funniest history lesson of a lifetime!

WATER PEOPLE – Phoenix alumnus and instructor Clayton Jevne directs this drama about Beth, a middle-aged novelist, who begins caring for her disabled mother. It seemed the right thing to do at the time, but a sociopathic social worker, a diabolical sibling, a high maintenance cat, and the woman in the mirror confirming time is not standing still are now “writing” the story that is defining Beth’s life.

THE WILDS – Co-created and featuring Kate Braidwood, this production by 12-time Best of Fest winners The Wonderheads (Loon, Grim & Fischer) features their iconic larger-than-life masks. Wendell’s wife and their beloved tree have vanished, so he must venture into the Wilds to bring them home. Pixar meets Miyazaki in this extraordinary adventure. And watch for a special one-night-only presentation of Grim & Fischer on November 8 at the Metro Studio!

And we’d like to offer a special shout-out to our alumni and students working with Fringe organizers Intrepid Theatre to get this event up, including Jaxun Maron, Sienna Shepard, Emma Leck, Melissa Taylor, and Carolyn Moon with Ticket Rocket box office support by Kate Loomer.

—with files from Adrienne Holierhoek

Quartet Fest West now in its 11th year

UVic’s campus will be alive with the sound of music this summer as Quartet Fest West returns for another exciting session from July 9 to 19.

The Lafayette String Quartet in rehearsal (photo: Kristy Farkas)

Now in its 11th year, Quartet Fest West is an intensive chamber music workshop, welcoming select students from universities across North America. Originally launched in 1993 by the School of Music’s artists-in-residence the Lafayette String Quartet, QFW offers an unparalleled string quartet experience, including a series of concerts, masterclasses and workshops — all of which are open to the public in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall.

See the School of Music events calendar for full details on all concerts.

This year features string players (plus a pianist!) hailing from Alberta, Texas, Arizona, Vancouver and Victoria. They will spend 10 days working closely together — divided into two quartets and two quintets — to hone their individual and ensemble skills. Alongside the LSQ, guest coaches and performers include their long-time friends and collaborators the Penderecki String Quartet, esteemed local violists Yariv Aloni and Gerald Stanick, and renowned pianist Alexander Tselyakov.

QFW students

A highlight each summer, QFW is an ideal example of the immersive study and supportive practice that has made the School of Music such an essential part of Victoria’s arts community over the past 50 years.

“The festival is a significant annual event for UVic’s School of Music,” says Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts. “I extend my warm thanks and appreciation to members of the Lafayette String Quartet for their ongoing efforts, commitment, and mentorship of generations of musicians. Together, we strengthen the cultural fabric of the city, the province, the country and, indeed, the world.”

The highly-anticipated QFW concert series kicks off on July 14 with performances by the LSQ and Tselyakov, counted in the ranks of Canada’s leading concert pianists; that program features the beautiful “Viola Quintet in C” by Mozart and the rarely performed piano quintet by Ernő Dohnányi. The Penderecki Quartet will perform music by Beethoven and Kelly-Marie Murphy, as well as the Shostakovich Piano Quintet — joined by Tselyakov — on July 17.

Penderecki String Quartet

The Gala Concert on July 18 — a fundraiser for future QFW student scholarships — brings together the LSQ, PSQ, plus special guests and festival participants. On this program you’ll hear some of the most cherished chamber music literature throughout the ages including works by Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Haydn (Michael and Joseph) and more. The festival then culminates with a July 19 concert showcasing the QFW student participants.

All concerts are performed in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, located in the B-Wing of UVic’s MacLaurin building. Single tickets ($10-$25) are available at the door for all concerts, as is a festival pass ($60). The public is also welcome to observe daily masterclasses.

 UVic is accessible by sustainable travel options including transit and cycling. For those arriving by car, pay parking is in effect Monday to Saturday; evening parking is a flat rate of $3.

Off to the races with UVic’s Summertime Staff Challenge

Thanks to all who came out for the Summertime Staff Challenge on June 20! It was a great day for a race and, despite some last-minute Nerf technology backfires, everyone seemed to have a great time. For those who like stats, here’s a fun game-day breakdown:

  • 20 teams
  • 75 players
  • roughly 15 units represented
  • 18 new employees participated
  • 8 volunteers helped out
  • Maximum possible score: 103 points (plus new employee/clothing bonus)
  • The shortest slow bike ride was 1 minute
  • The longest slow bike ride was 5 minutes (a tie between Cycle Paths & Last Minute Charlies, so each team got 10 points)
  • 7 teams got disqualified on the slow bike ride (or didn’t have a bike)
  • 11 teams successfully completed the admittedly challenging Finnerty Challenge
  • 11 teams created a recycled hat (some were fantastic!)
  • 3 teams had only 3 players — one of which (Edge-y Broads) made it into the top-3
  • Only 5 teams successfully answered their trivia question
  • Only 6 teams got points on the bocce challenge
  • Only 4 teams didn’t do the Twitter tree challenge
  • Only 3 teams answered all 4 of their photo-based questions
  • Only 3 teams didn’t find a rock
  • Only 3 teams didn’t draw a S’YEWE Pole face

We’ll be doing this again next summer as part of the Connect U staff conference, so be sure to sign up again!

Here’s a selection of photos from the event:

And now the results!

FIRST PLACE TEAM: East of the Equator (Office of Research Services): Meghan Rountree, Michael Chin, Michael Kravec, Dean Rysstad     Final score:    75
This was the first time playing for East of the Equator. If you would like to congratulate the winning team, you can contact them here.

2nd PLACE TEAM: Devs Doughnuts (Systems)     Final score:     70

3rd PLACE TEAM: Edge-y Broads (Media Relations)     Final score:     65

 4th PLACE TEAM: Cycle Paths (Health Services)     Final score:     64

5th PLACE TEAM: Heal Racers (Health Services)     Final score:     62

6th PLACE TEAM: CERE4 (Ceremonies & Events)     Final score:     61

7th PLACE TEAM: Last Minute Charlies (Budget & Capital Planning)     Final score:     60

8th PLACE TEAM: Code Blue (Health Services)     Final score:     59

9th PLACE TEAM: Math R Us (Math & Stats)     Final score:     59

10th PLACE TEAM: The Service Providers (Student Services)     Final score:     56

11th PLACE TEAM: Team Corrina (Chemistry)     Final score:     54

12th PLACE TEAM: ROC Bottom Resurrected (Undergraduate Records)     Final score:     53

13th PLACE TEAM: Two is Better Than None (Co-op & Career)    Final score:     52

14th PLACE TEAM: The Cat’s Pajamas (Fine Arts)     Final score:     51

15th PLACE TEAM: Adva Cadabra (Academic Advising)     Final score:     46

16th PLACE TEAM: The Deductions (unidentified unit)     Final score:     45

17th PLACE TEAM: Twisted Blister (Health Services)     Final score:     44

18th PLACE TEAM: The Heather Mooney (Business)     Final score:     40

19th PLACE TEAM: Brain Stormers (Continuing Studies, Marketing)     Final score:     36

20th PLACE TEAM: Team AJ (unidentified unit)     Final score:     3

 


Get Ready for the June 20 Summertime Staff Challenge

Can’t wait for summer to start? Eager to bust loose with some lunchtime fun? Get ready for the fun & frantic Summertime Staff Challenge, running 12:10 to 12:40pm Wednesday, June 20, at the MacLaurin Pyramid.

Your four-person UVic team will compete against others in a series of on-campus zany challenges ranging from information- and image-gathering to tests of physical skills and accuracy.

Designed to be more of a team-building activity than anything seriously physically difficult, the whole point of this event is to have fun going up against other UVic teams while discovering more about the campus.

You’ll also get bonus points for each new employee of 1 year or less on your team. (They don’t have to be from your unit, so start poaching now!) Sign up either as a team or individually, and we’ll connect you with other people looking for teammates.

What your team will need:

  • Four UVic staffers (or majority staff)
  • Running shoes or comfortable walking shoes
  • A smart phone, iPad or other similar device that can take photos & post to Twitter
  • Water shoes / flip flops & a towel (?!)
  • A bicycle
  • Keen eyes
  • Steady hands

Deadline for team registration is Friday, June 15.

For more information or to sign up, please contact John Threlfall at johnt@uvic.ca. Yep, he’s the same kooky guy who was behind the Connect U Scavenger Hunts.

Two MFA exhibits: one downtown, one crossing borders

Following a series of on-campus solo exhibitions in the Audain Gallery this spring, this year’s graduating MFA artists have taken their work downtown for their final public exhibit.

Titled In Toto, the annual Visual Arts MFA graduation exhibition runs May 4 to May 14 at 821 Fort Street, between Quadra and Blanshard, with a special opening reception at 7pm on Friday, May 4.

Update: the MFA show will now return for one day only, 11am-2pm Sunday, May 27, as part of the City of Victoria’s Fort Street Celebrations. The MFA show will be used as the venue for a public drop-in session discussing the use of vacant store fronts as art spaces. Live music & refreshments will also be on hand to celebrate the opening of the bike lanes,

Featuring the work of David Michael Peters, Marina DiMaio, Leah McInnis, Connor Charlesworth and Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland, In Toto offers 10 different pieces, ranging from painting and sculpture to installation and media works.

Interestingly, the same storefront was home to the HeARTspace exhibit in the fall 2017, a pop-up art gallery featuring the work of people who have died from overdoses, as well as tributes to them; that exhibit was organized by UVic interdisciplinary PhD candidate Marion Selfridge.

The free exhibit is open noon to 4pm daily.  

In addition to this exhibit, MFA candidate Marina DiMaio has also organized the second in the MFA Connect exhibit series. Running May 13-19 in the Audain Gallery in the Visual Arts building, this second iteration reconsiders the long-standing tradition of Mail Art through an entirely digital correspondence. This conception of MFA Connect integrates the work of six MFA students from Newcastle University in England and six UVic MFA students in a group show that will then travel to the Ex Libris Gallery in northeast England.

MFA Connect is like a conference for visual arts,” says DiMaio in this article about the inaugural MFA Connect exhibit in November 2017. “Other departments make these kind of ‘connections’ all the time, but when we get together we share a visual language. This is about challenging each other’s research, getting our research out into the world, creating our own opportunities, establishing communities, and continuing the larger conversation of the place of the visual arts in an academic institution.”

In addition to Marina DiMaio, MFA Connect also features work by UVic’s Connor Charlesworth, Leah McInnis, David Michael Peters, and Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland, plus Xristia Trutiak. Participating artists from Newcastle U include Shaney Barton, Elizabeth Green, Peter Hanmer, Paul Jex, Hania Klepacka and Gill Shreeve.

Could this be the beginning of ongoing creative alliances between Newcastle University and UVic? Only time—and inspiration—will tell.

Concert debuts results of Guggenheim Fellowship

It was big news last year when internationally acclaimed School of Music professor Dániel Péter Biró was named the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship — one of North America’s most prestigious awards. Biró’s intention was to use the one-year award (worth $50,000 US) to reflect on one of the most important issues of today: global migration. Now, audiences in select North American cities will have the opportunity of hearing the results when his large-scale musical composition Ethica is performed this month.

2017 Guggenheim Fellow Dániel Péter Biró (UVic Photo Services)

Based on Baruch Spinoza’s philosophical work of the same name, Ethica will debut at the Americas Society/Council for America in New York City on May 4, as performed by Schola Heidelberg and the ensemble aisthesis, featuring pianist Donald Berman and conductor Walter Nussbaum. Kirk McNally, the School of Music’s assistant professor of Music Technology, will also be collaborating in the performance of electroacoustic pieces in this concert.

Following the New York debut, Ethica will also have live performances in Winnipeg (May 6) and Vancouver (May 10-11), as well as here in Victoria Victoria (May 8-9). Click here for a complete schedule of events.

The Victoria performance is part of the 2018 SALT New Music Festival and Symposium, and the public is welcome to attend a free lecture and performance of Ethica at 7:30pm Wednesday, May 9 at Congregation Emanu-El (1461 Blanshard Streeet). Ethica will be performed by Biró, Klangforum Heidelberg and the ensemble aisthesis; they will also perform a work by the late Czech pianist and composer Gideon Klein, written in during his internment in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during WWII.

The KlangForum Heidelberg is where two very distinctive ensembles for contemporary and ancient music come together: the voices of the Schola Heidelberg and the instrumentalists of the ensemble aesthesis. Together, they have built an international following, thrilling audiences around the world with their innovative concert formats and injecting new life into the relationship between music and society.

A taste of SALT

KlangForum Heidelberg

While at the SALT Festival, Klangforum Heidelberg will also be presenting a reading session for young composers and an open rehearsal of works by Canadian composers including Claude Vivier, Philippe Leroux and Örjan Sandred, who will be in attendance.

Now in its seventh year, the SALT Festival is a series that reverberates far beyond Victoria’s shores. “People actually know about Victoria through our contemporary music scene,” Biró explained in this recent article. “I was in Vienna and just met someone by chance on the street and they said, ‘Oh, you run the SALT New Music Festival’ . . . . Victoria has always been known as kind of a weird place, a place for experimentation.”

These events are happening in collaboration with the SALT New Music Festival and Symposium, Open Space, the University of Manitoba and Vancouver New Music and made possible through support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council and the Goethe Institute.

About Ethica

Biró’s composition Ethica is inspired by the time he spent as a visiting professor in the computing and information sciences department of Netherland’s Utrecht University in 2011, where he was living not far from Spinoza’s burial site in The Hague. While one of the greatest philosophers of the 17th century, Spinoza was banned from the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam because of his views — which, says Biró, proved too radical for the time.

Spinoza’s burial site in The Hague

“In his philosophical treatise Ethics, Spinoza attempted to present a new type of theology, one that was autonomous from organized religion, such as that of his own Portuguese Jewish community,” he explains. “[My] composition explores historical dichotomies between religious and secular thinking from the perspective of modern-day globalized existence.”

His Ethica cycle will be scored for voices, ensemble and electronics, and will also incorporate text from Spinoza’s philosophical work.

“Exploring concepts of ‘space and place,’ the composition will deal with questions of one’s place in the global world and how music informs and influences our perception of our place in this world,” he explains. “Looking at musical creation as an analogy to the movement of the immigrant — who discovers, remembers, forgets and rediscovers places on his voyage — the composition will investigate relationships to historical space, space of immigration and disembodied space.”

During the 2016/17 academic year, Biró was an artist-in-residence with UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society; in 2015, he was made a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and he was awarded a Fellowship at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2014; he has also received numerous other international prizes and commissions.

And, as a result of his Guggenheim Fellowship, Dániel Péter Biró was the only UVic professor —and the only arts researcher — included in the prestigious Universities Canada publication, Canadian Excellence, Global Recognition: Canada’s 2017 Winners of Major International Research Awards.

Annual Visual Arts BFA show fills building with art

Always one of the most exciting events of the year for the Department of Visual Arts, the annual Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) graduating exhibit is back and ready to showcase the work of nearly 40 emerging artists.

This year’s exhibit is titled Good Grief! and kicks off with a special opening reception at 7pm Friday, April 20. Expect to see over 50 pieces of art by the BFA students on view, ranging from sculpture and painting to drawing, photography, digital and multimedia. The pieces below are just an example of the kind of work that will be on view.

Good Grief! runs 10am to 6pm daily from April 20 to 28 in UVic’s Visual Arts building — if you can’t make the opening, be sure to pop in while the exhibit is on.

The annual BFA exhibit is a highlight of the year in Fine Arts. Much like School of Music students with their final concerts and Theatre students with their mainstage performances, the BFA show is an important milestone in the training of Visual Arts students.

“The work represents the self-directed nature of our program, where students learn to invest in their own research using a variety of artistic mediums to bring their projects to fruition,” says Visual Arts professor and faculty supervisor Megan Dickie.

The show is free, open to all members of the public and is fully wheelchair accessible.

Click on the images below to see the pieces in full.