Phoenix Theatre launches new season

im:print 2024 

October 3–12, 2024

A special presentation with the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria featuring a creative team of diverse artists and facilitators. im:print 2024 is a diverse performance that skillfully weaves together the personal stories of Indigenous, settler, immigrant and refugee artists. Using spoken word, dance and song, the production delves into the complex web of our connections to place, people and belonging. It boldly challenges prevailing beliefs and sheds light on the real-life impacts of equity, diversity, inclusion, and identity politics.

This project, which spans across cultures and generations, is a community-based effort designed to be a vital creative outlet. These stories centre around themes like place and displacement, belonging and longing, and connection and disconnection, showcasing the diverse voices within our community. 

Art can be a powerful way of healing, raising awareness, and having conversations around difficult subjects. 
—ICA

 

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

November 7-23, 2024

Winner of the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Rachel Sheinkin), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee takes audiences on a hilarious and heartwarming journey into the competitive world of spelling bees.

Set in a small town, the story follows an eclectic group of six adolescents as they vie for the coveted title of spelling champion. These quirky characters spell their way through a series of challenging (and possibly made-up) words, hoping to avoid the dreaded “ding” of elimination. Along the way, they share touching and wildly funny stories from their home lives. Thanks to catchy tunes by William Finn (Falsettoland) plus unexpected twists and even some audience participation, this fast-paced gem is a riotous ride that has charmed audiences worldwide.

Guest directed by Jaques Lemay, the musical mastermind behind our previous production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

The Killing Game

February 13–22, 2025

Theatre professor Conrad Alexandrowicz (The Waste Land, Comic Potential) offers this absurdist comedy that transcends the ordinary. Step into the surreal world of Eugène Ionesco’s The Killing Game, a captivating play that immerses audiences in the tale of a town facing a deadly plague. As the body count rises, accusations fly, tensions rise, and the line between reality and absurdity is blurred. Death spares no one, regardless of wealth, age, innocence, or guilt, turning the community into a chaotic mix of paranoia, hypocrisy, and opportunism.

One of Ionesco’s final plays, The Killing Game is filled with humour despite its dark subject matter, and reveals how social connections can become fragile when confronted with an existential threat. With razor-sharp wit and keen satire, Ionesco skillfully allows the audience to engage while maintaining a sense of detachment through laughter.

The human drama is as absurd as it is painful.
—Eugène Ionesco.

 

Twelfth Night


March 13-22, 2025

In the magical realm of Shakespeare’s Illyria, director and Theatre professor Fran Gebhard (Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Problem Child) offers a fresh interpretation of the timeless comedy Twelfth Night. Shipwrecked and separated from her twin brother Sebastian, Viola disguises herself as a young man to serve Duke Orsino. What follows is a whirlwind of romantic entanglements, mischievous pranks, mistaken identity and hilarious misunderstandings.

Gebhard’s vision transports the audience to a future era, post-climate change, where traditional gender roles blur. Amidst wit, humour, and poetic language, the play explores love’s transformative power and the delightful chaos of reality and illusion.

If music be the food of love, play on. 
— William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

After a strong 23/24 season that saw the majority of performances play to sold-out audiences, the Department of Theatre‘s 24/25 mainstage season promises an equally exciting year to come—from community impact stories and a Tony-winning musical to an absurdist comedy and a much-loved classic! 

Chamber Singers mark 50 years at UVic Music

For 50 years, the UVic Chamber Singers have proven to be one of the most endearing — and enduring — ensembles in our School of Music. Over the years, the Chamber Singers have performed to enthusiastic audiences in 140 cities and 30 countries on 6 continents, and have been recorded for broadcast on the CBC, University of California Radio and NCRV Radio (Holland), as well as the national radio stations of China, Poland & Hungary. They have also been winners in the CBC choral competition and took part in a 2000 recording that won a Juno Award.

While their performances are primarily held in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, the Chamber Singers have transcended local boundaries by performing in venues around Vancouver Island, across BC, and, from 1987 to 2009, across the globe.

Today, the Chamber Singers are led by Music professor Adam Con, but Professor Emeritus Bruce More was the ensemble’s longest-standing conductor with an impressive 37-year tenure leading the group. While More retired in 2008, he continues to host alumni reunions and foster connections that strengthen the long and prestigious history of the Chamber Singers.

This spring, the Chamber Singers are marking their 50th anniversary with a mini-tour that includes March 2 performances in Port Alberni (following a day-long workshop with Urbanstreet Choir and Barkley Sounds Choir) and Parksville, alongside UVic Music Education alumni Brent Kellas (choral director at Bellenas Secondary) and Crystal-Anne Howell (choral director at Kwalikum Secondary).

They will also be performing two concerts in Victoria: 2:30pm March 9 at UVic’s Phillip T Young Recital Hall, featuring the return of 40+ Chamber Singers alumni and conductor Bruce More performing Healey Willan’s “Rise Up My Fair One” (also available as a live stream), and 3:30pm March 10 at Broadview United alongside the University of Puget Sound Chamber Singers. Expect to hear a repertoire spanning 400 years of world and folk music, newly composed music, music of the Renaissance, Canadian composers and traditional African American spirituals.

Their 50th anniversary mini-tour will then conclude at a very special April 21 performance at Vancouver’s Pacific Spirit Church, alongside 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Chamber Singers alumna Carrie Tennant, featuring a pre-concert reception open to all UVic alumni.

An exhilarating experience

For former Chamber Singers director Bruce More, the 50th anniversary offers both a chance to reconnect with former singers and to lead the group in song once more.

“I’ve been retired for 15 years and am well along the path of aging, so it is a wonderful reminder of the joys of working with gifted young musicians,” he says. “I expect it will be an exhilarating experience to be in front of Chamber Singers alumni again, although I’m not much older than some that I conducted in the 1970s!”

When asked for a favourite memory from his years leading the Chamber Singers, More singles out their touring years. “The desire to become a touring ensemble was greatly enhanced in 1981 during our first trip to California by the realization that several of the singers had never seen a palm tree before,” he recalls.

Bruce More (bottom right)

“Five years later, we were sailing down the Danube; 10 years later we were seeing long bread-lines in Leningrad; 15 years later we were singing with students in Soweto; 20 years later, singing in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square; and 25 years later sharing a concert with a Cambodian school choir in the presence of a Cambodian prince.”  (Read about more touring adventures in More’s book, The Conductor is the One in Front: 37 Years with the UVic Chamber Singers.)

An education on multiple levels

Current Chamber Singers leader Adam Con echoes More’s enthusiasm. “The UVic Chamber Singers is that one place to practice the art of singing at the highest level with others who share that burning passion,” he says. “There’s something about having that very high-level experience that sparks a huge interest in composing, conducting and many other activities in music.”

Far from going out of fashion, choral presentations continue to be an essential part of public ceremonies internationally, ranging from coronations and presidential inaugurations to the Olympics. Con sees this as proof that singing together is a quintessential human endeavour. “Music is like food: why do we eat? To Live! Why do we sing? The same, to live,” he says.  “Worldwide, we see people make art, music and dance not only as a part of culture but also as part of simply being and passing down stories and experiences.”

Adam Con

But Con points out the Chamber Singers also fills an essential pedagogical role for music educators. “It’s important in the education of young musicians to experience all genres and all eras,” he says. “Our students must learn to use their voice in different ways to honour the respective singing traditions: this is part of a solid education in music and singing, and it practices the decolonized approach to choral music education.”

Con is already planning for the future of the Chamber Singers. “Next year we hope to do an international competition and more touring. Future years will include the CBC Choral Competition and expanding our horizons to embrace other communities of singing. We hope the larger community will come out to support our efforts to fundraise for these projects as well.”

Planning for the future

Indeed, a generous contribution from a Chamber Singers alumni in 2023 led to the establishment of the Bruce More Legacy Fund, aimed at supporting the Chamber Singers and their future tours.

“I am truly honoured to loan my name to the Legacy Fund, and I look forward to the future benefits provided by its growth over time,” says More. “Of course, I hope the Chamber Singers will continue forever—but, at the very least, I hope it will offer the opportunity to School of Music students to perform the best of the choral art and to experience the community that can come with it.”

Equity Review results

During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Faculty of Fine Arts engaged in an Equity Review in order to provide an opportunity for faculty, staff, instructors and students to share their personal experiences with equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-oppression in Fine Arts.

The survey was distributed to approximately 1,500 current Fine Arts members and we received 241 responses (16%).

The results revealed that respondents appreciate the inclusive content in our courses, that equity-centred pedagogy is beginning to define the work we do, and that increased diversity among our faculty, staff and instructors has been well received.

However, some survey respondents indicated behaviours and systemic barriers that continue to impede our progress, including elements of discrimination, harassment and/or oppression. As a result, we will be focusing on growing our inclusive culture, increasing representation and learning opportunities, streamlining our complaint process and continuing our outreach with the Fine Arts community.

You can view the full results here:

Fine Arts is committed to doing the important work to advance our shared responsibility in making social justice the foundation of our community; our progress in these areas will be shared at a later date. Please reach out to us if you have any thoughts or suggestions about the Equity Survey Results that you wish to share.

Latent: Critical Conversations about Collections

On Saturday, January 27, the Department of Art History & Visual Studies hosted Latent: Critical Conversations about Collections a day of public lectures and a roundtable discussion about art collections, organized in conjunction with Legacy Gallery’s current Latent exhibition.
 
These free public sessions were held at UVic’s Legacy Gallery Downtown (630 Yates).
 
Opening Remarks (10-10:30am)

Dr. Erin Campbell (Chair, UVic AHVS), Dr. Elizabeth Croft (UVic Provost) & Dr. Allana Lindgren (Dean, UVic Faculty of Fine Arts)

Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture (10:30am-noon)

“Getting the Keys to the Vault: how feminist, decolonizing and anti-racist work is changing collections” with Dr. Anne Dymond (Associate Professor of Art History, Department of Art, University of Lethbridge)

 

Orion Visiting Scholar Lecture (12:15-1:45pm)

“Curating in Crisis: Benin Bronzes to Extreme Weather” with Dr. Alice Ming Wai Jim (Professor of Art History and Concordia University Chair in Critical Curatorial Studies and Decolonizing Art, Department of Art History)

Roundtable Discussion (3-4pm)

“Critical Conversations about Collections” with panelists Lynda Gammon (Associate Professor Emeritus, UVic Visual Arts), Dr. Heather Igloliorte (Professor and Canada Excellent Research Chair, Decolonial and Transformational Indigenous Arts Practices, UVic Visual Arts), Ry Moran (Associate University Librarian, Reconciliation), Dorian J. Fraser (PhD Candidate, Art History, Concordia University and UVic AHVS alum), Dr. Alice Ming Wai Jim and Anne Dymond.

Moderator: Dr. Carolyn Butler Palmer (Associate Professor and Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Arts of the Pacific Northwest, UVic AHVS).

About the exhibition

The exhibition Latent emerges from conversations between artist Lynda Gammon and curator Carolyn Butler Palmer over the past several years about how artists who identify as women are often overlooked, ignored and sidestepped. The Legacy Art Galleries is proud of the fact that, over the past decade, the majority of solo exhibitions have featured the work of women artists and this exhibition furthers our desire to bring forward their work by honouring the many women who remain hidden in UVic’s Art Collection and the mechanisms that conceal them from view: the vault, accessioning, and the catalogue.

Latent is on view at UVic’s Legacy Galleries until April 6, 2024.

Fine Arts in the news: media roundup

When it comes to announcements, publications and media appearances, there’s never really a slow time for Fine Arts faculty, alumni and students — and the past couple of months have been no exception. Here’s a quick roundup of who’s been speaking with the media lately.

 

Art History & Visual Studies

In this December article for Forbes magazine, professor Catherine Harding comments on the use of AI in identifying another artist involved in a 16th century painting by Raphael. “It is wonderful if we can use AI in this way,” Harding said. “It won’t be irrefutable. It will depend entirely on the expertise of the people doing the programming, but if they can write the right kind of algorithm, it will be very useful.”

As part of the new Jeffrey Rubinoff Nexus for Art as a Source of Knowledge, professor Allan Antliff has been selected as the inaugural Rubinoff Legacy Professor. This named professorship is just one facet of $230,000 in new funding from the Rubinoff Foundation, which also includes 15 annual graduate student scholarships and the expansion of experiential learning initiatives at Hornby Island’s Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park. Read more in this announcement.

Professor Carolyn Butler Palmer and Visual Arts professor emeritus Lynda Gammon were interviewed on this Jan 6 segment of CBC Radio’s North By Northwest in support of Gammon’s Latent exhibit at Legacy downtown, which is curated by Butler Palmer. There is also an accompanying short visual story with pictures in this issue of the NXNW newsletter.

Adjunct professor Martin Segger recently wrote this fantastic Times Colonist piece about the history of not only Centennial Square but the overall planned design of Victoria’s downtown district.

Adjunct professor Grace Wong Sneddon co-curated the recent exhibit The Magic of Tony Eng (with local historian John Adams) for the Chinese Canadian Museum in Fan Tan Alley. A goal for this museum is to recognize Victoria’s Chinese Canadians and, as such, Eng is an ideal subject: a vibrant and active member of the city, many remember him as a charismatic stage magician, teacher and mentor to generations of local magicians. In other news, Wong Sneddon recently co-authored two chapters in a new book, Diversity Leadership in Education: Embedding Practices of Social Justice (2024, edited by UVic’s Catherine McGregor & Shailoo Bedi): “Unpacking the Equity Myth: Diversity & Leadership Deficit” (with Reeta Chowdhari Tremblay) and “Race and Gender: Chinese Canadian Women and Leadership” (with Lokpriy Shrma & Tremblay).

Alum India Young is cited in this Vancouver Sun article about a career retrospective exhibit by Nuu-chah-nulth artist George Clutes at Vancouver’s Bill Reid Gallery; the exhibit was created by Young plus UVic’s Andrea Walsh and Jennifer Robinson.

School of Music

Marking their official retirement from performing, the “trailblazing” Lafayette String Quartet were recently profiled in this feature article from Strings Magazine. “I hope we’ve instilled a deep love of chamber music in our audiences and students,” said Ann Elliott-Goldschmid. Our students benefited enormously from observing four musicians who respect each other and worked together, unified, in overseeing their studies and musical growth.”

Ahead of his final concert featuring live piano accompaniment to a silent film, professor Bruce Vogt was interviewed by CBC Radio’s All Points West (not archived) and in this Times Colonist story. “I’m certainly not retiring from playing,” said Vogt. “I just won’t be teaching any more. I’ll still be around, until I hear the chimes at midnight.”

January’s masterclass with guest mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy got a shout-out in this Times Colonist roundup.

Professor Benjamin Butterfield plus alumni Isaiah Bell and Timothy Carter all appeared on this segment of CBC Radio’s On The Island talking about their recent concert, Banned from the Concert Hall. Butterfield was also interviewed for this Times Colonist story about the same event. “I’m not sure everyone goes around talking about their arse all day in Baroque circles,” Butterfield said with a laugh. “But this type of thing has been around a long time.”

As the new leader of the annual TubaChristmas fundraiser, instructor Scott MacInnes was featured in this December Times Colonist article. “It’s awesome that such a lowly instrument can provide so much happiness,” said MacInnes, who will be conducting the festive ensemble for the first time.

Arbutus Middle School’s music program was recently announced as the winners—again—of CBC’s annual national Music Class Challenge. While not named in the article, Arbutus’s music program is led by alumni Jennifer Hill & sessional Michael Mazza.

Theatre

As co-author, professor Yasmine Kandil was recently announced as one of the winners of 2023’s Wayman Mullins Award for Best Journal Article, as awarded by the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology Board of Directors. This award is given for the best scientific article as published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. Kandil, along with co-authors Jennifer A. A. Lavoie & Natalie Alvarez, picked up the award for their article “Developing Community Co-designed Scenario-Based Training for Police Mental Health Crisis Response: A Relational Policing Approach to De-escalation”.

Alum Jena Mailloux (MA Interdisciplinary Studies: Applied Theatre/Curriculum & Instruction) recently published the article “Elevating Critical Pedagogy Through Dramatic Principles: A Comparative Framework Analysis of Anti-Bullying Drama Education and Theatre Research Initiatives” in the Drama Australia Journal.

Alum Alynne Sinnema (MA Applied Theatre) was recently awarded the Canadian Association for Theatre Research Robert G. Lawrence Scholarship for her for the project “Coming to her Senses: Women’s Sexual Empowerment Through Applied Theatre”, which the adjudicating committee found “inventive and insightful in the ways it aims to combine applied theatre, specifically physical theatre, and feminist theory as a way to support women’s voices, embodied and scholarly considerations of women’s pleasure and sexual agency, and mental health.”

Alum Narges Montakhabi was awarded the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) Heather McCallum Scholarship for her project “Politics and Poethics of Precarity in Contemporary Middle Eastern Canadian Theatre.” Describing her project as “ambitious”, the committee found her work “amplified the voices of less-heard and younger generations of underrepresented Middle Eastern Canadian playwrights, focusing on contemporary (mostly 21st century) plays and playwrights from Iran, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq.”

Visual Arts

Recent MFA alum Maryam (whose last name is not being used in the media due to safety concerns) was quoted in this Times Colonist story about her work in the latest Victoria Arts Council exhibit, You Are Welcome. “I’m still very impressed,” she said of the protests in Iran, where most of her friends and family reside. “The metal [in my piece] represents the strength and power of the women in my country when they were killed and shot in the streets.”

While the late-’90s children’s TV show Nanalan is currently going viral on TikTok, none of the coverage mentions the fact that professor Kelly Richardson worked on the show in between her BFA and MFA degrees. She worked on 71 episodes, making the set & greenery but also puppeteering; this allowed her to buy her first computer which entirely changed her art practice. “I’ve never really stopped making plants and animating bugs in my work,” she says. You can see some behind-the-scene photos Kelly has posted on her Instagram feed.

UVic Impact Chair Carey Newman was involved in the first fully bilingual colloquium of the New Uses of Collections in Art Museums Partnership  at the National Gallery of Canada in December. The conference outlined some of the innovative practices changing the standards and practices of art acquisition. This colloquium was jointly produced by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) and the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) as part of the CIÉCO Research and Inquiry Group’s Partnership New Uses of Collections in Art Museums.

In other news Carey Newman news, this Vancouver Sun article notes that the traveling exhibition of his Witness Blanket will be on display in the West Vancouver public library from Jan 26-March 8. This touring version is a detailed photographic replica of the original 13-panel sculptural installation, which is now permanently housed in Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Following this stop, the current 17-city tour next comes to the Saanich School Division (March 25–May 10) before moving on to Nelson and Nova Scotia, with more dates booking into 2025.  

Work by current MFA candidate Eeman Masood was featured in Frozen Forest, the recent curated exhibition at Abu Dhabi Art, and will also be displayed at the India Art Fair exhibition in New Dehli via her gallery representative Galerie ISA, from Feb 1- 4. 

 

Writing

Recent Writing grad and Climate Disaster Project managing editor Aldyn Chwelos was recently featured on this story for CBC Radio’s All Points West, speaking about their work documenting testimonials from survivors of severe wildfires and floods—some of which are getting a reprint in the December/January issue of Readers Digest. Chwelos was also featured in a separate interview with CBC Kelowna’s Radio West (not archived).

Teaching professor Marita Dachsel’s new essay collection Sharp Notions: Essays from the Stitching Life was mentioned in the Globe and Mail’s book gift guide for “The Mindful Maven” this year. “As the editors [Marita Dachsel and Nancy Lee] point out, in the 21st century we don’t need to knit, embroider, weave, bead, make lace or spin yarn. But what these essays by crafters get at, instead, is the nourishment found in the meditative (rather than productive) solace of fibre-arts handiwork.” Dachsel was also interviewed for this Vancouver Sun article exploring two new books with Vancouver Island fibre connections. Sharp Notions was also recently positively reviewed for The British Columbia Review, and it was included inAll Lit Up’s “Refresh Your Shelf: New Non-Fiction” list, which included five notable nonfiction reads for 2024.

Professor David Leach spoke with residents at two Isralei kibbutzim for this story for Jewish Renaissance Magazine. “In 2010, I completed a circuit around Israel to research a book about the founding ideals, hundred-year history and slow decline of the kibbutz movement,” writes Leach. “These 270 or so rural communes, dreamed into reality by young Jewish pioneers as a fusion of socialism and Zionism, had marked the borders of the future state and shaped many of its leaders and artists.”

Crookes Professor Sean Holman announced in December that Rappler — the Philippines’ leading digital media company — has published five students stories as part of the Climate Disaster Project Philippines, appearing just in time for COP28. As part of the CDP’s international outreach, UVic’s Division of Continuing Studies provides certificates to the Philippines students for their work in trauma-informed environmental journalism. All five harrowing stories can be read here, here, here, here and here.

MFA Sam Shelstad’s novel The Cobra and The Key was recently included on CBC Book’s list of “30 books to read this winter”. Things are getting meta with this new satirical novel, which is centred on the life of a writer (also named Sam Shelstad) who is busy working on a book about his failed relationship, while he awaits word from a publisher about the manuscript he’s sure will make him a star—a how-to book for aspiring fiction writers detailing the finer points of the craft.

MFA alum Kyeren Regehr has been named the new director of Victoria’s venerable Planet Earth Poetry Reading Series—which, at 28 years, is surely the city’s longest-running continuous literary series. PEP runs weekly, 7-9pm Fridays at Russell Books on Fort Street.

Fine Arts

UVic’s Fine Arts + Grants & Awards Librarian Christine Walde recently presented her book-themed art exhibit Salvage at the Bruce Hutchinson public library branch, in conjunction withthe Victoria Arts Council. Salvage is a collection of driftwood books salvaged from the beaches of Vancouver Island and the Cascadia bioregion of the Pacific Northwest over a ten-year period.

Did you know Fine Arts Dean Allana Lindgren hosts the pre-show talks for the DanceVictoria series? A dance historian herself, Lindgren speaks ahead of each show in the performance series.

Finally, the winners of our 2023 Student Community Impact Awards were mentioned in Monday Magazine’s coverage of the Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards.

’Tis the season for choral celebration

Downtown’s Christ Church Cathedral was filled beyond capacity for the School of Music‘s annual winter choral concert on December 2. But you can still experience the harmonious sound of 150+ voices resonating in the cathedral’s beautiful acoustics in this video of the event, which featured the combined talents of UVic’s Chorus, Chamber Singers, Vocal Ensemble and Vocal Jazz Ensemblem plus organist
Mark McDonald.