For the past 10 years, students in UVic’s Department of Writing have benefited by learning from veteran journalists and authors, thanks to the Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction.
Named for UVic alumnus Harvey Southam — who, before his unexpected death in 1991, worked as a journalist before serving as director for a number of companies owned by one of the country’s leading publishing families — this influential journalist-in-residence program sees a mid-career writer join the Writing department each year to teach a course and give a public lecture on their chosen topic. Courses have varied widely, ranging from print and broadcast journalism to sports, humour, popular culture, Indigenous perspectives on storytelling, and changes in the media landscape itself.
Now you can join the Writing department in celebrating a decade of this prestigious position with a special 10th anniversary panel: “The Future of Journalism in the Age of #FakeNews” brings six former Southam Lecturers together for the first time for a lively moderated discussion at 7pm Tuesday, November 7, in room 105 of UVic’s Hickman Building.
“The idea for the panel was sparked by a perfect convergence,” says Writing chair David Leach, author of Chasing Utopia: The Future of the Kibbutz in a Divided Israel. “A chance to mark the 10th anniversary of the Southam Lectureship, the opportunity to thank the Southam family for their generosity, and to respond to a sense of global urgency around the role of journalists as guardians of our democratic institutions — especially when the most powerful elected official on the planet keeps attacking the free press as #FakeNews.”
Leach, who will act as emcee and moderator, will be joined by recent Writing grad Quinn MacDonald — now the publisher/editor of the local urban agriculture magazine Concrete Garden — as well as six returning Southam Lecturers:
- Jody Paterson: former Times Colonist columnist, whose course focused on experiential and activist journalism
- Terry Glavin: current Ottawa Citizen columnist and author of Come From the Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan, who focused on foreign affairs
- JoAnn Roberts: CBC veteran and retired host of CBC Radio’s All Points West, who focused on public broadcasting
- Tom Hawthorn: freelance writer and author most recently of The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds and Found Their Country, who focused on sports media
- Mark Leiren-Young: freelance writer, whose most recent book is The Killer Whale Who Changed the World and whose course focused on satire
- Vivian Smith: former Globe & Mail editor and author of Outsiders Still: Why Women Journalists Love — and Leave — Their Newspaper Careers, who focused on women in journalism
“All were keen to talk about their experiences as guest lecturers and debate the future of journalism,” says Leach. “Taken together, it offers a broad range of ways to look at contemporary journalism.”
Jo-Ann Roberts holds the crowd’s attention at her public lecture in 2013
And it’s that diversity of voices and experiences that sets the Southam Lectureship apart from other courses with embedded journalists. “We try not to think of ‘journalism’ in too narrow or stereotyped of a way,” he continues. “We are always looking for a different voice, a different background, a guest lecturer who has an interesting ‘hook’ that will interest both our professional writing students and also curious undergraduates from across campus.”
Fake news causes outcry
Given the almost daily outcry over “fake news” — both real and perceived — in the media today, is Leach legitimately concerned about the future of journalism?
“Absolutely, we should all be. There are very powerful forces — political and corporate, domestic and international — feeding misinformation to the general public in ways that undermine our democratic institutions, increase inequities and even incite hatred against vulnerable groups of people,” he says.
Terry Glavin at his lecture in 2012
“The role of good journalism has always been as a BS detector that speaks truth to such abuses of power. We need to remember and support that vital function before we all disappear into our private filter bubbles of socially mediated information in which we only hear echoes of our own points of view and declare anything contrary to our own biases as #FakeNews.”
Not that the solutions aren’t without their own challenges, says Leach. “How do we fund the time-consuming and often dangerous investigative work that is the beating heart of great journalism? And how do we inspire and train the next generation of intrepid writers and reporters to do that work?”
The answers to those questions will come from the panelists themselves, along with recent Writing grad Quinn MacDonald — not only a graduate of the Professional Writing Minor in Journalism & Publishing and a teaching assistant for many of the Southam Lecturers, but is already out in the trenches herself.
Tom Hawthorn’s sports talk was a crowd favourite in 2014
“Quinn is the future of journalism, so we figured we better get her thoughts,” says Leach. “I want to hear how she can connect the hard-earned wisdom from our six other panelists to the kind of journalism needed to inspire her generation . . . and the generations to follow.”
Read more about the Southam Lecture in this November 2 Times Colonist interview with David Leach.
Looking ahead to the next decade (and beyond), does Leach have a “dream list” for future Southam Lecturers? “I’d love to attract more writers and reporters with strong voices who are also shedding light on communities and stories that are under-reported by our traditional media: people like Kamal Al-Solaylee and his investigative book Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), or culture writer Scaachi Koul and her work for BuzzFeed, as well as her personal memoir and Twitter presence. Or perhaps some of our own graduates, such as Rebecca Collard, who has been doing fearless reporting about the various conflicts in the Middle East.”
Richard Wagamese talks to a packed house at his public lecture in 2011
Finally, the evening will also include a memorial to former Southam Lecturer, Richard Wagamase, who passed away earlier this year. “His course challenged our students to think about First Nations history and forms of storytelling in new ways,” says Leach. “He was an amazing presence when he was here as a guest lecturer.”
And while this event celebrates the first decade of the Southam Lectureship, the 2018 Southam Lecturer is ready to go: Judith Pike is a social-issues documentary filmmaker, whose January class and public lecture will look at investigating and telling stories through film, and reaching different audiences.
Whatever the future holds for our students, there’s no denying the first 10 years of the Southam Lectureship have laid a strong foundation for whatever comes next.
This event is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a book signing and reception.
Fall is traditionally book prize season and, as with most years, our Department of Writing has a fresh crop of alumni and faculty currently up for prizes.
Alumna Eden Robinson is a Giller Prize finalist for her latest novel, Son of A Trickster (Penguin Random House). This is Robinson’s second Giller nomination, following her debut Monkey Beach back in 2000. Robinson is one of five finalists chosen from a longlist of 12 books — which also included alumna Deborah Willis for her story collection The Dark and Other Love Stories (Hamish Hamilton) — and the winner will be announced on November 20.
Writing professor emeritus and beloved poet Lorna Crozier is a finalist — again — for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, this time for her poetry collection, What the Soul Doesn’t Want (Broadview Press). Crozier won her first Governor-General’s Award back in 1992, and we’ll find out on November 1 if she wins again.
MFA alumna Yasuko Thanh took home the 2017 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize on October 11. She was awarded the $5,000 cash prize for her first novel, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains (Hamish Hamilton Canada), which was reported in both this Times Colonist article and this CHEK news broadcast, while Thanh spoke about the writing life in this CFAX 1070 Radio interview.
Jurors described Yellow Mountains as “a haunting book that explores the harsh impact of colonialism, the blind, random damage it drags in its wake, and the puny nature of ill-thought out resistance versus the well-oiled wheels of imperialism. Thanh’s book is a sensory treat, a complex collage of images and themes. Original sharp and spiky language brings the reader fully into the narrative moment.”
Also nominated for the 2017 Victoria Book Prize were fellow alumni Patricia Young for her poetry collection Short Takes on the Apocalypse (Biblioasis) and Steven Price for his novel By Gaslight (McClelland & Stewart).
Theatre alumna Carleigh Baker was announced as the winner of the 2017 Vancouver Book Award on October 13 for her short story collection Bad Endings (Anvil Press), which explores a range of human experiences, from the death of a relationship to struggles with mental health. The $3,000 prize recognizes authors of any genre, who evoke an appreciation and understanding of Vancouver’s history and people. Bad Endings is also nominated for the $50,000 Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and Baker was named one of CBC Books’ writers to watch in 2017.
Congratulations also go out to current Writing undergrad Kade Bound, who was recently announced as the winner of the Lambda Foundation’s annual Candis Graham Writing Scholarship.
Finally, Writing professor Tim Lilburn was named the first Canadian recipient of the prestigious European Medal of Poetry & Art on October 10. Commonly referred to as the “Homer Medal,” Lilburn was presented the award by visiting Chinese poet and editor Zhao Si at a small reception on campus.
Distinguished poet and respected Department of Writing professor Tim Lilburn has become the first Canadian to receive the European Medal of Poetry and Art.
Tim Lilburn with the Homer Medal and visiting poet Zhao Si
Commonly referred to as the “Homer Medal,” Lilburn was presented with the 2017 prize by visiting Beijing poet and editor Dr. Zhao Si Fang, vice-president of the award committee. Following the tradition of presenting the medal in the country where the writer resides, Zhao Si traveled to Victoria to present the award at a small on-campus reception on October 10.
“The members of the council wish to emphasize the importance of your poetry for contemporary Canadian culture and the world,” noted Zhao Si in her presentation. “You belong to a group that includes some of the greatest poets of our time.”
A prominent Chinese poet, Fang has been translating Lilburn’s work since 2008, including his acclaimed 2012 collection, Assiniboia. She is also the editor of the Chinese magazine Contemporary International Poetry in Translation; their special 2016 Canadian issue included Lilburn’s work, as well as that of retired Writing professors Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane.
“To be part of a group that includes [former winners] like the Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova, who would complain?” Lilburn told the Times Colonist in this September 29 interview. “It is a great honour.” Lilburn was also interviewed on October 8 on the provincial CBC Radio show North By Northwest about his award.
Created in 2015 in association with the European Union, the Homer Medal is awarded annually by a jury to outstanding creators in the worlds of literature and the visual arts. Previous winners include Turkish poet Ataol Behramoğlu, Armenian poet Gagik Davtyan, Iraqi poet Gulala Nouri and American poet Stanley H. Barkan.
The Homer Medal now joins Lilburn’s other prestigious awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Literature, the Canadian Authors Association Award and the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award, among others. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2014, Lilburn is the author of 12 books of poetry and essays, and his work has been translated into French, Chinese, Serbian, German, Spanish, and Polish.
“I can think of no more worthy a recipient for this international award,” said Writing chair David Leach at the reception.
Dr. Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts, was quick to praise Lilburn’s work. “The quality and depth of Tim’s poetry create a model of excellence in research and creative activity for faculty, and it’s through his teaching that he provides a strong example for how our artistic practice informs the learning process for our students,” she said before a group that included Writing professor emeritus Lorna Crozier, Governor General’s Award winner Arleen Paré, visiting American poet GC Waldrep, award-winning MFA alumnus and WSÁ,NEC Nation poet Kevin Paul, Writing alumnus and Malahat Review editor John Barton, and a number of Writing department colleagues.
“Tim’s accomplishments and commitment to our students and community exemplify the mission of the Faculty of Fine Arts to provide the finest training and learning environment for artists, professionals and students through the integration of the creation of art in a dynamic learning environment.”
After receiving his award, a clearly moved Lilburn spoke briefly but emotionally about the role of poetry in society.
“We are in a historical moment, where poets can be especially conflicted about what they do. Poetry can seem ineffectual before climate change, the rise of fascism, the need to decolonize and work toward reconciliation with First Nations,” he said. “Some poets could be tempted to set poetry aside in favour of activism, or make their poetry overtly political and turn it into pages of declaration and denunciation . . . . but we should not be so quick to abandon poetry in these extreme, dire times.”
Citing the works of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda — who was himself influenced by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera — Lilburn used the example of Neruda’s poem Let the Woodcutter Awaken, which was written while in exile from Chilean totalitarianism, to describe the impact poetry can have on people’s lives. “He learned from Rivera that if you present large, sweeping depictions of society and history, you can free people and give them a sense of power . . . . he also learned to describe in detail distinct lives, which helps to establish empathy, love, respect and a commonwealth of courtesy, civility and solidarity in his readers.”
Zhao Si presents Tim Lilburn with the Homer Medal
The small room was quiet as Lilburn spoke, his voice embodying poetry’s simple power. “I believe the act of poetry-making itself . . . can have deep, social effect. In my books, poetry is not relegated to the social margins; it is not an adjunct to life and politics. It stands in the very centre of both, quietly and anonymously; in its empathy, imagination, narrative range, and commitment to the assemblage of beautiful, arresting patterns, it creates the political centre.”
In addition to receiving the Homer Medal, Lilburn has two news books coming out shortly: The Larger Conversation: Contemplation and Place, an essay collection being released in November by University of Alberta Press, and The House of Charlemagne, a book-length poem being released in Spring 2018 by the University of Regina Press.
The Department of Theatre is dipping into the world of film for a special screening of Robin & Mark & Richard III. Better still, the filmmakers — Canadian theatrical legends themselves — will be on hand for an exclusive session only for Fine Arts students and faculty.
McKinney and Phillips in “Robin and Mark and Richard III”
The free screening begins at 12:30pm on Tuesday, September 19, in UVic’s Phoenix Theatre, with a post-screening Q&A featuring the film’s producers and co-directors Martha Burns and Susan Coyne. Then, at 12:30pm on Wednesday, September 20, Burns and Coyne will return for the special, Fine Arts-only intimate conversation.
Robin & Mark & Richard III tells the story of an unusual collaboration between one of Canada’s most influential directors—Robin Phillips (Stratford Festival)—and gifted comedian and actor Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live and Slings and Arrows). Together, they delve into the one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays: Richard III.
Click here to watch the film’s trailer and discover the power of “Shakespearituality”.
Centuries after its debut, there have been countless stage versions and numerous screen adaptations over the past 100 years — including notable interpretations by Sir Laurence Olivier, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Dreyfuss and Julian Glover — as well as documentary explorations like Al Pacino’s 1996 Looking for Richard. With Robin & Mark & Richard III, Phillips and McKinney had not met before, and they had no idea what might happen when they begain this project: it was to be an adventure of two brilliant minds exploring Shakespeare’s world.
Burns (left) and Coyne
Captured over the course of three years by Burns and Coyne — award-winning Canadian stage veterans, co-founders of Toronto’s famed Soulpepper Theatre and Slings and Arrows co-creators and co-stars — they filmed Phillips and McKinney rehearsing in the intimacy of Phillips’ home outside of Stratford. Although the filmmakers didn’t know it at the time, Phillips was actually quite ill and would die shortly after the film was finished.
For the Fine Arts-only conversation, hosted by Theatre professor Fran Gebhard, Burns and Coyne will discuss their diverse careers on stage, writing for theatre, film and TV, and directing and producing several short films together, including How Are You? (an official selection for the 2008 Toronto Film Festival).
Screened at the Hot Docs Cinema festival in 2016, Robin & Mark & Richard III is described as a love letter to a passionate, complicated, irreplaceable genius. The film has been called “a wonderful look into how actors build performances over time” (Toronto Film Scene) and “equal parts interview, scene study class and in-memoriam tribute to Phillips” (Now Magazine).
Shakespeare wrote: “It is required you do awake your faith”, and Robin Phillips lived this every day. An Officer of the Order of Canada and winner of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, his profound insights, exacting standards, and belief in the transformational power of theatre made him one of this country’s great mentors—one who touched the lives of three generations of artists, including Dame Maggie Smith, Brent Carver and Martha Henry, who all appear in this film.
(And for those who don’t know it, the acclaimed Canadian satirical TV series Slings and Arrows is required watching for theatre buffs! It’s a hilarious three short seasons of life back- and on-stage at a Shakespeare-specific theatre festival very much like Stratford, and no aspect of theatre — from acting and directing to marketing, production, reviewing, and post-show schmoozing — is spared.)
No question, the annual Fringe Fest is one of Victoria’s best-loved festivals of any kind. Now in its 31st year, the Victoria Fringe Festival offers 330 performances of 58 shows by 350 artists in nearly a dozen venues around town — as well as a number of free community events — over 12 dynamic days, from August 23 to Sept 3. From spoken word, drama and musicals to dance, comedy, magic, theatre for young audiences and more, you just can’t beat the Fringe when it comes to a tasty smorgasbord of theatrical delights!
Once again, Fine Arts alumni and current students are all over the fest; while most are (logically) associated with our Theatre department, you’ll also find participation by alumni and majors in our Writing department as well. But whether they’re acting, writing, directing, designing or working backstage, our alumni and students have been an integral part of the Victoria Fringe as long as it has existed. And we send a special shout-out this year to our alum and students working behind-the-scenes with organizers Intrepid Theatre to get this event up and running, including Technical Assistants Simon Farrow and Carolyn Moon, and Ticket Rocket box office support with Kristen Iversen and Kate Loomer.
Below you’ll find a listing of this year’s Fringe shows involving Fine Arts alumni and students; but whether you only see one show or pick up a multi-show pass, you’re guaranteed to see something you’ve never seen before. Happy Fringing!
A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO PEEING OUTSIDE & OTHER ADVENTURES
Directed by Andrew Barrett (BFA ’12)
Ever wondered how to perform the “Assisted Pee Over Water”? Ever struggled with a sense of self? Still grieving the death of Jack Dawson? Written and performed by storyteller Holly Brinkman, who promises that you’ll laugh, you’ll cry . . . you’ll try not to pee your pants.
AFTER THE BEEP
Created by Pamela Bethel (BFA ’99), design consultation by Erin Macklem (BFA ’98).
Pamela found cassettes from her very own answering machine she had as a teenager during the early 1990’s. Despite the obvious risk of death by embarrassment, she’s sharing this archive of adolescence with live audiences. Part confessional, part show-and-tell, it’s an exploration of awkward times revealed by the recorded voices of BFs, BFFs, a frenemy and wrong numbers. After The Beep had a sold-out run at UNO Fest 2017, and is once again presented here under the auspices of Theatre SKAM, which features the work of alumni Matthew Payne (BFA ’93), Andrew Barrett (BFA’12), Kathleen Greenfield (BFA’05) and current students Bridget Roberts, Brendan Agnew and Emma Leck.
ALL THESE PEOPLE WATCHING
Featuring Matt Lees (BFA ’90), Krista Wallace (BFA ’89), and current student Maggie Lees (their daughter), (also joined by their son David Lees), with stage manager Molly McDowell-Powlowski (current student), and script advisor Nicole “Coco” Roberge (BFA ’98).
A family of actors on stage together for the first time: Mom, Dad, Son and Daughter explore themes of family, friendship, life and death. How does a tight-knit family stay that way amidst life’s challenges? (Pie and beer may be mentioned!)
Featuring Mika Laulainen (BFA ’12)
Here’s a schtick you can to sink your teeth into! Winner of two (and nominated for five) Montreal Fringe Awards, this show focuses on one family, generation after generation . . . and beavers. Sharing the same land, the same lake, and the same nightmare depicting commercial development threatening their corner of paradise in the Laurentians, Quebec. The best dam show! (“Nothing less than brilliant”– Savage Clown Montréal)
Directed and created by Colette Habel (BFA ’16), with Grace Le (BFA ’17), and current students SJ Valiquette and Arielle Parsons. Performed by Colette Habel, Grace Le, SJ Valiquette and Arielle Parsons. Design by Delaney Tesch (BFA ’17), with stage management by current students Molly McDowell-Powlowski and Siena Shephard, and marketing by Victoria Simpson (BFA ’17).
Devised from true stories and memories, Daddy Issues is a collage of vintage denim and classic rock that explores the relationships between daughters and their fathers. This is for the dads that were always there and never there; the dads we chose and those we didn’t; the dads we wanted gone, and the dads who left us too soon.
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
Directed by Cam Culham (MFA ’03)
In the spirit of Canada 150, St. Michael’s University School presents the Canadian-grown, Broadway smash hit musical The Drowsy Chaperone — winner of five Tony Awards. New York Magazine has called it “the perfect Broadway musical,” as it gently pokes fun at the myriad tropes that characterize the musical theatre genre. Meet Man in Chair, an eccentric and engaging music theatre enthusiastic, as he introduces us to a fictitious 1928 musical. It is an affectionate send up of the Jazz Age musical, full of toe-tapping songs and colourful characters, from pastry chef gangsters to starlets.
GEORGE AND GRACIE: A LOVE STORY
Created by David MacPherson (BFA ’91)
Local actors Melissa Blank and David MacPherson present this loving tribute to George Burns and Gracie Allen. “George: Do you like to kiss? Gracie: No. George: What do you like? Gracie: Lambchops. George: (to himself) Lambchops. Could you eat two big lamb chops alone? Gracie: Alone? Oh no, not alone . . . with potatoes I could. George: You could. Gracie: Yep.”
Featuring Trevor Hinton (BFA ’07), created by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (BFA ’07)
A rollicking puppet musical about what happens when the grass really is greener on the other side, performed outdoors in a beautiful little park by the sea — created by 2015 Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni recipient Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (Puente Theatre), Judd Palmer (the Old Trout Puppet Workshop) and Brooke Maxwell (composer of Ride the Cyclone). Singing goats! What more do you want?
A SNAFU Dance Theatre production by co-creators by Kathleen Greenfield (BFA’05), Ingrid Hansen (BFA ’09) and Britt Small (MFA ’04). Featuring Ingrid Hansen, with puppetry coach Mike Petersen (previous student 1980-82). SNAFU began at the Phoenix back in 2006!
From the creators of sold-out shows Little Orange Man and Kitt & Jane. Meet Kitt, fierce lone geriatric astronaut adrift in a spaceship carrying cryogenically frozen human cargo. Her mission: protect the last of humankind. “Amazingly versatile physical comedian with the best ending in the history of fringe.” – Montreal Gazette.
Featuring current student Natasha Guerra and Amy Culliford (BFA ’14), with current student Emily Bamletter as co-director and technical lead.
With Bon Jovi, they speed away from the scene of a crime; with Sinatra, they share their first kiss; with Adele, they spread the ashes of their dead friend. With music providing the backdrop, the actors of Jukebox Drive take a different improvised road trip each night, with a soundtrack influenced by the audience.
Featuring current student Ellen Law.
With this world premiere, Wendy Magahay (Old Lady’s Guide) stars as Satan in this originally sinful, all-female, horrifyingly humorous, re-imagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear — now a twisted tale of the mother-and-daughter fight from Hell. Adapted by award-winning local playwright David Elendune (Casino Royale / Winnie The Pooh).
Created by Robbie Huebner (Writing BFA ’14, MFA’16), directed by current student Karin Saari, featuring Pascal Lamothe-Kipnes (BFA ’17) and current students Annie Konstantinova, Taryn Roo Yoneda and Caitlin Holm. With film director Max Johnson (BFA ’14), and music/sound design by Graham Roebuck (BFA ’11).
“lolcow: (lol-kaʊ), n. person whose foolish behavior can be ‘milked’ for amusement.” Sheena’s boyfriend, Stan, is a lolcow. As an e-celebrity Stan is successful, but Sheena finds herself targeted by online trolls, the topic of an invasive podcast. A dark comedy that explores isolation, longing, identity, and the thinning line between public and private life in an increasingly digitized world.
MONICA VS. THE INTERNET (TALES OF A SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR)
Created by previous student Monica Ogden and current student Ann-Bernice Thomas.
Monica vs. The Internet is an honest account of a Filipina feminist on YouTube. Blending storytelling, videos and comments from her own channel, Monica explores the implications of words through humor. Created by Monica Ogden (Fistful of Feminism) from award-winning Paper Street Theatre, and Ann-Bernice Thomas, the 2016 Youth Poet Laureate of Victoria.
O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL
Written by current student Nicholas Guerreiro, directed by current student Elizabeth Martin, featuring students Brett Hay and Anna Watts, with design by Delaney Tesch (BFA ’17), Victoria Simpson (BFA’17) and current student Matthew Wilkerson, stage managed by current student Siena Shepard.
We promise it’s not about Christmas. Well, it’s a little bit about Christmas. It’s also about a mysterious circular painting, a security guard with an angry streak, a foul-mouthed art aficionado with a fake name, and a Slovenian nihilist on a secret crusade. It’s about family, faith, and non-representational art, and the weird bonds that hold people together. Originally produced as a SATCo show here on campus!
SIX FINE LINES
Created and performed by Mack Gordon (BFA ’08)
Part game show, part memoir, part house party, this is a living collage that combines fun and prizes with a story about losing the people closest to you. A rolling, heaving memoir, Six Fine Lines is pop rocks for your head and heart.
As always, we’ve only listed the shows involving Fine Arts students and alumni — be sure to check out the many, many other shows on view during the Fringe!
—With files by Adrienne Holierhoek
From the underground to the mainstream, Intrepid Theatre’s annual UNO Fest is a hotbed of contemporary solo theatre and performance. Originally launched by Theatre alumna Janet Munsil in the basement of Victoria’s Bedford Hotel in 1997, UNO Fest is celebrating 20 years of daring stories and acclaimed artists — and this year’s 11-day festival will once again feature a number of Fine Arts alumni, as well as one current student.
North America’s longest running festival of solo performance, UNO Fest has presented more than 330 solo shows over the past 20 years, and is proud to bring some of the country’s — and the world’s — most innovative solo talents to Victoria every May. From parties to soundscapes, from performance art to a salsa lesson, UNO is packed to the brim with genre-defying, boundary-pushing solo performance.
This year’s festival features performances by Theatre alumni TJ Dawe, Pamela Bethel and Jennifer Braem, plus Writing alumni Kat Taddei and Melissa Taylor, recent Visual Arts MFA alumna Kerri Flannigan, and current Writing/Theatre double major Ann-Bernice Thomas. Add in directorial and technical support from Writing professor Kevin Kerr and Visual Arts professor Megan Dickie, and you’ve got a whole lot of Fine Arts folks proving why we’re one of Canada’s finest interdisciplinary creative faculties. (See below for details on all their shows.)
UNO Fest runs May 17 to 27 at various downtown venues. Tickets range from $18 to $30, with tickets and various mult-show pass options available through Ticket Rocket. And the opening night performance of every show at the festival is Pay-What-You-Can for tickets at the door, with 25% of the theatre’s capacity held for PWYC tickets.
After the Beep
Phoenix alum Pamela Bethel
Part confessional, part story, part show-and-tell, After the Beep uses forgotten voice recordings from Pamela Bethel’s teenage “private” phone line. Instead of erasing the messages, she’s sharing them, 25 years later with a live audience. It’s like The Breakfast Club meets the Watergate tapes . . . in 1990’s Vancouver.
When do we become adults? What forges us into the grownups we become? What are the accidental rites of passage for teenagers of the Western First World? After the Beep explores the secret languages of adolescence and memory. It delves into the messiness of this in-between period of life that shapes all adults but that many of us would prefer to keep off the record.
Pamela Bethel is a writer, director, photographer, creative collaborator and former stage manager, who is also a childbirth educator and birth & postpartum doula. She recently toured as a core artist with Theatre SKAM’s Fashion Machine in the UK, was assistant director for 2016’s The Winter’s Tale at the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival, recently co-wrote/directed/built a show called Anxiety for Edmonton’s Theatre Yes — a “pan-Canadian, immersive performance-installation piece” — and also serves on the board of local Impulse Theatre.
After the Beep runs May 18 – May 19 at Intrepid Theatre Club, and is presented by celebrated Phoenix alumni company Theatre SKAM, whose artistic producer is Theatre alum Matthew Payne — who, in addition to being Pamela’s husband, was also director of the recent Phoenix play A Queer Trial.
Celebrated Phoenix alum TJ Dawe
Punctuated with music tracks and manipulated sounds created live on stage, Fringe legend, master monologist and celebrated Phoenix alum TJ Dawe returns to UNO Fest with Burn Job, a story about growing up, blowing things up, LSD and a breathing technique that brings you into a psychedelic state.
TJ Dawe is a Vancouver-based writer, director, performer and dramaturg, mostly of one-person shows. He’s participated in the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Adelaide Fringe, the Charleston Piccolo Spoleto Festival, five times at UNO Fest and 106 fringe festivals.
He co-created and directed the famed The One Man Star Wars Trilogy — written by and starring fellow Phoenix alum Charlie Ross, with whom he also appeared at Phoenix’s 2016 Spotlight on Alumni. (Dawe and Ross are currently working on a One Man Stranger Things.) He has a number of published scripts and his show Medicine can be viewed on YouTube in its entirety. He teaches a course on creating solo shows at Langara College in Vancouver. He leads workshops on creativity and the personality types of the Enneagram. He can be seen rehearsing (also known as wandering around mumbling to himself) in Stanley Park.
Burn Job runs May 26 – May 27 at Metro Studio Theatre.
The Secrets of Naming Clouds
Visual Arts MFA alum Kerri Flannigan
With The Secrets of Naming Clouds, recent Visual Arts MFA Kerri Flannigan offers a performance accompanied by moving image work, projections, sound and live-narration. Flannigan’s creation draws on utopic universal languages such as Blissymbols — an “anti-word” language designed to eradicate miscommunication — and Láadan, a feminist language created to end patriarchy. These idealized forms of communication are interwoven with coming of age stories; home videos and choreographed dances, dating bans, classroom conversations on consent, teen-girl vigilantes and a family trip to LA in pursuit of minor celebrity Adam Sessler, Kerri’s sister’s crush. To get a feel for the show, watch this video trailer.
Primarily working in video and performance, Flannigan’s work comprises an interdisciplinary approach to forms of experimental narrative and documentary. Her recent work has explored themes such as family mythologies, coming-of-age confessions, body language and swimming pools. She has shown locally and internationally, receiving a CALQ Multidisciplinary Arts Grant (2011) and Best English Zine at the Expozine Awards (2011 and 2014) and runner-up to the inaugural Lind Prize (2016). She is currently developing a new video-based performance work, Blue Crush, which will premiere in Victoria in the summer of 2017, and is an upcoming Artist-in-Residence at Open Space.
The Secrets of Naming Clouds runs May 25 – 27 at the Intrepid Theatre Club. Local creative support for this show comes from Visual Arts professor Megan Dickie, with direction by Writing professor and acclaimed playwright/director Kevin Kerr, co-founder of Vancouver’s acclaimed Electric Company Theatre.
Current student Ann-Bernice Thomas (far right)
UNO Works is an evening of three short new works by some of Victoria’s most daring female artists, including current Writing/Theatre student Ann-Bernice Thomas, who was also the 2016 City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate, as well as an accomplished spoken word artist, activist and actor. She’ll be appearing alongside local talents Eddi Wilson (AKA drag king/performance artist Eddi Licious) and actor/playwright Sarah Murphy.
Commissioned specifically for UNO Fest, UNO Works is artist-driven. There is no formula for making new work for the stage and we invite you to come and witness the thrill ride that is intrepid artists from diverse, interdisciplinary backgrounds redefining what theatre is.
UNO Works runs May 21 at Metro Studio Theatre.
Monobrow Solo Slam VXVII
There’s also the annual late-night festival party and spoken word battle Monobrow. UNO Fest’s signature 3-minute monologue slam, Monobrow brings local talent and festival performers together in a competitive throw-down cabaret of honest truths, blatant lies and elegant fictions. This year’s Monobrow competitors include Ann-Bernice Thomas as well as Theatre grad Jennifer Braem and Writing alumni Melissa Taylor and Kat Taddei, alongside four other daring artists.
Monobrow runs May 19 at the Intrepid Theatre Club. Admission by donation, the bar will be open, and all proceeds benefit the Megan Newton Scholarship Fund — named for the late Theatre alumna and much-loved Intrepid Theatre employee Megan Newton, whose life was cut short by melanoma in 2012, shortly after her 30th birthday.
Finally, UNO Fest kicks off on May 17 with WTF? (or What’s Theatre For?) by acclaimed theatre artist Daniel MacIvor, who was commissioned to write the world premiere of Inside specifically for Phoenix Theatre. With WTF?, MacIvor takes us on a journey through his personal and professional life to help us (and him) understand the accident of intention, the profundity of the random, and the wisdom of not knowing. WTF? is a keynote talk commissioned specifically for the 20th annual UNO Fest.