Brock arts festival set to rock the house

It’s that time of year again, the time when Brock gets to show off the best artistic talent it has to offer. With the coming interdisciplinary arts festival, all of Brock’s fine arts department joins together to produce a week long extravaganza celebrating every contribution Brock makes to the local arts community, be it curriculum or club.

With official and unofficial activity by everyone from the theatre department, to visual arts, to Brock dance, to even a short, comical film, it should be a great year to check out the artistic seeds growing in our own backyard.

We here at The Brock Press spoke with various contributing members of the Brock arts community, and got answers to a set of questions from everybody. Here we have it, a comprehensive preview look at Brock’s 2003 interdisciplinary arts festival.

But before we go any further, here are the questions we asked:

1) Which art form are you involved in?

2) What does your discipline have planned for the Festival, and what themes or messages are you hoping to convey?

3) What are some of the major influences and inspirations for the work that will be at the festival this year?

4) What roadblocks or problems were encountered on the way to preparing for the festival, and what would/could have been changed or done differently if time allowed?

5) What do you think people will find to be the highlight from your discipline’s performance/display?

6) What are you most anxious for people to take away with them from the festival?

7) What are the immediate and long term benefits to a multi-disciplinary arts festival for the Brock community?

8) What are you personally looking forward to the most in the festival from the other disciplines?

9) Anything else you would like to add or things that you think people should know about the festival?

Jean Bridge, VISA professor

Festival Planning Committee

1) Visual Arts — e.g. drawing, painting, art installations, digital media, etc.

2) The main visual art event for Festival is always the Juried Exhibition. All students are invited to submit artworks they have produced during this year. We have invited Steve Remus, the director of Niagara Artists’ Company to select the the most engaging work from what is submitted, and to single out three works for special awards. This exhibition is the summation of a huge amount of work and effort on the part of Visual Arts Students — representing the best of what they have done during this academic year. In addition to the blockbuster Juried Exhibition, there are a number of other independent visual art projects being presented by individual visual arts students and by student groups.

3) A major influence in this year’s Festival visual arts events is the creation of the new School of Fine and Performing Arts. It has caused students to take what they do even more seriously and to want to engage the larger Brock community in a dialogue about ideas and culture. Art at Brock is no longer content to be isolated in the basement. Another influence is the spirit of interdisciplinarity that has infused the school. Artists want to step outside the confines of traditional media and mix it up with people in all disciplines. They want to be relevant, broadly engaged and engaging.

4) For the visual arts department, our biggest problem is the lack of adequate studio space for make and store work. It’s hard to imagine that nearly all the work presented this year in Festival was made in room roughly 20 ft. x 65 ft. A related problem is the lack of an exhibition space. We have to make do with occasional displays in the lobby of the theatre where we are severely restricted and limited. Visual artists at Brock make a lot of remarkable work that can never be seen because there is no real art gallery here.

5) I think the “In Difference” piece will cause quite a stir. Imagine making art by removing something that already exists rather than by adding something new. This piece will go a long way toward making people aware of what is right before their eyes.

6) We really want people to come away glad — excited that there is art, music, dance and theatre programs at Brock.

7) Festival is a chance for us to work together. We are all constantly involved in our own specialized disciplinary focuses. Festival is an opportunity to see what we do in relation, in combination and in collaboration with our peers in other fields. New forms come out of it. Old ideas get recast and we shake ourselves up.

8) The Showcase evening will be a great extravaganza of work … a chance to really share.

9) We really need to acknowledge the fact that most all the work to make this happen is volunteer. Students, faculty and staff put a lot of effort into planning, publicity, staging, etc. They do it not for credit, but because they love the arts. They believe it is important to our humanity and our collective sanity. It’s a damn sight better than war.

Marlene Moser, DART professor

Faculty Supervisor for Festival

& Alison Scarlett, Drama in Education & Dramatic Lit. student

Festival Administrator

1) We are both involved in organizing the Festival at the Departmental level (Dramatic Arts) and in organizing Festival at the level of the School of Fine and Performing Arts.

2) Next week, the department of dramatic arts will produce two performance programs. Each program features a variety of work by students in the department. This year’s offerings include a performance work deconstructing both masculinity and femininity, a one person show about deaf culture, and a mockumentary on Campus Police, several one act plays and a dance performance. We are also happy to feature a photography display by Jordy Yack, a student in general arts.

This year the department of dramatic arts hopes to highlight the diversity of work that students are pursuing independently and connected to their courses. Fourth year theatre students have been largely responsible for organizing the contributions from dramatic arts. Much of their studio work is also featured at Festival this year. In addition, we are hosting a reading by First Nations playwright Daniel David Moses on Monday, March 24, ST 105. Everyone is welcome. Daniel has been teaching a course in playwriting this year in our Department.

On Saturday, March 29, 7 to 10 p.m., at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, Dean Rosemary Hale is sponsoring Showcase, an interdisciplinary evening of performances, art installations, music, and dance. Selected events include a performer being painted, a documentary film installation, a banjo performance piece, lyrical jazz dance, and Naked, an interdisciplinary project presented by senior visual arts students and movement theatre students. Awards to the winners of the Juried Art show will also be presented. The evening concludes with a performance by Lenz Riot, a Niagara area rock’n’roll band whose lead singer is a dramatic arts student at Brock.

3) A grade seven primer on sex and sexuality from the 1950s, the experience of being hard of hearing, Beckett, Ionesco, Brecht, Butler, Spinal Tap, what it means to be a woman

4) MM: It has been both challenging and rewarding trying to co-ordinate efforts between the various disciplines within the School of Fine and Performing Arts.

AS: Assisting in the organization of Festival of the Arts 2003 has afforded me the opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge of arts administration learned during my work terms as a Co-op Theatre student.

5) There’s something for everyone. If you like satire, see the Campus Police. If you like Beckett, come to One. If you like dance, come to One Dancer. If you like the absurd, come to The Bald Soprano. If you like blow up dolls, come to Performance/Desire. If you like chocolate cake, come to bawdy/speak.

6) A taste of what we have to offer in the department of dramatic arts. An appreciation of what we can do. We want people to be entertained and to be challenged.

7) We see Festival of the Arts 2003 as following through on other interdisciplinary initiatives at Brock, such as the Image and Imagery conference offered through Modern Languages and Literatures. With Festival, we hope to translate academic theory into practice.

Interdisciplinary initiatives such as Festival help to shake up audience expectations and viewing habits associated with the individual arts and allow new expressions characteristic of our community to emerge. We hope to start new conversations about form and expression, composition and context.

8) Dance always has energetic and vibrant performances. We are also looking forward to the integration of Music and Theatre in some performances. We look forward to the provocative and entertaining initiatives of Visual Arts.

9) We’re hoping that the more people who find out about Festival and come to this year’s events, the more who will be inspired to contribute their own initiatives in future years.

Annie Wilson, 4th year Drama in Education & Dramatic Lit. student

Showcase coordinator

1) Dramatic Arts Department.

2) I hope this festival convey how vital the arts are to the community/society that they represent.

3) n/a

4) n/a

5) I think people will appreciate the versatility and creativity of all of the pieces.

6) First, I am confident that the work and talent of the SFPA will be illustrated by this festival. Also, I would like people to see the importance of the arts as a necessary commentary on social and political institutions. The arts provides each community with a different kind of education affecting individual and social growth. I believe that this festival is, without exception, an addition to the important questions that artists ask. I would like the audience to feel as though they have been asked to see something, anything in a different way. I would like the audience to have questions about the form and content of our artists’ work.

I would like our audience to feel as though there is a dialogue of ideas presented to them through the artists’ project.

7) I believe that the purpose of Festival of the Arts 2003 is to celebrate the arts, provide an opportunity for our artists, foster pride and involvement in our community, and develop a larger audience for the arts. This Festival is the perfect medium for our students to explore artistic endeavours with the support of their peers and faculty. The immediate and long term benefits to our students are numerous. We are given the opportunity to plan, propose, fundraise, format, publicize, create and showcase our art to our community through our school. This event also helps create a stronger tie between each department in the SFPA and the rest of the Brock Community.

8) I am most looking forward to the Juried Art Exhibition in the Sean O’Sullivan lobby. I am also looking forward to Meredith Glasier’s piano solo of “Hommage.” She will be playing in the Showcase.

9) Festival of the Arts 2003 is a student initiated festival that has been planned by the students, for the students and community. This year’s ambitious programming will feature an eclectic look at the SFPA. I urge everyone to come out to the events that will be taking place all week. The free Saturday night Showcase on March 29 will feature projects and exhibits from dance, visual arts, theatre and music and promises to be educational and entertaining. If you love the arts, or love your school, this is the right event for you.

Lisa Taylor, 3rd year VISA student

Student representative

1) Visual arts.

2) The students in the arts department are planning many performances and shows throughout the week of the festival, including the Juried Art Exhibition which represents the talent of the student body. Other installations, exhibitions and performances are too many to speak of. You will just have to come and see for yourself. My first performance called “Naked” is an interdisciplinary/ improvisational performance which includes the visual arts department and the theatre department. We will be moving and painting to music and inspiring each others’ performance. The basic theme is to allow our two departments to become one. My other piece is called “How to Paint a Performer,” and it deals with removing the canvas surface and replacing it with a physical body. The painting will be site specific and performed within the time it takes to make it. The overall message is to allow others to see what our department is capable of and push the awareness of art.

3) This year we didn’t come up with a specific theme, just for the fact that art students had already finished their paintings. I suppose they each have influences of their own. Most often, influences come from other artists and peers.

4) The hardest part was trying to get everyone together for meetings. Wires would sometimes get crossed, and it took time to get them figured out. Otherwise it’s been smooth sailing. Everyone is very enthusiastic and that makes for a good environment to work in.

5) The highlight for the art department is the Jury Show. This is a way for the students to show their potential and to know what it feels like to have their work up in an exhibition. The performances and installations will offer the viewers a wide variety of experiences that they otherwise would not be confronted with.

6) I hope that they will take with them a better sense of what it is that artists do, how we work and what the outcome is. I want them to think about art in a different way and overall to have a good time.

7) In the long term, it will bring awareness to the involvement of the School of Fine and Performing Arts in the community. In the short term, the installations and performances will raise discussion around a variety of themes and ideas. Ultimately, the joint effort of the multi-disciplinary festival will unite each faculty into one community.

8) I’m looking forward to seeing dance performances which are not always available to art students who are mostly confined to the studio. We don’t often get to see what others in the department are doing, so this gives me a chance to see that and to learn more about my fellow students.

9) This year’s festival is larger and better than ever. I hope that it continues to grow, and that my fellow Brock students will become aware of what goes on in the basement of the Thistle hallway. There is a creative city in the basement.

We also spoke with Barbara Kennedy, who is on the faculty of physical and health education, and is teaching several dance courses this year.

“I’m the dance liaison for the festival,” said Kennedy. “Several of our students will be performing dance compositions for the festival, and the show last Friday was, I feel, some of the best selections from those pieces. I didn’t know it was going on until later, when some of the Brock dance members came to me and wanted to put something in festival, so it worked out nicely in terms of timing. I had strongly suggested promoting the Showcase on a larger stage [the Sean O’Sullivan theatre] than had been done in the past, and I was thrilled when this did come about.”

After all that, it only needs to be said that the festival is something that everyone should check out, as it emphasizes our own arts community, and gives enough variety to entertain all artistic tastes.

Festival of the Arts 2003 opens on March 24, and runs at various times in various places on campus until April 17. Check a schedule for further details.

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