Now that we’re mere days away from the conference, we’d like to take a moment to offer a sincere thank you to the FOOT 2016 Team: Rebecca Biason, Tas Hudani, Paul Stoesser, Jacob Zimmer, Jessica Watkin, Danielle Alfaro, and Jade Nauman. Without their help promoting, budgeting, operating, and organizing, this conference would not have been possible.
The closer we get to FOOT 2016, the more excited we get to hear from Distinguished Professor Marvin Carlson:
Marvin Carlson is the Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens, the ATHE Career Achievement Award, the ASTR Distinguished Scholarship Award, the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, and the Calloway Prize for his book The Haunted Stage (Michigan, 2001), He has served as guest professor at the Freie Universitat of Berlin and the Shanghai Theatre Academy. He is the author of over two hundred scholarly articles in the areas of theatre history, theatre theory and dramatic literature, and his work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, Italian, German, Swedish, Hungarian, Galacian, Portugese, Finnish, Polish, Arabic, Slovenian, Slovakian, Spanish and Turkish. Among his books are Theories of the Theatre (Cornell University, 1984), Theatre Semiotics: Signs of Life (Indiana University Press, 1990), Performance: A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 1996) and Speaking in Tongues: Language and the Theatre (Michigan, 2007), Theatre is More Beautiful than War (Iowa, 2009), The Theatres of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, with Khalid Amine (Palgrave, 2011) and Theatre: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2014).
ALI JOY RICHARDSON – DIRECTOR & CREATORAli is a director from Nova Scotia, now based in Toronto. Recent credits include: Directing A Spirit’s Face (a new Indigenous play in English & ASL, Vancouver/Toronto), Directing Oklahoma! (First Act Productions), Directing multiple touring shows for Education Arts Canada, Assistant Directing Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in High Park, Canadian Stage), Assistant DirectingBRANTWOOD (North America’s largest experiment in immersive theatre), Script Coordinating for Within the Glass (Tarragon Theatre), Directing for Shakespeare-In-Hospitals. She recently co-created & performed two sold-out Fringe shows: the interactive/site specific Andy Warhol Presents: Valerie and The Dinner Table (a series of theatrical dinner parties with storytelling about home).Ali has created and performed work in Edinburgh, Vancouver, Berlin, Halifax & Toronto in museums, art studios, defunct record shops, closed schools, kitchens, and harbours. She is a graduate of the Theatre & Drama Studies Program at the University of Toronto Mississauga/Sheridan College.Upcoming: Directing Still by Jen Silverman and Get Yourself Home Skyler James by Jordan Tannahill and working as developmental director/dramaturg on Flourish, a piece about disability and inter-generational wisdom. alijoyrichardson.com
Our next featured artist, Maria Mendl, will perform her narrative essay Junior at the FOOT 2016 Solo Performance Cabaret. She describes this work, which explores issues of care giving, health and motherhood, as both “creative non-fiction” and “philosophy in narrative form”My essay “Junior” appeared in 2014 in The M Word, an anthology of essays by women with all sorts of relationships to motherhood. It’s work of creative non-fiction, without as much interpretation as an academic paper might have; nonetheless, I think of it as a philosophy essay in narrative form.
Maria Meindl is the author of Outside the Box: the Life and Legacy of Mona Gould, the Grandmother I Thought I Knew from McGill-Queen’s University Press, winner of the Alison Prentice award for women’s history. Her essay “Rules” appeared in Twelve Breaths a Minute, an anthology on death published by Creative Non Fiction, and her story “The Last Judgment” was published in digital form from Found Press. Her essay “Junior” was published in The M Word: Conversations about Motherhood from Goose Lane Editions in 2014.
Maria’s essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in journals including The Literary Review of Canada, Descant, Musicworks and Queen Street Quarterly. She has made two series for CBC Radio’s Ideas: Parent Care and Remembering Polio. Maria is the founder of Draft, a literary reading series which features new work by established and emerging writers. She teaches movement classes in downtown Toronto and is a first-year PhD student at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.
The Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies is a-buzz with all sorts of intriguing events in the coming weeks. Those of you in and around Toronto may want to also be interested in the upcoming symposium “The Other D: Locating ‘D’ance in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies in Canada, taking place January 22nd and 23rd. Check out their schedule at http://theotherd.weebly.com/
Natalie Frijia will be presenting her work Black Wool Jacket, based on observations, conversations, and occasional eavesdropping from a coat-check position at a recently closed nightclub, at our Solo Performance Cabaret on Sunday, February 7th (you won’t want to miss it, so please remember to register):
Natalie Frijia is a Toronto-based writer currently in the PhD program at the University of Toronto’s Graduate Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, and the School of the Environment. Her research focuses on the incorporation of non-human animals into spectacle and education-based performances and performance art. Her non-academic writing has been published by Scarborough Arts, and performed in Fringe, Rhubarb, New Ideas Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille’s Crapshoot Series, and Back Burner Productions’ What Are You Doing Up There?! Festival. She is a current member of Storefront Theatre’s inaugural Playwriting Unit.
These next three featured artists will be setting up shop at FOOT 2016 with their performance piece All Night Check: Beautiful Young Ladies to (Theoretically) Perform for You:
Inspired by the writing on an historic brothel coin, All Night Check: Beautiful Young Ladies to (Theoretically) Perform for You takes the form of a Brothel of Academia, a place where the commodification of the female body clashes with or relates to female scholars. By actively engaging the audience throughout the piece—choose your own (non-sexual) adventure style—we highlight the ways in which women “perform” within and against cultural standards of womanhood.
Given the way in which mainstream male-dominated sex culture often dehumanizes women, and the ways in which women tend to define themselves as academics, we subvert assumptions about the female body as a sexual or a genderless object. We explore the artifices of the sexual fantasy industry and academic settings, pointing out ways in which they overlap and how we perceive the female body within these locations. The piece, a series of digital and live performances that the audience moves freely through, challenges spectators-participants to acknowledge and embrace the artifice associated with sexual power dynamics in culture and politics and gender dynamics in academia. All Night Check skews the sex culture tropes (porn story lines, clothing, viewing of sex) and academic tropes (panels, Q&As, the language of scholarship) in blatant and satirical ways, the audience can critically engage with the tensions between artist/activist/academic and the female body.
Performer Information and Bios:
Angela Sweigart-Gallagher and Victoria Pettersen Lantz (The Wandering Uterus Project) both earned doctorates in Theatre Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They founded The Wandering Uterus Project as a response to the recent assaults on women’s reproductive rights. They use their bodies, political statements, classical literature and science, and interactive performance techniques to create work that highlights social norms and injustices against women. Their original performance Dr. Womb and Dr. Tomb’s Wondrous Wandering Ward of Cures, Correctives, and Creams for All that Ails and Avails the Utilitarian and Utterly Unreliable Uterus, premiered in Chicago in 2013.
Melissa C. Thompson (The Sacred Heart Archive) earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she specialized in Performance Studies, gender studies, and experimental performance. She is the founder of the multi-disciplinary arts project The Sacred Heart Archive, whose works include Ask the Ambien Cassandra and The Key Said and the Door Said Run and the Door Said Fly. She has conducted original performances and physical theatre workshops both nationally and internationally, appearing at venues such as Highways Performance Space, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, the Centre for Performance Research, and Jerusalem English-Speaking Theatre.
When the papers are over, the party’s still going. Our next featured artist, Sarah Marchand, will be presenting her one-woman piece #Ytheatre in our final event of the conference – a solo performance cabaret on Sunday, February 7th:
Struggling to find stable employment, spending countless hours for unpaid work, stretching one’s mental and social well being for a poorly attended performance–all at what cost? Why do we continue to produce theatre knowing the risks involved?
As an emerging actress, I have often asked myself and other theatre enthusiasts this question and usually receive the same answer: “because we’re crazy and we love it”. Now that I am no longer a student, however, and am actively pursuing a career in theatre, I am dissatisfied with this response. Why are artists pursuing an artform that grows increasingly outdated? Can theatre still have an impact on people in a digitized age? How can we get more audiences to attend live performances? Is it feasible to pursue theatre as a career, or should it remain a hobby that we do outside of our full-time job?
Inspired by the work of Anna Deavere Smith, #Ytheatre seeks to explore some of these prevalent questions in a verbatim theatre piece.
Sarah Marchand is an MA graduate from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. She hold a BFA in Theatre Performance and Honours English Literature from Concordia University and is the 2013 recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Emerging. Artist Grant in English Theatre. As part of her practice-based research, she seeks to explore how the performing arts respond to an increasingly digitized age. Other performance interests include Peking Opera, Elizabethan theatre and contemporary Canadian works.
Our next featured artist is actually three artists – the creative team of playwright Stephen Near, director Aaron Joel Craig, and dramaturge Lisa O’Connell. The staged reading of their original play An Ordinary Asset is sure to be an exciting part of the FOOT 2016 programming:
This dramatic play tells the story of a troubled Canadian Forces officer who commits treason by working for Russian intelligence and how the fall-out of this crime forces him to confront ever deeper secrets in his mundane life and down the rabbit hole of his work as a spy. Although a fictional play, the story is directly inspired by the real case of convicted Canadian spy Jeffrey Delisle whose life presents a compelling narrative of false fronts and secrets in the world of espionage and online gaming as well as his seemingly ordinary life as a husband and father.
As a playwright, I was captivated not just by Delisle’s story but also by the highly theatrical transcript of his confession to the RCMP. This transcript formed the basis for a first draft of the play written with the assistance of a Theatre Creators’ Reserve grant through Theatre Aquarius and a subsequent workshop by Pat the Dog Theatre Creation. In this first draft, I made extensive use of selected text from DeLisle’s interrogation along with a variety of media and government reports as a source for the creation of the script. But DeLisle’s prominence as the foundation for the play’s fictional narrative has always presented me with a challenge: how much should the play reflect the reality of Delisle’s life and how much should be the artifice of the fictional character?
LEAD ARTIST BIOS
Stephen Near (Playwright)
Stephen Near is a playwright and performer. He grew up in Ottawa, ON, graduated BFA from York University and lives in Hamilton with his wife and daughter. His plays have been performed across Canada in such festivals as the Ottawa Fringe, the Toronto Fringe, the Hamilton Fringe, New Ideas, and Summerworks. He is an alumnus of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Banff Centre and has studied playwriting with Linda Griffiths, David Copelin, Daniel MacIvor, Brian Quirt, and Beverley Cooper. Stephen is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) and the Theatre Aquarius Playwrights Unit and co-founded the Same Boat Theatre Company in Hamilton. In 2015, he established the First Stage Series of new play development at the Players Guild of Hamilton and currently works to raise the profile of Canadian playwrights as the Southern Ontario caucus rep for the PGC’s national forum. Stephen also graduated B. Ed from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and has taught playwriting and directing at both Etobicoke School for the Arts and Mohawk College. Playwriting credits include Shadow Court (2005 Toronto Fringe), Interface (2011 Hamilton Fringe – New Play Contest 1st Prize), Plain Speak (2012 HamiltTEN Festival), Monstrous Invisible (Theatre Aquarius, 40th Season), Test (2013 Hamilton Fringe – New Play Contest 2nd Runner-Up), The Conspiracy of Michael (2014 Hamilton Fringe), Finding Mr. Right (Same Boat Theatre) The Conspiracy of Michael, Test, and Interface (Reaching Symmetry), All My Sons (Players Guild of Hamilton), The Bridge (HamilTEN), and The End and the Beginning (ClipClop Productions). Upcoming he will perform in Same Boat Theatre’s production of Two Rooms.
Aaron Joel Craig (Director)
Aaron Joel Craig is a theatre director and performer. He grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, studied Theatre Performance at Redeemer University and lives in Hamilton with his wife, Cath and daughter, Georgia. Directing credits include Finding Mr. Right with Same Boat Theatre, Conspiracy of Michael andTest for Reaching Symmetry, inbetween.places for Make Art Theatre, Power Play for Redeemer University and The End and the Beginning for ClipClop Productions. Performing credits include A Modicum of Freedom, Don Quixote, and Orpheus with Make Art Theatre. Upcoming he will perform in Same Boat Theatre’s production of Two Rooms.
Lisa O’Connell (Dramaturge)
Lisa O’Connell is the founding Artistic Director of Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, the only playwright centre in Ontario open to theatre creators at all stages of their career. PTD playwrights’ work has been presented at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, SummerWorks Theatre Festival, MT Space Theatre, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Theatre Aquarius, The Grand Theatre, among others. O’Connell serves on the Advocacy Committee of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Artistic Practices Committee of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres and is a member of several Municipal Cultural Steering Committees. She is the recipient of a Special Jury Award (2015) and the Gowlings Literary Award (2010) from Arts Awards Waterloo and delivered the closing Keynote address at the Canadian Association of Theatre Researchers Conference in 2013. O’Connell has been published in Canadian Theatre Review, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, among others.
Our next featured artist is Julie Tepperman, who will be joining us for our Theatre Makers Round Table on Saturday, February 6th. Please remember to register if you’d like to hear Julie (and others) discussing the challenges and rewards of creating “theatre of the real”:
Julie Tepperman is an actor, playwright and educator, as well as co-artistic director (with Aaron Willis) of Convergence Theatre, twice listed by NOW Magazine as the “Best Site-Specific Theatre Company in Toronto”. Past immersive Convergence productions: AutoShow (one of NOW Magazine’s Top Ten Productions of 2006); The Gladstone Variations (4 Dora nominations; #2 in NOW Magazine’s Top Ten Toronto Productions of the Decade); YICHUD (Seclusion) (published by Playwrights Canada Press; Capital Critics’ Circle nomination for Outstanding Production); the Canadian premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play (with Outside the March and Sheep No Wool; Dora Award for Outstanding Ensemble). Selected acting: Julie has acted at theatres across Toronto, as well as two seasons at The Stratford Festival, and the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training. Favourite recent credits include: Tease (Crows’ Theatre/East End Performance Crawl); Passion Play (Convergence/Outside the March/Sheep No Wool); Mr. Marmalade (OtM); Out The Window (The Theatre Centre). Selected playwriting: YICHUD (Seclusion) (Convergence/Passe Muraille/Magnetic North Festival), I Grow Old (as part of The Gladstone Variations); ROSY (as part of AutoShow); a re-imagining of the August Strindberg play The Father (Winnipeg Jewish Theatre). Julie was Playwright-In-Residence at Theatre Passe Muraille in 2010/11 with the support of the Canada Council. Arts Education: Julie teaches acting, Shakespeare, playwriting and self-producing workshops for: The Stratford Festival, The Luminato Festival, The Toronto Fringe, Nightwood Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Ryerson University (Act II Studio), George Brown and Humber Colleges. Recently: BRANTWOOD – a 15hr. immersive musical theatre epic that had audiences following characters all over an abandoned high school (created, written and directed with Mitchell Cushman, as part of Sheridan’s Canadian Musical Theatre Project.) Currently: Julie continues to collaborate with composer Christopher Thornborrow on Selfie – a new opera for teens, commissioned by Tapestry Opera. Upcoming: A 20-minute excerpt from her new musical with composer Kevin Wong will be presented as part of Reframed (Acting Up Stage Theatre), this April 12-17 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Julie will be acting in the play Still at Unit 102 March 1-12, and in Convergence Theatre’s latest immersive production at the 2016 Toronto Fringe.