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Extraordinary Lives: Difference and Ability

The Dept. of Theatre Announces the Theme of its 2016-17 Season

Photo by Jeremy Mimnaugh.

Extraordinary Lives: Difference and Ability is the Department of Theatre’s thematic focus for the 2016-17 academic year. From public events like Theatre @ York’s mainstage season, to the Performance Studies (Canada) Speaker Series hosted by the Graduate Program in Theatre and Performance Studies, to curriculum and classroom dialogue, the department is devoting the upcoming academic year to exploring questions around disability and performance. Inspired by conversations at the local and national level, our goal is to work closely with members of the disability arts community to challenge traditionally “ableist” modes of making theatre and to “crip” our studios, classrooms, and stages. In so doing, we hope to support ongoing efforts to make post-secondary theatre training in Canada more accessible to students of all abilities, building on the important lessons learned during last year’s exploration of Indigenous performance.

We have formed an advisory panel of prominent deaf, “mad,” and “crip” artists to serve as facilitators for the season. We’re excited to announce our distinguished panel and share their bios.

This season, Theatre @ York presents Thomas Bernhard’s A Party for Boris, directed by MFA Directing candidate Matthew Earnest, August Strindberg’s A Dream Play directed by MFA Directing candidate David Di Giovanni, and The Three Sisters, directed by MFA Directing candidate Tanja Jacobs. We will offer “Relaxed Performance” options and signed performances.

Theatre Prof Judith Rudakoff leads The Ashley Plays in Cape Town

Laura Lee Mostert in The Ashley Plays

From August 1-12, 2016, Professor Judith Rudakoff worked with the 3rd Year Acting class at the Drama Department at University of Cape Town, South Africa. Together they created, developed, and performed The Ashley Plays: Blood and Water. This site-specific cycle of 16 short, original performances was non-linear, and focused on the dramatized exploration of personal narratives, voiced through a fictional character called “Ashley.”

The 16 performers had never written or performed their own work before, so Rudakoff initially led them through writing exercises intended to enable the creative telling of one’s own stories.

For The Ashley Plays, the group chose six characteristics that would help inspire their character. Then, the students spent hours engaging with the locations they had selected, which were scattered across the Hiddingh Campus of UCT, figuring out how their character and story connected with their site. For the public performance, four audience pods of 20-25 spectators were each led through the 90 minute cycle in different order.


Spotlight on Alumni: Tamara Bernier Evans

Tamara Bernier Evans

Tamara Bernier Evans (BFA 1991) began her acting career at the Stratford Festival of Canada working in the young company before going on to perform lead roles in the main company. Since then, she has performed at Tarragon Theatre (Mimi), Necessary Angel (Seven Lears and It’s All True), Nightwood Theatre (Anything That Moves), Theatre Aquarius (The House of Blue Leaves and M. Butterfly), Canadian Stage (Proof and Outrageous), The National Arts Centre in Ottawa (The Wrong Son), and Theatre Calgary (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), as well as played a lead role in the hit musical Mamma Mia! in Toronto, Las Vegas and on Broadway. After spending some time in Los Angeles, she returned to Toronto and became the Artistic Producer and a Founding Artist of Theatre 20, a position she held until July 2011 when she won a lead role in the Toronto production of War Horse. Her television acting credits include a recurring role on Murdoch Mysteries (Aunt Azalea), and roles on Flashpoint, Republic of Doyle and The Border. She will be directing a Mainspace production of Midsummer: A Play with Songs at Tarragon Theatre in April 2017 with Richard Rose. In 2015/16, Tamara was the Assistant Artistic Director at Tarragon Theatre before becoming Artistic Director at The Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts.



Rallentando—Faculty collaborate to create an immersive experience Faculty members Gwenyth Dobie (Theatre), Don Sinclair (Digital Media) and William Mackwood (Dance) continued their research into “Forest Bathing” with their installation, Rallentando. The piece explores the restorative effects of spending time in a Virtual Nature, and features BFA Acting alumni Ken Northfield and Katelyn McCulloch, and BA Devised Theatre alumna Laurel Brady. Professor Ian Garrett (Theatre) captured the event as 360° photos
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