Mt. A’s Motyer-Fancy Theatre and Screen Studies program unveils productions, faculty, and new A-term course in season launch
The stage was set. The lights were on. An eager crowd of fresh and familiar faces waited in anticipation for the launch of Mt. A’s Motyer-Fancy Theatre (MFT) for the 2022/23 season on Wednesday, September 14. Held annually but severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in recent years, the drama and newly developed screen studies departments gathered to announce shows and share news.
First to speak was Dr. Sarah Fanning, Director of Drama and pioneer of the new screen studies program. She introduced the event with a brief history of the theatre followed by faculty and staff introductions. Among them was award-winning designer Julia Kim, now the theatre’s full-time resident designer and a lecturer in drama this year. She graced the crowd with a brief welcome and an invitation to those interested in stage design to get involved.
Next spoke Valmai Goggin, last year’s Crake Fellow in Drama. She also currently lectures in drama and is directing The Wolves, a play delayed since last year due to COVID-19 and now scheduled for the end of October. This was her first in-person season launch. On her own history at Mt. A, Goggin said: “I fell in love with this place, I fell in love at this place… I remember being a student, and I remember the community that this place—not this physical place,” instead she gestured at the audience: “But this place, provided to me, and it is my honour, truly, to be on the other side. So welcome back, and welcome to Mt. A, for our first years.”
Notable as well was Mt. A’s current Crake Fellow in Drama, Paul Griffin. This distinguished and valued member of the Mt. A community is also an alumni of the university and has been involved in nearly every aspect of drama, but specializes in physical theatre. He will direct the play Seven Stories in the winter term.
Paul Del Motte received a warm welcome, described by Dr. Fanning as “one of the dynamos behind the creation of this building.” The MFT’s experienced production manager will co-direct the play An Inspector Calls this term with Dr. Fanning – her directorial debut. The Edwardian mystery will be performed in November, and auditions for the seven-person cast were held on Sept. 20 to 22.
Alex Fancy, to whom the Motyer-Fancy Theatre partly owes its name, also welcomed the attendees with vigour and with the following praise for Tintamarre, Mt. A’s bilingual theatre troupe: “in Tintamarre we try to emphasize the importance of community, of collaboration… and also co-management.” Tintamarre’s associate student directors for this year, Benjamin Hébert and Naoise Moeller, also spoke briefly and encouraged anyone, bilingualism not necessary, to get involved in this year’s show, PRÉCIPICE.
Following several minor updates on the layout of the theatre, Dr. Fanning reached her last announcement, the subject of much gossip within the students over recent weeks. In August 2023, an estimated fifteen Mt. A students and two faculty members will attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of a new A-term course open to Drama and Screen Studies students. “We’re still working out the details,” Dr. Fanning assured, reiterating that more information would come out soon but also emphasizing that there would be an academic component to the course. “So get your grades up!” she laughed. This news, along with a heartfelt thanks from Dr. Fanning and company, concluded the night. “I just wanted to say thank you, personally, for sticking with us through the pandemic – I know it was especially hard for our program… I just want to say thank you so much, for your support and your patience,” were her closing words.
While an empty stage has become a symbol of isolation over the past two years, tonight it brought to mind potential; the potential for everything the MFT embodies – creativity, storytelling, and community. This is what the attendants of the season launch left with. This is what they will carry with them into the future.