MFT season launch promises season with inclusion, community at the centre
Walking into the Motyer-Fancy Theatre on the evening of Sept. 16, there’s a buzz of voices in the air. When taking your seat, you’re greeted by friends and faculty alike, all of whom are chatting about their days or commenting on the slideshow that is going in the background. This slideshow is a collection of pictures from the 2018-19 season of the Motyer-Fancy Theatre. It’s a fitting look back at the year gone by, and it’s now time to discuss the season to come.
Motyer-Fancy’s season launch event, which happens at the start of every school year, showcases the upcoming year’s productions and lets incoming students get familiar with the faculty members that they’ll be interacting with on a day-to-day basis.
First up was Dr. Sarah Fanning, a professor in the English department and the newly appointed director of drama. Fanning gave thanks to everyone for their patience with the recent shakeups in the department, on behalf of herself, the other faculty members and the interim dean of arts Dr. Andrew Nurse, who was absent.
Thankfully, key players in the department from years past have stepped in to help make things as seamless as possible. Fanning pointed out that Dr. Glen Nichols, former director and current program advisor, has stepped in to teach even though he was supposed to be on sabbatical this year.
Also stepping back into the instructor chair is Alex Fancy, professor emeritus and director of the bilingual theatre troupe Tintamarre, who is also teaching a new course offering this term: Performing Comedy.
Following Fanning’s introductions, the season’s directors came up to speak about the shows they are doing this season.
Paul Del Motte, Motyer-Fancy’s production manager, is directing Godspell this fall. The show does have many religious elements, but Del Motte noted that “The show deals with community-building, hearing the word and then sharing the word.” His show is the only one in the fall term, running from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2. This is a sparse fall term for the department – in 2018, there were four productions in each term.
Community was a theme that ran throughout the rest of the night, as Alex Fancy spoke about Tintamarre’s annual show and how to get involved. This year’s show is about what happens when a mysterious person shows up one day in a small Maritime village and “how we are all tourists in an ever-changing world.” Fancy emphasized that you do not have to speak French in order to be a part of the show, and that there are many ways to be a part of Tintamarre besides acting, such as contributing to production and the actual writing process of the show’s script.
Nichols will stage 12 Angry Jurors in March, a play that focuses on 12 jurors from the same community deciding on whether or not to deal a guilty verdict as well as a death penalty. “They’re fully fleshed characters with different political views and personality conflicts,” said Nichols. “They interact for an hour and a half to reach this decision. It starts one way and during the play it ends up the other way.”
Finally, there was Paul Brisk Jr., a well-known student actor. His show is the only student production this year, another rarity for the department as both terms usually end with student-directed shows. His show is happening the last week of March, though the show is not yet decided. “I want to do something that matters,” said Brisk. “Mostly to myself, but as something that will get people interested and also allow people to be included into something. I want to pick something that absolutely anybody can audition for.”
The benefit of a small department like drama studies is that everyone in the room knows each other. Chatting with Fanning after the event, it was clear she was already enthusiastic about the year to come and has been welcomed with open arms to her new position.
“My main field of expertise is in adaptations, specifically in film and television, which really lends itself to this line of work,” Fanning said. “I was still jet-lagged when I had my first meeting with Vicki [St. Pierre, former director of drama] about the position, and by then students were already trickling in. It’s been a rapid few weeks, but I’m very excited.”