House is Open!: Online Season Launch Showcases MFT’s 2020-2021 Season

Mount Allison’s drama studies program held its first ever virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Season Launch on the afternoon of October 5, and the turnout was that of a theatre’s full house. Typically an in-person event, the Launch brought students and staff from various faculties, academic years and time zones together to celebrate the Motyer-Fancy Theatre’s season of shows, it’s students, and it’s faculty alike.

The event was opened (and hosted) by Dr. Sarah Fanning, the director of drama, as she welcomed the crowd from near and far to the meeting. She went on to introduce the state-of-the-art Motyer-Fancy Theatre, located in the Purdy Crawford Center for the Arts, to the new coming members of the program through a slideshow of pictures. The virtual theme continued as she elaborated on the program’s online initiative for the 2020-2021 school year, including online class and shows, and the online newsletter, mandated by the theatre’s Marketing Technician, John Briand.

Fanning then began to describe the theatre’s Anti-Racism Initiative. She indicated that the drama studies program recognises the need to modify their treatment of issues relating to race, nationality, gender, and sexuality within its productions. The faculty and staff have vowed to develop new policies and procedures to ensure the continuous growth of a more inclusive classroom and production environment. As this initiative is still being discussed and developed, a solid plan of action will be announced to the members of the drama and theatre community at a later date.

Fanning then went on to introduce the faculty and staff of drama. This year’s team includes Program Advisor and Professor Dr. Glen Nichols, Production Manager of the Motyer-Fancy Theatre Paul Del Motte, Professor Emeritus Alex Fancy, Crake Fellow and drama Instructor Neil Silcox and the faculty’s newest addition, Drama Instructor Sarah Robbins. Fanning also introduced Associate Professor Dr. Cordula Quint, who is on sick leave for the 2020-2021 academic year.

She went on to introduce the Motyer-Fancy Theatre’s exciting season of socially-distanced shows, which will have a diverse formatting of online, outdoor and to-be-announced formats. This year’s theatrical season will include Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (October 29th-31st via Zoom, directed by Neil Silcox), Objects by Sophie Jacome (November 26th-28th via Zoom, directed by Hannah Tuck), a to-be-announced theatre piece devised by students within the four Maple League schools of Canada (February 4th-6th via Zoom, directed by Neil SIlcox), Walking in Daylight, a devised outdoor theatre piece (March 4th-6th,  directed by Frisia Li), MURMUReS, Tintamarre’s annual devised piece (March 17th-20th through socially distanced in-person theatre or Zoom, directed by Alex Fancy) and Fun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori (April 8th-10th through an unknown formatting, directed by Emily O’Leary, Paul Del Motte and Dean of Arts Vicki St. Pierre).

Fourth-Year drama and English student Hannah Tuck, who is also one of this season’s student directors, remarked on the bittersweetness of the event, as this AGM was her last time attending as a student and her first time attending as a speaker from her home.

“For so many years I’ve sat in the Motyer-Fancy and listened to my friends talk about their independent studies, and I’d get really excited about getting to work with them. This year I was sitting where I’m sitting right now [at home] talking to people about this show that’s going to be over Zoom. So, it was a bit of a bittersweet feeling, I think, because not only am I missing out on one of the ‘lasts’ I’m going to have, but now I am that fourth-year to the first and second years. I’m that upper-year student who they’re going to associate with, “Oh yeah! I remember that in my first year!”

As the event continued, Dr. Fanning announced the continuation of the annual Crake workshops, which specialize in theatre. These workshops will be formally announced when the details are finalized. As well, Dr. Fanning, alongside the president of the Drama Studies Society Hannah Lucas, introduced the Drama Studies Society (DSS) and their goals for the academic year. Shortly after the introduction of the DSS, nominations and voting for the Student Representative for the Drama Studies Advisory Group, who will sit in on and participate in their group meetings. This position, after elections and voting, was awarded to first-year drama studies student Aurora MacInnis.

The end of the event brought the celebration of a group of incredible individuals: the Motyer-Fancy Theatre’s new student technicians and the drama studies award winners. Paul Del Motte introduced this year’s technicians, including front-of-house technician Faith Higgins, web and marketing technician John Briand, costumes and paint technician Georgia Forsyth and general technician Megan Glauser. Alongside these introductions came the announcement of the drama awards. These included the Crake Performance Award, awarded to Marissa Trott; the Nathan Cohen Memorial Scholarship, awarded to Caitlin O’Connor; the Katherine (Shaw) Bigelow Award, awarded to Georgia Forsyth and Kelsey McCammon; and the Beth Robinson Award, awarded to John Briand. 

Third-year drama studies student, student technician and award winner Georgia Forsyth believes that the AGM is an excellent way to bring theatre lovers across Mount Allison together.

“[The AGM] was definitely a lot different this year, and I know that we weren’t sure what the numbers were going to be like, but I was actually surprised with the amount of people that attended. I think that a good broad range of people were there, and whether or not you had your camera on, I think it was a good experience to get to know the faculty if you didn’t already know them… it’s also just an excuse to like see familiar faces and say hi!”

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