Queen's Film and Media

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Stage and Screen Visiting Artists 2014

Engineers Of The Imagination: Celebratory Arts for the Next Generation

John Fox and Sue Gill

Engineers Of The Imagination: Celebratory Arts for the Next Generation was a public presentation by John Fox and Sue Gill, founders of Welfare State International, 5 November 2014 at The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Kingston. This demonstration and discussion focussed on their work and creative approach. Co-sponsored by the Queen's Stage and Screen Program, the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, and The Kingston Arts Council.

Fox and Gill travelled from the U.K. to be this year's Stage and Screen Visiting Artists at Queen's University. 


Rungs on the Ladder

While they were at Queen's, John Fox and Sue Gill worked with the students of STSC 309 to produce the performance "Rungs on the Ladder" on 8 November:

Rungs on the Ladder Photo      Rungs on the Ladder Photo


Rungs on the Ladder Photo       Rungs on the Ladder photo

Photos by Tim Fort

John Fox, MBE is a painter, printmaker, poet, and cultural provocateur. In the 1970s he "laid down the foundations for forms of theatre that abandoned conventional notions almost entirely" (Robert Hewison). With Sue Gill, he founded Welfare State International (1968-2006) raised the Titanic in Limehouse, London, shifted the Trident Submarine Sheds in Barrow in Furness and built Lanternhouse, a £2m centre for the Celebratory Arts in Ulverston, Cumbria, UK. Welfare State International prototypes of fire shows, community lantern parades and site-specific events are copied globally. In Canada, they are best known for their 1981 production Tempest on Snake Island (on Toronto Island), a hugely influential production that inspired the founding of Toronto¹s Shadowland Theatre and Vancouver¹s Public Dreams Society. After archiving Welfare State International on April Fools Day 2006 he and Sue Gill started Dead Good Guides to pioneer work with ecological concerns and new ceremonies for secular rites of passage.

Sue Gill was born in Yorkshire and educated in Hull and Cambridge. After working as Head Teacher of the smallest village school in remote North Yorkshire and lecturing in Bradford Art College Sue evolved to become an author, performer, secular celebrant, cook, saxophonist, truck driver, co-founder of Welfare State International (1968-2006) and grandmother. After WSI was archived she was, for one year, Director of Ceremonies for Lanternhouse International. From 1998-2006, she was course leader for WSI's groundbreaking MA in Cultural Performance created in partnership with Bristol University and Honorary Fellow of the University of Cumbria. She is co-author of the Dead Good Guides - books on Funerals and Baby Namings and presently leads Rites of Passage Summer Schools across the UK with Gilly Adams, and works as a secular celebrant for weddings and naming ceremonies and funeral officiant, particularly for woodland burials.

See more information about Welfare State International. 

Stage and Screen

The Visiting Artist Stage and Screen Studies Endowment Fund was established to fund a visiting artist program in Stage and Screen Studies at Queen's University. Each year, the program will invite a director, writer, or other notable professional working in theatre, film and television to come to Kingston to conduct classes, hold a presentation for the Queen's and Kingston public and otherwise benefit students with their experience.

The Stage and Screen Special Field Concentration, a program of study that integrates practical and academic courses from the departments of Drama and Film, is unique in Canada.