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The Conversation: In the post-truth era, documentary theatre searches for common ground

Reality-based theatre is one way artists are challenging the lies put out by politicians who exploit our contemporary insecurities.

[Porte parole]
Based in Québec, Porte Parole led by Annabel Soutar has toured and run several documentary theatre shows. Pictured here, The Watershed, a docudrama about the politics of water in Canada. (Photo courtesy Porte Parole)

With the onslaught of “alternative facts” or “fake news,” it can feel as though the ground has become almost liquid.

One strategy to confront the ongoing public lies has been to embrace journalistic principles and aggressively fact check statements. Reality-based theatre is also inspired by this same desire, tapping into the contemporary zeitgeist for authenticity.

In Canada and the U.S., we have been experiencing a flourishing production of reality-based theatre (also called “documentary drama”). Sometimes, it takes the form of an autobiographical performance where the performer and the character are the same people. Other times, it is a verbatim theatre where playwrights cull the script from interview testimony and archival documents. Plays created by the Montréal-based company Porte Parole, led by playwright Annabel Soutar, are a great example of verbatim theatre.

Yet, this quest for authenticity is an impossible dream.

Poststructuralism shattered our singular reality

Poststructural theorists from the 1980s and 90s like Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler rejected binary ways of thinking and instead asserted that our “realities” are made up of performative constructions. In other words, there is no absolute real; there are only representations of, or performances of, reality.

But poststructuralism has not just been about negating the idea of a singular reality. With its world-creating power, poststructuralism has been a potent feminist political tool used by feminist theorists, activists and artists to shatter monolithic conservative ideology. It was a way for many to strike against patriarchy, against conventionality, against strict norms, and was used to create space for otherness, for feminism, for LGBTQ identities.

Fredy is Annabel Soutar’s documentary play about the tragic death of Fredy Villanueva who was shot by a Montréal police officer in 2008. It premiered March 2016 at La Licorne in Montréal, directed by Marc Beaupré. (Photo courtesy Porte Parole)

However, since the performative power to generate alternate worlds is ideologically neutral, it has also been used in the interest of climate change deniers and the extreme right.

The poststructuralist genie is out of the bottle and we cannot put it back in: simply demanding aggressive fact checking and asserting a return to “capital-T” truth will not work. Given that realities are multiple and shifting, reality-based performances can help us to navigate the political landscape of “fake news.”

Embracing insecurity

The nostalgic-driven desire for security manifested in the 2016 Trump campaign, “Make America Great Again” and the Brexit slogan “Take Back Control” is directly linked to poststructuralist liquid uncertainty. These movements are stimulated by a flood of insecurity in the face of globalization, mass migration, social fluidity, the transience of traditions and conventional value systems.

As a researcher of Canadian theatre, I have observed that contemporary documentary plays that deal in reality and facts consistently conclude that nothing can be known.

On the surface, theatres of the real offer authenticity and certainty in their attachment to reality. But watching one of these plays does not produce a secure experience of truth. The closest we can get to an objective reality is the feeling of real, replacing fact with feeling.

Come from Away is an example of theatre based on reality.

Researchers Meg Mumford (Australia) and Ulrike Garde (Germany) coin the term “productive insecurity” in their work on verbatim theatre. They say that when artists intentionally display multiple points of view, it generates a sense of insecurity for the audience about what is true. This insecurity can be productive for the audience.

These feelings of insecurity are not just something to be endured but they should be embraced and fostered. The plays challenge established ways of knowing, urging us to be humbly aware of our limitations in the face of complex problems.

Theatres of the real do this. They provide emotionally and intellectually engaging environments and scenarios in which we can safely experience that insecurity. Theatres of the real give us a chance to develop the capacity for recognizing and managing our vulnerability.

Multiple truths?

Attention needs to be focused not on whether something is objectively valid as true, but on how that reality has come to be seen as true. What makes a truth true? Rather than pressing for an impossible singularity, documentary theatres of the real embrace multiplicity.

Rather than claiming direct access to the world as it is, these plays ask audiences to be thoughtful about how these staged realities came to be. What is selected? What is omitted? How is the narrative of a documentary world constructed? Often these plays deliberately expose these mechanisms of truth-making and knowing.

We can only ever partially know the world: we are surrounded by hybrids and multiplicities, creating more rather than fewer worlds. Breaking away from the rigidity of binary views: real/not-real; red!/blue!; we are better off with more perspectives, not fewer.

In moving the positive embrace of multiple realities from theory into practice, reality-based documentary theatre makes visible the processes of reality creation.

Searching for shared perspectives

In Lily Tomlin’s one-woman play The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, the character of Trudy the bag lady says, “After all, what is reality anyway? Nothin’ but a collective hunch.” Focus here on the word “collective.” To have reality, we need to have community.

Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the UniverseLilyTomlin.com

Linguist J.L. Austin, author of How To Do Things With Words, asserts a performance is only “felicitous” if there is “uptake;” that is, ideas presented in performances can only be valid if other people agree that they are valid. The need for uptake can slow down the creation of new dramatic worlds, restricting innovation. So change can be slow.

But we need to listen to each other as we work together to create a larger territory of shared perspectives. We need to rebuild social connections, so that more people can agree together on what constitutes reality. We don’t need to agree about content, only about process.

To doubt is to question appearances; to doubt is to contemplate and weigh. Doubt impels us to engage insecurity and question how representations are made.

When conspiracy theories flourish and lies are indifferently accepted, the thread between our lived experiences and our cartography of that world breaks. Returning to the first principles of how “reality” comes to be is a necessary first step.

Does what I see represent my local experience? Does my experience of reality align with other people’s? Are these the realities that we want? Instead of being fearful, insecurity makes me hopeful.The Conversation


Jenn Stephenson is a professor at Queen's University's Dan School of Drama and Music. She is the author of two books: Performing Autobiography: Contemporary Canadian Drama (UTP, 2013) and Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real (UTP, 2019).

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

An evening of cheer

The Queen’s University Engineering Society welcomes the holidays with a festive tradition.

For the 73rd year in a row, Grant Hall will be ringing with the sounds of the season as the Engineering Society of Queen’s University hosts the Festival of Cheer.

The event is an opportunity for students and members of the Kingston community to come together, sing holiday music, listen to unique musical groups and spread holiday cheer.

Formerly the Festival of Carols, event co-ordinator Rebecca Wytsma says the change was made to reflect the diversity of the programming. This year the Queen’s Muslim Student Association, Queen’s Hillel and the Anglican Church, among others, will bring their own unique sounds and stories to the celebration.

The youth in the community will also be represented this year by the Young Choristers.

“It’s important to us to spread holiday cheer and bring the community and students together,” says Wytsma. “It is very important to keep this tradition going.”

Queen’s University Chaplain Kate Johnson is helping with the event this year and says it’s positive in many ways.

“The students have always provided the leadership and dedication to ensure this has been a tradition for 73 years," she says. "It’s such an amazing and joyful event that welcomes everyone with open arms. It’s wonderful.”

The event is running on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 pm at Grant Hall. Donations to the food bank are welcome and everyone is invited to stay afterwards for refreshments.

For more information visit the Facebook page.

Introducing our new faculty members: Ricard Gil

Ricard Gil is a faculty member in Smith School of Business.

This profile is part of a series highlighting some of the new faculty members who have recently joined the Queen's community. The university is currently in the midst of the principal's faculty renewal plans, which will see 200 new faculty members hired over five years. 

Ricard Gil (Smith School of Business) sat down with the Gazette to talk about his experience so far. Dr. Gil is an associate professor of business economics.

[Queen's University Ricard Gil Smith School of Business]
Ricard Gil is a faculty member in Smith School of Business. (University Communications)
Fast Facts about Dr. Gil

Department: Smith School of Business

Hometown: Barcelona, Spain

Alma mater: Harvard University (post-doctoral fellowship), University of Chicago (PhD), Universitat Pompeu Fabra (undergraduate)

Research area: Organizational economics

Hobbies include: European football, Netflix (House of Cards), food, sports

Dr. Gil’s web bio
Tell us a bit about your academic journey.
I completed my PhD at the University of Chicago. My first job was at University of California in Santa Cruz – which was a lovely place to be, at least for a little while. I recommend Northern California to everyone.
While at UCSC, I took a one-year hiatus to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Business School. I was offered tenure at Santa Cruz, but made what might be considered an unconventional decision…I instead took an offer without tenure at John Hopkins University. I was single and young back then, so it made sense at the time.
In between, I took a year off and visited the MIT Sloan School of Management and the department of management at the London School of Economics.
Hopkins was a good experience as I had never taught in graduate programs before. I also met my wife and started my family in Baltimore.
I have lived in three different time zones since moving to North America – it has been an interesting journey so far!
What are you researching right now?
My scope of research has to do with firm behaviour. It’s all about governance.
The idea is, for very simple transactions like you and I going to the grocery store…there’s no governance for that. Why? Because it is very simple. You go to the store, you buy a product, they give you a receipt which is a contract that states if the product is not in good condition you can bring it back.
The world is not always characterized by these very simple transactions – especially when you have firm to firm, firm to government, or government to individual relationships. The complexities can come from the fact there are more than two parties involved, or how to define the limitations and the contributions of each party. You need to establish a good governance model in these cases.
I study how transaction characteristics drive the adoption of different governance models. I have studied it in the airline, movie, and TV industries…and I once even studied dry cleaning.
[Queen's University Ricard Gil Smith School of Business]
Dr. Gil demonstrates the demand and supply curve. From his career, it is clear his knowledge has been in high demand - he has taught and researched at five universities, including Queen's. (University Communications)
How did you decide this was what interested you, and that you wanted to research it?
You are basically able to observe the same sort of transaction, under the same circumstances, and understand why the diversity of governance models happens. I find that interesting.
I always thought that, through the study of many years, one comes out with many questions which others might not be reflecting on. I like to communicate those.
If I get to shake students out of their comfort zone and make them think in a way that is not conventional, it’s a good day. That’s what keeps it interesting.
What do you do for fun?
I am a soccer fan – I root for Barcelona. I like sports in general – European football tends to drive my weekend.
I like to travel. I watch a lot of movies and shows – not as much as I used to, with young kids I don’t travel as much anymore, and don’t get to watch movies in-flight. Having said that, I just finished the latest season of House of Cards. I am always looking for new shows.
How did you decide Queen’s was the right fit for you?
While I was at Hopkins, I came to Queen’s for a research seminar. I met some people and liked my experience here. There was a job opening a few months later and some of the people I met encouraged me to apply.
Kingston seemed more attractive than Baltimore, and the university’s student profile made it seem like a pretty good deal. So my family moved to Kingston in May – mainly to avoid moving during winter! My wife is happy, my four-year-old is enjoying his school, and our nine-month-old doesn’t seem to mind.
I am looking forward to teaching next year once it is determined who I am teaching. I hear very good things about Smith undergraduates.
In the meantime, I am helping the school with some committee work, getting ready for winter, and conducting some research and supporting my colleagues’ research. And I am once again navigating the bureaucracy to obtain Canadian permanent residency – I currently hold Spanish and U.S. citizenship.

Talking treaties, research, and rights

A pair of recent events are furthering Indigeneity and reconciliation on campus through knowledge sharing.

[Queen's University Gazette Indigenous Research Workshop Graduate Studies]
Following the Indigenous Research Workshop talks, attendees broke into groups to discuss specific issues and ideas. (University Relations)

The relationship between settlers and Indigenous Peoples was in focus at Queen’s on Friday and Saturday.

A workshop focused on research collaboration with Indigenous communities was hosted through the day on Friday. The workshop is an initiative of the School of Graduate Studies in collaboration with the Aboriginal Council of Queen's University. The event was focused on creating mutually respectful relationships as the basis for research collaborations between academics and Indigenous communities.

It was followed by the Indigenous Knowledge Symposium, which began Friday night and concluded Saturday evening. It is the twentieth year Queen’s has hosted this symposium, which unites students, faculty, staff, and community members on campus for a discussion about contemporary Indigenous issues. The symposium was hosted by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

Friday morning started with a keynote address by Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and was followed by a panel featuring academics and community leaders who have experience in research collaborations.

In the afternoon, workshop participants had an opportunity for group discussion and reflections. Over 100 students, faculty, and community members attended the event.

“A similar event last year taught us that there is a depth of interest at Queen’s in learning about the distinct requirements of research with Indigenous communities,” said Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean in the School of Graduate Studies, who co-chairs the planning group with Marlene Brant Castellano.

A key message throughout the workshop was that, when it comes to doing research with Indigenous communities, the relationship is as important as the research.

[Queen's University Gazette Ovide Mercredi Assembly of First Nations]
Ovide Mercredi. (University Relations)

“We are raised as Indigenous Peoples to solve problems and not just study them, so my experience with research growing up was not positive,” Dr. Mercredi said. “Nowadays, our people are more interested in data to support our negotiations. It cannot be a unilateral decision to study us – it has to benefit us directly and be guided, controlled, and interpreted by us.”

In the evening, as part of the Indigenous Knowledge Symposium, Dave Mowat of Alderville First Nation – located southeast of Peterborough – spoke at the symposium about the displacement of the Mishizaagig – the Missisaugas – from the Bay of Quinte region in 1783. He co-presented alongside Laura Murray of the Department of English and Cultural Studies, who has been researching “The Crawford Purchase” of lands in the Ka’tarohkwi area by the British.

Saturday’s program featured a panel on modern treatymaking, featuring Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities at Queen’s, who co-presented with Edward R. Johnson (a Huu-ay-aht citizen) on the “Maa-nulth Treaty”. The panel also four graduate students who spoke to “Treaty Making for Community Engaged Research”.

There was an additional panel later in the day looking at historical perspectives on treatymaking from three Mohawk experts. In the afternoon, attendees heard from Aaron Franks, a senior manager with the First Nations Indigenous Governance Centre, in a talk which looked at treaty education.

[Queen's University Gazette Laurel-Claus Johnson Indigenous Symposium]
Laurel Claus-Johnson spoke at Friday's workshop, and joined the Knowledge Symposium. (Supplied Photo)

“Events like these are an important way to influence long-term institutional change, enhance the support available on campus for Indigenous students and researchers, build stronger relationships with local Indigenous communities, and honour the original inhabitants of the land – the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation).

The symposium was conducted with respect for traditional Indigenous protocols. Indigenous community members and Elders were in attendance as participants and stakeholders, and presentations were in the form of a talking circle. The sessions were moderated with the use of a talking stick and given guidance by Elders.

Approximately 170 students, faculty, staff, and community members took part in Friday's events, while another 63 came to campus on Saturday.

Remembrance restored through labour of love

[Stained-Glass cartoon]
Sharon Wightman, left, and Margaret Bignell, right, have collaborated on the restoration of a stained-glass cartoon created in 1925 by artist Peter Haworth. (University Communications)

Pieced, pasted, and put back together, the ornate and vibrant stained glass cartoon has been a labour of love 16 years in the making for Sharon Wightman.

A volunteer at the Queen’s University Archives and a graduate of the university’s art conservation program, Wightman first came upon the cartoon – basically a blueprint for a stained-glass window – by British-Canadian artist Peter Haworth as she searched a collection of rolls in the basement of Kathleen Ryan Hall in 2002.

[Stained-Glass cartoon]
Following 16 years of work at Queen’s University Archives, this stained-glass memorial window cartoon has been restored. (University Communications)

Haworth had arrived in Canada in 1923 and his first commission was for a stained glass window for what was then known as the Ontario Agricultural University, now the University of Guelph. It was to be a memorial for those killed in the First World War. Before getting to work on the window, Haworth, a veteran himself, first created a actual-sized cartoon of the design. 

The result is finely-detailed, colourful, and stunning.

Created in 1925, the cartoon would later be stored in Haworth’s studio. It would survive a fire and, eventually, be donated to the Queen’s Archives as part of a collection.

Now, more than 90 years after it was created, the cartoon has been brought back to life.

Throughout the process, there have been a number of instances of good fortune, such as finding a missing roll and completing the project just in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

“The interesting part for me is we had the two rolls and we found the missing one downstairs right away. It was the first roll. It was eerie,” Wightman says. “We had the two already laid out and unrolled the third. The lines, where the leading would be, lined up perfectly. We unrolled a bit further and they matched up again. Then we knew we had it, which was quite exciting because there were many rolls downstairs.”

It has been a painstaking process – repairing rips and tears, finding missing pieces and creating in-fills. The back of the completed cartoon is more complex than a jigsaw puzzle.

Providing support throughout the project has been Margaret Bignell, a Queen’s Archives conservator and another graduate of the Queen’s art conservation program.

It’s rewarding to see the project completed, she says.

“I think the artist would be very pleased that it is together again,” says Bignell, who recently retired from Queen’s. “It is a magnificent piece of art and I’m just really happy that people can now appreciate it because it is beautiful.”

With a second lease on life, the cartoon will now be professionally photographed and stored securely by Queen’s University Archives. 

Learn more about the Queen’s University Archives.

Decolonize these walls

A new Indigenous art exhibit at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre comprises four outdoor artworks, and 11 indoor artworks which will appear in January.

  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Jeffery Hall]
    Curatorial score for the exhibition is located on Jeffery Hall, adjacent to Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Macintosh-Corry]
    Camille Georgeson-Usher, through, in between oceans, 2018, vinyl transfer on Mackintosh-Corry Hall. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Macintosh-Corry]
    Ogimaa Mikana, Never Stuck, 2018, vinyl transfer on Mackintosh-Corry Hall. (Photo by Tim Forbes)

Students, employees, and visitors to campus may have noticed a number of public art displays installed this fall, which are located around Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Jeffery Hall, and Harrison-LeCaine Hall.

The four artworks are part of an exhibition which opens in January at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre called Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts. The exhibition was curated by Dylan Robinson, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and internationally-renowned Indigenous curator Candice Hopkins. It features newly-commissioned scores, sounds, and performances by Indigenous artists.

“One of the recommendations of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report ‘Yakwanastahentéha Aankenjigemi: Extending the Rafters’ was that Indigenous history and culture become part of the physical make-up of the university,” says Dr. Robinson. “Not only do these artworks respond to this recommendation, but in some cases also ask viewers to reconsider the built environment and colonial architecture of the university.”

Soundings is affiliated with the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ concurrent Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts. Visit their website for more details on a diverse array of performances by acclaimed Indigenous artists working across theatre, dance, music, film and performance art.

These outdoor artworks are the first component of Soundings, which features 11 additional new works by Indigenous artists inside the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. When the exhibition opens on Saturday, Jan. 5, it will include video, objects, graphic notation, Indigenous cultural belongings, and written instructions for visitors. Uniquely, each of these new artworks functions as a “score,” yet rather than written in music notation these scores are written symbols, language, and recorded instructions. At different moments during the exhibition, these scores will be activated by musicians, dancers, performers, and members of the public, and gradually fill the gallery and surrounding public spaces with sound, performance, and action.

“The scope, public presence, ambition, urgent cultural currency, and performance-driven character of this exhibition project make Soundings a landmark in Agnes’s program history,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “Soundings curators Dr. Robinson and Ms. Hopkins are bringing leading Indigenous artists together around a powerful invitation to express the terms of reconciliation. I’m thrilled to see the results unfolding from this high level of creative exchange.”

Soundings is on view through Sunday, April 7, 2019. Watch for upcoming performances of the works announced in the At Agnes newsletter, and on the gallery’s website.

The presentation of these outdoor artworks is generously supported through the Isabel & Alfred Bader Fund of Bader Philanthropies. 

Extending the rafters

Four Directions completes expansion, fulfilling a Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force recommendation.

  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    The entrance to 144 Barrie St. features a Haudenosaunee longhouse aesthetic. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    146 Barrie St., meanwhile, honours Anishinaabe peoples with a circular room for cultural and ceremonial events. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    Four Directions Director Kandice Baptiste, along with past Director Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney, have been driving forces behind the renovation project. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions library]
    This library, located in 146 Barrie St., is one of many new and refreshed study areas at Four Directions. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions Lauren Winkler]
    Indigenous student and former Queen's Native Students Association president Lauren Winkler provided remarks on behalf of Indigenous students. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    The renovations have opened up more wall space to hang art and other decorations. Ms. Baptiste examines a canvas which features the hand prints of Indigenous students who previously attended Queen's. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    A new addition to the walls of Four Directions will be a canvas containing the advice and well-wishes of attendees to Monday's opening event. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    In addition, the centre planted a white pine - which carries special significance in Haudenosaunee culture - on the front lawn. A plaque marking the tree will be unveiled at a future date. (University Communications)

A key recommendation of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) task force report became reality on Monday, as the recently renamed Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre opened its newly expanded doors.

In the spring, 146 Barrie – the original home of Four Directions – and neighbouring 144 Barrie Street were stripped down to the plaster. Contractors updated the insides of the two 19th-century homes and, yesterday, the updated interiors were shown off at an open house.

“We are excited to welcome Indigenous students and the campus community to our new renovated space,” says Kandice Baptiste, the centre’s director. “We are thankful to our colleagues in the Division of Students Affairs and our campus partners for their support in bringing this project to life. The doubling of our centre demonstrates Queen’s commitment to our growing Indigenous student population. We trust that the centre will continue to serve as a safe place for Indigenous students and the Queen’s community for many years to come.”

The ground floor of 144 Barrie includes an expanded kitchen and programming space. It has a longhouse aesthetic paying tribute to Haudenosaunee peoples.

146 Barrie, meanwhile, honours Anishinaabe peoples with a circular room for cultural and ceremonial events, along with a library and quiet study rooms for students.

On hand to celebrate the rejuvenated and expanded facility were members of the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University; members of the local Indigenous communities; Indigenous students, faculty, and staff; and key members of the Queen’s executive team. 

“When we released the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force report, we pledged to do better in our efforts to support Indigenous students,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The opening of this expanded and revitalized space is an important step, and I am certain Queen’s will build on this momentum and continue to create a more welcoming environment for the Indigenous community.”

The Queen’s TRC task force report which was titled “Extending the Rafters”, called for more space for Indigenous students on campus. Recommendation 13 specifically called on Queen's to "Expand Four Directions [Indigenous] Student Centre and ensure that it is appropriately staffed and resourced to adequately support expanding enrolment of Aboriginal students".

"The recommendation that the Centre be expanded was very much reflective of the needs of Indigenous students," says Lauren Winkler, a student member of the TRC task force. "Four Directions is known as being a "home away from home" for Indigenous students and now there is more space for our community to grow and thrive. Not only do we have more space, but this space was designed with us in mind. Having a space that is reflective of our different cultures really shows us that there is space for us on a campus that often acts as an overwhelming reminder of our colonial histories and present-day realities."

The project was funded by the Division of Student Affairs and also received support from the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund for upgrades that have made both buildings more accessible, including two washrooms and kitchen. 

To learn more about Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, visit www.queensu.ca/fourdirections or visit 144 and 146 Barrie for a tour of their updated home.

Funding available for inclusive initiatives

The Office of the Provost and Vice Principal (Academic) has launched a new program to fund community efforts to build a more inclusive campus.

[Queen's University Isabel Bader Centre Human Rights Festival 2018]
The Isabel Bader Centre's Human Rights Festival was one initiative supported by Inclusive Community funding in 2017-18. (Supplied Photo)

Students, faculty, and staff with ideas that promote inclusivity or foster intercultural connections have a new option for support from the university.

The Inclusive Community Fund was established in 2018 to further these goals within the Queen’s community, and is now accepting applications.

The program began informally during the 2017-18 academic year when the Provost’s Office was approached by various groups on campus seeking support for their diversity and inclusivity-themed efforts. After recognizing the need for and value of this type of fund, the Inclusive Community Fund was turned into a formal program starting in the 2018-19 year.

“A more diverse campus community enhances our academic mission, our student experience, and our research,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “Having a greater understanding of and appreciation for different cultures is important for our learners and for our staff and faculty. It is my hope that this funding will provide opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to showcase the best of their ideas and create opportunities for sharing and dialogue.”

Established by a $50,000 annual contribution from the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), any Queen’s student or employee can apply for funding to support an initiative or event that promotes an inclusive Queen’s community. Each project proposal will be evaluated on the extent to which it:

  • promotes a more inter-culturally informed, tolerant, and inclusive campus community
  • is open to the Queen’s and/or broader community
  • enhances the quality of the student or employee experience at Queen’s
  • promotes Queen’s in a positive manner

A group comprising two representatives from Student Affairs, one student representative, one staff representative, and the Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) is responsible for reviewing applications and making decisions.

Last year, several groups received funding during the pilot offering. Among those was the Queen’s Black Academic Society, which organized a first-ever conference focused on the future of black scholarship.

Applications to the Inclusive Community Fund are open year round. To learn more or apply for funding, visit the Inclusive Queen’s website.

Sounds and sights

Matt Rogalsky]
 The Faculty Artist Series starts Sunday, Oct. 14 with the concert ‘Visitations and Revisitations: Matt Rogalsky and Friends’ at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Supplied photo)

A highly-versatile composer and sound artist, Matt Rogalsky is well known for his work with a wide range of performers and arts organizations. 

A continuing adjunct assistant professor at the Dan School of Drama and Music, Rogalsky also received one of the first Mayor’s Arts Awards in 2017 for his multifaceted and generous approach to creating music.

Also being hosted at the Isabel is the sound installation 'Discipline' by composer, sound artist and continuing adjunct assistant professor at the Dan School of Drama and Music Matt Rogalsky. (Supplied photo) 

On Sunday, Oct. 14, Rogalsky leads off the Faculty Artist Series with a concert titled: ‘Visitations and Revisitations: Matt Rogalsky and Friends’ at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, starting at 2:30 pm.

In curating the concert, Rogalsky invited Kingston composers and visual artists, Julia Krolik, Owen Fernley, Robert Mulder and Queen’s Music Professor Emeritus Kristi Allik to take part. The end result is a concert that will stimulate both the eyes and ears, using the surround-sound capabilities of the Isabel Concert Hall to full potential. Violinist, Gisèle Dalbec-Szczesniak, and cellist, Jeff Hamacher, will also be featured performers in compositions that integrate live instruments with electroacoustic music.

“My pieces on the ‘Visitations and Revisitations’ programme continue lines of work that seems to inevitably revolve around explorations and honourings of place, people, and memory,” Rogalsky says about the concert. “Two pieces stem from other lines of research which have been ongoing for some years. All the works combine elements of acoustic and electronic sound, where the electronic sound is often derived from underlying acoustic sources which may be revealed or remain unheard.”

Four of the compositions are accompanied by graphical projections by Krolik and Fernley, which respond to sound in real time.

The Isabel has also provided support in presenting Rogalsky’s sound installation “Discipline” in the Art and Media Lab in conjunction with the concert.  The installation features 12 beautiful electric guitars and is accessible during intermission and after the concert and will remain open to the public Oct. 15-19, from 10 am-4 pm.

Tickets are available from the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Celebrating women who have made a difference

The Ban Righ Foundation is honouring a professor posthumously, and an executive director of a local not-for-profit.

A panel comprising three board members, one former board member, and one community member review the nominations and select the recipients of two awards.

The recipients are celebrated at the Ban Righ Foundation Inspiring Women evening at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, and this year’s edition will be held Thursday, Oct. 25. The event is open to the public and includes a talk from Penguin Random House CEO Kristin Cochrane (Arts’94), poets Alyssa Cooper and Linda Stitt, and songs from the Cantabile Women’s Chorus and by musicians Kris and Dee.

The annual “Inspiring Women” awards ceremony brings us together to celebrate women’s accomplishments and recognize the ongoing professional and personal contributions of community members. This year, the Ban Righ Foundation is honoured to recognize the exemplary work of the late Kim Renders and of Mara Shaw. 

The Ban Righ Foundation Mentorship Award recognizes a Queen’s University faculty member who identifies as a woman and has demonstrated mentorship and knowledge-sharing, has supported or continues to support women in achieving their goals, and has inspired a student or students.

The Ban Righ Foundation Leadership Award is given to an individual who identifies as a woman and whose leadership has built capacity and fostered opportunities for others, made positive contributions to the Kingston community, and has been inspirational.

This year’s honorees are Kim Renders, who is receiving the Mentorship Award posthumously, and Mara Shaw, who is receiving the Leadership Award.


Ban Righ Foundation 2018 Mentorship – Kim Renders (posthumous)

[Queen's University Kim Renders]
Kim Renders. (Supplied Photo)

Kim Renders is remembered by her nominators as a theatre pioneer and activist who used her art to address political and social issues. First and foremost she was passionate about inclusion and community theatre. She was keenly aware of the challenges facing female performers and was a role model who fought for more opportunities for women on stage. The award nomination describes her "inspirational qualities as a theatre professional, feminist, and award-winning teacher." Ms. Renders mentored not only students and performers, but her colleagues as well.  Through exceptional mentoring, she also empowered others to make waves and create needed change.

A colleague, Martha Bailey of the Faculty of Law, said “Kim has always provided thoughtful advice on teaching problems. Our subjects are totally different, but her ideas on how to engage and challenge students have helped me tremendously.”

Former students praised Ms. Renders, saying “Kim Renders’ mentorship has been invaluable to me as a student, an emerging artist and as a woman…. As Kim’s student I felt heard, valued, challenged, and inspired to make change.” 


Ban Righ Foundation 2018 Leadership Award – Mara Shaw

[Mara Shaw Bernard Clark Loving Spoonful]
Mara Shaw, Executive Director of The Loving Spoonful. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Mara Shaw has been Executive Director at Loving Spoonful since 2012. She is a cellist, parent council member, and community activist. The qualities that come through loud and clear in the nomination is that she leads with compassion and encouragement.

Ms. Shaw’s nominator said, “Mara brings passion and boundless energy as a leader, cheerleader, and activist to building a strong and sustainable community.” She is also considered creative and innovative, and has obtained grants for the program and brought many people together for this cause.

“Summing up, Mara is the kind of creative, caring and ethical leader who serves as a role model for others to be caring and ethical in their own right”. “She is constant. Her needle is always pointed in a caring direction.”


To learn more about the Ban Righ Foundation Inspiring Women Event, visit the Queen's University Events Calendar.


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