Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Chris Jackson

Daniel Richer

Alvaro De Manaya

Marc Walter

LiterARTcy was a full day of teacher workshops for teachers from both the Ottawa Public and the Ottawa Catholic School Board, held on Tuesday November 18th. There were approximately 80 teachers attending and the four artists participating were: Chris Jackson, Marc Walter, Daniel Richer and Alvaro De Minaya, representing music, visual arts and literary arts.  

    Each artist offered a morning and afternoon workshop of 2 hours each, and there was a maximum of 20 teachers in each group. The focus was to highlight the connection between Literacy and the Arts. It was held at the beautiful site of Strathmere House in North Gower.  


Colores Andinos

Diane Bouchard

Alan Shain

Mehdi Hamdad

Ian Tamblyn

Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa  Nov. 5th

MASC, celebrating 20 years of artistic excellence for schools and communities, was very proud to stage its new fundraiser, MASCparade, a festive evening featuring performances by MASC artists and an art draw facilitated by members of the energetic theatre group Company of Fools.  Hosted by town crier and storyteller Daniel Richer, MASCparade was full of magical moments, good food and entertainment. 

Mercredi 5 nov. Bibliotèque et Archives Canada, 395 rue Wellington, Ottawa

Soulignant ses 20 années d'excellence artistique dans les écoles et la communauté, MASC fût très fière de présenter une soirée mettant en vedette les artistes de MASC ainsi qu'un tirage d'œuvres d'art. Le tirage fût dirigé par le dynamique Scott Florence de la troupe théâtrale Company of Fools et la soirée présidée par le conteur et crieur public Daniel Richer.

Participating Artists / en vedette :

Daniel Richer ; Company of Fools; Diane Bouchard; Maureen Shea; Yvon Soglo; Alan Shain; Denise Chong; Ian Tamblyn; Mehdi Hamdad; Colores Andinos

Students enjoy a week full of drama, courstesy of Jacqui Russell

The students at Clifford Bowey Public School received a unique experience this past week when Chicago theatre artist, Jacqui Russell, taught drama classes from Nov. 10 until Nov. 13.

Each day she had four drama classes where all of the school’s 104 students attended. Clifford Bowey students all have developmental disabilities and many of them are non-verbal or have very limited communications skills.

For the last 12 years Ms. Russell has been working with autistic children in Chicago at the Agassiz Elementary School in Chicago and her work with those children is world-renowned.

“We jumped at the chance even though we weren’t sure what a drama workshop would look like for our students,” said Helen Jarvis, principal at Clifford Bowey. “It has been a wonderful week with lots of participation and enjoyment and imitation and lots of laughter.”

During the 40-minute class Ms. Russell, who is also the founder and artistic director of the Chicago Children’s Theatre, uses song, repetition and team work to build on communication skills.

“I’m an artist in residency, so I’m just here to use drama to enhance communication skills in the children with autism,” said Ms. Russell. “I think drama is very important for children with autism. I’ve been doing this for 12 years in Chicago and I’ve seen great results with enhancing the kids ability to express and read emotions as well as their general sociability.”

Currently drama classes are not a very common practice in schools to aid autistic students, but Ms. Russell hopes that will change over the coming years.

Over the course of the week, both Ms. Russell and Ms. Jarvis noticed that children who didn’t participate during day one became involved later on because the concept was becoming more familiar to them and less intimidating.

“I enjoy working with children with disabilities; I think it’s a puzzle and we are working to unlock them and figure out and it’s very rewarding and very fun to be with these kids,” said Ms. Russell. “I’m just really happy to of have this opportunity to share with them.”

This is the first workshop Ms. Russell has held outside of the Chicago school. This program was funded by the United States Embassy and put on through Chicago Arts Partners in Education (CAPE), an American organization that places teaching artists in schools in connection with its Canadian equivalent, Multicultural Arts for Schools and Communities (MASC).

“I jumped at the chance to come to Ottawa,” she said. “I used to work for the Ontario government Ministry of Culture in New York and I travelled to Toronto a number of times but I had never been to Ottawa. I love the people here, the dedication to the arts is really very special here.”

MASC selected Clifford Bowey as the school to receive these classes as a way to provide an experience the students may otherwise not benefit from.

“It would be very difficult for our students to go to a theatre or concert because they would be moving or making spontaneous noises that would distract others so most of our students would never have a change to go to the NAC or a movie theatre unless we take them and have a special showing,” said Ms. Jarvis. “We really feel like we would like to enrich those experiences at school. MASC has come to see what our school is all about and they are attuned to the need of our students.”

Drama is a new venue at Clifford Bowey and Ms. Jarvis was pleased with how well Ms. Russell worked and communicated with non-verbal children.

“We have done many things with physical activity, we do lots of field trips, the children swim they have a lot of gym activities but we have done little in the field of drama and so I think it’s a whole new avenue for us to explore what our children are able to show us through the dramatic arts,” Ms. Jarvis said.

Ms. Russell was in Ottawa for a week and along with doing the classes at Clifford Bowey she also put on workshops for teachers and artists.

“I’m taking some of the techniques I use in Chicago and sharing them,” said Mr. Russell.

“The long-term goal is to teach [students] a huge vocabulary of emotions. We’ve been doing it over the years in Chicago using photographs, bulletin boards, games and ultimately our kids can identify emotions and that allows them to have more complex communication.”

Chicago theatre artist, Jacqui Russell, assists a Clifford Bowey Public School student during a drama workshop. Ms. Russell spent a week at the school to conduct workshops for the students.

EMC Ottawa South - Friday, November 21, 2008   By Sheena Bolton  sbolton@thenewsemc.ca

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jacqueline Russell article

Todd Leland and Jacqueline Russell

She spearheaded the campaign that gave Lookingglass one of the most enviable addresses in American theatre, but Jacqueline Russell's newest project may be the most challenging one yet    

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Land art - art nature - in situ - art environnementalr

Marc WALTER and the NCC presents for Fall Rhapsody 2008/
Marc WALTER et la CCN présentent, à l'occasion du lancement de Coloris Automnal 2008

Land art - art nature - in situ - art environnementalr With/avec Marc WALTER
Music/Musique : Dominique Saint-Pierre, Luis Abanto, Bob Libbey and Leo Brooks
Storytelling/Contes : Jacques Falquet, Steve Conty

Not a museum, not a gallery, but in situ art in a natural environment, in Old Chelsea on the Sugarbush Trail. The artworks are under way. The October 3rd and 4th openings happen in the darkness except for the works, which are lit. A dramatic and magical 1-hour walk with live music and storytelling.

Beware: it is free, but registration is required and limited. To register for the opening: 819-827-2020 or directly at the Old Chelsea NCC Visitors Centre.

Pas un musée, pas une galerie, mais de l'art in situ dans un environnement naturel, à Old Chelsea, sur le sentier de la sucrerie. Les oeuvres sont en cours de réalisation. Lee vernissages des 3 et 4 octobre ont lieu dans la noirceur, à part les oeuvres qui sont illuminées; une marche d’une heure dans une atmosphère dramatique et poétique avec musiciens et conteurs.

Attention, c'est gratuit, mais les inscriptions sont nécessaires et limitées; pour s’inscrire au vernissage : 819-827-2020 ou directement au Centre des Visiteurs de la CCN à Old Chelsea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Alan Cumyn - Hooked by a book

In celebration of Raise-a-Reader Day, the Citizen invited a dozen celebrated authors to name the titles that made them lifelong readers by james macgowan (Photo: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen)

Alan Cumyn

Author of the Owen Skye books for kids -- The Secret Life of Owen Skye, After Sylvia and Dear Sylvia

Well, lots of books blew my socks off in the early days, but one that has stayed with me is Kenneth Grahame's brilliant The Wind in the Willows. When I first read it, at a tender age, I was completely engrossed in Mr. Toad's wonderfully improbable addiction to motorcars.

Now when I read it, I am slack-jawed with delight at Grahame's descriptions, as when Mole trots beside the river "as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea."

Hooked by a book Citizen Special Published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bringing the Bard to life in Webisodes

Coming soon to a screen near you: Shakespeare. Sort of. On a very small screen. With a doo-wop trio.

On Monday, Ottawa's A Company of Fools launches Tempest in a Teapot -- its hilarious take on Shakespeare's romantic comedy The Tempest -- at its website (fools.ca) and on Facebook. It will be the first of 12 weekly webisodes, with each show archived for future viewing (a trailer is already online).

In case you missed the original production at the NAC's Fourth Stage last fall, the play, part spoof and part tribute to Shakespeare, includes a show-stopping song about abstinence, ample clowning, and, among its props, paper dolls. The often-ignored racism that colours his plays also gets a full airing. Somehow, the Fools manage to include enough of the original storyline that neither The Tempest nor Shakespeare's brilliance are ever entirely lost.

"We'd been kicking around the idea of shooting for television for a while, but it always seemed like a really big thing to do with a pilot and all the episodes," says the Fools' artistic director Scott Florence, who also directed the show. "And an indie film was out of range for cost."

So when a mutual friend who'd seen the stage play suggested that Florence meet with Ottawa webcaster Kevin Burton, owner of Nat Cap Production, Florence jumped at the chance.

Original cast members Margo MacDonald, Al Connors and Emmanuelle Zeesman appear in the Internet version, which was filmed in one marathon day late last year at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.

Florence says the Fools chose the webisode format with its classic cliffhanger appeal because "most Internet users don't want to sit in front of a screen for 11/2 hours. People want short, quick hits on the Internet."

Running the play on the Web will, Florence hopes, give the 18-year-old troupe exposure across the country as well as footage for promotional packages. It's also a chance to test drive a relatively unknown concept -- presenting a play in episodes on the Internet -- for a company that's never eschewed risk-taking including mounting a show in a van.

"We don't have a lot of money or time," says Florence, "and when you're creating shows, you want them to have a longer life than just a couple of weeks."

Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen Published: Saturday, September 20, 2008
© The Ottawa Citizen 2008