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Christine Brubaker

  • Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Drama:

BIOGRAPHY

 Christine Brubaker joined the faculty in the School of Creative and Performing Arts in July 2017.  Originally based in Ontario, she studied drama/arts administration at the University of Waterloo, acting at the National Theatre School, and directing at the Stratford Festival of Canada. She has been worked professionally on major stages as an actor and director in Canada for twenty-five years and continues to balance her professional life with both conventional theatre work and new creation practices. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Goddard College in Vermont where her research focussed on professional rehearsal hall culture and the training of the young actor. She is deeply curious about the relationship of actor to story and audience through the lens of Encounter, and the nature of leadership in the creation process. Her artistic practice has expanded to include durational work and alternative performance possibilities which she calls ‘domestic theatre’. Current/recent projects include: 7th Cousins, Co-creator/performer (700 km durational walk and performance with collaborator Erin Brubacher); Henry G20, Creator/Co-writer (premiering June 2020/ Bentway/Luminato; Rella's Cambrian Dream, Director (immersive science adventure); Oh For A Muse of Fire, Creator/Co-director/Performer (Interactive game performance for 100+ participants); Consider This, Writer/Director (video); and Hamletshare Writer/Director (video); Her theatre direction includes:Alice Through the Looking-glass Co-director with Jillian Keiley of the National Arts Centre (National Arts Centre, Charlottetown Festival, Manitoba Theatre Centre and The Citadel Theatre); Elle, Director (Theatre Passe Muraille, Waterford Town Hall, Prairie Theatre Exchange and The Firehall in Vancouver)and Wilde Tales at the Shaw Festival. She was a dramaturg on Celeste Sansregret's new play Ursa Majoris as part of Native Earth's Animikiig program. She spent three seasons at the Stratford Festival where she Assistant Directed on Alice Through the Looking-glass and The Diary of Anne Frank and was the Associate Director on As You Like it. Selected acting credits include: Tartuffe, Sound of Music, Enron, Vaudevilles of Checkov (National Arts Centre); Fear of Flight (Artistic Fraud); The Penelopiad & The Danish Play (Nightwood Theatre); A Comedy of Errors (Canstage); The Trials of John Demjanjuk (Theatre Asylum) and two seasons as a series regular on the A&E miniseries Nero Wolfe.  She was the Resident Director for the Toronto's Eldritch Theatre where she directed Madhouse Variations & Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show. Christine is a 1995 Fox Fellow. She has been nominated for six Dora Mavor Moore Awards and won twice for her performances in The Babysitter (Eldritch Theatre) and The Penelopiad (Nightwood Theatre).  She was the 2013 winner of the J.B. Watkins Prize, the 2014 Gina Wilkinson Prize and the 2015 Ken McDougall Prize for Emerging Director.  She's the mother to two children, loves to ski, cycle, play piano, accordion and commune around large tables with good people.  

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

Educator, activist and scholar bell hooks in her book Teaching to Transgress asserts “the classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy”. As a theatre maker, I open up the aperture in this statement proposing that the classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the performance community.  The classroom is a space to challenge inherited practices, disrupt assumptions, forward expectations, and to lay down the foundations of what we want our community to look like, sound like and be in the next 40-60 years. Given the seismic shifts in our political and cultural landscape, it is not hyperbole to say that we are living in a transformational time. Our culture makers are being looked to not just for artistic excellence and entertainment, but for leadership in communities. Questions about the role of culture in equity, in social inclusion, in creating a sustainable and ethical future for our world are in tandem with the creation of our artistic programming. Theatre, as an immediate, shared art form, demanding presence from both the makers and the audience, is an  ideal forum for asking and tackling these questions together, and the classroom is the laboratory and field to grow this work. 

As a theatre educator, I strive to train fearless, articulate artists who contribute to a relevant and distinctive Canadian culture, and who will present themselves, their ideas and their work with confidence in shared community. Central to my approach is practice-based learning within a methodological context, where student-driven inquiry is privileged alongside skills acquisition. The aim is to create a dynamic and exciting exchange between working with and understanding theoretical contexts, existing forms, methods and techniques, while also welcoming the productive critique of established practices in order to develop an authentic authorial voice.

 

LINKS

Review Wilde Tales

Review Elle 

Preview 7th Cousins  

RESEARCH AREAS AND INTERESTS

As a theatre artist, I am motivated by the possibility of affecting one another through live exchanges that engage, challenge and ask something of all who participate. I have adopted a strategy through which I can anchor my aesthetic idealism: Encounter. Described by philosopher, Romano Guardini, as “an amazing meeting with the reality of the other….where one is touched by the essence of the opposite,” Encounter is a governing value in my practice to address alienation in the actor/audience configuration, and in the creative process. As such, my research interests investigate disruptions of conventional ways of making through challenges to hierarchical leadership models in both professional and training contexts, and binary and fixed audience/performer relationships.

Research Fields

  • Social justice and performance (focus on activism, protest, policing and public space) 
  • Practice-as-Research, transdisciplinary research/creation methods (focus on holistic creation including Ensemble/Heterarchical Leadership theory) 
  • Site specific and nomadic performance
  • Contemporary adaptations of classical and canonical work
  • Pedagogy and rehearsal culture (focus on training, leadership and values-driven methodologies - “do no harm”)
  • Reflexive Dramaturgy  

Current and recent research projects

  1. Henry G20 (Luminato - upcoming June 2020) Primary Investigator/Writer/Director -  an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V set during the conflicts between civilian protestors and the militarized police force during the G20 protests in Toronto in 2010. The piece investigates the role of leadership, policing and public space, specifically with an eye to asking where we are now, on the ten year anniversary of largest mass arrest in Canadian history. 
  2. The Horse and His Boy (Shaw Festival, May 2019)/ Director/Dramaturg -  a contemporary adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ third book in the Narnia series. This mainstage performance sought to free this story from its racist, specifically Islamaphobic, roots through casting, language, design, and reconsiderations of plot detail in consultation with Islamic theatre makers. 
  3. Rella’s Cambrian Dream (current, ongoing)/ Primary Investigator/Director - a site specific, science based immersive theatre experience about the Cambrian explosion (550 million years ago). In collaboration with the Royal Ontario Museum, this project embraces transdisciplinarity through a holistic creation process incorporating Practice-as-Research methodologies including studio research, ethnographic field work at archeological sites and collaborations with geoscientists and Blackfoot elders.
  4. Heterarchical leadership models and implications for the director (in process) Primary Investigator - the beginnings of an Insight Development Grant application through SSRHC investigating Ensemble and Heterarchical Leadership Theory and its application in the Canadian theatre ecology. 
  5. 7th Cousins: An Automythography (multiyear and ongoing) Creator/Writer/Performer -  this performance is based on a 700km walk from Pennsylvania to Ontario with collaborator Erin Brubacher in July 2015, and is comprised of a series of artistic outputs: the 700km walk; five improvised performance experiments; a formal, intimate fixed performance touring nationally and internationally; and a published script and essays. 

PUBLICATIONS

Brubacher, Erin and Christine Brubaker. 7th Cousins: An Automythography. Toronto: Book *hug Press. Print. 2019

Co-author: “Five Ways to Fix Canada’s Theatre Schools”, The Toronto Star, Feb. 3, 2018

Co-author: “Actor Training in Canada: An Appeal for Change”, Intermission Magazine, June 19, 2018.

Brubaker, Christine. "A Practitioner’s Attempt at Quantifying the Actor’s Experience." Canadian Theatre Review 172 (2017): 58-62

Balkwill, Peter, Christine Brubaker, Ker Wells, Natalie Doonan, P. Megan Andrews, and Martin Julien. "Artistic Research: An Articulation." Canadian Theatre Review 172 (2017): 87-97

 

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