Undergraduate Research Fellowship Award

Meet the 2020 fellows

Jordan Zanni | "Theatre in Process": Dramaturgy for New Plays in Development 

Through a compilation of research artifacts, Jordan discusses the dramaturgical process in relation to contemporary theatre. This presentation showcases both an explanation of her research and reflection from her time with the Undergraduate Research Fellowship Award, during which she acted as a research assistant to theatre-maker, director, and playwright Cole Lewis.

Her presentation seeks to open up a conversation around dramaturgy and its relationship to artistic expression. It includes questions like: What is the relationship between a dramaturg and their work? How does dramaturgical research enter a theatrical rehearsal process? Can this mode of delivery influence the expression of the artists involved?

Read our full interview with Jordan to learn more about her fellowship and experiences at SFU:

This past February, the SFU senate awarded Jordan Zanni with her degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts for theatre performance from the School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) along with a minor in humanities. 

When Jordan first came to SFU, she was a student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). During the beginning of her studies in FASS, her passion for humanities subjects had her craving to explore ways to develop deeper and embodied connections to those subjects.

"I decided to pursue a place in the theatre program because I was craing a deeper and more embodied connection to the humanities. I loved being part of those classes and participating in the conversation that arose from them and I wanted to explore them as living materials with others who were equally passionate about doing so," she says.

It was during one of her humanities coures was when she first heard about SFU's theatre program, and she decided to take an introductory course. After being bit by the theatre bug and having loved the introductory course, Jordan decided to spontaneously audition for the SCA's theatre program. While Jordan worked on completing her theatre major requirements, she continued pursuing her humanities studies and completed her minor alongside her major. 

Reflecting on both her experiences in FASS and SCA she says, "Both halves of my degree helped to round out my worldview and primed me for the rigour of artistic work. The time I spent exploring some of what FASS had to offer taught me a work ethic and thought process that was equally needed in the SCA."

Jordan's dream job is to be a performer and/or creator in a theatre ensemble where she would get to explore different materials and craft performances for a variety of audiences. 

"The next big challenge will be to keep making art out in the community," she says. "I hope and plan to make and produce works of art locally with many of the collaborators I have come to know in my time at SFU. And who knows, hopefully one day I will be back at university for graduate studies."

Why did you choose to pursue the theatre program at SFU?

JZ: I remember my first contemporary arts class, our instructor had us recite Lady Macbeth's "out damned spot" monologue whilst lowering our bodies slowly to the floor. I remember feeling the connection between my voice and body in a way I never had before, and realizing that pursuing this was vital. SFU's theatre program offers a taste of what it is like to work in the world of contemporary theatre with professors who are very knowledgeable and truly developed artists in their own right; it is bold, lively, community-driven, and strives to speak authentically and truthfully in a world that desperately needs to hear it. The program has given me so much, and it has been a deep privilege to study there. 

What was your transition like from FASS to SCA?

JZ: At first it was a difficult transition to move from the expectations of essays and exams to scene work and voice and movement classes, but the works was just as demanding if not more so. I remember that early on someone in the program told me that the theatre will take any experience that you bring to it, and that has been my experience. I brought everything I had learned in FASS with me and wholeheartedly threw mysef into the program, saying yes to every opportunity for collaboration that came my way and immersing myself completely in the SCA ecosystem. 

What are your most memorable experiences at SFU?

JZ: All the hours spent with my fellow SCA students in the fourth-floor theatre lounge between classes and rehearsals. Opening my mind and heart to others in a university framework, an unexpected and powerful experience that I never could have predicted. The one summer we spent working on a piece which was presented at the Summerworks Festival in Toronto alongside a group of artists I love and admire. Too many memories in these buildings to get into, so I will stop there.

How did your fellowship project impact your studies or future plans?

JZ: My fellowship project came at the end of my degree, and I am grateful to have had a professional experience in my field before graduating. It was a lot of work in combinataion with full time classes, but rewarding to know that I was capable of completing it. Since experiencing this first professional opportunity to act as a dramaturg in my field, I feel better prepared to pursue more of this type of work within my discipline, which is really exciting. 

What is one piece of advice you would tell your first-year self if you could?

JZ: Don't confine yourself to one idea of what you think you should be studying, there is no pressure to have it all figured out. Follow your impulses and curiosities and remain open to wherever they may lead. 

Colin Williscroft | Normate: Instruction for Incorrect Assembly

“Normate: Instruction for Incorrect Assembly is a collaborative film of archived live performances that consists of Rob Kitsos, Peter Dickinson and Nancy Tam. The resulting film explores the complexities of language communicated through the mechanics of the body. The film’s emphasis on the body reveals the abstraction for which language can or cannot yield; the depth of how speech is not a sole vehicle for communication. Through this we enter a territory in which we can better comprehend the evolution of language, placing speech and its development into a physical tangible form that is now seen, rather than heard. In this we can visualize how communication alters between us.” — Colin Williscroft

Colin Williscroft is a student in the School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA), working towards completing his BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in the SCA's film program.

"SCA offered me a new way to look at the world," says Colin. "Sometimes it was challenging, and other times extremely rewarding, but it made me grow my artistic vision through understanding and empathizing with people and their ideas. 

Colin was originally studying civil engineering before he transferred to film. Colin made the decision to switch from civil engineering to film to find work that was more fufilling than the work he was doing when he first began his post-secondary education. 

Now in his final year at SFU, Colin will be graduating this upcoming summer semester. 

"In the immediate future, I'd like to take a break from films, and get back into field recordings and doing some sound desgin and mixing," says Colin. "That's where I fell in love with films because sound has so much potential and power in any form. Trying to reconnect with that would be amazing, and hopefully I will then get back into making shorts and ultimately a feature within the next couple years."

His dream job is to create films and art using sustainable methods. With many ideas that he's itching to try and explore, Colin says he is looking forward to achieving this dream by finding collaborators and immersing himself into the many amazing arts communities that exist in Vancouver. 

Read our full interview with Colin to learn more about his fellowship and experiences at SFU:

Why did you choose to pursue the film program at SFU?

CW: I wanted to find something more fulfilling than the work I did with my first time in post-secondary, civil engineering.

How did your experience in the School for the Contemporary Arts shape you as an artist, particularly in film?

CW: Coming from an engineering background, it was a huge change of pace on how to interact with the world and understand it. SCA offered me a new way to look at the world. Sometimes it was challenging, and other times extremely rewarding but it made me grow my artistic vision through understanding and empathizing with people and their ideas.

What were your favorite film courses to take and why?

CW: I think any of the production courses were fantastic. They offered a lot of freedom to try things you wanted to do, while each professor would generously offer their knowledge to help you along the way.

What are your most memorable experiences at SFU?

CW: It's hard to pinpoint because there are so many. Every phase in and out of a project in the film program has something I can think about and appreciate. But something that is always fun for me is being on set: the moments of play and creation with other people who are just as dedicated, the mistakes that everyone laughs at, the very long days, and the sudden moment everyone realizes we have something amazing. It's really something special, and it comes with amazing passion from the people in the program.

How did your fellowship project impact your studies or future plans?

CW: I think something that is really hard to nail down artistically is finding collaborative environments that are positive and healthy to work in. Through my time at SFU I've had many highs and lows in collaboration, and it's really easy to get frustrated or intimidated to the point of not wanting to do it anymore. Fortunately, the collaboration in my fellowship reminded me of the instances that were more pleasant. We focused a lot on communication and discovery which is what I’m interested in, because I don't think collaboration is always about pumping out an amazing product but growing and learning.

Going forward, I think the lessons I learned with Rob Kitsos and Peter Dickinson I can take into my practice and collaborations with others: being forward in communication, listening to each other and being respectful of schedules, trying my best to nail deadlines, and learning to appreciate the result for what it is. This is something I haven't been the best at sometimes, but every project has parts of the people in it. Even though it might not be what was envisioned, there is some appreciation to be involved in what was created.

What is one piece of advice you would tell your first-year self if you could?

CW: Be more willing to try the crazy idea you have, and involve more people in what you do. Something only happens when you can explain it to someone and get them just as excited about it. That being said, also listen to others, and recognize that people have ideas that you can get excited about as well. It's a balance, and if you can find it you'll be able to really make amazing things happen.

Brett Palaschuk | Dancing in Close Proximity

Brett’s research explores the effects of close proximity dance performance through the examination and documentation of closing the distance between the dancer and the audience members during a performance. Before beginning her research, Brett theorized that when performing in close proximity, the audience’s perception of the performance becomes an active experience rather than as passive as one would typically expect to find in conventional theatre-style spaces. In her video presentation, you can watch as Brett closes the distance between the dancer and the audience.

Brett Palaschuk is a student in the contemporary dance program in the School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) at SFU. Currently, she is looking forward to completing her degree at the end of August this year.

Throughout the duration of her studeis in the SCA, Brett says she has had the opportunity to work closely with artists from other disciplines and create interdisciplinary work, and has always felt extremely supported by the SCA while exploring all the different avenues of her research.

"The School for the Contemporary Arts has helped shape me as an artisit by being extremely supportive in all the explorations I have researched. i have had the opportunity to work closely with artists from other disciplines and create interdisciplinary work. Both of these factors have helped me realize what kind of an artist I want to be," she says. 

Some of Brett's most memorable experiences at SFU were performing at the school's end of year informal showing. 

Brett is looking forward to applying for her Masters in Fine Arts where she plans to continue researching, using the research she collected during her fellowship as the foundation for her Master's research.

Read our full interview with Brett to learn more about her fellowship and experiences at SFU:

Why did you choose to pursue the dance program at SFU?

BP: I chose the dance program because I was interested in exploring the versatility of dance as a medium and thought SFU's SCA program was the best place to do that. 

What inspires you to dance?

BP: I am inspired most when I am in an environment with other innovative artists who are equally as excited and eager to create something.

What piece of choreography or performance during your degree had the most impact on you as an artist?

BP: The most impactful piece I ever had the opportunity to dance in was Anya Saugstad's Night Storms. This work was suppose to be performed in the Dance Repertoire Show, but the show was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

The most impactful piece I had ever choreographed was a duet called In Retrospect: the Kitchen.

Describe your dream job.

BP: I don't think I necessarily have a dream job, but one goal I have is to create work for an international art gallery.

What are your most memorable experiences at SFU?

BP: My most memorable experiences are performing some of my works in progress at our end of year informal showing. 

What is one piece of advice you would tell your first-year self if you could?

BP: Participate in everything!

 

The FCAT Undergraduate Research Fellowship Award aims to encourage students to pursue research in their field of study.

The program offers students the opportunity to:

  • Interact with top professors in the field
  • Apply knowledge gained to real-world problems
  • Network with faculty beyond the classroom
  • Connect with graduate students
  • Gain critical leadership, team-building and critical thinking skills
  • Earn money while gaining valuable research experience

 

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for an award, a student must:

  • be registered at the time they apply in a FCAT bachelor's degree program and/or the minor in Print and Digital Publishing; and
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0

To be eligible to hold an award, the student should:

  • be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours 
  • have completed the first year of university study (30 credit hours) in their bachelor's degree;
  • work a minimum of 240 hours over one or two terms under the supervision of a faculty supervisor
  • have been registered in courses at SFU in the term immediately before holding the award* 

Process for Students

  • Students should review the eligibility criteria and award application.
  • Students should find a research project to work on by approaching a faculty member and expressing interest. 
  • Completed applications should be submitted with transcript to the FCAT Dean’s Office at fcatdsa@sfu.ca, or in person at the SFU Burnaby, TASC 2, office 7800. Unofficial transcripts and/or photocopies are acceptable.
  • Successful candidates must accept the Fellowship in writing within three weeks of the Award offer.

Process for Faculty

  • If you are an FCAT faculty member who has questions about the fellowship award process, or are looking for a prospective Fellow to work on a project with, please feel free to contact Director, Student Affairs (fcatdsa@sfu.ca) to learn more.

Successful Applicants

Successful applicants are awarded payment for 240 hours of research with an FCAT faculty member over one or two terms. Additional funds may be available to cover additional costs such as equipment, books, and travel.

In addition to completing the required hours, a work term report must be submitted at the end of the term and all Fellows are required to present at the FCAT Undergraduate Conference (or another public forum, as approved by the Dean's Office).


Questions?

If you have questions, contact Director, Student Affairs at fcatdsa@sfu.ca.

Please note:

The application deadline for Spring 2021 is November 20th, 4pm

Please disregard the date on the application form as the deadline to apply has been extended.