The University of Alberta Department of Drama presents the 2018 New Works Festival from February 6-11 in the Second Playing Space at the Timms Centre for the Arts.

An entirely student-run production, the New Works Festival features exciting one-act plays from emerging playwrights. Each playwright has the opportunity to connect and develop their work with directors, dramaturges, designers, and actors.

This year’s festival promises two back-to-back nights of theatrical entertainment from playwrights Savanna Harvey and Ashleigh Hicks on Night A and Morgan Grau and Sara Knourek on Night B.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this year’s festival:

The cast and directorial team at their first-read for POL, with playwright Morgan Grau.

The cast of Shadowlands by Savanna Harvey, in early rehearsals.

The directorial team of Sin Caves by Sara Knourek in rehearsal.

Production Manager Piper Rempel and volunteers set up risers in the theatre.

Artistic Director Alexander Donovan looks on as Lighting Designer Amanda Storwick (not pictured) sets lighting levels for the shows.

Cue-to-cue for POL with an in-progress set construction designed by Kelsi Kalmer

Some of the voice actors for Shadowlands recording for the show

Technical dress rehearsal for fawn by Ashleigh Hicks.

Costume Design by Kathryn Lukey
Set Design by Aria Kraushar

Actors of fawn in tech dress.

Props design by Claudia Kulay

Cue-to-cue for Sin Caves with set designer Kelsi Kalmer (far right).

Dates & Times:

Night A: Shadowlands by Savanna Harvey and fawn Ashleigh Hicks is: February 6, 8, + 10 all at 8:00 PM, and February 11 at 2:00 PM

Night B: POL by Morgan Grau & Sin Caves by Sara Knourek is: February 7, 9, + 11 at 8:00 PM, and February 10 at 2:00 PM

Tickets are $15 regular and $10 for students. On sale now at Tix on the Square or with cash at the doors.

For more information, visit the New Works Festival Facebook page.

Deepak Paramashivan, a doctoral student at the U of A, was the recipient of the Edmonton Arts Council’s Cultural Diversity in Arts Award in 2017!

Currently, Deepak is pursuing a doctorate in ethnomusicology, with a specific focus on South Indian theatre music. However, before beginning a PhD in Music, he completed a degree in mechanical engineering and worked as a climate scientist.



Not only is Deepak an engineering graduate and music enthusiast, he’s also one of two sarangi performers in North America. Because Deepak plays such an incredibly rare instrument, he became interested in documenting the different traditions of sarangi playing. It was through this documentation process he uncovered an appreciation for theatre music and decided to pursue a doctorate in ethnomusicology.



Deepak’s proposal for the Edmonton Cultural Diversity in Arts Award initially began as a project for his one of his classes. He was further inspired by his performance with Dr. Michael Frishkopf during the World Music Festival in Edmonton. For this festival, Dr. Frishkopf and Deepak performed a collaboration with the sarangi and jazz piano; this sparked Deepak’s interest i  n merging two distinctly different sounds. When required to come up with a proposal for school, he chose to create a CD that explored the combination of Indian and Western style music. So far, Deepak has composed majority of the music for this CD and is thrilled to start discovering new ways of blending Western and Indian sounds.



Deepak’s CD will be titled Blue Line, which was inspired by the Edmonton LRT line. During the composition process, he became drawn to the LRT as a symbol of connection within the Edmonton community. Deepak considers Edmonton to be an extremely multicultural environment and wanted to create a product embodying the sense of unity and life he has experienced here.



Stay tuned for Blue Line’s release date, which will be sometime in July or August of 2018!

For more information about the Edmonton Cultural Diversity in Art’s Award, visit the Edmonton Arts Council’s website:

Susan Colberg, Associate Professor of Design Studies (Visual Communication Design) in the Department of Art & Design, has been appointed to the jury of the Stiftung Buchkunst (Book Art Foundation) international book design competition, The Best Book Design from All Over the World, to be held in Leipzig, Germany from 8 – 11 February 2018 at the German National Library.

The competition is the most prestigious one in the world for book design. Only 14 awards are given out each year: 1 Golden Letter, 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 5 Bronze and 5 honorable mention.

Seven jurors from Canada, Germany (2), Iceland, Israel, Norway, and Switzerland will scrutinize 585 books submitted by 30 countries.

Colberg has served as a juror for the Vancouver-based Canadian book design awards, the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, and is also the winner of multiple national and international book design awards herself.

Since this is a Q and A, let’s begin with the question; who is Robert Cohen?

Robert Cohen is a world renowned cellist, member of the Fine Arts Quartet, and has been the University of Alberta’s Distinguished Visitor for the last week!
Currently, Robert Cohen teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England and often receives invitations to visit universities to give lectures and host masterclasses.

Two years ago, Robert Cohen performed with the Fine Arts Quartet at the ECMS’s Summer Solstice Music Festival, where Dr. Patricia Tao first saw him perform.
Dr. Tao found both his musical talent and affinity for teaching to be extremely inspiring and decided she wanted U of A students to have the opportunity to learn from such a passionate musician.

We were fortunate enough to ask Robert Cohen some questions about performing and his concert with Dr. Tao on February 2nd; here were his responses!

How Can A Student Know If A Career In Performance Is Right For Them?

“There are some questions music students considering a performance career should ask themselves:

  1.  Is it your vocation?
  2.  Can you commit 110% to being musician?
  3.  Do you feel comfortable performing on stage to an audience?

If your answers are yes, you will find your way, discover how privileged you are, and deal with the tough road ahead. If you have doubts, you should take the blessing of having music in your life, but find a different career in which you can find fulfilment.”

What Is Something You Think Students Should Know About a Career In Performance?

“I often explain that even if you have a highly successful performing career, you can count the number of minutes you actually spend performing, compared to the thousands of hours you spend practicing, rehearsing, travelling and organizing your life. If you find those minutes do not enhance your life (and hopefully the lives of others), you are probably in the wrong job!”

What Can The Audience Expect For Your Concert On February 2nd?

“Patricia Tao and I will perform a program that communicates some of the most powerful, profound and passionate music written for cello and piano. This is music that perfectly presents the extraordinary potential in both instruments, from the soulful to the exuberantly brilliant.”

Hopefully you got to enjoy some of the events hosted by Robert Cohen and the Department of Music throughout the week!

Some other special guest workshops we have coming up include Rob Herriot’s voice master class and Gregory Sioles’ piano master class. You can find more information on the music events calendar:

If you’ve ever seen any of the amazing art exhibits here at the University of Alberta’s FAB Gallery, you may have seen Blair Brennan somewhere about. As the Galleries & Exhibitions Manager, Blair helps showcase some of the best artwork in Canada (like the winners of the Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design, on display right now), from student artists, faculty, and internationally acclaimed guest artists.

A sculptor himself, Blair recently shared one of his original pieces with the Art Gallery of Alberta: a sculpture called Typing Table that combined various elements including a metal desk, a propane torch and bottle, steel and various tools into one compelling piece of art.

Typing Table caught the attention of Timothy Caulfield, a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, who shared this public message with the AGA about Blair and his work:

“Blair Brennan’s work exemplifies how art can create compelling contradictions. Brennan’s art touches on serious topics, but it is also immediately fun and devoid of pretence. It is comical and spontaneous, while still giving the impression that it has been carefully crafted. The work provides a fresh take on contemporary issues, but, at the same time, it somehow stirs old memories. I love how Brennan riffs on pop culture because, well, I love all things pop culture! His wonderful sculpture, Typing Table, is a great example of how Brennan tricks us with the familiar. What the heck is going on here? Is it a giant, science-fiction-y typewriter or a medieval torture device? I have no idea, but I want to see more!”

Come visit FAB Gallery now (admission is free!) and Blair will gladly show you the two exhibits in there right now: Feeling the Flesh of the Other (MFA candidate Angela Marino’s deeply personal paintings depicting her mother’s struggle with Multiple Sclerosis), and the winners of the Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design, celebrating the best in book design across Canada.

To see more of Blair’s own original artwork, visit his official website at:

At the U of A there are three fantastic international music ensembles; the Indian Music Ensemble, the West African Music Ensemble and the Middle East and North African Music Ensemble. These musical groups contribute to the U of A’s diverse community by sharing fantastic cultural music and attracting students from different faculties. Dr. Michael Frishkopf, a professor of ethnomusicology at the U of A, loves how the University highlights music genres outside the realm of Western culture. However, recently these cultural ensembles have encouraged him to question “what is culture” and “how can we better represent multiple cultures through music?”

What is Culture?


Dr. Frishkopf considers culture to be an artificial construct, often falsely defined and separated by location and other special interests.

Transculturalism, an idea Dr. Frishkopf wishes to explore through music, denies this existence of cultural boundaries. With transculturalism, cultures are joined by transitioning spaces where information is constantly shared and exchanged, instead of separated by differences.

How Can We Combine Transculturalism and Music?


Using the idea of transculturalism, Dr. Frishkopf has created the Edmonton Transcultural Orchestra. Through this novel ensemble, Dr. Frishkopf hopes to use music as a way of communicating the unique and un-defined ways individuals identify with culture.

One way the Edmonton Transcultural Orchestra intends to demonstrate the fluid nature of culture is by performing the song “Ya Banat Iskandaria.” Because this song exists in a multitude of different languages and is claimed by several cultures, there’s been significant debate around which culture it originates from. Therefore, because so many groups identify with this song, it becomes an excellent symbol for the passage of music between cultures.

This new orchestra currently consists of U of A graduate students, faculty members and participants from the community. They plan to meet once a month at City Hall to share their music with the public and are always welcoming new members! Their next performance will be on January 31st, 2018 at 7 PM in Convocation Hall as part of the University’s International Week.

For more information please visit their website!

On January 28th, 2018, Angela Cheng will kindly be taking some time out of her busy schedule to teach a masterclass here at the University of Alberta! This masterclass is open to both members of the University, as well to the public, and will take place from 1-3 PM in Convocation Hall.

Angela Cheng is both an incredibly talented Canadian pianist as well as a dedicated teacher. Because Ms. Cheng used to call Edmonton home, she’s always been very proud of the music community here and loves visiting; especially when it’s to teach or perform.

Having the opportunity to learn from such an accomplished musician is guaranteed to be an eye-opening experience. Angela Cheng has such a wide range of expertise when it comes to music making and performing, so the chance to learn from her in an immensely supportive environment is an opportunity you won’t want to pass up.

When teaching a masterclass, Ms. Cheng prefers to approach the situation as though it’s a private lesson; giving the students as many tools and as much feedback as she possibly can. What she enjoys most about teaching a masterclass is helping students experience their lightbulb moment. To her, there’s something really special about the moment when everything suddenly makes sense and there’s an instantaneous improvement in the student’s performance.

However, Ms. Cheng finds teaching a masterclass to be an incredible learning experience for herself as well.

“Having to articulate in words what I would like them to do, only makes it clearer for myself what I need to strive for in my own practice and performance.”

Not only is Angela Cheng extremely knowledgeable about how to improve your performance skills, she also has some fantastic advice for musicians who wish to pursue their passion professionally. She acknowledges that, while working on a specific piece, it’s imperative to direct a lot of energy and focus towards perfecting it. However, she feels it’s also important to keep your ears and eyes open to all the external factors surrounding the piece.

“Get to know other works by the same composer – piano works, chamber music, symphonies [and] operas. Get to know [their] language… and apply them to your own piece.”

For Ms. Cheng, the most rewarding aspect about being a musician is always having the opportunity to discover and learn.

We hope you can join us on January 28th for Angela Cheng’s Masterclass! Ms. Cheng will be joined by three of our talented graduate students in this masterclass: Alberto Lopez-Alvarez, Andrea Pedro and Abigail Pedersen.

For more information about other special guests the Department of Music will be hosting this semester, please visit our event calendar.

In November 2017, University of Alberta art professor Sean Caulfield was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, joining his brother and U of A law professor Tim Caulfield, who was elected to the RSC in 2007. It’s rare, if not unheard of, for brothers to share this prestigious national recognition; rarer still, for the disciplines to be so disparate in nature.

We managed to get artist Sean and scientist Tim, together with Tim’s son Adam Caulfield (himself an Immunology major, and cellist for the University Symphony Orchestra), together to talk about how art and science can co-mingle in extraordinarily creative and collaborative ways.

For the full story from this extraordinary family (along with video clips from their conversation), head to Work of Arts.

At some point in the “not too distant future” (translation: “we’re not allowed to give specific dates”), Edmontonians who pass by the new Valley Line LRT stop at the Muttart Conservatory will see a fascinating art installation by U of A sculptor and head technician (sculpture division), Stephanie Jonsson, who has been awarded a major public art commission from the City of Edmonton.

The artwork will be installed on the canopies of the new LRT stop, inspired by the many exotic plants and flowers of the Muttart. “The organic sculptures will evoke fantastical, playful flowers and cause the viewer to wonder if the sculptures are microscopic biomes or blown-up plants from an otherworldly landscape,” says Stephanie.

Edmontonians have a chance to contribute to Stephanie’s public sculpture by attending the Be Part of the Art event on Saturday, January 20, at the Muttart. Participants will have the chance to draw plants and flowers that will inspire the waterjet cut shapes for the canopy sculptures. Anyone wishing to participate must RSVP by emailing Stephanie at

Stephanie will scan the drawings from the event, compiling them into a waterjet machine to cut shapes out of aluminum sheets. “The machine uses high pressurized water to cut through the aluminum,” Stephanie explains. “It’s very, very precise, and it leaves a soft edge. And then the final products will be clustered together, like plants might be.”

Stephanie Jonsson sculpture

The prototype concept that Stephanie submitted, which would win her the commission.

So how did Stephanie create the sculptures that scored her this public art commission?

“To come up with those shapes, I sourced images of coral, plants and underwater sea organisms,” she says. “I took those images and created outline shapes, and cut them with plasma from steel.”

“I bent the shapes on a bending press, using a steel bowl with an anvil coming down with three tonnes of pressure, bending them into a bowl shape. And then I welded them all together.”

Stephanie anticipates the final product for the train station will consist of four individual aluminum sculptures, each of them around 54 feet long. She’s currently in the process of sourcing industrial facilities capable of working with such large sheets of metal, and if Curious Arts is lucky, we’ll be able to follow Stephanie over the course of this exciting project to watch it come together.

In the meantime, you can see more of Stephanie’s work at her official website, and even get to meet her in person at the Be Part of the Art event this Saturday, January 20. Don’t forget to RSVP to Stephanie if you’d like a chance to contribute some drawings to potentially become part of an Edmonton art fixture.

About Stephanie Jonsson

Stephanie Jonsson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in sculpture from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Applied Arts from Emily Carr University. She has completed residencies at Harcourt House, Banff Centre for the Arts, and Medalta (Medicine Hat). She received the 2009 Award of Achievement from the Alberta Craft Council, and was listed among the Top 40 Under 40 in Edmonton’s Avenue Magazine that year. She has also been nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year at the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards in Edmonton. Jonsson has taught at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (Vancouver) and is now the head technician for the University of Alberta’s Sculpture Department.

The program for Violinissimo III is so unique and exploratory. You’ll be able to expand your knowledge of the violin while simultaneously relaxing and enjoying fantastic music.

For this concert, Dr. Guillaume Tardif (violin) and Dr. Roger Admiral (piano) will explore the violin, not just as the featured instrument of this performance, but also as a “vehicle for creativity.” You’re sure to be impressed by Dr. Tardif’s use of alternative and inspiring violin techniques.

You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to witness the performance of extremely rare music!

Certain pieces being performed during Violinissimo III are so rare, they have become lost or forgotten. However, Dr. Tardif and Dr. Admiral are determined to breathe new life into these hidden gems. Moreover, select works being performed have never been recorded, so it’s unlikely you’ll get the chance to hear them elsewhere.

This performance has an undeniable personal quality as the repertoire has been, quite literally, hand-selected.

When choosing music to perform, Dr. Tardif and Dr. Admiral frequently visited libraries to sift through immense piles of music, in search of forgotten and unfamiliar collections. Therefore, by attending Violinissimo III you can feel as though you’re participating in their enchanting musical treasure hunt.

Violinissimo III promises to transport you back in time and let you experience traditional styles of violin performance.

 While big sonatas have become the standard for violin recitals today, historically they consisted of much shorter pieces, often accompanied by the piano. The featured pieces, from both the Baroque and the Salon era, definitely won’t leave you disappointed.

Last, and certainly not least, Dr. Tardif and Dr. Admiral are both immensely talented musicians, committed to providing you with a fantastic musical experience!


We sincerely hope you can join us on Saturday, January 13th, at 7:30 PM for this spectacular event! For more details about the concert and ticket information, please visit our show page!