York and Canadian Stage team up for directing degree

The Toronto-based Canadian Stage Company is teaming up with York University to offer a new master’s program for aspiring theatre directors, combining graduate studies with hands-on experience on professional productions, wrote CBC News online Dec. 7.

The school’s Faculty of Fine Arts, in collaboration with Canadian Stage, will offer a new master’s degree specializing in large-scale stage direction. The two-year program will launch in September 2011, with two students to be selected for the inaugural year.

The new stage-directing MFA – the newest addition to the school’s graduate program in theatre – will have students do studio work at the University’s Keele campus, but also be involved in productions at Canadian Stage, located in the downtown core. Students could have the opportunity to direct a Canadian Stage production and an internship with a major theatre company, either nationally or internationally.

The idea for an MFA partnership was born about 18 months ago out of a conversation with Canadian Stage artistic & general director Matthew Jocelyn, said Barbara Sellers-Young, dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. “When we began these conversations, Matthew shared with me his vision of bringing Canadian artists to the world and the world to Canada,” she said. “With this new directing program, we’re putting it into action together.”

Osgoode prof says secrecy surrounding case is ‘absolute nonsense’

The lawyer for a man identified in one of two new Ottawa police cellblock videos now under investigation by the OPP says her client intends to seek a stay of his criminal charges, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Dec. 9.

Anna Brylewski wouldn’t say what the video shows, the circumstances around her client’s arrest, whether he suffered any injuries or even his name and charges, only that she has been told the matter is now under investigation.

In an interview Wednesday, a law professor described the rationale for keeping the new incidents secret as “absolute nonsense". “The fact that someone’s before the courts is, in our system, information that’s in the public domain and is not something that’s subject to any rules of secrecy,” said James Stribopoulos, who teaches criminal law in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

“It’s clearly an example of people in positions of power using the fact that a matter is before the courts as cover for not providing full disclosure or being called to account in a public forum,” Stribopoulos said. “They’ve had a lot of bad publicity of late, they don’t want to pour gasoline on the fire and they want to use the fact that these individuals are currently before the courts facing charges themselves as a justification for not disclosing that which is entirely disclosable.”

York historian notes unusual attention to controversial thesis

It is certainly unusual for a student’s work to be challenged by elected representatives, said Michiel Horn, York history professor emeritus and author of Academic Freedom in Canada: A History, in a story in the National Post Dec. 9 about a controversial MA thesis by a University of Toronto student titled “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education”.

“I know not of a single case where a master’s or a PhD paper has been subject of discussion in the legislature of any province in Canada,” he said. “This is hardly the forum,” he added, insisting that politicians should not be perceived to be tearing apart a thesis that has already been vetted by two university experts.

Don’t shy away from those with mental illnesses: nursing students

We are fourth-year nursing students at York University, placed in a community in desperate need of a voice, wrote Benton Gordon and Brett Nash in a letter to the Orillia Packet & Times Dec. 9. We’re talking about those suffering from mental illness. Mental illnesses can range from the more disturbing such as paranoid schizophrenia to the much more subtle, such as prolonged depression.

The reason we are writing this is to raise awareness of the plight of this particular group of people. For the past semester, we have been placed with the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene.

During this placement, we have been responsible for conducting an assessment of many individuals in this community and devising an initiative based on this assessment. What surprised us was the story of social isolation and stigmatization that we were hearing.

Living with a mental illness is hard enough without feeling like a pariah because of your illness. We’re not sure if this isolation is because people think that mental illness is contagious or if they just don’t feel comfortable with these individuals, but in either case it must stop. Isolation only exacerbates the individual’s experience of their mental illness.

So if you know someone with a mental illness, don’t shy away. Treat them just the same as you would anyone else and you might just make their lives and disease a little more bearable.

Retired now, but definitely not retiring

The invitations were back from the printer and ready to be mailed out when Justice Nick Borkovich (LLB’61) suffered a massive stroke last May, just one week before he was to officially step down from the Superior Court bench, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Dec. 8.

For several days, the prognosis was not good. His devastated family and friends hovered nearby and waited for a medical miracle, or at least a sign of hope.

Seven months later, that hope has manifested itself in 75-year-old Borkovich’s fighting spirit and fierce determination to get better and stronger with each passing day.

After obtaining his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1961, Borkovich articled with the late John C. Munroe and the late Jack Pelech.

Litigator worked to improve the image of the legal profession

Osgoode Hall Law School grad Claude Thomson (BARR ‘58) worried that the legal profession was becoming tarnished, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 9 in an obituary. Courts were slow, expensive and inefficient, he lamented, and true justice often eluded victims of violent crime and calamity. Legal Aid was a mess. Word games by counsel cross-examining less educated witnesses often didn’t work and generated sympathy for the other side. He challenged members of the bar to take positive steps to help the public understand the complexity of legal issues and, referencing the movie Jurassic Park, “not just cheer when the dinosaur eats the lawyer.”

From the day he entered Osgoode Hall Law School, Thomson knew he wanted to be a courtroom lawyer. “I wanted to participate in the rough-and- tumble of the court system,” he said upon his election as head of the Canadian Bar Association in 1984.

Grad student publishes book on Pickton case

David Hugill, a Sir James Dunn graduate and now a PhD student in human geography at York University, is the author of a book published this fall, wrote Sault Ste. Marie’s Sault News online Dec. 8. Missing Women, Missing News [Fernwood Press] examines newspaper coverage of the Robert Pickton affair and the flaws in Canadian society that allow the victimization of people on the margins.

While journalists exposed the failures of a few individuals in the police and government, they missed the opportunity to examine the underlying issues of racism, poverty, and patriarchy. Hugill first became interested in these issues while working as a parliamentary intern with Vancouver MP Hedy Fry.

57 men charged in international probe

A York University post-doctoral fellow and a student residence adviser have been charged in relation to an international child pornography network, reported Macleans.ca On Campus Dec. 8. Noted vision researcher Richard Dyde, 47, has been charged with making, possessing and making available  child pornography. Student Toby Stimpson, 24, is charged with possessing and making available child porn. Stimpson was a residence don at York’s Bethune Residence, but the school has since taken away his keys. In total 57 men, including 25 Canadians, have been arrested as a result of the 13-month investigation.

On air

  • Robert MacDiarmid, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about comments made by hockey personality Don Cherry at Toronto City Council and by Ontario Ombudsman André Marin, on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” Dec. 8.
  • Rob Bowman, professor of ethnomusicology in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, spoke about Beatle John Lennon on the 30th anniversary of his death, on CP24 TV Dec. 8.