A convenient solution

When York alumnus Ins Choi wrote his comedy Kim’s Convenience, opening at the National Arts Centre (this week), his ambitions were modest: to have it mounted once, reported the Ottawa Citizen Jan. 21. If it bombed, it bombed. Instead, it wowed audiences when it debuted at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, was picked up by Soulpepper Theatre the next year and won two Toronto Theatre Critics awards, and is now on a national tour. Korean-born Choi drew on his own experiences and people he knew growing up in Toronto to tell his story about life in a family-owned convenience store. Read full story.

U of C’s writer in residence, Sara Tilley, not afraid to unmask her creativity
York alumna Sara Tilley admits her unusual writing process is not for everyone, reported the Calgary Herald Jan. 20. The 35-year-old author, who is this year’s writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary, was having trouble conjuring up the voice of her great-grandfather – the protagonist of her second novel DUKE – on her own. So she decided to make use of the unique clown training she took in Vancouver based on the teachings of the late Richard Pochinko. It involves wearing a paper-mâche mask of her great-grandfather and scribbling down what comes to her with markers on large swaths of paper on her office floor. . . . As a writer, it has allowed her to find a certain “energy” that is different from her own, which she has used to fill in the gaps of her great-grandfather’s tale. Read full story.

Learning a language, or other new endeavor, can help maintain brain function
People who are bilingual have a greater resistance to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study from York University in Toronto. The report also said being bilingual may be a weapon against the deterioration seen during aging, reported the Tampa Bay Times Jan. 21. The study determined that learning a second language, even later in life, delays the decline of important brain function. A set of cognitive processes known as “the executive control system” – which allows people to think in complex ways and controls the allocation of attention – is enhanced in people who are actively bilingual throughout their lives. Read full story.

Beyond puppies and yoga
“Last October was Mental Health Awareness Month in Ontario (Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day), and as part of the province’s mental health and addictions strategy, there was much fanfare over the launch of new initiatives for postsecondary students bolstered by $27 million in funding,” wrote York University PhD candidate Melonie Fullick in University Affairs Jan. 17. “This is an important and positive step, because there’s been an increasing demand for the limited support services available on campuses, and the problem has been worsening for at least a decade. Unfortunately, what students experience is part of a much bigger problem. Universities and colleges, as much as they may try, cannot plug the yawning gap in our system that is an issue far beyond the campus.” Read full story.

Beggar’s Opera coming to York U theatre
Fourth-year York University fine arts student Sarah Chahley is starring in Theatre @ York’s The Beggar’s Opera, at the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre Jan. 28 to Feb. 1. Originally staged in London, England, in 1728, this version of the play by John Gay is adapted and directed by Gwen Dobie, reported the Canadian Jewish News Jan. 17. This production unfolds as a play within a play. It tells the tale of corruption, social inequality and wrongdoings. Read full story.