How The Rise and Shine Festival Came To Be

This year, Brock University hosted the first Rise and Shine festival at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The Rise and Shine festival was created to give Brock students, especially dramatic arts majors more opportunities to present their work and gain experience within all fields of theatre. 

The creative team of the Rise and Shine festival is made up of students, including Haley King (artistic director/producer), Alyssa Ruddock (production manager), Zakk Milne (technical director) Marianne Vongboutdy (stage manager),Haley Bando (stage manager) Maiya Irwin, (marketing coordinator), and Frankie Turco as MC. 

King was inspired to create the festival because she said wanted to provide an opportunity for students to showcase their work. King was able to establish a team of passionate artists that she’d connected with through previous productions. Some of these productions included last year’s mainstage The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and the annual One Acts. King expressed how working with the members of the creative team helped her establish a plan, as she already knew the members of her team would have a strong work ethic. 

Close relationships within the dramatic arts program contributed to the success of the festival. This was the first year for the Rise and Shine festival which meant it did not have a set reputation prior to this year. The team said one of their best marketing methods was constantly sharing and updating through social media. 

The team felt that if people saw how many of their peers were involved it may spark people’s interest. The team also sent emails to the DART board and reached out to local theatre companies. A theatre company called Suitcase helped out by promoting the festival on their social media platforms.

Overall, it’s safe to say the first ever Rise and Shine festival was a success with 145 seats reserved. This festival also allowed four first-year students to get hands-on theatre experience. The team is hopeful that the Rise and Shine festival will become an annual event, but nothing is set in stone. 

Some of their biggest challenges were the amount of time for the turnover period, and time management. Due to this being an independent, student-run festival, there was no support. The festival was created and motivated solely by the artistic desire of the student team. One of the perks of making this festival an annual event at Marilyn I. Walker is that the festival provided great opportunities for students to get hands-on experience. 

The team said if another Rise and Shine festival were to happen again, there are a few things that they would like to add. In the future the theme may be introduced to the Rise and Shine festival. This recent one didn’t have a theme as Ms. King wanted to provide an open opportunity for all artists to present their work somehow, wherever they are on their creative journey. She said she may consider introducing a theme if another Rise and Shine festival happens. 

The Rise and Shine festival brought together the DART family; one of the closest departments at Brock. The team expressed how they felt this brought everyone together, especially because they felt like the pandemic created a gap between the student body of DART. The festival gave upper-year students great teaching opportunities and allowed them to self-reflect on their artistic journey. 

If you can’t immediately do what you are passionate about, create avenues to be able to do so in the future.. 

And so they did. 

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