Michael Elliott and Dr. Alexandra (Sasha) Kovacs join UVic’s Department of Theatre in the fall. (Submitted)

Two world-class artists and scholars join UVic faculty

Theatre historian and voice professor welcomed to Department of Theatre

The University of Victoria’s Department of Theatre has announced the addition of two new faculty members for the fall session whose outstanding credentials are certain to enhance the already stellar reputation of the department.

The first of the new hires is Michael Elliott.

A graduate of the MA in Training Actors (Voice) at Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, he is the only Canadian trained in this intensive two-year MA that is focused entirely on voice pedagogy.

A former lawyer, Michael trained as an actor at the Birmingham School of Acting in the UK and had 14 years experience as a professional actor prior to becoming a voice teacher and coach.

Elliott comes to UVic from his work with the education departments of both Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in London, England. In London he was the sole coach in residence at their home base in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2014-15 (and the only North American to ever hold this post).

“While in London I often enjoyed going to theatres in the West End and to the Globe or RSC and seeing actors I’ve coached in drama school treading the boards,” said Elliott.

“Seeing these actors succeeding in their careers is very satisfying, even though I’ve only had a small influence in their training. I can only imagine how exciting it is going to be to watch students grow over three or four years, and then go on to create theatre in Victoria and across Canada.”

The second new faculty member is Dr. Sasha Kovacs.

She is a theatre historian whose research has focused upon Canadian theatre historiography, with a specific interest in the performance history of late Mohawk (Kanien’kehá:ka) Six Nations woman E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake).

“I’m thrilled to be joining the community at the Phoenix Theatre. The UVIC theatre program is truly unique and it’s hard to find a department that equally values a balanced focus on practice and research,” said Kovacs.

“This is a major priority for me—it matches my own commitment to ensuring that the critical academic research I do is creative, and that the creative expressions I generate as an artist are critically engaged.”

Kovacs’ most recent essay related to Johnson was awarded the prestigious 2018 Canadian Association for Theatre Research Richard Plant Award for the best English-language article on a Canadian theatre or performance topic.

She has taught theatre history at the University of Toronto (Mississauga and Scarborough campuses) and at the Ryerson School of Performance and, alongside her research and teaching work, Kovacs has sustained a commitment to arts practice, developing theatre projects with the international and interdisciplinary performance collective Ars Mechanica.

“We are honoured to welcome these world-class artists and scholars to UVic,” said Allana Lindgren, department chair.

“We recognize that our faculty are an incredible resource for the entire region and we know that local theatre artists will be thrilled to reach out and welcome these, our newest members of Victoria’s theatre community.”

The Department of Theatre at the University of Victoria offers a four-year BFA degree and a BA Honours in Theatre History and is home to the Phoenix Theatre.

The department presents four plays each season and its productions, actors and designers have received several Victoria arts awards.

As part of their education, students participate in every facet of the Phoenix Theatre productions, from onstage to backstage, and learn about all aspects of theatre.

For more information about the University of Victoria’s Department of Theatre visit www.finearts.uvic.ca/theatre.

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