Dennis Garnhum, artistic director at the Grand Theatre, joins SASAH as visiting professor

The Faculty of Arts & Humanities and the School for Advanced Studies in Arts & Humanities are pleased to announce the 2021-22 fourth-year Capstone Seminar Visiting Professor: Dennis Garnhum, Artistic Director at the Grand Theatre.

Each year, SASAH’s 4th year Capstone Seminar centers on a specific theme or topic of contemporary significance. Building on students' experiential learning and internship engagements throughout SASAH, the seminar introduces students to a leading professional from a particular field that complements aspects of their expansive education within the first three years of the program.

Dennis Garnhum took on the role of Artistic Director at the Grand Theatre in 2016, a return to his hometown of London, Ontario, that enables him to strengthen the community through his strong partnerships, vision and leadership. Since taking on his role with the Grand, Dennis created several new programs: COMPASS New Play Development Program, 100 Schools educational outreach, and 1000 Seats community initiative. He also launched a new partnership with Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Program that partners with the Grand’s High School Project.

For the 2021-22 year, Dennis is developing the SASAH Capstone Seminar topic of Defining Beauty:
What makes something beautiful? How does the notion of beauty translate in a contemporary world: either by looking at a painting, having a unique experience, or witnessing the act of beauty in another? In this course, we will hone our skills of being beauty seekers - what to look for, how to honour it, how to acknowledge it, and how to share it. It is understood that “beauty” has many interpretations, and is always defined differently by each individual, and that too will be deeply explored. Guest experts will join us in the areas of PERFORMANCE, BODY, ENVIRONMENT, VISUAL ARTS, WORDS, ADVENTURES and CEREMONY.

Dennis’ career has taken him across North America, directing plays, musicals, and operas at a number of companies including Vancouver Opera, National Arts Centre, Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Florida Grand Opera, American Conservancy Theatre, Bard on the Beach, Pacific Opera Victoria, Belfry Theatre, and Neptune Theatre. Before taking on his role at the Grand, Dennis was Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary from 2005 to 2016.

Garnhum studied at the Universities of Victoria (BFA) and British Columbia (MFA in Directing). He has also worked for three years in New York City, as a director and producer. Dennis is a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and a Calgary Award for Community Achievement in Arts. His co-adaptation of Lost – A Memoir was nominated for a 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award.

Smiling man in front of wood panels“What an honour it is to be invited to teach at Western. I have long admired this institution and the environment at SASAH is an inspiration. When I thought about what excites me the most right now, and what the world needs more of, I think it is this: a greater allowance and appreciation for beautiful things in the world. Beauty gives us hope, inspiration, and joy. And it is right in front of us, all day long, more than we ever give notice.” --Dennis Garnhum

We welcome Dennis to SASAH and look forward to the incredible impact he is sure to have on our program and students.

Previous Capstone Visiting Professors include: David Simmonds (2020-21), Jamelie Hassan (2019-20), Shelley Niro (2018-19), Lainey Liu (2017-18), and Paul Kennedy (2016-17).