One of our greatest recent successes in Drama Studies has been a pilot artist-in-residence opportunity for the first time in the winter of 2023. This project included a course that culminated in students writing their own 10-minute plays, under the tutelage of theatre designer, Roger Schultz. Students learned the craft of playwrighting from a designer’s perspective and their works were presented to an invited audience at the end of the term in April 2023 at what was called “Short-shorts Coffee House”. Professional actors were hired to do a staged reading of the scripts so students (and the audience) could gain a broader perspective on what they had learned about the craft. Feedback from those in attendance confirmed that they were very impressed with what the students had achieved with their individual projects. It was a high note on which to end the term.
The Drama Studies program in the English Department provides students with a connection to the arts and the opportunity to sustain their creative learning. As our tag line indicates, we provide them with the opportunity to “Indulge your Dramatic Side!” With a focus on developing the critical skills of performance criticism and analysis, our students have gone on to pursue Graduate degrees that continue to help them hone these skills. An Artist-in-residence will provide students with mentorship to sustain and develop these skills, while offering Artists a chance to develop a project from which our students can enjoy a hands-on experiential learning opportunity.
The funds from this campaign will go toward paying a theatre artist for their time and expertise to develop a project and share their knowledge with our students and faculty. It is very common practice to offer $25,000 to the artist for their participation over a 4-month academic term. The artist will also be offered the chance to teach a course based on their area of expertise, and they will be paid additionally as a Contract Instructor for teaching and mentoring.
Having an Artist-in-residence has many benefits for students in arts educational programs, including the opportunity for mentorship, the development of creative skills and critical thinking, and experience collaborating on projects. In addition, such programs open the way to building confidence and effective communication through self-expression, and perhaps most importantly these opportunities offer the chance to develop empathy through exposure to multiple perspectives while building professionalism.
The feedback from students who participated in our first Artist-in-Residence mentorship opportunity demonstrated enthusiastic support for this initiative. The following message from one of the student’s in the class offered by our first Artist, Roger Schultz, clearly expresses how much they gained in this experience:
“Classes like this one with Roger are some of the best classes Carleton has to offer and were by far the ones I enjoyed the most. The format itself is really engaging and mentally stimulating which helps manage course loads differently as you feel less stressed over high maintenance classes. I am happy to be graduating on such an uplifting note.” (Mallory Trizisky)
Likewise, the feedback provided by Roger Schultz shows this initiative to have had profound impact on him in his role as a theatre artist:
“I can proudly say that as my residency comes to an end, I am emerging from my Carleton experience a far more confident, engaged and fully realized theatre artist. . . I feel the Artist-in-Residency is an important program: not just to the individual, or the University, but to the larger community and indeed the landscape of Canadian Culture itself. . .It is through our artists, their work, and their engagement in the world, we as a culture make sense of things and as a culture are defined and will be remembered. It is so worth the investment.” (Roger Schultz)