When the Drama Studies Program was formally established in the English Department in 2015, none of us could’ve imagined how much we’d need the arts as a source for sustaining our mental health in 2020. The program came into being at the insistence of students who expressed a desire to continue their study of drama while pursuing a variety of degrees at Carleton.

Thus, today Drama Studies provides an opportunity for students to “Indulge Your Dramatic Side” and balance creative and research interests as they pursue their Undergraduate degree. A small, but growing program, Drama Studies offers students the option to complete a Concentration or a Minor. Our courses are divided into the academic and the practical, with scholars teaching performance theories and local theatre professionals teaching practical workshop course, providing students with a balance of theory and practice in the craft of theatre performance.

The Background

In recent years, the program has added new courses, including one that focuses on Indigenous Drama, and currently in the works is a brand-new practicum course where students will work directly with a local Children’s Theatre Company and learn how to create and manage such a venture. In the past this fund has helped support students studying contemporary criticism by offsetting the cost of tickets to a variety of performance events including English and French theatre, as well as dance and opera. While continuing to offer that support, this fund is being expanded to address the needs of the program as it continues to grow.

The Rollout

This year, we are focusing on a brand-new project to develop and support an Artist-in-residence component through which a professional performance artist will share their knowledge and area of expertise to provide mentorship to students looking to develop these skills. Areas of expertise could include design, directing, or acting. This project will expand the experiential learning opportunities available to students as the program continues to grow.

The Impact

As we all navigate the difficulties and stress we bear in the midst of a global pandemic, it is crucial for us to offer support to students to help them maintain good mental health. Whether we have turned to visual arts through online museum programs, virtual theatre and dance performances, or enjoyed access to global music events, it has been made very clear that we need the arts to sustain us in these difficult times.

When the pandemic ends, students will still need the support that such programs have given us all. With this in mind, we believe that when we give students the opportunity to develop their knowledge and critical skills in the dramatic arts, they don’t just indulge in their passion, but they experience learning as a joyful endeavour. They don’t just survive, but they also thrive. By encouraging passionate learning, we want to make it possible for students to take their knowledge beyond the classroom, and into the world.

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