The Drama Studies Program, in the English Department, is a small program that trains students to do theatre criticism. As a relatively new program, Drama Studies offers students the opportunity to engage as scholars with the practice of theatre. We have one course, for example, that exposes students to a variety of performance genres (theatre, dance, opera), while they also study the elements of performance (lighting, sound, scenography) to develop the ability to write critically about what they are seeing. We are also aiming to develop an annual Drama Seminar, in which a well known theatre artist will be invited to have a conversation with students, as well as interested members of the Carleton community, about their work. To date, we have invited playwright/musician Tomson Highway, and playwright/actor/designer Robert Lepage. Making such experiential learning opportunities available to students will provide them with access to successful Canadian artists for conversation and instruction.
There are few trained theatre critics in the industry, particularly in Canada, and this lack is being felt in professional theatre. This situation is well recognized by theatre artists, and conversations continue about how to address this gap in the field. Providing access to practitioners and works allows students the experiential learning necessary to develop and hone their critical eye, and from there, their ability to write critically about the experience of live performance.
We are aiming to raise $5000 in this campaign, which will have a dual purpose. On one hand, some of the funds will be set aside to purchase tickets to professional performance events for students who demonstrate financial need, in order for them to participate in courses with this requirement. There are opportunities with most of the professional live performance venues (NAC, GCTC, for example) to help offset the cost of tickets, but the rising cost of education can still prohibit low-income students from attending arts events. No student should have to miss out on attending arts events due to lack of financial resources. Part of this campaign will address that situation.
The other component of the campaign is to raise funds to establish an annual Drama Studies Seminar, in which we would invite professional theatre artists from across Canada. The seminar series would give students, and the community, access to conversations with artists like Tomson Highway, and Robert Lepage about their work as theatre artists, an experience they would otherwise not have.
All students enrolled in any Drama Studies courses will benefit from having exposure to theatre artists in the annual Drama Seminar series. As well, students taking any Drama Studies course that includes a component of attendance at live performance events (such as ENGL 3609, Drama Studies: Contemporary Criticism) will be able to apply for subsidized tickets to these compulsory performances.