Drama students' exhibit demonstrates theatre’s far-reaching impact beyond the stage

April 11, 2024 by Sean McNeely - A&S News

Drama majors and specialists from the Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies (CDTPS) hosted a public exhibit last month demonstrating theatre studies’ positive influence on a wide spectrum of careers.

Students enrolled in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies Thesis, a fourth-year course taught by CDTPS professor and undergraduate associate director Seika Boye, designed the exhibit titled Collaging Disciplines: Performance Research on Display that was shown at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse from March 19 to 28.

The exhibit helped demonstrate that theatre studies can greatly benefit students in a diverse range of careers outside of the stage such as biology, cinema, law, education, comparative literature, and women and gender studies.

“Theatre contributes to other disciplines and practices — theatre, dance and performance all have something to offer in terms of cultural, embodied, and philosophical knowledge,” says Boye.

L to R: Seika Boye, TA Ilana Khanin and Robert Gibbs.
L to R: TA Ilana Khanin, Seika Boye, and Robert Gibbs, professor of philosophy and University College’s acting vice-principal in front of Ethan Persyko's "Unbottling Euthanasia on Stage."

She was impressed with the students’ exhibits, particularly “the ways in which a foundation in theatre shone through the interdisciplinary and practice lenses they each worked with.”

One exhibit showcased how theatre can be used as an effective means of sharing important health information. Another outlined how theatre can open discussions and understanding on sensitive topics such as medical assistance in dying. And another demonstrated how theatre offers a unique lens for exploring and perpetuating nationalism, cultural values and identity.

Maria Perry standing beside an exhibit about sharing public health information through theatre.
Maria Perry’s exhibit: "Sharing Public Health Information Through Theatre."

The exhibit is the culmination of the students’ work over the past six months, as they imagined their futures, and how theatre will fit into their world once they graduate. The course gave students the opportunity to reflect on their interests and the knowledge they gained over the duration of their theatre degrees, while also incorporating what they learned from their combined majors and minors.

Qilin Yu’s standing beside an exhibit: Exploring 'Canadian-ness': Nationalism and Toronto's Alternative Theatres.
Qilin Yu’s exhibit: "Exploring 'Canadian-ness': Nationalism and Toronto's Alternative Theatres."

“Training in and learning about theatre is about so much more than the performances we see on stage and performance alone offers us so much,” says Boye.

“It is not unusual for people to question the value of a theatre degree, but this exhibition reaffirmed for me — and I hope taught the students involved — that the value of their theatre education is more expansive than they may realize when they allow it to mesh and be integrated with their other learning.”