Moyukh Syeed explores performance and peace to understand human behaviour

November 17, 2021 by Sean McNeely - A&S News

Moyukh Syeed’s education at U of T was a rare combination of exploring peace and performance.

Graduating this fall with an honours bachelor of arts degree as a member of Victoria College, Syeed double majored in peace, conflict and justice studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and drama and performance at the Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies, setting the stage for a fascinating career.

She believes both fields offer unique insights into understanding human behaviour, interactions and relations.

How did you come to pick such an interesting double-major?

Despite seeming very different to one another at face value, both performance studies and peace, conflict and justice studies (PCJ) provided me with a chance to understand, interpret, and explore how humans relate and interact with one another, with themselves, and with the world.

When entering university, I knew I wanted to study human/social relations at a large scale, so I planned on enrolling in the international relations program. However, after hearing student experiences in the first year Munk One program, I was deeply intrigued by PCJ’s learning process which allows students to take an interdisciplinary and hands-on approach to understand real-world issues in seminar-style classes.

The course content and classes gave students a chance to actively decipher and interpret conflicts prevalent in our current world. Moreover, given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, each classmate brought a unique and valuable perspective to our core syllabi: I even remember having a reading that related global leaders and countries to stage performers!

What do you love about performance studies?

I love its multidisciplinary approach to observing and interacting with the world around us. The arts have always been a part of my life; I began singing competitively at age three, competing in spoken poetry at four, and discovered theatre during high school.

I am fascinated by performative art's unique ability to reveal universalities regarding human relations, humans and non-human relations and human behaviour. As a result, art fosters a profound level of empathy and understanding that is difficult to replicate through other mediums.

Performance studies provided me with a chance to dig deeper into the mechanisms and concepts that drive performance, allowing me to engage in my explorations through a traditional academic approach as well as a hands-on approach via studio work. My studies also gave me a unique lens through which I viewed the theories and issues I explored in my PCJ courses — and vice versa.

What was one of your most memorable experiences at U of T?

Taking part in the end-of-year showcase at the Drama Centre during my final months of freshman year. For our final project, my acting class was tasked with showcasing an adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

During an already busy time of year, my classmates and I were juggling classes, exams, papers, individual practice, extra-curriculars, all while coordinating group rehearsals for over 10 hours a week to put on the ensemble show.

Looking back, that was one of the most challenging and busiest times of my university experience. However, many of my most precious experiences came from such challenging times that forced me to grow.

Despite the obvious challenges I had to face during that time, looking back, I only recollect the incredible memories I made and how amazing it felt to work alongside friends who shared a similar passion for art. I remember breakthrough moments when I felt like all the rehearsals had paid off and feel proud of the confidence and independence I developed by tackling long days in a new environment.

What advice would you give your first-year self?

Put yourself out there and take risks! It’s natural to feel imperfect and uncertain during university. Yet, we make excuses based on such feelings that prevent us from taking risks.

I’ve made similar excuses: ‘I don’t have enough experience yet, I don’t have enough time, this won't result in anything long-lasting.’ It’s common to make excuses when we feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and imperfections. But I’ve found that when I step out of my comfort zone and try my best, I’m met with the greatest rewards and growth periods of my life.

Whether joining a club, starting a conversation with a stranger in a lecture hall, asking your professor or peers for advice, or taking the leap to create your own initiative — jump in with both feet and give it a shot! Undertaking any opportunity gives you a better chance for other unexpected outcomes or opportunities to arise.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m currently working on various creative pursuits — preparing for a role in a short film while also collaborating with musicians to produce original music. Additionally, I’m studying for the LSATs as I hope to further my education in law school and explore the fields of entertainment, international and criminal law.

Congratulations to U of T's Class of 2021!

Celebrate Fall Convocation 2021 with us and on social media by using the hashtag #UofTGrad21 and tagging @UofTArtSci in your posts.