I’ve recently finished my Ph.D. in Drama, which examined the overseas performances and journeys of New Zealand theatre – what plays have represented New Zealand internationally, and how have they been received? It’s an exciting time as I have the satisfaction of completing this odyssey and looking at opportunities as to where I can go next in my academic career.
While I’ve been studying the Drama program and University have also given me a lot of teaching opportunities. One of my favorites is the ‘Performing Medicine’ class that I’ve taught for three years as part of the Medical Humanities program.
I take a class of third-year doctors-in-training and throw a whole lot of medically themed drama exercises and plays at them. They love being able to do something active and creative that is quite different to their usual studies. This Semester I’m also leading “Taking the Stage: Performance and Presentation Skills” which is a brand new Drama course that takes students through public speaking, acting and inhabiting a character, and devised group performance.
One thing that Drama teaches you is that you have to be resourceful. There is no one clear career pathway, and you have to make a lot of your own opportunities. I produce and direct for my Theatre Company Theatre of Love, I run a devising group for members of the University drama club, and I’m also a theatre critic. All of these different areas feed into my academic and professional practice.
I actually think everyone should be exposed to drama! One of the things I love is the mix of the intellectual and theory and the heart and the practical. As actors, you literally walk in other people’s shoes and gain insight into other perspectives (and learn a bit more about yourself in the process). In Drama we talk about big human themes, desires, and issues.
I also think that the skills you learn in Drama, like being able to creatively adapt, work together, and tell great stories, are skills you need to survive in an age of precarity and increasing automation. You don’t know what jobs will look like in the future, but being imaginative, creative, and confident will help prepare you for anything.
I am especially passionate about devised theatre, which you will get to explore on the Drama Tools course, where the team explores an idea and concept together, working out what the story is and how to best tell this theatrically – all sorts of unexpected, wonderful moments can emerge!