Drama class for international students

By Dale Johnson Posted: September 23, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Kathleen Irwin (left) and Kathryn Bracht have launched an acting class for students from other countries.
Kathleen Irwin (left) and Kathryn Bracht have launched an acting class for students from other countries. Photo courtesy of Rae Graham - U of R Photography.

The University of Regina has launched a drama class aimed at international students.

“The class is offered with the same syllabus, and with the same learning objectives in relation to the fundamentals of current acting theory and practice. What is different is that there is a greater focus on speech – both in understanding and in pronunciation, with efforts also focused on speech and vocal exercises – as well as dialect and an introduction to Canadian plays. Through the study of Canadian plays, the students also have discussion and learning about our country and culture,” explains Kathryn Bracht, Associate Professor in the Theatre Department.

The class is THAC 260 - Acting Theory and Practice, and is described as “A foundational acting class with a global focus for international students and others who are interested in performing an onstage multicultural experience of Canada.”

“This is reflective of the changing demographics on campus, and because we see this as a way to amend the notion that theatre is about plays by dead white men. Theatre in Canada is not that, at all. That’s why we are offering a course that provides a lens through which newcomers can better see what it is to be Canadian. In addition, it provides opportunities to practice English, become more aware of one's body, and to gain confidence,” says Kathleen Irwin, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, and Head of the Theatre Department.

“I am currently on a national committee of academics who teach in acting programs across Canada, the Action Committee on Actor Training in Canada. I would say that the University of Regina's theatre department is one of the first, if not the first, in Canada to offer an acting class in this area,” Bracht says.

The demographics of the University of Regina are changing. Bracht says in one of her recent acting classes she taught students from Japan, Libya, Nigeria, China, and the Ukraine.

“All of these students were able to grasp basic acting fundamentals to a greater and lesser degree, and our Canadian students had an excellent opportunity to work with and learn from students from other cultures. It was this experience that led Kathleen and I to put forward the section of 260 that has a specific focus on international students.”

Now the class has become a reality.

“I believe it is a fantastic opportunity not only to introduce international students to Canada and help them with their language skills, but it also offers our students a great opportunity to experience different cultures. Canadian students have an opportunity to expand their horizons through meeting and interacting with students from around the world. Canadians are given a chance to see their own culture through another's perspective. There is not better education than this,” Bracht says.