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New Bachelor of Fine Arts unlike any other in Canada

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: November 25, 2021 5:00 a.m.

The BFA in Devised Performance and Theatre Creation empowers students to use their strengths to create theatre in new and exciting ways.
The BFA in Devised Performance and Theatre Creation empowers students to use their strengths to create theatre in new and exciting ways. Photos: U of R Photography

The University of Regina’s Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance (MAP) has launched its new Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Devised Performance and Theatre Creation, which is unlike any other theatre program in the country. The program sets itself apart from most traditional post-secondary theatre programs by enabling the student to be involved in the creation and execution of theatre performances from beginning to end and by focusing on providing more opportunities for underrepresented groups in theatre. 

“There are so many strong and rigorous theatre programs across Canada that are rooted in tradition, so we were looking for a way to distinguish ourselves and capitalize on the strengths of our faculty,” said University of Regina Theatre Department Head, Kathryn Bracht. “Many members of our faculty are schooled in new play development and are theatre artists who are extremely talented and devise their own work, so we wanted to capitalize on the strengths and abilities of these individuals.” 

In addition to the talented faculty, another strength of the U of R’s Theatre Program is its facilities, which includes the 439-seat University Theatre and the adjacent, versatile Shumiatcher Open Stage, also known as the Shu-Box Theatre. 

“Our facilities are world-class and a lot of other universities can’t offer the kinds of spaces we have,” said Bracht. “I keep reminding students of how lucky we are and that even as a professional actor, you likely won’t be working in spaces as nice as these.” 

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The University Theatre is a modern proscenium
theatre that seats up to 439 and is one of only
two theatres in the city of Regina with a fly tower.

The standard BFA model of training is based on a traditional examination of the Western canon, which includes works by classical playwrights such as Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Brecht. While this style of training is still important, MAP recognizes that there is also a need for a more modern and inclusive style of teaching in today’s theatre programs. 

“Traditional theatre training tends to promote an idealized version of what an actor is by saying an actor needs a certain type of voice, physicality, and training in order to be successful,” said Bracht. “In today’s theatre, there is a huge shift in thinking about what this means for a lot of voices that are not typically heard enough in theatre.” 

While the need for this program was originally identified through an external review and community engagement process prior to the pandemic, the pandemic accelerated conversations about the decolonization of theatre practices and it became even clearer that a program such as this was needed. 

The BFA in Devised Performance and Theatre Creation is a direct-entry program where the audition process, which is required for entry into most BFAs, is replaced with a first-year project. First-year students will produce and perform in a cabaret, which will allow students to explore their own strengths. Whether it’s singing, acting, dancing, writing, or something else entirely, students will have the freedom to demonstrate their abilities and determine which direction they want to take with their theatre journey. 

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MAP’s new BFA aims to amplify the often
unheard voices in theatre.

Other courses will utilize the unique aspects of both the Regina theatre community and theatre communities across the world. For example, one of the courses will give students the opportunity to select, research, and rehearse a show for the Regina Fringe Festival that they would then produce and perform in. Students will also get the opportunity to travel to theatre festivals in other countries and incorporate their learnings into their own productions at the U of R. 

“The program is all about empowering students to use their strengths, create their own work, and follow a theatre practice that is new,” said Bracht. “We hope to graduate theatre artists who are well-rounded and who will shape the way theatre is created.” 

Fifth-year MAP student Tianna Chorney is excited about the future of devised theatre and the opportunities for diversity that come with it. 

“What excites me most about devised theatre is that it allows for a large number of diverse voices to come together and create,” said Chorney. “I think the more diversity of people we have, the more enriched our stories will be and the more diverse theatre will become.” 

Applications for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Devised Performance and Theatre Creation are being accepted now and courses begin in the Fall 2022 semester. For more information, visit the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance's website.

 

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