The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

It is time to value the arts

By in Features/Opinions

JILLIAN BORROWMAN 

Drama

With financial issues at the University of Saskatchewan being highlighted on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that critics are quick to attack the arts, questioning the validity of such degrees.

It would seem that departments like drama are limiting progress here on campus. The inconsequential research of those non-academics from the John Mitchell Building (yes, they have their own building!) discredits all other research that comes out of this fine academic institution. The solution? Wipe the campus clean of these so-called artists in order to move forward with utility. Because that is what universities are, right? Factories devised to take in money and churn out practical manpower for the work force.

Funny, I was under the impression that universities were houses of higher-learning.

It seems to me that a university offers a well-rounded scope of natural and social sciences, arts and humanities in order to produce freethinking and contributing members of society.

Maybe it seems idealistic, but I really did think that this was what I signed up for when I enrolled at the U of S. Unfortunately, I become more and more aware that not everyone has this philosophy.

Across campus, people are quick to write-off the drama department, not giving it the  recognition it deserves for the role it plays in higher education. It is no less credible of a degree than one obtained from any other undergraduate program.

Just like any other bachelor degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts is an excellent stepping-stone for further education or real-world application. Not every student graduating with a BFA in Acting will become an actor, but then again not every student with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies will become a politician nor will every student with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics become a mathematician. That just isn’t the way degrees work.

Theatre promotes critical thinking while encouraging creativity. Drama classes allow students to exercise personal understanding and presentation. These are vital skills and values which can be applied in everyday life as well as toward a student’s specific degree program.

When a fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears in North America and when many degree programs require presentations at conferences and colloquiums, how can a class such as drama be considered non-practical?

There is a reason that students in every degree program are required to take electives from a variety of departments. The point of a university education is to broaden our scope so we can become socially conscious members of society. Theatre helps to do this on campus and, yes, out there in the real world too.

Drama provides a democratic opportunity for discussion about real issues and events. It influences our lives and the way we look at our values and choices. What else can so easily bring together a group of complete strangers to laugh, cry and breathe as a collective?

Before you leap to judgments of the value and importance that the drama department provides, enroll yourself in a class. At the very least sit down and watch a show put on by the department. If you approach theatre and drama studies with an open mind you can truly appreciate their worth.


Graphic: Mike Tremblay

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