University of British Columbia, Ph.D. 2007
There are two passions that I have had since my early years – creating community and creating theatre. I first started to connect the two when I worked on a First Nations reservation on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was while working at Ittatsoo that I began to connect community to place and to the Indigenous belief that the land knows you when you belong. It was also working there that I was introduced to using theatre as a way to bring awareness to community issues such as child abuse and neglect and the attending legacies of the residential school system and the practices of colonialism.
In returning to finishing my university education, I discovered Paolo Freire and Augusto Boal, and explored theatre as a tool for social change. Before going on to my doctorate I was the artistic director of Tricksters’ Theatre, a touring Aboriginal theatre company that toured to schools in isolated communities in British Columbia and involved them fully as participants in our plays. It was during this time that many of the pieces of my life journey started to come together. I returned to university with a burning need to understand what it was that happened between people when they performed together. The evidence I had observed was that changes in their perception of each other led people to be more kindly and inclusive and that there was a palpable sense of belonging to a community where before there had been isolation and suspicion.
It was in my doctoral research that I found tenuous threads that, when woven together, created an elastic fabric that supported my ideas about participation and building community. I drew from many fields to write my dissertation: “Elasticity, Community, and Hope: Understandings from Participatory Theatre Performance” (2006). I styled my field of inquiry as “Participatory Performance and Pedagogy”.
In the years since, I have taught a heavy load of courses at a regional college in northern Alberta and my research languished while the field of spectatorship and performance studies developed. Now I am excited to find that my research contributes to a vital new field.
- University of Alberta, M.A. 1996
- University of British Columbia, B.A. 1993