Powerful speech by MA Drama Grad Student, Brendan Nearey

On the Drama Department?s Orientation day, Brendan Nearey gave an excellent speech about the MA Drama program. Here it is!

26 September 2013

Hello. I'm Brendan Nearey, on behalf of the MA Drama program.

Theatre is a very hands-on and practical field, and it's easy to get swept up in the show you're working on. Many of us are here because we like to be active, kinetic and immersed in our process. Let's discuss the bigger picture.

Around the world, performance traditions are rich in history and diversity.

These traditions have lessons we can draw on, not only to improve our own practical or academic work, but to come to a better understanding of our own society, and the many ways humans communicate and connect with each other.

It's easy to associate the MA with Research and Theory, and yes, there is a lot of reading books and papers, and becoming familiar with critical theorists. What you might not realize is that research is actually an investigation; the readings and theory are the clues that lead you to a mystery, a puzzle that requires you to collect all the fragments before arranging them into a cohesive picture.

Some of those fragments are in books, some of them are on the web, but some of them require you to talk to an expert who's on the other side of the planet, or travel abroad to watch a performance in another language. Investigating that mystery will turn your notions of theatre on its head, suspend it from the ceiling and catapult it out of the room.

Our focus as MAs is to find greater meaning out of the incredible volume of work that artists produce. We identify trends, examine outcomes, and formulate reasons why a piece was controversial. We contemplate what new ideas a production brought to the table, and recognize the impact it had on the audience that saw it.

These investigative and analytical skills combine with knowledge of the theatrical landscape to make MA students an asset to any production. We find out how things have been done before; theorize on how they could be done better; and inform you of ways to help refine your methodology. We are the pilots and navigators of theatre; you can make your voyage without us, but who knows where you'll end up, or how much longer it will take to get to your destination.

The MA is the training ground for Dramaturgs, Assistant Directors, Administrators, Publicists, Theatre Managers, Teachers, and of course Academics; we are proud to be the people who will lay the foundations for the cultural landscape of tomorrow. If you think you have what it takes to help us shape the future, talk to Piet Defraeye, the MA program co-ordinator. Our primary instructors are Piet Defraeye, Stephano Muneroni, and Donia Mounsef (who is currently on sabbatical.) Thank you.