Drama

New Play Creation and Development


U of A Drama offers a wide scope of approaches to new play development. Several faculty members, Dr. Piet Defraeye, David Kennedy, Jane Heather, Jan Selman, John Raymond, Kathleen Weiss and our Lee Playwright in Residence, Colleen Murphy, contribute to new play development via work with individual playwrights and organizations which workshop and produce new plays. This faculty expertise is evident in research activities and also in the pedagogy of the department which emphasizes the creation of new work.  

Another aspect of play creation, devised or performer-created theatre, is strongly represented in our department.  David Barnet is a pioneer of the Canadian collective theatre movement. His work puts a particular emphasis on bringing the voices of seniors, victims of violence and immigrants to the stage through collaborative creation processes. Catalyst Theatre and GeriActors and Friends were founded based on his principles and approaches. Jan Selman and Jane Heather also specialize in community-based theatre.

Our faculty includes practitioners who create and perform their own work. Michael Kennard created the Canadian clown duo Mump & Smoot with John Turner in 1988, they have since created seven full-length shows and have toured extensively throughout North America. Lin Snelling is a choreographer who works internationally, performing the dance/theatre piece she has created. 


Key contacts:


David BARNET

Research considers the realization of creative aging through theatre. His specialization is in the development of senior's theatre. He also teaches Shakespeare as a base for theatre practice by liberal arts students.

Primary Teaching Areas: Performer-Created Theatre, Collective Creation, Scene Study (Shakespeare), Intergenerational Theatre.

Dr. Piet DEFRAEYE

Research focuses on Reception Theories and Theatre of Provocation.

Primary Teaching Areas: Dramatic Theory, Introduction to Theatre Arts, Play Analysis. Graduate Seminars in Production Dramaturgy, Audience Reception Theory, Brecht, Research Tools. Graduate Supervision.

Jane HEATHER

Research examines the process and practice of theatre as a path to individual community and social change with a particular focus on global methodologies. Explores the key creative partnership between director and playwright. Work as a playwright features community-based participatory research and participatory theatre.

Primary Teaching Areas: BA, Community-Based Theatre, Directing, Scene Study. Graduate Supervision.

Michael KENNARD

Uses the clown techniques to explore performer impulse, truth and vulnerability in relationship to the audience. Creates imaginative worlds without literal boundaries. 

Primary Teaching Areas: Performer-Created Theatre, Movement and Physical Theatre, Collective Creation, Clown. Graduate Supervision.

David KENNEDY

A director and artistic producer with wide experience in the not-for-profit regional theatre. Specializes in re-imagining the classics and the modern canon in production. Also has a considerable background in the creation of works of devised performance.

Primary teaching areas: MFA Directing, BFA Acting, Performer Created Theatre, Graduate Seminars in Dramatic Structure and Playwriting and Performance on the Contemporary American Stage



Jan SELMAN


Directs contemporary and original theatrical work. Also a dramaturge and director of new theatre and performance, working with playwrights and theatre teams. Specializes in participatory and community-based theatre, as a facilitator and director, and publishes based on this long standing practice.

Primary Teaching Areas: Directing, Performer-Created Theatre, BFA Acting. Graduate Seminars in Directing, Community-Based Theatre. Graduate Supervision.

John RAYMOND

Research is situated in the exploration and development of the stage manager’s role in a theatrical production. Formulating tools for extending the communication between the director, the actor and the stage manager within the context of a show rehearsal and performance.

Primary Teaching Areas: Stage Management, Production Management. 

Lin SNELLING

Research is the honing of musical, experiential, intuitive, technical, energetic and anatomical intelligence the body offers through dancing. By listening to the practical and paradoxical intelligence of the body, the dancer becomes scholar as the body's intelligence and intuition is a vibrant and sensual library. Making dance, dancing and discussing dance creates an open field for cross-pollination in art. 

Primary Teaching Areas: BFA Movement for Actors. Graduate Supervision.

Kathleen WEISS

Develops innovative performance techniques that reveal character through extended imagery. Explores a performance language that emphasizes the physical playing of the actor moving in space, in varied kinds of audience relationship.

Primary Teaching Areas: Directing, BFA acting, Performer-Created Theatre. Graduate Seminars in Directing, New Play Dramaturgy, Emergence of the Director. Graduate Supervision.