This year sees the loss of one of the key theatre courses at Trent, CUST 3070Y: Contemporary Theatre and Performance, taught by Dr. Diana Manole.
“CUST 3070 was been my most interesting course,” Dr. Manole reported. “It has an interactive narrative-style frame.”
The course framed the question of “What is theatre?”, and, according to its syllabus, explored everything from “realist theatre to theatre for young audiences, multi-media performances, and cyber theatre.” The course was integral to students specializing in theatre, and without the course, many students are unsure as to how they will complete their education.
“It was a major part of getting a minor in Cultural Studies with a specialization in performance,” explained Carmen Meyette. “I was hoping to have this minor as my third teachable going in to Teachers College.”
Meyette is looking to consult with her student advisors to work out if she will even be able to complete her degree at Trent.
“If relevant credits cannot be found now, and fit into my remaining time at Trent, I will have to take summer courses at Stratford. I would prefer to get my entire degree and qualifications for my undergrad from Trent. However, I am already in course overload this year, and it could be difficult to make up the credits for this minor.”
Another student, Sadie McLean, also shared her experience:
“I came to Trent University specifically to major in Cultural Studies with the hopes of gaining my teachable in Drama. This course looked like an exceptional option when I was looking for a more practical-based theatre course. Without having practical theatre courses at Trent, students who hope to obtain a teachable in Drama will not be as well-rounded educators as students who have experience from both sides of the spectrum.”
The loss of the course is especially strange because it follows last year’s successful production of Olga Mukhina’s Flying, put on by Dr. Manole and the Cultural Studies Department. The show received a review of 4/5 stars from the Arthur.
“Flying was the best show I ever directed at Trent,” Dr. Manole reported. “The cast was wonderful, and we had an amazing artistic and human experience. The show was promoted on Trent University’s homepage for more than a week, and Trent’s colleges gave us a generous grant to produce the show.”
The choreographer of the performance, Emilie Leonard was also surprised at the decision to cut the program.
“The show sold out every night and for good reason – Diana Manole is a creative genius,” gushed Leonard.
“Being able to work with Diana taught me things I wouldn’t have been able to learn anywhere else – imagine if I was able to study with her for an entire year? Flying was amazing, and the person who made the decision to cut the program clearly never even bothered to see the show. If they had, they never would have made the decision.”
“We were able to make almost 700 dollars from the show,” said Erin Burke, who played Snowflake in the show. “It makes no sense that they would hurt the Arts program at Trent for no reason! When I questioned the Dean of Humanities on the decision, she was unable to give an answer to the reasoning behind this decision.”
Will Brereton, who portrayed Snowstorm in the peformance, reported, “Diana was truly successful at challenging my acting skills to improve further, [and helped me] delve into exploring new character dynamics in both individual and group work.”
“I really enjoy working with Dr. Manole and I have nothing but good things to say about her,” McLean commented.
“Her lectures are intriguing and easy to follow. Her love for theatre is a great asset to the students she teaches, and you can tell that she is very passionate about what she is saying. Her experience in theatre [helps] students like myself that want to learn more about theatre from the technical and practical side.”
In the midst of the department’s decision to cancel 3070Y, Burke points out the controversy surrounding another theatre course continuing to run.
“I noticed that a second year course, Making of the Modern Body (CUST 2060Y), continues to run with an enrollment of 5 students,” Burke alleged.
“They’re cancelling a third year course with an enrollment of 18 students! When I questioned Trent admininstration on the reasoning [behind] the cancellation of CUST 3070Y, they said it was due to low enrollment. The minimum number of students to be enrolled in a class is 15, which CUST 3070Y obviously met the requirement for.”
“All my other classes only teach me theory. Diana taught me to stand up in front of an audience,” said Leonard.
Dr. Manole is still around however.
“This semester, I’m teaching CUST 2070Y: History and Theory of Theatre at Trent, and the 4th-year course in Directing at Guelph University.”