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Act I Scene I

Current & Past Students Projects

Relevant and fascinating research continues...

Current Doctoral Students:


Topic  Student Details
Religious Girlhood and Secular Schooling: A Multimodal poststructural feminist inquiry.  Rebecca Starkman (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion June 2018.
Social Cognition and Audience Reception. Scott Mealey (Ph.D) Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Expected completion September 2018.
50 Shades of Brown? How LGBQ "South Asians" Understand and Negotiate Brown(ness) through Drama. Dirk Rodricks (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion September 2018.
Drama, Literacy Learning and Gender. Diane Swartz Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion September 2019
Feeling Real: Affective Dimensions of Reality in Contemporary Canadian Performance. Kelsey Jacobson (Ph.D) Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Expected completion September 2019.
Youth Artists for Justice: Confronting Neoliberalism & Racism with Collaborative Action Research & Ethnodrama in Toronto. Rachel Rhoades (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion September 2019.
A Study of Embodiment, Dance and Applied Theatre. Nancy Cardwell (Ph. D) Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Expected Completion September 2019.
Theatre Training for the Contemporary (Canadian) Theatre. Why? How? Who? Who Cares? Sherry Bie (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Expected completion September 2019.


Examples of Recent Doctoral Student Projects:

Topic Student Details
Acting and Second Language Pragmatics: Pedagogical Intersections.  Art Babayants (Ph.D) Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Completed December 2016.
ABSTRACT: The study sheds light on the interrelations between interlanguage pragmatics and the use of a popular acting method, the Stanislavsky System, for second language (L2) acquisition. The theoretical investigation explores various uses of acting in second language education. The empirical enquiry represents an exploratory case-study of two adult EFL learners attending a theatre course in English. Through teacher journals, interviews, and the analysis of the students' pragmatic performance as captured by a video camera, the researcher hypothesizes that the pragmatic development of the students involved in drama comes from three main sources: the script, the acting exercises, and the necessity to communicate in English during the theatre course. In all three cases, the zone of proximal development in relation to pragmatic competence emerged as a result of a teacher-generated impetus to use L2, numerous opportunities for imitation and repetition, continuous peer-support, and the collaborative spirit created in the classroom.

Victorian Girls Private Theatricals: Performing and Playing with Possible Futures.



Heather Fitzsimmons- Frey (Ph.D) Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Completed December 2016.
ABSTRACT: During the long nineteenth century, amateur, juvenile at-home theatricals were a popular pastime in English middle-class homes. The scripts, the process of “getting-up” a play, and the opportunity to perform a variety of historical, fairy tale, and “Oriental” characters offered young people, especially girls, opportunities to act agentically, to explore alternate identities, and to imagine possible futures for themselves that went beyond the conventional expectations for Victorian girls. These performances were especially potent in the mid- to late- nineteenth century because at that time social, political, legal, education, and career opportunities for girls were frequently challenged and gradually changing: at-home theatrical experiences encouraged and enabled girls to push at the increasingly porous boundaries that contained their daily lives. Although girls today cannot speak for located Victorian middle-class girls, recent girls’ help to inform how nineteenth-century girls’ performer and spectator experiences might have stretched their imaginations regarding desirable identities and futures. The analysis demonstrates that playwrights used their scripts as vehicles to challenge and discuss contemporary socio-political issues, and through their theatricals girls could expand their imaginations regarding their identities and their own futures.
Three Performances of the Postmetropolis: Youth, Drama, Theatre, and Pedagogy Anne Wessels (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed June 2014.

ABSTRACT: This Canadian arts-infused ethnography inquires into youth and their social relations in a Mississauga secondary school and in the rehearsals of a production of Concord Floral at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. This study analyzes three performances of the suburb for what they suggest regarding the lives of youth, drama, and theatre pedagogy and the changing geography of the suburb. The first performance is a production of Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill enacted by eight youth from the suburbs. The second set of performances is composed of place-based rituals of schooling presented by students in the spaces of the school where they originally occurred. The final performance takes place on the same school grounds where I conduct walking interviews with youth. Our walks are interrupted and we become spectators to a third performance of the suburb orchestrated by the nonhuman. The social relations observed in this study suggest both normalized privilege and reaction against it. Drama and theatre are used methodologically to produce data rich with affect, including pleasure in rehearsal and the frustrations of a tension-ridden class. Drama and theatre, however, are analyzed for more than their methodological use. This research offers aesthetic approaches that open notions of both drama and theatre pedagogy as they are practiced with youth as ethical, social and environmental art forms. Social geographers Edward Soja (2011) and Doreen Massey’s (2005) spatial theory and Gilles Deleuze’s concepts of the “minor” (1997) and “difference” (1968/94) frame the study theoretically (1997, p. 141). The findings suggest multiple diversities ranging from artists-in-the-making to the nonhuman. Methodologically, doing drama enhances focus groups and conducting the interviews while walking results in the creation of hybridized methods. The analysis attempts to find what Patti Lather (2013) calls a “difference driven analytic” (p. 639). This study analyzes theatre rehearsal, school, and suburban spaces for their potential to become increasingly heterogeneous and equitable (Sibley, 2011, p.131). It closes with an analysis of the school grounds and its potential as a place for socially-engaged artistic practices working with, and alongside, the community to address issues of inadequate infrastructure, environmental concerns, and the quandaries associated with being young in the contemporary suburb.  ​

Drama Pedagogies, Multiliteracies and Embodied Learning: Urban Teachers and Linguistically Diverse Students Make Meaning. Burcu Ntelioglou (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed June 2012.

ABSTRACT: Drawing on theoretical work in literacy education, drama education and second language education, and taking account of poststructuralist, postcolonial, third world feminist, critical pedagogy, and intersectionality frameworks, this dissertation presents findings from an ethnography that critically examined the experiences of English language learners (ELLs) in three different drama classrooms, in three different high school contexts. More specifically, this multi-site study investigated two aspects of multiliteracies pedagogy: i) situated practice and ‘identity texts’ (Cummins et al., 2005; Cummins, 2006a) and ii) multimodality and embodied learning by overlaying, juxtaposing, or contrasting multiple voices (Britzman, 2000; Gallagher 2008; Lather 2000) of drama teachers and their students to provide a rich picture of the experiences of ELLs in drama classrooms. The diverse drama pedagogies observed in the three different drama contexts offer possibilities for a kind of cultural production proceeding from language learning through embodied meaning-making and self-expression. The situated practice of drama pedagogies provided a third space (Bhabha, 1990) for the examination of students’ own hybrid identities as well as the in-role examination of the identities of others, while moving between the fictional and the real in the drama work. The exploration of meaning-making and self-expression processes through drama, with attention to several aspects of embodied learning—from concrete, physical and kinesthetic aspects, to complex relational ones—was found to be strategic and valuable for the language and literacy learning of the English language learners. The findings from this study highlight the role of embodied forms of communication, expression and meaning-making in drama pedagogy. This embodied pedagogy is a multimodal form of self-expression since it integrates the visual, audio, sensory, tactile, spatial, performative, and aesthetic, through physical movement, gesture, facial expression, attention to pronunciation, intonation, stress, projection of voice, attention to spatial navigation, proximity between speakers in space, the use of images and written texts, the use of other props (costumes, artefacts), music and dance. The dialogic, collective, imaginative, in-between space of drama allows students to access knowledge and enrich their language and literacy education through connections to the real and the fictional, to self/others, to past and present experiences, and to dreams about imagined selves and imagined communities (Kanno & Norton, 2003).

Schooling in the Age of Austerity: Public Education, Youth and Social Instability in the Neoliberal City. Alex Means (Ph.D) Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education. Completed May 2012.

ABSTRACT: This dissertation examines the dynamics of “security” and “insecurity” in U.S. public schooling within the context of neoliberal urbanism and austerity. It argues that the entrenched problems confronting urban public schools today can be attributed largely to systemic failure—a toxic mixture of global economic change and volatility, profiteering and corruption, stunted imagination, and misguided policies, values and priorities. This has contributed to deepening material insecurity and inequality in the urban sphere and the erosion of social commitments to public schools and young people, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. This thesis analyzes these forces through an ethnographic case study in a neighborhood and public high school in Chicago: Ellison Square and Ellison High School (EHS). It asks: What are the pragmatic and imaginative limits of security in urban public schooling in a moment of escalating economic and social dislocation? Through the perspectives of those most affected, namely youth and their teachers, it documents the contradictions and effects of educational privatization, disinvestment, commercialization of curriculum, and the rise of a militarized culture of policing and securitized containment in urban schools and neighborhoods. It argues that these processes represent forms of enclosure that are undermining the democratic and ethical purpose of public schools and thereby making the daily lives and future of young people ever more insecure and precarious. Drawing inspiration from the perspectives of young people and their teachers, the thesis ultimately advocates for an educational vision that locates public schooling not as a commodity valued primarily for its role in shoring-up technical economic and military demands, but as a commons—a site critical to developing human security, economic justice and democratic life.

Toward a Postmodern Ethnography of Intercultural Theatre: an Instrumental Case-study of the Prague-Toronto-Manitoulin Theatre Project.

Barry Freeman (Ph.D)

The Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama, University of Toronto. Completed January 2010.
ABSTRACT: This thesis examines collaborative intercultural theatre that brings artists from different parts of the world together to create original work. It includes a case-study of the Prague- Toronto-Manitoulin Theatre Project, a theatrical collaboration that took place between 1999 and 2006 and with which I was involved as a performer and facilitator. The thesis considers the case-study within historical context, particularly in relation to the ideas and experiments of influential twentieth-century practitioner-theorists such as Brecht, Artaud, Brook and Schechner. I distinguish between modernist and postmodernist traditions in intercultural theatre discourse by tracing how the latter arose in response to poststructural arguments in cultural theory. In recent decades, theatre practices have accommodated this redirection by being more mindful of politics and ethics. I argue that approaches to research and analysis have lagged behind, and that alternative approaches are needed that are better suited to address contemporary practices and issues. I borrow from critical traditions in Anthropology, Cultural Studies and Education to build up a postmodern ethnographic approach to my case-study of the Prague-Toronto-Manitoulin Theatre Project. At stake in the case-study is the extent to which the additional contextual knowledge available to a postmodern ethnographic approach contributes to theatrical analysis and interpretation. More concerned with the instrumental value of the case-study than its intrinsic properties, I use the data to demonstrate that a postmodern ethnography is well-suited to consider ethics of representation in an intercultural context, that is, what the possibilities and limitations of dialogue across cultural difference may be. This, I argue, is as important as ever in a world in which intercultural encounter is common and cultural performance circulates with increasing fluidity and ease.
The Value of Volunteerism in Music Education. Tony Leong (Ph.D) Co-Supervisor Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed September 2009.
Youth Videomaking Projects: A Spoken Word Study. Isabelle Kim (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed June 2007.
ABSTRACT: The focus of this praxis-oriented PhD thesis is on the work done in publicly-funded, community-based youth videomaking projects (YVPs), the conditions and spaces in which it occurs, and what it means to youth and others involved with YVPs. This is a ‘spoken word’ study; it presents and studies the ‘talking about’ YVPs on an interactive two-disc DVD. DISC 2 includes five videos produced by YVP participants. Both discs contain excerpts from 16 individual videotaped interviews with these youth participants and others involved with the organizing and funding of these projects. The videomaking process enables youth to make critical statements about issues they care about, tell their stories, and comment on their world. This research contributes to the growing body of work on digital storytelling and multimodality in the fields of youth studies, ethnography, and education by theorizing the semiotic work and radical potential of YVPs. YVP work can potentially reframe the oppressive ways in which dominant discourses about youth have been produced as ‘passive’/ ‘active’; ‘at risk’/‘a risk’; media-‘savvy’/ ‘vulnerable’; media-‘producers’/‘consumers’. Starting with video histories, Lefebvre’s (2000/1974) typology of social space, and feminist theorizing of the ‘public’ (Fraser, 1990; Dean, 2001), I propose an ontology of YVP spaces and look at the kinds of spaces YVPs occupy within civil society. YVPs might be considered spaces of representation created by subaltern counterpublics as well as ‘communities of practice’ (Lave & Wenger 1991), whose members practice both media education and art. I consider the pedagogical implications of YVP work for media education in and out of schools. This research project advocates for YVPs while bringing into sharp focus critical questions about these projects, including the ethical implications of using video to show and tell ‘youth stories’ and qualitative research data. I have considered this project as a possible new, spoken word form of genealogy (Foucault 1971/1984) that pays attention to post-colonial concerns. The other major methodological contribution of this spoken word study is to explore the use of DVD authoring and digital video editing as both research methods and as methodology that evoke discourse analysis.
'Beyond Wonderful': The Role of the Teacher in Art Education - A Case Study. Masayuki Hachiya (Ph.D.) Co-Supervisor. Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed August 2006.
Performed Identities: Drama and the Transformation of Multicultural Education.
Dominique Riviere (Ph.D) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed April 2006.
ABSTRACT: Drawing from theories of identity construction, schooling and socialization, critical multiculturalism, and drama research, this study sought to address the following question: “How can Drama education be used to facilitate a different understanding of social identities (e.g. “race”, “culture”, “ethnicity”), in order to foster a more critical approach to multicultural education?” In the Fall Semester of 2004,1 conducted a critical ethnographic case study of a Grade Nine Drama classroom in an ethno-culturally diverse high school located in the Greater Toronto Area, Given that schools are socio-cultural sites which can serve to reproduce hegemony, I paid specific attention to the students’ performances of identity (both in and out of dramatic role), and to how those performances confirmed and/or challenged normative assumptions about those identities. In addition, I interviewed the Drama teacher, as well as conducted twelve, bi-weekly focus group interviews with fourteen students. This thesis investigates the performances of the most salient identities for the students - gender/sexuality and race/ethnicity - and situates them within the larger contexts of identity (re)production, and multiculturalism in Canada. By analyzing the connections between the students’ “fictional” identity performances, and their “actual” ones, outside of dramatic role, I show how, in this particular classroom, those connections mainly served to reinforce hegemonic norms and values about the nature of social identity and identification. I conclude the thesis, therefore, by making explicit the relationship between the performative aspects of education (in particular, educational policymaking), and the power of schools to socialize students and teachers to perform particular identities which reinforce Western hegemony. I suggest an alternative configuration of that relationship, and show how multicultural curricular policy might be revised in order to interrupt that cycle of hegemony. Finally, I show how a very specific, social-justice-oriented drama pedagogy can be used to create and implement such a revised curricular policy, such that multicultural education can be transformed into a flexible, continually (re)negotiated, critical practice, that has implications both for educational policy and for how “official” multiculturalism in Canada is envisioned.


Examples of Recent Masters Student Projects:


Student Details
An Exploration of the Value of Professional Theatre for Children. Lois Adamson (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed June 2011.
ABSTRACT: Experienced by thousands of children every year, professional theatre for young audiences (TYA) is still a relatively new and understudied phenomenon in Canada. The purpose of this research has been to learn why teachers bring their students to the theatre, specifically Young People’s Theatre (YPT), and to determine how these connect to the perceptions of those who work at and with the theatre. In order to understand the complexities of the impetus to bring students to YPT, the limitations and successes teachers encounter in doing so, this ethnographic study was situated at the intersection of spatial and curriculum theories and has included surveys, interviews and participatory observation. This research provides greater understanding of the challenges and benefits of including theatre-going in one’s educational repertoire. These new insights contribute to contemporary scholarship on aesthetic education and arts-based community building and provide opportunities for further research about teaching and learning through theatre.
Interplay and overlay: Devising and intercultural pedagogy. Anne Wessels (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed June 2009.
ABSTRACT: The focus of this thesis is a drama project with youth in a Mississauga grade twelve secondary school classroom. The ethnography completed by the classroom teacher follows the six month devising project and explores issues of interculturalism, community, conflict and the relationship between ethnography and pedagogy. The thesis makes use of intertextual strategies to explore themes of difference and diversity. The theoretical framework includes feminism, theatre luminary: Antonin Artaud and poststructuralists: Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri.
Keeping it real: Drama, masculinity, and performance. Philip Lortie (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed May 2005.
ABSTRACT: Current scholarship in drama/theatre, ethnography, and gender has found great inspiration in the peformative, that is, the spontaneous, repetitive, and incomplete gestures and acts that constitute our everyday lives. The present work operates within this field of inquiry to examine what potential there is in drama education to open up alternative masculine performances for high school boys. This autoethnography, conceived of as a performance in which the reader is positioned as a co-creator, is based upon the author’s experiences as a student, actor, teacher, and researcher and offers critical insights into the relational, historical, and discursive aspects of masculine performances, and the possibility for imaginative role play to productively engage with hegemonic masculinity. Drama, as a marginal space within most schools, is seen as providing a stage for liberatory practice, a refuge and forum for boys whose masculine performances challenge aspects of the dominant gender order.
At the Edge of Possibility: Rethinking teaching practices with the adolescent learner. Judy Blaney (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed 2004.
‘Our capacity to learn is the source of our ability to teach’ (Freire,1998, 66). A school-based action research project implemented in two stages over four years began as a collaboration between a grade 8 teacher committed to her students’ meaningful engagement in and understanding o f the substantially increased curriculum, and a university-based drama expert, committed to supporting the praxis o f teachers at a time of vast change. Stage one explored the potential of integrating drama into the teaching of the intermediate history curriculum. In stage two, the teacher, on her own, as reflective practitioner, deepened her understanding o f drama and liberatory practices and considered the voices of five students four years later as they reflected on their grade 8 experience and its enduring impact. The inquiry provided increased understanding about student learning within an integrative drama/history approach. However, upon critical reflection four years later, it revealed previously ‘unseen’ opportunities for learning by an inexperienced teacher of drama, unfamiliar with the concept of ‘liberatory practices’ - pedagogy that builds inclusive and democratic communities (Gallagher, 2003). Important implications about adolescence as it pertains to the middle school experience and preservice teacher education programs emerge from an analysis of the students’ voices as they reflect on their grade 8 experience during this critical period of early adolescence.
Using Aesthetic and Experiential Education to Promote Health in the Writing Classroom: Problems and Possibilities. Jessica Sherman (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed December 2004.
Living Culture: Identity, Curriculum, and Multicultural Education.
Dominique Riviere (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed January 2003.
This study is conducted within the framework of critical multicultural education. Specifically, it focuses on the issue of cultural representation within the high school English curriculum for the province of Ontario. It looks at what changes occur (if any) in the identity-development of ethnic, female students, when they are presented with a novel that may reflect their lived cultural experiences. “Ethnic” is defined here as a first-generation Canadian of non-Western European descent, or as an immigrant to Canada, from a non-Western European country, within the last ten years. The participants’ responses to the novel (in the form of Active Reading Notes) are read, and weekly, private interviews are conducted with them, so as to probe those responses more deeply. Also, classroom seminars/discussions about the novel are observed, in order to examine the relationship between the participants’ verbal responses to those of their peers.
The Critical Pedagogy of Youth Experiences with Drama and Videomaking. Isabelle Kim (M.A) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed September 2003.
This research contributes to the fields of critical pedagogy, drama, and media education by showing what and how hybrid-culture youth can learn from collective creation experiences in drama and videomaking. The narrative mode allows youth to learn and develop multiple intelligences, literacies, and their understanding of the drama’s topic and self and other in experiential, and aesthetic ways. I examine the capacity for a critical pedagogical approach in drama and media education to deepen youth’s critical thinking and understanding of self and other. Educator-leamer relationships in drama education, power relations, role-playing, culture, identity, difference, freedom, and conflict, are addressed in relationship to videomaking and drama endeavours. Finally, I discuss implications for conducting research with youth as well as those for curriculum, teaching, and learning.
The Interconnected Journey of the Holistic Educator. Gail Thornton (M.A.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed May 2002. 

Out of the Iron Cage: The Loss of Meaning and Teaching.

John Moyer (M.Ed.) Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Completed December 2001.








































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