All the world’s a stage

Kwantlen’s first theatre and performance class coming this spring.
By Connor Doyle
[associate editor]

Fred Ribkoff has been trying to create a theatre and performance course at Kwantlen since his first year teaching here in 2005. Beginning this spring semester, his efforts will finally be realized when the students enrolled in IDEA 1400 will be offered the chance to discover their inner thespians.

“It’s a performance course where [the students] can explore themselves while also developing their performance abilities for others,” says Ribkoff, who will also be teaching the class. “That’s one of the mandates for the course—to perform for others and in different spaces, all over campus.”

Students will get to act out a wide variety of scenes, both from literature offered by the instructor as well as any work they would like to bring to the class. In addition, the student actors will be made available to courses in other disciplines, to help bring to life some of the elements they might be learning about. For example, a history class might ask for some performance students to act out the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, or a criminology class might witness a troupe of student actors bringing a particular crime-scene to life.

“It is an interdisciplinary course in that dramatic material can emerge anywhere,” explains Ribkoff. “Whatever you want to see put in concrete form, my students could enact for you. And by bringing it forward you’ll inevitably understand it better.”

The course will be both academic, in that it will examine the professional ways in which performances are brought to life, but it will also be heavily geared towards personal and inter-personal expression, where the students determine what they will work on, and how they wish to learn. In addition, the class will also be open to students who wish to take non-acting roles in performance and production, including lighting, blocking, directing and costumes.

“The students are going to get to explore the material that they want to explore,” says Ribkoff. “I can guarantee that they’ll have fun and that they’ll learn a lot, no matter what they bring to the class.”

Traditionally an English professor, this will be Ribkoff’s first time teaching an IDEA-based course, though he’s had a history with acting and performance workshops before both inside and outside of the university context. One of the primary aspects of a theatre class that appealed to him was the amount of research that is required of an actor who adopts a role. This attention to research, Ribkoff argues, can help students with their academics in other fields

After working with faculty and administration at KPU for years, Ribkoff was finally able to create his theatre class as an Inter-Disciplinary effort. Ross Laird, IDEA/Creative Writing professor and the “lead developer of the Inter-Disciplinary Expressive Arts initiative” at Kwantlen, was thrilled to welcome Ribkoff’s class into the IDEA department.

“[It’s] filling a hole that’s been in our curriculum a long time,” says Laird. “IDEA is by nature interdisciplinary and is meant to offer personal and exploratory courses in an academic context. [This class] will be the only university level performance course south of the Fraser that we know of. It’s a fresh and distinctive thing that we’re really excited for.”

“I hope my students get the chance to explore themselves,” says Ribkoff. “To expand their sense of themselves and what they’re capable of, and to ultimately develop their own dramatic material. I think they’ll develop a lot of confidence, empathy—it’s inherent to any dramatic medium.”

While the first class has yet to start, the university has already agreed to welcome a return of the class in future semesters. As of now, spots are still available for IDEA 1400, but they will likely fill up quickly.

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