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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. BRIAN TYSON
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Brian Tyson
Bryan began work at the University in the English Department in 1968. Shortly after he arrived, he formed the first University drama society that went on to perform several plays during the early years. His efforts and successes in local drama led to the creation of the Drama Department at the University. In 1990, Bryan was recognized with the Distinguished Teaching Award. He retired in 1995.
Bryan speaks about establishing the first student drama Society in 1968, and how this success led to the establishment of the Drama Department.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Just after I arrived ... I determined to do something about drama. I had directed plays at Christ’s College (United Kingdom) and enjoyed it, and I looked around the local landscape as it were, the artistic landscape and thought, 'Well, if there’s anything missing, it’s that.' In my second week, I decided to start a drama society, which I called the University of Lethbridge Drama Society.
I got involved with various people at the Playgoers, the Allied Arts Council and I began to be called upon to speak about the drama, whatever that is, and I was being treated as if I was the University representative, or in fact as if I was some kind of embryonic drama department, which I wasn’t. And so, I thought, 'Well, that’s what we should have, a drama department.' I wasn’t really interested in those days in a professional school. I had already managed to suss-out the Music Department, and with all respect to Lucian Needham, differed with him savagely on one point, which, he thought music was an esoteric activity, it should be only performed by the initiate, you know, by the group. And I was a great believer in culture, everybody, and I wanted people who knew nothing about music, and probably never would to at least sample it, get in on it, find it, it’s part of your life, same with drama, and so on.
So anyway, well, I suggested to Owen Holmes, that we might have a drama department. And to my surprise, Owen, he’s a chemist, and I think he’d been quite, I wouldn’t say impressed by this drama thing, but he seemed to think it was alright, and he said, 'Yes he’d take in under advisement.' And before 'The Miser' (play) got rolling, the Arts and Science Council had a look at this and said, 'All right.' And then some bright spark, very clever person said, 'We must put a time line on this, otherwise it will never happen.' That wasn’t me, I wish it had been me ... it was someone who was and then they knew exactly. And they said, 'Oh all right, we ‘ll make an appointment in Drama before the fall, in the fall of ’71', or something, that was the date they put on it, that was far enough away. So 'The Miser' went on. We ... things got better.
By this stage of the game, I, as I say, I was being pestered by people to ... and I remember one man at a meeting saying, 'Why didn’t we, why don’t you do more, you know, the University should …' But I said, 'Look, I’m not the University, this is a student group which I happened to have founded.' And okay, I mean I’m this mentor of the man, but I mean, I said, 'You know, we can’t fly before we can walk, and I’m not the Drama ...' And anyway, I went to Owen and I said, 'Look, this thing that you say that’s been passed by the Arts and Science Council and by GFC, can we do something about it now.' And, you know I got a tart reply to the effect, 'Well, you know you must be patient, we’re doing these things.' So, I wrote back and I said, 'Look, I think we should have an, at least an advisory committee,' you know, to be looking out for things, thinking of what we need in the way of space, how many faculty, whatever. So, he wrote back and said, 'Yes, I think so and you will be hearing from me.' And in less than a week, he had set up the committee and I was on it of course and we then set about looking for our first Drama (Department) appointment.
(Interviewed by Jim Tagg)