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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Eric completed his Bachelor of Arts in 1975 at the University, majoring in English with a focus on drama. After spending a year in a Master’s program at the University of Victoria, he returned to teach sessional courses at the University of Lethbridge in the Drama Department. He later went to the University of Western Ontario to continue his graduate work. Upon completion of his Master of Arts in Journalism, he came back to work at the University. Eric has worked in many different positions and areas, including the Drama Department, the English Department, the International Centre for Students, the Academic Writing Program, and the Writing Centre.
Eric describes his student experience in drama at the University.
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)
(GR: Graham Ruttan, Interviewer)
EL: Well, I anxiously signed up and enthusiastically signed up for the first Drama 1000 class. Twenty students. Twenty students in one of those temporary buildings. We still have them in the northwest corner of the parking lot and, but that building was over at the College campus initially, and we’d gather together and start out sitting on the floor doing breathing and relaxation exercises, and moving from the inside out trying to discover who we were and how we related to our environment, and then how we related dramatically to that environment and to each other. I was disappointed because I’d done nine shows my first year at U of C, and it was highly structured and very product oriented, and it was big fun for me. And David (Spinks) said, ‘No that’s not the approach we’re taking. So everything you learned at U of C, try to forget. Because we’re gonna start over and we’re going to build you as a dramatic entity who can find the theatre in any situation, the theatrical in any situation.’ And his primary focus was on getting us to find our own dramatic situations and discover how we would respond depending on who we were at that particular moment. I mean this goes back to Jerry Garcia who, when he breaks a string said, ‘Why don’t you talk to each other, or talk to your selves? Or did you know you had selves to talk to?’ And that’s when I became aware, taking this Drama 1000, that I did have selves, not a self. And depending on all kinds of things, I could be a different person very, very quickly and change my attitude and approach, change my persona. And so he would take us through some very, very light and safe exercises.
GR: Like as a group of 20?
EL: As a group of 20. A lot of it internal before we started interacting with each other. And I brought this into my own drama teaching when I taught. I was lucky enough to teach Drama 1000 more than a dozen times I guess, and I tried to bring his philosophy in: let’s discover who we are, let’s discover what communication is and then we’ll add words to that. And it gave us a lot of self-confidence as well, so that we wouldn’t be afraid of public speaking, and this was good for the students in Education particularly. And David was keenly, keenly interested in getting us to perform for young people, to get them excited about possibilities of dramatic work and to recognize that this was something they could do.