Speaker by Various Artists

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Speaker: In Praise of The Catalysts of Thought: The Free Theatre's 'Faust Chroma'

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  • Bob Munro,

    I'm really confused by this report in the Herald on Tuesday. Does this mean that Theatre and Film and American Studies programmes are saved but the staff positions aren’t?

    It would now retain the American Studies programme, but with a reduction in staff, Film Studies academic staff would move to English, and Theatre Studies would be retained.
    "The overall result will be reductions of 6.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) academic staff positions and 6.5 FTE general staff positions."
    The University said it wanted to consult staff further about the number of schools and their names.
    "This is the only aspect of the restructuring that will be subject to further consultation."
    AUS said American Studies would now have a staff-to-student ratio of 1 to 45.3, 50 per cent higher than the highest student to staff ratio in an existing programme in the college.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    It hasn't been reported very clearly.

    American Studies stays but loses 4.5 academic staff. Art History loses 2 academic staff and a librarian. Theatre Studies keeps its 2 academic staff and is merged with music and fine arts into a Centre of Performing and Fine Arts. Film Studies keeps its 2 academic staff and is attached to English, loses its film production side and the one staff member who managed that technical area.

    The other staff losses are in various administrative roles.

    I guess there would be mild relief that none of these areas of study have gone from Canterbury.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Sharon Mazer,

    You're right to be confused by the Draft Implementation Plan, Bob. Looks like we've been "saved" doesn't it. So how could we possibly be ungrateful? We should be dancing in the streets. Well, we'll have to dance in the streets, because the Plan says we won't have the University Theatre to do it in any longer. And if you're not there, you won't see it, because the Plan recommends that practical component of the film studies courses be eliminated.

    Basically, what the Plan proposes for Theatre and Film Studies. (With apologies to other programmes who are at least as hard-hit for being so self-centred.)

    The major in Theatre and Film Studies are to be disestablished.

    There will be a new major in Film Studies which will now sit in a new School with English and a radically reduced American Studies programme. Two of the lecturers who currently teach into the existing Film Studies courses will be transferred into this new School. The current Technical Director and Tutor for Film will be made redundant. Totally new courses in Film Studies will need to be developed, because the current courses involve practical work as a major component of students' learning and assessment.

    There will also be a new major in Theatre, which will now sit alongside the School of Music and the School of Fine Arts in a new Centre for Performing and Fine Arts. (This at least makes more sense than aligning Film Studies with English rather than the current Fine Arts Filmmaking Programme.) The other two lecturers -- who currently teach into both Theatre and Film Studies courses -- will be transferred into this new Centre. The Technical Director and Designer for Theatre will retain his position. It is not clear at this point what the effect on the current Theatre courses will be, because...according to the Plan the Department's town facilities will be lost. This means no more University Theatre, no more Te Puna Toi/Vaccess (no more New Zealand Film Archive film viewing), no more Nibelheim, no more Old Queen's Theatre. Instead the newly conceived Theatre programme's base of operations will be at the College of Education. Thus, the students can still study theatre and engage in practical work and public performances -- they just won't be able to do it in a professional theatre environment.

    Our Departmental Administrator, who brings to her position substantial academic and practical experience in both theatre and film, who is working on a PhD and tutoring in Film Studies at present, has to enter a competitive selection pool to become an administrator in one of the new schools...or give up her position entirely.

    The postgraduate students who work both in theatre and in film, who are working on projects that mix these media, are now being told that they will have to find other ways of working.

    And obviously, staff teaching and research will be severely compromised on all levels.

    When I was advised of the contents of the Draft Implementation Plan at 830am Tuesday morning (15th April), I was told by Professor Strongman that "this is not up for grabs or discussion -- these are finished things." Of course, he also said on January 30th, "you cannot fight this, Sharon, the case is too solid."

    This arises as a result of the University failing to adhere to its own formal processes and protocols for managing academic and finanial issues. There has been no good faith (or any sort of faith) effort by Professor Strongman to negotiate a way for us to contribute to the College of Arts required savings while preserving the Theatre and Film Studies major. The Review Panel toured our facilities but did not invite us to speak to them about options for achieving savings without doing such damage -- not even a pro forma invitation to me as HoD to front up, as might be expected during the University's usual change processes.

    It does seem to us that the objective is to deal a fatal blow to our disciplines; the only difference is now we are being offered the opportunity to die slowly rather than quickly. Or as one student has put it: "on January 30th they threatened to chop off both our arms, and now they want us to rejoice in only having one amputated."

    I really hate to sound ungrateful. In this week alone I see so many people losing their jobs with no recourse and few alternatives. In comparison, I am a privileged academic. But my work is with students and performance here in Christchurch. I value my colleagues and what we have built together more than I can say. To find it under attack by the very people who are supposed to prize our accomplishments and facilitate our development is deeply discouraging for all of us here.

    University of Canterbury • Since Apr 2008 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Sharon Mazer,

    Ooops. Instead of

    The major in Theatre and Film Studies are to be disestablished.

    Please read

    The major in Theatre and Film Studies is to be disestablished.

    Someone please slap me on the wrist now.

    University of Canterbury • Since Apr 2008 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Thanks for explaining Sharon. ]
    And commiserations.
    I won't air my full feelings- I also work for UC. But feelings of relief for some particular people affected are tempered by anger and regret. Kia kaha.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    The Free Theatre lived up to its name and I got to see the play for free last Friday. And it was wonderful.

    We were welcomed with wine and feted with more of the same at the conclusion. The set was multi-layered and used with great imagination. There was movie projection, synchronised with the actors speaking their lines. There was passion and movement and subtlety and diabolical and beautiful music. There was even a point when I feared for an actor's safety as she dangled upside down singing for what seemed like an unhealthily long time.

    There was every theatre experience you could expect except maybe controversy. But that was supplied at the performance last night. My 16 year old daughter was thrilled when a large part of the audience from one school was ushered out after the opening erotic (mildly) scene, leaving just 20 patrons. She and her group of drama mad friends got what they felt was a private performance and the privilege to interact personally with the cast at the end. Perfect.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

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