A peep inside the English Department Theatre Group

As we’re now beginning to see the next production of the English Department Theatre Group take shape, I wanted to let you peep inside and tell you a little bit more about the group. Last year, we worked on the theatre of the absurd with a small team of six. We have new performers this year which makes a total of nine. I really love to see this group grow and gain in diversity. This project really deserves success; it was initiated by students for other students (with much appreciated and invaluable help from members of the staff and theatre lovers).

As we’re coming back from the break, we’re beginning to rehearse parts of the show we will present to you. There is still a lot of work to do but as Tania, one of our leaders and our friend, told me last Friday: “Things are taking shape nicely”. All I can say for the moment is that our show is going to be festive and funny. As you might know already, this year’s workshops are all about entertaining our audience.

So far, as we did in the 2007-2008 winter semester, we focused on interesting theatre games, working on space, voice and team building. Theatre games were entirely new for me when I joined the group last year. Most of the ones we use are described in Clive Barker’s “Theatre Games: A New Approach to Drama Training”. While I didn’t read the book, my understanding of these games (which are various in their forms and their purpose) is that they increase awareness of the self, of the group and of many components of the craft. Some of them are very hard like running blindfolded into teammates placed in a row at the other end of the room, some are challenging creativity like inventing a walk, or impersonate an animal. These might seem anecdotal but they have a very strong impact on players. They certainly have a great impact on me – I would go as far as to say there is a mystical side to them because they made me grow in ways that I can not fully explain with words.

But I digress and there is certainly no way of succinctly expressing the multitude of rewards one can get from theatre. To get more information about what one can get out of theatre and why you should definitely come to see our next production, I would advise you to read the spring issue of NOTED when it comes out around the middle of February.

Blaming it on tools is harmful

When people in charge say “Ever since they introduced computers in the process it got messy” to explain why the lectures’ recordings are bad always make me feel uncomfortable. This particular category of blame diversion technique is very common and has bad consequences. People seem to believe it and that’s even more worrisome because it is ultimately inaccurate. What really happens is closer to this: people mess the recording levels up from week to week and the “tech guy” can’t keep up. He is busy taking care of multimedia equipment scattered across two hundred rooms in different buildings. It is an organizational problem not a technical one.

When asked about digital media accidents, most people (myself included sometimes) will choose to divert all the blame on tools. Students try to blame word processors for spelling and grammar mistakes and teachers failing to record lectures blame “computers”. However, blaming the tools in that manner is wrong. Computers or hi-fi appliances can’t take any more responsibility than a screwdriver does. It also sadly shows people share misconceptions and discomfort regarding computers and tech in general.

While it is true that tools have no feelings, these negative reactions hurt people. They seed a sense of suspicion or even fear in the room they are uttered in, especially if they are repeated over and over again. Somehow people might begin to feel trapped in a world full of disobedient machines, out to get them. Moreover, none of these mindless comments ever helped fix any tech related problem. All this misdirected blame badly hurts people’s attitude towards technology and prevents them to become more computer literate.

Trouver des illustrations gratuites

Illustrer mon blog et mes autres projets de publication sur le web a toujours été un peu problématique jusqu’à maintenant, Il est souvent long et compliqué de trouver des images gratuite et légalement réutilisable et il n’est pas recommandé de juste utiliser la recherche d’image de Google et de violer le droit de la propriété intellectuelle en faisant du copier-coller.

Heureusement, il existe des très nombreuses ressources qui permettent d’illustrer vos propos gratuitement et légalement. Je souhaite privilégier les images du domaine public ou celles dont les licences sont les moins restrictives pour pouvoir redistribuer le produit de mon travail: dans la liste suivante, les ressources sont ordonnées par rapport à ce principe.

  • Wiki Commons. Les photos ont diverses licences et une grande partie d’entre elles sont dans le domaine public. Elles sont classées par catégories, le moteur de recherche est d’une efficacité limitée.
  • From Old Books propose des images scannées dans de vieux livres. La plupart sont dans le domaine public. Elles sont catégorisées et taggées, On navigue sur ce site par le moteur de recherche qui permet de filtrer les photos par lieux, tags, sujets…
  • Attribution Creative Commons sur Flickr. Tapez simplement vos mots-clés dans la boîte de recherche située sous le titre “Creative Commons / BY:” puis appuyer sur Entrée. Ces images peuvent être utilisées, modifiées, redistribuées à la condition que le nom de l’auteur soit cité (il est d’usage d’ajouter un lien vers l’image originale sur Flickr).
  • EveryStockPhoto.com rassemble des photos de plusieurs sites dont morgueFile (qui ont leur propre licence: là encore, lisez là.) et de Flickr (diverses variantes de Creative Commons). Attention aux licences. Ce site a un moteur de recherche puissant à première vue.
  • Free Range Stock vous permet de télécharger et utiliser les photos selon leur licence (il faut la lire !) à condition de s’enregistrer. Il est strictement interdit de les incorporer à une librairie de photo accessible au public, à part cela, l’usage commercial et la modification sont autorisées. Donner l’adresse du site et le nom du photographe est très chaleureusement recommandé. Les photos sont bonnes et le choix est assez large. Cela vaut la peine de créer un compte.

Michael Wesch’s “A Portal to Media Literacy”

Here is another video that I long wanted to share with you, I re-discovered it the other day. It’s a conference entitled “A Portal to Media Literacy” presented at the University of Manitoba, June 17th 2008 by Michael Wesch.