Connecting Drama Students with Industry Professionals
For the last 25 years, Julia Jamison has been a professional performer: both as a classical singer and actor. Since becoming an assistant professor in the Department of Drama at the University of Saskatchewan in 2004, Jamison’s primary research focus has been on the connection of breath and voice, with special attention to the way this connection informs authentic expression. “Like a river,” Jamison states, “a freely flowing breath allows one to open the mind, to move more freely and to receive impulse and inspiration.”
Jamison is currently extending her research focus to implement a Music Theatre Workshop Initiative that would afford rich opportunity for her students to integrate the finer subtleties of this awareness into a heightened performing experience. The purpose of the initiative is to create a “work in process” environment for pieces of music theatre caught between the early stages of creation and the fulfillment of their artistic potential. The first project, currently underway, is a music theatre adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ screenplay, The Doctor and the Devils, a fictionalized account of Burke and Hare, two notorious murderers of the early 1800s who robbed graves to provide cadavers to a renowned anatomist in the early days of anatomical research. As Jamison states, “It is history told in a creative way – The Beggar’s Opera meets Sweeney Todd.”
Once the first round of music and script edits are finished in collaboration with British composer Stephen McNeff, the piece will be tested in a performance workshop, allowing students and professional artists, both local and international, to participate in various stages of production. Whether through performing, designing, directing, conducting, orchestrating or stage managing, the process will offer a crucible of experience exposing the realities and demands of the profession. Not only will students gain insight into all aspects of the creation of a new work, they will be mentored in the process, developing professional relationships with seasoned artists while contributing to the evolution of a piece of theatre that has potential to succeed beyond the domain of the U of S.