There is little doubt that in the light of the ongoing strike, politics have taken centre stage at McGill University. As a result many student groups have found themselves affected, whether or not they choose to take a political stance. We cannot speak for all student groups, nor do we wish to. However, we have witnessed first-hand the toll that this strike is taking on theatre at McGill and we feel that it is our duty to speak up on behalf of an aspect of our education that we are passionate about.
McGill has a very active extra-curricular theatre community that boasts eight independent theatre groups who collectively mount over twenty productions annually.Each week, students dedicate much of their free time to creating consistently high quality productions while developing and honing skills that are not taught in the classroom.
That said, all of McGill’s student theatre groups have been working doubly hard this year to ensure that, despite the strike, our activities can continue to be “business as usual.” The following is a list of specific instances in which the strike is jeopardizing our upcoming productions:
1.All theatre groups have suffered due to the early closure of buildings – notably the SSMU, Arts and Leacock Buildings – as we have found ourselves scrambling for audition and rehearsal spaces. In some cases, we have even paid for off-campus spaces with money that should be going towards the production of our shows. Players’ Theatre has had to pay for extra security guards to ensure that the SSMU building remain open for shows. The Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society and the McGill Savoy Society have had to rent off-campus space to hold auditions.
2.At Tuesday Night Cafe Theatre, students shoulder production costs in hopes of being reimbursed by the English Department, whose accounts administrator is currently on strike. Students may end up waiting until the strike ends in order to be reimbursed up to hundreds of dollars.
3. Groups ranging from The McGill Savoy Society and the Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society to Musical Theatre Montreal were all slated to perform at Moyse Hall, whose technical director is on strike. Due to his absence, these societies must consider alternatives, which range from performing off-campus (at venues that could cost three times as much money) to canceling productions altogether.
These are only a few of the ways in which the strike is affecting our lives in student theatre. And as the strike goes on, the repercussions will only grow in severity. Right now we are all struggling to make ends meet, but if the strike continues, shows will be cancelled and deficits will be run. In student theatre, a deficit of even a couple thousand dollars could mean the end of a theatre group — not only for the year, but forever.
In the grand political scheme, this may not seem like much. But, for many of us, theatre is the path we’ve chosen to follow academically and professionally. For all of us, it is what we have chosen to devote our time and energy towards while at McGill. And as McGill students, we rely on our administration and management to support us in our endeavors. Many of us have differing individual opinions on the strike, but as a collective, we maintain the right to a non-partisan stance. All we ask is that the Administration and MUNACA truly consider the negative effect that every passing day without a settlement has on us and on the productions of which we are so proud.
Signed by The Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society Executive, The McGill Improv Executive, The McGill Savoy Society Executive, The Players Theatre Executive, The Tuesday Night Café Theatre Executive