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UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 7 | Jul. 6, 2006

Borders No Barrier for Theatre Professor

By Bud Mortenson

When Virginie Magnat was just 15, she received a full scholarship to study at the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, near Victoria. She traveled from her home in Southern France and discovered on the coast of Vancouver Island a new world and a passion for theatre.

“Spending two years with 200 students from over 70 countries in a ‘global village’ nestled in the coastal forest of Vancouver Island literally changed the course of my life,” says Magnat, who went on to become a theatre researcher, practitioner and professor.

“My early passion for theatre was deeply informed by this intense experience, and it was then that I became aware of the infinite potentialities that arise when people with different cultural legacies live and work together.”

This summer, Magnat moved to UBC Okanagan from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), to collaborate with Professor Neil Cadger on a brand new performance program at UBC Okanagan. The program in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies will offer a variety of courses in performance practice and theory.

Magnat held a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellowship at UCSC and taught interdisciplinary courses in the Theater Arts and Anthropology Departments for the last three years. She specializes in physically based performance practice, experimental and intercultural theatre, performance studies, and theatre anthropology.

A recipient of the International Federation for Theatre Research New Scholar’s Prize, Magnat’s essays and articles on theatre have been featured in journals and anthologies in the U.S., Canada, France, Poland, and Italy, and she has presented her research at American, Canadian, and international theatre conferences. Last April, she was awarded a University of California Professional Development Grant to travel to Poland and work with voice specialist Zygmunt Molik, a founding member of Jerzy Grotowski’s world-renowned Laboratory Theatre.

The Polish theatre journal Didaskalia is currently publishing a series of nine articles that Magnat wrote on Grotowski’s last public conferences. Her next forthcoming publication, examining the work of Haitian master-performer Maud Robart, a long-time collaborator of Grotowski, will be featured in the July issue of the University of Rome theatre journal Biblioteca Teatrale.

“I am very much looking forward to being a faculty member at UBC Okanagan because of the university’s focus on global and interdisciplinary research and pedagogy,” says Magnat.

“Professor Neil Cadger and I hope to build a more globally-conceived form of performance program that will be uniquely situated within the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, and will give students the opportunity to explore theatre across cultural and disciplinary boundaries.”

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Virginie Magnat

Asst. Prof Dept. of Creative Studies, Performance program

From: University of California, Santa Cruz

Originally from: Southern France

Education: PhD, University of California, San Diego/Irvine
Graduate degrees, The Sorbonne Nouvelle, U of Paris III
Undergraduate, University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

What is the major issue in your field?

In my field, there is a pressing need to promote a more culturally inclusive curriculum, bridge the practice/theory divide, and develop cross-disciplinary approaches to performance research.

What can you do at UBC?

While the discipline of performance studies has opened up a wealth of perspectives for researchers by dramatically broadening their conception of cultural production, there is still much work to be done to expand our conception of the nature and function of performance. In my research, I investigate these questions at the intersection of performance studies, cultural anthropology and postcolonial theory.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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