BY NIKI COMPARTI
Curtin performance students are missing out on musical theatre training due to a lack of university funding.
Performance Studies coordinator and senior lecturer Leah Mercer said a lack of money for the performance program had been an issue for the past couple of years.
“The short answer is we don’t have the facilities to teach musical theatre, in fact we barely have an in-tune piano,” she said. “With our current resources and funding we are already stretched to the limit teaching and producing works that cover the gamut of classic and contemporary theatre and performance.
“We’d certainly need more resources, funding and probably more students to introduce another unit.”
Students have created an online petition encouraging the university to change the course to include these units in musical theatre.
Second-year student and creator of the petition Michelle Snedden said the response had been strong.
“The students agree and recognise how important [musical theatre] is,” she said. “People can go about learning to sing and dance outside of Curtin, I know I do, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Miss Snedden said there were already a lot of outside costs for students and they often have to provide their own props for university productions.
Communication and Cultural Studies Department head Ron Blaber said adding more units would be difficult.
“Development would depend on enrolment trends, resourcing and staffing, but there may be competing interests, for example other specialist units might come to the fore,” he said.
Dr Blaber said it was unlikely the university would take on any new units in the near future because the program would be subject to a comprehensive course review in 2012-2013.
“This is not to say planning cannot take place now, but this has to be done in the current context of the Performance Studies program,” he said.
Miss Snedden said offering musical theatre units would increase enrolments in the Curtin course.
“There are so many school students desperate to get into the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts course, which is fantastic,” she said.
“It’s very competitive, the course takes in only about 18 to 25 students.”
Miss Snedden said it would be a welcome and popular addition to the course if Curtin introduced musical theatre units.
The performance studies degree is the only course of its kind in WA without musical theatre units. The ‘Curtin student petition for units in musical theatre’ Facebook group has 173 members.
Published in the Western Independent October 2010