Why Theatre & Performance Studies

About T&PS: Our Program's Vision

York's MA/PhD program is a leader in the field of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate training, both in Canada and internationally.  Our curriculum, taught by internationally recognized and award-winning faculty, is guided by an innovative, socially-engaged, and interdisciplinary vision for graduate research.

Theatre, Performance, and Cultural Politics

The Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies offers two degrees, an MA and PhD, both of which emphasize our faculty's collective interest in theatre, performance, and cultural politics.

For us, this means teaching classes that explore performance both onstage and in everyday life in order to highlight the cultural, political, material, and ideological dimensions of performance practices, past and present.  Studying performances across a broad range of cultural contexts - in theatres, galleries, rituals, the media, the streets, the political arena, mass spectacles, interpersonal interactions, etc. - helps to capture performance's potential to frame critically nuanced responses to public events, and thus to model politically and ethically engaged forms of public life.  We take seriously York's commitment to forging a just and sustainable world through critical and artistic inquiry and encourage our students to do the same.

Critical Interdisciplinarity: Arts, Media, Performance, & Design

We encourage our students to develop a rigorous interdisciplinary understanding of theatre and performance by taking courses, and working closely with, supervisory faculty who come from diverse backgrounds in a range of disciplines including Theatre Studies, Performance Studies, Anthropology, Business, Cinema & Media Studies, Dance Studies, English, Environmental Studies, Humanities, Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies, Nursing, Sociology, and Visual Arts (to name but a few). Critical interdisciplinarity recognizes the importance of thinking across multiple disciplines to come to grips with the complexities of performance, while also recognizing the political, institutional, and conceptual challenges posed by intersectional models of analysis.

Our location within the School of Arts, Media, Performance, and Design (AMPD) is essential to facilitating this interdisciplinary approach and distinguishes us from other national and international programs.  Our MA and PhD students take courses offered by the School's graduate programs in Art History & Visual Culture, Visual Art, Music, Design, Dance, and Cinema & Media Studies.  The School's curriculum is planned collaboratively each year to facilitate fluid movement among the programs and high-level interdisciplinary conversations across the arts.  Students also benefit from regular collaborations between AMPD programs in the form of joint Summer Institutes, speaker Series, and Professionalization Seminars.  While our students' home base is Theatre & Performance Studies, being part of this larger and extremely dynamic community of arts-based thinkers and practitioners significantly enriches their graduate experience.

Practice-Based Research

We are passionate about bridging the divide between theory and practice in the study of performance, and many of our graduate courses explore how performance practice serves as a vital form of critical inquiry.  These courses take place in our state of the art studios and in diverse cultural spaces throughout Toronto.  Many of our MA and PhD students have developed innovative research projects in which practice-based research plays an integral role.

Graduate students in T&PS also have ample opportunities to engage in performance practice through workshops, professional placements, and participating in shows staged and curated in AMPD and the Department of Theatre.  Please visit Practice-Based Research for more details.

Professional Placements and Fieldwork Experiences

Our program provides exciting professional placement and fieldwork experiences for students at both MA and PhD levels.  Students receive course credit for placements with leading theatre and performance companies, artists, festivals, and conferences, both in Toronto and abroad.  These placements often lead to fantastic jobs in the arts and culture sector and meaningful long-term artistic collaborations with some of the world's most celebrated performance creators and researchers.  They also provide unique occasions for conducting fieldwork related to students' particular areas of study.  See Placement Experiences for more information.