The Theatre Experience, Through the Eyes of an English Lover

I might not know what sort of future I am looking towards, or the career path I am destined to take, but I definitely have always known that I would be some kind of Arts Major at UBC. My passion has always been centered around creativity — telling, reading and writing stories — so it’s no surprise that in high school my favourite and best subject was English.  I read all sorts of poems, novels, and plays (as the routine English class normally does), and with each work I gained more knowledge, more happiness, and more curiosity.  It was a source of my passion, an outlet for my creative needs — but I wanted something more, more platforms to use as creative sources and outlets for myself. After all, creativity doesn’t just stem from the world of writing and literature.   Creativity also stems from the world of film, from the world of podcasts, and from visual arts.  This term, I became especially acquainted with a world known for its exuberant community and multi-coloured productions—the world of the stage.

It was a warm and windy day when I first encountered the UBC Musical Theatre Troupe’s display during the first few days of the school year.  The display was decorated with various group photos, people smiling in costumes, friends rehearsing, head-shots—it all seemed so exclusive, but it was open to everyone who passed by.  The UBC Musical Theatre Troupe invited me to be sucked into its world.  It was what I was looking for—the opportunity to express myself on another platform other than literature and writing.  Theatre wasn’t a platform of storytelling that was completely new to me but I felt at university, making the decision to join the Theatre Troupe made my inclusion in theatre all the more serious than it ever was in high school.  In high school, I juggled from acting, to directing, to working with the stage crew, because I wanted to try everything.  It was my way of searching for myself, of finding the perfect outlet for me to express my own creativity.  Now in university, I’m still looking.  I knew in high school I loved theatre; despite my internal debates about whether or not I could sing at all or whether or not I had enough coordination to dance, I signed up for auditions for an original musical the Troupe was putting on, titled Before We Go. I got in.

I wasn’t writing for the musical— it had already been written, and I was not working with the creative team or the stage crew. Instead, I was an actor in the ensemble.  My experience involved learning many dance routines, discovering my vocal range, and making friends with the sweetest, most extroverted group of people one could possibly find.  We rehearsed for a month and a half, but to me it felt much longer—theatre seemed to have become my main priority in life.  It was everything, and it all passed by in a swirl of costumes and dance routines that completely swept me off my feet.  When the performances came and went, it felt so weird that I wouldn’t be going to rehearsals twice a week for 12 hours.  I would miss my character, and watching other people’s portrayals of their own characters.  I would miss quirky improv in the background of ongoing scenes, filling up on snacks in the crowded dressing rooms, and dancing with the warm heat of the stage lights pressing on my face.  To me, all those things had enabled me to follow the creative path I love so much.

It’s interesting that though theatre and English seem such different worlds, how closely they actually correlate.  It all boils down to the act of creative expression.  I am a student whose life has mostly been devoted to the subject of English, to literature and writing.  I see theatre as a new perspective for the English student.  Acting highlights empathy in the same way a book can spurn sympathy from its readers—except that in acting, one has to embody a character’s flaws and point of view.  This experience of becoming the character, and fully immersing one’s self into a story onstage creates something of a full circle because not only can I understand sympathy from reading, but I also am able to elicit it by embodying a character’s story.

It all boils down to the act of
creative expression.


The theatre is a story telling platform, and isn’t English as well?  They’re just two different forms of story-telling and when one lets themselves take a dip into both worlds, it makes being an English student so much more open-minded while expanding one’s creative outlook and fulfilling the craving of artistic expression.  I plan to continue my journey with both English and the theatre by my side.  I know that theatre has enriched my experience as an English lover, and I want to continue my studies with the stage in my life. Perhaps others who are looking for a creative outlet will want to take a peek into the world of the stage as well.

Emma Wong

Click here for more information on Before We Go, a production by the UBC Musical Theatre Trope.


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