Internship Spotlight: Zachary Couture

My name is Zachary Couture and I will be entering my second year at McGill in Autumn of 2019. I am from Edmonton, Alberta, and I am passionate about theatre, arts, human rights, politics and how they relate to one another. This year, I had the honour of interning with Teesri Duniya Theatre in Montreal.

I have a lot of experience using theatre and art as a medium for social change. Last year, in 2018, during my final year of high school, I had written and directed an original one act play entitled Shelter. This play dealt with themes of intersectionality, drug abuse, sexual assault, LGBTQ issues and homelessness, and I had written this play as a way of raising awareness of the growing number of displaced and homeless queer youth in my community. Shelter was performed multiple times, in my high school one-act festival, in an Edmonton Workshop West youth reading, and as a part of the Edmonton NextFest Arts festival. The play was utilized to collect donations for the Youth Empowerment and Support Services, also known as YESS, an Edmonton area non-profit youth shelter.

It was because of this past experience that I was interested in researching theatre and social mobility. Teesri Duniya was already in my radar of organizations due to its affiliated magazine alt.theatre, from which I read many articles about diversity and the stage. Teesri Duniya Theatre is a leader in multicultural performance and for minority voices in Canadian theatre, not just in Montreal, but in Canada as a whole. Not only that, but Teesri Duniya Theatre is unapologetically political in its productions, and continually stages performances around modern social issues, particularly as they affect marginalized communities. When I saw that the McGill Art’s Internship Office was offering an internship opportunity with Teesri Duniya, I was incredibly excited and it was my first choice for internships.

My internship with Teesri Duniya Theatre was an unstructured research internship. For me, it made this experience all the more ideal as the schedule was flexible and allowed me to exercise my creativity and initiative. I was entirely able to decide for myself the methods and content of my research for the internship, and Teesri Duniya provided me the materials, contacts and resources wherever possible. These resources included scripts and articles within the Teesri Duniya company database, as well as contacts for interviews, including Ehab Lotayef, author of the C.B.C. radio play Crossing Gibraltar, Stephen Orlov, the playwright behind the distinguished play Birthmark.

I mainly worked on three projects while at Teesri Duniya, and I am continuing to work on many of them throughout the summer and fall post-internship; a credited research paper project, which is going to be supervised by Dr. Khalid Medani, on social mobilization of minority peoples in Canada through theatre; a research article that is projected to be published in alt.theatre magazine on the lack of Arab voices in Western theatre despite there being a healthy number of plays and productions that largely deal with the Middle East, and finally I began writing a full length play based on my experiences as an LGBTQ Palestinian person in Canada, which Teesri Duniya theatre has offered to potentially workshop with me.

I also did certain office work for the director of Teesri Duniya, Rahul Varma. I wrote a research article for Mr. Varma on sexual assault on college campuses and who it specifically effects women and queer peoples. I also wrote a statement on behalf of Teesri Duniya on the passing of Bill 21 in Quebec this summer. As well, I attended a number of local events and productions as a representative of Teesri Duniya Theatre.

This internship has been an incredible experience and I am excited about the work I did and am continuing to do with Teesri Duniya. I was able to network and gain valuable contacts in the theatre community in Montreal, as well as learn new invaluable skills under the direction of Rahul Varma. I would like to thank Dean Antonia Maioni and the faculty of Arts for funding me for this internship through the Archie Malloch Undergraduate Internship in Public Learning Award. This award helped support my living expense costs from my internship and I would not have been able to accept this amazing opportunity without the financial support.

 

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