Written Feature by Katherine D., Audio Interview by Sophie Z., Concordia Applied Journalism
This February, Concordia students are coming together to enjoy another amazing theatre experience through the Asia-Pacific Activities Conference (APAC). But as we celebrate our successes, it is also important to acknowledge the humble beginnings of this flagship theatre festival.
Chad Doering, HS Theatre Director, joined Concordia at a time—and in an environment—where APAC theatre wasn’t yet part of mainstream student life. In 2010, only three Concordia students joined the first APAC Theatre event, hosted at Canadian Academy.
The theme that year was culture, contrast and convergence, which inspired Concordia students to base their play on students’ decision in becoming an artist or engineer – a reflection of how cultural expectations put pressure on students to make a choice. “That play was very successful,” Mr. Doering recalls with a smile. “I remember everyone being very excited when we were through and were given a standing ovation.”
In addition to performing, students also had a chance to work with Japanese professionals in Noh drama, which is a Japanese style of theatre. “Everyone got the opportunity to put on the costumes, learn the percussions, and all the techniques involved in it.”
Then came a string of annual APAC events, all of which, he says, Concordia students were consistently involved in, “filling in the spots every year.”
One reason for the popularity of the APAC theatre festival is that it “gave students more of an opportunity to get involved [in theatre] during the wintertime,” Mr. Doering explains. “Sometimes that was attractive for students who couldn’t get involved in the spring musical due to other commitments. Other students just like more performance-based material in theatre rather than musicals.”
In 2012, Concordia was given the chance to host its first APAC theatre event and decided on the theme myths and masks. “Great professionals came in and taught masking and movement techniques,” Mr.Doering describes. “I remember how students were just so excited about sharing what they created in the different workshops.”
The diverse environment also cultivates inclusion, which adds to the experience and is a defining feature of APAC arts. “They [the students] just create these bonding and lasting relationships which happen every year,” Mr. Doering says, “I still have students from years ago who are still connected to students from other schools.”
Mr. Doering’s efforts in leading these events coincided with many schools’ decisions to move APAC away from just sports and involve arts as well: the first music APAC and APAC dance were hosted just a few years after APAC theatre's debut. Along with this trend, Concordia’s theatre program has also expanded its impact and popularity.
Yet, under Mr. Doering's guidance, the program’s original desire to facilitate the expression of creativity and provide inspiration for the dramatic arts has never wavered, as seen in the plans for yet another outstanding APAC theatre event this year.
Sophie Z. and Katherine D. are students of Concordia Applied Journalism