The Emergence Of Student Theatre Groups At UCI And Their Ability To Foster Belonging
- Author(s): Punzal, Elijah
- et al.
Existing research on belonging at the university level is typically broad and not department- specific; this study aims to refine this domain of literature, specifically to Drama and Theatre. This ethnographic study documents the social identity-based student theatre groups at UC Irvine, consisting of Brown Bag Theater Company, Black Door, Brick Theatre Company, and Theatre Woks, as they foster a sense of belonging on campus. The formal observation and data collection time covers the course of two quarters during the academic year, but the findings are also informed by experiences prior to this period. I hypothesize that these groups are strong agents of belonging because they provide unique working and learning opportunities within their respective communities that focus on three elements of belonging: value, visibility, and togetherness. While my hypothesis was correct in observing the trends of belonging tied to value, visibility, and togetherness, it was expanded by how these student theatre groups particularly tackle issues and tensions of “non-belonging” both inside and outside their respective communities. Lastly, I offer that it would be beneficial to consider these student theatre groups as part of the pedagogical makeup of the Drama department because of how the groups generate meaningful professional and cultural knowledge for the members of the group as well as the campus community.