Victoria, B.C.

Climate change work recognized

By Ted Alcuitas

Doctoral student Dennis Gupa has been awarded this year’s Ada Slaight Drama in Education Award by the Young People’s Theatre for his work on climate change.

Gupa is studying Sea Rituals, Climate Change and Applied Theatre Research at the University of Victoria. (UVic).

Gupa will use the $10,000 prize to craft a performance that will involve artists from the Philippines and Canada, as well as Indigenous elders and their seacoast communities, who together will build an ecological framework to understand the relationships between human beings, the ocean and the earth.

In this study, Gupa aims to respond to this question specifically: To what extent can applied theatre as an art facilitate the articulation of indigenous ways of knowing about ecological sustainability and climate change?

 

Sea Rituals, Climate Change and Applied Theatre Research


By Dennis Gupa

I was a first year MFA Directing student at the University of British Columbia when super typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines in 2013.

As the typhoon’s rage decimated an entire city, leaving the whole Visayan region traumatized due to the magnitude of its destruction, I began to re-think my own work as a diasporic artist.

I was homesick and removed from the suffering of my country. Then I met a Filipina scholar in Vancouver who worked directly from the grounds of the destruction. Her stories moved me.

I realized that pursuing doctoral work in applied theatre focused on this subject would be a necessary step not only for me to understand the effects of climate change on my home country, but also to make a contribution toward global climate justice.

The title of my doctoral project is, Sea Rituals, Climate Change and Applied Theatre: Indigenous Elders’ Perspectives on Traditional and Sustainable Ecology.

In this study, I am curious about examining the links between indigenous epistemology, climate justice and performance. I am interested specifically in this question: “To what extent can applied theatre as an art facilitate articulating indigenous ways of knowing on ecological sustainability and climate change?”

In this study, I aim to craft a performance that will involve artists from the Philippines and Canada, as well as Indigenous elders and their seacoast communities, who together will build an ecological framework to understand the relationships between human beings, the ocean and the earth.

Photo: Young People’s Theatre

About Dennis Gupa

The storms that emanated from the oceans of the Pacific are the current metaphor and image that form Dennis’s academic inquiry and creative exploration on climate change, environmental destruction and indigenous ways of knowing.

As a theatre director, his theatrical works investigate human-ocean relationship, the onslaught of modernity to indigenous culture, and the history of human struggles and oppression to post-colonial societies.

These theatrical projects are contemporary renditions of Western dramatic texts of Aristophanes, Euripides, August Strindberg, Frank Wedekind, John Millington Synge and George Orwell as well as works of Filipino writers like Jose Rizal and Aurelio Tolentino.

He rendered his theatre works with contemporary use of multimedia and intercultural aesthetics, which were performed in The Philippines, USA, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia.

He received his MA Theatre degree from University of the Philippines under the guidance of Josefina Estrella, Anton Juan, Tony Mabesa, Jina Umali, Belen Calingacion and Apo Chua.

In 2015, he finished his MFA Directing (Theatre) from University of British Columbia where he presented his thesis The Bacchae 2.1 by Charles Mee through the mentorship of Stephen Malloy.

During his time at UBC he also worked with Stephen Malloy and Tom Scholte.

He studied seni tari (traditional mask dance) at Sekolah Tenggi Seni Indonesia as a Dharmasiswa scholar of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Government of Indonesia and for his final creative project he was mentored by Mas Rachman Sabur.

For ten years, he served as an assistant professor of theatre arts at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

He was a theatre grantee of Asian Cultural Council in 2011 where he worked and observed contemporary theatre works in New York City for six months and was director in residence for Ma-Yi Theatre Co.

The Performance Studies international (PSi) awarded him the 2016 Dwight Conqueergood Award. Currently he is a PhD Candidate at the University of Victoria’s applied theatre program. Dennis is a Vanier scholar.