News Archives: Emily MacLellan Credits GPRC Drama Courses to Personal Growth
Tuesday, December 5th, 2017
When Emily MacLellan was in high school, a gifted drama teacher helped plant the seed for her unconventional choice of program at GPRC today.
The first-year Bachelor of Education student is combining a major in mathematics with a minor in drama – two of her greatest passions, which she credits for her personal growth. “My teacher gave me the opportunity to direct one of the school plays, which was amazing, and I just fell in love with the idea of encouraging kids to grow through drama programs,” says the Valleyview, Alberta native.
“I chose math as a major because I realized I was good at it. Math can be a difficult subject for students, and my goal is to help make it easier for them. The world can always use more passionate math teachers. And with both my parents being school teachers, I always wanted to be one as well.”
MacLellan is currently taking Introduction to the Dramatic Process (DR1490), with a focus on improvisational acting techniques, and Play Analysis (DR1020), with special attention paid to the analysis of dramatic text as well as dramaturgy.
Both courses are taught by Broadway veteran Michelle Rios, whose theatrical credits include supporting roles in multiple Tony-Award nominated productions. With a career spanning over 25 years as an actor, singer, educator, writer, director, and theatre facilitator, Rios has worked alongside talents ranging from Paul Simon and Eva Longoria, to Lin Manuel Miranda and numerous Academy Award nominees.
It was love that brought Rios from her native New York to Canada. “I married a Canadian, and I’m proud to call Canada my home,” says Rios, who earned her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Alberta.
“What I hope to instill in the next generation of performing artists, educators and community members is a greater understanding of what goes into the creative process of theatre. It’s a balance of both practice and theory.
“Can you imagine a world without music, films, visual art, and live theatre performances? I often pose that question to individuals who believe the fine arts aren’t viable or significant.
“I’ve witnessed first-hand how the fine arts are not only entertaining, but also educational, healing, and essential to our day-to-day existence. Through drama, students may strengthen their public speaking skills, explore self-expression, and improve interpersonal relationships in a safe environment that is also highly collaborative.
“Regardless of their career path, the skills they learn through drama will only enhance their professional and personal journeys.”
Rios has taught in various academic institutions, including the University of Alberta, and has led theatre workshops across the continent, from Juilliard in New York to the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. She now continues to share her talents at GPRC.
MacLellan considers herself extremely fortunate to be able to access this level of instruction.
“It’s amazing to learn from such an experienced instructor,” says MacLellan, who will be appearing in Grande Prairie Live Theatre's upcoming production of The Children's Hour.
“I love how the things we’re learning in our drama classes carry over into our everyday personal lives. As a first year, it’s a great place to express myself.
“The classes are so small and intimate, you become a close-knit group. I feel like I can now call anyone in that class my friend now, even so early in the semester.”
While MacLellan would recommend DR1490 most highly for an introduction to the theatrical world, she finds DR1020 especially helpful as a future director of school plays.
“I am learning so much that I am going to be able to take with me as I grow in my career and teach my own drama courses. You get so much background knowledge and it really sets a great foundation.”
To learn more about the drama programs offered at GPRC, and the course offerings available next semester, visit gprc.ab.ca