Here at UCC, we often pride ourselves on the strength of our extracurricular programs, be it athletic, artistic, or otherwise. Despite the fact that we are constantly reminded of the diversity our school exudes (with regards to these programs), there seems to be a growing sentiment of under-appreciation among our actors, artists, and musicians, a feeling of distance between the Arts program and the others that we so proudly boast. Today, I sat down (emailed) Sarosh Waheed, a stunningly handsome FY who happens to be an actor in the upcoming UCC x BSS Co-Production, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Here are his thoughts surrounding the Arts program and its support at the College.
What theatrical productions have you been involved in during your time at UCC and how do you find the quality of these shows to be?
“I’ve been in a number of productions here at UCC dating back to my time at the prep, but mainly here at the upper school I’ve been in last year’s Musical Pippin, and this year’s classical play, a Midsummer Night’s Dream. When it comes to the quality of UCC productions, especially here at the Upper school, it’s extremely underrated. Varsity teams throughout the years can be inconsistent; Sometimes undefeated, sometimes hard to watch. However, Theatre Productions at UCC have been, and will continue to be, the best possible productions a high school can pull off year in and year out. I’m not saying its Broadway, but the idea that all high school productions are low quality and tacky like you see in TV and movies is false. Ultimately, the quality of a show is determined by the amount of preparation and thought put into it. There’s a reason we actors are here the Monday of a long weekend from noon to 6. As great as the performances are that athletes are putting on on the field, the musicians, and actors are just as amazing on the stage.”
How would you say attendance is at the productions you have been in or seen?
“When it comes to attendance at theatrical productions at UCC, I don’t think it’s as big of a problem as it seems. I’ve attended the last couple shows at UCC dating back to last year’s fall play, and I kid you not, there have been nights, especially at this year’s True West, where people had to stand just to watch. But the problem doesn’t lie within how many people are attending, it’s about who’s attending. Thankfully, we actors (and actresses from BSS) have enough friends and family to fill up the seats when the UCC boys “can’t”.”
Do you sense a lack of support for the arts at UCC either from students or administration? Why do you think this is?
“Do I sense a lack of support of the arts at UCC by students and administration? Of course!! I mean, let me just put things into perspective; A-Day, Winterfest, May Day etc. all happen on its own day (usually Friday/Saturday where nothing else is going on and everyone is able to come support the sports teams). Then why are music nights, and Jazz nights on a Tuesday? Why is Nuit Bleue on a Wednesday? I don’t know, but if we’re all trying to help glorify the arts, having arts events smack dab in the middle of the week isn’t helping. You can’t blame the students for not supporting the arts when they fall right in the middle of the week when students have practices to attend and homework assignments to complete etc. But when it comes to true support, and funding, advertising, and attendance it’s there within the school. I mean, everyone’s seen a poster or heard at assembly of the upcoming productions. We do our best to put out the word and get people talking about it, but it just doesn’t get the same support as sports. We proudly give out varsity ties, and Lang scholarships to great athletes. What do the artists get? There’s no arts scholarship, and there’s only one arts assembly every year, but three assemblies just to hear about sports and give out ties. The lack of support is evident, and the explanation is clear. The school isn’t doing enough to push the arts because showing how great Bands and Theatrical Productions are isn’t appealing. Why put a picture of a student acting on the front of a UCC brochure when we can put a varsity football athlete?”
What factors do you think play into the lack of interest for the arts among students?
“Before I formally answer this, I’m going to share a moment I experienced a couple weeks ago; I was in the locker room while the Y1s had just gotten out of gym. One of them asked me, “hey Sarosh what team are you on?” I replied, “what do you mean.” He said, “like what team are you on, what sport are you doing this term.” I replied, “I’m not doing any sports I’m in the play,” and he just said “oh,” smirked, and continued on talking to his friends. Especially coming from a Year 1 I had never been so saddened. Being part of the arts clearly meant nothing to this measly Y1. It wasn’t important enough for him to even ask “oh what play or when is it”. It got me thinking why is this? Why are kids not interested in coming to watch a play or see a concert, or even come out to arts related clubs like the Varsity Improv club (Thursdays at lunch, lecture theatre). It’s simple; Arts simply aren’t cool enough. Sports are cool. Acting, playing an instrument, singing or whatever for some reason in society, TV, movies, has never been depicted as cool, and it will always be that way unfortunately. And there’s nothing we as students or a school can do to change societal norms. But just because you can’t buzz with the boys at a play like at a sports game doesn’t mean it’s not fun and enjoyable. Students aren’t interested in the arts because they are not exposed to the beauty of it. We see sports highlights, varsity sport updates and videos all the time. We shove sports down the student body’s throat with pep rallies and events so they feel forced to come. If we do the same with the arts, I’m sure more people will begin to take interest in it. And if a student says they would go but aren’t trying to pay 20 bucks or whatever I just get pissed. Like don’t tell me a 20-dollar bill is going to stop you from supporting the arts. If you were truly interested, you’d take the bill out just as fast as you would to buy 12 Krispy Kreme donuts. Let’s take our great musicians that spend every day in the music room after school, and throw them on stage on Friday assemblies, and even in the Student Center at lunch so everyone can see how talented they are. Let’s not keep our dramatic talents within the drama classroom; Film it, put it here on TBAW, ask to show it at assembly, do something. The interest in the arts is there, we just need students to give it a chance. I ask you as a UCC student to go see one of the next two plays this year Midsummer night’s dream, or The Butcher being put on by the IB2 HL theatre guys later in the spring. If you’re not thoroughly entertained by one of them, fine; Never go to a UCC production again. But I guarantee that won’t be the case.”
A Midsummer’s Night Dream plays in the David Chu Theatre from Wednesday to Friday (7:30-10:00 pm) and closes on Saturday (2:00-4:30 pm).