By Michelle Brake

I’m really interested in arts-based approaches to research with a focus on music and theatre. They are both ways of expression that I have used for years, and that have been used in society for thousands of years.


Over time, theatre has evolved. At one point, it was just political issues that were being addressed, which was seen in Ancient Greek plays. With New-Greek Comedy, as well as styles such as Commedia dell’Arte, societal issues and individual issues started being addressed. Looking at theatre today, we see how plays and musicals are addressing issues such as structuralized violence. Inequalities are being explored in largely successful musicals as well, such as RENT, Avenue Q and Les Miserables.

A few years ago, I saw a short play that a friend of mine wrote based on her experiences with bullying. It was an amazing piece of work that gave her a way to convey how the issue affected her life. Talking to her about it afterwards, she mentioned how theatre had given her a way to get it all out, in ways that a journal or talking with someone just couldn’t do.

There is more of a shift in the theatre towards addressing issues of exclusion, inequality and the impact they have on people. Looking forward into the world of theatre, I see this becoming more popular, by putting it on stage for everyone to see it, so it can no longer be ignored.

Another crucial element of theatre is community. When working on a production with other people, there is always a sense of community that develops. There is a trust and a bond that forms that can be rare to see outside of the arts. Theatre gives people a way to use their voice to reach a larger audience than they would normally reach. Moving forward with the Voices project, I would love to see a research group that focuses on using theatre as a means of expression. Any takers?

About the Author:
Michelle Brake is a member of the National Youth Advisory Board for Voices. She is currently in her first year of studies at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, doing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Geography and Drama.


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