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Dr Gay Morris joins Wits as scholar

- By Wits University

Emeritus Associate Professor, Dr Gay Morris will join the Drama for Life programme at Wits University in March 2015 as part of Wits’ Distinguished Scholars Programme in the Faculty of Humanities.

Morris is an Emeritus Associate Professor in the Drama Department at the University of Cape Town, where she was Head of the Department until 2003. Prior to her retirement Morris served as the Postgraduate Programmes Convenor for Drama. 

Her recent research has focused on Applied Drama and Theatre in formal schooling, as well as on the transmission, production, distribution and reception of theatre originating from Xhosa-speaking townships in Cape Town.

Morris contributed to Playing Culture: Conventions and Extensions of Performance (2014), a Theatrical Event Working Group (International Federation of Theatre Research) essay collection, of which she was
also an editor, and has two other essays forthcoming in other collections. Morris edited a special issue, Applied Theatre, healing and trauma, on the 2013 Drama for Life Africa Research Conference, for the South African Theatre Journal due out later this year. She has previously published in Theatre Research International, RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance and the South African Theatre Journal.

Morris supervises postgraduate students and is currently in her second term on the International Federation of Theatre Research Executive Committee. She continues to examine externally and has been a guest teacher on the masters programme in International Performance Research run by the Universities of Warwick, Helsinki, Belgrade and Amsterdam; for the Magnet Theatre Educational Trust and the Western Cape Education Department. She has also consulted to the Western Cape Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Arts and Culture Component.

Morris will deliver a public lecture on Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 13:00 in the Wits Downstairs Theatre titled Arts education in schools: Does arts education help teachers and learners, or conceal substantive teaching and learning problems? All are welcome to attend.

At different times and in different contexts, arts education, and Drama and Theatre in particular, have been recruited to support claims of educational innovation, effective teacher training, and boosted schooling outcomes. In reality however, the arts are often marginalised in schools and by teachers because they demand particular spaces, resources, times, sound proofing and courageous teachers.  They are perceived by many as ‘not worth the effort’, or not central to schooling’s core business of inculcating literacy and numeracy. Where is common ground to be found between such conflicting viewpoints? In this lecture Morris will engage with these questions.

“We are confident that Wits’ research footprint and its output will be enhanced through the Distinguished Scholars Programme, but we are also hopeful that this Programme will contribute more broadly to South Africa’s research goals and expertise. Moreover, this programme will help us develop the next generation of researchers,” says Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

Drama for Life is a unique, internationally acclaimed postgraduate Division of Applied Drama and Theatre Studies, Drama Education and Drama Therapy Studies in the Wits School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand.

For more information, contact