Engaging Reality in Theatre: Young Performers, Empathy, and Injustice

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By Ronit Mandelkern

I texted my best friend, Claire, “I honestly think theatre is too close for me to talk about.” I suppose a background story is needed. Theatre was my sanctuary from when I was six until the end of high school. I felt safe on stage. Nothing could hurt me. Outside, however, I dealt with the pain of losing my mother, of dealing with moving to a new school, of having a step-mother, of change. Everything hurt—but I was the performer—I was in my own reality. As I became each character or improvised in theatre class, I could scream or cry or even yell and no one knew that it was coming from a place of desperate pain. I was six when my mom died of Breast Cancer. Too young to process death, too expressive to internalize it, I needed something like a sanctuary. And there it is. The stage became my sacred space: a place both engaged and disengaged from reality, separate but linked to my identity. It was a universe in which reality paused, and life was lived as I performed it. Reality was oftentimes too confusing to understand and too difficult to live in. I needed theatre, and to be honest, I still need it today. Continue reading

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Creative Entrepreneurship: Learning to Value Uncertainty in Uncertain Times

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By Julia Jung

Exploring Start-Up Culture

In Silicon Valley, California, I grew up surrounded by startup culture—surrounded by people who encouraged innovative ways to create economic value. Although Silicon Valley is well known for their tech boom, this mindset was not limited to those in IT or traditional workplaces. The capitalistic urge to commodify everything is prominent in most industrial countries. We are told to be efficient and make the most of our talent, which is often used synonymously with making money. Numerous classmates in high school begin selling what they had initially began making as a hobby or way to express themselves such as customized shoes, jewelry, and handmade cards. Entrepreneurship is a path that many youthful individuals choose to take, not only as an alternative to the traditional academic path but often as an additional way to follow a passion that they feel they could not devote their entire career to. Continue reading

“It’s Going to Work Out”: Negotiating Anxiety and Passion in Studying Humanities and Social Sciences

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By Scarlett Stemler

“And what do you want to do with that?” This is the question humanities and social sciences students are continuously asked when they state their degree. As a student studying an Arts degree, majoring in sociology and anthropology, at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), I have experienced this question many times. I started out my university education in a Bachelor of Psychology, a hard degree to get into and one that holds a lot of prestige. But I found psychology to be cold, rigid and impersonal and I felt there was no space for my own voice. In contrast, I took elective subjects in sociology and anthropology and absolutely loved these from the start. Subjects such as ‘Rethinking the Social’ and ‘Understanding Cultural Experience’ totally captured my whole heart and mind. In each lecture, time would stop and I would be happily swept into this exciting, new world full of questions and open doors. After two years I went from semi-soft to soft, from psychology to arts.

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Join the fun! An ethnography of fun and subcultural entrepreneurship in the skateboarding scene of Puebla, Mexico

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By Kaj Dekker

Scene 1: Another sunny day at the Xonaca skate park in Puebla, Mexico. People are skateboarding, filming or having conversations while secretly sharing caguamones, a bottled liter of beer. A group of friends is sitting in the hot sun, enjoying their conversation as well as their beer. Suddenly, one of them challenges a friend. “I call a bet! If the next guy jumping down the stairs makes his trick, I buy you a new board. If he lands the trick, you buy me one, alright?” The friend agrees and they wait until someone approaches the stairs. In the meantime, cigarettes are shared, jokes are made and fun is had. After some time, a skateboarder starts checking out the set of stairs, clearly trying to visualize his trick. As he takes a few steps back to gain some speed for the jump, he accelerates. He approaches the stairs and jumps. In the middle of the jump he fails to get his position straight. As he lands he breaks his board, he sees the bunch of friends going wild. Seemingly out of nowhere a guy comes up to the skater and asks him if he would like to buy a new skateboard. The friends overhear this conversation and whistle to signal the salesman to come over. What does a shop-less salesman do at the skate park of Xonaca? The friends buy a skateboard from him, which he gets from the trunk of his car. They give the old deck to the skater who broke his board. In the end, one skateboarder broke his boards and two got a new one. How does this informal economy come about in a commerce-free setting as the Xonaca skate park?

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‘Just do it, and try to have fun while you’re at it’: Full-time working youth at a well-known retail shop in a busy train station

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By Lianne van Goethem

As many other students, I have a part-time job to be able to afford living on my own, buying groceries, and going to university. My job is at a well-known retail shop at a very busy train station, a place where a lot of people come by every day. Many of my colleagues are other students my age, around 20 years old, and working part-time. But, besides the older full-timers, there are also many colleagues my age who work there full-time and no longer go to school or college. These young full-timers grabbed my attention. I became interested in their experiences in their ‘working life’ at this young age, as well as their aspirations for the future. I could understand why they work full-time, because it earns them money and they can live off of that money. Yet to me it did not make much sense for young people not to study, because, in my view, young people can develop themselves fully through studying. However, in my research I found that young full-timers also learn from their everyday experiences and develop their own skills and sense of self-worth through their performances at the workplace. Continue reading

Playing at work – ‘This is not a friends’ club’: Pro-gamers’ negotiations of play and work

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By Diego Arguedas Ortiz

Abstract: Gaming is still seen as a hobby or a leisure activity by the average person out there, including many academics. But there is a massive global community of professional (pro-) gamers that has been disregarded by both the media, society and academia, with most research still focusing on recreational gaming. This paper aims to provide insight into the little-known world of pro-gaming. Specifically, it intends to shed light on the way pro-gamers create life strategies to negotiate ‘work-time’ and ‘play-time’ when gaming online, and how this relates to broader life and career paths within the expanding pro-gaming industry. The research for this paper resulted in two major discoveries: first, pro-gamers ‘label’ who they play with and, based on that, they are able to separate play from work; and second, gamers can commit to months or years of this career because the younger generations they are part of no longer follow the traditional career paths set by society. Continue reading

‘All or Nothing’: The ethics of commitment, discipline and perfection in dance education

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By Bo Nijenhuis

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were the happiest days of my life for about seven years. Those were the days I could go to the BBN dance academy and do the things I loved to do: dancing, singing and acting. My dream was to be the star in lots of musicals. We were told, if you just work hard enough, you can get there. So for seven years (most of my teen years) I worked on my dancing skills, my voice and my acting skills. I had to miss out on a lot of typical teenage-life things. I couldn’t go to high-school parties, because I had to go to dance classes. This also meant not having a lot of friends because I didn’t have much time to socialize after school. But it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the sake of my future. To make money doing something I loved to do was the ultimate dream. Continue reading