The Southeastern Theatre Conference honored Shannon Savard ’15 with its Young Scholars Award for her research titled “Women’s Theatre Group: Disrupting the Patriarchy since 1973.” As the only undergraduate recipient of the award, Savard will present her work on feminist theatre at the national conference in March.
“As a student and artist, I am particularly interested in exploring the ways in which theatre can be used as a platform to tackle social issues and engage communities in conversations,” says Savard.
Her research analyzes the role of Britain’s first all-female theatre troupe during and following the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.
“I have always been a feminist, but it wasn’t until I got to HWS that I was able to put a name to what that was,” comments Savard. “Academically and socially, what has shaped the way that I think about gender the most has been being in an environment where it is consistently brought to my attention. When that happens, you build an awareness and begin to notice more as you go through your day; the academic side has helped me develop the vocabulary to communicate that experience.”
Theatre as a vehicle for social justice has reached campus with Mosaic NY, a student troupe established last spring facilitating dynamic dialogue on issues of race, sex, and class.
“Theatre has long been an art form that draws communities together in acts of religious, social, and civic engagement,” says Assistant Professor Chris Woodworth, who taught Savard’s “Feminist Theatre” class and regularly directs campus productions. “While the use of theatre for social change may be relatively new to the HWS campus, the roots of such work reach back thousands of years. I think that some of the recent energy stems from the hiring of Professor Heather May and me. Although our work takes radically different shapes, we both situate ourselves as artists and scholars whose work intersects with social justice.”
An English major with minors in education and theatre, Savard’s journey of integrating social justice with the performing arts began during her summer internships at Arts in Reach-a New Hampshire after-school and camp devoted to empowering teenage girls through artistic expression.
Savard served as a teaching assistant at Penn Yan Academy and Waterloo High School as part of the HWS Teacher Education Program. She also is the founder and director of Project Respect, a teen theater group operating in collaboration with Geneva Boys and Girls Club and the Geneva Theatre Guild for the past two years. A Trustee Scholar, Savard was also a member of the William Smith junior varsity soccer team for two years and assists students with coursework as a writing colleague. In addition to her membership to student theatre troupes Mosaic NY and Phoenix Players, Savard will serve as the assistant stage manager for this semester’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Savard will present “Women’s Theatre Group: Disrupting the Patriarchy since 1973” on campus in February (exact date to be determined) before her visit to the Southeaster Theater Conference in Tennessee.
In the photo, Shannon Savard ’15 (right) stands with Assistant Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth.