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PURE Award winners 2015: Skylar Desjardins

Drama student's research lights up the stage

By Heath McCoy

Committed to a goal of research excellence with its bold Eyes High strategy, one of the University of Calgary’s most important initiatives is the Program for Undergraduate Research Experience, better known as PURE.

Each year undergraduates can apply for the prestigious PURE Awards, which provide financial research support to some of the university’s most promising students over the Spring and Summer months.

The program is designed to give undergraduate students the opportunity to learn how to develop research projects, undertake independent research and contribute to knowledge in their respective fields.

In this Q&A series we will meet the PURE Award winners from the Faculty of Arts. Good luck to each of them in their research pursuits!

Name: Skylar Desjardins

Degree sought: BFA in Drama with a specialization in theatrical design (second year)

Research Topic: “I’m researching the performance of light by exploring digital and mechanical methods of low-tech moving light.”

What attracted you to this particular research project? “In one of my classes we were experimenting with lighting transitions, using the on and off between certain spotlights. This inspired me to explore changes in light and its act of transitioning: the performance of light.”

Why is this research important? “Lighting plays an important part in theatre design. In nature light sources are constantly moving; the sun and moon move across the sky, and shadows and reflections move with objects. By researching moving lights, we gain a deeper understanding of how light can affect both the actors and the audience.”

What do you hope to achieve with this research? “By focusing on moving lights using low-tech equipment, I hope it will open up possibilities to make moving lights accessible to small scale theatre productions, which would otherwise lack the resources to achieve these effects.”

What do you love most about your field of study? “I love the willingness with which theatre can incorporate various art forms and experiences to share what it means to be human. I love the heroic empathy of theatre; the connection forged between a particular element of a production and a particular audience member. I love the way theatrical design challenges people to reconsider how they define space and their vicarious existence through their environment.”

> Learn more about other PURE Award winners from the Faculty of Arts