Welcoming Change

Last semester I took a course about the Emperors of Imperial Rome. We discussed several Emperors including Marcus Aurelius, a man who is often regarded as the best Emperor of the Roman Empire. During his reign, Marcus Aurelius wrote a series of personal writings, known today as the Meditations. While I was reading the assigned paragraphs from this remarkable piece of work, the following quote in particular resonated with me.

 “Not to assume it’s impossible because you find it hard. But to recognize that if it’s humanly possible, you can do it too”


Statue of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius


Before enrolling in this course, I had always avoided taking courses offered by the Theatre Studies program. It wasn’t a lack of interest that held me back but rather, a sort of fear. The courses always seemed so foreign, so unfamiliar, so difficult. I did, however, enroll in an introductory Classical Studies course during my first year. I loved every bit of it and by my second year I decided to complete a minor in Classical Studies alongside my Specialization in Microbiology and Immunology. It was also during this time that my twin sister and I registered for a course in Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology. The entire course was fascinating and I particularly enjoyed the last section that was devoted to studying ancient Greek theatre. We learned all about the ancient theatre, how the actors were mostly male and generally from lower-class backgrounds, the backdrops that they used, and the way the very architecture of the theatre was designed to amplify sound. We read several enchanting plays such as Oedipus Rex, The Bacchae, Medea, and the Oresteia. I found myself in a new world – the world of performance. This year when I received an email about a course dedicated to watching theatrical performances, it was this Mythology course that convinced me and my sister to apply.

Unlike today, actors in ancient Greece wore masks during theatrical performances.

My sister and I were both accepted in the course in November. We were both ecstatic! How exciting it would be to study abroad! There were so many things that attracted me to this course. Having the opportunity to visit another university, being able to see eight grand plays, and meeting amazing new people are just a few things I can name off the top of my head.

Queen Mary University of London, where we will be staying during Destination Theatre 2017

Going into this course, I do bring several fears with me: fears about not having any experience in theatre studies, the fact that most of the students in the course seem far more experienced in theatre – if not in the classroom, then in the actual theatre. Fears about not doing well in the course, about being too shy to purse something as bold as theatre. As a science student, I’m more accustomed to getting my grades through exams rather than written assignments.  I knew all of this before starting the course, and by enrolling in it I hope to overcome the fears that held me back from pursing theatre earlier.  Even if I find it difficult, it does not mean it is impossible.

Maha Ahmed is a fourth year student at Western University specializing in Microbiology and Immunology and minoring in Classical studies. 


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