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Performing arts school in England criticized over £11,000 master's degree in 'Queer Performance'

A renowned performing arts college in England has garnered criticism for offering a master’s degree in “Queer Performance.”

Rose Bruford College (RBC), whose alumni include Gary Oldman and Tom Baker, will offer the 15-month course starting in September 2023, which will cost £11,000 for UK students and over $22,000 for international students. 

The MA course described as “the first of its kind worldwide” is aimed at “training students to create, explore, examine and expand queer performance practice.”

“Fiercely socially engaged, political, experimental, and interdisciplinary, it provides an in-depth, comprehensive examination of queer performance practice, studying its themes, methodologies, and untapped possibilities,” according to RBC’s website

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The hybrid course is aimed at students “with an interest in engaging with queer performance” through theatre, live art, drag, cabaret, writing, video and moving image, sound art, digital arts as researchers, critics, facilitators or producers. 

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But many people were quick to criticize the degree as impractical. 

“Far too many Brits are taking up Mickey Mouse courses like these with few economic prospects,” Conor Holohan, campaign manager at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, told The Telegraph regarding the degree. 

Actor David Cann said that focusing on a “particular style of work” can limit career opportunities if certain styles go “out of fashion.”

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The course is broken up into four modules: “Thinking Queerly,” “Creatures of the Night,” “Queer Dramaturgies” and an independent research project.

One part of the course will look at performance art, drag, theater, street performance and cabaret and how it has played a central role in the development of trans, lesbian, bisexual and gay lives in various global cultures. Students will also look at “how major historical moments for LGTBQI+ communities and queer critical theory has influenced the development of performance strategies.”

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Other parts of the program require students “to research, watch and share queer cabaret, drag, durational, one-to-one, music-based, digital, dance and other experimental nightlife performance in your own local contexts or through digital practice.” 

The program is headed by an academic, artist and producer Dr. Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, who goes by they/them pronouns. 

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“This distinctive new course is a space to hold radical imaginings for where contemporary performance practice might be going next — as well as celebrating the diverse histories of queer makers and thinkers,” Patey-Ferguson said of the course. 

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