Teaching Theatre in Universities

A friend of mine is considering coming to Taiwan. She is a drama teacher in Canada and would like to stay within this field (drama, not canada). What are the opportunities for someone such as she? Undergrad degree only, specializing in drama, ooodles of exp., both teaching and directing.

I know that Gen Da (sp?) University in Muzha produces 4 plays a semester as part of the English department’s curriculum. Last year they did The Vagina Monologues. What other Unis are offering english drama courses? Can a mere Bachelor’s degree get a job in a Uni? Does anyone have any info to share? Can anyone provide some links to departments that may be interested in such a teacher?

I am not the last word on this, but most universities in Taiwan today want a Ph.D. In theatre, I guess that would translate to an MFA. I seriously doubt anyone would seriously discuss jobs with a person with only a BA.

Best bet is probably to get a nice English teaching job at a school somewhere (I mean a buxiban) and then become the best friend of the English club at a university or college. You will likely be welcomed with open arms to work on any and all projects, as well as to judge the speech contests, help with essays for this and that, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

OR not…English departments plays and particularly musicals (they recently tried to do “The Fantasticks” here at Fujen) are a species unto themself in Taiwan, and bear little resemblance to the original product in the US in many instances. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw a nearly-final rehearsal of “The Fantasticks.” I suppose we would be as lame doing Chinese opera in some department of Chinese in the States, but as a person who ran a theatre for 10 years, for me it was a bit painful seeing so much good material just missed. And the people putting the shows on, obviously, are secure in their roles as “experts” and often don’t appreciate any opinion or advice (I kept my mouth firmly shut while inside the theater).

Ironlady has some sound advice on this issue. :slight_smile:

I spent an hour watching a student performance of Arsenic and Old Lace a few years ago. The accents were so bad, I had a hard time figuring out what I was watching until I remembered the title of the show.

Unfortunately, students don’t get much chance to see real theater here; and the self-confessed experts who run the shows treat it as an exercise in English recitation, not a performance.

Most shows I’ve been too are EXCRUCIATING… and I’m not an ‘expert.’

As an aside, you might want to try the ‘arts’ schools, like the one in Beitou. They might have a different attitude. But the traditional Universities, without a Masters at the very least, you won’t get an interview, even for a part-time job. Sorry. Just too many people chasing these ‘plum’ jobs, I guess.


In fact, I saw a performance that was attended by the drama dept. prof (chair, I think) as an honor. I’m afraid, he took the students apart for their performance at the annual English dept. drama. I noted he has never been invited back.

In one way, it was quite right - he was a PRO. On the other hand, the students weren’t drama majors at all. Anyway, the excruciating nature of these dramas isn’t just noted by foreign PRO’s… :wink: And I have an invite to this year’s in my box right now… I think I’m feeling a cold coming on…

Is it NOT true that you need a PhD to teach at a university in Taiwan. However, without one, it certain that you will have to teach some remedial English classes, probably to non-English majors. Anyone I know who teachs theatre at a major university has a PhD in drama, English or some related subject.

It is not just difficult to get a full-time job teaching at a university in Taiwan with only a BA; it is impossible. This is very strictly enforced by the Ministry of Education in a way that can not be defrauded.

I have written about how to find jobs at Taiwan universities at
eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sef … -31017.txt
eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sef … -44615.txt

No one said you needed a Ph.D., but most universities are advertising for a Ph.D. as the minimum requirement for any full-time job. And unless you have PARC, are married to a Taiwanese national or have an Article 51 permit available, all part-time work is illegal. (Yes, I’m talking to you, National Taiwan University!! And many others, of course.)

It’s not necessarily being a “pro” that’s painful in local “English” theatre productions, always…amateur productions can be rewarding, educational and even artistically good in many ways. The problem AFAIK is usually the entrenched “experts” who know more about it than a person who’s worked and taught theatre in the US (an extension of “those foreigners don’t know anything about grammar”? You know, “Well, those foreigners don’t have an MA in English drama”…??)

While most universities advertize for someone with a PhD, these days practically anyone with an MA, etc who is competent and qualified can obtain a university-level teaching position. Almost all of these positions will involve teaching significant amounts of remedial English.

It is probably not true anymore that there are illegal foreign instructors teaching at any of the major schools. This is a widely held view and one that I used to believe true, but it is almost certainly no longer true for major national schools and top private schools. Although you do raise an important point; English teachers who hope to teach PT at universities can not do so legally unless they first have legal sponsorship somewhere else.

The schools that continue to hire illegal foreign teachers are probably also the ones that you read about on Dave’s ESL Cafe, etc as unethical and immoral employers. But for the most part, the vast majority of PT university teachers in Taiwan, even in language departments, continue to be local teachers.

On a completely unrelated point; Ironlady, where can I find a copy of your doctoral dissertation? I could not locate the copy that is listed in the Center for Chinese Studies, but you know how the National Library can be.

Part-time work is ILLEGAL unless you have one of the aforementioned documents.

Your ARC, if it is an “ordinary” one, permits you to work at ONE school. Period. There is no “loaning out” or “moonlighting” permitted. It doesn’t matter that the school’s contract might say you can teach a maximum of 4 or 6 or whatever it is hours outside their school – it’s illegal. Not that anyone seems to care – but technically it is illegal, and if you have the misfortune to be caught in some sweep some day, that’s your problem, not the school’s, I would imagine (schools will have much better guanxi than poor little you!)

There are still NUMEROUS illegal part-time teachers at major universities. NTU, for example, is still advertising for people part-time at its language center. That is completely illegal. They even have the cheek to state in the ad that they will not supply a work permit. Although nowadays at least there are other ways that they could conceivably get people to do those part-time jobs legally – earlier it was totally impossible, yet they still advertised this way and refused to supply visas/ARCs. It’s cheaper for the schools, and there’s much less paperwork involved.

It’s a schizophrenic regulatory system at best. Taiwan wants to internationalize – Taiwan wants good English – Taiwan needs native speaking teachers – Taiwan won’t let them work, have phones, credit cards…etc. etc. And now with the new stuff on tourist visas and studying Chinese, no one will be able to study Chinese more than 2 years. Maybe we should put our collective feet down and point out that we have to teach English to students who’ve been studying it for 10 or 15 years and still haven’t caught on, but we’re supposed to perfect our Chinese in 2 years??? :imp: :imp:

Surely these illegal positions at NTU you are refering to are not in competition with the PHDs that you were telling us about. Or is it possible that the positions you’re talking about now aren’t anything like the kind that the original poster was asking about?

I’d still like to have a look at your dissertation.

Why? Are you having trouble sleeping these days?? :laughing:

No, I’m just one of those people who believe that if someone asks you a question, you should give them correct information.

Thanks for asking anyway.

But hey (pish pish) I’m butting in here.

Toe Save,
If your friend gets to Taiwan and wants to put on a show with foreign peepers in Taipei instead of college kids, I can certainly help her to do that. Not for pay. For fun.

Also, if she started hanging around universities, or taking Chinese classes at one, I bet she could get stuff going with classmates.
Again, not for pay. For fun.

The theatre scene is strong in Taipei, and Taizong has a thing going too. It really depends on what she likes doing with theatre. She could appear on local tv shows, and all that, making money. Commercials. Shite.

And if she were here long enough, she might be able to start up a private theatre class with kids, or adults. I’ve had friends teach kids theatre for buxibans. And art. My friend who used to teach an art class made BUTTLOADS of money. Something like NT $5000 per class of 13 kindy kids. 1.5 long class. That’s not bad! :wink:

Uni classes without a grad degree (MA/PHd) is not going to happen. They actually CHECK those diplomas!

There’s also Disney, who goes around putting on kiddy shows.
Pay for play.

Thanks all…I’ll pass on a link to this thread…

Pretty grim all around, sounds like.

And…if any of the Withnail cast is reading…break a leg…I hope to be there…merde!

I teach at NCCU (Chengchi University - Cheng-da) and the playlet competition in the English Department is an annual event with each class (frosh, soph, jr, sr) competing with a one-act play. The seniors also have a graduation play.

Faculty are usually asked to advise . . . but not direct . . . these plays . . . it is often an honorary position, with very little actual advising (albeit, this depends upon the teacher and the students involved). I have advised a number of these and served as a judge several times as well - when I’m not advising.

Most universities have something similar for their English programs . . . however, if your friend is primarily interested in doing theatre, this won’t be enough . . . the level of expertise and skills are just not there to be satisfying for most theatre types (I have a BA and MA in theatre with a comp lit PhD specializing in interactive drama).

There are a few theatre groups in Taipei aimed at the English-speaking population . . . but they are mostly of the amateur or community theatre level.

If your friend wants to teach at a university, she needs to get an MA at the minimum (if she wants to get into one fo the very few and highly competitive theatre programs she needs an MFA at the least) . . . most universities will NOT look at anyone with less than a PhD . . . NCCU and many other national schools will NOT hire anyone with less than a PhD with the exception of language instructors who may have an MA but they must also have a TESL or related degree with experience . . . however, when we look for folks for the English Department, we usually write the call for PhDs. So, your friend is underqualified for a university post of that type (and the language center is migrating towards hiring part-time positions for language teaching).

In any case, most universities have folks teaching Drama (in our department we have more “drama” folks than classes so the dept. tries to balance things out so we can teach at least one course in what we love but most courses are not related to drama - the vast majoritiy aren’t - I teach one acting class and one film class while someone else teaches modern drama and another person teaches Shakespeare and someone else has the production course) so she would have to luck into a position (unlikely) or be ready to teach the core language courses (the drama programs are already very competitive and most require Chinese fluency unless she’s already a top dog on a visiting prof’s program which obviously she’s not given her qualifications are only at the introductory BA level).

If your friend wants to teach at a university, she needs to get more credentials and that means either a MFA or PhD (if she needs to teach in English, then she will want the PhD as the MFA is a professional acting/directing/tech degree which is less appropriate for English programs which require the research degrees of PhD). She can check into community colleges or high schools but without language teacher training her chances are a lot lower. She may just have to go the bushiban route but then that has nothing to do with drama unless she’s happy to scrape by and build experience in language teaching and limit her theatrical experience to the odd project here and there.

If she wants to be an English teacher, then Taiwan might be helpful for her but if her love is primarily theatre, she should stay in the States and get her experiences there.

In my opinion.

Oops. Sorry . . . grrrr . . . I mean, she should stay in Canada (not the States, dumbass mistake to be sure) . . . unless there is something specific she is looking for in Taiwan or if she’s just interested in a cultural experience fo some sort . . . if she’s after tons of theatre experience, she can get it . . . the nice thing about theatre is that you can always do something . . . it’s just that there’s not much in the way of teaching opportunities at the university level without further qualifications . . . especially for someone in drama.