The Tomato

The U of O presses play on YouTube drama program. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik, via YouTube.
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Department of Theatre takes students into the world of catty Internet shenanigans  

In light of escalating drama between high-profile YouTube creators, the University of Ottawa has decided to defy the conventional yet again and turn these antics into an opportunity for its students.

Starting Jan. 9, the U of O’s Department of Theatre will be launching a YouTube drama program, where students will get the opportunity to learn about the art of whining in front of a camera for 20 minutes.

“Webcam confessionals aren’t that different from acting techniques that were popularized during the Elizabethan era,” said U of O professor Art Fartsy, who will serve as the head of this program for the upcoming winter semester.

“Soliloquies and inner monologues are still some of the most powerful storytelling devices known to the world of theatre. This program will operate under that same premise, except most of our performances will be centered around themes like ‘Who is talking shit about me on Twitter?’”

Thanks to the runaway success of YouTube personalities like Keemstar, Scarce, and LeafyIsHere, Fartsy explains that calling people names and digging into their personal lives is quickly becoming the most lucrative entertainment platform on the Internet. It also serves as an antidote to today’s sterile job market.

“These days, most theatre majors will be lucky to find a job performing at a local Chuck E. Cheese once they graduate,” said Fartsy. “But now that YouTube drama is becoming a thing, many of them will be able to make a steady living by theatrically airing people’s dirty laundry in public.”

But Fartsy concedes that simply acting like an attention-seeking narcissist is only part of the whole YouTube drama experience. In order to truly immerse the audience in their performance, students should utilize every resource that the Department of Theatre has to offer.

“We have plenty of experienced script writers on staff who are more than willing to help students spice up their inflammatory social media posts,” said Fartsy.

“From what I understand, a good drama bomb on Twitter consists of exclamation points, liberal capitalization, and clapping emojis that punctuate every word. It’s poetry, really.”

Even though classes won’t be starting until the beginning of January, U of O theatre majors are already jumping at the chance to learn about this new emerging art form.

“I can’t wait to work one-on-one with the department’s stunt coordinator,” said Patrick Fall, a first-year drama student. “That way, I can really perfect my ‘faking a physical assault’ routine. That style of method acting has been making a comeback ever since fouseyTUBE resurrected it last summer.”

According to Fartsy, dramatic mood lighting also plays a large part in creating a compelling piece of YouTube drama, which is why this new program will offer a course that’s entirely dedicated to proper stage lighting.

“The last time I posted a two-hour vlog about stubbing my toe, I made the rookie mistake of filming it in the dark,” said second-year theatre student Tess Pian. “Once I learn about how to add colour and texture to my set-up, I’ll be able to present my petty grievances with truly operatic flair.”

While Fartsy admits that it will take time before mainstream academics and theatregoers fully embrace this new style, he remains optimistic that YouTube drama is going to set the world of theatre “on fire.”

“If you think about it, YouTube drama is all about creating conflict where it doesn’t exist. What’s more creatively ambitious than that?”