Calgary playwright Sharon Pollock will receive an honourary degree at the University of Calgary's November convo- cation.
Pollock, who boasts more than 20 years playriting experience, will receive the degree during convocation ceremonies in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium Mon., Nov. 10. She will then present the convocation address to graduates in the faculties of Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Social Work.
According to Pollock, who attended university for two years herself, graduating students are entering a very important chapter in their life, one that comes with responsibility.
"Students entering the next phase in their life are facing a complex and challenging world," Pollock said the week prior to the address, adding students graduating now will have a profound effect on generations after them, including her own grandchildren. "One's placing a lot of trust in the people I'm speaking to, and sometimes we forget that."
This will be Pollock's third honourary degree from a Canadian university. In the 1980s, she received honourary degrees from McGill University in Montreal and the University of New Brunswick, where she attended her two years of university. She has also won a host of other awards for her work in professional theatre, including two Governor General's Awards for her plays Blood Relations and Doc. Still, she said, receiving an honourary degree from the U of C won't be the same experience.
"The honourary degree seems different," explained Pollock, who has lived in Calgary for nearly 40 years. "It doesn't have that competitive edge, and it shows that your work is valued and it's different when it happens in the city you live."
Despite her positive view of the role of universities, she offered some very critical words as well. She said that tuition is becoming a large concern for university students, and this has profound effects on who enters university. This, in turn, affects who finds their way into the world of theatre to create and produce content.
"I think it's partly a class thing, and partly a tuition thing," Pollock said, explaining high tuition limits the broad cross-section of individuals necessary for diverse theatre. "We don't connect with as many people as we could. For example, we see working class stories told, but they're told by people who haven't lived through these experiences."
Still, according to Pollock, the majority of those involved professional theatre come from a university background, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts often a minimum requirement.