A year ago this week I was sitting in the library drafting a research proposal for my Keystone project. I planned to focus my Question: how does story shape human experience? into an exploration of men’s perceptions of masculinity. I was going to interview men and collect their stories, draft theatrical pieces, and stage a production that would challenge the hegemonic and unhealthy masculine images that flood out of the various screens in our lives.
Two weeks ago I staged the show – titled ‘Manologues – in the Quest MPR with the help of over 20 of my peers. The room was packed. We put out every chair we could find and people were still sitting in front and standing against the walls. The performers stepped it up and the whole thing was well received. We even set up a camera so you folks could watch it from far away on YouTube.
Manologues is by far the largest project I’ve worked on during my time at Quest. Three and a half week courses usually resolve in a large paper, presentation, or podcast but having a whole year to bring something together dwarfed all of my previous work. I interviewed men between April and December on two continents, drafted the script while visiting a friend working on her PHD in Scotland, and staged the show a couple hundred feet from the library where I thought of the idea. Last week I got the confirmation that the work was sufficient to officially earn my entry into the Keystone block. We take Keystone block together to polish our projects, practice our presentations, and reflect on the years we’ve spent together. It all culminates in two days worth of presentations where we share what we’ve learned with our community and the world. My time at Quest is coming to an end.
Every Quest student has to complete a keystone project to graduate. Some do create work, some write papers, some create policy recommendations on anything from sexual assault services to middle school exercise programs. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for my peers over the past month, watching their eyes light up and their bodies tire as they pour themselves and the last four years of their educational development into projects that will carry their names for as long as the Quest library stands. It’s an inspiring time, and a tiring one. Emotionally conflicting as we prepare to leave the university we’ve called home and satisfying to have proven that we’ve grown while we’re here.
I haven’t been posting blogs lately; I’m sorry. I’ve been working on other things but they’ve been good things and I’m happy to share them with you. If you find yourself in Squamish at the end of April come up to see our final keystone presentations. If you’re anything like me, then they will inspire you.