2023 FCAT Dean's Convocation Medal: Emma Savić Kallesøe

Meet Emma Savić Kallesøe, who's the recipient of the 2023 Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology Dean's Convocation Medal, which recognizes "undergraduate students in each faculty whose cumulative grade point average places them in the top five per cent of their class." Emma is also the student speaker for Convocation Ceremony G, which is for FCAT graduates, on Friday, June 9, 2023, at SFU Convocation Mall (8888 University Drive, Burnaby).

Congratulations, Emma!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am graduating from the Theatre Performance program at the SCA after 4 years of study. When I am not at school, you can find me Scouting and volunteering, at the gym, library, backpacking in BC's beautiful wilderness, or at an improv night. Combine a meticulous introvert with a love for performance and audience, and you've got an interesting predicament of a person. That's me.

How did you find your time at the SCA?

I had half a year of study untouched by covid, and the last 3 years of the program were under significant reconstruction. It is not easy to tackle the arts from an academic or practical angle, but working through these sudden changes taught me more than I realized. Any guiding educational program that veers away from "traditional, classical practice" to unlearn past habits and revolutionize new healthy ones is going to make you do a double take on what you imagined your post-grad career to look like. I can't thank the mentors I had enough for the hard work and compassion they had for my own journey throughout the program.

I am not Here Now, Live Acts Festival, March 22 – 25 & March 30 – April 1, 2023 | Studio D, Studio T, & GCA B2, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W. Hastings St., Vancouver

What are some of the most memorable productions you worked on at the SCA?

My most recent original and entirely personal work is the most memorable production that comes to mind now. I am not Here Now was born out of the blood, sweat, and tears from the newly designed dual Capstone course. I couldn't thank Ryan and Torien enough for their support and for the empathy from my fellow cohort. It felt surreal to entirely *own* something on stage. Working on The Welcoming for Ryan Tacata's mainstage was also life-changing. All of a sudden the "Contemporary" part in the SCA title made a lot of sense.

The Welcoming, February 24, 25, & 26, 2022 | 7:00 PM | Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, 149 W. Hastings St., Vancouver

Any memorable stories about working with SCA faculty?

The mentors I've mentioned already have of course been astonishing, but Steven Hill, who left the program halfway through my studies, was also a critical part of my artistic development. His studio course and clown course while rigorous, helped me fall in love with performance all over again. I have never cried so many times in a course out of pure laughter and joy.  

What are you working on now? / What are your future plans?

As a new graduate, I feel just like a newborn baby: I wake up every two hours to cry. It's terrifying to step away from the prescriptive yet routine ways of an undergraduate program but I am excited for new challenges. Throughout the summer, I am continuing work at the SCA in the Art Skills program with Barbara Adler (who is an amazing human, 11/10) and beginning full-time work on the North Shore as an office administrator. I am planning to build my experience (and the finances) to go to the Danish School of Performing Arts or the Slovenian Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film, and Television in 2024/2025. I've got a website if you're interested:

What advice might you give to incoming SCA students?

This is a good question, listen up:

  1. Meet with Alex Brzezinski (the Undergraduate Advisor, or whoever is in the role) once a term. I don't care what your GPA or program is. Alex will always be able to help you better understand your program and academic options so you're not stuck with inconvenient or boring schedules. Another 11/10 human.
  2. Do internships and practicums. DO IT. Especially if it's a position unique from what you may be learning in your program. The experience is irreplaceable, and you can even get credit! Way better than doing another exam. Barbara Adler is your go-to for that (see above for a 5-star rating).
  3. Thank the service crew in the building when you see them in the hall. They keep the studios clean and safe. We can't work and play without them.
  4. Stay healthy and clean. Your body is your most important tool. And stinky feet don't help with anyone's artistic practice.
  5. Make sure to fuel failure in your studio classes, because that's when it becomes fun. I don't mean to tank your GPA, but let your failures inspire your successes and creativity. After all, performance is a fascination with human imperfection. Being perfect is not equal to being a good artist or student. You are a great artist, now go have a great time making crazy things.

Thanks, Emma! And congratulations again!

May 30, 2023