Sree Jyothish had his mind set on being a music major when he joined NYU Abu Dhabi. That was until he began attending performances organized by the NYUAD Arts Center and became friends with classmates majoring in theater. Through this exposure, he realized how little he knew about the performing arts thinking that theater was an archaic and irrelevant exercise in “people reading a play and acting it out.” But by helping out a senior with her theater Capstone Project as a sound engineer, Jyothish’s curiosity grew into what would become a double major in music and theater.
Favorite Theater Program
The then freshmen did what he considered the “typical thing where you take courses to cover major requirements." In that journey, however, a not-so-typical course, altered his journey. A J-Term course taught by Ruben Polendo, an arts professor and current chair at NYU Tisch won Jyothish over in his sophomore year.
Dramaturgy of Disruption was an intensive three-week course that breaks away from traditional modes of storytelling, collaboration, and theater making. Jyothish found the experience to break out of the mold of what he thought theater was, saying the course functioned as “a space to create.”
“A lot of values we gained in that class had to do with the idea of finding honesty,” the senior said. Professor Polendo started the class with an acknowledgement that everyone present, regardless of ability, is an artist. Not needing validation from an external perspective and being acknowledged as an original creator empowered Jyothish to create and tell his story. Jyothish declared theater as a major after the course.
Through Jameel Arts Center, Jyothish became part of a group of young UAE-based artists who showcased their work in their 2020 Youth Takeover exhibition. For his showcase 1958_sand, Jyothish shared a particular childhood memory that kept coming to him — a park in Dubai. In his work, Jyothish introspected his identity as someone who was born in India but raised in Dubai, his place in the world, and a general sense of dissonance. Going back to the same park many years later, while the people and landscape of the area had changed, the feelings still felt the same to him.
Jyothish’s journey to adding another major was a result of being open-minded and exploring the different paths he could take during university. It’s a lesson he learned by happenstance but cannot emphasize enough for incoming freshmen navigating their academic route ahead.
Jyothish encourages lowerclassmen to try new things, even if they are pretty set in what major or interests they want to pursue. “There were times where I could have taken a class to help move my degree along, but I chose to take a class where I was curious about the course or professor. Those decisions have helped me discover things I would never have known otherwise,” Jyothish said.
There were times where I could have taken a class to help move my degree along, but I chose to take a class where I was curious about the course or professor. Those decisions have helped me discover things I would never have known otherwise.