Hello,

a bit about me:

I am a freelance artist who focuses on experimental, immersive, and devised theatre. My core values (which I incorporate into all of my work) are compassion, curiosity, and activism. I have worked on new works festivals, site-specific productions, fringe festivals, and the world-premier of the musical Hills on Fire.

I combine my international studies with my work in theatre to produce informed, socially relevant productions. I do this with the goal of informing audiences and inspiring discussion on sensitive but important subjects. In addition to my studies in international culture, history, and politics, I have also studied in Europe, received B1 certification in German language, and participated in the 2019 Doha Forum.

I worked as Assistant to the Artistic Director at the Hippodrome Theatre; Gainesville, Florida's professional Equity theatre. I also served as Associate Artistic Director on the executive board of Florida Players; the University of Florida's student-run non-profit theatre company. I graduated from the University of Florida in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.

To view my CV, click here. To visit my digital theatre portfolio, click here.

2019 Doha Forum

 

2018 UF in Mannheim

 

Self-Discovery

I learned that I am not a taking-photos-on-vacation kind of person. I prefer to stay still and drink in the feeling of the moment. That being said, I am so grateful for the photo-loving friends I had at my side. They are the reason I have photos to look back on these beautiful moments.

Select International Coursework

 
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Reflection

My experience at the 2019 Doha Forum was the most impactful moment thus far in my journey as an international scholar. I had always intended to combine my knowledge of theatre and international culture but had struggled to actually do so. This changed during my experience in Qatar. Being there – where homosexuality is illegal - as a gay person was at once time intimidating and exciting. I knew that if I was careful I would not be in any real danger. However, just the fact that I had to consciously censor myself to keep from being arrested was psychologically straining. This completely shifted my perspective on the continued oppression experienced by the LGBT+ community throughout the globe (even in countries where homosexuality is embraced).

 

 

With this in mind, the decline of the mask in recent generations seems, to me, a kind of cultural imperialism imposed by the Western world. Despite being protective, the battoulah was seen by foreigners as oppressive and, because of this, began to fall out of favor. In this way, a new mask (that of foreign expectations and culture) was forced on the women of Qatar. It is this psychological mask that I strongly identified with as a queer person in a country where I had to hide my true self.

 

I resolved to write a play inspired by my feelings and experience in Qatar; based on the notes I took throughout the trip. This project developed into my International Studies senior project. The play, Panel, focused on neocolonialism in Africa and stigma against homosexuality through the lens of the Doha Forum.

 

I plan to continue using my international experiences to inform and inspire the art I create. As an artist, I strive to create socially conscious work. In my experience, theatre that is engaging and intellectually stimulating tends to be more interesting and satisfying than theatre that serves only to entertain. Further, in exploring complicated themes internationally, audiences are invited to expand their minds along with me; engaging in thought on cultures that, while foreign, will inevitably possess relevant connections to our own.

I took to recording my experiences daily to track my emotional & psychological progression. I found myself wearing a social "mask" for fear of persecution. While touring the National Museum, I was struck by the battoulah (pictured to the right); a mask that was traditionally worn by women on the peninsula and is distinct from the Islamic veil. From a Western perspective, this mask could appear oppressive to the woman wearing it – concealing her identity. This struck me very personally. However, it was explained that the mask, initially worn to protect against the sand of the desert, evolved into a protective mechanism against the aggression of foreigners (particularly once the British arrived in Qatar).

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© 2020 by Jesse Desrosiers
 

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