How were you first bitten by the theatre bug?
I was 14 when I took part in my first-ever production at Victoria School. That was the first time I acted, the first time I had make-up on, the first time I felt my knees tremble. The spotlight was blinding and I could only see moving shadows in the audience. It was scary.
But the most rewarding thing was to hear the audience gasp, laugh, sob and, finally, shower me with applause. (Perhaps they were laughing at the cheongsam I was wearing, but that’s beside the point!) That’s when I knew my purpose in life: to create, to share, to entertain, to inspire. As the curtain fell and I walked away, I knew that my soul had left my body and stayed on stage. I had to go back.
What part of the theatre-making process do you most enjoy?
I love the process of creating and devising work with other actors and theatre-makers. Devising a new work involves a lot of improvisation, and that’s where I’ve found I’m most comfortable. I love building characters and stories gesture by gesture, line by line, expression by expression. I’ve learned that, in every improv, there’s as much dirt as there is gold. There’s always something to learn, something you can take away – not just by performing, but also by watching other people work.
You’re also an aspiring writer. What does writing mean to you, and how does it feature in your love of theatre?
I spend most of my free time writing poetry and prose. Tapping the ‘Notes’ app on my iPhone opens up a whole new world for me. It’s an outlet where I can let what I feel and think flow into words that will live forever (or for as long as I don’t delete them!).
Theatre allows me to combine the two things I love most: words and drama. The marriage of the two can be beautiful, or tragic. I’ve written poems, monologues, and soliloquys that have moved me to tears once they’re performed aloud, even if that’s just in the privacy of my own bedroom.
Why young & W!LD?
I grew up a lot as an artist in Singapore Polytechnic’s theatre club. After graduating from poly, I was concerned that I would lose touch with theatre. I’m glad Rodney Oliveiro, who co-runs the young & W!LD programme, suggested I give it a try. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn, have fun and create theatre, while meeting like-minded people. And that’s exactly what we’ve done in the last year! young & W!LD has been a great platform for us to experiment and create and share, and I’ve definitely learnt a lot from my co-directors and peers.
Over the past year, young & W!LD has staged two sold-out showcases, When
S#!T Hits The Fam and Crossings. What has this entire process taught you about your craft and yourself as an artist?
The first two productions were completely devised, like most of the theatre work I’ve done before, so being a part of that creative process was easy and comfortable for me. On a personal level, it didn’t take too long for the group to strip me of my shyness! We’ve developed a really good rapport as cast-mates, which allows us to feed off one another’s energy. That makes our scene-work as an ensemble more effective.
I was actually called up to enlist in the army between showcases, so I could only serve as the multimedia operator for Crossings. Being stuck in Tekong for BMT drained me of all my inspiration and creativity. So I’m more excited than ever to be back in young & W!LD in time for our last showcase!
Speaking of which, The Bald Soprano is coming up soon. What can you tell us about the show?
The Bald Soprano is a challenge for me – I’m being thrown completely out of my comfort zone. Dwayne is not synonymous with absurdism! That makes me anxious, to be honest. But it’s a classic for a reason – during rehearsals, I’ve found The Bald Soprano to be “curious and so very bizarre”, full of clever nonsense, and like nothing you’ve ever watched. Everyone in young & W!LD loves and is well-versed in comedy, so I’m confident we’ll put on a great show!