Young & Wild is WILD RICE’s youth development academy dedicated to the training and nurturing of future generations of Singaporean actors. Under the leadership of award-winning theatre-maker/educator/performer Edith Podesta, this year-long, comprehensive acting programme aims to prepare promising young talents for careers in the creative industry. Working alongside local and international career professionals, Young & Wild offers participants the unique opportunity to see how a professional theatre company creates work, connects with an audience and engages with the community.
Auditions are due to take place in October! Find out more here.
In February 2016, the fourth cohort of young & W!LD began their training programme with help and guidance of co-directors Rodney Oliveiro and Serena Ho. Over the course of 18 months, young & W!LD staged three showcases, while undergoing practical training that emphasised versatility, dedication, discipline and a deeper understanding of all aspects of theatre-making. Fearless and ever ready to rise to the challenges before them, this cohort continually demonstrated their willingness to explore new ways of making theatre. Beyond complementing and supporting one another very well as performers on stage, the ensemble also contains several aspiring writers and directors. As such, they were keen to craft their own original works, including When S#IT Hits The Fam and Crossings, which played to sold-out houses. The cohort graduated in June 2017 with a madcap new take on Eugene lonesco's absurdist classic, The Bald Soprano.
The members of the fourth cohort are :
In April 2014, W!LD RICE revived young & W!LD under the stewardship of programme directors Rodney Oliveiro and Serena Ho. While earlier iterations of young & W!LD had focused on developing a troupe of young actors, the third cohort of our youth division comprised a broad range of participants, including aspiring directors, playwrights, costume/set designers and actors.
Over the course of 18 months, young & W!LD staged three showcases, while undergoing practical training that emphasised versatility, dedication, discipline and a deeper understanding of all aspects of theatre-making. They crafted their own original works, Little Riots and Other Stories and Geylang, which played to sold-out houses; and graduated with a bold new take on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In March 2009, the second cohort of young & W!LD actors began their training. The ten members explored texts from Greek tragedy, Japanese noh, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Moliere; and had workshops with guest practitioners like Nelson Chia and Koh Wan Ching.
The second cohort lauched their Training Season in March 2010 with Leow Puay Tin’s FAMILY, a powerful Singaporean saga spanning four generations of the Yang family from 1900 to the 1990s. First performed by Theatreworks in 1996 as The Yang Family, this play allowed these young actors a chance to engage a local text written in the vernacular, but also challenged the 10 actors to play 34 characters, across race, gender, age, language and culture. They even played their own spouses and each other’s children and grandchildren. Never leaving the performance area, the ten actors changed costumes and wigs in plain view, turning the act of transformation into part of the performance.
Directed by Jonathan Lim, the rehearsal process was an intensive process of research, exploration and ensemble workshopping. Professional practitioners that lent their skills to this learning process include Bang Wenfu (music & sound), Alycia Finley (stage management) and Nicholas Li, whose ingenious set design challenged the ensemble to create the rooms and corridors of the Yang shophouse in ever-shifting perspective using 10 thick bamboo poles.
Their second production was UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE, a re-titling of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque. An intensely naturalistic play that takes surrealistic turns, it presented the cast with the classic challenge of a living room play with extremely complex characters in even more complex relationships, unravelling through dense (and beautifully-crafted) dialogue. The production was supported by two composer/sound designers – Bang Wenfu and Julian Wong, set designer Eucien Chia and lighting designer Adrian Tan.
SWORDFISH+CONCUBINE: THE FALL OF SINGAPURA was the third and final production of the second cohort’s Training Season.
The members of the second cohort are :
- Adi Jamaludin
- Sarah Cheng-De Winne
- Faizal Abdullah
- Johannes Hadi
- Kamal Abdul Rahim
- Grace Khoo
- Yin Mei J J Lenden-Hitchcock
- Elizabeth Loh
- Glory Ngim
- Grace Soo
Standing, Left–Right : Kamal Abdul Rahim, Yin Mei J J Lenden-Hitchcock, Adi Jamaludin, Grace Khoo, Faizal Abdullah, Sarah Cheng-De Winne
Sitting, Left–Right : Johannes Hadi, Elizabeth Loh, Glory Ngim, Grace Soo
Between June 2006 and February 2007, 14 young actors underwent 9 months of intensive workshops – exploring various aspects of the actor’s craft and different facets of theatre practice. They developed their craft through a combination of theoretical exploration, critical discussion and practical project work. They tackled exercises ranging from classical text work and monologue work to contemporary scenework, movement work and musical theatre workshops.
They were led by young & W!LD Artistic Director Jonathan Lim, and trained by guest practitioners like Kuo Jinghong, Bang Wenfu, Christina Sergeant and Sim Pern Yiau.
The members of the first cohort are :
- Isabella Chiam
- Candice de Rozario
- Hang Qian Chou
- Jasmine Koh
- Jonathan Lum
- Audrey Luo
- Ghazali Muzakir
- Judy Ngo
- Daphne Ong
- Eleanor Tan
- Tan Shou Chen
- Terence Tan
- Leslie Tay
- Vanessa Wong
young & W!LD then met the public in our first Training Season, where the young actors honed their skills through 3 productions that were vastly different in style, challenging the ensemble to adapt their creative processes to serve a variety of approaches. In each production, the actors not only played all the acting roles, they also took on certain production tasks, with the aim of preparing them to be well-rounded practitioners with a strong awareness of the holistic experience of theatre and a wider range of practical skills. To this end, the young & W!LD actors also served as production managers, stage managers, costume designers, props makers, marketing and publicity managers, front-of-house managers, dramaturgs and other critical theatre roles.
Filipino playwright Tony Perez’s complex play features 10 vignettes, each depicting a different couple coping with infidelity while driving down a major expressway. The maturity of the characters (and their situations) made this play a challenging debut for young actors. The different dramatic styles employed in each vignette further tested the actors’ sensitivity and versatility.
The play was well received by the audience, who were impressed at the dramatic range and emotional power wielded by these fresh young actors.
British playwright Caryl Churchill’s intensely powerful play deals with the lives and politics of two Romanian families before, during and after the 1989 Romanian Revolution that led to the downfall of Nicolae Ceausescu.
The play was chosen for its powerful political and social content, for the research challenge that it offers to the actors; and for the wide range of acting styles it requires - from the highly naturalistic to the stylized to the abstract - which gave the actors a chance to develop a versatility and fluidity that is much prized in local theatre.
The play was extremely well-received by the audience and the arts media. Audiences were impressed that such a youthful group were able to perform such a weighty and complex piece with such skill and apparent ease. The media were impressed that young & W!LD was ready and able to create theatre that was less conventional and predictable, but rather challenged the audience to a deeper level of theatrical engagement.
The directorial style chosen also made this play a full ensemble production (the actors never left the stage at any time) and each scene was created as a collective. This challenged the actors to develop their instincts as a group, rather than only as individuals. They rose to this challenge with remarkable results – many audience, peers and theatre professionals were impressed by the powerful chemistry of the troupe.
To quote Straits Times journalist Hong Xinyi in her review : “Under the direction of Jonathan Lim, what the 13 performers accomplish in this section is nothing short of breathtaking… The entire thing mesmerises like a taut, fervent dance; the ensemble moves and breathes as one.”
This production earned them the 2007 LIFE! Theatre Award for Best Ensemble.
The third and final production in the Training Season was Moliere’s comedy of medical manners Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid) in a modern translation by Gerard Murphy. The play centres around Argan, a wealthy hypochondriac who has all sorts of miserly cost-saving schemes in mind, but is foiled by his precocious maid Toinette, pragmatic brother Beralde and lovelorn daughter Angelique. The result is a riotous farce of ridiculous disguises and wicked surprises.
Guest director Christina Sergeant gave the young & W!LD actors training in the physicality and characterisation of the Italian commedia dell’arte style, which served as a springboard for the journey into the world of the French farce.
The choice of a classical piece challenged the young actors to handle language at a more elegant and heightened level, and to match it with a physical style that is rarely used in contemporary naturalistic theatre.
The musical numbers in the show also allowed the ensemble to demonstrate their considerable musical talents, with vivid and impressive musical performances by Jonathan Lum, Candice de Rozario, Eleanor Tan and Audrey Luo.
Moving away from the ensemble-style play like Mad Forest and into a more traditionally-structured play with leads and supporting roles, The Hypochondriac also tested young & W!LD’s ability to mould their strong ensemble energy into a different form, without losing the powerful chemistry between them. It was a resounding success – the power of the ensemble shone through in every scene.
The production was a sell-out success, and garnered much praise as well as a nomination for Best Ensemble (LIFE! Theatre Awards 2008).
Since the end of the Training Season, the members of the first young & W!LD cohort have made their mark by appearing in a wide range of productions by many theatre companies. They have been embraced by the professional theatre scene and have become a satisfying and versatile resource appreciated by many theatre companies.
Some of the productions that have featured young & W!LD actors include :
- W!LD RICE:Own Time Own Target, Jack & the Beansprout, The Last Temptation of Sir Stamford Raffles
- Singapore Repertory Theatre:Much Ado About Nothing
- I-Theatre:Duck & Dive, You Are Special, Little Green Frog, Arabian Nights
- STAGES:H is for Hantu, Chestnuts, Broadway 4 Suakus
- The Theatre Practice:If There’re Seasons...