Getting Physical with Jey Lim Jun Jie

A drama educator and physical theatre enthusiast, Jey nevertheless had to open himself up to new lessons and ideas as part of young & W!LD. He tells us about being broken and inspired by Shakespeare in equal measure, and shares with us some of the insights he’ll be taking with him from his time in young & W!LD.

Tell us about your final showcase, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. How have you been preparing for the show?

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is all about love and magic! Putting this final showcase together has truly been a test for all of us. We’ve been broken, confused, inspired and pushed. We learned how and got to be independent. We learnt to trust in Shakespeare’s beautiful dialogue, and to speak and pronounce it without our typical Singaporean rhythms.

Serena, our co-director, has always been driving home to us this one idea: “You have to be a thinking actor.” We had to fight against the tendency to play some of the bit parts as caricatures, instead working to find the ‘real person’ in them.

Tell us about how you were first bitten by the theatre bug.

In my Secondary One year, I signed up for the drama club after playing ‘Moving Toilets’, an improv game in which you have to create a fantastical toilet with your friends by using your bodies as props. My group was picked as the most fantastical toilet! That was when I began to realise that drama was the space in which I could be my most creative and most free.

How have you been involved in theatre over the years?

After three years of theatre school at NAFA, I performed in assembly school plays, community outreach performances and children’s theatre while, at the same time, training in and developing my craft in movement and performance. I also discovered my love of being a drama educator. Most recently, I performed in Toy Factory’s December Rains.

Jey (right), with Matthew Fam
in a scene from Little Riots And Other Stories

You’re a founding member of TheatreStrays, a physical theatre group. What is it about movement and performance that intrigues you?

How the body is an extension of our feelings, and how we can hide or highlight those feelings in the ways we humans move.

After witnessing the magic of how the bodies surrendered and suspended themselves from the everyday body in a performance of Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller, I was transformed! I began my own experiment and search for my own body, to discover how I could become not just another body in the space but one that is ‘alive’ and will affect the audience.

Why young & W!LD?

I was hungry and thirsty. I saw that young & W!LD could satisfy that, and also give me a push into the wild, wild world of theatre. The idea of training and playing with a group of like-minded people has always excited me.

You’ve been working with your programme directors and fellow participants in young & W!LD for over a year, on shows like Little Riots and Other Stories and Geylang. What has that process been like? What have you learnt?

We are a very diverse bunch of people and many of us have different objectives for joining this programme. Some of us wanted to act, some to write and others to produce. We understood that it was not an acting programme, but a theatre-making training platform. One that requires your full attention and commitment as an artist! You devise, you write, you make props, you make costumes, you market the show, you design the sets and you act.

The process saw many of us drowning in and frustrated by the nature of devised work, especially when the piece becomes just ‘a huge bag of materials’. And yet, somehow, our showcases have always worked out beautifully.

Not forgetting the friendships and relationships I’ve formed that will be here to stay!

To end this, I’m just going to drop some quotes that have particular significance for all of us as we play, perform and grow in young & W!LD…

‘Anything goes!’
‘Just play lah!’
‘Find the honesty.’
‘What are you trying to say?’
‘Find five different ways to do it!’

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