You might know Edith Podesta as an actor, playwright and director. She’s won awards for her work across the theatre-making spectrum – from Best Actress for her performance in Illogic, to Best Script and Production of the Year for BITCH: The Origin of the Female Species.
But Edith is also a renowned drama educator. In fact, that was the reason she left Sydney for Singapore in the first place, twelve years ago.
“Australia is part of Asia, and I had always been interested in learning more about traditional Asian art forms as well as the Southeast Asian performing arts industry,” she says.
That led her to accept a six-month contract to teach with the Theatre Training & Research Programme (now known as the Intercultural Theatre Institute).
“When that ended, I was fortunate enough to get another offer from LASALLE College of the Arts,” Edith recalls. “So I wound up staying on in Singapore, working as the head of LASALLE’s Acting degree programme.”
She’s thrilled to be bringing her extensive experience as an educator to young & W!LD – a new incarnation of W!LD RICE’s award-winning youth division.
She hopes that the year-long programme will help to fill a gap in the industry.
“There are a lot of young actors out there who feel that they lack a systematic way of looking at character, or analysing a scene or script,” Edith points out.
These include a wide variety of aspiring and emerging performers – some with next to no experience, others who have just graduated or are already working in the industry.
“I want to give the young & W!LD participants all the tools they will need to become more confident actors,” Edith explains.
One of the key changes she has made to the programme? Lifting the upper age limit for participants to 30.
As such, Edith’s audition room has welcomed people who have day jobs or have spent their 20s honing their skills in professional industries, like law or nursing.
“I think people who are in their late 20s are still very youthful!” she laughs. “And I want to give them a chance.”
“After all, it takes a long time for young people to decide what they want to do with their lives. This programme gives them the opportunity to embrace and explore their passion for acting, even if it’s just for one day a week.”
More importantly, Edith wants to create within young & W!LD a “safe space” where participants will be allowed – if not encouraged! – to fail. That’s something most actors don’t have the luxury to do once they start working in the industry.
“If you fail well, it means that you’re trying something new – that you’ve pushed yourself so far out of your comfort zone that you’re actually growing,” she explains.
“You get to be brave, and observe other people being brave, and learn from these experiences when we meet to look at monologues, scene work or camera work every Saturday.”
While there are many training programmes for actors out there, Edith believes that young & W!LD is unique because of its connection to the industry.
The programme will feature master classes and guest speakers, as well as mock auditions, given by some of the top theatre-makers in Singapore.
“Think of young & W!LD as a finishing school,” Edith says. “The programme will give participants an entry point into the industry that they might not ordinarily have.”
Of course, one of the selling points of the programme is its affiliation with W!LD RICE.
“It’s really exciting because you get to travel alongside an internationally renowned company,” enthuses Edith. “You get to learn and grow and work in the very heart of our theatre industry, but in a safe way.”
Indeed, this first cohort of young & W!LD will be among the first to perform at W!LD RICE’s new theatre in Funan Mall.
All in all, Edith is excited to start work in October.
“If I were under 30 again, I would want to be a part of this programme – even if I had already gone through three years of acting school,” she confesses. “It’s the perfect way to keep learning, exploring and growing as an actor.”