Young, passionate and determined to make W!LD theatre that provokes thought and debate – that’s the way we like them! Perry Felix Shen has performed throughout his poly days and even set up his own theatre company. We spoke with Perry about making theatre that’s close to his heart, and finding his voice as an actor in young & W!LD.
Tell us about how you were bitten by the theatre bug.
From a young age, my parents and my aunt were quite adamant about exposing my siblings and I to a variety of artistic forms. I still remember watching Singin’ In The Rain at the tender age of seven and wondering whether any of the actors fell sick after literally singing in the rain! I feel that that was incredibly significant as I have friends who are 22 this year and have never watched a theatre piece. I do feel very fortunate.
How did you get involved in theatre?
I only started doing theatre in my first year of poly. I joined Singapore Polytechic’s (SP) Theatre Compass, and played a flamboyantly fabulous villain in a Greek play. I wore a purple cape and had purple eye shadow and I enjoyed every moment of it. However, I only started getting more involved in theatre, especially with works outside of SP, after getting to know Rosemary McGowan. I joined her theatre company, Theatre Connect, during my third year and things just spiralled from there.
You’ve started a theatre company with your friends, Red Pill Productions. Why did you strike out on your own, and what do you hope to achieve through Red Pill?
There were many reasons why my friends and I started Red Pill Productions but, thinking about it, it was quite an impulsive decision. We were just quite tired of waiting around for things to happen. We just really wanted to do theatre and more specifically, to do theatre that we wanted to do. Hence, the only solution was to set up our own company. Other reasons included personally being quite terrible at auditions, the fact that a couple of us were in the army, and this insane need to be in control of everything!
Now that Red Pill is in the midst of its second production, our hopes and dreams for the company have become a little clearer than when we first started. I guess, essentially, we hope that Red Pill will become a permanent fixture in Singapore’s theatre industry. We do like to push boundaries and we would like to continue doing so. If what you are doing doesn’t make someone feel uncomfortable, what’s the point?
Shameless plugging here but our upcoming production is called Let’s Get Back Together, an original testimonial theatre piece based on interviews conducted with over 50 individuals from the LGBT community in Singapore. In light of increasing tensions amongst various communities about the issue, this play was created to discover what it really means to identify as LGBT in Singapore in this day and age. Tickets are available @ http://lgbt.peatix.com/
Why young & W!LD?
One of the main reasons I joined this ensemble was Rodney Oliveiro. I have worked with Rodney before during my time at SP and I love his style of directing. Many times he would come up to you before rehearsal, show you a video of something incredibly strange and tell you that he wanted that onstage. It was incredibly exciting and it pushes you to do things that make you feel so uncomfortable. It has helped me a lot as an actor.
young & W!LD has been going strong for three months. What have you learnt thus far about your craft and yourself?
The people in young & W!LD are very strange, and I mean this in the most wonderful way possible. I came in expecting tons of super-experienced actors who could dance, sing and cry all at the same time but young & W!LD isn’t like that. The people in it come from all walks of life, with varying experiences and stories. They each bring a different truth to their performance and I do hope that, over these few months, I have become a more sincere and empathetic actor.