young & W!LD – Rebooted!

Rodney Oliveiro in Cooling-Off Day

Rodney Oliveiro tells us what it means to be young & W!LD.

In April 2014, W!LD RICE will be rebooting young & W!LD, its youth training division. Rodney and Serena Ho, both professional actors and theatre educators, will oversee the new eighteen-month programme.

We chat with Rodney about reinventing young & W!LD for a new generation of aspiring theatre practitioners.

What went through your mind when Ivan first approached you about the possibility of rebooting young and W!LD?

I was a little taken aback. I was very touched that Ivan and Tony had faith in me to do it. I have been directing and training young actors between 12 and 20 years of age in curricular and extra-curricular drama for about ten years now.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. young and W!LD has built up quite a legacy for us to live up to. Jonathan Lim, the programme’s first director, did an amazing job with his two cohorts of young actors. They really put their stamp on young & W!LD, and many of the graduates are actively working in the local theatre scene and making a name for themselves.

What’s different about this new iteration of young & W!LD?

The two earlier incarnations of young & W!LD had focused on grooming a troupe of young actors. We do believe that’s important work – we are actors ourselves.

But Singapore’s theatre industry needs new blood, and not just in terms of actors. We are also looking for the next generation of directors, playwrights and designers.

So, with Jonathan’s work as a foundation, we now hope to broaden the scope of young & W!LD. In that context, we’ll be looking to form a theatrical ensemble: our auditions in February will be open to individuals who are also interested in the other aspects of theatre-making, like writing, directing and stage-managing.

But it’s not going to be like drama school?

No, we are not aiming to compete with LASALLE and NAFA and train actors in the same way they do. We hope to make the new young & W!LD more raw and exploratory, with a focus on creating new directions and work. It will be a collaborative process, and we’ll use the combined talents of all the participants we select for the programme.

What can participants expect to learn from the programme?

In addition to a solid grounding in stagecraft, our hopes are to give the participants a platform and an incubator to develop their own unique sense of artistry. A significant portion of the programme will be devoted to helping them find their own voices and tell the stories they want to tell as artists.

Participants can look forward to workshops in which they will train under specialists to learn various skills and styles, but they will also be highly encouraged to keep an open mind and have a fresh outlook, to find their own voice and methods along the way. In this sense, the focus is less on training per se and more on artist development.

What kind of people are you looking for?

Firstly, they have to be between 18 to 26 years old. Secondly, they must be committed for the duration of the programme, which will last for 18 months from April this year.

We are also looking for people who are open-minded, willing to experiment and push boundaries. They don’t need to have a lot of experience, but a sense of self and a sense of theatricality is vital.

Tell us about working with Serena in rebooting young & W!LD.

Serena is perhaps the toughest judge of my work and I value her opinion a lot. For a while, she had been telling me that I should consider training and directing adults as well. So when Ivan talked to us about re-booting young & W!LD, we needed time to think about what we could bring to it with our combined experience in the field.

Serena and I talked a lot about what we wanted to see in the new young & W!LD. We talked about the theatre scene, we talked about the shows, the actors, ACTING, the craft and what we felt could bring to the table for youths who have a passion for creating theatre. Having Serena on board with me as a co-creator and knowing that we’re on the same page makes me more confident that, together, we have enough ideas and steam to helm the new young and W!LD!

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