young & W!LD: Mel Bickham

From penning childhood skits to re-interpreting Shakespeare, Mel Bickham’s love of writing and literature has always made her feel out of place – until she discovered the theatre. She tells us why joining young & W!LD is one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

How were you first bitten by the theatre bug?

As clichéd as it sounds, I’ve actually been in love with theatre for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would create small skits – writing scripts based on fairy tales, casting my siblings and then working relentlessly with them until I felt the play was perfect. Needless to say, my audience of two – my mum and dad – were thoroughly thrilled by each performance. As I went through school, literature and drama classes helped to feed my obsession with theatre.

How have you been involved in theatre over the years?

I’ve always been in love with writing and creating pieces. In primary school, I focused a lot on acting. But I was given more opportunities to write my own pieces later in my academic career. In secondary school in Hong Kong, I wrote, acted in and directed multiple original pieces. I also wrote two original plays for Catholic Junior College’s Literary Evening.

Your original works have included re-interpretations of classics like The Scarlet Letter and Othello. What inspires you to create art in this vein?

As a lover of literature, I have always been obsessed with the different plots, characters and twists that every novel or play contains. l love looking at stories from angles that I feel haven’t been explored before, and that’s what compelled me to boldly attempt to re-interpret well-known classics in a different light. It challenges me to keep an open mind and to really pay attention to the tiniest of details in different writers’ works. I see this as a way to expand my awareness of the sensitive decisions that writers make with every word, phrase or analogy they use.

Mel speaks directly to the audience in When S#!T Hits The Fam

Why young & W!LD?

I’ve always felt a bit odd in the sense that a lot of the people I met could not relate to my passion for theatre or literature. I remember watching my very first W!LD RICE play, Cook A Pot of Curry, and it really sparked an interest in me to seek out like-minded people with whom I could share my passion, thoughts and ideas. Luckily for me, W!LD RICE has a development branch dedicated to youths, and I immediately signed myself up for it. I can safely say that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made to further my drive and passion for theatre.

You’ve been working with your programme directors and fellow participants in young & W!LD for six months, and staged an invitation-only showcase – When S#!T Hits The Fam. What have you learnt from that process?

It was an exhilarating, stressful and insightful journey. We had to learn how to compromise when we did not agree, but also to stand firm if we strongly believed in an idea. It forced us to really come to grips with our own strengths and weaknesses. Piecing the script together was an absolute joy though. We were all able to express ourselves in whatever way we wanted to, from monologues to physical theatre.

Your next showcase will be in December. What can you share with us about it?

We’ll be venturing into the realm of the afterlife to explore the theme of ‘unwantedness’. This time, the characters and plot are not based on our own personal experiences. So the next showcase will definitely be a test of our acting abilities. It should be interesting to see how we each slip into the minds of the characters we will be playing. Many of the young & W!LD crew have contributed written works; I’ve been working with some others to piece them all together. Trying to simultaneously obscure and define the line between life and death will be an interesting challenge – I’m looking forward to it!

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