young & W!LD: Nisa Syarafana

Nisa Syarafana has been in love with the theatre since the age of 10. Now 20 years old, she explains how young & W!LD has given her a better understanding of the kind of artist she wants to be.

How were you first bitten by the theatre bug?

As a child, I was actively involved in school performances and productions. I performed in my first play, Butterflies, when I was 10. I remember enjoying the rehearsal process so much – I got so excited about putting on costumes and make-up! That was my first stepping stone into the world of theatre.

How have you been involved in theatre over the years?

I only realised how much theatre meant to me when I started secondary school, where I was lucky to have great mentors who helped me to see the value in this craft. They also taught me how to take on different roles in a production. After graduating from secondary school, I started acting but have also worked as the production manager and stage manager for a couple of small shows. I’ve even tried my hand at directing and writing for a school production and am currently part of a new theatre collective, GST. It’s important to me to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible, so the main thing I have been doing is trying out new things and learning from the best.

You’re currently studying Applied Drama and Psychology. How has that helped and inspired you as a theatre-maker yourself?

It’s opened up a whole new world for me. It has shown me that drama and theatre have the potential to empower people and give voice to the silenced. As a theatre-maker, it has definitely helped me to become a better listener and empathise with people a lot more.

Why young & W!LD?

I have an immense amount of respect for W!LD RICE and its work. So, when I saw the audition notice, I was beyond excited to try out for this programme. I was actually very nervous about the auditions, though, and even considered pulling out at the last minute. But I’m so glad I didn’t, because my experience with young & W!LD has been nothing short of amazing and enriching. I have learnt so much from my peers as well as my mentors, Rodney and Serena, and it has definitely given me a better sense of the kind of artist I aspire to be in the future.

For drama, you must have conflict…
as Nisa (centre) discovers in a scene from When S#!T Hits The Fam!
[Also pictured: Alison Bickham & Krish Natarajan]

After working with your programme directors and fellow participants in young & W!LD for six months, you all staged an invitation-only showcase – When S#!T Hits The Fam. What was that process like? What have you learnt from it?

Devising When S#!T Hits The Fam was a very interesting process. Everyone had something unique to offer as we all came from different backgrounds and had different working styles. The first preview that we had, for W!LD RICE Artistic Director Ivan Heng, was nerve-wracking. We had a wonderful feedback session after that – he gave us a very honest review of our show, which allowed us to improve the final showcase before presenting it to audiences.

What I learned from the experience is that, as an artist, you really have to be brave. You have to try and not stay in your comfort zone. You have to trust your audience to be able to comprehend and receive the energy that you are directing towards them.

Share with us what you’re working on next with young & W!LD!

We are in the midst of preparing for B.I.R.D., our second showcase. This time, we wrote some original stories based on one common theme – the afterlife. We have since gone through several drafts, trying our best to improve the play as much as we can. Our mentors have helped us to tackle the bigger ideas of life and death in the piece and we’re hoping to do justice to the characters as performers. It should be interesting to see how our group has evolved and grown since our first showcase – I’m looking forward to it!

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