Chang Ting Wei hails from Taichung, Taiwan.
Ting Wei graduated from the University of East London with a Master’s Degree in Acting (2011) and also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Theater and Creative Drama from the National University of Tainan.
In her postgraduate study years, Ting Wei had performed with Half Moon Theatre and Stratford Theatres in London, and also played Natasha in Chekhov’s Three Sisters. She was involved in many arts festivals in Taiwan, including hosting the Nan Ying Art Festival.
Ting Wei’s involvement in the traditional arts has seen her perform with Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Company in the play Sui Tang Yan Yi.
In Singapore, she has collaborated with Drama Box, playing a lead role in a forum theatre piece Just A Bad Day (2013). As part of the Esplanade’s 2014 Huayi Festival, Ting Wei has also performed in Moving Horizon: A Nanyin Journey presentation, and with Cake Theatre in Decimal Points 810 (2014).
Q: What is it like to study here at ITI?
It is a unique experience: it is, firstly, difficult but good training to expand one’s techniques and stamina, and secondly, an uncomfortable but effective way to learn how to embrace different cultures and personalities. Training together for 10 hours a day, five times a week in a fixed studio area means personal space and sometimes ego, too, have to be adjusted under these circumstances. In short, it’s a constant and intense battle between yourself and your surroundings. I belief, what marks ITI as a unique institution is the intercultural concept. How we perceive the word ‘intercultural’ becomes the most complex question in the three years of training here – and there is no set, right or wrong answer. Therefore, as an artist- student, how one tackles the path to navigate through these learnings is the most arduous but rewarding journey.
“How we perceive the word ‘intercultural’ becomes the most complex question in the three years of training here – and there is no set, right or wrong answer.”
Q: How has ITI shaped your identity as an actor?
It has led me to the understanding that the word ‘identity’ is an ongoing concept – it is organic and constantly changing. So, during these three years of training, I have discovered the depth and width of my identity through reflections of others.
It is a sentiment, reportedly, of our co-founder Kuo Pao Kun’s, that: we are many things, and many things are in us.
Q: ITI’s unusual curriculum includes immersions in traditional Asian art forms such as Beijing Opera and Wayang Wong. What was it like to learn these, apart from contemporary techniques?
These were hard and challenging ways where I got to learn about maintaining precision and self-discipline. At the same time, they were a great experience to learn of and about the past and traditional ways of performance. Through them,it provided an opportunity to reconsider the word ‘past’ and to search its link with the present.
For example, when I was in Wayang Wong training, I felt the form had an effervescent quality, intense but light. After I discovered it, I started asking the hows and whys of it – what did this perception say of myself as an actor and even how did I connect with it in relation to Indonesian culture. And finally, how do I harness this to contribute back to my craft. To me, the experience of learning a traditional art form is like discovering a piece of nature in a city jungle, that from that specific place you can find a part of yourself.
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience that you will take away from your training here?
A strong sense of will, that can guide me though the practicalities of the entire theatre industry that includes commercial work and otherwise. My hope is that I won’t fall into triviality, but to be able to create work that is essential, necessary, and which touches on humanity – the values ITI has taught me.
Photo courtesy of Bernie Ng.