Part II with Kady Cheung, Soti Ramapati D., Cerys Ong and Liz Sergeant Tan
This year’s graduating cohort from Brazil (Anildo), Hong Kong (Kady), Singapore (Catherine, Cerys and Liz) and India (Ram and Soti) are on their final leg of training before they graduate. Though they come from diverse theatre experiences – carnival/street theatre, traditional Cantonese opera, community theatre or straight from school – over the last two years they have found common cause here – through intense sharing and learning.
These years, have clarified the different paths as each must take after they finish in ITI.
In this second of a two-part interview with the class, we speak with the four performing in
Group 2 of the Final-Year Individual Project (FYiP) (26, 27 & 29 May 2016).
Hong Kong citizen Kady Cheung is trained in traditional Cantonese opera and is seeking ways to recast the discipline of the older art form as contemporary theatre. In 2007 she initiated a group – Artist Mission – that focuses on theatre of the absurd. An active drama teacher, Kady plans to return to Hong Kong to continue her work in acting and, applying her new training to continue collaborations with people from varied cultural backgrounds through theatre.
Soti Ramapati Dvivid (a.k.a. Soti Rpd) from Uttar Pradesh, India has been working as an actor and director before pursuing training at ITI. This M.A. in Theatre Arts graduate from the University of Hyderabad, hopes, after graduation, to explore the intercultural, psychophysical, acrobatic and physical aspects in theatre-making, and to create a platform/space for those who share his interests in the performing arts.
Cerys Ong’s love for the stage was kindled in her kindergarten days. Through the school years, she has participated in numerous performances, as well as national storytelling and drama competitions. A former Theatre Studies and Drama humanities scholar at Victoria Junior College, Cerys is a bilingual performer, who has hosted events for schools and companies.
As a little girl, Liz Sergeant Tan was so full of energy, her only quiet time was when she was an enraptured, like everyone else, by her late mother’s [Christina Sergeant’s] mime shows. She’s been hooked on theatre since. Liz believes in the power of theatre, and hopes to devise works worthy shows of substance and magical spirit for both children and adults. A School of the Arts (SOTA) alumna, Liz has also performed in Manifest (January 2014) and Floating Bones (July 2014), and has acted in short films produced by Tisch Asia students.
Q: Why did you choose to come to ITI over three years ago and what has the experience been like?
Kady: After these years of training, I feel that I have moved closer to my goal – being a well-trained actor. I feel I’m ready, finally, to start work properly in theatre. In my third and final year, I will hardly spend any time in the “classroom” but I’m excited about this – to see how I might at last bring what I know to the stage.
Cerys: My time here has expanded my horizons – I now see that theatre can be so diverse and rewarding. My perspective on what an actor could be has changed, now that I know the range of skills sets and different modes of performances that exist. What we go through in training here is far wider and deeper than what I can find usually on stages in Singapore.
Soti: My time at ITI has been a search for my own identity – both physical and emotional. Sometimes it’s been a pleasure, sometimes it’s not been so.
Liz: The training here uncovers ourselves – it can be surprising what you find out about yourself. You also get a good taste of what it’s like out there in the professional [theatre] world.
Q: What have been the greatest or most memorable rewards in your three years here?
Cerys: The hardest I’ve laughed and cried in my entire life have been here in the ITI studios – it emerges from how the training has stretched me, both as an individual and as an actor. It’s hard to pick a single encounter that is the most memorable – I will probably have that answer in five years’ time!
Soti: My most memorable lessons here have been in Clowning, because I have found those skills the hardest. But the difficulties in learning can bring out the deepest emotions.
Liz: It’s truly surprising how many experiences one can have from this single building [ITI studios]. One of my most memorable is the Wind Dance [taught by Guillermo Angelelli], it was so immensely hard to master and so physically demanding, but also rewarding once you’ve gotten it. Another rewarding experience was when I felt, for the first time in my life, something larger than myself while performing.
Q: What are your plans after graduation and any advice for those looking to begin their journey with ITI?
Kady: After graduation, I will continue to work on scripting, collaborating and applying what I’ve learnt here; I would also like to share what I’ve learnt. For those thinking of joining ITI, I’ll say: it will be difficult, but don’t wait a minute more.
Cerys: I will probably pursue a degree after ITI. Having trained my body here, I would like to train my mind academically. Hopefully, I will be able to continue performing during term breaks. Eventually, I want to work in a cross-disciplinary field. For future students, my advice is: “Think carefully”. The commitment is tough and you will need guts and drive to keep going for three years here. ITI is the place where you’ll discover who you really are and what drives you.
Soti: First, I hope to develop and tour my FYiP (Final Year Individual Presentation) to different cities in India. It is about history, trauma and memory. To those coming to ITI, know this: ITI takes you out of your comfort zone, but if you keep focussed and work hard, you’ll be fine.
Liz: I realise how far I have to go yet to be an artist. After graduation, I will stay and work in Singapore for a year; in puppetry, children’s theatre and mask work. Then, I hope to get more training. ITI has opened my body and mind so that I can pursue many things. ITI is about serious, hard training, so if you’re enrolling, have lots of energy and the spiritual commitment to do it. Be prepared to have your definition of theatre challenged and changed! When you’re finally here, open your heart, begin a journal and always reflect.