Q&A with Tan Weiying

Weiying first encountered the magic of theatre through the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts & Cultural Troupe (SHHKACT), at age 5, when she watched the clan association’s teachers take to the stage for their annual performance. That same power drew her to pursue professional training in theatre. “Theatre has helped me open up to the people around me, and it keeps me grounded,” says the Bachelor of Science graduate.

ITI’s award-winning alumni – M1-The Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards winner Peter Sau, Golden Horse award recipient Yeo Yann Yann, former Theatre Practice resident artist Felix Hung Chit Wah and recent graduate (and fellow Tan Chay Bing Education Fund recipient) Lina Yu – helped seal Weiying’s decision to train at ITI, “I identified with them, and I wanted to be a part of it,” says Weiying.

In 2015, apart from training at ITI, Weiying also worked with and guided the Women’s Executive Committee of Bukit Timah Community Club to perform at Scenes – Drama Box’s forum theatre festival.

Post-graduation, Weiying hopes to continue work in devised theatre, aiming to use the approach to reach out to communities and the young.

Weiying’s training at ITI is generously supported by the Tan Chay Bing Education Fund.

Q: Who were you before and after you came to ITI?
I was a speech and drama facilitator, and an actor.

I enjoyed acting and teaching, but I knew I could be better. Plus, I also wanted to be able to create. I heard of ITI through a friend. After participating in ITI’s workshops and watching the graduation plays, I knew this was where I wanted to develop myself as an artist.

Q: What was your first day like? And what of the many other days after that?
On that first day, I felt like I had entered another world – the energy emanating from the staff, teachers, and students were unlike any other. There was a lot of warmth.

Training here has been a journey of self-discovery through working with others.
There may be no exams in the traditional sense, but how well you do in school is what you make of it. You can choose to cruise along and just get by, or keep exploring boundaries and emerge a completely different person. It’s all up to the individual being in charge of your own growth.

Q: What have you learnt about working with your cohort from various countries?
Intrinsically, we speak the same language of love and of life; we just express it very differently.

Q: What inspires you in the learning and training here?
The first day of every new module, when the teacher steps into the studio and introduces his/her field of expertise … they bring their own diverse worlds into class, and for a while you are allowed a little glimpse of it.

Q: What life lessons do you take away from these three years?
I learnt that if I focused more on the process of creation, the end-point would take care of itself.

I also expected to grow as an artist, but I didn’t realise that it entails growing as a person too.

Q: What will you look forward to after graduation?
I hear a lot about the struggles of being an actor, so I am looking forward to that whole experience of being a new artist! I wonder how I will be chewed up. I am also looking forward to a more balanced diet and the lightening of my dark eye circles!

Q: Any words for teachers, family, the arts community?
I’d like to say thanks to my theatre teachers, both within and outside ITI, for your patience and guidance; to the staff of ITI for being a pillar of strength and support; my cohort mates for sharing in the joyful and the tragic; and my family for submerging me in the healthy liquids of love.