Q&A with ITI Class of 2016

Part I with Anildo Böes, Catherine Ho and Ramassamy S.

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 different paths that each may take after they finish in ITI.

In this first of a two-part interview with the class, we speak with the trio performing in Group 1 of the Final-Year Individual Project (FYiP) on 24, 25 & 28 May 2016.

Brazilian Anildo Böes has worked as a movement researcher under theatre director Inês Alcaraz Marocco for four years after graduation from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Prior to ITI, he co-founded Grupo Cerco theatre company with his mentor Marocco. With other collaborators, he co-created two acclaimed productions, O Sobrado and Incidente em Antares. Anildo is also part of Bloco da Laje, a collective of artists from Porto Alegre who hold public meetings in order to promote social inclusion and community creation. He has performed in many Brazilian cities and in various notable theatre festivals such as FILO and Porto Alegre em Cena.

Singapore-born Catherine Ho has always harboured a love for performance, even while working full-time as a sales and marketing executive. Before joining ITI, Catherine split her time between her professional and performing life and was on stage for TheatreWorks’ Lift: Love Is Flower The, in The Stage Club’s Voyage and Little Red Riding Hood, and attended workshops in Suzuki Method and Viewpoints, conducted by Nine Years Theatre. In 2014, Catherine decided to make the leap into full-time theatre.

Ramassamy S. (Ram) has always been enchanted by theatre since he was a child in Puducherry, India. He pursued it and eventually gained a Master of Performing Arts in Theatre and Drama from Sri Sankaradass Swamigal School of Performing Arts, Pondicherry University. As a theatre activist, Ram formed the Velippadai Theatre Movement in Kuruvinatha, his village in Puducherry, as a platform and avenue for innovative thinking, self-expression and critical engagement amongst students, youths and others in the rural community. This is the work Ram hops to pursue and develop further when he returns home next year after finishing at ITI.

Q: Why did you choose to come to ITI over three years ago and what has the experience been like?

Anildo: I came here with different expectations than how it actually turned out to be – such as spending over a month just re-learning how to walk (in Beijing opera) or how to stay still (in Noh) … but these have been good surprises in my learning.

Catherine: It has been a journey back to discovering myself – I came to be aware that I have to truly learn about myself, before I can learn about other forms and people. Three years seem like a long time when I started, but in reality, one’s training can go on forever and there will still be new things to take in.

Ram: I came because the vision and mission of the school resonated deeply with me. I’ve always believed that theatre-making is a social effort, not an individual journey. The openness of ITI has been invaluable in re-affirming that.

Q: What have been the greatest or most memorable rewards in your three years here?

Anildo: Here, you learn not just skills and techniques, but also experience discipline and joy.

Catherine: One of my biggest lessons here is that one can live on little and still be happy; even in a place like Singapore that chases a lot of wants. The time here has been like a slow, three-year meditation for me.

Ram: Working with the masters of four traditional forms have been turning points for me. It has made me think about what there is beyond the theatre I know.

Q: What are your plans after graduation and any advice for those looking to begin their journey with ITI?

Anildo: I will have a lot to share when I return home. Theatre is community and I have been far away from mine [Rio Grande do Sol, Brazil] for three years. I started this theatre group back home in 2008 that engages in street, or carnival-style theatre, that I would like to go back to. If possible, I’d also like to explore India and Southeast Asia after graduation.

My advice for those thinking of coming to ITI is to have faith – in the training. When you don’t, it is very easy to leave. It is not easy to keep the faith, but you learn how to, in different ways, every day.

Catherine: I would like to pursue work with the local theatre community. The training in ITI has prepared me to work in many kinds of theatre. For future students, I would say come as financially prepared as you can. That way, you don’t have to worry about your next lunch or rent. It will leave you with a clear mind to work – something that is a great advantage.

Ram: I will go back home [to India] to continue my community theatre work. I already have an active theatre group in my village where we organise 15-day long cultural gatherings; it’s a platform that uses theatre to unify people culturally, where theatre is not just an institution. To those thinking of joining ITI, first answer to yourself ‘for whom, for what and why’ you pursue acting.


All photos: MsBern Photography

“Simplicity” Q&A with Guillermo Angelelli

Actor, director and teacher, Guillermo Angelelli studied drama at the National School of Dramatic Arts in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and continued his training with teachers such as Carlos Gandolfo and Cristina Moreira.

He was one of the founders of Clu del Claun, a pioneering group that defied tradition in the 1980s and gained legendary status in Buenos Aires. In 1986, he began to develop training and research work with Iben Nagel Rassmusen of Denmark’s Odin Teatret, and is now a member of the Vindenes Bro Group (The Bridge of Winds) managed by Rassmusen.

Guillermo has been teaching since 1986 in drama institutions and at workshops, focusing on clowning, physical and vocal training in Argentina and other parts of Latin America, as well as Europe.

He has won many awards for his work in theatre including the Harlequin Award for Best Actor and Director for Asterion (1992), GATEA Award and Maria Guerrero Award for Best Actor for The Threepenny Opera (2004) and Hamlet (2004), and Maria Guerrero Award for Best Actor in Woyzeck (2006).

This March, he directs and co-creates Simplicity together with our graduating class. Inspired by the eponymous poem written by Jorge Luis Borges, Simplicity plays at the Drama Centre from 17 – 19 March 2016.

For more information, visit simplicity.peatix.com

Q: What were your motivations for choosing “Simplicity” – the poem – as the start point of this play? Continue reading

Q&A with Al-Matin Yatim

Singaporean Al-Matin Yatim first began his craft as an actor in 2007 when he joined Temasek Polytechnic’s then Malay theatre society, Titisan Temasek. Since then, he has worked with theatre and dance companies such as the National University of Singapore Malay dance group, PanggungArts, People’s Association, Teater Artistik, Teater Kami, TheatreLab, Cake Theatrical Productions and Chowk. He has also worked on collaborative works with Esplanade and Read! Festival by the National Library Board.

After he completes his three-year training at ITI, Matin hopes to share the idea of intercultural theatre on an international level and contribute back to society.

Matin was a recipient of the NAC-ITI Arts Scholarship (2013 – 2015).

Q: What is it like to study here in ITI?

I remember when I was in my first year, I told Sasi, Director of ITI, that being in ITI is tougher than my two years in National Service. Not because of its regimental nature, in fact ITI is far from it, but the demand that the training requires from the student physically, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. Continue reading

Q&A with Beto Ruiz

Beto (a.k.a. Alberto Ruiz Lopez) was a 2008 graduate of Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI), then known as Theatre Training and Research Programme (TTRP). Prior to his training here, Beto had earned a Bachelors of Performing Arts from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

A theatre practitioner who has directed and acted, he was also a former Director of the Company of Theatre from Jalisco. Beto has performed in productions such as The Divine Wind And Tears Lost In The Rain, Attempts On Her Life and Kuo Pao Kun’s The Spirits Play. In 2015, Beto performed in R vs J, a solo piece in Mexico.

As a director, he has helmed operas – Verdi’s La Traviata and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas – and plays such as Dario Fo’s Un Dia Cualquiera and Alfred Jarry’s King Ubu. His work extends beyond his home country of Mexico to Poland; Texas, USA; and Colombia.

This year, the ITI alumnus returns full circle as an Acting and Movement teacher to the institute.

Continue reading

Q&A with Chang Ting Wei

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. Continue reading

Q&A with Yazid Jalil

Yazid’s professional theatre experience began long before joining Intercultural Theatre Institute. An alumnus of Singapore Repertory Theatre’s youth wing, the SRT Young Company, Yazid had also worked as an actor with Singapore theatre companies such as Teater Ekamatra, BUDS Theatre Company, Cake Theatrical Productions, Agni Koothu, We Colour People Theatre Company and Yellow Chair Productions.

Yazid was nominated Best Supporting Actor at the 11th Life! Theatre Awards (2011) for his role in Teater Ekamatra’s production of Charged. He also has a Best Performance nomination at the 3rd Singapore Short Film Awards (2012) for his leading role in Love In Any Genre. More recent is his and fellow co-actors’ nomination in the 13th Life! Theatre Awards (2013) for Best Ensemble for Pretty Things (Pat Toh/Substation). Yazid was last seen in The Malay Man and His Chinese Father, a physical theatre piece that is part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2015.

In 2011, Yazid pursued theatre training in France at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier as an awardee of the Singapore National Arts Council Residency Programme. Yazid also holds a diploma in Communications and Media Management from Temasek Polytechnic, where he specialised in English journalism. Yazid is a recipient of the NAC-ITI Arts Scholarship and has a scholarship from the Tan Chay Bing Education Fund.

Q: What is it like to study here in ITI?

It’s like being in an inter-galactic Star Wars cantina. There are so many different things to taste and look at – interesting things but not necessarily all pleasant. What I mean is: training is hard; but it has always been my belief that if it’s easy, you’re not learning anything new. So, in the end, all is good. Actually, I applied to ITI knowing how difficult the training would be, prepared myself for it and still found that it was difficult. So a word to future applicants: if you think you know what you’re getting into, think again! Continue reading

Q&A with Andy Ng

Andy Ng, a Hong Kong citizen, graduated from Theatre Training & Research Practice (TTRP; ITI’s former name) in 2003, as a member of the pioneer cohort.

He has created works such as Whisper of Love presented by Unlock Dancing Plaza in Hong Kong and Ending the World commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2006. In the latter, Andy directed and performed alongside ITI graduates Melissa Leung and Walter Leung.

In 2009, he performed in the inaugural The Spirits Play presented by TETC – a theatre collective established by ITI alumni. The Spirits Play went on to play at the 12th Bharat Rang Mahotsav – a major theatre festival in India – after opening in Singapore.

He was in the ensemble cast of Tang Shu-wing’s Titus Andronicus 2.0, presented at Esplanade’s Huayi Festival 2011, which then toured through Taipei, Beijing and Europe, prior to being invited to the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival at the Globe Theatre in London.

Today, Andy lectures on movement at the Drama School, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and has undertaken an action-research project on Taichi and acting.

Most recently, in January 2015, Andy stars in director Adrien Leung’s cinematic theatre production, Landscape of Ozu, inspired by the late Japanese film-maker Yasujiro Ozu, playing in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Q&A with Pedro Simoni Talavera

Originally from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, Pedro is a trained concert violinist who has been playing the strings for 17 years. He was a member of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia, and the Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Latin American Development Bank (CAF). As a classical musician, Pedro has performed in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. In 2005, he moved to France in a turn from music to literature, and obtained a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in French Literature, at Paris-3 Sorbonne Nouvelle University. After his studies, Pedro took on yet another art form – theatre – by joining La Boutonnière Theatre’s laboratory, helmed by Habib Naghmouchin. Prior to embarking on his training at ITI, he joined The Body’s Journey, a project of training, research and devising directed by ITI faculty member, Leela Alaniz, in Paris.

Q: Tell us about your journey from music to theatre.

Pedro: I’ve played the violin since I was a child. I think the main reason why I started acting was because I missed being on stage; I missed being creative and being able to share something with people, with the audience.

I studied literature when I was in Paris, but I got tired of all the theories and the analytical work. So I decided to give myself a chance to create again, that’s how I came to start acting four years ago. Continue reading

Q&A with Shakeel Ahmmad

Shakeel Ahmmad was born in Loni, a village in the southern state of Karnataka, India. He obtained a Diploma in Education from DIET College of Mysore and worked as a government teacher for five years before pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with the Karnatak University of Dharwad. Prior to ITI, he received professional actor training at Ninasam Theatre Institute, where he became versatile in traditional and contemporary techniques: Yakshagana Traditional Theatre, Kalari martial art, Yoga, Kolata folk dance, theatre design and contemporary acting. As an actor, he has also toured Karnataka with professional theatre companies before training in ITI. Shakeel is a recipient of an Asian scholarship sponsored by a private philanthropist.

Q: How did your journey in theatre begin?

Shakeel: I’m from a village where there’s a lot of folk theatre and as a child, I’ve loved watching them… I’ve never seen my father perform, but his friends were always telling me that he was a popular folk theatre performer.

I applied to the Ninasam Theatre Institute, which is a well known theatre school in my state. That’s where I had my first training in theatre at age of 23. After that, I worked for four years as a government teacher. But whenever I was on vacation, I’d practice theatre. Continue reading

Q&A with Kalaiselvi Grace

Kalaiselvi Grace is a versatile bilingual actress with stage, television, radio and film acting experience who is also involved in theatre and storytelling education in various schools in Singapore. Some of her acting credits include Macbeth in Tamil for RDG (2001), An Inspector Calls in Tamil for RDG (2004), Above Us Only Sky for M1 Singapore Fringe Festival (2008), Rhinoceros for Singapore Arts Festival (2008) and My Magic – an Eric Khoo film featured in Cannes Film Festival (2008).

Kalai Grace feels that training at ITI has deepened the roots and widened the spectrum of her craft. After graduation, she plans to stage Woman and Womb, her first solo exploration piece. She also plans to explore other acting opportunities in Singapore, collaborate with fellow ITI actors in creating intercultural art for both Singapore and the international audience, and also continue theatre education in schools.

Q: How has ITI shaped your identity as an actress?

Grace: Pre ITI, people told me that I can act. Their encouragement and appreciation along with my interest made me act. I tried all roles offered to me – housewife, mother, gangster, witch, lesbian, prostitute etc. Even when they were minor ones, I still took the role. I was an active and eager actress whose acting knowledge came mostly from observation and trying. Continue reading