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

Q&A with Giorgia Ciampi

Giorgia Ciampi was born in 1989 in Florence, Italy from an Italian father and Greek mother. She volunteered for 3 years as assistant director of Florentine theatre company ‘Perelandra’. At 18 years old, she obtained a place at the University of Exeter where she graduated with a BA in Drama and subsequently with an MA in Actor Training and Directing under the supervision of renowned theatre practitioner/pedagogue Phillip Zarrilli. Her roles ranged from playwright to director, stage manager, composer and performer. Giorgia feels that her experience in ITI has completed her Western training with the practice of Asian traditional trainings in an intercultural environment, and that the meeting and interaction of cultures through the actors’ body-minds is a very important strand of her current enquiry.

Q: What made you decide to come to Singapore?

Giorgia: When I was in England, I was involved in works that were less text-based, it was more experimental, more physical theatre than what I had experienced so far in Italy, and that really appealed to me because it was the opposite from what I was familiar with, and I started to get a taste of what it was like to train as well. Especially with a particular module called the Intercultural Performer Training with Phillip Zarrilli, where he taught us a training method, which included different Asian martial arts – yoga, Taichi and Kalaripayattu – and this was a very new concept for me, to work through the body that way. I was fascinated by it, so after university, I wanted to go to India and continue to train in Kalaripayattu. Continue reading

Q&A with Lina Yu

 

Lina is excited to embark on her final year productions as one of the first batch of graduating students from ITI. As a Tan Chay Bing Education Fund Scholar, she looks forward to putting the training she has received in ITI into application. Prior to ITI, Lina received the Japanese Government Scholarship to study in Tokyo, where she was trained in Music Business, Vocals, Computer Music Creation and Recording. She has also performed as a vocalist in various live events in Tokyo. Upon her return to Singapore she decided to commit herself fully to the arts after a stint in the corporate world, taking up acting with NYU Tisch Asia before she applied to and was accepted by ITI.

Q: How did your journey in theatre begin?

Lina: Initially, I was involved in music-related activities. In the process, I  realised that I needed more exposure in terms of performance and stage-craft. That’s when I started taking acting classes at Tisch Asia. Before I knew it I became addicted, as I found that acting provided a different creative outlet for me other than music. After Tisch, I attended  the Philippe Gaulier Master Class in Melodrama, which is where I learned that ITI was reopening. I then came to Emily Hill, attended some orientation classes, and applied for the first intake. That’s how my journey began.  Continue reading

Q&A with Jyothirmayi Kurup

Jyothirmayi (a.k.a Jyothi) graduated with a Masters in Theatre Arts from the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kerala, India after obtaining her Bachelors in Multimedia from Mahatma. Her training and performance experience reflects her wide range of skills, and she has acted in productions such as Iruvattam Manavatty, the first Malayalam adaptation of a Chinese opera in the Thiruvanathapuram International Theatre Festival translated directed by Ramesh Varma, a renowned theatre director in India. Jyothirmayi has also spent 7 years studying classical Indian Carnatic Music.

Q: Did you always plan to be an actress?

Jyothi:  I’ve never imagined myself being an actress, but I’d always been amazed to see actors perform. Like them, I saw myself wanting to be in front of people, to say something and to be heard. Because I could never articulate well, and acting helped me overcome that.

Q: So when was the moment you decided to be an actress? Was there something that inspired you? Continue reading

Q&A with Denise Mordeno Aguilar

Denise is from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Her training in theatre began at 14 years old where she trained in an acting workshop with Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Tanghalang Pilipino’s Nonon Padilla, Irma Adlawan and Olga Natividad in Cagayan de Oro City as a scholar. Since then, she was actively involved in various production and stage manager roles in theatre before becoming a performer and trainer with Pasundayag Community Theatre. As a theatre practitioner and educator, she believes in the arts as a powerful way to share stories and experiences that represent the complex dynamics of our society, ultimately using theatre as a creative pathway to peace and community engagement. It is with this intention that she decided to apply to ITI, and in the process equip herself with the wisdom of Asia’s great theatre traditions – the very hallmark of the school. Denise is a recipient of the Kuo Pao Kun Foundation-ITI Scholarship. Continue reading

Actor Training: Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

This December, ITI was invited to be part of an international symposium in Berlin, Germany, by the International Research Center on “Interweaving Performance Cultures” (Freie Uniersitat Berlin), in which the actor training model conceived and developed by ITI was the main focus. The only full-time acting programme in the world which includes four Asian traditional theatre forms as core modules, ITI is driven by the late Kuo Pao Kun and current director T. Sasitharan’s founding vision to mould critically and socially engaged contemporary artists for the stage.

Kunstquartier Bethanien, the symposium venue, is an old hospital in Berlin that has been converted into an arts space, now containing various studios and a lecture hall. With high ceilings and arches sitting atop ornately carved pillars, its stateliness and sense of history seem to collide head on with its now graffiti-scrawled stairway walls. Yet Berlin is nothing if not shaped by conflict: rooted in the city’s war-torn history, today it is embedded in its architecture and embraced by the many artists who live here, and who have used it to shape the art they make.

Continue reading