L'ET PROFILE: Kenneth Chia - Playwright
Photo by Sebastian Tan
“Labeling Singapore –or Asia for that matter as conservative toward the Arts does not do justice to what we have to offer. Still, the path does not get any easier.” –says 22-year old Playwright and Actor, Kenneth Chia.
L’ET goes backstage in an up close and personal interview with the aspiring playwright, regaling us with compelling views as an aspiring artist residing in the culturally-rich hub central of South East Asia, Singapore.
Your craft is considered a niche. How has your journey been, following your passions as a career? How have you overcome the milestones presented before you?
In recent years, Singaporean attitude toward a career in the arts have been encouragingly positive as school programmes and art venues create opportunity and exposure in the crafts.
I started considering a career as a theatre-maker only in late-2014. Being a part of the Twentysomething Theatre Festival and the Singapore Theatre Festival this year have been such great energy boosters. I feel these are my small victories in a path that does not get any easier, a means to keep me going. I am grateful for I have been blessed with people whom have given me the space to grow, try, fail and get better.
As a young theatre-maker, it’s tough looking at friends living with greater financial security and creature comforts. That’s the reality. I constantly wonder if this the life I can live with for the long haul.
On good days, it’s a resounding yes. On bad days I tell myself, “Y’know what? Suck it up.”
If I were passionate about anything else, I would’ve done it by now. Whenever I’m in a rehearsal space, I’m reminded why it’s important to do what we do.
As a storyteller, where do you draw your inspirations from? What do you hope to inspire in your audiences through your pieces?
I read tea leaves and watch cat videos till I hate myself.
Ok not really, who knows? Like I see so many possibilities in the things happening around me –conversations, global movements, a line of ants. Anything, anywhere can become a source as I feed my curious nature and openness to new experiences. I also tend to be drawn towards work where the personal and political conflate.
At the end of the day, I strive to create a world so airtight that my audience forgets the world around them for that duration they are in the theatre. See the world through the eyes of another, immerse and become lost in their interpretations.
Following a strong passion in this craft, do you see yourself going further given the chance? What are some of your future plans as a writer and performer?
These days, audiences are spoilt for choice. Though what makes a show worth attending?
I want to keep telling stories that fall through the cracks. To make art is a privilege –it is my obligation to ensure the work never becomes insular or panders to circle-jerk tendencies. Basically, I look toward the ideals of “Keep working, keep collaborating to make meaningful work.”
The creative field is a harsh one. As someone of experience, what advice would you give our readers in the pursuits of their passions?
I might not be in the best position to give advice(yet) but here are some advice I have adhered to in my life as a creative individual.
1. Take responsibility for your artistic vision.
2. You are your own business.
3. The material is out there. Don’t coop yourself in the blackbox 24/7.
4. Learn to process criticism constructively.
5. Make time for family, friends, romance and yourself.
6. Be kind.
7. DON’T ASK FOR FREE WORK.