Students must attend all classes. There are no elective modules.
Immersions in Theatre Traditions
Students will be immersed in four significant theatre traditions from Asia for two years. Students will be taught by master teachers the physical, gestural, dramatic and vocal training methodologies of each form.
The forms that are taught include Beijing Opera, Kutiyattam – an ancient Sanskrit theatre form, Wayang Wong – a traditional Javanese court dance and Noh Theatre. The training is principally corporeal and practical; what is emphasised is the performer’s body as instrument of performance, his/her skill of control over mind and body. Students will also study the dramaturgical, cultural, artistic and social contexts of each form, through a series of tutorials, lectures and seminars.
The aim is not to train classical performers but to activate in each student a repository of aesthetic sensibilities, techniques, theories and performative strategies drawn from the theatre traditions of Asia; a resource that they may draw upon throughout their artistic lives. Students thus may select and draw elements – precepts or aspects of gesture, voice, movement, rhythm, breath-control, presentation, dramaturgy and form – which may be recombined, assimilated psycho-physically and situated within the context of contemporary theatre as they concurrently undergo the Acting module.
Acting for the Contemporary Stage
The primary aim of this module, over three years, is to train students in the skills, craft and techniques to create, perform and sustain true, organic and lively characters on stage. The ultimate goal is to train professional actors who stand out for technical ability, stagecraft, vivacity, flexibility and intelligence and who are creative, adaptive, independent and imaginative.
Students will explore the theories, histories, writings, strategies and dramaturgies that distinguish and differentiate acting and performing methods in various genres of theatre, drama and performance. The approach will embrace both the Stanislavskian and Post-Stanislavskian acting methods ranging from the core principles of Konstantin Stanislavsky to the more recent techniques of Jerzy Grotowski, Michael Chekhov, Suzuki Tadashi, Anne Bogart, Lee Breuer and Phillip Zarrilli. The module will systematically enable the student to create and perform solo and small-group presentation based on observations of real people and personal experience.
Texts explored or used in the module include The Greeks (various writers), Anton Chekhov, Shakespeare and Bertolt Brecht. Other texts may be drawn from artists like Kuo Pao Kun, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Leow Puay Tin, Franz Kafka, Federico Garcia Lorca, Girish Karnad, Yukio Mishima, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Dario Fo and W. S. Rendra.
Movement for Acting & Performance
The primary aim is to progressively and systematically develop and build the student’s strength, stamina and flexibility in order to deepen and extend range, fluency, expressiveness and elegance of movement. Students develop a kinetic sensibility based on breath control and breathing techniques, spinal alignment, physical isolation, sensitivity to rhythm, balance of muscular release and tension, grounding and presence and an awareness of space including environment, stage architecture and responding to other bodies and objects.
Students will be taught at least one movement system, e.g. Pilates, Feldenkrais or Alexander Technique, and a variety of movement techniques such as Corporeal Mime (Etienne Decroux), Bio-mechanics (Vsevold Meyerhold), Butoh, Neutral Mask, Acrobatics, Clowning, Stage Combat and commedia dell’arte. This module is taught in tandem with the Taiji & Meditation module.
Voice & Speech
The module helps the actor discover and develop their natural voice for use in the contemporary theatre. The primary objective is to develop a flexible, clear, free and expressive voice, and also an understanding of how the voice works. Students are taught exercises and drills based on natural processes for breathing and vocalisation, as well as sufficient theory to help them connect to the complex physiological processes which enable voice and speech. The training involves the body, breath, voice, speech (involving the student’s mother tongue but also with a significant emphasis on the English language) and text (prose, drama and poetry), together with an awareness of space as well as attitudes and aspects of the personality.
Taiji for Actors: Natural Conditioning for Open Applications
Technical Theatre for Acting & Performance
This module aims to teach the student basic skills and principles of aspects of technical theatre that would enable him/her to work in contemporary theatre independently and creatively. The objective is to broadly inform, enable and familiarise the student with aspects of technical theatre like stage management; rigging and setting stage lighting and rigging and setting stage sound; the prompt script; communication between personnel; a “technical rehearsal”, a “dress rehearsal” and a “performance”. The ultimate goal is to provide a sound basis for skilled work enhanced by courtesy, efficient communication and good collaboration. The learning will take place through the production process and practical exercises. These will be opportunities for students to develop their judgements and understand the work processes and pressures involved.
Class work is augmented by further practical work on showings or open classes as part of the Acting for Contemporary Stage module.
Humanities/Cultural & Literary Theory
This module hopes to raise some fundamental questions about human existence in a partial way, leaving students to engage in lifelong exploration of the issues they care about. The approach taken here will be multi-/cross-/inter-disciplinary, ranging over the broadest spectrum of the humanities and social sciences developed from different intellectual traditions. At the heart of this course is a dialogue between philosophical and historical nodes of questioning. The philosophical revolves around the question: “What does it mean to be a human?” And the historical: “What does being human mean in a particular time and space?” It will involve a holistic examination of aspects of human life: human beings in relation to nature, to the supernatural, the spiritual, the sexual and the ethical, to the realms of play and aesthetics, politics and economics, to fellow human beings, and ultimately to the Self.
The teaching and learning process will involve lectures, seminars and tutorial discussions, personal reading and writing, and group projects.
Other aspects of the Acting Programme include:
Post Modular Lab
This is a project that is a student-led and student-driven. It is a performance-making opportunity that immediately follows the Immersion module in a particular theatre tradition. The objective is to enable students to work individually or in groups to create an original performance or performative piece that would manifest, demonstrate or exemplify, represent or express their engagement or understanding of or critical perspective on the Immersion that was recently concluded. Faculty will strictly serve as mentors or guides providing only support and counsel.
Final-Year Public Performances for Paying Audiences
This is undertaken in the final year as part of the Acting, Voice & Speech and Movement modules. The objective is to present to a paying, public audience three productions in which the final-year students will be involved as actors. The three productions shall consist of:
- A regular, straightforward scripted play,
- A devised or workshopped performance of a new play and
- An intercultural and/or multilingual performance of either an original, devised play or of an extant scripted play
Final-Year Theatremaking Project
This is a project that the student begins thinking about, preparing and planning for the moment s/he starts ITI. It may be assigned as part of the Acting, Voice & Speech and Movement modules. The work, which must be original, must realised in the final year in the following shape/form:
- a paid public production for a Singapore audience,
- an in-camera presentation for only faculty and students,
- an open rehearsal presented only to faculty and students,
- a finished script or performance structure to be read or recited, or
- notes, storyboard or sketches for a theatre production.
Students may work individually in solo projects or in groups.
Video, Digital Media & Live Performance
This is a workshop exploring the relationship and interactions between the actor/performer and the video or projected image on stage during a live performance. The images used could range from shadow puppets to video and film projections.
Workshops & Seminars on the Western Theatre Canon
This aims to provide the student with an understanding and an appreciation of some of the greatest creative achievements in the history of Western Theatre. This would include achievements in playwriting, dramaturgy, theatre theory, actor training and staging. The sessions will be conducted in the dual mode of the discursive and the practical, using both classroom seminars and studio work. Western theatre forms that may be selected for study range from Greek and Shakespearean Theatre to Brechtian Epic Theatre to Poor Theatre (Jerzy Grotowski) and Theatre of the Oppressed (Augusto Boal).
Seminars on Southeast Asia
This aims to provide the student with a sense and idea of the term “Southeast Asia”. Unlike Asian or European or even American, the term Southeast Asia is relatively recent and lacks a stable, unifying historical or cultural locus. Students will explore Southeast Asia as a site for constructing a new region, with characteristic qualities, features and hues. They will also study how Singapore, the most highly urbanised, economically developed and intentionally “constructed” of the countries in the region, is shaping the character of Southeast Asia. Students are expected to read prescribed texts, do research and actively participate in seminars. This will be followed by study trips and excursions to critically understand and experience aspects of Singapore’s built-up environment.