Lin Jiarui is an actor from China, who believes that drama education can better enrich the growth of children.
From 2016 to 2018, Jiarui worked as a theatre project manager for Shenzhen Xinhuajie Culture Communication Co., Ltd. He then joined the Little Comma Children’s Theatre part-time in 2017, where he performed his original puppetry piece, Where is my Monster? before coming to ITI.
After ITI, Jiarui is keen on furthering his studies in theatre and engaging in drama education for children.
What were you doing before coming to ITI?
Before ITI, I worked in a charity organisation.
How did you come to know about ITI, and why did you choose to come here?
I met my acting teacher [alumnus] Jose Ku Ieng Un at the previous company I worked for. When I became interested in acting, he suggested that I come to ITI to pursue training.
Think back to your first month here: what were some of your thoughts and emotions then?
Within the first month of coming to ITI and after getting to know the teachers and my classmates, I could already feel I was gaining a lot of new knowledge, which is when I knew I could gain the knowledge I’ve been wanting here.
Within the first month alone, Chin Huat helped me gain awareness of my body and its potential, and Simon taught me how to use my voice and find its quality. As for Beto… he didn’t just teach me acting — he enlightened my soul. He had a special energy that affected me.
What is it like to train here at ITI?
Personally, the training here is physically and mentally very difficult. Before I came to ITI, I hardly knew English and my body wasn’t in a good condition. But the teachers here are patient and always look out for my well-being. They went above and beyond in guiding me and gave me the space to adapt and understand at my own pace.
The traditional forms left a profound impact on me. In Noh, you build a lot of emotions and stories inside your heart and mind, which is inside your body. The audience needs to see inside your body to see inside of you. Even in stillness, you will feel very powerful because you are moving with purpose and showing your emotions through your eyes — the audience will see a tight body, fixed inside a box. Even when you’re standing still, you’re keeping the audience guessing which part of your body will move next, and how far it will go. That’s what I like about Noh. As a contemporary actor — especially when acting in front of the camera — you can’t move much when talking to other characters. But your facial expressions and your eyes can give off so much. That’s the connection I’ve formed between Noh and contemporary theatre.
In Wayang Wong, I learnt so much from Besur, about freedom and how to be relaxed. He has such a free soul. The form may look simple to some, but it helped me a lot in my acting. Whenever I feel tightness in my body while acting, recalling back these feelings from Wayang Wong helps me relax.
In Kutiyattam, I love the exploration of emotions. Breaking it down to its essence and learning to differentiate between the nine basic emotions, such as sadness and anger. We need to try and separate them into their basic forms — pure anger, pure sadness, etc. — to be able to develop every single emotion. This is the most important thing I learnt from Kutiyattam.
In Beijing Opera, I learned a lot about the form and trained my body to be more flexible. We focused on training our bodies and skills.
Reflecting on these forms now, I feel like I can make a comparison — Noh is about the ‘inside’, while Beijing Opera is about the ‘outside’. Putting all the forms together, I can say I’ve learnt to use Wayang Wong’s breath, to lead a Beijing Opera’s body, with Noh’s ‘inside’, to show the Kutiyattam’s emotions.
What have you learnt from working with your international group of classmates?
Coming here was the first time I got to meet and work with people from different countries and cultural backgrounds, and I really think ITI is like a big family, where we can learn to accept and work with each other.
What's one memorable experience you hold dear from ITI?
It’s very difficult for me to choose just one particular moment or event because every moment has its own special energy. But if I had to pick just one, it would be going through Guillermo’s class with my classmates at the end of my first year. That period was special for me, as I felt myself changing and understanding more about acting.
In my first year, I remembered using all my breaks to rest from the training, so I seldom mingled with my schoolmates. This changed after Guillermo. He would break you, then guide and watch you from afar as you rebuild yourself. After he did that to me, I became more open. I started talking more to my classmates, learning for the first time how to work as a team. It was through his class as well that my command of English improved due to all the dialogue we had to learn.
How has what you’ve learnt here shaped or changed you as an actor?
ITI laid the right groundwork for me, helping me to realise what being an actor means. ITI gave me a method or a way to learn and walk, to help me hone a pair of eyes to discover the beauty and possibilities around me.
I still have a lot to learn as an actor, and it’s good because I know I will begin to fully digest what I’ve learnt over the past three years when I start working. I’m excited to continue developing the different methods of learning and acting I’ve gained from ITI. I’ll keep working, learning and building; to continue exploring the world.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan to continue my training in acting and put the knowledge I’ve gained into new roles.
What would you say to a new student or someone thinking of joining ITI?
ITI is a great acting school. If you don’t know what you want, the teachers here will show you the world and guide you on your path to self-discovery. If you’re sure, they’ll help you explore deeper, and give you broader options.
Who are the people you'd like to thank?
There are so many people I want to thank here.
Thank you, Sasi. Even though I am so ordinary and I didn’t have a strong command of English, you let me come here to learn and patiently guided me in Humanities classes.
Thank you, Simon, for being both my Voice and English teacher. Thank you for helping me after class for many countless days.
Thank you, Chin Huat. When I first came to ITI, you knew that my English wasn’t good. But you were patient and took the time to teach me the same things repeatedly. You also helped turn my body from a rock to a softer rock.
Thank you, Wan Ching, for helping me in my journey of self-exploration. When I thought I had already touched the ceiling, you used a hammer to help me make a hole.
The last teacher I want to thank is Beto. He is a really special teacher. It’s difficult for me to describe in words. The help he gave me was spiritual, an expansion of the breadth of the soul. I am happy for the people who get to cross paths with him now, he is such a special soul.
Finally, thank you to all the family members in the office. You have helped us a lot in these three years.
Profile photo by Bernie Ng