Q&A with Wan Ahmad

24 October 2022 | Journal

1 Wan Ahmad QnA

Wan Ahmad (a.k.a. Muhammad Riduan) is an actor and arts educator. An alumnus of Temasek Polytechnic, he began his theatre journey in the school’s theatre group, Teatro.

Since then, he has worked with companies such as The Necessary Stage, Main Tulis Group and Toy Factory Productions. His works include Kwa Geok Choo, Off Centre, Rumah Dayak, SKIN (The Wright Stuff Festival 2021), Alkesah and Bangsawan Tajul Gaspar. He is currently an instructor for Teatro.

Wan came to ITI to expand his knowledge and evolve as a multidisciplinary artist.

He plans to continue pursuing his journey in all aspects of theatre and television in Singapore and abroad. Wan also intends to debut his own collective, Teater Artysan.

Wan is a recipient of the Tan Chay Bing Education Fund Scholarship and a beneficiary of the Möbius Fund.



What were you doing before coming to ITI?

I was freelancing as an actor (both theatre and films) right after National Service ended.


Tell us how you came to know of ITI. What made you choose to come here?

The quality and groundedness of the Final Year Productions and Final Year Individual Projects I’ve watched intrigued me about the training here. I also signed up for the workshops before deciding to enrol as a student. I remembered it was a movement workshop by Chin Huat and Chekhov's training workshop. It was three days back-to-back and I remember going home exhausted. It made me question if this school was right for me.

However, I tried applying the skills I learnt in my performances afterwards. At that point in time, I was performing for Rupa Co.Lab's Rumah Dayak and I used what I learnt to prepare myself before going on stage. I realised how much my awareness and calmness was raised while performing. The three days helped me realise the art and core of acting that I never had before.

What would three years of that be for me?
What would three years of ART school mean for me?
What would three years of re-adapting to a different concept of school do for me?

Eventually, I stopped questioning and just went with the flow. I knew there was a need to create a good basic understanding of my acting skills as well as the body and mental understanding of this craft. Despite worrying about the long hiatus I’d be taking from the workforce, I took the leap of faith.


Think back to your first day here: what were some of your thoughts and emotions then?

The first day was nerve-wracking. I remembered the question: “What does theatre mean to you?” and was ready to answer based on the adamant perception I’ve had since I was young. But when I heard the views of my classmates and seniors, it surprised me how simple most of them answered it. How’s that so?


What is it like to train here at ITI?

Every storm will pass.
And the passing,
Rewards you with a beautiful,
Graceful, rainbow.

That's what ITI training is like. It’s intense — my physical health took a hit, and I initially had difficulties adapting. I had to toughen myself up mentally, physically and emotionally. Being the batch impacted by Covid also meant going through all our classes with masks on. It had me gasping for breath, but it also made me stronger. The blood, sweat and tears were constant but in the end, they helped me shine. On top of that, the people here — my classmates, the office staff and faculty members — are friendly and understanding, willing to push you to the next level again and again.


As an actor, not everything has to be questioned or answered. Just be patient and have faith, stop looking for a definite answer. Allow the answers to shift everyday and accept them as they are. The more you seek an answer, the further it strays from you.


How has it been working with your classmates from various countries?

I’ve learnt a lot from the intercultural exchanges with my peers. I now understand the cultures and lives of my friends from all across the globe. These exchanges allowed me to understand what’s sensitive to others as well as what habits are natural and unnatural for all of us. Especially language-wise, where I discovered how similar Malay and Tagalog are when we hear each other speak. The common findings between cultures are gold.


What are the most memorable experiences you’ve had at ITI?

In my three years, I collected diseases like Thanos collected infinity stones. I was hospitalised for Dengue fever in Year 1. I’ll never forget the catching up I had to do after being discharged; the choreography and singing I had to learn within four weeks.

The extra lessons in Wayang Wong through Zoom while down with Hand Foot Mouth Disease in Year 2, and adapting to a Covid-stricken body in the physically-taxing classes in Year 3.

All these diseases were a huge setback, but I’d like to pat myself on the back for bouncing back. In fact, these setbacks and ITI’s training have only made my body physically and mentally stronger.


How has what you’ve learnt here shaped or changed you as an actor?

Have patience, faith and trust.

If someone asked me now what does theatre mean to me, I think silence would be the best answer. Theatre means so much yet means nothing. It’s the toughest question I deal with everyday, but I’m now content with an unanswered question.

As an actor, not everything has to be questioned or answered. Just be patient and have faith, stop looking for a definite answer. Allow the answers to shift everyday and accept them as they are. The more you seek an answer, the further it strays from you.

I put my faith in my directors and let the text tell me what I need to know. All I need to do as an actor is wear the character’s shoes and trust the process.


What are your plans for after graduation?

I want to continue experiencing theatre while taking on a job to bring in money. I plan to be involved in productions, and hold workshops for the general public — similar to what I seeked before enrolling. I want to help others gain a better understanding of how their body works and the coordination of their psycho-physical being. I believe this is one way in making theatre more accessible.

My long-term plan is to finish my degree and take a Masters in Arts. The end goal, Insya Allah, is to share my knowledge through teaching as a lecturer.


What would you say to a new student or someone considering joining ITI?

To the young actors, look around you. Take your time to watch what’s around you, and don’t be hasty. Your lived experiences will prepare you for ITI and are an important aspect of becoming an actor or creator. Then when you feel ready to swim in the waters of ITI, enrol. Bring with you a blank state of mind, ready to take in everything you can.


Any special thanks? 

To all my classmates, Y'all were a merry bunch and I'd never ask for a less wonderful drama-less batch.

To all my teachers, thank you for entertaining my nonsense. All the knowledge you shared with me, I'll use them for the better good.

To the Tan Chay Bing Education Fund, thank you for easing the financial burden off my shoulders. This journey would be impossible without it.

To all my friends, thank you for being my cheerleaders.

To everyone that existed and left my life within these three years, thank you for playing a part in shaping me into who I am today.

To you (y'all reading this no need to know lah), thank you for being my backbone and being there for me every step of the way.

To my family — especially my mum — despite everything we're going through, you gave your blessings and trusted me in pursuing a career that not many people would want to pursue. I can't promise I'll do you proud but I promise that this won't go to waste.

I love each and everyone of you.

These three years were tough, but it allowed me to learn more and be content with myself.

2 Wan Ahmad Wayang Wong

4 Wan Ahmad Asylum

3 Wan Ahmad FYiP2


Profile photo and ASYLUM production shot by Bernie Ng