Dou­glas El­liot delves into the world of youth the­atre and dis­cov­ers the en­thu­si­asm and hard work that goes into cul­ti­vat­ing young tal­ent at kl­pac

Time Out Malaysia Kids - - Contents -

Un­cov­er­ing the The­atre for Young Peo­ple (T4YP) pro­gramme at kl­pac


kl­pac’s The­atre For Young Peo­ple (T4YP) is set to take an­other global stage in De­cem­ber – this time in Rus­sia. Formed in 2008, the T4YP pro­gramme pro­vides young peo­ple aged 18 to 25 a plat­form to learn and ex­pe­ri­ence the won­der­ful (and some­times chaotic) world of the per­form­ing arts. The group is now in its tenth year, and it has al­ready pro­duced award-winning tal­ent that have com­mit­ted to pur­sue their the­atri­cal pas­sion full time.

We caught up with Mark Beau De Silva, Res­i­dent Di­rec­tor and Writer at kl­pac, and head of The Ac­tors Stu­dio Academy, to talk about their youth-cen­tric pro­gramme.

Tell us more about the The­atre for Young Peo­ple (T4YP) pro­gramme.

Ba­si­cally T4YP is for older teens from 18 to 25 – it used to be 16 – so that younger kids who have gone through our drama pro­grammes have some­thing to look for­ward to. Once they’ve reach the age of 16 or 17, they have to au­di­tion and the good ones (usu­ally all of them) will get in. We usu­ally aim for ten stu­dents but we al­ways get around 20 ev­ery se­mes­ter. It’s a spon­sored pro­gramme, that’s why they have to go through au­di­tions.

What does the cur­rent syl­labus com­prise?

T4YP fol­lows a dif­fer­ent syl­labus where stu­dents have to train for al­most 300 hours. This adds up to four hours daily five times a week over four months. Many of our stu­dents end up at­tend­ing good per­form­ing arts schools and some, like Iedil Pu­tra, have made act­ing their ca­reer. We’re proud of this pro­gramme and we want ev­ery­one to know that when you join us as a kid, you can go a long way. There’s even a The­atre for Se­niors class!

Tell us about the pre-school drama pro­gramme.

For younger kids, it’s all about nur­tur­ing. At that age we treat ev­ery­one like a star, and as they get older, the phi­los­o­phy of child drama changes to a sys­tem­atic ac­tor train­ing ap­proach. The ba­sis of child drama class is to high­light their per­sonal skills. We don’t push them to be­come ac­tors but en­cour­age them to dis­cover them­selves as our lo­cal school syl­labus doesn’t al­low a lot of self- ex­pres­sion.

When they reach their early teens, we get a bit se­ri­ous and try to get them to be more open; and those in their late teens and young adult­hood, we tell them to take it se­ri­ously as they’re now go­ing to be ac­tors. This is when mas­ter classes by Fari­dah Mer­i­can and Joe Hasham are also held.

What are the cri­te­ria for get­ting into the pro­gramme?

The main thing is that the kids are able to work as a group, as we’re cre­at­ing an en­sem­ble so they need to stand out

in­di­vid­u­ally and also blend to­gether. Last year we had so many girls and so the group was geared to­wards be­ing a fem­i­nist sort of team, which peo­ple re­ally liked! This year we have a nice mix of boys and girls.

Do you think the kids want to join on their own or do par­ents make them?

Younger ones tend to be pushed by their par­ents. Many of them ei­ther come with low con­fi­dence lev­els or they’re not very good at pub­lic speak­ing. We also have spe­cial needs chil­dren as they’ve been rec­om­mended by their doctors to at­tend. The im­por­tant thing is to tell the other stu­dents to make them feel wel­come, and I think it’s good learn­ing for them to be aware. We also have home­schooled kids, and of course those who want to be stars, but we tell them that’s not re­ally the idea!

What’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion for par­ents?

That it’s ac­tu­ally quite tough some­times, be­cause when it comes to putting up a show, it’s up to the teacher’s dis­cre­tion and dis­cus­sions with the group on who does what – par­ents don’t see this. They only see the end prod­uct but drama is about the process. Drama ed­u­ca­tion isn’t about mak­ing stars or whether you’re shin­ing on stage.

Do you think par­ents are more sup­port­ive of their chil­dren’s in­volve­ment in per­form­ing arts than be­fore?

Def­i­nitely. In­ter­na­tional schools have drama in their syl­labus and it’s slowly be­com­ing a trend. There’s still some re­sis­tance for par­ents to ac­cept their kids do­ing this pro­fes­sion­ally, but they’re get­ting more ed­u­cated.

What can the pub­lic do to sup­port these per­for­mances?

The econ­omy is ter­ri­ble right now (and so are our ticket sales), so the best way to help is to come and see the shows.

Where do you see T4YP head­ing?

We try to do some­thing dif­fer­ent ev­ery year and challenge our­selves. Last year we did ‘Still Tam­ing’ which fo­cused on fem­i­nine is­sues, and this year it was about fam­ily mat­ters. Kids have to face so much and they keep it all in­side. They told us what they were go­ing through and we cre­ated some­thing to share with the au­di­ence. Ev­ery year we see what so­ci­ety is telling us and focus on these is­sues.

Any big plans for your tenth an­niver­sary?

We wanted to have a big cel­e­bra­tion but didn’t, so we tried to cheat and said that go­ing to Sin­ga­pore and Rus­sia was a big plan al­ready! I never imag­ined tak­ing a pro­duc­tion to Rus­sia so this in itself is an amaz­ing achieve­ment.

kl­pac, Sen­tul Park, Jalan Stra­chan, off Jalan Sul­tan Azlan Shah, KL (kl­ No reg­is­tra­tion fee, but to par­tic­i­pate in the T4YP pro­gramme, po­ten­tial stu­dents will have to au­di­tion.

As they get older, the phi­los­o­phy of child drama changes to a sys­tem­atic ac­tor train­ing ap­proach

Novem­ber 2017 - Jan­uary 2018

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