We look to the past to shape our future. Who are you? Where are you going from here?

I was born and raised in the island city-state Singapore. When I was 12 years old, I watched Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera and decided my life goal was to play the role of Christine. In high school, I directed and wrote my very first play, which got banned by the school for apparently promoting being gay. In 2011, I moved to the United States for college; not long after, I gave up on playing Christine after I realized that, in the US, people who look and sound like me don’t usually get to play parts like that. And that’s how I returned to directing, and that’s hopefully where I’m still headed: to help make room for the stories that don’t usually get a platform like that.

What most excites you about being a part of TAM’s It’s Greek (and Roman) To ME! Season?

I’m really excited that there is space here for my voice and my perspective to be heard. As a Chinese-Singaporean immigrant, I had never imagined that I would even be considered to tackle classical material like this, and I’m looking forward to cracking open the play in the way that only I can.

Much Ado About Nothing at Brown/Trinity (2021), photography by Aileen Wen McGroddy

We’re all about making old things new and new things classic. Why are you drawn to Classic Theatre? How do you shake it up?

Because classical texts and stories are often quite well-known, I feel like I am given carte blanche to reimagine the material however I wish: with total irreverence. While I’m still interested in honoring the fundamental dramaturgical impulse of the work, I’m also interested in pushing the story as far as it can go without breaking. I’m seeking to experiment within the story in a big, bold, unhinged way—one that reveals what is at once utterly ridiculous, and also supremely tender, within the characters’ relationships. Really, I’m just asking how I can make people laugh and then make people feel bad that they laughed at all.

From what sources do you draw your inspiration?

I’m currently obsessed with the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once (though, who isn’t?). It is somehow completely outrageous and totally heartbreaking at the same time, and achieves remarkable synthesis in the overall design and storytelling. I think often about how to match that level of care, commitment, and guts in my own artistic choices.

Constellations at Brown/Trinity (2022), photography by Mark Turek

You can have dinner with any three influential people. Who are your dream guests, why them, and what is the topic of conversation?

1. Jia Tolentino. She’s just so smart and eloquent and cool and I want to talk to her about craft and writing and storytelling and making a life that aligns with what you believe in.

2. Michelle Yeoh. I want to hear more about her experiences being an actor of Southeast Asian descent, her positionality in the industry over the years, and any thoughts she might have about the Asian versus Asian American identities.

3. Gordon Ramsay. Hopefully he’s also the person in charge of cooking this dinner. I just need to know where to eat wherever I’m going next.

How have the past two years changed your view of making theater and what action are you most proud of?

Warrior Class at The Comrades (2018), photography by Paul Goyette

The pandemic really forced me to confront my relationship with theatre and why I did it at all. I found it really hard to watch zoom or livestreamed productions; instead, I would spend a lot of time watching Tiktok memes. Most days I didn’t really have the capacity to engage very deeply or meaningfully with fiction. It made me realize that I was seeking laughter; I needed, not so much a distraction, but a way to engage with the world in a way that offered this specific form of release. I was craving something wildly joyous with no holds barred. I missed having fun, both as a maker and as an audience member. And so, I started dreaming into ways to make theatre that would be exactly that.

What’s your super power?

My superpower is showing up—to my work, to my commitments, and for the people who matter.