Practice - Research

Below are articles that have been written about my intercultural /collaborative works. 

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The Lion and the Breath: Combining Kalaripayattu and Fitzmaurice Voicework Techniques Towards a New Cross-Cultural Methodology for Actor Training

This research looks at the effects of kalaripayattu and Fitzmaurice Voicework techniques as a training methodology for the contemporary actor, redefining the fundamental principles that already exist within the two forms and placing its emphasis on the articulation of the imagination through their combination. Fitzmaurice Voicework was inspired by yoga, shiatsu, and bioenergetic psychotherapy, and its methods include releasing patterns of habitual holding within the viscera causing an autonomic response known as a tremor.

Training in Kalaripayattu, an ancient South Indian martial art, is a preparatory tool for the body to develop a kinesthetic awareness: an organic ability to be in the optimal state of readiness. In the process of defining our research findings, we created a systematic methodology that consisted of four stages: 1) Studio training combining Kalaripayattu and Fitzmaurice Voicework; 2) Training with Kalaripayattu masters in Kerala, India; 3) Experimentation and exploration of the two forms of collaborative training; and 4) Analysis and dissemination of findings at a conference of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association London Conference. This systematic approach provided us with the framework to answer our research questions:

1) Can combining techniques from Kalaripayattu and Fitzmaurice Voicework lead to an effective new cross-cultural methodology for professional actor training?

2) What kinds of psychophysical and somatic affect can arise from the combination of these two forms?

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TheMagdalenaProject@25 - Legacy and Challenge 

TheMagdalenaProject@25 - Legacy and Challenge is a collection of writings by women who work in theatre all over the world. It is rare to find such a range of professional experience, age and cultural background in one publication.

Key chapters for the book are written by Gilly Adams, Geddy Aniksdal, Jill Greenhalgh and Julia Varley. Contributions include introductions by Maggie B. Gale and Susan Bassnett, and articles by 40 other women closely associated with The Magdalena Project.

The Open Page Publications, Holstebro, 2011. 264 pages, illus. In English

 Close –encounters in the third round - Elizabeth de Roza

My encounter and journey with the Magdalena Project began in 2004. I am not sure if I was really clear of its ethos then. Back in 2004, I had only heard of this international festival from two of my associates: Audrey Wong and Verena Tay. However, I had been roped into helping to organise a Magdalena Festival, scheduled for 2006 here in Singapore. At that time I did not fully understand what it meant and at what scale it would or could be – All I knew was that I was part of a committee to organise Magdalena Singapore.

In order for us to more fully immerse ourselves in the philosophy/ethos of Magdalena, the three of us (Verena Tay, Audrey Wong and I) decided to write in and propose attending the festival in Rhode Island, USA in 2005. There, Verena and I were invited to present a solo piece each. I did not know what to expect, or even if I should expect anything. To me being at a festival meant having a platform to present my work. I did know that being an artist was not an easy route to take. At that time an opportunity to present my work was also a sort of test where I waited for some kind of affirmation from the audience, not only affirmation of the work, but also that I had chosen the right path, the path I was meant to follow.

It was only after several mornings at the breakfast table in Rhode Island – and the conversations that I had with the various participants and invited artists, that I slowly began to unfold the innate wisdom and understanding of the ethos of Magdalena. However, what I had was a mere peek into this ‘world’ where creativity and intellect meet at a most violate point, where we can be more open and a form of transaction is possible. Still, my mind could not fully embrace the encounter because I merely saw Magdalena Singapore as an event of some sort, without any transformative properties of which both the artist and the audience have a stake. So I left with more questions about Magdalena and an even more desperate quest to find meaning in why I do theatre. Underlying it all was a need for my work to be accepted and valued.

Next was Crossroads(2006), which was organised and presented here in Singapore. We conceptualized the festival as a geographical and theoretical space for artists to meet and initiate some kind of impulse for a cross-cultural experience -- a space to germinate and formulate possible inter-cultural exchanges and dialogues. Our hope was to create impactful moments that would leave meaningful traces and/or build a network of women artists here in Singapore. We imagined the festival would be a place where dialogues and meetings could happen and result in new work or collaborations – But, some merely watched and some just walked in and left without a trace.

We wondered if on some level we had failed. What could have impacted the local Singaporean arts community? Were people not ready to accept this kind of ethos – or meeting?  Did we fail to advocate the Magdalena ethos; did we fail in being the ambassadors of the Magdalena Project? However, as we reflect on Crossroads, we realize that we went on to create smaller units of collaborators. The impact was felt, perhaps on a smaller scale, but definitely in a ripple that spread across the Singaporean community.


 It was only at Cuba that the door was opened widely and what’s inside was revealed more. It was here that the impact of meetings and encounter begin to fully formulate. Sitting in transit at the Charles de Gaule (PARIS) international Airport, waiting for my flight back to Singapore, I began to reflect on my experience of the Magdalena Sin Fronteras II festival in Cuba (8th Jan to 18th Jan 2008) and wrote the following:

I have many impressions and images in my head and my heart beats with excitement as I recall many of the performances, work-demonstrations, workshops, forums, the exchanges – the in-formal dialogues that I have had at various meal times and/or even over mojitos and coffee. 

However, in all of my conversations, the one thing that struck me was this: the various possibilities of the visual language of theatre. A poetic language that is able to transcend all cultures, communicating to one’s soul.  Yes, that is the magic of theatre.

What is this magic of theatre and how can we achieve or even attain this magic? Where can I go in search of this magic? These are questions that seem to be nudging me, and as I dig deeper into these questions, I am forced to look deeper into the concept of training and praxis, especially that of my own. 

During the festival, many of the participants shared and spoke about our own practices and the inspiration from which we drew from. The impulse from which we work.  As I delve deeper into the concept of training, a voice rings out in my head – because it is important to understand - ‘why we train and why train’?

Training for actors is important and fundamental but we must be able to use this as a springboard to ‘something else’. We must be able to gain mastery over our training and then throw our training and techniques away and dive deeper into this ‘something else’. And this can be terrifying and crazy because you are entering into an unknown territory but it can also be rejuvenating. It is only when we begin to strip apart all that we know that the real search for the magic begins.

Attaining a high level of proficiency in one’s craft is important and crucial. We cannot ignore the technicality and the aesthetics that are fundamental in the craft of performance/theatre making. However, beyond this, I am addressing a desire and a need to constantly re-invent and strip away the imaginary self so that what is standing is the core, the poetics of theatre.

After several years of practice, the training is found and can be seen in the ‘blood-stream’. The training becomes you, or should I say, you become the training – you are able to attain an acute sense of awareness of your body and its relation to space. But this is only the first stage. The next stage is to translate this training so that it can transcend into the performing space.

It was at this festival, that we kept returning to the question of transcending. For the training to metamorphosis into ‘something else’: this means that we keep only the essence of the training and search for a context[i].

Once we have found our own context, we need to break away again. Breaking away from any context or form, opens up a new creative force that can be described as a re-birth. This, then, will the magic begin and this will take patience and time. Patience can be cultivated and time is relative.

True enough, time is relative and I went on to the next Magdalena and this time it was held at Odin – and it was here that I was beginning to embrace the legacy and that I am now part of. A legacy made up of meetings and encounters of women artist sharing their work, in a space that is transitory, transforming and real. But for this to happen, you need to have an encounter and it is an encounter in the 3rd round that I had experience in the deepest sense what the Magdalena was, is and can be.  Her existence may seem to be just a ripple and her dialogues are keenly eavesdropped upon – for if you do not listen quietly enough, you might just have to wait for the next round before you are able to encounter her again.

1333 words.

[i] By context I am referring to the premise which we build/create our works on. 


Co-leading the creative process through collaboration

The aim of this case study is to document the creative process of two artistic leaders during their artistic collaboration. The case study, located in Singapore, shows how the element of collaboration during their artistic process led to a successful relationship for the subjects as both artists and leaders.

Chew, Suyin (2013) “Co-leading the creative process through collaboration” in Caust Jo (ed.) (2013) Arts Leadership-International Case Studies Tilde University Press, Prahan Vic , Australia  IBSN: 978-0-7346-1169-7. Chapter 12 P.178-192.


Feature 3

Moving borders: nomadic subjectivity and interstitial spaces within The Magdalena Project (translated)

Naspolini, Marisa. Fronteiras em Movimento: subjetividade nômade e espaços intersiticias no Projeto Magdalena. Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Centro de Artes, Tese de doutorado em teatro, Florianópolis, 2013. 220p.

Naspolini, Marisa. Moving borders: nomadic subjectivity and interstitial spaces within The Magdalena Project. Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina. Graduate Program in Theatre, 2013.

In Women’s intercultural performance, Julie Holledge and Joanne Hopkins propose a reading of the female body as a place of intercultural encounter, an encounter that occurs in the flesh. They define interculturalism as “the meeting at the time of performance of two or more cultural traditions, a temporary fusion of styles and/or techniques and/or cultures” (2000, p. 7) …

This material serves us as an analytical instrument to consider the mode of production of Reinventing SITA performance (originally entitled only SITA), a co-production between two Mexican artists and a Singaporean one premiered in 2011.