SINGAPORE - With 29 years of experience in children's theatre under its belt, Singapore's oldest professional drama company Act 3 Theatrics intends to switch its focus from producing children's theatre to helping children write and produce their own productions.
Founder R Chandran and creative director Amy Cheng say it's time for the company to evolve. "So we're moving towards a children-driven theatre company," says Chandran. "In the past, our focus was on developing children's dramatic skills. Now it's on getting stories from them and getting them to perform it," adds Cheng.
The couple - who are also married, and have two children - started sample programmes last year, under Act 3's Writer's Ink programme, helping children write their first storybook. "We had done this in our holiday programmes, but it's now going to become our regular programme," says Chandran.
It is to promote literacy through drama - where children write, stage and publish their own content. "We want them to experiment, explore and create," he adds. Especially as the importance of literature is increasingly downplayed in schools, notes Cheng.
Children's minds are full of imagination, she says, and a programme like this gives them t.he "playground" to explore and enact the ideas.
"We want to form a trust with them. It's also important for them to listen to comments and take in other views, while standing by their ideas. So that's what we train them to incorporate, and listen to and accept a counterargument or ideas which are different from theirs."
"The idea is to instil the joy of writing and creating," says Chandran. Literary devices are taught through games and activities, to get them involved in the creation of a play.
Act 3 Theatrics started in 1984, and in 1994, it branched out into Act 3 International, where one of its banner programmes is the Prudential International Children's Theatre Festival. Since 2003, the two have been separate entities and now operate independently.
Chandran explains that while Act 3 has been creating theatre for the past 29 years, it has also been mentoring children who've grown up with the company and are practitioners themselves.
It now has a new team which includes Marine Lim, a public relations professional, and Ameer Jumabhoy, who's in charge of Act 3 Theatrics' business development.
The benefits of literature are the catalyst for Act 3's move towards its Literacy through Drama programme, says Cheng.
"In literature, the gains are intangible but those are necessary life skills to appreciate multiple viewpoints and to develop empathy. We want to develop children's interest in reading, and thinking and debating."
Act 3 Theatrics runs a Create & Stage programme for children aged 5-9 years old, Create & Publish for children aged 7-12 years old, and a holiday programme called Creative Chief.
For more information, please email chandran@ act3theatrics.com or call 9637-8354. Also check out https://www.facebook.com/act3theatrics
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