Esplanade shares with us their interview with PLAYtime! director and Esplanade Associate Artist for Theatre for Young Audiences, Ian Loy, about the influence of fatherhood on his creative work and thoughts on the growing theatre scene for young audiences.

This article is an excerpt of the article by Esplanade, read the full article here.

Ian Loy

Receiving the 2014 Young Artist Award was a big deal! What ran through your mind when you first heard the news?
I was like, "Waaah!" and "Whoa!" because I thought I wouldn't get it! It was a great feeling, and among the first few people I phoned to share the news and thank were my wife, Luanne Poh (PLAYtime! producer at the time) and Benson Puah (then Esplanade CEO).

It was a very exciting moment that has since encouraged and inspired a greater sense of social responsibility in my craft. I work quite extensively with different communities and want to see kids with special needs or who are at-risk to have access to quality theatre like everyone else. And I want to continue doing this with Esplanade as it’s where I first started. This award has given me the kind of encouragement that boosts my energy to run all these races and jog my creativity for future projects.

This project was inspired by conversations I had with various like-minded overseas TYA practitioners who were generous in sharing their ideas and thoughts about durational performances. At the end of the day, such performances are created to cater to the needs of care-givers and their children.

You are a father to two young children. Has fatherhood changed your approach to creating works for young audiences?
Yes, and absolutely! Having my own kids has created a greater sense of responsibility, not just towards my own kids, but who they represent — children like them who are full of energy and curiosity, wanting to create, fiddle inquisitively, hear stories that transport them somewhere beyond their imagination, and so much more.

My artistry in TYA is never complete without my children. The documentation of my children's experiences and my experience with them as they grow older are relevant to all the work that I have created since. These experiences eventually become new inspirations. In fact, my children are like my secret R & D department at home, creating new works with me!

What are your thoughts on the current boom in Singapore theatre for young audiences? What do you think are the contributing factors to this spike?
Parents today are generally more informed and they want to expose their children to as many things as possible, so many artists and companies are picking up on this demand. That's why you have an array of programmes for the young, such as workshops, activities, festivals, and big shows being brought in from overseas. It is a boom but we have to be sure that our theatre productions do not lose their Singapore identity. Most of the times, in my shows, I will include an Asian element, be it the music or physical performance, to preserve our unique identity.

What do you think is most important to keep this boom going?
We need to keep artists inspired and believe that it is worthwhile to invest in young audiences. And we need to have the right tools and knowledge to meet their cognitive needs. For instance, you can't put up a show titled Red Riding Hood and claim that it's good for all ages. You want to maximise the reach within a certain age group. For me, I always believe that something special happens between the ages of two and under, two to four, five to eight, and nine to 12 — these are the markers that I set for myself.

Read more of the interview with Ian Loy here.

Image Credit: Esplanade