Off stage interview with Emergency Shelter

13 May 2018
Interview by Max
Photos by Darren Guo

The Shelter found a shelter.

Emergency Shelter, the training arm of experimental theatre company Emergency Stairs, is presenting their first production at their newly found home space - STAIRCASE. Unlike a usual rehearsal studio or theatre, it is a space inside an industrial building. Using this unconventional setting, Emergency Shelter will be presenting Off Stage to examine conventions in theatre-making, starting with roles of the cast and crew.

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We speak to each of the nine members of Emergency Shelter to find out the purpose of 'shelter' in their art-making process, and the evolution of their roles in this 'shelter'.

1. What has the Emergency Shelter sheltered you from? How/Why?

2. What is your role the first day you joined Emergency Shelter or Emergency Stairs? What do you foresee your role will be one year from now?

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Chanel Chan, Chong Woon Yong, Doreen Toh Kwee Kee

Chanel Chan:

1. Emergency Shelter is a space that shelters you from a world that demands perfection, product and results. In Shelter, you are free to experiment and fail.

2. When I first joined I was a learner. In the future my role will still be a learner.

Chong Woon Yong:

1. I think a programme like Shelter is an anomaly. A group of like-minded artists, yet from differing backgrounds, come together weekly to discover, discuss, train and learn together. It is a weekly highlight, personally. I guess it has sheltered me from the mundane-ness of practice.

2. On the first day of Emergency Stairs, I was a performer, creator and producer. Maybe one year from now it will be the same. Maybe less - an artist and practitioner.

Doreen Toh Kwee Kee:

1. Emergency Shelter has given me a space to be trained as an artist as well as a creator for mind, body and space. It's important for an artist to have a space to trial and error and a platform to keep generating internal and external dialogues.

2. I am an actor from the first day and I foresee myself to be an independent actor in one year's time.

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Jasmine Xie Hui Lin, Darren Guo, Lina Yu

Jasmine Xie Hui Lin:

1. It has sheltered me from self-censoring. Everyone is so giving and genuine. This provides a safe space for people to come together to share and create together.

2. I see myself as collaborator and facilitator and through the training and sharing; I hope to progress into a collaborative creator.

Darren Guo:

1. Creative limitation. Deadly cycles. Restrictive thinking.

Emergency Stairs has created a safe and trustful environment that is Emergency Shelter. 

It allows imaginations to run wild, breakthroughs of repetitions, and reflective exploration. I feel these provide artistic freedom which is important for an artist's growth, and it definitely has and still is helping me grow as a theatre practitioner.

2. Actor/Creator/Partner/Friend/Family

No different, but those roles would have grown wiser, stronger, and more creative.

Lina Yu:

1. Emergency Shelter provides a playground for us to explore. It is not to work towards a statement, but rather, to have that space to look at the process and share with each other what we found or observed.

2. Every session, we come together as actors, creators, observers, critics. We have the opportunity to work on areas which we might not get to work on while working outside, and to strengthen ourselves in those areas. So over time, may we evolve to take on, and be better in, other roles.

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Theresa Wee-Yenko, Zachary Ho, Hung Chit Wah, Felix

Theresa Wee-Yenko:

1. Emergency Shelter has gifted me with a safe space to fail, fail again, fail better.

2. Some days I’m a creator, some days I’m a friend, some days I sweep the floor. A year from now, I hope to be a better creator, friend and floor sweeper.

Zachary Ho:

1. Actually I never really thought of it as a shelter, perhaps more of a spa. A spa for my mind and my heart. Or maybe not even, because a spa provides relief. How do you describe a place that simply reminds you of who you are? A home can sometimes be too comfortable. What place reminds your heart and mind that simplicity is wondrous? Perhaps an ice-cream shop. An ice-cream shop that comes in different flavours of humanity. Yes, that’s it.

2. My role from day one has always been the guy who buys beer for everyone. As much as we like to eat metaphorical ice-cream, beer brings visceral joy! I do believe that good food and good company are great for the soul, in fact Xiaoyi is an excellent cook! Hopefully a year from now, I can continue to look for ways to nourish the group.

Hung Chit Wah, Felix:

1. Emergency Shelter gives me a shelter, so I won't get wet under the rain. Hahaha!

Be serious! It gives me:

Space - for me to explore something that I doubt or questioning.

Time - for me to not worry about the result or 'end product'.

2. In Emergency Shelter, we are all actors/actresses, everyone is the same. We prepare ourselves and come together every week to explore and exchange. One year later I will still be the 'same', a naughty and curious actress.


Off Stage
by Emergency Stairs
Date: 30 May - 3 Jun 2018
Time: 30 May: 8:00pm | 31 May: 8:00pm | 2 Jun: 3:00pm, 8:00pm | 3 Jun: 3:00pm
Venue: STAIRCASE@Soon Wing Industrial Building (5 mins walk from Matter MRT Station – Downtown Line)
Visit event page

  • Off Stage

    Theatre 30 May - 3 Jun 2018 In life, we play many roles. Sometimes they are liberating and enjoyable. Sometimes, they are oppressive and testing. How do we take on our roles? Are we able to break boundaries?
    STAIRCASE@Soon Wing Industrial Building (5 mins walk from Matter MRT Station – Downtown Line)STAIRCASE@Soon Wing Industrial Building (5 mins walk from Matter MRT Station – Downtown Line)