Three by Three @ 126 – Interview with Ellison Tan

22 Aug 2017
Interview by Sam Kee
Photos by Three by Three at 126

Three by three makes a perfect square. In this case, three moderately seasoned artistes, each one a darling in their own rights, have come together to form a lovely collective. Joshua Lim, Myra Loke and Ellison Tan Yuyang will be presenting their first independently produced production. They have written three pieces of original work. Interestingly, they will be directing the other two in their own plays, designing, managing and producing all by themselves (with some help lah). Will these factors multiply to give something bigger? 

Ellison took time off Art Studio to tell us out more.

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1.      It says Three By Three – Does that mean all 3 of you will be acting in each other's stories? Or is it three monologues? Or... (Because we didn’t see any cast list...)

Yes, we will be acting in each other's pieces! Each play is set to be a two-hander (though it might change). Creatively, we’ll be writing, directing, acting and also designing. We have zero experience in terms of designing though. Our set will be very minimal so that's ok. But we wanted to try our hands at light and sound designing. Lim Woan Wen and Darren Ng, who are both associate designers with The Finger Players, have very kindly agreed to come on board this project with us as mentors. We are very grateful for their help. 

2. Will Three By Three be a long-term agenda? Is the intention for you guys to take time off your busy theatre-performing calendar to produce shows once in a while regularly?

Haha, it's interesting that you think this way because it didn't occur to us at all...! I'd say we wouldn’t rule that possibility out at the moment. It has been very invigorating and rejuvenating to step out of our shoes/norm and work creatively with people we know so well. But I have to say that even though we knew from the onset that this was going to be a small, cozy show, we are still a little overwhelmed with all the work that’s going into it. It is a steep learning curve; we’ve learnt a lot from it, and from each other. 

3. Are you taking charge of each aspect of the show yourselves?

When we came together to do this, we knew that we wanted to do MOST of the work ourselves. But we also knew that there were going to be limitations. For example, we know we need a stage manager. So, we got a friend to come on board this project; we have support from Darren and Woan Wen to be our lighting and sound design mentors; our key production image is also designed by a friend. Over the 3 days of performance, we’ll be getting our friends to help out with the FOH duties. And everyone of them agreed to help out even before knowing our funding results. Hahaha.. I can’t reiterate enough how thankful we are to everyone.... Otherwise, everything else you see online/offline is solely managed by us. It has been very overwhelming.

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4. Is there a running theme in the collection of your 3 plays? Are the plays specially written for this collective production? 

As of now, I'd say there is no running theme. I put forth the idea (to the others) to write and direct your own piece, and have the other two star in it.  When I first started writing, one of my playwriting mentors, Chong Tze Chien told me: "If you don't have something to say, don't write." So I started the brainstorming session with a very simple question: What is the one thing that affects you very profoundly? I think it is important that this work comes from a personal stance. And since we are all (relatively) new writers, this is the best place to start writing from – ourselves.  

5. Words for your juniors and the others starting out.

I’ll like to add that it has been very heartening to see many young (much, much younger than us even) and independent collectives creating and staging their own work these days. The three of us have been in the industry for a couple of years now, I think we have been very fortunate to have theatre companies looking out for us administratively, logistically, and basically everything else. We only have three shows in a pretty cozy venue, so our audience reach is not big at all. As such, we have been actively sharing our work processes on Facebook. We will continue to share our creative processes, funding matters, space negotiation etc. periodically on our Facebook page. You will realise that there aren't many photos; there will probably more posts than photos, haha! We can only hope that this would be helpful to any other collectives who are starting out. 

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Three by Three @ 126
Date: 15 - 17 Sep 2017
Time: 8:00pm
Venue: Cairnhill Arts Centre, 126 Cairnhill Road, #02-02
Ticket price: $20 (Standard), $10 (Concession)
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  • Three by Three @ 126

    Theatre 15 - 17 Sep 2017 Three playlets. Three creators. One venue. Three by Three at 126 is a collection of three stories performed at the...
    Cairnhill Arts Centre, 126 Cairnhill Road, #02-02Cairnhill Arts Centre, 126 Cairnhill Road, #02-02