FORMER BENEFICIARIES FROM THE BUSINESS TIMES BUDDING ARTIST FUND COME TOGETHER TO TALK ABOUT GROWING UP IN CHALLENGING HOME ENVIRONMENTS IN NEW VERBATIM THEATRE PRODUCTION.
The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BT BAF), managed by TRCL, has witnessed over 22,000 artists passing through its doors for training in Theatre, Dance, Music, and Visual Arts. However, what has become of these artists over time? The answer lies in Souljourn 2.0. Formerly young budding artists, they have now grown up and established a new arts collective known as The r10t Crew (@ther10tcrew).
To mark the inception of The r10t Crew, they will perform a verbatim theatre production titled “I AM _____.” This production engages in discussions about growing up in underserved homes and encourages contemplation of broader societal dynamics and the definition of success in a world often constrained by predefined standards. The production, led and performed by an all-alumni cast and crew, is scheduled to take place at the Goodman Arts Centre Theatre Blackbox from September 29th to October 1st, 2023.
In a true verbatim theatre style, former BT BAF alumnus Vishnucharan Naidu, the director and script writer for “I AM___.”, spent several hours interviewing the eight alumni cast members and several community members and leaders to put the script together. He says –
“I’ve long held a fascination for the enduring impact of growing up in challenging environments, whether they be shaped by financial constraints or intricate social dynamics. In recent months, I’ve dedicated my time to conducting interviews within our community and among the cast to create this production. Among the many stories I’ve encountered, what stands out is the remarkable courage displayed by individuals who’ve embraced their unique journeys, defying conventional notions of success. It has been a privilege to co-create this work with a community that is dear to me, and it is not often that we see work directly from the root itself”.
Vishnucharan Naidu is one of many artists that has walked through the doors of the BT BAF program. He is now an emerging artist working intersections of Theatre, Applied Theatre, and Bharatanatyam. As a former beneficiary of BT BAF, he now dedicates his career to nurturing young artists’ talents, mirroring the support he previously received from BT BAF. His journey underscores the profound impact of initiatives like BT BAF in shaping the potential of artists and future leaders. Echoing the journey that artists like Vishnu have taken, Lynne Kok, Director of Operations for TRCL, mentions –
“No amount of words can accurately describe the feeling of seeing the children of yesterday grow into artists they are today. From the day they stepped into TRCL and its schools, The Little Arts Academy and 10 Square Youth, we have seen them navigate adolescence and develop into their adulthood. While not all of the beneficiaries go on to pursue art as a career, we have seen their lives change due to their exposure to art and many of them still pursue art as a passion. To have the alumni of The r10t Crew come together to create a full show to give back to BT BAF is a delightful completion of the circle, and truly a sight to behold.”
While not many pursue careers directly in the performing arts – some have taken careers that support artists instead. One such individual is Guru Simmar. Guru found his calling in Arts Management whilst being a student of theatre in the BT BAF program. He states –
“My journey with TRCL has come full circle, as I was once a beneficiary and now serve as a full-time programme executive. I also wear the hats of executive producer and cast member for this production. It is heartening to collaborate with my friends, with whom I was once classmates with in the BT BAF programme many years ago. Despite all of us holding full-time jobs, we decided to reunite and address a topic close to our hearts: the experience of growing up. It is not often that we find a space to discuss the challenges we faced in our upbringing. Now, as we are much older, we can reflect on our journeys”.
As these young artists reflect on their journeys, “I AM ____.” serves as an exploration of their challenging upbringings, delving into the complexities of their experiences. Through verbatim theatre, it sheds light on their struggles and the resilience that guided them through adversity, crafting a narrative that echoes their personal stories.