Noah Yap, a 12-year-old cheerful and diligent student, has been in the Speech and Drama Arts (SDA) programme at Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) for the past 2.5 years. After being in the programme for some time, Noah decided to continue his passion for Theatre Arts in Secondary School.

Taking the Direct School Admission (DSA) route, Noah had submitted supporting documents, portfolio and testimonial from SDA teachers to SOTA. Subsequently, he was shortlisted to attend Talent Academy at SOTA. In the Talent Academy, Noah had to go through auditions and interviews. At the same time, he had the chance to explore the school environment and facilities.

SDA sat down with Noah over some biscuits to gain an insight into his life as SDA student and the decisions he made. Let’s take a sneak peek into Noah’s life and learn how he has managed to achieve his goals.

What are some of the challenges you faced when you first joined the SDA?

Noah:  One of the challenges I faced was meeting new people. I could not cope with the numerous new faces, and I found it difficult to work with them as I didn’t know them well at all. Memorising the lines and the actions were also tough for me!

What did you do then to overcome these challenges? 

Noah:  My younger brother helped me a lot. I would share the script with him and asked him to take on roles of the other characters so that I can practice with him.  While doing that, we actually bonded too! When it comes to meeting new people, I just needed more time to get to know them. Through the drama activities in class, I got the chance to work with different students and in turn without me knowing; I had actually overcome that challenge.

What was it like playing the role of Speech Writer in Shakespeare 400?

Noah: Initially, I found the role quite tough, as I had to control my laughter. The character itself was comical, and the lines that I had to narrate were so funny, that I myself couldn’t stop laughing! It was so difficult for me to stay in character and not laugh along with the audience. Over the countless rehearsals and with my teacher’s guidance, I mastered the role and managed to do it successfully with focus and discipline.

I understand that last year you played two very contradicting roles in Ramayana. That must have been challenging!  What was it like?

Noah: It was difficult as I needed to switch to two very different characters in a short period. I played King Dhasaratha, a good king and Ravana, an evil king.  It wasn’t just about changing costumes, but also about changing my personality, emotions and actions. I also had to vary my voice to suit the character.  When I was the good King Dhasaratha, I had to use a kind and gentle voice, but when I was Ravana, I had to use a character voice that portrayed vengeance and hatred. Although I found it tough, I didn’t give up; I kept practicing with my peers and my family.

What are some memorable moments you’ve had in SDA?

Noah: The most memorable moment would be standing on stage in front of the huge audience; it wasn’t just once but twice! It was a memorable moment as I had the chance to express myself in a different light in front of such a big audience.  That also gave me the confidence to apply for SOTA.

Wow, that’s great! After knowing that you had submitted an application to SOTA through Direct School Admission (Secondary), we would like to find out what made you do so?

Noah: My uncle inspired me as he is working in SOTA but in the visual arts field. Hence, I decided to research on SOTA, and I found that SOTA does offer theatre and not only visual arts. I started reading more about the theatre course they offered, and I learnt that the course does explore different theatrical styles and also various cultures such as Japanese theatre like Kabuki. By going to SOTA, I want to have a more in-depth exploration of gaining and acquiring knowledge in the theatrical arts where I can explore other aspects such as script-writing and prop making.

That sounds so interesting! I understand that you had gone through interviews and auditions to gain admission to SOTA. What was the experience like?

Noah: I felt nervous once I entered the school as I was on my own. In the first round of interview, I made two friends as we were grouped to work together in a couple of activities. Some of the activities were similar to what I had done in my SDA classes, so I felt a little at ease. I also managed to use some of the skills taught at my SDA classes, such as the skills set for monologue, emotions and usage of space. Playing dual roles in the SDA performance also came in handy during the SOTA audition as I was required to play two characters, a transition from a man to a werewolf. Hence, I had to pay attention to my voice and emotion.

Well, I’m sure you did well in the auditions and interviews as I understand SOTA has given you a conditional offer. Congratulations! How do you feel about it?

Noah: I feel delighted and fortunate as well. I understand how hard it is to get into SOTA and not everyone can get a place there.  I also feel proud of myself for achieving something out of my comfort zone. It is a big achievement to have a spot reserved for me and not be on the waitlist. Now, I hope I do well in my PSLE and meet the necessary academic criteria so that I can start my journey in SOTA.  All you young aspiring actors out there, don’t stop chasing your dreams!

This article was published in FACETS Vol 3 2018

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