Photo by Austin D. Oie Photography
“Do you think it’s easier for you to get work because you’re Asian?”
I’d graduated from college just a few months before, holding an embarrassingly sparse artistic resume for someone who wanted to work in professional theatre. Clueless about how anybody booked artistic work in Chicago, I was volunteering my time at an unpaid theatre internship in the hopes of some distant, unspecified payoff.
So I replied, “No.”
But in the following months, I found myself frequently going back to that very question.
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I performed this piece at Lifeline Theatre’s Fillet of Solo 2016.
The visa that allows me to legally work in the United States will expire in August.
I’ve got a few options. First, and most obviously, I could go back to Singapore. But, though Singapore prides itself on its—I quote—“burgeoning arts scene”, Singapore is also a really small and kind of bureaucratic city-state, which can limit the opportunities available to theater artists like myself.
Or I could get green card married. That isn’t strictly legal, so if you’d like to hear more about that, come find me afterwards.
Or I could go to grad school.
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The first time I ever auditioned for anything in America, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even talk to the other kids in the waiting room. All I knew about America then was what they’d told me back home. And in Singapore, the Americans were legendary for their degree of artistic talent and expressiveness. I was convinced that I didn’t stand a chance.
I read the monologue anyway, because once you’re there, you might as well see the whole thing through.
The professor finally looked up at me. “Your English is very good,” he said. He sounded pleasantly surprised.
Apparently the most memorable aspect of my audition was how, despite my appearance and nationality, I was fluent in English.
Like I said, I never stood a chance.
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