Chaired by writer and former arts correspondent Deepika Shetty,
this panel brings together artists from multiple disciplines to discuss how their creative dreams and artistic ambitions evolve in relation to where they are from, and where they move to.
Featuring Yarra Ileto, an Australian-born dancer now based in Singapore, Damon Chua, a Singaporean writer who left home to pursue his career in US, Tetsuro Shigematsu, a Canadian actor-filmmaker who is connected to Japan by his heritage, and Wei Leng Tay, a Singaporean visual artist who recently returned to Singapore after 20 years abroad. Each will consider how one navigates and negotiates their dreams and ambitions when in transit.
About Critical Conversations
As part of the Centre For the Arts’ vision to nurture creative minds and inquiring spirits, the NUS Arts Festival presents Critical Conversations – a series of talks and panel discussions aimed at deepening the discourse and engagement with the themes raised during the festival.
DEEPIKA SHETTY has made a name for assimilating her varied life experiences into her writing across platforms.
She spent six years in television as producer and anchor of a weekly segment on books for Singapore-based television network Channel NewsAsia’s breakfast show, Prime Time Morning.
She then joined Singapore's leading daily The Straits Times, where she was the Arts Correspondent for nine years. During that time, she developed and shaped the newspaper's extensive coverage of the visual arts, museums, and introduced coverage for India's widely popular Hindi film industry better known as Bollywood. In 2010, she was awarded the newspaper's first Passion Project Award. The award allowed her to travel for three months to document a story of reverse migration. At a time of heightened migration debate in Singapore, she documented stories of ordinary Singaporeans living and working in India.
Known for her relentless pursuit of exclusive news stories, Deepika had previously worked for The Times of India newspaper and India Today news magazine in India.
On the literary front, she has moderated at key literary festivals in various cities in Australia as well as in Dubai, Galle, Ubud and Singapore.
Launched in 2013, her popular Facebook page, Sadee (Our) Saree, has galvanised a new generation’s interest in the saree. In 2014, she published her debut novel The Red Helmet – a story of love and loss set in 1980s India. The book was marketed largely through social media.
She has done media training sessions and currently works in Public Relations. She is a regular moderator and emcee at various diplomatic events held in Singapore.
Based in New York, Damon is a playwright, screenwriter and short fiction writer. His plays Film Chinois and Incident at Hidden Temple have been produced off-Broadway, and his short plays have been performed across the US and in Canada. 2018 will see two productions of his youth-theatre musical piece The Emperor’s Nightingale in New York and Minneapolis. He is the recipient of several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Dramatists Guild Fund, Durfee Foundation, and UNESCO. He has received an Ovation Award for Best Play and is published by Samuel French, Smith & Kraus, and Plays for Young Audiences. Damon was previously a member of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater and is currently a member of Ma-Yi Theater’s Writers Lab. Before he moved to the United States more than twenty years ago, Damon’s plays were produced in Singapore. These included Ash & Shadowless (TheatreWorks), Trine (ACTION Theatre), Best Foot Forward (ACTION Theatre), and The Buried (TheatreWorks).
For more than twenty years, Tetsuro Shigematsu has been telling stories across an array of media. A former writer for for CBC Television’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, in 2004, he became the first person-of-colour to host a daily national radio program in Canada when he took over The Roundup on CBC Radio, where he co-wrote and co-produced nearly a thousand hours of network programming. His most recent theatre work, Empire of the Son, sold out its run before it opened and was named the best show of 2015 by the Vancouver Sun and the Georgia Straight and has toured across Canada including the National Arts Centre.
Wei Leng Tay
Wei Leng Tay is an artist working with mediums including photography, audio, and installation. Her process begins with conversations and interactions with people she meets, which inform the forms the projects take. Her practice draws links between how desires, personal relationships and histories are tied to family, society and the state.
Tay has exhibited at institutions like ARTER Space for Art, Istanbul, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, and participated in group exhibitions such as the Asian Art Biennale, Taiwan, and Daegu Photo Biennale, South Korea. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, NUS Museum, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, and the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Japan.
Yarra graduated with a BA First Class Honours Degree in Performing Arts (Dance) at LASALLE College of the Arts. Upon graduating, Yarra joined T.H.E Dance Company as one of the full-time founding members. She has performed in all the company’s works from 2008 to January 2015, touring extensively in Asia and Europe, and has worked with noted choreographers such as Cheuk Yin Mui, Xing Liang, Zhang Xiaoxiong, Boi Sakti, Dimo Kirilov and Kwik Swee Boon to name a few. She has also choreographed works for T.H.E Main Company, T.H.E Second Company and several local Universities and Colleges. Yarra is a professional freelance dance artist, choreographer and lecturer, recently performing in M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival, M1 Fringe Festival and Artscience Late 2018. In 2017, she received the Young Artist Award, Singapore's highest honour for young people in the arts.