A young actor shares his experiences pursuing theatre as a passion and a career - and why we too should care about it.
Once upon a time, there lived a 19-year-old boy who took on the challenging role of Michal in The Pillowman.
Little did he know about child abuse, torture, or trauma. Nor did he condone the murder of children and assumed that it could only be done by an evil being.
Yet, he was pushed to understand humanity as he played Michal, for Michal loved his brother's stories and only killed children in order to re-enact those stories in real life – to see if they were "far-fetched".
This boy now couldn't blame Michal for his actions, and so learnt a valuable lesson: don't judge a person too soon.
SHREY BHARGAVA (RIGHT) IN THE PILLOWMAN, A PLAY BY MARTIN MCDONAGH, PERFORMED BY COUCH THEATRE.
Of course, I was that little boy. Being brave in doing that role taught me so much about accepting others and being compassionate. Till this day, I am constantly learning more about that, and I am hoping to become a kinder person.
In June, I was invited to be on a panel to discuss the value of youth theatre at the festival launch of the M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival.
As I sat alongside the heavyweights of the theatre industry, I had this next to my name: Shrey Bhargava (Youth Actor).
Boy, was I intimidated. Was I really qualified?
HERE I AM (SECOND FROM LEFT) AS A PANELLIST AT THE LAUNCH OF M1 PEER PLEASURE YOUTH THEATRE FESTIVAL.
But, answering questions from the audience made me realise that I've come a long way, and I have a longer way to go. I gave advice from my heart, much of which I shall share with you too.
Pursuing theatre can be stressful because everyone else thinks you should do otherwise. I know many friends who are talented actors, but who've decided they couldn't pursue their passion.
So, I've prepared simple answers to tackle these common reasons.
1. "I can't convince my parents…"
You might assume they won't agree. What if you introduced theatre to them? I did!
My dad's in the banking industry. I asked him to attend every play I performed in and brought him to watch shows. Eventually, he was convinced I had potential. Prove it to them!
2. "There's no guaranteed career in theatre…"
Think about this; is there really any guaranteed career out there?
No matter what you choose to do, you will always be put through a test to prove your ability. Better to be tested at something you love, eh?
3. "I am not good enough…"
This might be true now. But that doesn't mean you're not great already. You can be great and yet still need training, practice, and discipline to make it professionally. Pursue it, and you will become good enough.
IN 2015, I TOOK PART IN THE 5 SEARCH, AN ACTING & HOSTING COMPETITION ORGANISED BY MEDIACORP.
Remember, you are the future of our society. Even if you don't end up doing theatre, picking up skills like having confidence in public speaking, being a critical thinker, and just allowing yourself to be vulnerable as an individual are significantly important in any field.
You get to understand how and why people feel a certain way, or take certain actions. You become empathetic, and you grow. It's important for you to try it out, so be brave. The M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival is a wonderful platform to be inspired by fellow youths. The Singapore Monologue Slam, the first of its kind, is an exciting opportunity for youths to explore.
As I grew up, my experiences with theatre have always made me feel energetic, positive, and alive. That's why I continue to have faith and pursue it. In fact, I am beginning a new chapter next month, studying acting at the University of Southern California.
I made do with the limited opportunities I had and if I can do it, so can you.
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