I hold a PhD in Applied Theatre and Performance (2018) which I recently completed at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. My thesis, titled Compassionate Mobilities: Towards a Theory for Negotiated Living used urban arts (parkour, art du déplacement, breakin’/breakdancing and graffiti) to explore ways of living together, more compassionately, in Singapore’s hypercompetitive educational environment where inequality disadvantages young people from low-income families. As part of my enquiries in this field, and over the course of my PhD research, I delivered twenty-five urban art-inspired applied performance workshops in London and Singapore to young people between the ages of 15 and 25. Reflections on these urban art-inspired place practices (a form of applied performance) offered ways of constructing more compassionate narratives of self-worth and visualising potential alternative futures for Singapore. I have 15 years of experience as an applied performance practitioner working with young people from low-income families in Singapore (2003 – 2012) and London (2012 – 2018) and this fuels my embodied scholarship on compassionate mobilities. For an abstract, click here.
My research interests include: the narratives of place and its impact on mental wellbeing, the writings attributed to Zhuangzi (an ancient Chinese scholar), Japanese aesthetics inspired by Zen Buddhism, youth subcultures and urban arts (including skateboarding, parkour, art du déplacement, breakin’ and graffiti).
In London, I am currently employed as a visiting lecturer at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Brunel University and Wimbledon College of Art.
I graduated with a Master of Arts in Applied Theatre (Distinction) at The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama (London) in 2013.
I have been active in Singapore’s theatre scene since 1997. I was a founding member of SRT’s Young Company and volunteered as its youth company manager from 1998 – 2001. I acted widely on stage and television and was nominated for Best Newcomer at the inaugural Life! Theatre Awards for playing nine roles in Postcards from Persephone (2000) which I also co-produced. In 2004, I was one of fifty international female theatre practitioners selected to participate in TRANSIT IV: Roots – an international theatre festival in Holstebro, Denmark. A selection of productions and performances undertaken is highlighted at this link.
I also co-organised events and festivals such as the digital film project Digital Compassion 02 (2002) and Pulp (2003), a three-day festival that featured many first ‘street x art’ collaborations at a time where street art was not yet recognised as art. These collaborations included: graffiti x contemporary art battles and a bharatanatyam x b-girl battle.
I’ve worked closely with non-profit organisations through the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre from 2005 – 2007. From 2008 – 2012 I was part of a three-man team that founded The Little Arts Academy (LAA), managed by The Old Parliament House Limited. Apart from designing the environment for LAA, she worked closely with practitioners/teachers from Singapore to develop curriculum plans within an overarching curriculum framework developed in partnership with many established arts and education specialists on the board of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund. The enrollment of LAA grew from 47 children to approximately 250 regular children and youths every week. I took on the role of producer and director for the performances created by the children and youths and devised between 15 to 18 performances a year with the students and their mentors/teachers. I also supported fundraising and marketing efforts for LAA and donated regularly to the school through personal performances produced under her own theatre company, one:lab.
Under one:lab, I acted, directed and produced When The World Was Green by Sam Shepard at the Night & Day Bar. The play explored the malleability of memories, forgiveness and loss in a hotel bar/prison from 20 – 23 September 2010. I also developed W, a monologue that features 13 women who have contributed significantly to the women’s movement. W (2012) premiered at Design Festa vol 35 in Tokyo with the support of Singapore International Foundation.
1st prize, TaPRA 2014 Postgraduate Essay: Place-making Performances: What Can Applied Theatre Practitioners Learn From Skateboarders and Graffiti Artists?’
Conroy, C., Ong, A. & Rodricks, D. (2018) ‘Editorial’, Research In Drama Education: The Journal Of Applied Theatre And Performance, Vol. 23, No. 3. https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/AMwkGigzThH9VkHpzX85/full
Ong, A. (2018) ‘The Limits of Access: The Messy Temporalities of Hope and the Negotiation of Place’, Research In Drama Education: The Journal Of Applied Theatre And Performance, Vol. 23, No. 3, https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/VJYkCKu2FPVAcuZwZxKn/full
Ong, A. (2018) ‘Essais: Falling Slowly: Stumbling Towards an Urban Art-Inspired Place Practice in London’, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1: 124-125. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19443927.2018.1427324 (accessed 15.3.18).
Ong, A. (2016) ‘The Path Is Place: Skateboarding, Graffiti And Performances Of Place’, Research In Drama Education: The Journal Of Applied Theatre And Performance, Vol. 21, No. 2: 229–241. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13569783.2016.1155407 (accessed 1.8.16).
Ong, A. & Wong, C. (2018) ‘Bee Hoon Beyond Home: Place-making in a World Elsewhere’, Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) 2018: Bodies and Performance Working Group, Aberystwyth University, 06.09.18.
Ong, A. (2018) ‘Writing Postcards in Lieu of Being Home’, International Drama-in-Education Research Institute (IDIERI) 9: The Tyranny of Distance, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 07.07.18
Ong, A. (2018) ‘Performing Limpeh’, invited speaker for the Performing Citizenship in Singapore panel at the 2018 Association for Asian Studies conference, Washington DC, 25.03.18.
Ong, A. (2017) ‘For It Was Only as the Writing Faded that the Loss of Place was Felt’ TaPRA 2017: Performance, Identity & Community Working Group, University of Salford, 31.08.17
Ong, A. (2017) On Absence and Reading into Silence, Intersections 2017, London, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, 20.01.17
Ong, A. & Abraham, N. (2016) ‘‘I Didn’t Get It!’ Wanting To Do Disobedience Properly’ TaPRA 2016: Performance, Identity & Community Working Group, University of Bristol
Ong, A. (2016) ‘Performing Precarity in an Accelerated, Achievement-Oriented Singapore’, Theatre Applied: Hard Times: the performance of poverty and social injustice, Research@Central Processes and Practices series, 23.06.16
Ong, A. (2016) ‘Digital Traces of Lost Places’, International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) 2016: Political Performance Working Group, 16.06.16
Ong, A. (2016) ‘Practice (Confounds) Research: Grappling with ‘Lost Causes’’, Intersections 2016, London, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, 15.01.16
Ong, A. (2015) ‘Battling fears: a sea monster and a friend’, London Theatre Seminar, Senate House, 15.10.15.
Ong, A. (2015) ‘Moving On: Making Amends and Taking Responsibility for Disruptive Change’, Theatre and Performing Research Association (TaPRA) 2015, University of Worcester, Applied and Social Theatre Working Group, 10.09.15
Ong, A. (2015) ‘Creating ‘Places’ of Radical Openness in Singapore’, IDIERI 2015:‘Open Culture in the Asian Century: Reimagining Drama Education’, National Institute of Education (Singapore), 01.07.15.
Ong, A. (2015) ‘Multiplicities’, Utopias, Futures, Temporalities: Critical Considerations for Social Change Symposium, Bristol Zoo, 20.05.15
Ong, A. (2015) ‘What is the Value of Being a Public Nuisance?’, Intersections 2015, London, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, 16.01.15
Ong, A. (2014) ‘Beyond Panopticism: Reimagining ‘Places of Identity’’, City-Centric, King’s College of London, 21.10.14
Ong, A. (2014) ‘Compassionate Mobilities and Temporary Places’, Performing Places, London, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, 09.10.14
Ong, A. (2014) ‘Can Bodies Resist Panoptic Control Through Parkour-inspired Applied Theatre Practice?’, TaPRA 2014: Performance and the Body Working Group, Royal Holloway, University of London.
Ong, A. (2014) ‘Can Urban Arts be Considered as a Form of Applied Theatre Practice?’, IFTR 2014: New Scholars Forum, University of Warwick.
Ong, A. (2014) ‘Is Life Not Complete Without Shopping?’, Performing Research 2014, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
Ong, A. (2014) ‘Can Heroes Limit One’s Imagination?’, TaPRA 2014 Interim Event: Applied and Social Theatre, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
Place & Placemaking, MA Applied Theatre, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London (10 Feb 2017)
Art du Deplacement x Applied Theatre workshop, Singapore (5 Jan 2017)
ParkourDance, Pedagogy, Place, BA DATE Experience in Context, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London (15 Nov 2016)
Graffiti x Applied Theatre workshop, Signing Off Studio One at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London (12 July 2016)
Graffiti x Applied Theatre workshop, Traces of Lost Places, at Rose Bruford Symposium 2016, Kent (14 Apr 2016)
Disobedience, BA DATE Theatre & Change, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London (15 Feb 2016)
Breakin’ x Applied Theatre workshop with Recognize Studios (Felix Huang), Singapore (5 Jan 2016)
ParkourDance, Pedagogy, Place, BA DATE Experience in Context, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London (3 Nov 2015)
Graffiti Walk in Singapore (25 July 2015)
Breakin’ x Applied Theatre Workshop with Recognize Studios (Felix Huang), Singapore (July 2015)
Graffiti workshops with Femme Fierce (Artists: Jarvis and Zina) for 360 students from Year 1 to Year 6 at Britannia Village Primary School’s ‘Streets of London’ programme (June 2015)
Theatre workshop for ParkourDance Main Company, London (27.05.15)
Monthly theatre workshops for ParkourDance Youth Company towards their year-end showcase, London (January – June 2015)
Art du Deplacement x Applied Theatre workshop with ADD Academy Singapore and Singapore Polytechnic’s Diploma in Applied Drama & Psychology 2nd and 3rd year students, December 2014
Parkour x Applied Theatre workshop with Parkour Generations (Shirley Darlington) for Immediate Theatre, London (July 2014).
Founded in 2010 on the belief that it is possible for one person to start making a difference, one:lab aims to research ways of growing and living together through the arts.
one:lab engages in urban art-inspired place practices by young people, for young people, with young people.
one:lab’s performances aim to expand the ways in which we imagine place and find alternative responses to fear and loss.