#HelloTFP: Loo Anni

by fingerplayers

#HelloTFP is a series of anecdotes where we introduce and share more about the members of the TFP family; from core team members to office interns. In this latest #HelloTFP feature, we speak with our The Maker’s Lab Cycle 2021 maker Loo Anni about her journey into theatre, existential crises, and… bak kwa.

The Maker’s Lab Cycle 2021 maker – Loo Anni

“It only slowly dawned upon me after I had worked for a few years, that I had an interest in the arts. Since young I liked to make things, that’s the base line I always worked with – that I liked to make things. I didn’t really put words to it. It wasn’t some life-changing moment where for example I watch a performance where I was blown away, and this is what I want to do for life – it wasn’t like that. I enjoy the process of making things, I enjoy working with my hands, I enjoy the tactility of different materials. I like to make things, so I find a field that allows me to do that. 

In primary school my parents would buy me and my sister paper clay to entertain us, so I think that was the beginning. I would make human figures that look deformed, on hindsight, and also containers. In secondary school, I was in Chinese Drama Society, I didn’t choose to join. There was just this one day where all the Co-curricular Activities (CCAs) were gathered to “poach” newcomers, and I just went with it and randomly joined. I remember there was this one year there was a Chinese New Year show, and we needed a piece of Bak Kwa for a prop, and it was during the festive period, but I still queued for an hour for that one single piece of Bak Kwa. I think it was because I was still a secondary school student then, and I didn’t anticipate the queue. Back then I knew so little things, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know, so whatever I made was from what I knew. I don’t remember asking anyone how to make all these things.”

Caption: Sketch of exoskeleton and attachment parts by Anni – an adaptable structure that can be used multiple times, yet versatile enough to answer different design briefs

“Before I graduated I had an existential crisis regarding product design – why am I making these consumerist shit that will be bought and thrown away and bought and thrown away, while the earth is dying, so I didn’t want to contribute to that cycle. But that was the thought process of the 21-yo me, so I didn’t really consider all the angles, like how I can make a change in this world. But when I entered theatre, I realise it was the same thing, I realise nothing in life matters so I turned off that switch, so ok if everything in life is so temporary and fleeting, I felt I might as well go to the most extreme of it. But after spending so much time in these two extremes, I’m now moving towards the other extreme – to find a more sustainable way of making.”

Sketches of Anni’s costume design for ECNAD’s production for Gardens By The Bay

“My first professionally paid theatre job was for designing and making, for ECNAD (contemporary dance company that closed in 2013). When Gardens by The Bay first opened, ECNAD did an opening festival finale performance, and I designed and made costumes for that show. A year ago, I got to know Lim Chin Huat, Co-Founder of ECNAD, during a dance film installation he did at O School. My university classmate was involved in that production and was looking for a replacement, as she had to look for a full-time job.

Woodwork is something I’m not good at. I haven’t grasped the different ways to shape it. I can do it, but it’s not my best skill. Out of all the different materials, my number one material to handle is foam. In a puppetry context wood is heavier, and there’s always a challenge to make the puppet as light as possible, so if I have a wood core to the puppet, it instantly becomes super heavy.”

The puppet(s) that Anni has created during The Maker’s Lab Cycle 2021 will be featured in the production of NO DISASTER ON THIS LAND, happening 24 – 27th February, at the Drama Centre Black Box.