#HelloTFP: Oliver Chong

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 feature, we spoke to another TFP core team member, Oliver Chong and got him to share how he started his career as an interior designer and eventually became a full-fledged theatre practitioner. We also asked him which aspect of theatre work brings him the most amount of satisfaction.

2009 – Oliver has been designing and building the puppets for his productions since he joined the company. This is from his 2009 production – “Cat, Lost and Found”.

“I started my training in interior design. I had worked in advertising and as a graphic and product designer, in addition to interior designing for exhibition, residential and commercial spaces. It was Beng Tian (Co-Founder of TFP) who got me into joining TFP full-time in December 2004. Before coming onboard, I was already actively involved in theatrical productions since young. But my involvement with a professional theatrical production only began in 1997 with Drama Box, as set designer, publicity designer and actor. Back then, I was still schooling, and I continued working with them when I did NS and even when I was holding a full-time job elsewhere. 2002 marked the beginning of my full-time professional engagement as an actor. I have been acting since I was five, in school and with amateur groups. There wasn’t a single year growing up that I wasn’t performing in a production. 

2012 – Oliver in “ROOTS” – a one-man show inspired by his journey to track down his ancestral hometown. This production would go on to win the Best Script and Production of The Year for the 2013 Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards.

To me, this is something that I have to do and it is the only thing that I find joy in doing. Nothing else. I have tried many others. And so it came naturally for me because I practically grew up on stage since I was five. What took me so long to take it up as a career was because of financial circumstances. Being an artist was not an easy career option in the past as it may be now. I only decided to take the leap of faith and did it full-time in 2002, after accepting the fact that practicing theatre is really the only thing that will make me happy.

Oliver directing NAFA students in a rehearsal for Journey to Nowhere, presented as part of The Present/Future Season.

While the different areas of work (i.e. directing, script writing and set design) give me different satisfaction, the level of satisfaction really depends on the process of each production and the people involved. However, acting always gives me the most pleasure. Because acting is my first love, because I find acting the easiest and least stressful compared to the other areas of work and therefore the most enjoyable!”

Oliver directing NAFA students in a rehearsal for Journey to Nowhere, presented as part of The Present/Future Season.

The most recent winner of Best Actor at The Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards 2020 for A Fiend’s Diary, Oliver Chong is a multi-award winning and published playwright, director, actor and designer. Some of his memorable works include A Fiend’s Diary, Roots, I’m Just A Piano Teacher, Cat, Lost & Found, The Book of Living and Dying, Citizen Pig and Citizen Dog.

He is currently directing a restaging of his earlier work (directed and written by himself back in 2013) – “Journey To Nowhere” as part of the “The Present/Future Season” 2020 presented by TFP in collaboration with NAFA.

Performed by the graduating students of NAFA Diploma in Theatre (English Drama) 2020, “Journey To Nowhere” will be streamed LIVE this Friday 23 October, 8pm, with a continued broadcast till Sunday 25 October 2020, 2359 via SISTIC Live. Click here to find out more.