Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).


Young SG Directors: Cherilyn Woo

The playful director


Published: 31 Aug 2023

Time taken : <5mins

Cherilyn honed her directorial skills in several theatre companies. After completing Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Directing Residency Programme in 2016, she moved on to helming some of the company’s productions, such as The Nightingale (2018), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2019), The Sound Inside (2021), and Hare and Tortoise (2022). As Associate Director at Nine Years Theatre, she first assisted Artistic Director Nelson Chia on several productions before flying solo on FAUST/US (2019) and Oedipus (2021). Cherilyn has other works under belt as an independent director, including Mcbeat and the Lil’Shake Crew (2022) and Us (2023), both presented at the Esplanade.

What sort of director are you?

I'm still learning and growing, so my approach changes with each production. Each production is an opportunity to bring out different strengths and possibilities in the team and I want everyone to feel a sense of ownership with the production. In recent years, I've been trying to incorporate game time as part of the rehearsal process—it really sets up the process for play and most importantly fun and laughter! 

Cherilyn (centre, in blue) in a photoshoot with the cast of <em>FAUST/US</em> (2019). Image credit: Nine Years Theatre.

What got you into directing for theatre?

My lecturers at LASALLE, especially Stefanos Rassios who I assisted on a couple of productions, nudged me into it. After graduation, I went to work at Nine Years Theatre where I assisted Nelson Chia on a couple of productions. Nelson taught me about the discipline and craft in directing. Both of them gave me a lot of advice on being a director and believed in me. I took a leap of faith and joined the residency programme at Singapore Repertory Theatre for two years, which was a great training ground. Along the way, there were many industry people and peers who supported and worked with me, and that is really encouraging as an aspiring director, so I just kept going. 

What's one favourite/memorable show you have directed and why?

It's gotta be Mcbeat and the Lil' Shake Crew: Reimagining Shakespeare through Rap, with Patch and Punnet.  I love rap, having fun and making something together with friends, and everything about that show was just that. We were just a bunch of people having fun and rapping in a room for weeks.

<em>Mcbeat and the Lil’Shake Crew</em> (2022). Image credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.

Do you do anything else in theatre besides directing?

I occasionally write, produce, and most recently, rapped!  

What superpower do you think a good director needs?

Time manipulation? There's just never enough time! 

What is the strangest misconception you’ve heard about directing in theatre?

That directors control everything. Directing has a lot less to do with power and a lot more to do with teamwork and finding solutions. Many things are actually beyond your control.

What would you like to see more of in Singapore theatre?

I'm looking forward to seeing what the younger collectives are coming up with. They have lots of fantastic ideas up their sleeves.

I'd also like to see more theatre works in non-conventional performance spaces, more multidisciplinary theatre productions, and more unlikely collaborations.

Contributed by:

Daniel Teo

Daniel Teo is a freelance writer. Previously, he worked at Centre 42, a theatre development centre, as a researcher, archivist and documenter.

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