Interview with Jocelyn Chng

Centre 42 is currently looking for aspiring theatre critics to join the 2018 cycle of Citizens’ Reviews! The programme is about to enter its fifth edition, and in this series of interviews, we ask our current reviewers to share more about what the journey has been like for them, as well as what they make of the arts criticism scene in Singapore right now. Here’s Jocelyn Chng, a freelance arts educator and practitioner who has been writing for us since the 2016 cycle.

If you’d like to apply to become a Citizen Reviewer for our 2018, we are currently accepting applications until 22 October. Find out more about the open call and how you can get involved here.

Why did you want to join the Citizens’ Reviews programme?
As part of my work as a freelance arts educator and practitioner, I generally watch a lot of performances, some of which can elicit strong reactions and spark intense reflection and/or discussion with friends and colleagues. Writing helps to consolidate my thoughts, but I don’t always have the discipline to set aside time for personal writing, so being part of a review platform is a perfect opportunity for me to write and reflect!

What did you enjoy most about the Citizens’ Reviews programme? 
I appreciate being given a lot of freedom in terms of personal reviewing interests and writing style. In fact we are encouraged to develop them in order to cultivate a strong and identifiable voice as a reviewer. So while my initial motivation for joining the programme was more personal, I liked being challenged and encouraged to approach reviewing from a more professional angle.

What did you learn from the programme?
The opportunity to share information and have discussions with the editors and fellow reviewers has enabled me to learn more and think more critically about reviewing – its purpose, its importance to the scene, common perceptions and challenges – and also about the arts scene in general.

What do you think of the arts (and especially theatre) reviewing scene in Singapore right now?
There isn’t really one (laughs)?  Or it is very disparate, because reviewing is not discussed often enough, and when it is, it tends to be viewed in a skeptical light. I feel that everyone – artists, audiences, reviewers themselves – needs to know more about reviewing and its importance, before we can have a “reviewing scene” to speak of.

Interview by Gwen Pew on 26 September 2017

Find out more about the Citizens’ Reviews programme here.