Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In this week’s edition, we’re extremely excited to feature the endlessly ambitious, Timothy Koh, an aspiring theatremaker and writer based out of New York City! Immigrating from Singapore in order to pursue a double major in both Theatre and English,, Timothy Koh has worked with several influential theatrical companies around New York City.
Utilizing his dramatic expertise deftly, Timothy served as the Assistant Director on Samuel D. Hunter’s new play, “Greater Clements” at Lincoln Center and later assumed the role of Fellow and Multicultural Scholar at Playwrights Horizons for the 2019-2020 season. Along with his professional endeavors, Timothy is in the process of directing Alex Ferris’s ‘Pigeon Play’: “We’re in development right now and have been doing a couple of Zoom workshops whilst we are all socially distanced and working in various time zones!
Though Timothy’s professional resume is impressive, he still attributes his passion for theatre to “a very long journey that first began when I went to Saturday morning drama classes as a small child.” Timothy elaborates on his aspirations, explaining that “though my more specific goals in life have shifted throughout the years, my overarching goal of making a life in theatre hasn’t changed since childhood.”
Timothy looks forward to a future of establishing more artistic connections within the theatre world while continuing to hone his own artistic vision: “I consider myself very lucky to have had the crazy year out of college I had, and the doors others have opened for me. It's truly been wild. Although COVID-19 put a halt to a lot of things, I'm excited to get back on the horse once it's safe and we're given the all-clear!” Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
What inspires me is people. I am endlessly fascinated by each and every individual, and everybody, if you dig hard enough, has a story to tell. As artists I think our job is to put a frame on the amorphous muck of humanity's existence. So I think taking a microscope to every individual you meet, and genuinely learning about them and their lives, inspires me. What is the connection between your art and social justice?
I think the connection between my theatre and social justice is very much hedged on who's in the room. As I'm still a young theatremaker, I haven't had the chance to open a lot of doors for others yet. However, with the space I have been given, I always strive to ensure that the rooms I am in are equitable and allow every member to have a voice, and use the privilege I have to speak up for the disenfranchised.
What inspired you to pursue writing and theatre? What were the challenges you overcame in this?
In high school, there were very few others who took a career in the arts very seriously, let alone a career in theatre. People would look down on the humanities, and many people would look down on the arts. I had plenty of friends, but there was always a sort of terse feeling that they didn't really understand my resolve to do what I wanted to do. They were all too happy living in their little bubble, and it felt very lonely. Very few people pursued fine art out of high school, and I was definitely the only one in my grade who pursued theatre - I would probably still be the only one if you expanded it to a couple years ahead and below in me in high school, to be quite honest. Too many people from my high school went into medicine, law, and finance/consulting. I decided that I couldn't live that life. It was only after high school when I started with theatre companies in Singapore that I started finding my way in the arts with people who actually were making it happen.
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists?
I tell myself that I would not want to do anything else except pursuing art. The best thing about being an artist is waking up every day and loving what you do, and every day I wake up for rehearsal, I am thankful for the life I get to live. It's certainly not easy. My advice to future artists would be ensure that this is absolutely what you want to do, and even if so, ensure that you are able to diversify and apply your skills elsewhere when the going gets tough, such as right now with the pandemic.
Do you have any advice on how we can do our part in supporting emerging international artists like yourself?
I think the best way to support international artists is to allow us to join the conversation. Let us into the rooms, allow our aesthetics to inform your own as we have certainly allowed American aesthetics to inform our artmaking. HOWEVER! I think while it's important to give us a seat at the table, we (internationals and Americans alike) have to also join and contribute to the discourse of the oppressed in this country. For example I think internationals need to be just as loud about Black Lives Matter, and donate and elevate Black voices in any way they can, both American and international Black people. This is such an important issue, and many internationals have their own levels of privilege. So I want to end off by saying Black Lives Matter, and supporting Black voices in the arts is an issue I will keep talking about.
Be sure to check out Timothy's website to stay updated on all of his upcoming projects!