Theatre veteran Oliver Chong appointed artistic director of The Finger Players

Veteran actor Oliver Chong will be the new artistic director of The Finger Players (TFP) from April 2023. PHOTO: TUCKYS PHOTOGRAPHY

SINGAPORE - Theatre veteran Oliver Chong will be the new artistic director of The Finger Players (TFP) from April 2023.

The 45-year-old said the appointment to the 23-year-old company known for its championing of the art and craft of puppetry is a heavy responsibility.

"First and foremost, I want TFP to be sustainable and continue to create wonderful works with ensembles and puppeteers taking centre stage. I want TFP to reach out to more communities. I want puppetry to be known, accepted and desired by more people," he said of his aims as artistic director.

Chong joined TFP in 2004 as a resident director and became a member of the core team when the company restructured in 2018. The company adopted a rotating artistic director model in 2020, and members of the core team will take on the mantle for three-year terms.

Current co-artistic directors Myra Loke and Ellison Tan Yuyang, both 32, said in a joint statement: "Oliver's artistry is recognised within the industry, as well as within the public domain, which is essential for the company's vision - to bring puppetry to the masses, and to continue letting TFP grow as a centre for the research and development of puppetry."

The duo, who took over the reins in 2019, have had to steer TFP through the pandemic.

Tan said their original intention was to focus on finances, strengthen the company's outreach and build industry development programmes. "We are proud to say that we achieved all that despite the pandemic. It was not easy at all navigating being a leader, when we're still trying to figure out who we are as artists, and I do grapple with that."

Loke added: "We are very lucky to be given the opportunity to lead the company, despite our relatively shorter artistic experience. The pandemic changed the industry and it has been very humbling to serve the company and industry during these times."

Both will remain in TFP's core team and are looking forward to returning to acting and other creative pursuits.

Loke said: "For people who know Ellison and I as (theatre collective) The Wanderlings, we may have things coming up too but we are taking things one step at a time."

The Finger Players was founded in 1999 and has championed the art and craft of puppetry over the years. Its productions have been nominated for more than 20 Life Theatre Awards and its 2021 production, Oiwa - The Ghost Of Yotsuya, won five out of the six categories in which it was nominated.

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