Hi! I'm Kayla Teodoro, a scenic and puppet designer from the Philippines, and I've been accepted into the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama under the course MA Design for Performance with a specialty in puppetry! It has been a dream of mine to study theatre abroad for many years, and to be accepted into one of the best theatre design schools in the United Kingdom has been an immense honour. With 15 students in the Design for Performance course spread out into different fields of design, only 1-2 students are accepted per year, per pathway. The conservatory has a 99% success rate in employment upon graduation as well as great alumni who have spoken very highly of the school. Aside from this, RWCMD has produced many Linbury prize (the highest award a theatre design student can get in the UK) finalists and winners over the past few years displaying the course's competence.
With that, to be able to attend RWCMD would be a privilege, to say the least. However, an international education is costly, and so I'm now asking for your help so I can attend this amazing school! Unfortunately, because of how unfamiliar many funding institutions are of my course, being granted any sort of financial aid has been unsuccessful. Aside from this, a member of my family has been diagnosed with an illness that needs my family's funding more urgently than I. Despite this, my family is very supportive of me attending RWCMD next school year, but I am now reaching out to you to help me reach my dream while helping alleviate my household's financial pressures.
I am currently trying to raise $30,000 (or ₱~1,500,000) to help cover tuition fees, living expenses, visa costs, and airfare. Any amount donated would be a huge help. If you would like to know where your donation is going, please feel free to send me a message and I would love to speak with you about the school, course, and anything else you might want to know.
Below is the personal statement that ultimately landed me a spot in next year's RWCMD class. Storytelling, puppetry, and the theatre has been something that has been a passion of mine and interviewers were very moved by my cause. I hope you can give it a read to understand the advocacy that I am devoted to.
I grew up in an industry that never outgrew storytelling – I grew up in the theatre. From the age of 5, I was made to believe that I could be anyone that I wanted to be. Be it one of Peter’s lost boys to a cheetah in “The Lion King,” I was raised knowing that limitations are only set by one’s self. With this, I realised that not only did I want to perform, but I wanted to create worlds in which stories came alive. After studying and first-hand experience in various fields in the industry I settled in the world of production design... I haven’t looked back since.
I began my professional career in scenic design 5 years ago at the age of 19. With a degree in interior design and connections in the local theatre scene in the Philippines, I have been fortunate enough to have worked on over 30 theatre shows since. From designing local productions such as “This is Our Youth” and “Into the Woods” to building sets of touring companies such as the international tour of “Potted Potter,” I have been able to dabble in many aspects of technical theatre. It was during last year’s production of Disney’s “The Lion King,” however, that my life had changed. The company’s first leg of their international tour began in the capital of the Philippines, Manila. With this, I was asked to be a production assistant for the rehearsal and pre-production process. During this time I was able to work with the different departments in varying capacities, but the one department that thoroughly made a difference was that of the puppetry department.
Working so close to the puppets made me understand that puppetry was so much more than what I made it out to be. It also made me realise that a local puppetry community was non-existent in my country. I learned as much as I could during this process – from construction to the workshop and movement lessons done with the actors, I took everything as a learning experience. After “The Lion King” left to go on to the next part of their tour, I gathered a group of professionals and together we formed “Puppet Theater Manila.” As puppetry is not a widely practiced form of storytelling in the country, together we are currently trying to define the art of puppetry in the Philippines. By telling Filipino stories, using indigenous Filipino materials, and training Filipino puppeteers, I, as the artistic director and principal designer of the company, aim to introduce the art of puppetry to the following generations of young Filipinos.
This, along with my experience in scenic design, expanded my view of design in the theatre. Not only am I designing environments in which actors could live out their characters’ stories, I am also creating pieces that ultimately become fundamental to storytelling. Through scenic design and puppetry, rather than just designing environments, I create whole worlds. While the possibilities are limitless, the lack of formal education in my country has slowed my potential
of learning. Because the Philippines is a developing country, we currently are scarce on resource to prioritize technology and the arts. However, despite this, my passion for learning and my confidence in my field remains to be unwavered. Learning through top professionals in the field and taking masterclasses through your program could help further my career and broaden my horizon. Although I truly believe in artistry in my motherland, studying under your tutelage would allow me to fuse together what I have learnt through my nation’s culture with what I am to learn about yours.
I want nothing more than to create new avenues of storytelling in my country. The Philippines is a nation riddled with artistic potential and I believe that the young minds of the country can evolve the current artistic landscape. A formal education in theatre design will allow me to create new avenues for many of the country’s young creatives through the introduction of new art forms. Stories are what shape nations and shift paradigms and I believe that continuing my studies in your institution could help me progress my country’s storytelling. In a time of turmoil and political instability in the Philippines, we sorely need good stories to teach us new lessons.