Hello everyone! I'm Varshini, from Singapore; an actor, a Librarian, a spoken word writer and performer. Most importantly, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a fearless lover of life, people and most importantly, Love.
Earlier this year, I made a successful application to The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Uni of London) masters degree, specialising in Applied Theatre.
I've started this campaign because some of the funds that I was hoping to get, have now, disappointingly not been offered to me and I am left with less than enough to see this through. Funding opportunities for graduates and international students especially, are extremely limited. If there were a similar programme in my home country, I would have done so. While it's been a dream of mine to pursue this course and cause and I feel fortunate to have been accepted into the school, I need help in making it a reality, as I am funding this entirely on my own.
I'm asking for contributions towards my tuition fees which are £16,081 for a year's masters degree at the The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and anything raised over my goal, which would be extra, extra helpful, will go directly towards material costs for my degree and accommodation costs. (Note: I will most definitely take up a part time job as much as my timetable will allow me, while in London, to help tide me by).
Here is a breakdown of the costs - Click the link to see where the amount comes from
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama Masters Applied Theatre fees (International student) - estimated S$30,000
Some of the essential textbooks I need to get:
- Nicholson, H. Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre - S$33.68 (from Book Depository)
- Grady, S Drama and Diversity: A Pluralist Perspective for Educational Drama - S$25.84 (from Amazon, used copy)
- Kershaw, B Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention - S$23.43 (from Amazon, used copy)
- Taylor, P Applied Theatre: Creating Transformative Encounters in the Community - S$29.26 (from Amazon, free shipping)
- Thompson, J Applied Theatre - Bewilderment and Beyond - $43.47 (from Amazon, free shipping)
- Prentki, Y & Selma, J Popular Theatre in Political Culture: Britain and Canada in Focus - S$29.25 (from Amazon, free shipping)
Total costs (with shipping costs) estimated S$225.22
Why I started this campaign
I believe that I will be able to make a difference in one, two or more lives through my work.
This is where an MA degree from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama can set me apart. Not only will it increase my employability status, the Masters will go on to help me continue being an informed practicing artist and theatre practitioner. It will also present me with that extra edge and opportunity when applying for funding for community projects or applications in the teaching profession.
I strongly believe in the human spirit and the power of community. This is why I am putting myself out here, vulnerable and open, humbly appealing for your generosity and your kindness.
Why is this course meant for me?
- I am psyched and ready to undertake these studies mentally, physically and emotionally and use it to create workshops and in the future, even plays to help people overcome difficult situations and to spark conversations about issues that matter.
- I have been told that I am good storyteller, facilitator, performer and teacher but best of all I have been told I am inspirational - this means a lot to me - it endorses the belief I have that I am able to bring something positive to those I come into contact with.
- I have seen first hand how powerful a safe space to explore tough issues can be for someone who is suffering and I want to be an agent of change.
- I have worked with children with special needs and have seen what storytelling can do for them; even the child with a spectrum of disorders who could not speak or walk, held a hand towards me and smiled - because we had made a connection through stories and through Art. I want to continue this work with specific tools and knowledge that this course will provide me with, so that I can offer more to the community around me.
- I firmly believe and know that I have something good within me, to share. I spent years searching for my identity, my true self and my true purpose. I quit a well paying job I was in for 5 years to pursue a career in the Arts and constantly had people telling me I would not make it. I took a $1000 pay cut to do a job I thought was for me and had to quit when I soon learned it wasn't - only after 3 months, without another job. I could feel the naysayers clapping away. I went 5 months without work, just trying to figure out where I should go or what I should do. I landed on some acting work but my savings ran out. I finally found a full time job as a librarian where I could still live out my dreams of being an actor and practise theatre. There were aspects of the job that I thrived in, particularly in storytelling and in mentoring teenagers who performed as Ambassadors for library events. In between, I took numerous acting workshops, theatre workshops and was also casted in various plays. To some, this may not mean anything; it may not mean I have made it big - I haven't but I am sure glad of how far it has brought me and how much I have grown - and, it did not matter. I knew that I was doing work I was passionate about and in my own small ways, creating happiness for others. Now the time has come for me to take all of this, one step further. I know I can, I just need a little help, from all of you.
Facilitating a drama workshop for children
Promoting the love of reading through storytelling for the intellectually disabled youths
Conducting an active meditation, introduction to theatre games and voice training workshop for librarians
Incorporating drama in storytelling for young children
Comments from others about my work:
- “I enjoyed the active meditation part the most, it was a unique experience that strengthened the individual and group at the same time. Also appreciated the way you facilitated the discussion after the meditation– you were genuinely valuing everyone’s inputs and validating everyone’s experience. Thanks for conducting the session amidst your busy schedule, I’d have to say you are a great trainer!” – L. Xin Yi, Librarian
- “Varshini conducted an excellent storytelling session. She is able to engage the children very well and very professional in handling them. A fun personality for [the] Library!” – Roger Goh, Public Service officer
- "Engaging storytelling with little fun activities to help the kids understand the moral of the story better. My nephews loved the session and asked when I can bring them again!" - Mrs Unsa with her nephews 5 and 3 years old
- "You were amazing, inspiring and gorgeous inside out… it was a pleasure to watch you in your element. I can't wait to hear from you!" - Mariam Nesila Marx, Teacher
- "Really enjoyed your work and I super respect how well you write and perform. [...] an artist and as a strong human being. It must be really hard to put into words your own vulnerable self and showcase it to the world. Again, lovely work!" - Shrey Bhargava, Artist
A little about me and my journey
Born and raised in Singapore, I've been an extremely passionate and creative individual since I was a child. According to my mother, I was a curious and inquisitive child who's favourite word was "Why?". That curious spark never left and has led me to fuel my many ambitions and desires. Every job I had found myself doing came about because of the inherent need to want to help - be it just one person or a few, I wanted to try and make a difference, I wanted to give back.
One of the many things that my mother has taught me and advice I keep coming back to is this - that no matter how little you have, you can always find ways to give back. That is my driving force in all the work I do - to touch hearts, to touch lives.
Coming from humble backgrounds, my parents borrowed, worked multiple jobs to send me and my siblings to school. I started working when I was 17 so that I could earn my own pocket money. I graduated with a Bachelors of Social Sciences in Sociology - my fascination with people and how they engaged with the society around them began at an early age. Throughout University, I always worked to help pay off any extra costs as my family was unable to support me completely. After graduation, I spent about 5 years working as an investigator, dealing with cases plaguing foreign domestic workers in Singapore. It was a tough but fulfilling job when I was able to help individuals who found themselves in less than favourable employment situations. My love for the arts then compelled me to seek out other pastures where I worked as a librarian for about another 5 years. I focused on developing the love of reading among children through storytelling and mentoring and training youths in developing drama and life skills.
In between, I have undertaken yoga classes and I practise meditation and yoga regularly now. I am about to facilitate my own class of active meditation soon, here in Singapore. I have also been undertaking regular Vocal lessons. I also write, perform Spoken Word poetry and have been a featured poet at an open mic session and have been lucky enough to have a poem published: http://www.booksactuallyshop.com/products/lost-found.
All through this time, I worked to pay off my University fees and to fund my extra courses / classes I took to continually hone my acting, drama skills and life skills - e.g.: Attending courses in Authentic Voice with David Glass, Workshops with Frantic Assembly etc.
I am currently still working and saving as much as I can, pulling in freelance work whenever time and energy permits.
I raises these points as I sincerely wish for you to understand that I'm not a person to ask for help and then do nothing. So along with your generous support of contributions, which I stress are only for my tuition fees, I intend to continue working alongside my masters degree to cover any and all other expenses to ensure my completion of the masters at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
(more information) A little about the masters
Put simply, Applied Theatre is an umbrella term, used to describe the use of theatre and drama skills for the purposes of teaching, bringing about social change and building a sense of community. It is usually done in non-traditional settings and/or with marginalized communities. It encompasses theatre practices which tackle areas of social and cultural policy such as public health, education, housing, social welfare, and juvenile and criminal justice.
This course I am undertaking, provides an opportunity to explore applied theatre via one of two specialist pathways: Drama in the Community and Drama Education or Drama and the Criminal Justice System. Each pathway is designed to support current practice at work, or a particular field of interest in applied theatre and drama.
I have been interested in this practice ever since I was an actor reborn about 5 years ago and started observing the potential of theatre to tackle issues and bring about change. Through my work with different groups of children and teenagers as a storyteller, drama facilitator and mentor, I have seen the positive effects of such a practice even through the cultivation of the simplest of skills. I found it fascinating and as a facilitator, I found it to be truly fulfilling - to be able to evoke a spark in an individual. This led me to search for a course that could help me hone and develop these skills further so that I may continue to embark on meaningful work.
The school (Source: http://tinyurl.com/jrpon2r)
I would appreciate all generous contributions, no matter how small you may think they are - they would mean the world to me. I am extremely excited by the prospect of doing this degree and if I get sufficient funds, I will be able to do so with ease and grace and without worrying too much about funding.
There are some rewards I am able to offer and I will be charting my progress on my page here at :
https://www.facebook.com/Varshini.Acts/ (FB page) & https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbRnHJTptQBbW9hrS... (YouTube channel) & upcoming website.
Thank you in advance for anything you feel you can contribute. I will be forever grateful!
Please do assist me to forward this to your friends, family, community and any other groups you may be affiliated with.
I am already filled with gratitude that I am able to access a platform like this to ask for help and I will no doubt, be deeply appreciative of any help. May you all receive abundant blessings and may joy and love always surround you.
With Love and Light,