Guest Post: Only the resilient are free

Elizabeth Kow (BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2017) is a live artist, director, educator and entrepreneur based in Singapore. Her most recent solo live artwork was ‘Jiak Kan Tang’, which she performed in Singapore in January 2018. She is also the co-founder of Thereabouts Theatre and directed their debut performance ‘Set Apart’ in March 2018.

Currently, Elizabeth is a freelance teacher in secondary schools, providing theatre training to teenagers and creating performances with them. In her spare time, she works on business development for The Red Stop, a start-up that aims to provide quality goods and services catered to arts and entertainment professionals in Singapore. Find out more about Elizabeth’s work.

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Freedom – this is what most people of my generation seek for; a goal so highly prized that we would exchange and sacrifice the most essential material needs for it. Freedom was something that I wanted when I decided to apply to Goldsmiths for my degree, and what a life-changing decision it has been.

My experiences at Goldsmiths have laid the foundation for my journey in finding freedom – freedom to experiment, make mistakes, learn and define myself as an artist.

As a student, I felt that there was a good balance of hands-on and hands-off experiences. Even though there were times where I was very puzzled by how hands-off some of my experiences were, I am very glad now that I had gone through that because as an independent artist you have to figure everything out on your own.

Liz KowStudying at Goldsmiths pushed me to be very open-minded and accepting of all things, whether they were good or bad. I struggled a lot in my first year; I was an international student who had never lived abroad before, I had to earn money for rent and expenses in a country whose working culture I was very unfamiliar with, and at the same time immerse myself and get used to university life.

Being a Goldsmiths student enabled me to be in an environment of resilient individuals, who were going through similar experiences or had already done so, which encouraged me to persevere. Even now, when I feel moments of insecurity and self-doubt, I just recall all that I learnt at Goldsmiths and reassure myself that I have the strength and determination to be better, do better, overcome failure better and achieve my goals.

The most important lesson that I have learnt since I began working is that proving your worth to others depends on how much you value yourself. Indeed, finding value in my ideas, my work and myself is an on-going struggle. Being an artist is a struggle, period. But I am trying to find meaning in this struggle to keep myself going, doing the same as all the other artists I learnt about at Goldsmiths did.

Attending the BA Drama and Theatre Arts course at Goldsmiths exposed me to a myriad of artistic concepts, practices and genres. Having both a balance of academic and practice-based training currently helps my development as an artist. This two-fold approach to performance-making enables me to stay informed and relevant so that the work I make is not just significant for myself but for others as well.

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After graduation, I moved back to my home country, Singapore. Since then I have been creating solo live art performances, co-founded a site-specific dance theatre company called Thereabouts Theatre, worked as a freelance drama teacher in secondary schools and have recently started developing an online theatre goods and services business. One highlight of all the work that I have been doing so far was directing ‘Set Apart’, the debut performance for my company Thereabouts Theatre. Currently, I am planning the next performance for the company as well as my next solo live art performance.

May we all continue to be resilient and find freedom amidst our struggles.