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T. Sasitharan

Co-founder & Director, Intercultural Theatre Institute (Singapore)

T. Sasitharan is the co-founder and Director of Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI), an independent theatre school for contemporary artists. The theatre artist, educator, cultural critic and arts activist is widely recognised as a thought leader on arts and cultural development in Singapore.

Sasi has led two of Singapore’s most notable arts institutions. He was Artistic Director of The Substation between 1996 and 2000, and then together with the late Kuo Pao Kun, went on to conceive and establish the Theatre Training & Research Programme (TTRP) in 2000, which today has become ITI.

The professional actor training programme has been lauded for its unique intercultural methodology that encompasses a matrix of traditional Asian theatre systems and contemporary theatre forms, with broad exposure to different cultures and languages. It aims to produce critically and socially engaged artists who make original theatre that embraces the values of cultural and social diversity, and celebrates humanity and life.

For more than 30 years, Sasi has been actively involved as a performer and producer in the theatre scene. One of Singapore’s finest actors, he has performed in more than 25 plays directed by Singaporeans Chandra Lingam, Max Le Blond, Ong Keng Sen and Kuo Pao Kun. He appeared in seminal local productions such as Kuo’s No Parking on Odd Days (1986) and Mama Looking for Her Cat (1988), as well as The Island and Sizwe Bansi is Dead (1983) directed by Le Blond.

Sasi has also been deeply engaged in the arts and culture discourse in Singapore. After teaching Philosophy at the National University of Singapore for more than five years, he was at The Straits Times as the theatre and visual art critic as well as the arts editor for “Life!” from 1988 to 1996. He is often invited to lecture on arts and culture, theatre training and education, theatre criticism, aesthetics and creativity, in Singapore and abroad at universities, conferences, forums and other platforms. He was the keynote speaker at the 2010 World Arts Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a speaker at the 2011 Asia Intangible Cultural Heritage Performing Arts Forum in Hong Kong. He has also written on these subjects and his essays, commentaries and reviews have been published locally and overseas.

A champion for a sustainable arts and cultural environment for Singapore in the long term, Sasi played a large role in the arts community’s push for an Arts Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) and drive against censorship in 2009. He was also one of the original drafters of the Arts Manifesto in 2013.

Sasi was awarded Singapore’s Cultural Medallion in 2012 for his contribution to theatre and the arts.