Tan Shou Chen 陈寿臣 is a theatremaker from Singapore. His interests lie in the encounters between different cultures across time and space and the traverse between tradition and contemporary.
Making Theatre as a Performer
Picked by The Straits Times as one of S’pore’s 30 under 30 talents to look out for, Shou Chen has tackled leading and supporting roles in numerous critically acclaimed productions. Selected theatre credits include: The Reunification of Two Koreas (2018, TheatreWorks and Centre Dramatique National de Tours (CDNT); ‘Tung Chih’ opposite Kit Chan in Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress (2017); Itsy The Musical (2017); Grandmother Tongue by W!LD Rice (2018, 2017, 2016); Treasure Island by SRT The Little Company (2015); Rising Son by The Singapore Repertory Theatre (2014); Dreamplay: Asian Boys: Volume 1 by W!LD Rice (2013) ; Ashputtel, The Story of Cinderella (2012); 远角Afar, by Drama Box and The Perfection of 10, by Sean Tobin, both for the Esplanade Theatre Studios 2012 season; Fabian in Twelfth Night by Singapore Repertory Theatre (2012); Bao in Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Little Company’s original George Stiles and Anthony Drewe musical Three Little Pigs (2012); Chong Tze Chien’s Charged (2010, 2011) Dill in Toy Factory’s rendition of To Kill A Mocking Bird (2010); Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses (COLLAB, 2010); Cheng in W!LD Rice’s Cinderel-lah (2010); a main cast in Chestnuts Does Christmas (2009), part of that performance went viral with the youtube video of the “12 Days of Ris-mas”; the lead role of Prince Anura in I Theatre’s exuberant production of Duck and Dive (2009); Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, part of the S’pore Arts Festival ’08; the title role of The Hypochondriac (2008) and Gabriel in Mad Forest (2007), both as a pioneer member of the award-winning young & W!LD by WI!D RICE; The Necessary Stage’s Off Centre (2007); The Arts House production of A Broadway Christmas Carol (2005) and W!LD RICE’s Landmarks: Asian Boys Vol 2 (2004).
Making Theatre as a Director
Regarded as a promising emerging director, Shou Chen’s works are known to evoke the epic – a narrative form that tells how moments of valour spark moments of transformation. His interests lie in the encounters between different cultures across Time and Space and the traverse between tradition and contemporary.
In 2020, during the COVID pandemic, Shou Chen directed theatre-based works designed for the digital medium. His Singapore International Festival of the Arts v20.20 A Bird Calls You to Moscow (2020), featuring an original radio play by Joel Tan paired with the music of Rachmaninov was very well-received. With Seven Eight Musical Collective, he reimagined what a musical cabaret could be on the Zoom platform with The Box (2020), a choose-your-own adventure experience with a hybrid ‘live’ element. In the middle of Singapore’s Circuit Breaker lockdown, Shou Chen acted in Jo Tan’s digital commission Coronologues (2020) for the Singapore Repertory Theatre. He also co-created and facilitated workshops with The Doodle People’s Timothi Lim to help performance makers bridge the digital divide and to imagine new ways of creating.
His opera work, Orestes by Ifigenia, was an original interpretation of George Friederich Handel’s Baroque opera Orestes (Singapore International Festival of the Arts 2019 commission).
In 2018, he was commissioned to direct 13.13.13. and original script by Shen Tan for Theatreworks (SG). It was part of the international company’s main stage 2018 season. For the company, he has also directed a community tour called Mixed.
Shou Chen began his work as a director with the inaugural The Substation’s Directors’ Lab 2013, under mentors Jeremiah Choy (Orange Dot), Tua Pradit Prasartthong (Annata Theatre Troupe, Bangkok), Alvin Tan (The Necessary Stage), and Danny Yung (Zuni Icosahedron, Hong Kong). He chose to present a staging of Euripedes’ Medea as his first directorial work. Since then, he directed the NUS Arts Festival opening show in 2015, Words and Music featuring music by Jeremy Monteiro and book by Wang Liansheng and a dramatised reading of Singapore’s first English language plays under The Esplanade Studios 50. His subsequent directorial work, for the NUS Arts Festival 2016, Now Then Again by Penny Penniston, was received with accolades.
Shou Chen received the National Arts Council Creation Grant in 2016, with which he created a cross-city original play called Open Waters with Bangkok artist Jaturachai Srichanwapen. The international collaboration was residenced at Democrazy Theatre Studio (BKK) and Centre 42 (SG). It was also seen at the Bangkok Theatre Festival 2017, and selected for a work-in-progress showing at the BTF Asia Focus 2017 (BKK).
Shou Chen was a resident artist at the HANGAR Centro de Investigaçāo Artistica in Lisbon, Portugal (Summer, 2019) and continues to seek new ways to see and work outside of his ken. He thrives on the interaction and encounters with artists from different disciplines and cultural contexts.
Seen and Heard
On TV, Shou Chen played Terence on the hit drama Faculty (Mediacorp Channel 5). He is also known as Joshua Tan in the MediaCorp Channel 5 sit-com Rules of Tham (directed by Gavin Lim), which also stars Kimberly Chia, Joakim Gomez Erin Lim and Edwin Goh. Other selected TV and film credits include: MediaCorp’s Channel 5 Code of Law (S1) (guest starred in feature role Lawrence Tan, Episode 7, directed by Ler, 2012), Love and Other Bad Habits 爱与其它坏习惯 as JJ opposite Zoe Tay, Chen Hanwei, and Kym Ng (directed by TJ Lee); the musical Movie Poster (directed by Yenn Teo, part of How We Met); Boo Junfeng’s Pink Dot 2011 video; and more.
Shou Chen is also a well-known voice in Singapore. As a DJ/producer-presenter for then WKRZ91.3FM, he co-hosted a regular evening show and produced current affair segments for the English music radio station. As a voice over talent, his work can be heard in commercials, and documentaries. A particularly memorable character he had the privilege of voicing was the lead role of Singa (Possibicity) in the 2007 National Day Parade. As a host, he is comfortable in both intimate and large crowds. Hosting credits include: NTUC May Day Rally (2006); F&N and BRAND’S Media Events (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012) to name a few.
Creating Bridges for Art and Industry
Shou Chen is also a communications strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing, communications and media. He applies his experience to enable marketers to support the arts better.
Shou Chen has devised integrated communication campaigns for clients. These include government bodies, non-profit arts and blue chip MNCs. As a digital media specialist with a firm understanding of communication strategy, Shou Chen has hands-on experience in developing and managing the social media engagement drive of blue chip FMCG brands.
Shou Chen has written the curriculum for Marketing the Arts and Leisure Services course at the National University of Singapore Theatre Studies department, and a tertiary-level social media strategy course at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) for executive adult learners pursuing a marketing degree. Shou Chen has also taught communications at the National University of Singapore Department of Communications and New Media.
Shou Che has a BA in Psychology from Boston University and a Masters in Communications Management from University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication. He started out in communications as a producer-presenter and broadcast journalist with WKRZ91.3FM first, before serving as an account director with an agency. He continues to apply his background in psychology and communication theory in the rehearsal room, and in the works he creates for the theatre. He routinely uses dramatic practices to improve communication processes.
Shou Chen serves on the Board of Directors for Teater Ekamatra.
Full CV is available.