Nine Years Theatre's Timothy Wan On Xenophobia, Demons and Lousy Chicken Rice

If a demon is to appear from the sea, what exactly would it do and what would you do? Perhaps the first few reactions might be fear, paranoia or simply the urge to kill it before it gets to you. But is it ever really that simple?

Most recently seen in Titoudao, The Tempest as well as Beauty World, Timothy Wan will be back on stage with Nine Years Theatre’s production of Red Demon by Noda Hideki. Tackling life’s biggest questions such as xenophobia and facing demons, here is what he has to say about it all.


Popspoken: What inspired you to be a theatre actor?

Timothy Wan: I remember watching Toy Factory’s Cabaret back when I was 17 years old, and I was spellbound, amazed, laughing, and crying all in the same evening. It was a complete experience of what good storytelling was, and it was incredibly moving on a very human level. I don’t think I realized it until a few years later, but that was the kind of experience that I wanted to bring to others when they came to watch something in the theatre. Right now, I think it’s what drives me to continue pursuing this craft.

Popspoken: Share with us a highlight of your career so far.

Timothy: Well, in 2015, I had the opportunity to perform a monologue titled White Soliloquy, which is a Mandarin monologue that tells the life story and experiences of Mr. Bai Yan, who is a veteran stage and screen actor in Singapore. The challenge of having to perform an entire show on my own, as well as experiencing and trying to re-live the sort of wonderful encounters he had gone through in his journey from China to Singapore, it was slightly overwhelming, and something that I don’t think I can ever forget for the rest of my life.

Popspoken: What is your opinion on xenophobia?

Timothy: I definitely think that it’s not surprising that people are afraid of difference. We are programmed in that way, in some sense. The thing that really seems be an issue now is that xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination seem to come in very unassuming and subtle forms. We might not realize it but things we say, or certain attitudes we take are actually bordering on discrimination. This, of course, is a huge problem when we live in a society where, I think, is becoming more and more diverse.

Popspoken: What is the one thing that might help curb this issue?

Timothy: I have a thing where I feel people on the streets are generally very afraid of making conversation with one another, especially because everyone’s a stranger in a sense. But I feel like if we dared to just say ‘hi’, or ‘how are you?’, it might be a game-changer. And this applies across races, and occupations, etc. I had a surprisingly nice conversation once that sparked off from thanking a construction worker who held the lift door for me.

Popspoken: Okay, tell us something about your character in this show Red Demon with NYT.

Timothy: My character in Red Demon could be described as a very mercenary sort of person. He’s not the most welcome amongst the community he lives in, but they tolerate him because he has something to offer them; whether it’s money, or information, or a service. That being said, he has an ideal that he believes very strongly in, and his main goal is to get out from where he lives, and try and fulfil his dream of making it big and striking it rich.

Popspoken: Would you say you are more similar or different from this onstage character? How so?

Timothy: I think I’m quite different from him, or at least I hope that I’m not exactly a mercenary person! But I do identify with the fact that he has a ideal or dream that he is working towards, and it doesn’t matter that other people don’t seem to believe that it might be possible. He continues to pursue it no matter what the detractors might say. Our dreams might be different, but I think that’s the attitude I would like to have towards my own pursuits in life.

Popspoken: If you can compare your character to a local dish, what would it be?

Timothy: He’s probably a lousy version of chicken rice. One of the ones that isn’t really great tasting, but you’d eat it because you don’t really have any other choice. A necessary evil.

Popspoken: Would you rather eat a demon or eat another man?

Timothy:  I have no idea how to answer this question! I suppose I’d eat a demon over another person, if I ever did see one.

Popspoken: If there is a creature (animal, demon, spirit, etc.) that you can communicate with. What would it be and why?

Timothy: I would love to be able to talk to dogs. I usually only get to play with the dogs that belong to my friends, but sometimes I can’t help but think that if they could speak, they’d probably tell me that they could understand everything that I’ve been saying to them.



Red Demon

Date: March 03 – 13, 2016
Venue: Drama Centre Black Box
Admission: $38 (General seating)

Photo Credit: Nine Years Theatre


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