Life is a Stage

By Shanghai Family 2019-05-29 11:20:36

We speak to Forrina Chen, founder and director of A.S.K. (Arts Space for Kids)


What inspires you to work in a city like Shanghai ?

This is a very interesting question. Although Shanghai is not my favorite city, it is my hometown. I was born in Shanghai and am proud of my roots. Despite all the traffic, it is a great city to work in, full of dynamics and opportunities. People are full of hunger and are searching for interesting and unique experiences. Shanghai is the place where high quality arts are valued. That is the most significant part for me.


Why do you feel Shanghai is a conducive environment to teach drama?

Shanghai is the international cultural center of China and is widely known for its openness to International collaboration. I was greatly inspired by Denmark where art centers work very closely within the educational sphere. Now the value of the arts and theater has become increasingly recognized in Shanghai. We introduced 60 international companies to China and currently have 70,000 supporters. We have also received more demands from schools to open drama classes for them. Thankfully, Shanghai is a very perceptive city that is ready to learn and improve all the time.


Why do you think children’s education should be supplemented with drama?

Participating in theater not only teaches you how to better present yourself on stage and builds your confidence, it also improves your ability to collaborate and improves your problem solving by creating a show together. In schools, most of the time we learn facts, but theater can help to build social skills needed to thrive in society. Theater encourages children to be more expressive and helps kids find an alternative way to learn about their world. You can learn a lot through reading and listening, but it is essential we experience dancing, singing and acting. From my experience, theater is always a fun and playful outlet that kids love.


How has drama benefitted you in your life, particularly in Shanghai?

Arts and drama to me is not a form, but a window. I love arts and drama, not because I want to be an artist or a performer, but because I want to help people explore more about themselves and discover more about the world. Every time I’ve watched a production or have worked in a production, I always learn new things and make new friends. My world feels like a rainbow and I have been fortunate to always find new interesting colors.


How do you foresee the future in Shanghai regarding arts and drama?

When we have more money, we need more arts to comfort our fatigue. When we have less money, we also need arts to elevate our spirits. Theater and drama will never die. It is the powerhouse to our spirit. At the moment, I think the power of arts and drama is underestimated. People now regard drama and arts as simply entertainment. But it can do so much more. I am very optimistic about the future because when you see how theater influences kids’ behavior, how theater makes them more confident, patient, caring and stronger, and how it teaches them the importance of camaraderie via games, you will rethink your preconceptions and want to step into this magic yourself!