An Interview with MA Creative Producing Student Khai Ramli | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Congratulations to Central student Khai Ramli, who has been selected for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s Emerging Producers Development Progamme.

The programme is a creative and professional development programme designed for emerging UK based producers who are interested in using the Fringe as a platform for their on-going career development.  It is run by the Fringe Society, supported by the British Council, and aims to support emerging UK producers expand their professional networks and develop their learning and creative insight at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Khai began her studies with Central in 2018 on the MA Creative Producing course.  During her time at the School, she was responsible for establishing the Asian Cultural Appreciation Society (ACAS)Open to everyone at Central – whether they identify as Asian, make Asian work or want to learn more about Asian arts and culture – ACAS functions on a knowledge exchange basis by providing a platform for Asian artists or artists who make Asian work and providing opportunities for everyone interested in learning more about theatre, performance and culture from across the globe. 

Throughout the year, Khai and ACAS hosted a series of events at Central including performances, workshops, networking events and activities such as dumpling making sessions sponsored by local restaurants.  The Society also worked closely with Central’s library to present an exhibition of 75 specially curated books about Asian theatre and performance including but not limited to scenography, puppetry, and actor coaching.

The year’s events culminated with ACAS FEST, the inaugural festival celebrating Central’s Asian - identifying artists from across different disciplines of art.

Through her work with both the Creative Producing Course and as the founder and organiser of ACAS, Khai made a successful proposal to organise a dedicated festival to celebrate Asian arts and culture at Rich Mix in Shoreditch.  She is now working on curating a Festival to showcase artists from across the Asian diaspora.

We sat down with Khai to talk about her studies, her work to establish Central’s Asian Cultural Appreciation Society, and what’s next in her practice… including her forthcoming trip to Edinburgh:

1) Why did you decide to study for your MA at Central?  

Coming to Central was an investment in myself. I chose Central because of the number of international students at the School, the course outline which is so rich in resources, the list of industry links and the opportunity to work with them and, of course, the inspirational (alumna) Sarah McBriar.

2) What has been the highlight of your year of study?

Meeting Jessica Bowles, my course leader. I have never met anyone so passionate, empathetic and patient, and she gives so much to the students on Creative Producing - her time, her listening ears … Having her as our course leader was one of the top highlights of my year of study. 

The school has a very strong SU President, and I think Holly is such a fantastic person. She gives more than 100% serving the students, and her team (like Laura, Sian & Valentina) are lovely and make sure every society gets time and space in the school. 

That brings me to ACAS (the Asian Cultural Appreciation Society). There are a lot of Asian students at Central, and I am so glad I have met a handful through establishing this society. Whether they were part-time, undergraduate, MA or MFA students, the society informed my practice as a Creative Producer by bringing everyone together to share stories, resources and networks. Being able to organise events for students and emerging artists at Central, acquiring partnerships and sponsorships for the society, and curating a festival as a part of ACAS was a rewarding practice for me as a Producer. 

3) In January 2020, you will be involved in setting up a Festival at Rich Mix.  Tell us more!

I proposed a speculative festival to Rich Mix as a part of Central’s Creative Entrepreneur unit in Term 1 of last year. Rich Mix was keen on the idea, and the Head of Programming there gave me some dates to look at in order to help make it a reality. I'm now curating and producing a festival early next year that will be held at Rich Mix.  It will house and platform Asian artists from many different regions who are all based in London, and it will be an even bigger version of the ACAS FEST that I organised at Central in May 2019. 

4)  What was the most rewarding thing about your involvement in ACAS? 

The people. I opened the society for them, and the reward has been seeing people form relationships and take a break from their assessments/assignments and decide to attend one of the society’s many events. Without this society, I would never have met so many different people from the other Asian diasporas. I would not have met amazing people from different backgrounds working on different genres of theatre/performance. I always tell myself that my phonebook has 'culturally' increased from when I first got here. I know Central's artists/students from East, Central, West, and North Asia . . . and of course, my fellow Singaporeans. 

5)  What's next for you?

This question scares me a bit, as there’s the pressure to live up to the challenges that I’ve set for myself (which are a lot… I'm a workaholic!).  For now, what's next is to stay grounded and work within my means. Self-care is so important, but we never get a chance to practice it (it's still a work in progress for me). 

I have a few projects lined up for this year and next, and I am really excited, nervous, scared and all kinds of other emotions rolled into one.

I am presenting two new devised works in August this year.  One is a collaboration with my husband, who is an MA Performance Making Student at Goldsmiths, and which is called Siapa Yang Bawa Melayu Aku Pergi? (Who took My Malay Away?).  The piece talks about a Malay man who has come to teach the people about Jawi, the Arabic script that was previously used by his Malay people, whilst he laments the loss of his culture and identity.  It was first performed at Barrel Organ's Live 10 at Camden People's Theatre, as well as at Homegrown Festival at the Battersea Arts Centre.  This August, we will be presenting it as a work in progress at the Park Theatre as a part of their Prism Project.

The next work I am producing is “The Cardboard Kitchen Project”, with FK Co-Lab this August as a part of the Camden Fringe Festival. FK Co-Lab is an emerging theatre collective that I have formed with a fellow Central student from the Advanced Theatre Practice course. It's the first time we’re collaborating together, and we are very excited to have most of our creatives and production team be comprised of current students and alumni of Central. An all-female-led powerhouse of talent!

In the same month, I will be going up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a recipient of the Emerging Producing Development Programme. Next year, I am co-producing a few projects alongside Isobel Hawson from On Tour Ltd. which are set to tour in the Spring of 2020. 

Exciting times ahead!

With many thanks to ACAS's sponsors: Bombay Burrito, Old Chang Kee, Rasa Sayang, and Noodle Oodles.

Khai Ramli - Headshot

 

FK Co-Lab is an emerging theatre collective that I have formed with a fellow Central student from the Advanced Theatre Practice course. It's the first time we’re collaborating together, and we are very excited to have most of our creatives and production team be comprised of current students and alumni of Central. An all-female-led powerhouse of talent!

Khai Ramli