The Play Den is an Arts Education Co-operative, part of StageArts Academy, which promotes involvement with creative individuals in particular and the arts community in general. It may sound like the space only caters to adults but that’s not the case at all. The Play Den offers a variety of child-centered programmes such as Creative Drama, Drama Tots, Kids Yoga, Kids Zumba, Musical Theatre, Singing, Storytelling, Creative Writing and Dance, encouraging creative juices to flow, boosting public speaking skills and instilling self-confidence. Here, we speak with resident drama teacher Asha to learn more about this wonderful initiative.



How does StageArts Academy differ from other drama schools?

StageArts Academy aims to make Arts Education relevant and accessible to the community. We use strategies of drama and other integrated arts as an educational vehicle to deliver a wide variety of programmes. We run programmes in schools and organisations as well as at our studio, The Play Den. Our team of highly qualified arts educators and curriculum planners ensure that each programme is crafted to suit the client. We do not believe in cookie-cutter programmes and take a lot of pride in developing customised ones using the Arts. We have successfully brought Drama-based training into tertiary institutions, VWOs, SMEs and even the Armed Forces.



What has been the inspiration behind The Play Den?

The Play Den is the brainchild of a team of like-minded arts educators who envisioned a creative space dedicated to Arts Education. There are many studios out there that run their own programmes and hire teachers to deliver their programmes. However, at The Play Den, we operate like a co-operative and open our doors to capable and qualified arts educators who need a creative space to explore, teach and learn. The Play Den serves as a point of confluence for ideas to come together and take form. As such, enthusiasts of the arts, parents and young learners have a huge variety of quality Arts based programmes to choose from. Our programmes are crafted, curated and then delivered by professionals and also focus a lot on process and not just product.



Why did you choose your current location?

We wanted a space that exudes the Singaporean essence. We are located in a quaint neighborhood in the midst of the Kovan/Hougang vicinity. This is one of our ways of making Arts Education accessible to everyone and to inspire many from the community to engage in and explore it.


Through what methods do artists, trainers and teachers connect at The Play Den?

Artists, teachers and trainers are free to get in touch with The Play Den team to discuss their creative ideas. We provide them with a conducive space to develop their ideas and to deliver their programmes. We at The Play Den provide ample support for the facilitation of their classes/workshops/programmes. At present we have programmes such as the DramaTots Playgroup, Creative Drama for tots, tweens and teens, KidsYoga, KidsZumba, Creative Writing, Creative Communication, Musical Theatre and Creative Movement. We often hold interactive storytelling sessions, playscript reading sessions and specialised workshops for children, adults, educators and parents.



What kind of feedback have you received in terms of the courses/classes/events/performances?

Our unique programmes have garnered great feedback over the years. Our process-based approaches are well received by many and we are glad to slowly build a community of people who recognise the importance of creative processes and not just classes that culminate in a showcase or performance. In all our programmes, a performance or showcase is always presented as part of the learning process.


What have been some unusual performances held at The Play Den?

We would rather not call them unusual but out of the box! We have not hosted a performance so far but we have hosted many rehearsals and small scale showcases of work-in-progress. Our regular programmes are very unique too. For example, our KidsYoga programme integrates music and movement, storytelling and even visual arts to make yoga relevant and accessible to children so that they benefit from the programme to the fullest.



Have you been approached by both local and international schools for drama programmes and how do their requests differ?

Yes! Many local schools want a performance at the end of a couple of weeks however many international schools prefer to put students through process led work and not focus too much on putting up a performance. There is a big difference between Drama and Theatre. Drama is process driven and Theatre is product driven. We have the resources to deliver both types but make sure the schools’ objectives and our visions are in line.


What does the future hold for Stage Arts Academy in general and The Play Den specifically?

We aim to reach out to many more people through the Arts, to engage and educate people through the many great aspects of the Arts. We want to ensure Arts Education is relevant and extremely accessible to anyone and everyone. To us, it is as essential as any other subject and needs to be readily available to anyone who has a keen interest to learn. We are also looking forward to setting up a few more branches of The Play Den.