March 17, 2009

Spotlight on. . . Shinn-Rong Chung!

Shinn-Rong Chung is second-year MFA in Acting student who is currently playing Mr. Meyers in Spinning Into Butter. Some of his recent roles include the cab driver in Harvey and Firs in The Cherry Orchard. He grew up in Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan. Shinn-Rong moved to Ontario to study when he was a teenager, and he received a BFA in interdisciplinary studies from York University. His initial goal was to become a children’s storyteller, but after his college introductory dance class, he felt led to be a dancer. He went on to complete a training program in modern dance, and spend a few years working with renowned Canadian choreographers such as Karen Jamieson and Cornelius Fisher-Credo. During a short-term mission trip to Taiwan, he experienced a spiritual renewal through the works of Ya Tong Theatre Company. Sensing a clear calling, Shinn-Rong joined Ya Tong in 1998, and for the past seven years he has served as the artistic director of the company.

Ya Tong (lit: “Asia East”) Theatre Company grew out of the Ya Tong Technical College Christian Fellowship. Founded by playwright Joy Chu in 1980 as a drama ministry to reach out the college students, the company later gained a national reputation after winning ten theatre awards from Taiwan’s council for cultural affairs. Since then, Ya Tong has performed all over Taiwan and toured 28 countries. Throughout the years, Ya Tong has sought to maintain its mission to address the social and spiritual needs of the contemporary era by presenting programs from a Christian worldview. In pursuit of the highest standards of truth and aesthetic, Joy started to pray about the possibility of coming to Regent’s theatre program in 1998. But when she passed away in 2002, Ya Tong underwent a period of turmoil. It wasn’t until a few years later that the company regained its vision and continued to pursue this possibility.

Shinn-Rong is grateful to be in the MFA acting program. About his experience in the program so far, he says: “I feel the program provides exactly what I need – building the skill and craft to do the best work I can. I came to Regent with the belief that Regent places great emphasis on artistic excellence, moral integrity and faith-art integration, and what I have experienced confirms that. It’s just such a wonderful privilege to study with highly professional artists who care about doing excellent work and presenting truth.”

Last summer, Ya Tong hosted drama workshops in four different cities in Taiwan for over 100 theatre artists. Shinn-Rong and his fellow MFA classmate Kaja Dunn taught many workshops based on the teaching and techniques they have learned during their training at Regent. The overwhelming response that these participants had was how much these techniques really made sense to them and how practical they were. Shinn-Rong commented, “It’s so wonderful to be able to share with those you love, and this is part of the Regent blessings.”

This summer the Ya Tong team will be joining Shinn-Rong, his wife Amana, and their daughter Isabella for a tour in the U.S. and Canada. They have been invited by the Chinese churches and communities in over a dozen cities to present theatre programs and conduct workshops. The next few years will be a crucial time for Ya Tong as it takes bold steps to fulfill the dream of producing Chinese Broadway musicals and plays and making an impact among the Chinese speaking population. For Shinn-Rong, in spite of the economic hardship and constant challenges, God has provided Regent as a place of revitalization, equipping and waiting upon the Lord. God has been so good, and Shinn-Rong thanks all of the faculty and staff who give of themselves to make Regent such an amazing place.

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