HCAC Spotlight: Tanvi Kothary

“…when people ask me what I do for a living, I sometimes say I live for a living!”

In this month’s HCAC Spotlight, meet… Tanvi Kothary. Tanvi has been a frequent face in recent months at HCAC, joining many of HCAC’s workshops & events since June 2016. As we shine a spotlight on Tanvi, she ascends into a reflective mode about her journey in 2016 and beyond.

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1.  Hey Tanvi! Tell us a little more about yourself. 

Hello there, thanks for popping by! My name’s Tanvi Kothary and I am currently on an experimental year to rediscover many things in my life. At current, I have my hands in a few places but am heavily focussed on my creative pursuits. Aside from my training at HCAC, I am learning how to play the sexy saxophone, writing about my solo travels around India, editing a script and a few videos I randomly shot (with a durian as the lead!). I’m also in the midst of researching a few ideas I have in mind. I am also trying my hands (or rather my legs) at skateboarding and am perfecting my tennis swings.

In mid-January 2017, you will see me and 8 magnificent women making their return to stage with The Creation of My Body, a devised theatre piece created right here at HCAC, with the amazing Giovanni Ortega as director. This was my first production in 2016 and I am really stoked getting together with the rest of the crew to stage it again. I have also just landed my first ever role in a short and am also looking forward to savour that new experience.

Other than that, this is a real hard question for me as I am in a lot of things at this point in time and then none of those things at the next point in time. I however see myself as a lifelong learner, a dreamer as well as an explorer at the very core of my heart, which might be why when people ask me what I do for a living. Well, I sometimes say I live for a living! That’s what I truly do!

2. Tell us more about the classes you took here at HCAC?

The first class I took with HCAC was Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting Introduction with Kamil Haque (HCAC’s founder) in mid-2016 and I have been on a roll since then! I’ve taken Directing for Beginners with Toby Papazoglou, The Art of Short Scripts with Sarah Howell and a whole lot more.

I come from a primary and secondary school that was strong in its arts curriculum and I received quite a few opportunities to be involved in the performing arts scene at school. However, after those formative years, I don’t think those opportunities were so prevalent and my involvement soon became a once in a while thing. However, a year or two ago, my school friend encouraged me to relook at the performing arts and recommended HCAC to kick start that exploration. Her encouragement came at perfect timing as it was something I was already thinking about when she mentioned it. I had kept it at the back of my head and the right timing to execute that came this year. After a chat with Kamil and an audit of a class, we worked out that the Lee Strasberg’s Introduction and Creation of My Body would be a good space to start off. After that workshop, my curiosity about the other classes was a natural progression. I decided to jump into the other workshops to satisfy that curiosity and the rest as they say is history, or rather history in the making!

“…being ‘lost’ is just part of my own discovery…”

4. Tell us about your experience of learning in these workshops.

Wow, this is such a hard question just because I was involved in quite a few workshops and each workshop was so different from each other in its experience. As a whole though, I am truly amazed of what I have learnt and achieved in a span of 8 weeks (or less for some workshops) and am very appreciative that the contents of most workshops were very comprehensive, both in breath and depth. Whilst feeding me with the bones and structure of each art form, I was inspired to go beyond into the deep end of what I didn’t know. I was definitely very much stimulated emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and creatively.

Quite a lot of times, I was lost in class, which I have now discovered that being “lost” is just part of my own discovery. But my peers and facilitators were very understanding of that and assisted me in any questions I had (even when at times I didn’t know what the question was) and they were very supportive to let that discovery ferment.

5. How much did you change from when you first joined the course to when it ended.

I wouldn’t say that I have changed but I have most certainly evolved and grown as a person. I took the classes at a time when I was already on a path of greater self-awareness and understanding of my own self on a conscious level (on a sidenote, I think discovery of the self is a lifelong process). My first class, Lee Strasberg Introduction, informed me so much about myself and that came to me as a surprise because I didn’t expect to learn about myself in an acting class. However, I realise that for an actor, knowing thyself is really very important and it is just the start for me. Sequentially, the other classes also brought about layers of unearthing and it has been so precious.

In addition, I have also come to understand that because I am an explorer, it will only be natural I will be “lost” before I come to that sweetness. Everyone has their own processes and from this understanding of my process, I have become more confident in my own process and this is something I am also better able to assert. 

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Tanvi performing Spoken Word at Destination:INK [Photo Credit: Striking Pixels]

6. Do you feel like what you have learnt from these workshops are applicable or helpful to your life beyond? 

I think a natural by-product of being part of the creative expression is that one becomes more tuned in with the ‘you’ as a person and also in tune with other people and being social creatures, this is a very important skill to sharpen.

In addition, I have learnt that the importance of a solid preparation, be it through as something as simple as just relaxing, cannot be underplayed or downplayed at all for that solid performance. At times, when I have not given due attention to that preparation phase, I have seen “game time” suffer unnecessarily. I am more aware and convinced of setting a good amount of time for preparation in the other aspects of my life for sure.

8. What makes HCAC… HCAC?

Without HCAC, there’d be no HCAC community and without a HCAC community, there’d be no HCAC.

You know there is something magical in the air when people of a common purpose come together and create something out of nothing. From my experiences with HCAC in the past 6 months, I think HCAC has incubated a positive, supportive and encouraging environment for people of all walks of life interested in the creative arts (be it as a profession, a calling, a passion or a hobby) to come together and to nurture and grow themselves collectively and individually in their craft. An informal space that is home even after workshops end and where people just come together to discuss their ideas and just experiment around.

The peers I have met in class and through the strong alumni network presence and also the HCAC administrative associates are just so diverse, talented and dynamic that it is so hard not to get infected with oodles of energy and free flow unfiltered discussions of ideas, as random as they may be. A bunch that is dedicated towards their craft and who have a genuine interest and desire to help others as much as possible by openly sharing their knowledge and skills. We are more than people who have just met at HCAC. We have actually formed a bond with each other. I think the community is vested in the well-being of each other.

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Tanvi playing the saxophone at The Art of Short Scripts: Table Reading in 2016.

9. Would you like to share anything else?

After joining the HCAC community, I’ve gotten the opportunity to be in 2 productions, competed in The Singapore Monologue Slam, been part of a photoshoot, told my story of Loss at the Singapore Writers Festival, wrote 2 very different scripts, emceed for a non-profit organisation and played my saxophone in front of an audience. I mean which novice gets opportunities to exponentially grow like this?!

As I write this, I know of so so many people whom I would like to thank for directly and indirectly, knowingly and unknowingly, attributed towards shaping and moulding me. This space, however, will respectfully not be enough to express the gratitude that I have towards each one of you. I am however truly humbled by the support received and I look forward for us to be part of each other’s journey

Nostalgically, a quote comes to mind and I hope it resonates and motivates you too as we welcome 2017:

“If you are aligned and in tune with your life’s purpose, then your dreams and desires will be visions of what you are to become.” – Robin A. Roberts