MA Musical Theatre graduate Eu Jin Hwang recently concluded performing on the worldwide tour of The King and I, a production encompassing more than 200 performance dates all over the world. Originally from Singapore, Eu Jin moved to Glasgow in 2016, taking his life a step in a very different direction. After twenty years pursuing a successful corporate career, Eu Jin decided to take the plunge and apply to study musical theatre in the UK.
“I’d always been involved in theatre. My first experience of theatre was seeing Les Miserables on Broadway after that I was hooked.
“At the age of 40, I found myself working as a Senior Consultant in Asia at a global logistics company. I loved my job but after 20 years I realised that although my career and my passion for theatre looked very different, they both came down to how I connected and communicated with people. I decided to take a 15 month sabbatical and explore musical theatre. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”
After applying to and receiving offers from drama schools in both the UK and US, Eu Jin chose to come to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Having always wanted to live in Scotland, it seemed like everything was falling into place for him.
“The MA Musical Theatre programme here was perfect for me. It’s such a unique programme it’s really not only just about the notes you hit, or getting your choreography right”¦the teachers have created a programme where the individual is at the centre, and you spend the year discovering what you want your art to mean to the world.
“During my studies we performed a cabaret, where you had to devise your own 30-minute concert. My cabaret was about how we are exactly where we’re meant to be right now.”
“I was 43 when I did the programme and I completely believe that I was supposed to be there, in Glasgow, at that moment in my life. The response to my cabaret piece reinforced my belief that I had chosen the right path.”
A highlight of the MA Musical Theatre programme is a month-long stint at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, an opportunity that allows RCS students to perform in front of thousands of audience members from across the world. It is also an extremely intensive process that closely replicates what is required of performers in the professional industry.
“The Edinburgh audiences were amazing we performed 11 shows a week for the month of August. For student performers, it’s like a month-long showcase; everyone is there in the city.
“It’s an intense experience, we performed Into the Woods and two platform pieces created by Noisemaker. There were no covers for anyone; we had to make sure we stayed fit and took care of ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally. It really made me examine my own internal self-care practice, and I feel I finished the month with a stronger and more robust professional healthy inner life practice.
“I used the time after graduation to reflect on what was important to me. I spent time with my family and I focused energy on further deepening my own healthy inner life practice. I reached out and began working with fellow actors to develop their own healthy inner life practice, and I plan to develop this into a curriculum that is available to all performing arts students in the UK and around the world. While in Singapore, I also collaborated with fellow RCS alumni to put on our own cabaret; I auditioned for work and set about building a career as an actor. All that time, I was constantly learning, constantly reflecting, constantly deepening my practice and reflecting on my practice. When the opportunity to audition for The King and I tour came up, I was absolutely ready for it.
“I’ve been on tour now for 11 months and the learning journey has been priceless. I’m in the ensemble and cover four different roles, including the King and the Prime Minister.
“When I found out the tour was coming to Glasgow and, for those dates, I would be covering the role of Prime Minister I was ecstatic. It just felt so right it felt like I was coming home.”