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The Asylum

A year-long residential training program in intercultural performance-making.


10 theatre artists across the departments of performance and design will travel across Indonesia, Taiwan and Japan and  live communally in 5ToMidnight’s partnered spaces. They will train rigorously in the craft of performance, dramaturgy and devising new work in conjunction with local communities and artists. The year is divided into 3 eight-week long training semesters, each in a different country, and in the final twelve-week semester, will be given free reign to take up residence in any of the three countries to produce a new work.


5ToMidnight holds training as a theatre artist to be of the highest priority in building the life of an artist. However, the current system of freelancing as an artist causes a theatre-maker’s training to be sporadic and inconsistent, often having to balance short-term workshops with making a living. Many artists, particularly across Asia end up with long periods of inactivity in the arts, instead having to work part-time jobs in between projects or only attending short-term workshops to improve their skills. We believe that constant revision, exploration and application are necessary to keep the artist’s tools at prime condition, which translates into the creation of more work and therefore a more robust arts scene both locally and internationally.

Therefore, The Asylum is created to provide the artist’s basic needs such as food, accommodation and travel, while being a platform to train, explore and create new work on a daily basis. Without the burden of daily needs, the artists are fully able to focus on their development and invest the necessary time into developing their skills and creative processes. The objective is to allow them greater independence at the end of the program to work and function in their respective arts scenes as contributors and creators, rather than employees.

1.  Provide full-time, intensive training in the fields of performance, dramaturgy and design to a cohort of 10 international artists over the course of a year, comprising of 24 weeks of intensive training over 9 months and 12 weeks of independent creations facilitated by the company.

2.  Expand the company members of 5ToMidnight expand its global network of artists.

3.  Provide artists with long-term contact and intercultural experience with local communities.

4.  Enable artists to craft an independent creative process to encourage long-term sustainability as an artist.

Application phase


5ToMidnight will open applications for the program in September of 2020. Applicants of all ages are welcome to apply. The company will conduct live or video interviews with each participant to outline their reason for attending the program and their experience with intercultural work. Selected applicants will be decided and notified by End 2020.

Pre-program phase

Where possible, applicants who are successful will be given free access to all 5ToMidnight programs before the start of The Asylum training. This includes workshops, performances, artist talks and events. They will also be introduced to all members across the network and to get acquainted with the team which will be facilitating the spaces during the program.

Semester 1 (April-May 2021)

For the first 8-weeks, participants will be in residence in Indonesia. They will undergo intensive training in 5ToMidnight’s signature training methodology on a daily basis. During this phase, participants will be encouraged to identify artists whom they are influenced by, and to examine their personal development in relation to their major influences. Over the course of the semester, Artistic Director Ethan Chia will then adapt the methodology to cater to each artist’s desired development.


As a cohort, Indonesia in an important first destination due to the close connection that Indonesian artists have within the arts network. In our experience of working in Indonesia since 2016, local artists and communities have been incredibly welcoming and generous with their desire for collaboration and intercultural experience. Therefore, during this semester, training sessions will able be made public for local artists to participate in with Asylum inmates.  In this manner, the training provided will be made available to all, with Asylum inmates benefiting from individual development and personal coaching.

Semester 2 (July-August 2021)

From the second semester, participants will be in residence in Taiwan. They will continue in advanced training, but will also have the option to request for workshops or clinics with artists that influenced their work as identified in Semester 1. 5ToMidnight will utilize its network to organize short clinics with said artists for the participants to be involved in. E.g., John, a seeker, has identified contemporary dance as a major influence and he would like to explore that. 5ToMidnight then contacts Matsushima Makoto to conduct a three-day workshop in Taiwan which John can participate in. This workshop is open to the public, which finances the costs required for Matsushima Makoto to run a workshop. 5ToMidnight takes none of the profits earned from the workshop as all required maintenance fees have been covered by the participation fee of the seekers.


As outlined above, Semester 2 builds on the foundational skills taught in Semester 1 to give the Seekers more personalized development options based on their own choices and interests. As the training would have advanced past the basic levels, company training will only be available to the public for observation, however, workshops like the one described above will continue to engage the local arts community.

The Seekers will then focus on utilizing these skills to create and devise a piece for the Taipei Fringe Festival held at the end of August/beginning of September.

Semester 3 (October-November 2021)

This third phase sees the seekers transitioning to an independent company of creators. In residency in Tokyo, the company will have complete access to a fully-equipped theatre. The company will decide on a project to perform, during which they will build a company schedule to include the training and rehearsal processes. This term will focus largely on how to connect the creative process into the public sphere through engagement activities. All seekers should be independent enough in their process at this point to maintain the training, leaving much of the developmental work to be done on dramaturgy and the decision-making process behind creating a piece of work.

The production will premiere in Tokyo at the end of November. Seekers will be required to work with the theatre staff to fully realize and publicize the project.

Semester 4 (January-February 2022)

In the final semester, Seekers will be given priority booking of spaces from the earlier semesters to create a piece of work independently. They are able to choose working partners from their cohort, or external working partners to develop a piece of their choice. 5ToMidnight will facilitate the creation through publication and creative development should the Seekers request it.The project can take on any form, be it performance or practice-based, even extending into installation, visual art, literature, etc.

5ToMidnight will premiere the pieces at space of the Seeker’s choosing and submit the proposals for showcase at TPAM along with presentations on the process of the program. Upon completion of the program, Seekers will become full-fledged members of 5ToMidnight and expand the network of artists available to create work across the network.

All accommodation, living costs and travel fees are to be covered under a 7500SGD/160000NTD/570000JPY/82000000IDR participation fee for the entire year.

This budget will cover fees for facilitators, rental costs of the venues and all associated costs for the program.

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