Dr Edmund Chow is an applied theatre practitioner whose creative projects and published works span diverse fields from arts education, pedagogy, drama therapy, community theatre, leadership, and storytelling. Popularly known for his scholarship on cultural practices in Afghanistan as well as leadership and improvised storytelling in a corporate setting, Dr Chow engages and teaches with charisma and flair, often incorporating creative elements to deepen learning and critical reflection. Dr Edmund Chow has taught in secondary schools, prisons, and universities. He currently heads the Master’s Degree in Arts Pedagogy and Practice at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore.
He received his Ph.D from the University of Manchester, UK (2016), his Master’s degree from New York University (2008), and his Bachelor’s degree (2nd Class Honours) from the National University of Singapore (2000). He also received his Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from the National Institute of Education (2001) and the Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from INSEAD Business School (2016).
Act 1: Prison Theatre
In his earlier years as an educator, he was the ‘prison theatre’ guy. He was instrumental in establishing a Prison Theatre and life-skills programme at Kaki Bukit Centre (Prison School) in Singapore working full-time with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Outside of Singapore, he volunteered to teach in an arts rehabilitation programme at the Woodbourne Correctional Facilities in upstate New York while pursuing his Master’s degree. It was also during that time when he realised how important it is for him to build up knowledge and skills to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of vulnerable communities that he pursued drama therapy alongside applied theatre at New York University. He then interned with professional drama therapists from CANY to run workshops in psychiatric hospitals in Manhattan.
Act 2: Business School and Leadership Presence
Later on in his role as an educator, he developed a communications and leadership module for MBA and Executive MBA classes at INSEAD Business School across the Europe, Singapore, and Middle East campuses. He trained the team of coaches to ‘own the space’. He also created a dynamic system to measure and expand one’s leadership presence through various theatre improvisation exercises. He continues to offer experiential workshops for organisations and executive leaders on topics ranging from leadership and crisis communication to public speaking and storytelling.
Act 3: Applied Storytelling
More recently, he extended his expertise on storytelling from leadership and communication in a business and corporate setting to the medical profession. In 2019, he presented a conference paper and workshop at the Asia-Pacific Medical Education Conference, hosted by Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. The medical professors were thrilled and responded very well to his approach on humanising the profession.
Act 4: Afghanistan
As a scholar and cultural worker, Dr Edmund Chow’s doctoral research was on cultural representations of Afghan identities since 9/11. From 2012 to 2013, he lived in Kabul to manage media projects, broadcasting a 37-episode radio drama in Farsi and Pashto on women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship. As the Project Manager, he was also instrumental in leading the teams throughout the monitoring and evaluation phases.
Today, Dr Chow continues to support non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consulting companies, and universities in Afghanistan to develop programmes for sustainable capacity development. He is also the founder of the Teacher Training Clinic in Afghanistan.
Act 5: Theatre Productions
Dr Edmund Chow recently devised and directed Toba Tek Singh (2016) and Project Roop Kaur (2017), both of which were community theatre projects that retold narratives of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. The latter was featured on Indian Beat on Vasantham channel.
Act 6: Scholarships, Awards, and Public Speaking
Dr Edmund Chow was awarded the National Arts Council (NAC) Arts Professional scholarship in 2006, and the NAC Arts Postgraduate Scholarship in 2012. He was a recipient of the New York University Educational Theatre William Vorenberg Award for Directing in 2007, and was nominated for excellence in academic achievement and leadership with the Pi Lambda Theta Rho Leadership Award by NYU in 2008.
It is almost inevitable that he leveraged his theatre and teaching skills on a different stage: public speaking. He was a finalist at the 3-Minute Thesis Competition at the University of Manchester in 2015; garnered three speaking awards from the Professional Speakers Academy in London; appeared as an expert guest on Talking Point on Channel News Asia; and is a TEDx public speaking coach.