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Thu, Jan 28, 2010
The Straits Times
Theatre over place in top school

In 2007, Ruby Gayle Thiagarajan, then a student at Raffles Girls' School, auditioned for a place in Sota's theatre programme. She got in but her mother - then unsure of the school's credentials - insisted she stayed at RGS.

The tenacious teenager was unfazed. A year later, she auditioned again and this time, her mother relented.

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'I wasn't really happy in my school. It was just going to classes, memorising lots of stuff and going home. I was also getting migraines because I wasn't enjoying school there,' says the teenager.

The broad-based education at Sota is more her cup of tea.'I now have stuff to look forward to in school,' beams Ruby, now 16 and in Year 4.

She sees theatre as a channel for her to express her diverse passions. 'My favourite subjects are anthropology, literature and theatre. I'm interested in how humans operate and think.'

The curriculum at Sota has also widened her worldview. Last year, she spent about two weeks at The Chicago Academy of The Arts in the United States as part of the school's immersion programme.

'It was an eye-opener because the way we work and the way they work is very different. They are more spontaneous when it come to speaking up but we're more disciplined.

'It's a different kind of enjoyment,' she says sagely.

Her mother, Madam Josephine Seah, attests to positive change in her daughter.

'She's more keen to learn and doesn't dread it. She goes out of her way to discover more of what she needs to know and, to me, that's real learning,' says the 38-year-old administrative manager.

Her husband is both a restaurateur and oil consultant.

She was initially apprehensive about Sota because it was new and as opposed to a premier school such as RGS, had no history of achievements. Another concern was that Singapore's arts industry was not yet fully developed.

What changed her mind was 'at the end of the day, her joy of learning is more important than us trying to conform to society's standard of what education ought to be'.

Ruby plans to work in 'something arts-related' but not without a degree. 'My mum will get very upset,' she says, half in jest. 'Hopefully two degrees then.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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