"This year’s Peer Pleasure theme is ‘The Other’. How does this theme resonate with you own life and what do you hope viewers will walk away with after watching Without Reason?
Yan Ying: As an international student and a minority in the United States, ‘The Other’ is pretty much my identity – which is not always a bad thing. Sure, I don’t understand a lot of the American cultural references that my friends make, I occasionally have to deal with racial slights, and it’s annoying having to constantly repeat and explain my name to people in the U.S., who tend to assume that ‘Sim Yan Ying’ takes on the conventional English first name/ middle name/ last name structure. But in general I’m fortunate to be living in New York City, a very diverse place, with people who are generally quite accepting (can’t say the same for many of the other places in the U.S.).
Most of the time I thrive on being ‘The Other’ here. I relish in breaking racial and gender stereotypes in my art and in my life, and in an ironic twist I sometimes even take pride in self-exoticism. I like surprising people. In terms of creating works in the theatre, I am able to draw from experiences that differ from most artists here, and hence provide fresh insights and perspectives. Being an artist who is an ‘Other’ in a place like NYC feels to me more an asset than a curse – if I leverage on it, it can really help me to stand out in a way that’s advantageous, as I’m able to create works that are more interesting and unique."