Nelson is an acting coach, award-winning director and performer, playwright and lecturer. He is a four-time Best Director winner and two-time Best Actor winner at the Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards. He studied under local theatre doyen, the late Kuo Pao Kun, learning and working directly under his guidance in the early 2000s. Nelson was the first Singapore artist to be commissioned for three consecutive years by the nation’s main arts centre - The Esplanade to present work at the Huayi Chinese Festival of Arts. In 2017, he received a Fellowship by Centre42 to adapt Cultural Medallion novelist Yeng Pway Ngon’s seminal work Art Studio for the stage, followed by a commission from Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) to open the festival with this work in the same year. In 2021, he collaborated with the renowned SITI Company from New York to present a hybrid version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters at SIFA 2020/21. Other commissioning partners he had worked with included Macau Arts Festival, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, Singapore Writers’ Festival, The Substation, The Arts House and World Shakespeare Congress, to name a few.
A graduate of Goldsmiths College, London (MA in Directing) and National University of Singapore (BA, Hons, Theatre Studies), Nelson was Head of Department for Theatre at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, adjunct lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts and full-time lecturer of Theatre Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore. He was the Associate Artistic Director of Toy Factory Productions (2003 - 2013), a Resident Artist with The Theatre Practice (2000 - 2002), an Associate Artist with The Substation (2007 - 2009), and a founding member of the ensemble collective A GROUP OF PEOPLE (2008 - 2012). In 2017, he was awarded a 3-year Fellowship with the International Society for the Performing Arts in New York, and went on to serve on its Programme Committee from 2021. He was a Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation (Drama) Adjudicator for many years, and also a founding member of Singapore Chinese Language Theatre Alliance. He currently sits on the Examination Board of Intercultural Theatre Institute, the Industry Advisory Group of Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore, and the Advisory Panel of Singapore International Festival of Arts.
Nelson’s directorial works are marked by detailed and dynamic ensemble work. His original writings, adaptations, translations and choice of plays are known to be culturally layered and possessing sensibilities that speaks to audiences from all backgrounds. In 2012, Nelson co-founded Nine Years Theatre (NYT) with his wife Mia Chee. In a few years, NYT has grown to become one of the key players in the local theatre scene. Under his artistic direction, NYT has managed to not only rejuvenate the Singapore Mandarin theatre scene with its work, but also raised the awareness of actor training among the artistic community. For many years, Nelson has invested energy in the research of actor training methods, making him an important figure in this field in Singapore. Since 2008, he has been training regularly in the Suzuki Method of Actor Training and Viewpoints. He studied both methods with SITI Company in New York, and trained specifically in the Suzuki Method with Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT) in Japan, which led to him being invited to perform at the Toga Festival. From 2014 to 2021, he created and led the NYT Ensemble (NYTE) – a company of actors who train regularly in a systematic way and create work together over an extended period of time. As it developed, the NYT Ensemble demonstrated the strength of an ensemble model with the numerous productions it offered to the local theatre scene, and was the only ensemble of this nature in Singapore during that period.
Mia is an actor, theatre producer and educator, also co-founder and Company Director of Nine Years Theatre, with over 20 years of professional experience.
She found her love in performing at the age of 9 when she joined Rediffusion's children radio drama group. Since then, she has been performing through her teenage years and eventually graduated with a BA in Theatre Studies and Chinese Language from the National University of Singapore.
To further her research in the actor’s body, training and performance, Mia studied Viewpoints with SITI Company (New York) and Suzuki Method of Actor Training with SITI and Suzuki Company of Toga (Japan). She also shared and led NYT’s classes, jams, and classes in schools on the above methods.
As a continuation from her background in radio work since young, she worked as a part-time DJ at Y.E.S. FM93.3 during the years 1997 – 2014. Since 2015, she has been teaching NYT’s Diction of Standard Mandarin class. She was a founding and core member of the NYT Ensemble through its journey (2014 - 2021), and led the ensemble in vocal and speech training.
Since university days, she worked as a performer with various theatre companies such as Toy Factory Productions Ltd, Dramabox, The Theatre Practice, The Necessary Stage and TheatreWorks. Today, she has been the producer of all NYT shows. Recent performing credits include Between You And Me, Electrify My World, Three Sisters, Oedipus, Dear Elena, First Fleet, FAUST/US, Lear Is Dead, Pissed Julie, Cut Kafka!, Art Studio, Red Sky, Red Demon, The Lower Depths, Tartuffe, An Enemy of the People, The Bride Always Knocks Twice and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.