Getting to know Wilson Xin  
Standardized Patient Program Trainer, Clinical Performance Center
Industry Experience: 8 years (2.5 years in Duke-NUS)

The Insider (TI): You majored in Information Systems, what drew you to the standardized patient program in Duke-NUS?  

Wilson Xin (WX): My passion for acting actually stemmed from loving literature as I was growing up.

I was content just reading, being an audience member, and a spectator for all those years. However when I was in University, something in me changed and I wanted more.  I gathered enough courage to audition for a Cole Porter musical at University; I got the part. We rehearsed for almost 6 months and after the run ended, I got hooked. I went on to become the Artistic Director of SMU’s (Singapore Management University) theatre company for two consecutive years and that was where I got a chance to produce, direct, write and perform, locally as well as overseas.   

Wilson (right) in Abu Dhabi for the premiere of the murder mystery performance “Murder by Chocolate"

I was immensely fortunate to have met so many amazing people; pioneers in Singapore’s theatre scene who became my mentors and taught me all I needed to know about every facet of theatre. After graduation, it was not easy for me to convince my parents about the direction I wanted to take in my career. I compromised and took a steady job that paid well but that longing in me for theatre was too great to ignore, and I resigned 6 months later. What is the point of my short existence here on earth if I am not doing what I love? I immediately dived back into theatre and started freelancing from then on. 

One of my regular gigs when I first started acting was casting, coordinating actors and acting in medical simulations for an American company that came down to Singapore once or twice a year. I got that job through a contact while I was still in University and after doing it I found great joy and satisfaction in improvisational acting for medical simulations. As an actor we entertain mostly, sometimes we can get the audience to leave a show deep in thought, having had their eyes opened to some meaningful message if we are lucky. No words can describe the sense of achievement or satisfaction that comes from pulling medical professionals into our bubble of reality that we painstakingly create as an actor, making them forget that their conversation with us isn’t real, having them learn communication skills through us one day, and going out the next day to touch lives. When I found out that Duke–NUS needed someone exactly like me to do something that I have been doing for so long that I hold so dear, there was no question in my mind that it was kismet.  

TI: If you were to give an analogy for what you do …

WX: Think “Candid Camera”, or if that reference is too old, maybe  “Just for Laughs Gags” but super serious instead of funny and with a lot of tears instead of laughs. 

TI: What is a typical day for you… 

WX: There are a lot of cases to go through, and many actors to cast and train throughout the year. The Clinical Performance Center runs teaching sessions as well as major exams that involve actors for all our medical students. Typically, I would pull out the cases/scenes that a session or exam will be using, cast the actors according to the case demographic and then conduct the rehearsals with them in groups to ensure that the content is spot-on and that their portrayals are realistic and standardized. When the sessions or exams come around, it is more of coordination  and making sure that everything runs smoothly. After all that, my work continues into the wee hours of night and weekends when I go for rehearsals or filming for whatever show I may currently be working on.       

The Clinical Performace Center team

TI: We heard that you are also very active in Singapore’s theatre and acting scene... 

WX: Yes, I cannot imagine doing anything else really. I just produced and acted in an original murder mystery performance “Murder by Chocolate” (2013) that premiered in Abu Dhabi  2 months ago. Right before that I was acting in another original play, “Pantang – A docuplay” (2012) that featured true local ghost stories that the cast, writer and director collected from first-hand accounts. I had to speak in English, Mandarin, Teochew and Malay for that show! I am also honored to perform for the Shanghai Theatre Festival (2012) as well as multiple Singapore Art Festivals (2010, 2011, 2012) with overseas and local groups. Other companies I have worked with include HuM Theatre, Paper Monkey, Orangedot productions, Theatrelabs, Toy Factory and Theatreworks. I was also trained in W!ld Rice’s young company.  I do partake in TV productions as well. Recently, we had an episode on Channel 5’s “Journey with me”. I am currently filming for Channel 5’s new police drama set in the 1950’s “Mata Mata” which will be shot in Batam.      

Pantang – A docuplay” (2012)

Wilson (left) with some of the cast from 'Incredible Tales'

TI: As a trainer and actor, how important is teamwork and collaboration? 

WX: It is crucial! Without teamwork, collaboration and a good relationship between fellow actors, director and actor, trainer and actor, and any other possible combination you can think of, the show, the session, the scene or the project is doomed to fail or if not, be horrendous to work on.     

TI:Things that make you laugh…

WX: I am the biggest TV junkie in Singapore so I am going to ignore that you said “things” but focus on the one biggest “thing” and that is comedy series. So here goes… “The Colbert Report”, “Saturday Night Live”, “Louis CK”, “Key and Peele”, “Modern Family”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “The Office”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “Two and a Half Men”, “Parks and Recreation”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Anger Management”, “Two Broke Girls”, “Apartment 23”… (deep breath)… oh and people sneezing. 

Wilson (2nd from left) with other actors from the Toy Factory, Singapore's leading bilingual theatre company.