By: Ho Chenling
The cast of Past Caring – Siti Khalijah, Glynis Angell, Leroy Parsons and Sukania Venugopal share their feelings about the play and how they’ve prepared for it.
Tell us more about the characters that you will be playing. Do you relate to any of the characters?
Siti: I’ll be playing 3 different characters in total. The first is of a young Malay Singaporean who went to Australia in the early 70’s to study. The second is a Chinese girl who was being brought up by an Indian family in the 1940’s. And the third is a travel guide in Singapore who was tasked to show an Australian man around Singapore. In terms of the era where each character was being presented, I guess I can relate most to the third character, because the first two were beyond my generation.
Glynis: I play a mother, a flight attendant & a racist feminist university lecturer. I relate to the flight attendant who yearns to understand the truth about the death of her grandfather.
Leroy: I will be playing three Aboriginal Australian characters, Billy is a university student and is organising protests for equal rights for his people. Jim who has won a trip to Singapore and finds he has something in common with his tour guide. Son who was stolen from his people, taken to a home and then brought up with an ex-nun and wants to fight for his country and will do anything to fight.
Suki: I play 3 characters namely, a post graduate student in Australia called Rani, a mother with her daughter in Singapore during the Japanese occupation in 1942 and an SIA flight attendant. In terms of relating to the characters, I play them with emotional truth!
Do you like your role or do you secretly hope that you can play another character?
Siti: I love all the characters that I’ll be playing because they’re all equally challenging to portray but yet very colourful and unique!
Glynis: I enjoy all my roles – I can only see my fellow actors in their roles.
What are the challenges you have faced while preparing for the production? Can you describe some of the preparation work you have done?
Siti: For me, the challenges would be having to make every character as different to each other, but as believable as possible. Reading articles online has given me more depth and insights to my characters.
Glynis: The best preparation was the intense one week creative development period last July, which was my first experience working with TNS (The Necessary Stage). The biggest challenge was trying to maintain a character while interviewing homeless foreign migrant workers.
Leroy: Challenges I faced? There is one that comes to mind and that’s trying to understand Singaporean English, but in no time I got the hang of their speech patterns. There’s a lot of preparation, from travelling to Singapore, to researching and exchanging information on cultural issues.
Suki: Basically, just do physical warm up and line runs!
What is your favourite part of the production?
Siti : My favourite part would have to be the involvement of ‘movement’ in this production. Tony will be choreographing a few pieces to help make the storyline stronger.
Glynis: The production is very exciting – so many elements are still being layered in, e.g. lighting, sound design, video design, Tony’s dancing – so the full impact of the work is still to be revealed and I find that process all very exciting. I would love to watch this show.
“How are you caring for your past? Who are the people in your history that you value? Who have you forgotten to care about? How did you encounter your own racial prejudice today?” – Glynis
Do you think ‘past caring’ is a personal choice – a result of self-sympathy and indulgence in unhappiness, or driven by situations in life?
Siti: I feel it’s a personal choice. A person could have gone through so much in life, but still cares for his/her surroundings. Whereas there are some who had just had a little ‘trigger’ and suddenly they just stopped caring for everything.
Glynis: Definitely situations have an enormous impact on one’s personal hopefulness. Having a loving community – family & friends – mean that if you are in strife you are cared for and hopefully prevent a descent into complete despair. Personality is an element – depression features in my family – yet most people I know encounter times of self-questioning and hopelessness – it’s part of being human. I don’t know anyone who chooses to be without hope.
Leroy: I think it’s driven by situations in life, we as people are all driven by situations in life.
If you know a friend who is past caring, how will you reach out to him or her?
Siti: I’ll be there as a pillar of support, but if he/she shows no signs of wanting to ‘recover’, I guess I’ll just stop doing so and let them be.
Glynis: Talk to them. Listen. Ask what you can do to help. They may not know. Talk to others who care for this person. I did this recently for a friend who is schizophrenic and whose father just died – keeping regular communication with them and their network of friends/family. If they are on medication- ask if they have stopped, changed meds; support them to go back to their doctor or seek help from professional services who understand the difficulties they are facing. Keep in regular contact.
Leroy: There is only so much you can do when friends or a family member is past caring, my only advice to them is to say ‘ I’m here whenever you need me’.
Suki: Get him or her to go for counselling and be present during the sessions!
25 – 28 February, 8 PM
28 – 29 February, 3 PM
5 – 7 March 2009, 8 PM 7 – 8 March 2009, 3 PM
The Necessary Stage Black Box
TICKETS available from SISTIC.
$27 | $22*
Read our interview with the creative team of Past Caring here! (Alvin Tan, Haresh Sharma and Tony Yap.)