On tai-tais, LaserDiscs and being star-struck
by Teng Jing Xuan (photos: High Class)
Campus talks to Timothy Wan and Kimberly Chan, who play a TV host and an aesthetician respectively in Michael Chiang’s new tai-tai reality show comedy, ‘High Class’.
CAMPUS: You’re both young actors who have had experience with student productions. What’s it like transitioning into the professional theatre scene?
KIMBERLY: I don’t think I ever felt a ‘massive transition’ so to speak; the cast and creative team have been incredibly accommodating and helpful. I was admittedly starstruck being in the room with Beatrice Chia and Shane Mardjuki on the first day… But honestly, it has just been so much fun!!!
TIMOTHY: I think there’s definitely an added pressure to perform, for one. You’re performing for an audience who’s paying a good amount of money to watch you, and nobody wants to disappoint. Personally, the transition has been quite smooth for myself because I’ve been fortunate enough to work with older, more experienced actors and production crew that have guided me along, showing me the ropes and helping me to better my craft.
C: Comedy tends to have a bit of a subversive edge. When we’re laughing about something it undermines the seriousness with which most people and institutions perceive themselves… In what ways do you think this generalization applies to ‘High Class’? In addition to a dig at tai-tai behaviour, do you think there is any deeper commentary going on in the play?
K: Well, to me, the play is not just about simply jabbing at ‘tai-tais’ or specific women. I think there are many hidden universal gems about family, love and friendship in the play… these will sneak into your subconscious when you least expect it!
T: It’s fun to be playing out all these stereotypes but I think that most audiences will come to realize that there are many layers hidden beneath the surface, whether it be with regards to the characters in the play, or the stories and situations. And I have a funny feeling people are going to walk out of the theatre with a changed perspective on quite a number of issues. What those issues are going to be… You’ll have to find out when you come and watch the play!
C: Kimberly, I understand that you’ve been studying the performing arts (especially dance) for most of your life. What inspired you to pursue performing, as a child?
K: Of course watching legends like Julie Andrews and Gene Kelly on LaserDiscs while growing up was a huge part in wanting to perform, dance and one day, be like them. I remember watching ‘Fame’ at Kallang Theatre as a little girl… I barely remember the actual production itself but I can recall how absorbed I was in the world that had been created. I guess it seemed to make perfect sense that I would want to pursue the one thing that never failed to fill me with happiness whether I was just watching or performing.
C: Timothy, I’ve been told that you tried your hand at directing while in NUS. Did your directing experience teach you anything new about acting?
I realized that the director can only help an actor insofar as he or she is willing to try out new and uncomfortable ways of playing a character on stage at times. That guided me as an actor to go all out during rehearsals to present different interpretations of my character in order for my director to mould the character into the right type for the show.
High Class will be staged at the Drama Centre Theatre 5-14 July! For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/