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Interview: Cast of Perfection of Ten: Patricia Mok and Tan Shou Chen

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In The Perfection of Ten, which ran at the Esplanade Theatre Studios from Septembter 13-15 2012, 10 established Singapore playwrights were invited to reflect on their experiences as theatre-makers and their notions of perfection. They then set out to capture a perspective of life on Earth, in Singapore, and in the theatre, through their own 10 minutes of stage time. Ten stage items from past productions of 10 established local theatre companies help create a world in which these characters – some fictitious, some real – can reside.

The Perfection of Ten‘s stars Patricia Mok and Tan Shou Chen answer some questions about their roles and this play.

Patricia Mok

Is The Perfection of 10 your first English-language play? How has the experience been so far?

This is my fifth play and it’s my fourth English play. The experience has been very draining because at every rehearsal we are very focused and perform like a real show. It’s also very fulfilling to see the different works come together and to have an opportunity to find out more about my inner soul!

Can you tell me about the show, and about your character

The Perfection of Ten is about finding the perfection on stage, perfection in a family, perfection in an audience…perfection to myself. Each actor is doing four or five characters and I have the challenge of having a role as myself and other times being other people! Even now, I am still struggling to know who is the real me and at times, I realise I am trying to perfect my craft whilst there’s still a lot of imperfection to it.

What drew you to this production and to this role?

Passion drew me to this production. My passion is acting. However there was a time I almost lost my passion and I was very unhappy about it but through this production, I found my love for acting all over again.

What do you hope audiences take away from this play?

For each piece of work we are doing from the 10 playwrights, we have to wonder – what’s perfection to them? For example the theme of a mother wanting her son to perfect her death may not be agreeable to some people but it will strike a cord with someone who is facing the same situation.

Tan Shou Chen

How did you get this part?

Sean Tobin (the director) had seen my work previously, and I too had seen his. When he approached me about working together on the piece, the premise was quite interesting, so I said yes!

Could you tell me more about the role you play, and about the story of The Perfection of Ten?

It doesn’t feature just one story. Ten playwrights were asked to each write a short play on the concept of perfection. Like the rest of the actors, I play multiple roles. There is one common role that I hold onto through the play: I play an imperfect actor who is working towards creating the perfect show and the perfect experience. So, it’s a meta layer to the show.

What drew you to this play and the role?

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it’s been a fun challenge perfecting my imperfections. I also like working on and workshopping new scripts, so the idea of working with 10 different playwrights with 10 different scripts was an interesting prospect.

What is “perfection” or a “perfect” day for you?

A bright, breezy day spent with wonderful company over good food, and doing a great performance to end it all!

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.