Army Daze, the much-loved Singapore Singlish play, saw a completely sold-out run when it was staged at the Drama Centre from 21 to 26 August 2012. The play’s actors, Dwayne Tan, Joshua Lim, Stit Khalijah, and Fervyn Tan stopped by to answer some questions for us about their experiences of being in Army Daze.
You are both a singer and actor; which one do you love the most?
I love singing most but without the acting, the song can mean nothing. So I value acting because of the dimension and depth it adds to a song.
Did you watch any of the versions of Army Daze? What did you think?
Unfortunately, I’ve only seen the movie. I was really impressed that Michael Chiang managed to capture so much of the essence of the various boys from different walks of life. That was what the army was about for me – coming out of one’s shell, learning to be independent and learning to adapt to a totally new environment, learning to get along with and understand people you normally would not associate with.
Can you tell me a bit about your character?
Malcolm Png is a total mummy’s boy. He is smart, into computers and does well at school, hence he’s a total nerd. However, he is not very physical and is a little out of his element at times which makes the army a bit of a challenge for him and funny for an audience to experience.
Did you do NS [National Service] here? If so, how does your experience differ from your character’s?
I did do NS here. My BMT (Basic Military Training) was very similar as I was quite like Malcolm. But I spent the rest of my army life after BMT in MDC, the Music and Drama Company which started the ball rolling for me becoming an actor and singer.
What has your experience been like being in this play?
I have always wanted to work with Beatrice Chia-Richmond and am glad for this chance. I am loving this experience and making many new friends here too. We laugh so hard during rehearsals that we have to stop the entire scene to compose ourselves. We just make each other laugh. Everyone is so good at what they do. I know the audience is sure to have a hysterical time and also take away a heartfelt story.
Whoa! You were taught by Margaret Chan? THE Margaret Chan? What was the experience like?
Yes, THE Margaret Chan who crushed people like cockroaches! It was a very enriching experience. I learnt a lot from her class, but even more so when I had the privilege of acting alongside her in my theatre debut at Singapore Management University. Seeing her in action and sharing the stage with her for that musical production is something I will treasure greatly.
You’ve done a lot of stage work; what’s so fulfilling about being a theatrical actor?
Being able to feel the immediate reactions from a live audience… knowing that your performance is actually being watched by someone! There’s a certain magic in theatre that can’t be gotten in any other medium because each performance is different, each performance is a new product in theatre – until we finish the last scene, the show hasn’t ended! It’s unlike film or TV, where the audience is guaranteed a finished product, as soon as they start watching.
Would you want to work in other mediums such as film or television?
Definitely. I think acting in front of a camera is an immensely different ball game, one which has challenges I relish. I remember being told by television directors to “not act so big”, and so I just had to adapt. But having had a few experiences already, I’m more used to it, and would love to have more opportunities in future.
You’re the It Girl of Singapore Theatre, aren’t you? Everyone is talking about you since you won the Life! Acting award last year. Has this been a good thing or bad thing so far?