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Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘An Actress Prepares’ by Wild Rice, Alfian Sa’at, and Siti Khalijah Zainal

Wild Rice’s Singapore Theatre Festival presented An Actress Prepares that ran from the 18th to 22nd July 2018 at LaSalle College’s Creative Cube space.

Inspired by Konstantin Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares, and written by Alfian Sa’at and directed by Aidil Mosbit, An Actress Prepares has Siti Khalijah taking audiences on her journey to becoming the theatre stalwart she is today.

In an industry that seems to be packed with theatre school graduates, it is refreshing to hear a perspective from someone who didn’t go that route. Khalijah wasn’t academically inclined and ended up in ITE (Institute of Technical Education); however, it was here that she made her foray into the theatre world, by acting in her first role in her school’s performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at the Kallang Theatre.

It is this experience that made the two-time winner of the Life! Theatre Awards for Best Actress realise that she had to find a way to do acting full time. So she qualified and joined the Necessary Stage’s Theatre for Youth Ensemble, but later had to battle her fair share of prejudicial remarks within the industry, regarding her class, race and size. But Khalijah’s story ends well as we all know, showing clearly that she proved her critics wrong.

Sa’at’s script is full of poignancy and insights, especially in the segment which had Khalijah showcase an alternate timeline, where she didn’t take a chance on becoming an actress, and instead got an office job, got married, and became a mother – and regretted never going with her passion and talent.

Khalijah performed energetically throughout the show, and at one point when a fire alarm went off unexpectedly, without missing a beat, she said to the audience, “We carry on ok? If we die, we all die together!”

Therein lies the charm of this actress – she seems grounded, and yet knows she’s risen to the top tier of local theatre despite the early naysayers, because she was always ready to walk the path of her passion and tackle the unexpected. And who doesn’t like an underdog who proves their worth by taking chances on something untested? After all, it gives us all hope, to take a risk once in awhile.

 

About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

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

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