“Boom” by Jean Tay won the Best Original Script for the “2006 LIFE! Theatre Awards”, and is also the current “N” and “O” Level English literature text. Boom involves 2 parallel storylines that intersect ingeniously– the first about the property enbloc boom, and the second relating to grave exhumation. Written as a sequel to “Plunge” penned during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, Jean hoped to juxtapose the plunging of the markets with the height of the market during property boom.
This will be the second time Boom is staged, the first being in 2008. Audience who saw the first staging will continue to be impressed by the all-new production and set design, as well as the brilliant cast who are newly selected – with the exception of Fanny Kee, who re-stars as “Mother”.
Sightlines Productions is a relatively new company which hopes to inject freshness into the Singapore theatre scene and provide a platform to nurture younger actors. Following the success of “Trainstopping“, the tongue-in-cheek comedy which garnered rave reviews – it is almost certain the audience will be in for a treat, for the same capable directors are involved in Boom. The proficient cast of Boom was meticulously selected by Derrick Chew and Engie Ho who wanted to avoid casting theatre veterans. Most importantly, Derrick firmly believes the team’s ability to work cohesively is of crucial importance, and was reluctant to cast any divas who would affect the dynamics of the ensemble.
Erwin Shah Ismail ( “Spring Awakening”), Andrew Lua (“Sing to the Dawn”) and Fanny Kee (“Scrooge the Musical“) star as the leads of the play. Other talented artists such as Amanda Tee, Vincent Tee and Benjamin Kheng have been casted as well. In fact, Engie Ho makes a cameo appearance as the Director of the Ministry of Land.
Skii was privileged to meet the gregarious cast, and got to know more about their working processes and what motivates them.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Andrew: When you are on stage with your fellow actors, you have to draw inspiration from them. For me, working with Fanny and seeing what she can bring to the mother role and seeing how my character Boon, responds to that is extremely inspiring.
I call it art therapy – it’s very rewarding to see what Fanny does on stage and feed the energy off her. During rehearsals she’s already giving 150% , so when it comes to the real show, I’m really excited to see what happens.
Erwin: Personally, acting as a grave exhumation officer is something I’ve never done before. Thus the trip to Bukit Brown cemetry (see below) was particularly insightful and inspiring for my role as Jeremiah since most of his interaction involves him and the corpse that he has to relocate.
Q: What prompted you to go into acting?
Amanda: I got into acting purely by accident. I went to acting school after secondary school, and was a horrible student for the first 6 months – I would come in late late and I would laugh in class when my teacher was talking . There was also a big culture shock coming from an all girls school and transiting into a co-ed school. Later, I enjoyed being on stage and the freedom it gives you in the 2 hours that you’re performing it’s really exhilarating.
Andrew: My life changed when I got into the Arts, having done nothing like this before and jumping into something quite different. My parents were involved in the arts when they were younger – they were in a Chinese dance troupe but they’ve never forced art upon us. When I wanted to go into acting I remember my dad telling me this, “You have to balance your passion for reality.” That’s one of the biggest takeaways from him and ever since I chose acting, I never looked back.
Being a freelancer in Singapore is not easy. Some people do it for the fame but I don’t think any of us that are in this room are doing arts for the fame. We really love what we do!
Erwin: My dad and Andrew’s dad definitely came from the same generation – the whole idea of balancing passion and reality. On top of that, he told me whatever you want to do, just be good at it. Personally, I just didn’t want to have a desk job, bound within a office space. I’m speaking no less for people working in an office space, just that it’s not within my personality.
Andrew: A lot of friends always say, “Wow youre doing acting, you’ve so much passion to do what you love!” They feel like theyre being chained down to their desk bound jobs for the money. Often, they ask me how I survive. I think the question I throw back at them is, what does it mean to survive? They’re earning $10k a month but they say they’re not earning enough. We are not earning close to what they earn but we find joy in what we do. Most certainly, the local arts scene is booming and growing and we can survive and thankfully we are earning enough, at least within our generation.
Fanny: I grew up in the era of musicals and strong TV. In 1979 I started off with a deskbound job and was stuck in it for a good five years. Fortunately, I did drama on the side throughtout the five years. I worked from 9-5, rehearsed in the evening in the weekday and performed on the weekend. Now I teach drama…
Andrew: … And inspire other actors.
Q: What makes a successful actor?
Fanny: Being ready to change. With every production you do, with every ensemble you work with and every director you’re working under – you are a student, because you gain so much with every script you study. It’s always a learning or growing process. The more flexible physically and mentally you are, the better he or she is because then he’s more useful to the director because the director can then try to shape the actor to fit the role.
Erwin: Ultimately, I think it’s preserverance but there are so many things to it. every actor has to be balanced. You can have talent but you also need good work ethic and be the ensemble player in a cast. At the end of the day, it’s the end product – if you’re good, it’ll just show.
Q: Closing thoughts?
Amanda: I hope “Boom” sparks some sort of reaction or thought. My hope is that the every audience will takeaway something, be it good or bad.
In dealing with relationships, the government’s policy vs. an individual’s policy and the conflict between the past vs. present – “Boom” will charm the audience by presenting a fresh take of issues pertinent to every Singaporean.
Event: “BOOM” by Sight Lines Productions
Venue: DBS Arts Centre, Home of SRT
Date: 29th June – 8th July 2012
Ticket pricing: $40 – $55
Purchase your tickets from SISTIC now.
Sightlines production has kindly sponsored 5 pairs of tickets for the Opening Night on June 29, so keep your eyes peeled on our website to find out how you can stand a chance to win!