I know, you’re wondering who Frances Lee is. Well, allow me the introduction.
Though still a student at LASALLE College of the Arts, she’s already taken a step towards a professional theatre debut and succeeded! What she lacks in experience, she makes up for in talent—the kind that could get her a lead role. That’s right. Lee’s getting on board with the Pangdemonium Theatre Company as the star of Neil LaBute’s play, Fat Pig.
Chubby, yet confident, she was just what director Tracie Pang was looking for. Playing an overweight Helen who falls in love with a skinny boy, the up-and-coming thespian shares her thoughts about entering the “real world”, a supposedly demeaning nickname she actually enjoys, and her grudge against old folks (It’s not what you think it is).
Congratulations on your professional theatre debut with Fat Pig! How are you feeling so far about that?
Incredibly overwhelmed and grateful. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since I got cast. And it’s been a while!
How did you discover your passion for theatre?
It started when I was 8, and my mom decided that she liked my voice and would send me for vocal lessons. My vocal instructor felt the same way, and I was in a musical shortly after. It all snowballed to years later and here we are! And I’m having the time of my life!
How did you get the role of Helen in Fat Pig?
I found out that they were holding auditions for the play from a mutual actor friend, and I felt it was a sin to not go. This is my favourite Neil LaBute play. I auditioned for Tracie and Adrian, and it was really a lot of fun. The rest is history!
So, how has it been working with the folks at Pangdemonium so far?
I’ve been incredibly blessed to have my first professional theatre experience with a company that’s full of such great people. Everyone is amazing, I haven’t met anyone that I feel anything less than fondness for. I just can’t believe my luck.
Are there any differences in doing theatre in school and in the “real world”?
The main difference is you’re no longer in a safe environment to fail. When you fail in school it’s okay, because nobody blames you—you’re a student. But if you fail in the real world, you have to work a lot harder to pick yourself up again. But that just makes it more exciting, doesn’t it?
How has your character, Helen, connected to you?
I feel like she’s an old friend—someone I’ve never spoken to, but that I know intimately. I’ve gone through similar experiences she has, and I feel a sense of responsibility to playing her right. She’s just such a great role, so hearted and honest. I don’t think I’ll get a role I feel so strongly about for a long, long time.
Have you ever been mocked for your weight, or called a derogatory nickname?
Haha, I had a name I quite enjoyed in secondary school. My best friend used to call me “Pui”, which made me giggle. It means “fat” in Hokkien. What really bothers me are the aunties and uncles in coffee shops I don’t even know coming up and squeezing my arms, or rubbing my tummy and pinching my face. I’m a fully grown person. Personal space man, geez.
Besides theatre, do you have any other passions?
I have an insane passion for Geography. I spend my free time taking map quizzes and stuff. It gets pretty hectic. I have a huge passion for visual art. I’m a terrible painter, and that used to really upset me. But I’m now content with just looking at art.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years’ time?
I really want to travel and do theatre all around the world. I hope I get to do a production in all seven continents, including Antarctica. Well, maybe I could give Antarctica a miss, but I’m sure the scientists and journalists there could do with some theatre magic.
As for the near future, what are your plans?
Graduate school! After that, the world is my oyster!
Watch her conquer something other than the world at the DBS Arts Centre. For more information or tickets to Fat Pig, click here.
Venue: DBS Arts Centre
Date: 13 Feb – 2 Mar 2014
Admission: S$40 – S$55
Advisory: 16 years and above (Due to coarse language)
Photo credit: Pangdemonium Theatre Company