Our Parenting World Interview Series: SRT’s The Little Company presents Red Riding Hood (Mandarin) and Exclusive Interview with Ms Eleanor Tan
Our Parenting World (OPW) team is honoured to be able to interview the very talented, Ms Eleanor Tan (ET) who will be performing in the coming Red Riding Hood 小红帽 (Mandarin) from Thursday, 20 July to Friday, 1 September 2017 at KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT.
About Ms Eleanor Tan, she is frequently described as a “theatre stalwart”, Eleanor has performed in iconic musicals such as Dick Lee’s Hot Pants and Beauty World and Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress and A Twist of Fate, and numerous productions with The Necessary Stage, Theatreworks, W!LD Rice, Teater Ekamatra, and Paper Monkey. Eleanor is also a children’s theatre veteran, and is delighted to be returning for the Mandarin run of Red Riding Hood, after playing Grandma in the 2013 English production.
Eleanor can currently be seen onscreen as Vivian Lee in the well-loved television drama, Tanglin. She is an experienced educator with an MA in Arts Practice and Pedagogy.
1) Can you share with us more about your background and when did you get started in your acting career?
ET: I dabbled in work as an extra on television while in university, but started acting professionally onstage in 2002, when I was cast in a children’s musical on board a cruise ship. Since then, I’ve continued to pursue a career in acting in television and theatre, while also working as a drama educator. I recently earned my MA in Arts Practice and Pedagogy, and am currently part of the regular cast of popular television drama, Tanglin.
2) What do you enjoy the most about acting?
ET: The arts hold up a mirror to society, and as an actor in performance, one has the opportunity to illuminate and talk about issues or events that may be controversial, difficult, or even traumatic. It is a privilege and a responsibility to be part of an artistic process that helps start or continue a vital conversation about what it means to be human, and invites audiences to examine themselves and the world they inhabit. On a lighter note, it is of course a great joy to entertain audiences and bring laughter and fun to people!
3) What do you consider most challenging about acting?
ET: To perform every show as if it was your last. Fatigue and jadedness can threaten to set in, especially when a show has a long run with many performances, but professional actors owe a responsibility to their colleagues and patrons to make every show as close to being their best as possible.
4) Can you tell us more about your role in Red Riding Hood?
ET: I play Red Riding Hood’s feisty Grandma. I have a mischievous pet parrot, who proves to be quite important in the story! Also, I’m not one to back down from a fight, and will use whatever is available, including fists and toilet brushes, to hold my own in a confrontation!
5) What are some of your favourite scenes in Red Riding Hood?
ET: The opening scene where audiences are introduced to Red Riding Hood’s family. One of my favourite things about this show is that the writers wanted to fill in the gaps in Red Riding Hood’s story, and you meet Red Riding Hood’s father for the first time. I also love the song and dance that introduces the audience to The Book of Important Things, and of course the classic confrontation between Grandma and the Big, Bad Wolf.
6) We understand that you are a mother, how do you manage to strike a work-life balance being a mother, a wife and having a busy career?
ET: With lots of loving help and support from my family. Marriage and parenthood are important parts of who I am, and give me vital insights into people and relationships. This is very useful in my acting work. I suppose I balance it all because I love every part of it and cannot ever imagine giving any of it up!
7) What do you like to do during your free time and what are some of your favourite family-bonding activities?
ET: I have always believed in the value of experiences over possessions. My family travels quite extensively, and we have opted for a wide variety of activities over the years, including going on safari in Kenya and Botswana, hiking up a glacier in New Zealand, skiing in Japan, and watching plays and going to museums in London.
8) Any tips and advice to mothers on how they can strike a balance with work and family life?
ET: If you are fortunate enough to find a career that is more than just a paying job, but a calling that you are passionate about, I believe that pursuing it can only make you a better, happier person, which in turn helps you to better fulfil your responsibilities at home. Besides, according to the results of a study published by Harvard Business School in 2015, working mothers are more likely to have daughters who are professionally and financially successful, while their sons are more likely to spend more time caring for family members and doing chores. It’s absolutely a win-win situation!
9) Do you have any advice to children who aspire to go into acting as a career and become an actor/actress?
ET: Watch as many good plays, television shows and movies as you can. Observe the actors whose performances impress and move you, and start to examine what it is that makes them so good at what they do. Do your research on what the craft of acting involves, and, if possible, go for classes to start learning how to do it. Just like riding a bicycle, you will finally understand what it is really all about only when you actually do it. It is very hard work! But if that does not faze you, then you might want to talk to your parents about what steps to take in order to get the academic instruction and training that will prepare you for an acting career. And yes, it is possible to earn your living as an actor, though it must be said that many professional actors also pursue other related work as drama educators, voiceover artists, scriptwriters and so on.
10) Lastly, do you have anything you would like to add on and share with our readers about Red Riding Hood and what can parents and children expect when they watch the musical?
ET: This is a fresh take on a classic, well-known tale. You will met Dad for the first time, while other characters may appear in ways you have never seen them before! The world premiere of this play in English was very well-received in 2013, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing Grandma then as well. It’s a lovely story with beautiful music and enormously entertaining characters. Don’t miss it or you’ll regret it for sure!
Thank you Ms Eleanor Tan for taking our interview!
After successfully staging it in English, Singapore Repertory Theatre’s (SRT) The Little Company now presents Red Riding Hood in Mandarin. Red Riding Hood is an uplifting story about a brave girl named Red who must journey through the forest to reunite her family and save Mother’s bakery from closing down.
Will she reach Grandma’s house in time? Or will the charming Big Bad Wolf distract her from her quest? Join Red on her adventure into the woods, where no one is what they seem!
Filled with humour and packed with original music, this is a fantastic show to be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages. This show is recommended for aged 5 years old and above.
Hurry, don’t miss this wonderful production and book your tickets now!
Thursday, 20 July – Friday, 1 September 2017
Weekend & Public Holiday: 11am & 2pm
KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT