The Take on Male Issues

The Take On Male Issues

Oh Man!, the newest devised play by The Necessary Stage, talks about Man’s issues in a lighthearted way. Urbanwire spoke to 2 of its cast members – Randall Tan and Sheikh Haikel, and director – Sean Tobin.

The Director says
Mention the fact that Selena Tan, Pamela Oei, and Emma Yong were recently in Steaming!, which coincidentally talked about women’s issues in a lighthearted manner, and Sean Tobin will say it had no influence on this production.

In fact, the Associate Artistic Director of The Necessary Stage “didn’t even see it [Steaming!] actually.” According to him Oh Man!, is based on an idea developed 2 years ago and worked on over the last 7 months.

His biggest fear is that “the audience will come expecting [it to be] almost like a seminar, [because] people are so used to it.”

The lengthy preparation period was also one of the problems encountered during the production, because although “it’s good to go deep, you can get lost in [the process]”.

Tobin added that they were “really trying to get a certain balance, [because] you not only want to cover breadth, but you also want to cover depth.”

Did he expect to alienate women in the audience at all? Quite the contrary, Tobin said, “Generally, I would say that they’d find it very enjoyable, very charming [and] very fun.”

“They’ll recognise a lot of things that their partners and friends, siblings [and] perhaps their fathers do as well.”

Tobin added that he hopes that with this play, the female audience will be able to reflect on their relationships with men. He further emphasised that the “play is not so much a strong reaction to feminism, it’s not like an anti-feminism thing, it’s not even a response to [it].”

While some members of the male audience might feel that there are inaccuracies in what is being talked about on stage, Tobin believes they will also probably react to it by saying that it’s “a lot of fun”.

Although the content of the production is universal, Tobin said “it’s still very Singaporean.”

Not just a pretty face

Randall Tan first started acting when he became a Fame Awards finalist in 1995. Ever since then, he has been guest starring in Ch 5 TV series such as ShiverTriple NineGrowing Up and First Touch. His latest acting work was in the main cast of the teen serial – Light Years.

Besides acting, Randall also got his chance to host his very own show about sports – Fair Match. Having done both acting on stage and in front of the camera, he said that, “I have no preference. It’s totally different, stage and TV, being in front of the camera and being in front of a live audience is totally different.”

He added, “As long as I’m acting, I’m happy.”

With Oh Man! being his first “theatre, theatre kind of thing”, unlike his first 2 stage productions which were musicals, Randall said that it has “been a real eye-opener” for him.

Even so, Randall said that his most memorable stage production would still be the SIA musical – Reach The Musical. He said that in Reach, he not only had to act, dance and sing, and portray “an Ah Beng [Hokkien for lout] dancer”, he even had to sing a Hokkien song.

Although he does speak Hokkien, he said that he still spent 1 week learning the song, because he had to know what the song was talking about.

His biggest difficulty during the production of Oh Man! was memorising his lines. Although he has had to memorise his scripts for TV before, he said that with TV scripts, “they go from this line to this line”, so all he had to do was to memorise the lines for a particular scene. However, with stage productions, he has to remember everything at one go so “you cannot mess it up”.

What made it harder was having to play a myriad of characters such as an army officer in Oh Man!. The one that he could relate to the most was the NS role.

He said, “I went through NS [and] it’s like a blast from the past.”

But not in a bad way, because Randall said that he had a lot of fun, and “made a lot of friends there”.

Like most people in the entertainment and modelling industry, Randall’s skin is very well-taken of. However, he doesn’t see himself as being a full-time model. He said that although the money is good, he finds that it’s quite “brainless after you’ve done it for a while” and “it doesn’t allow for [his] true potential to come out”.

He added, “I need new things, I need something to keep me interesting.”

In a recent newspaper article in The New Paper, Randall described himself as metrosexual. He defined the term as a guy “who is straight, but has that sensitive side of him, who likes to look good, who grooms himself properly, and takes care to go into nitty gritty details about how he looks, what he wears and how he carries himself.”

So in 4 words, Randall’s a Sensitive New Age Guy.

Singapore’s very own Rapper
Part of a dup rap group called Construction Sight, Sheikh Haikel was first discovered in 1991 after winning the Grand Championship of the then popular regional talent show – Asia Bagus!.

Ever since then, he has acted in TV sitcoms such as Under One RoofThe Donny Lee ShowThree Rooms, and local movies City Sharks and Army Daze. Besides TV productions, Sheikh was also part of stage productions – Lovewave 96.6 and The Morning People. He will also be appearing in 2 more plays – Cinderellah! at the end of this year, and Such Sweet Sorrow next year with his wife, Annabelle Francis.

The difference between being on stage and on screen, he said is “I’m already very big, [so] when I step onto screen, I will definitely be the main focus, so my acting has to go down a bit more, I cannot overpower the rest around me, it’s very unfair.”

You might think it’s a lot to ask, but he added, “Once I get a script, I’m going to give the script 150% of my time, my effort, my intelligence, of whatever I have.”

However, he said that Oh Man! was his favourite stage production because he “never felt closer to a bunch of guys in a long time since now. We’ve been rehearsing this play together with our director, Sean Tobin for 7 months.”

He added, “We have gone in depth or as far as we can go to what we are about to do, which is to search, soul-search for the sake of all manhood, to see whether Man are this way. We have shared our personal experience[s], put our 5 cents’ worth into this play.”

Being able to work with Lim Kay Tong, Kumar and Director Tobin was the main reason why this was his most memorable stage production to date.

Like the rest of the cast, Sheikh played multiple characters. The one that he could relate to the most was that of the “character in the waiting room.”

He added that the character is “waiting for the doctor to come out and tell him how his wife is doing. He’s waiting for a miracle to happen.”

Sheikh said that he could relate to that character the most because “I’m married, and I can actually feel or tell myself or search within myself to know what it would feel if I lost [Anna]belle to an illness, I feel that wrenching heart aching pain.”

Although he loves acting, if he had to choose between rapping and acting, he said that he would definitely pick rapping. This is because “A rapper is what I love to be, rapping is what I love to do most.”

He added, “Rapper is who Haikel is, but acting is something that I can come out from myself, and do something else, and really, really enjoy it because being a rapper all the time, [it’s] uptight, it’s nice to get out of it, it’s nice to be somebody else, and have the right to do it, and somebody’s paying me to do it.”

He also added that when he goes back to his rapping, the acting helps make his rapping better, “so both actually help each other”.

Sheikh said that being able to take a break from his rapping by acting, and then go back to rapping makes him feel like “the luckiest man in the world.”

The show is on till Nov 23 at the Marine Parade Community Building Theatrette.Ttickets are priced at $16 and available from www.sistic.com.sg .


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