Meet Mark, now 40 who jumped into theatre at the age of 38. He talked us through what it is like making such a big transition at his age.
Tell us a little about yourself. I understand that you transited from corporate to theatre and that’s a brave leap! What got you interested in acting?
I went down the whole conventional path where you were constantly told to study hard and get a stable job. From managing hotels to having a “second career” doing corporate training, I excelled in it. Anything from small medium enterprises to the fashion industry and start-ups, you name it, I have done it. But for as long as I can remember, I always had this flair for acting. One day, I just woke up and said, “Hey, I am going to take my bubble back and make my dream happen.” Imagine telling your friends and family that you are going to be an actor at the age of 38, came as quite a shocker!
I am sure it was a huge change! What are the different types of hurdles you have had to overcome to join theatre and did you recieved any theatre education?
I had no formal training in the arts or acting and I am still learning on the job. I don’t think there’s a point where you reach a certain type of “mastery” and being an educator myself, the best way to learn is diving straight into it. My first big production was “Emily- The Musical”. Imagine a guy who had never danced or sang before landing the role! It was an amazing experience and from there, I never looked back. Personally, one of the biggest hurdles I have had was learning to step away from the comfort of a fixed paycheck. Sometimes I find myself waking up from my sleep in cold sweat worrying if I can provide for my family. Aside to that, I had to convince my spouse that it was the path I wanted to take. People never fail to ask me, “What were you thinking?” You just got to bite the bullet and go for it! Thankfully, I have a great support system and zero regrets.
How did you prepare yourself for the audition to join “Wag The Dog” Theatre?
To be honest, I didn’t prepare for it! (laughs) During the audition, I let things flow naturally. After the usual monologue and self-introduction, they really liked me and I joined the family.
Tell me more about the upcoming play “The Memory of Water”.
“The Memory of Water” is the first production that we all co-produced together. It is almost like a business start-up where most things are being formed organically. Slowly but surely, we are making it into good theatre.
The play is set in a British suburb that focuses on three sisters who reunite upon their mother’s funeral. The sisters share very different personalities – the holistic herbal supplements purveyor, the happy-go-lucky attention seeking shopaholic, the high flyer and strong-willed doctor. I play Mike, who is having a five-year affair with one of the sisters. Central to the story is all about family relationships being lost and found. It is a delightful story, but I won’t spill too much. Come down and watch it for yourself!
If you could it all over again, would you have jumped straight into theatre?
That’s a tough one. The “theatrical” part of me says yes, but the practical side of me disagrees. I can relate to how art performers are so passionate about their craft, but at the same time, it is tough to survive just doing what you love. I reverse-engineered myself. I built my finances over time and then stepped out to be an art practitioner. The theatre is a small scene in Singapore, definitely more vibrant as compared to 5 years ago, but there are only that many auditions to make it through. I can fully relate to how difficult it is. If you are not the flavour of the month, there will be no money. So I guess, (in a positive light), it makes you develop the hunger for expanding your skill sets. Oh man, I can’t give you a definite answer for this one. You got me.
Do you have any theatrical superstitions or rituals?
I don’t have any but I learned of some. So apparently, whistling backstage is a big no-no and if you “die” on stage, you get a red packet for good luck. Imagine dying eight times on stage, I get eight red packets!
Is there an overarching philosophy that guides your life?
Dare to live your life differently and always take the first step.
Your desert island choices for-
Book: I’m reading it now – Homo Deus, A brief history of tomorrow by Yuval Noah.
Film: Full metal jacket, I have watched it over 20 times.
Music: I got this humming in my head most of the time, “The sound of silence.”
Any person in history for conversation: Martin Luther King Jr.
Catch Mark in “The Memory of Water”, more details here – https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/cmemory0617