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Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

Cakap-Cakap: Interview with Charlinda Pereira and Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai for subTITLED 1.0

ArtsEquator chats with producer and production stage manager, Charlinda Pereira and actress, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai about their upcoming work subTITLED 1.0 by Bridging The Gap (BTG). The play tells the intertwining stories of three women, an activist, an arts intern and a criminal lawyer, and their involvement in a drug trafficking case.

BTG, an initiative started by Singapore industry professionals Alvin Tan, Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai and A Yagnya, is a new platform which aims to support students graduating from theatre institutions by giving them opportunities to interact and work with established practitioners and designers, providing them with a meaningful transition into the industry.

ArtsEquator (AE): In whatever way you like, please introduce yourself in your own words. 

Charlinda Pereira (CP): Hmmm… Today I am a newbie producer. Yesterday I was mostly a production stage manager, technician, arts administrator, student. Tomorrow I don’t know what I will try, learn and grow into. But I just know that I am here for a reason, because of passion, to fill the gap, to make magic on stage.

Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai (RSD): Hi! I am Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, actor, singer and voiceover artist – and currently working on subTITLED 1.0

AE: How are you doing at the moment? Could you describe your current state of mind? 

CP: We are just a few days to bumping into the theatre for subTITLED 1.0, the many departments in my brain are churning at full speed, moving forward concurrently with each other – having to manage as a producer, production manager and stage manager all at once. So, I can imagine my mind to be in a state of excitement, nervousness and adrenaline as we pull everything together.

RSD: I’m excited to open a new show, I’m apprehensive about the state of work in 2021, but I’m hopeful for a better year and to turn things around. 

AE: What excites you about subTITLED 1.0 and its themes, and of being part of this production? 

CP: I am especially excited to be working with new people, such as playwright Yagnya, actors Melva (Melva Lee Ke Ying), Indu (Indumathi Tamilselvan) and my assistant stage manager Tiara (Tiara Koh), as well as people who I have enjoyed working with on previous productions such as Alvin and Sangeetha. This team is filled with very talented people who have supported me and helped me grow as an arts manager and human being. 

RSD: I love working with a new script – and the two incredible women who are graduating very soon have given me so much to learn from.

AE: What are your personal connections/entry points into the themes of the show?

CP: There are many themes and issues in subTITLED 1.0 that I can relate to and I am sure many of us can too. More specifically, I feel personally connected to the stories that speak about meeting expectations, being afraid of doing the wrong thing, feeling trapped by social status, and wishing life could be easier. Probably it’s due to circumstances and experiences I have lived through that connected me to these stories. Nonetheless, I am glad that I was able to explore them through this play and it has helped me understand myself better, maybe even given me hope to stay positive.

RSD: For me, access is a big thing I kept thinking about as I did this show. Who has access to support? To freedom? To truth? To whom does liberty belong freely, and who has to work doubly hard to access equity and/or equality? These are things that are constantly on my mind as I do this show. 

AE: How have rehearsals been for subTITLED 1.0? Can you share a particularly memorable part of the process? What’s been the most challenging part of this journey? 

CP: During the development of the script, we had many open discussions about our thoughts and our experiences. These discussions included both myself as a stage manager and my assistant stage manager Tiara to give our input. This was a rare opportunity in the rehearsal space as our roles are usually passive – just observing and taking down notes of the creative discussion, like a fly on the wall. This was refreshing and helped me understand the themes better and why we were sharing these stories on stage. Now what was challenging? Putting everything together in 3 weeks in rehearsals, whilst juggling ticket sales, social media publicity out of rehearsals, on top of school work (yes, I am still in school doing my degree hahaha). But honestly, I think I enjoy the buzz.

RSD: There is no one particularly memorable one for me – every rehearsal has been engaging, illuminating, and downright fun. We had some casting and script challenges early on in the development process – but as with a lot of things, the challenges helped give way to exciting new possibilities. Come watch to see!

AE: What is/was it like being an arts student, and what are/were your biggest fears? 

CP: If you are an arts student like me during these times, I would say we need to be extra resourceful and stay positive. I think one of my biggest fears when I graduated from my Diploma in Arts Management in 2016, was not getting to do what I love immediately after I graduated. But I soon realised that there is so much to learn and grow from experiences that are already accessible to me. A lot of our skills and basic knowledge are transferable to any industry. I would add that it is because we are arts students that we have an edge because we are naturals at looking at things from different perspectives and solving problems creatively. So now that I am left with 3 semesters to graduate from my degree, I am not as fearful as before. I am confident that I will be doing what I love for a very long time thanks to the people who support and believe in me yesterday, today and tomorrow. Likewise, I hope that I can help others be confident and do what they love in the arts too.

RSD: I’m lucky I’m no longer a student – but I am guessing our fears are one and the same: is there work to be had? How to we keep making art in the middle of a pandemic? What can we do to continue to put food on the table? 

AE: Outside of the play, what are you currently interested/obsessed with, and why?

CP: Nooo… I eat, sleep, breathe work… Just joking! I think outside of the play and in the pockets of spare time that I have, I am obsessed with stand-up comedy and anything comical such as Netflix shows, comedy movies, and other comical plays. I think I just enjoy laughing and smiling whenever I can because I can be a bit too serious at work (ask the cast). 

RSD: I’m currently obsessed with pomegranates. Don’t ask why. 

AE: Can you share a meme, joke, article or random Internet find that you’d like others to enjoy?

CP: Dedication to my fellow freelancers 🙂 

RSD:  This always makes me chuckle, no matter how many times I look at it. 

 

AE: Who is a theatremaker or group whose work you enjoy, and why? 

RSD: I loved the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch. His attention to detail is impeccable and I am a huge fan of his work. I am so glad I got to watch him online; I would not have been able to see a play like that otherwise, unless I physically travelled there. I want to work with him on a show someday.

AE: Complete this sentence: 2021 is a year of…

CP: Change & growth.

RSD: Change, healing, restoration, completion. 


subTITLED 1.0 will be on from 17 – 20 February 2021 at The Substation. Tickets are still available for Wed, 17 Feb, 3pm and Fri, 19 February, 3pm. Get your tickets here.

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