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Rant and rave: Neo Swee Lin

SINGAPORE — If there are people veteran actress Neo Swee Lin have to thank for what has been a long and fruitful career, it has to be the nuns and her former principal at Katong Convent, Mrs Marie Bong.

Rant and rave: Neo Swee Lin

Veteran actress Neo Swee Lin's taking acting classes? She does in Pangdemonium's Circle Mirror Transformation. Photo: Pangdemonium.

SINGAPORE — If there are people veteran actress Neo Swee Lin have to thank for what has been a long and fruitful career, it has to be the nuns and her former principal at Katong Convent, Mrs Marie Bong.

“We had speech and drama classes in primary school and put up a lot of plays throughout secondary school. Our yearly Shakespeare production would be held at the Victoria Theatre and I was actually the stage playing Phoebe in As You Like It at age 14. It was real thrill back then. I was really quite short-sighted and used to walk around half-blind on stage!” she recalled.

“I never thought I would be able to keep doing this acting thing for this long,” she added. “I suppose I am very lucky that the timing worked out. I started acting at a time when an industry of sorts was just beginning, and then I won a scholarship to study drama in Glasgow a few years later, lived and worked in the United Kingdom for a while, then came home to do a play, during the time when local TV was just beginning and ended up coming home because there was so much good work here. You could say I hung on in there but it’s also a story of good timing and luck.”

In a sense, Neo will be reliving her fumbling acting moments in Pangdemonium Productions’ latest show, Circle Mirror Transformation. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker, it’s a comedy set in an acting class of five wannabes. Directed by Tracie Pang, it stars Adrian Pang, Daniel Jenkins, Nikki Muller, Selma Alkaff and Neo, who plays free-spirited Marty. “She’s a child of the ’60s and very excited to hold adult creative drama classes,” she said of her character. “She’s a warm, nurturing soul with her heart in all the right places.”

***

RANTS

ERP GANTRIES. There is nothing that makes my blood boil more than driving through an ERP gantry. There are a few that are absolutely unavoidable, like the one just before SOTA (School Of The Arts), whenever I do a play there, and it frustrates me so much that I have to go through more than one of them to get to work every day! Yesterday someone told me that there is a S$6 charge on one gantry. Oh my god, that would drive me nuts.

INCESSANT RADIO DJ CHATTER. Especially on the so-called easy-listening stations. Most times, it’s not so easy to listen to. There is one deejay that drives me nuts by saying “burfday” instead of “birthday”. Put your tongue between your teeth and say “th”! Birthday!

STYROFOAM PLATES AND PLASTIC CUTLERY. Recently, I realised I’ve stopped going to my old haunts because of this. How to eat roti prata like that?

RAVES

MY 4-YEAR-OLD NEPHEW. My family say I am the only one that can keep up with him, energy- wise. He is the sunshine in my life. We play everything from drawing to jousting to sword-fighting. We “transform” a lot. I’m the yellow Power Ranger.

ELLEN DEGENERES. I am a big fan. I love everything about her. I try to remember what she says every day at the end of her talk show. “Be kind to one another.” So simple.

DOING NOTHING. Spending a relaxing day at home with my three boys, my father, my husband and my dog.

Circle Mirror Transformation runs from Jan 29 to Feb 15, 8pm, DBS Arts Centre — Home of SRT. With 3pm weekend matinees. Tickets from S$30 to S$55 at SISTIC.

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