When you’re watching Robert DeNiro in your favourite gangster movies, or Meryl Streep in a myriad of roles, there must have been at least one time you wondered what it would be like to be an actor.
To slip into the shoes of someone else. Get into the mind of someone perhaps larger than life, and think/move/feel like them — to act like them. Someone completely different or even someone just like you but living a different life.
Do you feel like you have a thespian in you bursting to get out yet? Think you’d like to test your acting chops on a real stage?
We asked veteran actor Remesh Panicker how an aspiring actor could realise their dreams.
“Well, if they just want to dip their toe in the pond, what they could do is take a class,” Remesh suggests.
There are several places offering different kinds of classes. So you would take an acting workshop which will give you kind of exposure to the craft without the high stakes of doing public performance.
"Over the years, I have met many seniors who have always harboured this desire to act, but haven’t had the opportunity, which in the past is true."
Remesh goes on to share:
However, with the continued and longstanding efforts of theatre communities around Singapore, this is no longer the case.
You could consider the Haque Centre for Acting and Creativity (HCAC) which offers workshops for all ages and skill levels and can be anywhere between one-shot, three-hour sessions to eight-session workshops covering varying subjects.
If you’re too cool for school, then perhaps programmes like Theatre For Seniors (TFS) by The Necessary Stage and The Glowers Drama Group at The Centre For Seniors might be more your speed.
They build communities through their theatre making and drama practice. TFS has been featured in local festivals like the M1 Fringe Festival but also stages its own productions as well.
Similarly, The Glowers have appeared in local arts festivals but also represented Singapore in international arts festivals as well!
Remesh also admits that seniors may come across another stumbling block on the way to exploring the acting world — fear.
"They don't want to do it because it's scary."
However, once they’ve experienced the joy of acting, many of these fears will dissipate.
Melissa Lim, general manager of The Necessary Stage, notes that through the TFS programme, participants “gain confidence, are more gung-ho at trying new things, and have also become much more social in that they now have a group of like-minded seniors who they hang out with even beyond the programme”.
The tangible benefits to expressing yourself are also well documented.
Researchers at Northwestern University used an eight-week programme filled with exercises that utilised observation, creativity, and imagination to help older adults with early-stage dementia be social and improve their quality of life.
The participants in the programme reported improved moods, an increased sense of belonging, and feelings of self-discovery.
Another study found that after as little as four weeks of theatre instruction, participants record significant improvements in cognition, recall, word generation, problem solving, and psychological well-being.
But Melissa cautions that the joy of acting also comes with hard work.
"There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes before an actual performance hits the stage, and often people forget about the blood, sweat and tears needed to get to that point. So being able to commit for the long haul is important."
So joining a drama troupe straight away might not be the thing for you.
Whether you’re considering signing up for a class or to jumping into either of the two drama programmes mentioned above, just remember to have fun.
"Once you decide that you’re doing this to come out of your comfort zone, to give yourself something to do, to maybe meet other people outside your circle of friends, it's certainly something you should pick up the courage to do."
An insightful perspective comes from Remesh, who says,
"Be bold and give it a shot! You may think you aren't up to scratch, or that there's just too much to learn. But the truth is, everyone is a storyteller, and you are a wonderful archive and presenter of your own precious histories."
Separately, Melissa advises,
"Of course, there is a fair bit of commitment needed, and you need to be able to stay the course and open your mind to learning new skills. But that's part of the fun, and what's more, you will be able to master a skill, create new works, and eventually see them on stage. The whole process is a very rewarding and undoubtedly a fun one!"
As long as you have fun, that’s all that matters really. Not every actor can reach stardom and that’s okay, but all actors should strive to be proud of their craft and the people they work alongside.
We’re a community created by silvers for silvers, brought together by a sense of curiosity and desire to live the next phase of our lives with joy and purpose. Expect useful tips and uncommon wisdom to enjoy living fuller for longer.