Singing the blues
Article from the Sun daily by Jessica Chua (posted on 14 July 2016)
AS the eldest child in a traditional family, Tan Yon Lynn feels like the odd one out as she chases her passion in performing arts. Although she's been singing since she was five, Tan was never professionally trained.
"I learned a lot from my choir teacher in secondary school. She was strict, but she gave us an ideal environment to learn music. Even so, I never saw a future in music because I had so much doubt and insecurities," the Penangite revealed.
When she came down to Kuala Lumpur, the 28-year-old discovered music theatre company Dama Orchestra, where she was exposed to music theatre for the first time. The whole concept was so new and mesmerising, it inspired her to attend acting workshops and dance classes, opening her eyes to the industry's pool of talents.
"Being able to perform is a crazy part of my life because I get to be someone I'm not. You get to explore things that you don't go through in your daily life," said Tan, who's an assistant producer at a TV production company. From singing solo on stage, to performing in musical ensembles, Tan went on to play the coveted role of Rapunzel last May, in a local production of renowned musical Into the Woods. Although she doesn't plan to pursue theatre full-time – yet – she definitely sees herself performing for the rest of her life.
When did you first discover that you could sing well?
It was less of acknowledging that I can sing well, but more of wanting to sing. That's why I'm always doing it – singing is something that I do for self fulfilment. If I don't sing, everything gets bottled up inside, and I'd feel funny. Come to think of it, it's not really a dream come true. I'm tired, my body's tired, and I'm singing off-pitch;but I feel happy being able to express myself.
Tell us about your role in Into the Woods.
Rapunzel is not a princess. She lives in a tower contained by her mum, who happens to be the witch. The only human interaction she has ever had is with her mum. It's a sad story because the witch is doing everything for her daughter, yet it ends tragically because Rapunzel becomes crazy.
This is an interesting and complicated role because it deals with our relationship with our mothers. I'm grateful to be in Rapunzel's shoes. I could relate to her; always wanting to chase things while being contained in your environment – an ideal world versus reality.
What challenges do you face in performing?
I always feel like I could invest more time in my craft, going for classes and things like that. Here in Malaysia, we have not achieved a balance when it comes to performing full-time, and not having to worry about how much you earn.
Everyone is pretty much freelancing – getting as many jobs as possible to pay the bills – and at the same time, creating and expressing themselves. It's tough but we have to do it with the right goal, building towards what's best for the local art scene.
Personally, I hope to better manage my time to focus on what I'm able to deliver, and do things that I like. As much as you want to stretch yourself, rest is important for the state of mind. I always ask myself, 'Is this what I want to do consciously, or am I doing this out of habit?'
Any words for aspiring performers who are afraid to take the leap?
Take your time to discover who you are – it will lead you to what's meant to be.
If you're constantly distracted, you can't listen to yourself and you'd be doing things mindlessly. Things will happen at the right time so don't rush into it, and don't get agitated if nothing happens. Live in the moment.
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