In Whale Fall, playwright Faith Ng, writes about two best friends, who are fellow actors performing the first scene of a play. They then decide to change it. As fiction and truth become interwoven, they share stories, secrets and sweets. A meditative play about the things you lose and the things you search for in life, Whale Fall explores the redemptive power of art and friendship.
We speak to Liz Lazan & Jeane Reveendran, who are reportedly long-time close friends in real life! (See TNS video here)
1. How do the two of you continue to be close friends? Do you share anything common in particular, or any dark secrets between each other?
Liz: It's amazing when another person from your childhood has the same personal, professional and creative values as you do - yet you continue to grow in your own ways side by side. That's how we're still so close! We respect each other's process in our pursuits.
Jeane: Humor is the way to my heart, and we share the same funny bone.
We have these crazy characters that we've made up along the years and they come up in our interactions frequently and sometimes we can spend most of a phone conversation lost in interacting as these characters. It's what keeps our friendship unique and special, because it's not just Jeane and Liz, but also Blanche and Maryanne (2 southern women from Alabama, one happy-go-lucky and the other neurotic), Linda and Patricia (2 English sisters, one proper, and the other rude) and the list goes on.
With Liz, secrets are never dark, always colorful. A beautiful rainbow in our private backyard of secrets.
2. Getting into character(s) in Faith’s play, did either of you have to dig deep inside your friendship with each other (or with anyone else for that matter) and gained any surprising finds about life or friendship?
Liz: It's more about an understanding of being familiar as great friends yet approaching the story with professionalism at the same time. We didn't wanna be complacent with each just because we're so comfortable in our friendship. The surprise is more of moments every now and then during rehearsal where it hits me how fortunate I am to work on a great script with a childhood friend.
Jeane: I don't think it was about digging deep because we've spent years carving the depths of our relationship and I feel like I have a roadmap to our friendship in my back pocket and every year, it gets revised and I have the updated version. In a way, the characters we play feel like they're from a parallel universe. So I understand the depth of their friendship, but they have a completely different dynamic from Liz and I.
3. Was there any improvisation done in the process of making the play?
Liz: Yes, there was a lot of play through discussions and work-shopping with Alvin. These characters are open to various interpretations - so it was a big part of the rehearsal process to create a world for them with some specific stories.
Jeane: It was and has been a really collaborative process. We each wrote monologues, and shared them during the workshopping of the play. We also improvised scenes based on conflicts that arise in friendships.
4. Did you have to confront any uncomfortable bits of your memories or relationships in trying to empathise with the characters in the play?
Liz: We've had quite a few discussions about our past and how it relates to our relationships now. With every character, I draw from my own experiences - and with the play bringing you on such an emotional journey, it was definitely part of the process.
Jeane: One of the recurring themes is unhealthy co-dependent relationships and it's something that I'm too familiar with. I grew up finding a lot of my worth in helping others so I found myself in a number of one-sided friendships that ended in disappointment because I'd get to a point of being too exhausted and start pulling away. It's in my exhaustion where I'd come to the revelation that we are not actually friends and my friendship is based on guilt because I feel like I'm responsible for the individual's happiness. However, it's not uncomfortable for me to reflect on those relationships, but a relief because I'm learning to establish boundaries and thinking about them are a good reminder of how far I've come.
Liz Lazan – Performer (Whale Fall)
Elizabeth is an actress and presenter working between Los Angeles and Singapore. She first attended the Singapore Repertory Theatre's Young Company before working full-time on stage and screen. As a recipient of the National Arts Council’s Development Grant for Acting, Lazan is the first Singaporean to graduate from The William Esper Studio (NYC). She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 2015 Life! Theatre Awards for her performance in Pangdemonium's Fat Pig. She hosted Something To Write Home About, a Singapore Arts Festival SG50 initiative in New York City. Elizabeth is delighted to be back for her TNS stage debut.
Jeane Reveendran – Performer (Whale Fall)
Jeane Reveendran trained at the LASALLE College of the Arts Musical Theatre program and continued to hone her skills at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. In 2015, she started her own production company, JR Infinite Productions and in 2016 co-produced a travel food show with her creative partner and best friend Elizabeth Lazan. With her music, acting, writing, psychology and culinary background, she is taking her work to the next level by producing shows embodying her passions. She is excited to return to Singapore to collaborate with talented & creative individuals and perform with her childhood platonic sweetheart, Liz.
The Orange Production
Date: 10 - 13 Aug 2017, Thu - Sun
Venue: The Necessary Stage Black Box
Ticket price: $28 (General), $20 (Student/NSF/senior citizens/PWD card holders)
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