HCAC Spotlight: Marilyn White

You’ll be able to recognise her by her warm, cheerful, positive energy. Or… you may also recognise her as the winner of ‘Best Original Monologue’ at last year’s Singapore Monologue Slam. Since then, Marilyn has been making use of her scholarship at HCAC (one of the many prizes she won in the competition), building her craft and skills in acting & performance.

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Marilyn’s HCAC experience has rekindled the flame of her passion for acting. So much so that now, she will begin a new chapter of her life as she follows her passions and dreams of being an actor. But before all that, let’s take a moment to shine a light on Marilyn White in this month’s HCAC Spotlight!

Hi Marilyn! Tell us more about yourself. 

A question I get asked a lot is “Where are you from?”. I used to respond by telling everyone my whole lineage and back story, thinking they were really interested in knowing where I was from until they realised how long it was going to take to hear my answer. So, I decided to shorten my response to two words: New Singaustrericanelsh. Depending on their sincerity, that answer will either open up a conversation or end one. I like to live simply, honestly and as authentically as I can possibly be – which is also how I approach my craft and character work. I also love avocados so much that maybe one day I’ll name my first child after one. Kind of similar to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Apple.

What were the class or classes you took part in when you joined HCAC?

My first experience with HCAC actually happened to be for an audition for a play that Kamil was directing; prior to that I had only ever known about HCAC from surfing the web for acting classes and wistfully dreaming I could one day attend a workshop. Meeting Kamil and being cast in his production, Savage Love and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, changed my life and transformed me into the actress I am today. With his unwavering support, encouragement, creative insightfulness and inspiration, I challenged myself to break out of my comfort zone and enter The Singapore Monologue Slam in 2016 with an original piece; I won 3 awards which prized me with a scholarship at HCAC. My dreams of attending classes there had come true!

I took full advantage of my scholarship and enrolled into as many classes as my schedule could allow me: Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting Introduction Class, Meyerhold’s Biomechanics Workshop, Acting for Musicals with Nicole Stinton, Acting for Camera: 101, Scene Study, Comedic Improvisation course… I think that’s all. I obviously was trying to get the most out of my scholarship!! 😸

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Marilyn getting ready for her performance in The Singapore Monologue Slam 2016.

I joined these classes because I wanted to expand my knowledge as an artist and discover new ways to cultivate my craft. I also wanted to take any class that Kamil was teaching because he was the best teacher I’ve ever had the privilege to work with during Danny and the Deep Blue Sea so I knew I would gain a lot from him.

Tell us more about your experience and what you learnt during your workshop?

Gosh, I have learned so much from these workshops! Let’s see… from Meyerhold’s Biomechanics Workshop, I learned how the movement in our bodies can strongly affect our moods and emotions. This workshop was really incredible and opened up my eyes to how connected our body, mind and soul can be through the physicality of movements. I wanted more after this workshop – so good!!! I also gained a lot from Nicole Stinton’s Acting in Musical Theatre because I am by no means a trained singer but I left the workshop feeling MUCH more confident about my voice. I learned that a song is simply a monologue, written by someone who wishes to express their thoughts and feelings through music. By reading the lyrics and understanding the thoughts and ideas of the lyricist, as well as listening to the music and hearing what the composer is trying to say, you can then paint the picture of the song sincerely and honestly.

Acting on Camera 101 made me realise how challenging film acting can be, and how in control of every aspect of their bodies film actors are – it was something I underestimated and now have a newfound respect for. Improvisation was so much fun and taught me how to act on my feet and interact with other actors without any form of script or planning. Because improv is reactive, your performance relies heavily on your fellow actors so you have to all be on the same wavelength and intuitive to each other’s actions. Arnaud makes it look easy but it really isn’t!

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Marilyn performing her winning monologue at Singapore Writers Festival 2016.

Finally, the Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting Introduction Class is the foundation to everything I’ve learned. From understanding the importance of having a relaxed mind, body and soul to learning how specificity can completely alter a performance, this class not only lays the groundwork for acting, it also builds on top and stretches you as an actor. It’s like laying down the bones of a skeleton and also filling it out with the blood and muscles.

How much did you change from when you first joined the course to when it ended. 

I have to say that this entire journey from working with Kamil to studying at HCAC has changed me as an artist by 180 degrees. I’ve grown wiser, humbler, more open, less self-conscious as an actress and continue to grow as days go by. I also realised how much I fucking love this art and that acting is my soul’s passion.

I absolutely feel that what I have learned thus far is applicable to my life beyond acting because I have already incorporated it into my daily life! I relax more, I try to maintain a balanced PMS (Physical, Mental, Spiritual) state so that I can perform at my ultimate best in any situation (PMS is something I learned from Strasberg’s Method Acting class – NOT from health class 😹), when auditioning or working on projects I apply all that I have learned in the workshops to what I’m doing and it really helps. I feel very grateful to have won the scholarship last year and am thankful everyday that I continue to grow and learn because of it.

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Marilyn at a table reading for The Art of Short Scripts last year.

What is it like being part of the HCAC community?

SENSATIONAL!!! The classmates – I love every single one of them!! They each exude such passion and unique energies that make each of them special and pleasant to be around, so I feel grateful to know them. The instructors – without them, there would be no us; without us, there would be no them. We are one! Their ability to free our talents is truly remarkable and I love every single one of them as well. I feel so grateful to have met the incredible teachers I have worked with and am very grateful to have such a talented, genuine, caring mentor in Kamil. The staff – without them I think there would be nobody because they are so good at keeping everything running and under control!!! I love all of them – every single one of them is kind, caring, talented, funny, animated… Just wonderful. So happy to be a part of such an extraordinary community. ❤️ 

What does HCAC give to you that you cant really find anywhere else?

Kamil! Duh, there’s only one of him… 😄 Jokes aside, I can’t really put into words what HCAC gives me because it’s indescribable! It’s magical, it’s love and empathy, it’s a sense of belonging, it’s … MALOVEMPAL!!! I have to make up a word to describe it because that’s just what HCAC gives me! Creative freedom!

Would you like to share anything else?

Well, I’m actually slowly jotting down a play that I have been inspired to write based on the people in this world and the journey I continue to go on, so watch this space!

Also, thanks to everything I have learned (and continue to learn) from Kamil and to the growth I’ve made as a human being, I’ve decided to move to London to pursue my dreams and live solely (and soully) for the arts. I will miss HCAC and Kamil immensely but my dreams are calling!

Once I banish all fears and doubt, my dreams will become reality and everything my heart believes, I will achieve.