Krissy Jesudason is the founder and artistic director of Phenix Arts, a non-profit theatre group aimed at producing challenging and provoking work. This year, Phenix Arts launched its second theatre production, BASH – Latterday Plays by Neil Labute, starring Krissy Jesudason alongside Zachary Ibrahim. More recently, Krissy also performed in The Effects by Couch Theatre, where she assumed the role of Connie.
Krissy is extremely well-versed in performing Shakespeare (and she owes it to her extensive stage experience with the Bard’s works). She hopes to share the wit, poetry and humanity of Shakespeare’s works with her students. Come Semester 6, she’ll be teaching The Intimate Shakespeare at Haque Centre of Acting & Creativity, where she will explore the pride and rhetoric of Coriolanus.
In this interview, we get up-close and “intimate” with Krissy to find out more about her passion for Shakespeare and journey as an actress.
1. What is your favorite work by Shakespeare? How is it meaningful to you?
That’s a huge question and the anwwer is pretty fluid. My favorite play really depends on where I am in my life and what passages or characters resonate with me at that moment. But, if I had to pick one it would be Hamlet. I just think that as a whole the work is so complex. We have one man exploring what it is to be human against this backdrop of sex, betrayal and murder.
2. How is Shakespeare crucial to the actor’s training?
Shakespeare gives you a strong foundation in acting. They say that if you can act Shakespeare then you can act anything. The reason for this is not that Shakespeare is particularly hard. On the contrary, since his characters are pretty transparent, as in they never had a secret agenda that they hide from the audience, their wants and needs are easy to ascertain. So all the actor has to do is take the language and use it to pursue what they want. A lesson in Shakespeare is really a lesson in Acting 101.
3. Why Coriolanus?
Because no one ever seems to do it! For our community its exciting and fresh! We haven’t seen a billion productions of it (*Cough*Couch*RomeoandJuliet). So we can take this piece and really interpret it with nearly fresh eyes.
4. What is your take on contemporarising Shakespeare’s works?
Go for it. Explore, Explore, Explore. But always take your lead from the script. Don’t try and impose a situation on to the text that doesn’t make sense for the sake of being different, unique or artsy.
5. What is the funniest thing that happened to you while acting?
It was opening night and the actors were in their dressing rooms waiting for a places call. We never got one and the play began without us. When the lights cue came up and no one walked on stage, the director came scurrying back to tell us to get in to place and they started the play again.
6. How do you overcome stage fright?
That’s the best part! Why overcome it? The nerves, the possibility that anything can happen is for me the best part about performing. It’s the reason you go through the whole process of rehearsal. So when then adrenalin kicks in your free to just play.
7. What is your biggest pet peeve?
People walking around and talking in the rehearsal room while actors are trying to rehearse.
8. What inspired you to act?
Hmmm, tough one. I think I’ve always been a performer. It’s really the only thing I can understand fully. Like accounting, finance, IT — I don’t get it. But acting, that I understand.
9. Why Singapore?
The entertainment business outside of Singapore is competitive. It’s hard, draining and stressful. You must be prepared to skip all landmarks that make you an adult like buying a house, a car, having a retirement fund. Because there is a possibility that you won’t get all that stuff. But in Singapore (where you actually get paid for most of the work you do) there’s flexibility to act and pursue other things so you’re not financially stressed. However sacrifices must be made on the artist’s part. Since not a lot of people and companies sole focus is theatre everyone’s focus is split. Therefore the dedication to the work is somewhat lacking and the work can be unspecific and general.
10. If you could bring an actor out on a date, whom would you pick?
Like to talk about acting and the craft? Meryl Streep. (For something a little more umm, romantic, Tom Hiddleston.)
An audition is required for admission into The Intimate Shakespeare: Coriolanus. For more details about the workshop and audition process, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://methodactingasia.com/programmes/.