Interview: The cast of ‘Fat Pig’ - Frances Lee

By Anjali RaguramanEvents - 10 February 2014 2:00 PM

Interview: The cast of ‘Fat Pig’ - Frances Lee

‘Fat Pig’ is a play that doesn’t mince its words when it comes to love and relationships. While most romantic comedies are about the triumphs of love against all odds, ‘Fat Pig’, written by Neil LaBute challenges the validity of this ideal. Is there always a happy ending?

Thin and handsome Tom and plus-sized Helen meet by chance and sparks fly. They slowly find out that they’re made for each other. But there’s a tiny problem. Despite Helen’s sparkling personality and Tom falling more and more for her, he has trouble telling his friends about his new relationship.

As lies are told to fend off prying colleagues Jeannie and Carter, who tease him incessantly, it remains to be seen if Tom can overcome his prejudices to finally tell them the truth.

Brought to the stage by Pangdemonium, the play sees Frances Lee in her professional theatre debut as lead character, ‘Helen’. inSing spoke to her about insecurities, prejudices and we even found out the importance of Krispy Kreme.

Could you describe ‘Fat Pig’ in three words?

Hilarious and hard-hitting. Bonus points for alliteration!

You’re in your final year at LaSalle and you’ve landed your debut theatre production with Pangdemonium- what does that feel like?

It’s surreal. I’m incredibly lucky- I don’t deny that. Especially since working with both Tracie and Adrian has been such a blast; they’ve been incredibly supportive with my school schedule and their amazing to have as mentors for an acting student like myself. I’m incredibly grateful and euphoric at the same time. It’s been a terrific ride.

What drew you to the script/story of ‘Fat Pig’?

I read the script for the first time in my second year of JC, when I was at a point in my life where I was really uncomfortable the way I looked. The issues that the play deals with are very real, and they hit very close to home for me. I was drawn to the honesty in his writing. This is one of my all-time favorite plays.

The story revolves around personal prejudices, weakness and the bad things people do to each other. Can you relate to your character?

I feel like the beauty of human existence lies in the fact that we are capable of anything: all the different spectrums of emotions and states of mind. That’s why I love acting: I can explore them all. Having said that, Helen has a very distinct voice for me. I hold her very near to my heart, and I see her flaws present in my own character. I enjoy playing her very much.

What do you love and/or hate about your character?

What’s not to love about Helen? Jokes aside, one of the best things about Neil LaBute’s writing is that his characters have real, tangible human flaws that are completely relatable. I don’t want to give too much away, but Helen’s insecurities about her weight do come through, and it’s heartbreaking for me to see because she’s such a confident, joyful woman. But I guess that’s what makes her love me even more.

In a way, the play is a comment on the way the media has thwarted our view of beauty. What’s your take on this?

The media definitely dictates what we should perceive at beautiful, and it promotes a body type that some women (me included) find difficult to achieve. However, I think it is what it is. I choose personally not to fight against it, but to coexist peacefully with it. I don’t see the need to alter myself to fit the social standards of beauty, but I do appreciate the aesthetic value of good-looking women and men.

How hard is it for larger girls to get leading roles in plays and do you think they are underrepresented in theatre in Singapore?

I can’t really answer the first part of the question, since I’m just starting out and don’t have enough experience to comment on that. But my all favourite local theatre actresses are of all different shapes and sizes, so I don’t think any one body type is truly underrepresented.

How did you prepare for this role?

I discovered Krispy Kreme, and the rest is history.

Has the play been adapted for the Singapore context?

We’ve kept it in the American vernacular this time. I think the message of this play is transcultural, so the need to localize it isn’t really there. I also think localizing it will distract the audience from the essence of the play’s message.

How are you hoping Singapore audiences will react to the play?

Any way they want, but they’ll definitely react.

Since the play is coming out around Valentine’s Day, what do you hope people will take away from it?

Don’t be afraid to follow your heart and make mistakes. Other than that, laugh your ass off! We’re here all week!

'Fat Pig' by Pangdemonium| Starring Frances Lee, Gavin Yap, Elizabeth Lazan and Zachary Ibrahim| Date: 13 February to 2 March 2014| Time: Tues - Fri: 8pm, Sat: 3pm & 8pm, Sun (16 Feb & 23 Feb): 3pm, Sun (2 Mar): 3pm & 8pm| Venue: DBS Arts Centre - Home of SRT| Tickets: $30 - $55 via Sistic