Time Out Singapore: ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ Preview (Alan Wong)

Making his local stage debut in this month’s Gruesome Playground Injuries – Pangdemonium!’s third production (this one also by a Pulitzer finalist, Rajiv Joseph) – the California-born Wong is one of two actors in the show, which follows his character Doug’s love affair with Kayleen (played by Seong Hui Xuan) from age eight to 37. Here, Gwen Pew learns a bit more about the handsome actor.

Alan Wong. Image courtesy of Pangdemonium! Productions.

Alan Wong plays the clumsy, accident-prone Doug in Gruesome Playground Injuries. Image courtesy of Pangdemonium! Productions.

5 Nov 2013:

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When Wong decided that he wanted to explore opportunities in Asia, he had initially moved to Hong Kong, but ‘soon realised that Hong Kong didn’t have many English-speaking opportunities,’ he says. ‘After an audition in Singapore, I found all the opportunites I needed.’

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He’s also appeared on US TV shows such as Hannah Montana, but his favourite art form is still theatre: ‘I love the singular moment of experience that theatre creates. Movies and television shows can be watched at any time. But a stage performance only happens once. The next performance will never be the same as the last. That’s pretty magical. That’s what I love.’

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He’s looking to act more, but his current day job is being a VJ on MTV Asia, which he started in March after moving here: ‘As of now, my focus is onGruesome and hosting The MTV Show,’ he says.

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Despite his experience, he’s a bit nervous about his local stage debut: ‘I’m always at least a little nervous about everything I do, but I think nerves are important. They can either make or break you. The trick is to use them to serve your performance and not diminish it. But since this is the first time anyone in Singapore has seen me act and not host, I’ll admit there are a few extra nerves.’

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In Gruesome, his character is a bit accident-prone [hence the title]: ‘Doug has been a really fun character to explore so far. He has a kind soul and cares a great deal for Kayleen, but he isn’t exactly the smartest tool in the shed. He’s not stupid, though, he just lacks a little common sense. He spends much of the play accidentally hurting himself severely.’

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Time Out Singapore: ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ Preview (Seong Hui Xuan)

Pangdemonium! Productions stages Rajiv Joseph’s Pulitzer-nominated play Gruesome Playground Injuries as their third and final show of the year. Gwen Pew speaks to Seong Hui Xuan to find out more about her character, Kayleen.

Seong Hui Xuan and Alan Wong gets dizzy as they flit between the 30 years of their characters' lives. Image courtesy of Pangdemonium! Productions.

Seong Hui Xuan and Alan Wong get dizzy as they flit between the 30 years of their characters’ lives. Image courtesy of Pangdemonium! Productions.

30 Oct 2013: 

Tell us a little bit about your character, Kaylene.
Kaylene is someone who shies away from people and finds herself alone a lot of the time. She doesn’t have many people in her life who care about her. Doug is the exception. She comes from a broken family and doesn’t have / hasn’t had a happy childhood at all, and is deeply insecure about many things, which causes her many emotional and psychological problems in later life.

How did you mentally – and physically – prepare yourself for the role?
Well, I’m still preparing and researching the place, the different time periods, kids of different ages, the specific disorders that Kaylene has. It’s an on-going process I think.

How are the rehearsals going so far?
It’s going great! Starting rehearsals for a new project is always exciting because it’s a brand new journey, a blank canvas, and the possibilities are out there to be discovered.

Are you quite a squeamish person?
Not at all. Give me fake blood and cool wounds any day!

Do you relate to Kaylene in any way?
Definitely. In a far less extreme way than Kayleen, I never really felt like I belonged at school – I wasn’t one of the popular kids, or the geniuses, or even the rebellious kids. I had friends, but I always somehow felt alone and lost for the most part. So I can empathise with Kayleen’s struggles in that respect.

You and Alan are the only cast members for the play – what are some of the challenges?
Primarily I think sustaining the energy that’s needed to carry the show. It’s like playing soccer with only two people on your team – we’ll just have to work that much harder. But it will be crazy fun and I love a good challenge!

If you were to describe the play in three words, what would they be?
Funny, twisted, and strangely sweet.