Theatre veteran clinches ST Life Theatre Award

Best Supporting Actress winner Tan Beng Tian (left) with Madam Tan Hoon Siang, the Sungei Road hawker her character is based on.
Best Supporting Actress winner Tan Beng Tian (left) with Madam Tan Hoon Siang, the Sungei Road hawker her character is based on.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Theatre veteran Tan Beng Tian has won Best Supporting Actress at this year's The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards for portraying 60-year-old hawker Tan Hoon Siang in the play One Metre Square: Voices From Sungei Road.

The production, which explores the lives of hawkers at the former Sungei Road flea market, was staged during Wild Rice's Singapore Theatre Festival last year.

Actress Tan, 53, who had never met Madam Tan until The Straits Times' photo shoot yesterday, said she had been nervous about depicting a real-life character.

"I was worried that I may offend Madam Tan with my portrayal of her," she said.

Madam Tan, who had never seen a play before One Metre Square, said the actress' performance was "realistic".

She attended the show with other hawkers from the former flea market and she said that they were glad to see their stories dramatised.

"It was important because it created awareness of our lives. The plus point is that now people know where to find me after the market closed," Madam Tan added.

 

Since the flea market closed in 2017, she has moved her clothing stall to Woodlands.

The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards have run every year since 2001 to honour the best of Singaporean theatre in the previous year.

This year, 14 prize winners have been named in 13 categories. Production of the Year went to Leda And The Rage, the story of a rape survivor, presented by Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay, while theatre-maker Nelson Chia won Best Director for Pissed Julie, a drama staged by his Nine Years Theatre group in collaboration with the Macau Arts Festival.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2019, with the headline 'Theatre veteran clinches ST Life Theatre Award'. Print Edition | Subscribe