#HelloTFP: Merissa Tang

by fingerplayers

#HelloTFP is a series of anecdotes where we introduce and share more about the members of the TFP family; from core team members to office interns. In this latest #HelloTFP feature, we speak with our Production Bridging Initiative Mentee, Merissa Tang.

Photo Credit: Syimah Sabtu

I think my background story is a very typical “How did anybody, or like a majority of people get into theatre?” I was from Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary) and I was in the Drama Club, and that overlapped into my studies in Republic Polytechnic where I did Arts and Theatre Management.

It was not till one day in an RP Drama IG production, where they needed a Stage Manager, and our instructor Gloria Tan, said “Mer, why don’t you go for it, just try.”

METAPHOR by Operation Theatre (RP) // Photo Credit: Photo Republic & CREATE Media Wing

I still remember my first production in RP – Metaphor. I remember the wrong cue I called for that show: The character had to cut off his leg, and I had to do a snap cue for the lights to go black so he could hide his (cut) leg, and then the red lights would come on. I called it too early and you could see the guy trying to hide his leg in the red light. The wrong cue haunts me till this day. 

After coming back from my studies in Melbourne*, even though I was experiencing productions, I knew I had a giant gap. Most of the shows I was doing needed me to execute it in a short span of a few months; the idea of the show had been there, and they just needed a PM or SM to execute the rest of the show. I had little to no experience creating a show from scratch, so say what are the processes, how do I facilitate the correct conversations between the Director and design team? I feel like in the beginning of a creative process, some things are not fully developed yet, so how do I support the development of this? How do I let the person be creative in their time and space, while still managing to keep my timeline? I felt that I couldn’t say I can confidently execute a production if I wasn’t familiar with the process as well, and hence I thought that the Production Bridging Initiative would be a very good platform for me to learn just that.

In the conversations I had with Dan Fong (Core Team Member of The Finger Players, and PBI Mentor), we talked about how do we balance our mental health when working in production(s), while taking care of the rest of the production. I think it’s an important ongoing conversation, as production people we are always giving and providing to the production, so how do we stay balanced? How do we give to the rest of our lives, and the rest of our practice?

Photo Credit: Syimah Sabtu

*Merissa was awarded the National Arts Council Undergraduate Scholarship in 2019, and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design and Production) from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne (previously Victoria College of The Arts).