In His Own Words

Inbox, Monday:  

Hello, Tammy.
Just to assure you, I am working (furiously) on this.
Trying to give in-depth answers is taking added time.

Best Wishes,

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R Chandran

Founder-Director of ACT 3 Theatrics 

Playwright, Author, Actor, Director, Trainer

***

Chandran is married to Amy.  A few weeks ago, I wrote Colour Me Love, https://brunoandtammy.co/2015/09/27/colour-me-love/ when she graciously shared their story with me.  That post struck a deep chord amongst many readers.  I thought it would be wonderful if we could revisit things, from his perspective, instead.

***

Inbox, Tuesday:  (With a few edits.)

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  1.  Is this your 1st marriage?

Yes, it is!  I was waiting for Amy J Cheng to show up in my life.

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A few months before I met Amy, I felt a glow in my heart…a sense of feeling at peace with my life.  I was ready to embrace life and another human being.  In my 20s, 30s and into my 40s, I was very happy building up ACT 3 Theatrics and making theatre for children.

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2.  Is this the 1st time you have dated a Chinese girl/outside of your race?

I have not dated anyone before Amy.

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I was a painfully shy child who became a little bolder only in my mid-30s.  I have always been very comfortable with children and elderly folks, though.

3.  Is the culture that Amy is from, familiar to you?  How/why, how/why not?

I grew up in the housing-quarters of a factory, with about 20 families living in proximity. There was a Sikh family, Indian and Chinese households.  Beyond our fence line, was a kampong of Malay families.  Therefore I grew up amidst a multitude of sounds, (food) smells, sights and practices.  My parents were great in that they never highlighted the fact that we were different (we were for instance, strict vegetarians).  Religion-wise, I lived with Hindu practices, went to a Catholic school, had close Muslim friends.  I am well-versed.  So when people ask me what race I am, I tell them, I am Singaporean.

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4.  Anything about the Chinese culture that freaks you out?

None at all! Unless it is highlighted, I am not even aware that she is different from me.

10978648_10153962742599572_1067578180615961888_n(In costume, on set for Wartime Singapore, Channel News Asia.)

5.  Amy talks about being friends 1st. For you, was that the same, or did you already feel more?

I first met her as a single mum, a very talented actress and an incredibly beautiful lady.

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We worked in the production, Footsteps in the Night.  There were moments when we as characters, “froze”.  Many of these scenes involved just us.  I ended up facing Amy, staring at her – legitimate theatrical moments!  When I gathered enough courage I mentioned to her, in passing, what a beautiful landscape it was for me, to be staring at.

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Only after a few months, when I was certain she was single, did I allow myself to have feelings for her.  But I kept it from her, and we went our separate ways.  With some friends I shared that if, by the end of 2002, nothing happened between us, then, that was that.

259879_2027161352702_1675090_n(Working the red carpet, with friend and colleague, actor Jimmy T.)

After a long period without any communication, Amy called me.  (I was watching football on TV and usually would not have answered. BUT I DID!)  Fortunately I answered her call, as she may not have called again.   Yaaaaaaaahoooooooooo!  

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6.  What was it about her then that attracted you? What is it about her that keeps you still drawn?                                                                                                                                                Amy doesn’t wear a mask.  With her, I don’t need to wear a mask.

7.  Does the issue of race factor into courtship, early marriage, and then now? If so, how/in what ways?

I am my Mother-in-law’s favourite now.

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But during courtship and early marriage, we were estranged.  She didn’t attend our wedding.  Now, she is incredibly protective over me.

8.  Does race factor into parenting your sons? How/in what ways?                                                                         Because of who we are, our sons instinctively are open to diversity in their daily living.  We don’t have to instruct them.  It is brilliant that as a family, we get to celebrate Diwali, Christmas, Chinese New Year and all the other cultural festivities, as part of our heritage

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9.  You are a good-looking, successful, wonderful man.  In a sense, you could be with anyone.  Yet you went for the actress, who was a single mother, with a Pandora Box… We can never fully make sense of what the heart desires.  We love the things we love for what they are –  Robert Frost.

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10.  Any thoughts to add on ‘multi-racial’, ‘egalitarian’ Singapore?  Have you lived in Singapore all your life?  Why children’s theatre?
Because racial considerations never feature prominently in my mind, I have never felt side- lined in Singapore.  It was not designed, but the founders of ACT 3 Theatrics are Malay, Chinese and Indian.  Yes, I have lived in Singapore all my life.  I cherish every moment of it.

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I am most comfortable with children.

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11.  What is it like being Joshua’s dad?  Reservations in the beginning?  And now?

Joshua is a blessing and a privilege.

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In customary Hindu weddings, the Bride’s family presents a dowry to the Groom’s.  For me, Joshua is my dowry from Amy.

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My continuing challenge is to always be aware that in his very early years, he grew up in an environment with values and traits that may be a little different from mine, and to allow him breathing space.

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He is a pillar of strength in how he treats me.  Other than that, it is the universal, prevalent father-teenaged son tussle – hee hee!

*  All photographs belong to Chandran and Amy.  For more information on Children’s Theatre/Drama Programs in Singapore, please see http://www.act3theatrics.com/about-us/

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