Secondary Four student Ramya Bhai overcame her insecurities and blossomed into a confident and gregarious teenager through her theatre experience.
Her first role in a play lasted all of five seconds. She had no lines and was only required to sway from side to side as a “cloud”. It was Ramya Bhai’s first taste of the limelight – or what passes for it – at 13, when she joined the Drama Club at Greenridge Secondary School. The play was put on in conjunction with the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) 2013. Ramya says with a laugh, “I was even more nervous than the main cast!”
The following year, she landed a role in a skit – this time she had a few lines. It was a nerve-racking experience for Ramya even though the audience comprised her schoolmates. “I was nervous, with so many eyes on me,” she says.
So instead of looking at the audience as she performed, she focused her gaze on the clock at the end of the school hall because then it seemed like “there was no one watching me”.
A rocky start
Even though Ramya had had a few experiences performing on stage when she was in primary school, she was never comfortable with being in the limelight. She recalled being teased mercilessly about her weight back then.
Her classmates shouted “Earthquake!” in the middle of her dance performance one time. She had been positioned at the back and she thought that would have saved her from the taunts.
Despite the traumatising experience, Ramya decided to take up drama in secondary school. She wanted to overcome her shyness and build her confidence. And she found the right support network within the school’s Drama Club.
Her seniors and instructors were encouraging even when they handed out their critique on Ramya’s acting skills. She grew in confidence in this nurturing environment – moving from playing small roles to bigger ones.
Raise the curtain
Ramya’s breakthrough role came when she was in Secondary Three. She was picked to step in when a main cast member had to pull out at the eleventh hour. She played the role of a rebellious, lovesick girl who stalked her crush in a production which explored the trials of adolescence.
Ramya rose to the challenge and delivered her first soliloquy – which saw her character gushing about her perfect match. Her role was crucial in building up the tension in the play, especially in one scene where she crossed swords with another actor who played her mother over her behaviour.
“I don’t usually play such serious roles. I’m more of a comedy kind of girl.” It was her most challenging role, Ramya says, as she only had a week to memorise her lines. But she stepped up to the task. She skipped lunch breaks and stayed back after CCA training sessions to practise with her partner. Her efforts paid off. The group won a distinction award for their outstanding performance at the SYF 2015.
Ramya has blossomed into a confident and gregarious teenager. Her friends call her “the drama girl” as she’s not only known for her stage performances but also entertaining classroom antics. And she loves all the attention she gets now.
Are you an aspiring theatre actor? Ramya has tips on how to own the stage.
Practise your delivery
I practise my lines in front of the mirror. I’ll check my facial expressions and listen closely to my enunciation. I’ll do it over and over until I’m satisfied.
Listen to others
I’m happy to accept feedback from my teachers. I take what they say and work on improving myself. Sometimes I read my lines to my mother and ask for her feedback too.
Believe in yourself
I tell myself that I can do it. Before a performance, I remind myself that everyone has put in so much effort into this so I need to give my 100%.