In preparation for her new role in the third and final installment of Ch8’s blockbuster trilogy The Journey: Our Homeland, local actress Rui En recently tried her hands at Fujian opera for the first time.
When xinmsn visited one of the training sessions Rui En had with local Fujian opera artiste Wei Li Fen, the actress, who plays a nurse-turned-gynaecologist Yang Mei Xue in the show, admitted that she was the one who requested for these classes.
In the drama, Mei Xue picked up the tradition art while following her opera singer mother around, and was forced to perform on stage on one occasion. After reading the script, Rui En immediately called the producer asking to learn Fujian opera, even though the scene originally did not require her to “sing for real”.
“Some young people think that operas are very old-fashioned, but I’ve always felt that they are very charismatic. Because I’m a singer too, I am very interested in exploring genres which are completely different from pop music,” the 33-year-old explained.
The go-getter was not about to let slip of the golden opportunity to experience a performing art form that she has never endeavoured before. “Due to selfish reasons, I asked the producer and director to add a few more scenes for me. Sorry!” laughed Rui En.
To get into the mood of things, the hard-working thespian specially took time to watch Farewell My Concubine which starred late Hong Kong superstar Leslie Cheung. By the end of the film, Rui En was overwhelmed by the “feel of Beijing opera” and the brilliant acting of a child actor in the movie. “It was the first time I was moved by a kid,” she shared.
Dancing is a hurdle for Rui En
Rui En may only need to perform four lines from the classic Fujian opera Xue Gang, but the acclaimed actress did not show any signs of slackening during the training. Throughout the two-hour session, she practised non-stop on her positioning and gestures with no breaks in between.
As a Cantonese who could barely speak the Hokkien dialect, Rui En constantly rehearsed her lines and sought the instructor’s help to correct her pronounciation. “There won’t be dubbing. I would be singing with my real voice. The more I listen to the melody of a Fujian opera, the more I enjoy it,” she added.
Language barrier aside, dancing turned out to be another hurdle for Rui En. “I started learning from the very basics – walking! There’s a special way of walking in an opera performance; I have to squeeze my butt tightly while walking quickly in small steps, and I ended up having leg cramps often because of that!” chortled the actress.
During practice, Rui En followed closely behind the instructor’s every move, making sure that she did not miss out on any minute detail. “I’ve never done this, so I’m worried that I can’t manage well. It’s nerve-wrecking but I like challenges. The less familiar I am with something, the more I want to try it!”
No big birthday bash (or stuffed toys) for Rui En, please
Not one who makes New Year resolutions, Rui En simply hopes to see improvement in various areas of her life. When asked if we can expect good news from the romantic aspect, the well-loved actress quickly declined (in a jovial manner) to let us in on her private affairs.
Nevertheless, fans of the multi-award winner will get to watch their idol on TV more frequently in 2015. Besides The Journey: Our Homeland, Rui En will star in Ch8 dramas Life is Beautiful and Dream Makers 2, as well as Channel NewsAsia’s docudrama The Worlds of Georgette Chen.
True to her low-profile personality, Rui En has never been a fan of birthday celebrations and this year, the actress does not want any gifts when she turns 34 on Jan 29.
“My fans like to give stuffed toys and plushies, but I’m already 34!” she mused. “I hope they will not buy presents for me and donate the money to charity instead. So I don’t wish to receive any birthday gift this year!”
This interview is translated by Dang Hui Ling.
Catch The Journey: Our Homeland when it debuts Jul 9, every Monday to Friday at 9pm on Ch8. Subscribers can also catch new episodes in advance on Toggle-It-First.
Rui En wants more scenes for “selfish reasons”?
The actress specially made requests to attend Fujian opera classes for her new drama
- Rui En