I’d Like To Know: Siti Khalijah

You’ve seen Siti Khalijah act, sing and dance. But did you know that this star of Monkey Goes West always cracks her knuckles before she goes on stage and really loves bubble tea?

Do you have a ritual as a performer?

I have to crack my knuckles until they’re uncrackable at side-stage. And I always say a little prayer before I go on. Sometimes, I can reach a point where I feel like I’m about to gag – but that’s because of nerves. I think it’s a very good thing to always feel nervous before every show, actually, because it keeps me on my toes!

What keeps you up at night?

There’s a good high that comes after having just performed in a show. Especially after months of rehearsal and the show is finally put on stage. The first-night audience reaction – I can be tired but I’ll lie awake thinking about what worked and what didn’t.

In general, though, having teh tarik past 10pm keeps me up at night!

You’re throwing a dinner party for five guests – dead or alive, real or fictional. Whom would you invite?

Nigella Lawson – she’s hot, she cooks and she’s my idol! She will obviously be cooking at the party. I would also invite the late Krishen Jit. I’ve heard so much about him but have never had the opportunity to actually meet him. I wouldn’t even talk about anything theatre-related; I just want to hear him talk about anything! Adele, because I think she’s amazing – she doesn’t give a s**t what people think and she has a great sense of humour! I’d also like to meet Dakota Fanning – she was such a naturally gifted child actress. And, because you said fictional characters also can, I’d invite She-Hulk from Marvel Comics. She’s a strong woman who’s intelligent but also damn powerful!

What’s one of your pet peeves?

I cannot tahan people in a shopping centre who walk and then stop halfway, especially if I’m behind them!!

If you were entertaining a visitor from overseas, what’s the one place in Singapore you’d take them to?

The entire Bugis area. Because there are a couple of different malls, where you can go shopping. But there’s also Bugis Street, which is completely different and has more of a market feel. And, just five minutes away, there’s Haji Lane, a more hipster area with cafés and shops. I usually suggest to overseas friends that they can start off from Haji Lane, walk down to Bugis and then on to the Esplanade.

What’s your favourite drink?

Bubble tea! I have standard orders at all the different bubble tea shops. Like winter melon tea at Sharetea and earl grey milk tea at Gong Cha! I love bubble tea.

Tell us about the theatrical experience that changed your life.

That would be How Did The Cat Get So Fat?, a 40-minute monologue I did in 2006 as part of a triple-bill for Teater Ekamatra. It was written by Zizi Azah. At the time, we were both still quite new to the industry. We were both nominated for Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards – Zizi for Best Playwright and me for Best Actress. That was my very first nomination and it really helped to open so many doors. I was exposed to many other theatre companies that wanted me to audition for their shows. I was very glad for that opportunity!

If you could import something that you can’t get in Singapore, what would it be?

The first thing that comes to mind is this very nice cheesecake that my friend brought back from Medan in Indonesia. It’s not a typical cheesecake – the cake has the texture of a Bengawan Solo swiss roll, so it’s quite buttery and soft. There’s a layer of cream cheese and, right on top of it, grated cheese. It’s a bit salty and a bit sweet. It’s the best thing ever and I don’t know exactly where to get it! So I’ve embarked on The Search For The Indonesian Cheesecake. [Ed: We can exclusively confirm that Siti has been trying to locate this cheesecake for months; she asked us to bring some home from a company retreat in Batam. Alas, we were unable to complete this mission because Batam don’t have. 😭]

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