I’d Like To Know: Terence Tay

Terence Tay is turning up the charm in A $ingapore Carol as Larry Loo, the kind-hearted nephew of a grade-A miser. He chats with us about chope culture, trying durians for the first time, and more!

Do you have a ritual as a performer?

I stop checking my phone an hour before show-time. It’s a really good habit, actually, because it allows me to disconnect from all the distractions and focus on the show. But it’s also because I don’t like knowing who will be in the audience! It freaks me out knowing that there might be someone I know watching me. Once I’ve performed my most stressful scene, then it’s not so bad – depending on when that is, I can check my phone during intermission, or at the end of the show.

What keeps you up at night?

A bloated stomach from eating too much at dinner!

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

(1) and (2) Barack and Michelle Obama – they can hold a smart conversation and yet, at the same time, not be afraid to make a fool of themselves. Sounds just like me. #shameless

(3) Mariah Carey – she can sing and provide the music over dinner. Doesn’t matter if she forgets the lyrics… just as long as she doesn’t walk away from the dinner table, can already.

(4) Donald Trump – I want to see how orange he really is in real life, and also see if he’s really how the media has painted him. But, honestly, it’s just to have him say “You’re Fired!” while pointing to the roasted turkey that we’ll be bringing out for dinner.

(5) My dog – because, when the conversation dies or gets weird, you can always trust an animal to create a nice distraction!

What is one of your pet peeves?

Chope-ing seats with tissue paper! Whoever started it should be stuffed with all the packs of tissue!!! Haha, you can see how much this pisses me off.

Terence gets very jumpy if you anyhow use tissue paper…

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

The Merlion. You can’t say that you’ve been to Singapore unless you have been “vomited” on by our global icon!

What is one thing you’ve done in the past few years that you’ve never done before?

I tasted durian. I have never been a fan of durians and their smell. But, during a dinner with friends, they ordered a slice of durian cake and I decided to give it a try. All I took was a piece the size of a 20-cent coin and already I was burping durian the whole night! You shouldn’t be surprised that I haven’t had any since then!

Tell us about the theatrical experience that changed your life.

Years ago, I was working backstage as part of the stage crew for SRT’s production of RENT. I was watching the actors perform night after night with such dedication to bringing the story across to audiences and, even though I had seen it so many times, I still teared up and got goosebumps in every performance. It was then that I realised the power that theatre has to touch people’s lives in more ways than we can imagine.

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

The culture of kindness and selflessness practised by the Japanese. In 2011, I was in Tokyo DisneySea when a major earthquake struck at about 3pm. It was really scary because we were really cut off from the outside world – our phones were dead and the roads outside were damaged. We were stuck inside the resort for 16 hours and couldn’t leave. Some of the Japanese visitors I met had collected cardboard to sleep on and rations for food. And they very kindly offered to share it all with my family – which they didn’t have to do, since we were, after all, strangers from a foreign land. The kindness they showed us that day is something I hope we can all learn from them.

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