Acting has helped an APA graduate become a more complete person Young Post: How did you become a theatre performer? Tan: Like most actors in Hong Kong, I graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA). I took a two-year diploma course and a three-year degree course in the APA's School of Drama, majoring in acting. I also learned directing and scriptwriting. When Frederick Mo Chun-fai, my former teacher, became the director of the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, he hired several APA graduates. I was one of them and joined the company two years ago. YP: What inspired you to study drama? T: I didn't really have an interest in drama or acting. I just got involved somehow. When I was studying at Jockey Club Ti-I College, I took part in sports and drama productions. When I was in Form Five, I heard that apart from going to university, studying at the APA was another option to further one's education. My classmates and I applied to the APA. We had to sing, dance and act in the audition and I really enjoyed it. It was only in my third year at the APA that I realised what I wanted to do. I realised that acting was the essence of humanity. I had become more sensitive to the people and things around me. Suddenly, I felt that acting had helped me become a more complete person. Sometimes I'm more like a philosopher than an actor. YP: How do you prepare for performances? T: We have to develop good control of our muscles and our body. We also get voice training so we can change our pitch and tone. We read a lot and do research. For A Dream Like a Dream, in which I played an ambitious doctor, I went to a hospital and interviewed some doctors to get a better idea of the profession. Before playing a Filipino domestic helper, I went to Central on a Sunday to watch them and get a taste of their lifestyle. YP: Have you become too emotional since you started acting? T: You can't be an actor if you are not emotional. If you are too cool, you can't do an actor's job. You can be cool if you are a star, but a star is different from an actor. YP: What are the qualities that an actor should have? T: Anyone can be an actor. You don't need to have particular qualities. Acting is about showing the essence of humanity. And there are different roles in a production so there's something for everyone. YP: Do you have any advice for those who want to join the field? T: You should think about whether you are happy with what you are doing. It's like choosing between the science and arts streams when you are in secondary school. Many people want to be a star rather than an actor. If they can't get the main role in a production, they will be upset. If you really like acting, you won't care about what characters you play, or how big your role is. Drama is all about teamwork. YP: What are the prospects for an actor? T: Acting is not the only option. There are many opportunities in performing arts. There is a large demand for drama instructors in secondary schools. I used to earn my living as a school drama instructor. You could also work for the government as an art administrator.