The performer draws from his own experiences as a father of two to play the role of Aaron in “The Fourth Trimester” by Checkpoint Theatre.
“What I like about theatre is that it’s live. You’re acting on stage while audiences watch; there’s no do-overs, just strangers looking at you doing your job. Hopefully, they’re looking at you – that’s the fear, right? What if your performance doesn’t draw them in?
Unlike TV or film where they cut the final product in the editing studio, your work in theatre is never finished until the curtain call. And the feeling you get when you take a bow for the audience is electric. It makes all those weeks and months of rehearsals worth it.
I’m currently in the midst of rehearsals for The Fourth Trimester. I play Aaron who just became a new father. He’s suddenly seeing his parents in a different light, and his relationship with his wife is also changing. We see how he deals with these issues as he goes down a road of self-discovery.
To get into Aaron’s headspace, I draw from my own life experiences as a father of two. Just the other day, director Claire Wong got (fellow actor) Hang Qian Chou and I to share and recount our experiences during our wives’ deliveries.
As an actor-director, Claire knows that we, as actors, need to be aware of the mental and emotional state of our characters before we enter a scene. She has a very sensitive and analytical mind, and she knows how to guide an actor into a deeper emotion and performance.
Part of my homework has been to dig up memories of when my first child was born, and see how much of my personal experience I can tap into, to relay Aaron’s experience. Because pregnancy amnesia is a real thing, even for dads.
You end up recalling all the good things about the first few months with the newborn, and forget all the bad stuff – the sleep deprivation; the tiredness; the keeping to the clock to feed. But I guess that’s biologically a good thing! Otherwise, maybe nobody will want to give birth or make babies.
I think it’s important for people to watch The Fourth Trimester because Faith Ng has written a play that not only touches upon the challenges of first-time mums, but also first-time dads. There’s none of the illusion that dads have no role to play.
You know, when people learnt that I changed my kids’ diapers, I got comments like, ‘Oh, you’re a hands-on dad.’ But that’s just me being a parent, being a dad. There’s no such thing as a hands-on dad.
With stories like The Fourth Trimester painting a very realistic picture of parenthood, I hope more people understand that dads need help and support too. And if you’re a dad who may not be doing that much right now, I hope this play reminds you that parenting is a team effort!
There are some heavy moments in the play, but there are definitely lighthearted and comical moments too. And I’m sure parents who have been through the same things as our characters will nudge each other and have a good laugh saying, ‘Hey, remember the time this happened? That was us too!”’ – Joshua Lim
Interview by: Arman Shah