Twenty years ago I got my first taste of Shakespeare through one of my favourite plays ever: Macbeth. I memorized the whole thing for my O levels. It was wonderful to have all that beautiful language inside my head, to be recalled in snippets even years later, unexpectedly and surprisingly, yet appropriately and pictorially.
For twenty years did I enjoy the words, so much so that I failed to realize one thing: I had never even seen it ONCE. Why, I can’t say. Perhaps the opportunity didn’t arise. Perhaps there was a fear of seeing a play I’d imagined hundreds of times being butchered and my memory of it forever besmirched.
So when I learnt that the Singapore Repertory Theatre was going to do it, that Adrian Pang was the lead, and that it was going to be al fresco, with all the potential this setting would promise, I jumped at the chance to lose my Shakespeare-live virginity forever.
I recently had the great pleasure of speaking to a highly intelligent, 19-year old. Her English was impeccable, without any need for me to watch my words or restrict my vocabulary. As our conversation progressed, I found myself getting more and more impressed as the scope of her accomplishments and talents became clear. Here’s a partial list.
- She speaks four languages: English, Mandarin, French and Japanese.
- She scored 8As for her A level exams, and is awaiting the results of her application to med school. I have no doubt she’ll get in.
- If she doesn’t get it, she’ll be trying a career in the diplomatic corps.
- She plays both the piano and the violin, and is in the piano ensemble.
- She fires the air rifle and is going into the air pistol.
At 19 she is more accomplished than many people twice her age. Imagine where she’d be in 5 years.
What is she?