Interview: Helmi Fita and Eleanor Tan for Bleeding Grace

Any parallels between your life and that of your character?
Helmi Fita: Yes and no. It’s complex. My character Man is married and blessed with a child, which he later loses. I am single. But we are similar in our search to understand love, happiness, sadness, anger and lost.
What is the most challenging part about the role?
HF: Trying to understand what it’s like to be married and have a child. To exist in a space and to breathe life into the character while also executing all the physical elements, plus poetry, is a big challenge. One must be fully immersed and focused.
Do you get along well with the rest of the cast?
Eleanor Tan: Yes, it has been an exhilarating process of creation and collaboration. With emotionally charged, intimate issues being explored, it was inevitable that many private feelings and experiences were shared by the playwright, director and cast members. My fellow practitioners bring such honesty, passion and generosity to their work. Experiences like this are the reason why I do theater.
Do you have a favorite scene?
HF: It has to be the death scene of the baby. It’s a roller coaster ride of true honest emotions, without being too indulgent.
ET: I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a scene where I do some damage to Helmi. It’s not the actual physical violence that resonates with me, but the recognition that rage, hate, contempt and the desire to hurt are normal parts of a relationship, and not incompatible with love.
The show has dark themes. Are you generally drawn to such pieces?
ET: I think exploring darker themes can take an actor to very frightening vulnerable places but any actor worth her salt should be willing to go there. Bleeding Grace intimately explored some issues very close to my heart, and made it necessary for me to make my peace with a few personal demons. It has definitely been a memorable fascinating journey.
What would you like audiences to take away from the performance?
ET: I leave that to them. What excites me most about art is that it is not possible to predict all the responses you will get. I have been surprised frequently by audience reactions, amazed by how even something which seemed small and incidental to me could touch someone deeply and provoke recognition, reflection and even revelation.
Helmi Fita and Eleanor Tan star in Bleeding Grace July 5-7, 8pm at the Esplanade Theatre Studio.