Karen Tan is a woman of many faces. In 2006, the 44-year-old actress was the celebrity face of Women Make a Difference, an organisation aiming to stamp out child sex trafficking. In 2009, she shaved her head for the Hair for Hope campaign, which seeks to improve the quality of life for children with cancer. And since 2010, she has been an ambassador for Power Over Cervical Cancer.
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Versatile and exhilarating to watch
Last month, I had the privilege of being able to watch one of the plays Karen Tan was performing in, Atomic Jaya. The play was essentially about the consequences and moral dilemma of a one physicist, Dr Mary Yuen as she becomes more and more embroiled in a top secret project of building Malaysia's first atomic bomb. Unlike conventional plays, Atomic Jaya had only two performers and nearly 16 different characters to be shared between them, each character with their own special quirks and behaviours through the entire play. It was exhilarating to be able to watch her transform from one role to another, seamlessly and perfectly, fitting to the tee each individual character's mannerisms and behaviour patterns.
Having performed two Shakespeare plays for my school before (though one must note I'm not in the school's drama society by any measure) I personally find it mind-blowing how versatile a performer Karen was, as she performed her lines and characters as if she was born to do it. While splitting 16 different characters between two performers was by no means an easy feat, Karen's acting made it very easy to differentiate between the characters and allowed the storyline an easy continuation from scene to scene.
If given the chance, I would love to be able to watch Karen perform on stage again. I'm sure her future performances after Atomic Jaya will not pale in comparison!