Q&A with Pichead Lam
Back for an encore performance of his wildly popular stage show, Mr. Diva’s Masterclass, Pichead Lam again turns the theatre into his classroom and teaches us a little bit about what it’s like to be a diva. We chat with the on-stage cross-dresser about his enthralling persona and how to instruct an audience in sass, wit and presence.
What was your vision for Mr. Diva’s Masterclass?
I was thinking of doing something big and outrageously beautiful where I can have a platform to speak candidly. It was my first time using a teacher-classroom environment and applying it to theatre, so there is a lot of interaction with the audience. Sometimes I’d invite them to come on stage and do a demonstration. The show is set in a drama classroom where I analyse divas throughout the play. Why are they so great? Why are they so unforgettable? Why are they so gorgeous? Kind of like a study of the topic of the diva in a classroom.
How do you prepare for a performance?
There’s a lot of preparation work! To treat the whole play like a lesson plan, I have to think carefully about which lesson to do first, what to do in that lesson and how to do it. I also had to do a lot of exercise for half a year! I hired a personal trainer to help me three to four times a week just to do an intensive physical workout to get in shape, in order to look good on stage. So that’s another tough thing for me.
How about mental preparation?
I’m quite laidback and low profile in my real life. It took me a while to approach the diva character − how to be big, how to be almost kind of arrogant… almost like a bitch. Frankie Ho [musical director and Lam’s best friend] helped me a lot with all of the gorgeous costumes. Have I told you we got three nominations from the Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies? I have a very good team – all these gorgeous people doing gorgeous things for Mr. Diva. This helped me develop into a diva.
What do you enjoy the most about the transformation?
Oh, there’s so much I can say! Because I’m the playwright, I enjoy it so much when people get my ideas, my humour – they applaud and laugh, and cheer! I just love the reaction. The audience helps Pichead become a diva in the play. It’s a very interesting chemistry. Without the audience, we performers are nothing. I enjoy all the interactions, all the responses from the audience and all the comments they give me afterwards. My show is actually a tribute for all the divas in our hearts. They have left something very beautiful inside our hearts. That’s what I believe.
How do you feel about the success of the show and the reception from the audience?
I feel lucky! It’s easy for a big company – but not easy for a small, tiny, one-man-band like me. I really appreciate that I am able to do a rerun – it’s a luxury! It’s not obligated. It’s not a must to re-run, right? It’s like life – you can never guarantee what’s going to happen next again. I kind of seized the moment, seized the day – so I seized this re-run.
How did the conception of the show come about? What inspired you to create this show?
I witnessed the golden era of Hong Kong showbiz. All the big stars, they were so gorgeous. They are really unforgettable to me. Yet they also soothed me, my soul even. I’m the only child in the family, so when I was a teenager I spent a lot of time by myself at home. And all this entertainment was almost like, all for me. So when [the entertainers] passed away, one by one, I started to feel like… oh my goodness. It’s like seeing stars falling, disappearing – no-one can be that glamourous again.
What can we expect from Mr. Diva next?
I’m going to do a new show at the end of this year. I’m thinking about doing something related to films. It’s going to be hilarious as well – but also going to be so sad. I think most of us go to cinemas and love movies, and they are our candies. Candies during our tough times…
Mr. Diva’s Masterclass runs at the Cultural Centre from Thursday April 5 to Saturday April 7. For tickets: 2734 9009; www.urbtix.hk