As part of my ongoing project of profiling people behind the scenes at SIFA, I grabbed Ezzat Alkaff, Engagement Executive at TheatreWorks, for an interview. You may have seen him this beaming fellow doing front of house at 72-13 or at other venues for The OPEN or SIFA!
NYS: So what’s your official position at SIFA?
Ezzat: Officially I’m not part of the festival. I’m TheatreWorks staff. Unofficially I do FOH and everything else.
NYS: How long have you been at TheatreWorks, then?
Ezzat: Six months.
NYS: What’s it been like?
Ezzat: It’s been good so far. I think I had a good start. There were a few projects I straightaway took over. But with supervision from Tay Tong and Mervyn [Quek], it’s not too crazy a jump, so there’s still room to navigate for me.
NYS: I know from watching Let’s Get Back Together that you’re an occasional actor. Is there anything else you do on the side?
Ezzat: I haven’t done it much since I came back [from studying applied theatre in London], but I used to teach theatre in secondary school.
NYS: What’s been your favourite SIFA event?
Ezzat: During The OPEN I’m pretty sure Ibsen’s Ghosts would have been it, but I’m very very sad I couldn’t go for that. But I went for Riding on a Cloud, and I quite enjoyed that.
The next one I’m going for is Five Easy Pieces. I’m really excited for that. I can’t wait. Just the topic of it, because it’s going to touch on sensitive and disturbing issues. I’m a bit drawn to these things. I like talking about things which people aren’t comfortable talking about. If it’s something we’re so used to, then what’s the point?
NYS: And what’s your craziest experience been, doing front-of-house at SIFA?
Ezzat: Possibly Everything By My Side so far. That was a pain in the ass. People said, “We weren’t told that we were supposed to register for a time slot.” So it was really annoying. We were like, “The earliest time slot is in 40 minutes,” and they said, “No, I want to go now.” And it’s not our fault you didn’t register. An email was sent out. We tried to accommodate them as much as we could, but if you go for a show I’d assume you read about it in the guide. Yes, I’m trying my best. I want you to go for the show. You can be a bit nicer about it.
So just dealing with that. We want people to have a good experience with the show and the festival. Then it’s a bit trying lah, for that part.
UPDATE: Ezzat says, "I didn't mean to sound like everyone was a pain. Just had some people who were... For example you were a joy when you came for the show."
Ezzat: But to be fair, I was an intern for the Arts Fest way back n 2011. That was crazier. I was involved in a lot more things back then. I was working under Jeffrey Tan there and they had the Kids’ Arts Festival at the Esplanade area, so in the morning I as working with the and in the evening I was working with the festival ambassadors all on site at the big Festival Village area.
NYS: Were you in uni then?
Ezzat: I was in poly. Before going into NS.
NYS: Wow, you’re so young!
Ezzat: Thank you.