A tribute to Christina Sergeant, local theatre director, actress and educator

Christina Sergeant (1955-2013) was a versatile theatre actress and director, and a beloved teacher. She was born in Massachusetts in the United States and graduated with a degree in Drama from the University of Houston, and studied mime for two years at the Ecole Internationale de Mimodrame Marcel Marceau. She met her Singaporean husband, Mr. B.K. Tan in Houston, Texas and moved to Singapore together with him in 1983.

After arriving in Singapore, she quickly gained footing in the local theatre scene. She co-founded the Actors Theatre Circle with theatre guru Shirley Smith from 1989-1995 and served as an artistic director of the now-defunct community theatre group, Singapore Theatre Repertory Showcase (STARS), and mime and physical theatre, Mime Unlimited in 1993-2007. Her achievements included receiving the Life! Theatre Awards for Best Director for the production, Metamorphoses by Collab Theatre in 2011. The production, Further North, Deepest South by The Finger Players and Mime Unlimited also won the Best Ensemble Acting award and the Best Production award under her direction in 2005.

Besides being involved in artistic creations, she also believed in cultivating theatrical arts in the younger generation. For instance, she was a founding member of the Singapore Drama Educators Association and served as its Vice-President from 2005 to 2011. She also co-created Youth Theatre Singapore which was a theatre training programme for the youth. In addition, she had taught drama in many local schools including Raffles Girls School, LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, amongst many others. The last post that she held was as a theatre faculty member of the School of the Arts (SOTA). Recognising her contribution, Chua Ai Liang, Director, Audience Development of National Arts Council (NAC) had commended Sergeant for “her leadership, commitment and exemplary work in arts education”, that had resulted in a deep impact.

Sergeant died at the age of 57 on 17 February 2013. It was reported that she was being hospitalized in early February due to a kidney problem after returning to Singapore from a performance in Murder by Chocolate, staged in Gourmet Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, together with local theatre practitioner Jonathan Lim. She is survived by her husband and three children aged 26, 19, and 15.

Although she has passed on, she will be dearly missed by the local arts community for her dedication and contribution to the Singapore’s performing arts scene.

Selected list of productions and achievements
1984 : Wrote and performed in Mime Over Matters together with John Hawksworth who composed the music at the Bistro in Tanglin Shopping Centre
1989 : Staged and acted in Skirmishes by Actors Theatre Circle, noted as the best play for Drama fest fringe
1998 : Presented Seven Days and The Giving Tree by The Society of Mime Unlimited, a touring theatre programme for the community
2002 : Directed Cinderella Dreams by Mime Unlimited, which featured a mix of mime, live percussion and voiceovers.
2004 : Nominated for her role as a psychiatrist in Luna-id Theatre’s production of Agnes of God
2005 : Directed Further North, Deepest South by The Finger Players and Mime Unlimited which won the Best Ensemble Acting award and the Best Production award at the Life! Theatre Awards and acted in Oi! Sleeping Beauty by Wild Rice
2009 : Nominated the Best Director for The Hypochondriac
2012 :  Directed I Theatre’s Ashputtel — The Story Of Cinderella and acted in Casting Back together with veteran actress, Nora Samosir who looked back at their theatre careers of over 30 years during the Esplanade’s ten year anniversary celebrations.

References
Chew, D. (2005, November 30). Beauty anew. Today, p. 45. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from NewspaperSG.

Chow, C. (2002, September 2). Cinderella minus the fairy tale. The Straits Times, p. L7. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from NewspaperSG.

Christina Sergeant, 48. (2004, March 18). The Straits Times, p. L3. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from NewspaperSG.

D’Rose, P. (1984, March 12). More than funny faces. Singapore Monitor, p. 16. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from NewspaperSG.

Huang, L. (2013, February 21). Loving farewell as theatre community turns up for Christina Sergeant’s funeral. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from The Straits Times Breaking News, Lifestyle website: http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/lifestyle/story/loving-farewell-theatre-community-turns-christina-sergeants-funeral-20

Lee, P. (2005, March 18). Paying oom-age to local theatre. The Business Times, p. 30. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from NewspaperSG.

Martin, M. (2013, February 17). Christina Sergeant passes away. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from Today Online, for arts sake website: http://www.todayonline.com/blogs/forartssake/christina-sergeant-passes-away

Martin, M. (2013, February 22). Drama teachers group to hold a memorial for Christina Sergeant. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from Today Online, for arts sake website: http://www.todayonline.com/blogs/forartssake/drama-teachers-group-hold-memorial-christina-sergeant

Mime performance with poetry. (1998, January 22). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from NewspaperSG.

More skirmishing. (1989, November 9). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from NewspaperSG.

Singapore theatre’s 1980s zeitgeist. (21012, August 17). The Business Times. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from Factiva database.

Tan, C. (2013, February 20). Theatre mentor Christina Sergeant dies. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from The Straits Times Communities, Entertainment website: http://stcommunities.straitstimes.com/show/2013/02/20/theatre-mentor-christina-sergeant-dies

The nominees. (2009, March 19). The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from NewspaperSG.

Things to do: Nov 15. (2012, November 15). Today. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from Factiva database.


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