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Inter-racial sisters in crime

Ever had a minah or ah lian best friend? You can now relieve those memories with Meenah and Cheenah!

Kristen Lazarte
Kristen Lazarte

Published: 25 April 2016, 4:40 PM

In multi-racial city-state Singapore, it’s a tad impossible for us not to have friends of another race. That’s why Meenah and Cheenah are here: to highlight the stereotypes and prejudice on inter-racial relationships, while infusing local jokes.

Youth.SG caught up with the vivacious Siti Khalijah, 31, and the exuberant Judee Tan, 35, at the Dream Academy studio after their first rehearsal for Meenah and Cheenah.

If you’ve been following the local theatre scene, you may remember Judee and Siti Khalijah from stand-up comedy madness Happy Ever Laughter, which first ran in Jun 2012.

In Happy Ever Laughter, Judee played ‘Teochew Muay’, while Siti Khalijah was ‘PhenoMeenah’. Back then, the duo shared the same dressing room, and amidst all the waiting backstage, they decided to get goofy, as always.

While decked in their traditional costumes, both Judee and Siti Khalijah came up with a theme song and an idea, and showed it off during the Happy Ever Laughter after-party. Director Selena Tan caught on their idea, and the characters of Meenah and Cheenah was thus born.

 

The quirky Judee Tan (left) and the adorable Siti Khalijah.

 

For Meenah and Cheenah, Siti Khalijah and Judee Tan will each play more than 10 characters, over a series of different comedic sketches.

The play, which focuses on inter-racial friendships, also promises plenty of gleeful, honest laughter. You can expect scenes of the two ladies fighting over boy-girl relationships (BGRs), being good buddies, and showering together with one bar of soap in camp (while reminding each other not to drop the soap).

Working together always brings out Judee’s and Siti Khalijah’s mischievous sides. These two are all about play fighting with each other, especially during their improvisation sessions, they shared.

Since the boisterous duo kept completing each other’s sentences during our interview, we started to feel curious about their working relationship.

Siti Khalijah immediately pointed at her chin upon hearing our question: “See this scar here?” It was probably caused by one of their play fights!

 

This is what probably happens during their improv sessions.

 

“Seriously, I was genuinely excited [about this show]. I’ve never done a show where it’s just the two of us. We’ve worked with each other before, but it’s at big-scale productions with other people,” said Siti Khalijah.

“Usually, the Malay is the relek one, but I’m the one going ‘ah’, ‘orh’, and [Siti’s] the kanchiong one,” said Judee, with a giggle.

While only Judee and Siti Khalijah are the only two actors holding the fort for the whole show, ideas for the play were contributed by local creatives like writer and playwright Alfian Sa’at, stand-up comedian Rishi Budhrani and filmmaker Josiah Ng.

 

‘Meenah’ and ‘Cheenah’ are the only two actors in the whole play.

 

The chirpy Siti Khalijah said: “The stuff I contributed [to the play] was based on my “Malay-ness” and the way I was brought up.

“It’s gonna be interesting for the audience to watch. Apart from the ‘Hahaha’, they’ll also go ‘Oh I didn’t know that!’. They’ll go back feeling enriched.”

Jokes aside, Judee and Siti Khalijah hope this play could unite all races. “We’ve gone past [racial riots], let’s celebrate friendships. Even though [the topic of race] is sensitive, we bring it up in a way that it can be talked and laughed about,” Siti Khalijah said.

“Hopefully, people can be like that; why should we keep holding on to something that may be a perception or a misconceptualisation?” added Judee.

 

Take a walk down memory lane with Meenah and Cheenah.

 

If you’re not into theatre productions, do give this show a shot because a) you’ll definitely see yourself represented somehow in the show, and b) you might get a chance to appear in Meenah and Cheenah II. (We kid.)

Meenah and Cheenah will be playing at the Victoria Theatre from May 11–22. Tickets are available at SISTIC.

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