Unzip actor Shane Mardjuki’s rehearsal bag and you will glimpse a day in his life as he prepares for his role in the upcoming theatre production, Private Parts – it is one sweaty, blistery affair.

The play, by Michael Chiang, who also penned the well-loved Army Daze and Beauty World, is set in the 1990s. It follows a talk-show host as he tries to convince the people he meets at a clinic specialising in sex reassignment surgery, to be guests on his TV show. Mardjuki, 39, plays the character Lavinia, a light-headed, transgender woman.

Private Parts was first staged at the Singapore Festival of Arts in 1992 to critical acclaim, and its last professional staging was in 2004 at the Esplanade. Its new run starts on 2 November 2018, at the Drama Centre Theatre in the National Library Building.

Mardjuki speaks about the private parts of his rehearsal bag, and his life as an actor below.

(Replies have been excerpted from the interview and condensed.)

What’s in your rehearsal bag?

There’s the script, which I refer to heavily. A notebook, which I use to take notes about the script. I also have a book from the library, since we’re rehearsing at the library; might as well kill a bit of free time reading a book.

I have Band-Aids because the heels I wear for the show gave me lots of blisters. I also have a tissue packet with Chua Enlai’s face on it because I want to blow my nose into him. (Chua plays the character Mirabella in the play.) I have lots and lots of gum, for the benefit of my cast mates, and hand sanitiser, because everyone gets sick during the show.

I carry a microfibre towel (in the grey pouch hanging from the side of the bag) because you never know when you get hot and sweaty, or need to shower. I also have toiletries, like hair gel – I have two types of hair gel – and I have oil blotters, which I rarely use, but I still carry them anyway.

There is a T-shirt with my daughter, Ellie Bee, 4, on it, because she’s the best thing in the world. She’s on the album cover of The Endless Shimmering (2017) by the Irish band, And So I Watch You From Afar, and they had rock T-shirts made based on the cover design. I bought so many of those T-shirts so that I can wear one every day of the week.

What’s your choice of pre-rehearsal fuel?

It is not advisable, but I do indulge in energy drinks. I drink them way too much and I should really stop, but at least I drink the sugar-free ones. When we rehearse at the library I will always go to McDonald’s because it’s so close.

Did you do anything special to prepare for this role?

I did my eyebrows. I threaded them for the first time in my life. They’ve been shaved, they’ve been tweezed, but this is the first time I’ve had a proper threading. And soon I will wax my whole body, which will be fun.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

I don’t know if this is a good thing, but I do like to warm up as if I’m about to play sports, which sometimes overexcites me, and I get onto stage a bit too excited. But I feel like I need to be amped up to do a show.

Details on Private Parts here.