Producer talks how survival fuels strength, determination to succeed
KUWAIT: Alison Shan Price is one of those unique souls whose presence is felt the moment she walks into a room. It is not that she commands presence, but her aura speaks for itself. She has worked tirelessly in the field of dramatic arts for 20 years, and now has an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II to prove it! In this interview, however, Kuwait Times is focusing on the person rather than the persona, especially since information regarding her work is readily available online. Price is currently the CEO and Founder of One World Actors Center (OWAC) Kuwait, a leading theatre production and training center in Kuwait.
Kuwait Times: It must have been a challenge to resurrect theatre in this region, especially 20 years ago. Where did you get such resolve?
Alison Shan Price: From my family and private milestones. My grandmother started her businesses during the Great Depression. Everyone has a story to tell that would make a film script. Survival through physical hardship makes you stronger and determined to succeed. If you survive life-threatening illnesses and loss of your belongings and loved ones, you feel different. You know that every day and people are precious. Creating theatre is always an exciting challenge. But you cannot do it alone, nor would you want to; and I have been very lucky to have met and worked with so many amazing people.
KT: Tell us about your temperament.
Price: I look in the mirror and see calm and quiet; however, recently I was privy to the funniest caricature of how other theatre people see me. So let’s go with theirs… travelling at the speed of light; ultra alive early in the morning when they are still asleep; instant movement. Also, according to them, I laugh and love deeply and get sad over bad things happening to others, and hate gossip.
KT: The world of dramatic arts is not necessarily as glamorous as it appears. There are the moods and whims of all those involved and the stress that comes with presenting a show and funding. Are you a patient person? Or do you have ways to deal with the restlessness as it arises?
Price: I have been in theatre for five decades, so I totally believe that the magical “it’ll be alright on the night” is true. There are gut-wrenching moments of scheduling, money and organizational issues. But in perspective, it’s a show, not a bomb. There are true artistes who are the nicest of people and send good luck wishes in between organizing their own big shows. They help out, at impossible hours, if needed, or get you in touch with someone. They turn up on time, learn lines quickly and support other actors.
Then there are ‘wannabes’ who consider one compliment entitles them to the main dressing room and who never ‘like’ any photo on Facebook unless it’s their own. They usually throw tantrums the day before the show when everyone is busy. You quickly know who to work with and who not to work with and get a lot of feedback from other directors in the country about them. I am a keeper of many secrets, so am starting a manuscript (names changed to protect the innocent) in the near future.
KT: Alison, what does success mean to you personally?
KT: I know you mentioned that you want to take a much-needed break after years of incessantly working. Are you the kind of individual who is always on the go?
Price: Totally. I get bored after 12 hours. The worst thing anyone can say to me is ‘chill’ or ‘relax’. I love learning. When I talk to anyone, I find them fascinating and am at my happiest when I have learnt something.
KT: Finally, what many people do not know about you is that you love humor. What makes you laugh? In real life, of course!
Price: Shared situations. The English sense of humor is strange to some people. We don’t laugh at people but get hysterical over empathetic situations and asides. I love comedians such as Michael McIntyre and Russell Peters and the film Date Night. We are always laughing during rehearsals – especially at the initial costume-fitting time. Life without laughter is simply not worth living.
By Nejoud Al-Yagout