This week’s Feature Friday post features a true shining light, a beautiful lady inside and out; kind, thoughtful and incredibly generous in many aspects. She is so dedicated, hardworking and serious about the aim of her work yet she still manages to create a fun and lighthearted working atmosphere for everyone involved (a difficult feat, proven by the refreshing feeling of all those working with or under her). She is naturally hilarious, naturally caring and a natural born performer. Fan fare, drum roll and balloon release please….introducing Ms. Shiona Carson…
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I may be one of the luckiest people on earth as my job is also my hobby. Life is certainly capable of throwing some humdingers at you especially when you least expect it, but no matter what I try to make the best of every situation and after all it’s what makes life colourful. I do enjoy a challenge and have no qualms in stepping outside my comfort zone and taking life by the horns. As a team player or leader I aim to make all those involved, feel involved and enjoy the journey. You only live once and if you can find your passion whether it be in what you do or who you know, then you are truly blessed.
2. How long have you been in Hong Kong and what do you do?
3. When did you discover your passion?
Growing up in a small outback town in Australia led to different creative ways of keeping yourself entertained. My brothers and I were always mucking about doing impersonations or setting up scenarios of being the “goodies” versus the “baddies” where I seem to remember being constantly tied up with my skipping rope to the clothes line and having to be saved. Our imaginations were our magic wands and together we went on endless adventures.
I had a speech impediment and was actually painfully shy in speaking in public, especially to adults other than my parents. In my teens my best friend and I would write scripts together and film them or bring them alive in our lunch hours. Again I was too scared to allow my true passion known and saved my moments to be around those I trusted. Instead I was heavily involved in Highland Dancing and travelled the Australian eastern states doing competitions. I studied for an associate Diploma of Dance at QUT in Brisbane where unfortunately my health did not allow me to complete the diploma so instead I joined Emirates and travelled the world. This gave me an opportunity to study human life and behaviour but most of all gave me the confidence to pursue my inner dream of acting. I worked for hours on holding my tongue in weird positions to retrain my muscles and was able to get rid of the lisp and add extra breaths to my speech to overcome the stammer that was only minor.
At the ripe age of 28 I threw myself into a community Fringe Theatre group and learnt all sorts of production skills as well as having a chance to perform. I decided to also take on an evening theatre training course and with that I applied to study Drama at QUT in Brisbane. I guess it is never too late to pursue your dreams. The degree allowed me to use my dancing skills and opened my eyes and set the foundation of my passion.
4. What do you love most about what you do?
Watching the transformation of a young person who felt they never had it in them to stand on stage and belt out Shakespeare with pride and power. In most cases, this is a second or even third language for them. It’s a fascinating moment that moves me every time.
5. What inspires you to do what you do?
What inspires me is passion and raw talent. I am not a conventional teacher/director and suit my technique to each individual. When I see a young person who struggles to see their potential I will do everything possible and try different ways to engage with them and bring about a positive outcome that lifts their perception of themselves. From here they have a stronger belief in themselves which allows you to challenge them and they in turn, reach higher than they ever imagined. The bar is different for every individual and my aim is for them to jump the bar and strive to want to be the best they can be.
6. What’s been your favourite project that you’ve worked on?
That’s a tough question as most projects hold a particular place in my heart. Let me pick the annual Shakespeare4All Gala as my most consuming and rewarding project. Kids from all backgrounds from ages 7-15 come together to create magic. It’s a time when boundaries are broken, friendships are born and where passion and drive thrive. We become a family (a very large one at that) where together, for only a very short amount of time, we step into a world of make believe and become “Rock Stars.” Watching these kids transform and build confidence in themselves is incredible. I feel I’m just lucky to be a part of it.
7. What’s been the most challenging project so far?
Getting over writers block is a big thing. This has happened on more than one occasion and it is highly frustrating. I don’t think I’ve still managed a technique to battle this and procrastination can be an irritating friend. All I know is when the urge and flood of ideas take hold of you, make sure you are near your computer.
Also in 2011, I performed a one woman show called “The Blonde, Brunette and Vengeful Redhead,” by Robert Hewett. Thankfully my dear friend Fiona Kaaka was directing me so there was a constant feeling of mutual trust throughout the process. Together we were able to pull out something that the pair of us had been rambling about for years over many a late night with too much gin, and to top it off, it was a huge success.
8. Can you take us on a brief journey of how you bring a project together?
Sometimes a project can be sprung upon me but the first thing is that you need a very good production team. I need to have a very clear overall vision of how the project will look and plan the stages of how to get there. The vision tends to come to fruition during the writing process whether it is an adaptation or a new piece of work. Music, history, art and human interaction all play a role in the initial creative development. Budget constraints need to be taken into account throughout this process so you know what you can use to build the greatest impact that will fit the vision that is understandable for your audience. From here costume, set and music/sound ideas are taken into account and then it is the process of casting. Sometimes if time permits, I shape the script around the performers strengths or try to add new elements of surprise by incorporating one of their extra talents such as singing, playing an instrument, gymnastics etc. Throughout this whole time, communication is the key to a successful production from the initial concept right through to getting it across to your audience, after all, they play the greatest role.
Shiona’s next BIG project is this years Shakespeare4All Gala where they will be presenting ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more details! Shakespeare4All’s awesome new show ‘The Light Dragon’ is also approaching fast from 28th-30th April at the Yuen Long Theatre:
‘The Light Dragon brings together the past and the present, fantasy and reality, theatre and drama.
Through a chance encounter in the Kowloon Walled City Memorial Park, a local teenage school student and a middle-aged foreign visitor share their connection to the neighborhood, and embark on an adventure that bends time and space, enabling them to explore the history and mythology around the Kowloon Walled City. The Light Dragon is a fun and heart-warming story that explores a piece of Hong Kong’s history, and the power of storytelling.’
For tickets and more information click here