Hitting the Right Notes with Alison Bickham
From Chinese dance to improvising scenes with her sister, Alison Bickham has had quite the journey as a performer! She chats with us about her time in young & W!LD and what we can expect from The Bald Soprano!
How were you first bitten by the theatre bug?
In my case, I think it would be more accurate to call it the performing bug! When I was in primary school in Hong Kong, my CCA was Chinese Dancing. I loved dressing up, getting my make-up done and being part of a team, dancing with my friends to old Chinese music. My Chinese dance instructor was amazing, and we took home distinctions every year at inter-school competitions. I also won a Speech and Drama award in primary school. I was so young that I didn’t know what I wanted to be yet. But I did think: I love dancing and drama, so I’ll keep at it!
Since then, how have you been involved in theatre?
From secondary school through to junior college, I studied theatre, which helped me gain a healthy appreciation of the art form. I learnt a lot too. In secondary school, we devised a play in which I played a literal devil. I was supposed to seduce the main character in a sexy tango. Learning the dance was extremely fun, and it was a hit with audiences. But it was hard work too. I learnt that, in theatre, your work is never truly done. You may have created the perfect scene in rehearsal, but there’s always more to learn, to add, to work on, as you move into the theatre space.
How do you balance being a Business and Management student with your commitment to young & W!LD?
At the moment, I’m in the midst of exams, with rehearsals almost every night. That can be really challenging to balance. It’s not easy to remember my lines while also learning academic concepts! Fortunately, they’re also very different. When I go to rehearsals, I’m taking a break from studying. It helps to clear my mind so that I’m not completely bogged down by school.
Why young & W!LD?
I wanted to immerse myself in local theatre. All I had done prior to young & W!LD were school plays. I also wanted to get a feel of what working in professional theatre would be like – but in a safe environment, as part of a learning process. young & W!LD has given me all of this and so much more. I’ve had the opportunity to work with the marketing, production and front-of-house departments of a professional theatre company. It’s been really eye-opening!
What’s it like being in young & W!LD with your sister, Mel?
My sister knows my boundaries, and I know hers, so we can push each other without worrying that we’re overstepping. We end up creating moments or scenes that we wouldn’t be able to with anyone else, because we’re not sure of their limits or if they’re comfortable being in that situation. We’re fearless and crazy – so, together, we come up with the most random things!
Sister Act: Alison (left) and Mel share the stage in Crossings
You’ve been working with the directors and participants in young & W!LD for many months, staging shows like When S#!T Hits The Fam and Crossings. What has the entire process been like? What have you learnt about your craft and yourself as an artist?
The whole process has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve enjoyed working with the directors and my cast-mates to create shows that we hope the audience will enjoy. There’s always blood, sweat and tears in the months leading up to the opening show. But it also allows us to bounce our energy off one another, watching and imitating, teaching and learning from everyone in young & W!LD. Along the way, I’ve learned to overcome fears that I didn't know I had and, by watching others, I’ve been able to work on improving my own craft.
You’re currently working on your graduating showcase, The Bald Soprano. What can audiences expect from the show?
Audiences can expect a very different, very funny take on a ‘normal conversation’ – one that descends into general chaos as the evening goes on. The Bald Soprano is one of those plays that just doesn’t make any sense – on purpose! The characters say such absurd things, and do even more ridiculous things. The more you try to make sense of everything, the more confused you’ll be. No over-analysing necessary – audience members have to just go with the flow… and have fun! This is a show that everyone and anyone can enjoy!
Catch Alison and young & W!LD in Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano, which runs from 7 to 11 June 2017 at the Drama Centre Black Box! Tickets available at SISTIC!
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