On the Couch with Alice Livingstone

ALWho is Alice Livingstone?
I’m a 50-something actor, director, producer and publicist, who also holds down a ‘proper job’ with Sydney Living Museums, working on exhibitions and publications.  I live in Sydney’s inner west, with my cat Tuxedo.  Is this a cliché?  Am I in fact turning into a mad cat lady?

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Perhaps eat a bit more healthily, give up smoking and start exercising.  But when I’m directing a play – forget it!!  On the wider front – je ne regrette rien!  Raking over past ‘mistakes’ – that way madness lies!  Though I do wish I’d asked my parents more about their early lives, and perhaps recorded their oral histories.

Who inspires you and why?
People who are prepared to put their lives on hold for a greater good.  I wish I was as generous of spirit.  I’m also full of admiration for people who take those big leaps of faith, and risk, in pursuit of a dream or a goal.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Volunteer my time and skills to helping with literacy programs, whether in indigenous communities, or prisons, or with refugee organisations, and in the developing world.  To not be able to read or write, to not be able to express yourself, is to be disadvantaged and disempowered.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Currently Thailand, because that’s where I last went – for my first proper holiday in years. Went to Phuket, Relais and Phi Phi  – and it was divine. But I’d love to go back to London and New York (so much theatre!!), and also revisit Spain and Greece.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Vaucluse House – not just because it’s one of the properties I work with, but because it provides a fascinating insight into an earlier time in Sydney, there’s a fabulous heritage kitchen garden, plus goats and chickens (and who doesn’t love goats and chickens?), the grounds are delightful for a picnic, and you can then pop across the road to a charming little harbour beach and get that heart-stopping view.

What are you currently reading?
I’m directing a play! Who has time to read?  Seriously, I try to catch up on a bit of news via online media like the Guardian, and the past few weeks have been about researching the Malayan Emergency, which is the background for Privates on Parade.

What are you currently listening to?
The tunes from the show have become an earworm!!

Happiness is?

What does the future hold for you?
Goodness knows. I’m not much of a one for forward planning – I tend to take things as they come, both the good and the bad.  I’m not planning to direct anything soon – but that could always change!  I’d like to act in something and there are a couple of projects bubbling away, but nothing definite.  I do know that I’m going to escape Sydney to visit friends in the Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains and indulge in some much-needed R&R once the show has closed!

Alice Livingstone is a graduate of The Drama Studio and holds an MA in Theatre Studies from UNSW. Directing credits include Top Girls, The Weir, Women, Power & Culture – Then and Now, A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians, Art is a Weapon, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Gagarin Way, Mother Clap’s Molly House, In Angel Gear and Once in a While the Odd Thing Happens (New Theatre), Get a Life …Coach, Tattoo You and Confused Sea Conditions (Short + Sweet). Alice is co-founder of independent production company Focus Theatre.

For Focus Theatre Alice directed a new production of A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians (Newtown Theatre) and was Producer and Associate Director on Handbag (Seymour Centre); Blowing Whistles (Downstairs Belvoir, Darlinghurst Theatre and Feast Festival, Adelaide); Bison (Downstairs Belvoir and Feast Festival); Natural Born Hooker (Downstairs Belvoir) and Bent (B Sharp).

Acting credits include A Doll’s House (STC); The Libertine (Sport for Jove/Darlinghurst Theatre); A Family Affair and Ladybird (B Sharp); Out in the Open (Focus Theatre/Darlinghurst Theatre); Dinner (Focus Theatre/Griffin Stablemates); Hay Fever, Entertaining Mr Sloane, Canary, Equus, Art is a Weapon, Into the Woods, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Assassins, The Diary of Anne Frank, Othello, A Cheery Soul, Only Heaven Knows and The Government Inspector (New Theatre) plus numerous short films and tv series, most recently Packed to the Rafters and Devil’s Playground. Alice is a previous Artistic Director of New Theatre, and is currently Publicist.

Alice recently directed Privates on Parade at the New Theatre which is currently running till 8 March 2014. For more information, visit: www.newtheatre.org.au for details.

Image: Alice Livingstone