Alison Quigan, QSM
“I didn’t expect growing up in Palmerston North in the 1950s would prepare me for a lifelong career in the theatre industry. But it did. It gave me the firm base to really know my large family, diverse groups of friends and to experience a close community. I’ve left several times but have also returned like a homing pigeon.”
Alison Quigan grew up in Palmerston North gaining the firm base she needed to pursue her acting career. From here, Alison trained with Theatre Corporate in Auckland then returned to Palmerston North for a stint at Centrepoint Theatre before heading to the Court Theatre in Christchurch for several years.
Palmerston North beckoned Alison back and she was appointed the Artistic Director of Centrepoint Theatre, a position she held for 18 years until the end of 2004. The work Alison achieved in that time is extensive, directing over 70 productions and performing in over 30 plays. It was at Centrepoint Theatre Alison was inspired to write, completing twelve plays over that time.
‘’Working at Centrepoint Theatre as Artistic Director, allowed me the head space to write, direct, act and programme plays that I knew this audience would relate to. Theatre is life affirming and allows us to tell our stories and show we are not alone.”
“I was working with Ross Gumbley and we wanted to programme more New Zealand written plays but everything seemed so dark so we decided to write our own! How hard could it be?”
Their first play was Five Go Barmy in Palmy – a spoof of the Famous Five books and after that there was no holding them back. Alison continued to write every year with her most successful play being Mum’s Choir which was then produced all over New Zealand. In 2001 Alison was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for Services to the Theatre.
Not only did Alison have theatre talent, she is also well known for her work on television, especially Shortland Street, where she played Yvonne Jeffries from 2004 to 2011. After leaving Shortland Street, she worked as a freelance actor and theatre director in Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North and Auckland as well as a touring show that included many of the smaller centres around the country while writing scripts for Shortland Street. Since 2013 Alison has been the Performing Arts Manager at Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu O Uenuku.
Acting, writing and directing has been a lifelong journey for Alison and she continues to work onstage and in television, as well as on new platforms online including Viva La Dirt League. In 2019 Alison became a member of the Auckland Theatre Company Board.
“In the last 40 plus years I have told stories that make me laugh, cry and wonder at the humanity that surrounds me. I am in awe of the people I have worked with, of the writers whose words I have had the privilege to say and the audiences I have served.”