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In the spotlight: Lisa Clough’s been devoted to Queenstown’s performing arts scene for over a decade

From star of scenes to the mastermind behind them, community theatre stalwart Lisa
Clough, who’s set to bring School of Rock The Musical to the stage this week, talks to LUCY WORMALD about how her passion for performing arts has evolved

An extroverted introvert is how Lisa Clough describes herself.

Perhaps that is why being at the helm of Showbiz Queenstown’s production of School of
Rock The Musical, which is set to open tonight for a string of nine shows, is the perfect creative outlet for her.

‘‘I think I’m sort of an extroverted introvert in that I do love lights on, people watching, doing your thing and being a different character, but, also, I’m actually quite a private person,’’ she says.

While this marks her third directorial role with Showbiz, Clough is no stranger to being on-stage and in the spotlight — her performing arts roots stretch back to childhood when she made her theatrical debut as ‘‘some kind of woodland creature’’ in Toad of Toad Hall in Invercargill in the ’80s.

‘‘I started doing speech and drama when I was about six because I was quite a spirited,
attention-seeking child.

‘‘I really loved dressing up and acting out mainly The Sound of Music at home.’’

Clough fostered her passion right through her schooling, graduating with a diploma in teaching speech and drama from the Trinity College of London.

She made her way to Queenstown in 2010, and began co-directing the Kate Moetaua School of Drama (now the Kate Moetaua Collective).

‘‘[Kate and I] collaborated for eight years and had a drama school with lots of kids that came through … and during that time I was getting involved with performing on stage as well, and it just sort of evolved from there.’’

As well as becoming part of Showbiz’s fabric after playing Maria in their 2012 production of The Sound of Music, Clough has also taught performing arts at local primary schools, and she now directs Queenstown’s annual Christmas Show and is on the committee of Cromwell’s Fine Thyme Theatre Company (FTTC) — running the Fine Thyme Belles choir.

‘‘I love it because that’s about teaching and harmony and creating performances for
people that are not necessarily the most confident singers but love to get together and sing,’’ she says.

Finding herself turning towards more and more behind-the-scenes positions, Clough says her love of performing arts has changed shape over the past decade.

‘‘I do love performing, but I think my passion has evolved into creating, and I love the idea of visualising something in my head and bringing it to life — it just fills me with heaps of joy.’’

 

The last few years have seen Clough heavily involved in producing shows in Queenstown and Cromwell.

Directing Remarkable Theatre’s Cinderella pantomime and Showbiz’s Annie in 2015, she also led FTTC’s Scandal at the Speakeasy in 2020 and brought Shortland Street — The Musical to Cromwell last year.

She says the sense of community within both theatre scenes is uplifting.

‘‘Everybody is so supportive, caring, working towards a common goal, building everybody else up.

‘‘Even if you’re not a theatre person but you’ve got a skill in organising or painting and you want to meet a really nice group of people, get involved.

‘‘When you do a show, you end up spending every waking hour with these people, they
become your family and just the connections that you build are really, really special.’’

Clough says it is Moetaua’s legacy that drives her to keep working to provide opportunities to get people, especially kids, involved in performing arts.

She quotes a line from School of Rock, and also a Whitney Houston lyric: ‘‘I believe the children are our future.’’

‘‘If you’re going to create something, especially with a volunteer base as your organisation, you need to get kids involved because you need to be passing on these skills to people so that it can perpetuate in the future.’’

Acknowledging the amount of time put in to amateur theatre by ‘‘a few really passionate people’’, Clough says it’s important to grow these communities ‘‘so we can pass on those legacies and delegate more so that certain people don’t burn out’’.

And even though School of Rock will close on 28 May, the show goes on for Clough.

She’ll go straight into rehears als for Remarkable Theatre play Gone to Seed, postponed from last year, ‘‘and then I guess I’ll be starting to think about the Christmas Show again’’.

Tickets for School of Rock The Musical can be purchased via eventfinda.

lucy.wormald@scene.co.nz