INTERVIEW WITH SOHA KHAN

Soha worked in Saudi Arabia with the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, where she programmed performances and produced art projects. She worked as a production assistant with the National Youth Theatre on the Commonwealth Games and has worked with Les Enfants Terribles, Seabright Productions and Complicite. She is also Associate Producer for The Quentin Dentin Show at the Tristan Bates Theatre and producing a new immersive show Egyptian Extravaganza performing at COLAB Factory. On top of all this she is also studying MFA Creative Producing at Central School of Speech and Drama.

At the moment you are...
…developing a new immersive show Egyptian Extravaganza and associate producing on a new rock musical The Quentin Dentin Show and studying MFA Creative Producing at Central School of Speech and Drama!

A lot of your work in the past has relied on trial and error, what do you think is the most important lesson in producing you’ve learnt so far?
Be prepared to do deal with uncertainties. Things might change, get cancelled, and might not go the way you planned. Notice your team’s strengths and consult with them.

What does Stage One mean to you and how has the Stage One Workshop developed your career?
I am from Saudi Arabia and moved to London 2 years ago, it was very important to find a way to grasp the theatre landscape, how the west end/ commercial producing industry works. I learnt a lot in 3 days, and picked up the dos and don’ts from industry speakers - I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. My mentor advised me to attend the Stage One workshop in addition to the degree I’m already pursuing. It is a great way to network where I met industry people and started to recognise faces. The current shows I’m working on came through the networking I did at the workshop. I met Hannah Elsy who was one of the delegates at the workshop and decided to partner with her on the musical. I also met Bertie Watkins (Artistic Director of Colab theatre) where I am presenting Egyptian Extravaganza. The feeling of belonging to a network like Stage One is great. There is a sense of support network where if I need any advice I know I can easily get in touch.

When did you first discover your passion for theatre and what was your journey to becoming a Theatre Producer?
I was always drawn to live performances, knowing that no such industry existed in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t think I can pursue a career until I began working as theatre coordinator at a new cultural centre, the first in the Kingdom that included a 1000 seat auditorium. It was ambitious, I was the only local and female in the theatre team, I had to learn on the job, lots of trial and errors, my first project involved working with Cirque Du Soleil to commission a new show. I then began to programme performances, develop creative content for festivals and manage events. We had to get creative to overcome a variety of challenges: cultural/religious challenges; overcoming the logistical barriers when receiving shows from abroad; dealing with audiences who were setting foot for the very first time inside a theatre space. I then had the opportunity to come to London and work with National Youth Theatre for a few months. I tried different roles and spent a lot of time with the producer - I knew then I wanted to produce. I was aware of the gaps in my knowledge of UK theatre so I applied to Central School of Speech and Drama, the rest they say is history… 

How do you manage studying full time alongside producing independently?
By being strategic and selective on what I can realistically achieve within this time frame, it’s about striking a balance. It is tempting to get involved in new shows and even bigger shows that come your way. I decided to focus at this stage on two manageable shows and trust that more opportunities will come my way in the future.

Last show you saw and loved?
I recently saw Alice’s Adventures Underground, I loved the design and enjoyed the playfulness of the show.

What do you think, is the best thing about the Theatre Industry?
People coming together to create work they love. The sense of community, I love that I can ask others for help when I feel stuck and people are open to introducing you to other producers and creatives who they think I should meet.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Every experience is a success” and “You never lose, you either win or you learn”.