Allen Price’s work as an artist is nothing short of stunning, and with one glance at his photographs this past Friday evening in Leonardtown, it is understandable that the St. Mary’s County Art Council chose to spotlight Price in its Meet and Greet Artist Series.
Price drew a multigenerational, and curious crowd to the show. One of those in attendance was Jami Faith, an artist who recently relocated to Leonardtown from Salem, Oregon. “I love his photography, it really stands out printed on metal,” said Faith, with a nod of approval. “This is my first time seeing Price’s work, and I must tell you, I am impressed,” Faith concluded.
Indeed, art lovers were treated to a fabulous photography exhibit, particularly the art metal, which is worthy of the highest grade.
Dismissive, and seemingly uncomfortable at most compliments directed at him, Price was engaging as he mingled with everyone in his welcoming and witty demeanor.
Landscape and wildlife photography are Price’s genres of choice. When asked his thoughts on what makes for a great photograph, Price said “A photograph that expresses real emotion and one that appears natural; I want to capture a photograph of a moment that really existed, without too much digital manipulation. It takes the subject and the creator to make this possible. In wildlife photography, as an example, the subject is not staged, it is in its natural environment and organic.”
Price is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in English and English Education; he earned his Master’s in Curriculum Design from McDaniel College. Price has called Southern Maryland home since 1998 and currently resides in St. Mary’s County with his wife, Anna Price. Anna Price is an accomplished professional, and well-respected teacher at Patuxent High School.
As magnificent as Price’s photographic skills are, it is merely a glimpse into his artistic reservoir. “Obviously, Allen is an excellent photographer,” offered up attendee, and colleague, Justin Sloan. “But those that know Price, will tell you that photography is just one of his many artistic talents. Allen is more than a photographer, he’s also an exceptional theatre director,” added Sloan. “Allen’s most impressive quality is his selfless and genuine love for the arts; he puts maximum heart and effort into everything that he does. He’s a beloved teacher and an all-around good guy. To say that Allen inspires and brings out the best in others is a monumental understatement.” Sloan concluded.
More specifically, Sloan was pointing out that, debatably, Allen Price’s most prolific artistic masterpiece could very well be his body of work as Theatre Director for Calvert County Public Schools, and Theatre teacher at Patuxent High School. And to Sloan’s point, to appreciate Price, one must delve holistically into his diversified artistic skills, his passion for teaching others, and tenacious dedication.
What’s not debatable, however, is Price’s success as a Theatre director and teacher; a success that he instinctively shares and attributes to others. What is not up to debate, is the impact that Price has on his students and the community.
Price is now in his twenty-fourth year at Patuxent High School; fifteen years as an English teacher, and nine as a Theatre teacher. During his tenure, Price has produced a staggering twenty-five highly popular and successful plays. Patuxent High School nominated Price as its 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year.
The most recent production, Mamma Mia! sold out every show and attracted people from Southern Maryland without connection to Patuxent High School. “We heard that the High School puts on a good show, so we decided to attend,” said Sharon Shifflett of Lusby, who attended Sunday’s matinee with his husband Bobby Shifflett. “We were blown away. Everything was amazing: the acting, the singing, all the details were covered. The stage was beautiful. We really enjoyed it, and we’ll make plans to attend the next play.” Sharon Shifflett added.
The Shifflett’s, as with the rest of Southern Maryland, will be happy to learn that Price’s next masterpiece, Shakespeare in Love, is fait accompli; production has already begun, and it is scheduled to play November 17-20 at Patuxent High School.
Handy in carpentry, and with a lavishness of common sense, Price builds and designs the stages from the ground up, without a blueprint. In true Price fashion, he credits his students for their help. Price also quickly points out that the elaborate costumes are designed and are mostly hand-created by art teacher and artist Lorrain Humphreys, and by Anna Price.
Zachary Leclerc, a student who played Sam in Mamma Mia! in a resounding endorsement, stated “Mr. Price has helped me beyond just theatre. He goes beyond what you would expect from a normal theatre ‘club’… if you could even call it that. He has taught me numerous life lessons, in and out of class. In all honesty, he could just be a Broadway director, but he chooses to spread his wisdom to us lowly teenagers. And I thank him for that.”
Brooke Baney, a student, and cast member-director followed up Leclerc’s sentiments with high marks, saying “Mr. Price is easily the hardest working person I’ve ever met. He does everything he can to make our productions as successful as they’ve been. He arrives at school hours before anyone else during show season to start working. His creative thinking skills and intelligence make him a perfect director for our program, yet he gives all the credit to us, his students. Not only is he an amazing director, but he is also a genuinely good person at heart. I couldn’t ask for a better leader.”
When asked what a Theatre Director does, Price said “You get a script with only words. You only get clues for how the character should talk and move, what the set and costumes should look like, or what the lighting should be. So, you must be unafraid to fail. You must take risks. You need to inspire students to think beyond their self-prescribed limitations. And you need to create a space for actors to feel safe to take risks and fail themselves.”
I asked Price what his role entails during the live play. With a smirk, presumably reserved for those unbeknownst to his style, Price quipped with confidence stating, “I enjoy the show. I observe and I let everyone do their jobs. I am not directing during this time.” In the spirit of full disclosure, I had imagined Price being hands-on, presiding and commanding the young actresses and actors during the plays. However, given what I’ve recently learned about Allen Price, I am not at all surprised; his attention to detail and forward-thinking planning is exemplary. “Before the first live performance in front of an audience, the play has been numerously rehearsed in its entirety. And the cast, as well as staff members, have ownership. They have been assigned problem-solving tasks to address every foreseeable situation that can go awry. Everyone has a specific role in the ‘what can possibly go wrong scenario’. Rarely do I get involved while the play is live,” Price added.
Clearly, Price has his craft down to an art. Well played Mr. Price. Your photography, theatre, and artistic meddle are all worthy of the highest grade. Bravo!