In conversation with Nigel - Actor and Director
Updated: Aug 12, 2018
I remember being bullied in my early career and so my style is to go completely the other way - I try and create an atmosphere of enjoyment and harmony. Time is such an important factor in my work and discipline is a given so I aim to be tough but with a sense of humour. It’s important that my style is not demeaning in any way.
If I do have constructive criticism to share then I’ll do that in private - maybe over a coffee. Sometimes I may need to remind people that this is a professional environment and people are paying to see you - but I would always do this individually - not in a public forum.
There is such an opportunity to tell people how to do things - I already know how to do it - I’ve had the experience of being a performer and actor - but it’s more important for others to reach their own conclusions and decisions. I use my experience of people I’ve worked with and think about the people who have got the best out of me. I will create the environment and build confidence for others to give their best.
During rehearsals it’s not about the quantity of hours that people put in - it’s about the quality of time. Time flies and before you know it the end of the day has arrived. If they burn the candle at both ends and just go home to sleep then their focus and energy isn’t where it needs to be when the next day starts - so we are no further forward - the quality of time we spend in rehearsal is key.
Of course all people are different. Some people ask for clear direction whereas others are happy to improvise. I think it’s important to get people to make decisions themselves. I find that making suggestions but giving others the ultimate decision is the best way forward. Of course having the right people in the first place is imperative. It’s like an artist’s palate - an artist must have the right paints for their canvas - so as a director I need the right actors - casting is so important. Getting the right people doing the right things is my aim.
I want to encourage, to build confidence and make sure people enjoy their work. If people need help then they can come to me .
We have to maintain a standard over a period of time. Sometimes people forget the basics and I need to remind them that they have to make they audience believe it’s the first time.
All I ask is that people do their preparation and come rested. And be punctual. I’m a stickler for punctuality!
For me the really important characteristics of a great leader include reputation. Someone who is admired and has the respect of the profession. It’s important to me that people would want to work with me as much as I want to work with them. And definitely a sense of humour helps because the aspect of play is so important when being in a play!
It’s important that a cast is not afraid to fail - certainly in rehearsal - so a great director is someone who allows you to be brave and explore areas of discomfort.
The physicality an actor brings to the stage is as important as their mind - I remember a director of mine telling me that. Acting isn’t just about the script - it’s important to think about physical presence and bearing.
The acting profession is extremely competitive - there is an unemployment rate that is pretty static at 87% so financial insecurity comes with the territory. The opportunity to ‘rest’ between roles isn’t really an option for most people in the profession these days. This means that I always have in my mind that I have to be flexible and I should let people go if I care about them. If they have a great opportunity then I make sure I help if I can - it’s important that I help others develop. I look at the bigger picture and see that they may return in a couple of years as a more rounded and skilled individual by having the development opportunity elsewhere.