Meet the Faculty No 6 – Nick Williams

I have known Nick over a number of incarnations. First as an inspiring arts manager, then as an immensely supporting lead manager in Arts Council England where, along with a mass of high profile London arts clients, he looked after the fledgling Musical Theatre Matters network I started. Then as an unexpected co-traveller to the City of Perm in Russia to see an arts festival, and now as the CEO of my nearest theatre.  He has created & facilitated theatremakers and theatre making at all scales across the UK and in international partnerships. It is wonderful he will be joining the Faculty.   

What inspires you to be a creative producer (and/or keeps you going)?

I am constantly amazed at the plethora of ideas and potentials when you get the right group of people together to talk.  My most favourite conversations are when ideas feel like they are pinging around the room – bouncing around and changing direction as more and more are explored and fleshed out.  It can be energizing and refreshing even when feeling bogged down by other less creative things.

Is there a style of art/theatre you particularly want to create/produce ?

I’ve got a strong background in new plays and am really interested in formal innovation – where it helps tell the story or explore the subject better.  I’ve worked in indoor and outdoor work, with large community participation projects and high end talent, and find that when you find the right way to tell the right story, that’s when the theatrical magic happens.

Are you someone who works on one or multiple projects – tell us a little about your style of work ?

I’m a juggler.  Constantly working across different things.

Who inspired you and/or who would you love to collaborate with/produce ?

I was originally inspired by local amateur companies performing musicals as a young child – that passion and energy at every step was infectious.  I’ve been inspired by single productions that have stayed with me for decades from all sorts of different styles and practices but all have stuck because they tell the story they want to tell in the way it is best told.

As an international practitioner, what might we not know about working in your region/country ?

As a relatively recent arrival in Scotland, I’m struck by how there is a very limited commercial theatre sector.  And that home grown work on the mid-scale here doesn’t tour much, either in Scotland or abroad when it absolutely should.

What are you working on now (which you can tell us about) ? 

A community focused range of projects to run through the autumn whilst our buildings are closed; a potential promenade panto; a longer-term way of sustainable producing for our mid-scale theatre and how to best support Scottish artists as we emerge from the Covid crisis.  I did say I was a juggler.

Within the Diploma programme/idea what are you most looking forward to helping/experiencing ?

How to balance money with ambition.  It’s been a key theme of my career to date.

Are there any inspiring/useful books or texts we should know about.

Richard Eyre’s National Service; Michael Billington’s State of Nation; David Hume’s Of the Standard of Taste (honestly everyone working in the arts should read this and reflect on relativity of taste within societies); and as many plays from different cultures and societies that are not your own as you can

[Editor’s note – the link allows a download of the David Hume]

How do you ensure your own personal wellness (especially at this time in the world)?

Tough one.  Shouting “enough” and going out into the fresh air with the dog in tow.  The occasional large glass of red wine.  Trying to listen to myself when I know I’ve pushed too hard for too long.

Any superstitions or special phrases you hold close to you ?

I never say the name of the Scottish Play in a theatre.  Legs must always be broken on an opening night.

Any lessons learnt or experiences to look back at which are amusing/lifechanging?

I toured The Golden Dragon by Roland Schimmelpfennig – a show about Chinese migration to the west – to Kurdish Iraq for the only Kurdish International Theatre Festival in 2012.  We had a wonderfully warm welcome – being met by the press at 3am at the airport for full interviews with the full company.  A wonderful older actress called Annie Firbank elbowed me in the ribs as we walked out to the (unknown to us) massed press and whispered whilst smiling radiantly – You could’ve bloody warned me about the press, I’d have put some lippy on in the immigration queue! The beginning of a magical visit involving snowball fights in the mountains with hijabed women, endless mountains of delicious grilled meats, spontaneous folk dancing on the bus between Erbil and Sulaymania, and accepting an award on behalf of the late Harold Pinter because I was from London.  Everything an international tour should do.

Thank you so much Nick, and I am sure all readers will wish you and fellow CEOs in theatres and arts organisations across the UK, every good wish as you find the way through for yourself, your organisation, your freelance artists and staff, and of course the audience.  I can’t wait to get back to Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre

Published 24th July 2020