Humans of Shakespeare North Playhouse – Nathan Powell

Fri 12 May, 2023

Inspired by the original Humans of New York, Humans of Shakespeare North Playhouse aims to document as many of the wonderful people who walk through our building each day. Giving a glimpse into who they are and the story they have to share. Meet Nathan Powell who is directing A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction during its run at Shakespeare North Playhouse (16-20 May)

Thy life’s a miracle.
King Lear, Act 4, Scene 6

“I’m the Artistic Director and Co-CEO of a company called NSDF (National Student Drama Festival). We run a festival that platforms young people’s work across the county and our mission is to inspire young talent and to teach new skills to help launch young people’s careers.  

 I’m also the co-founder of a company called New Step Theatre alongside Joe Ward Munrow who’s a wonderful, intelligent, brilliant writer. I freelance direct shows, I’ve just come off directing a show called Sucker Punch by Roy Williams. It’s on tour at the moment so it’s nice being in this rehearsal room and then nipping off to see that show. If I feel interested or pushed or challenged by something then I always feel excited by that, and this show definitely feels like an exciting creative challenge. Taking a show that already exists and making it your own feels like a wonderful jigsaw puzzle that we’re putting together.  

A Play for The Living in a Time of Extinction is the story of Naomi, who is the dramaturg of a theatre company called 0 Emissions. Naomi talks to us about how they’re thinking and feeling about the climate crisis and how they’re trying to get to grips with that personally, but they also try and open up the conversation to us as an audience and ask us to think about how we tackle that subject. It’s feels really personal and despite all the difficult stuff it’s still really funny. It’s a show about the climate crisis and extinction and how we have conversations about that. 

It has a really interesting model of a touring show that doesn’t actually tour! So the show tours but the team doesn’t tour. In every venue there’s a new creative team, a different performer, and a different community chorus. We get sent a pack and a design brief that we interpret for our own space. It’s been really nice working in this space and thinking about how the old and new come together. The design of the production is quite futuristic and modern and it feels quite nice being able to see how the setting of the play and the venue of Shakespeare North Playhouse collide in a really interesting way. It feels specific and personal to each place it’s going to, which you don’t get usually from a touring production. 

When I work it’s all about collaboration for me, so I’ll have thoughts and ideas before it starts but once we get into that rehearsal room it’s about everyone in that space being able to interact with the work in the way that feels the most truthful and honest to them. Through doing that we create something that feels right for all of us in that space. It’s been wonderful working with Shareesa and the creative team, to explore what is this thing that we want to present on this stage and how does it feel.  

I think it’s going to be a really enlightening and connected evening if you come in with an open mind and just follow Naomi on this journey, I think you’ll really enjoy it. It’s a big difficult subject matter but the care, warmth and humor that comes from Naomi makes for a very fun. Lots of us are guilty of feeling powerless when it comes to climate change and the climate crisis and I think it’s useful to talk about why we feel so powerless and how we can hopefully feel less powerless.”