Nick’s history of involvement with street theatre stemmed from his interest in Engineering in the 1980’s and early 90’s. Through working in engineering and as a blacksmith for many years he developed an interest in kinetic and abstract sculpture, which then led him to working backstage as a prop and set designer for Crude Apache Theatre Company. He soon found his place in front of the audience as well with an almost exclusive interest in non speaking comedy roles. In the mid 90’s he really found his niche in combining all his engineering and artistic skills to write, direct and perform in shows such as the “Ironing Board Waltz” (Six ironing Boards waltzing to the Blue Danube), Surrealist moments with the “Fly Skull Orchestra” (Posh musicians, manic conducting and silent instruments – except for the rotating skull that sounds like a fly); and film making with the acclaimed short film Wash and Go (A love story between a Washing Machine and Tumble Dryer set to music by the likes of Grieg, Frankie lane, Wreckless Eric, and Lorraine Ellison.
It was here within Crude Apache that Nick and Bert first met, and it was from this meeting that a common sense of humour was discovered that led on to their friendship and ultimately working relationship.
In the late 90’s he started working with Theatre of Adventure, helping design and fabricate props, rigs, and sets for many of their static and street shows. He then took the opportunity to work with them as a street performer with their show “Organ Zola & Friends”, which is where Edmond Tahl was born. It quickly became obvious that Edmond was more suited to being a solo show, and so from the summer of 2001 he has been doing his own inimitable thing.
In 2006 the company welcomed Paul Preston Mills to the mix, as an associate and hired performer. Paul’s first involvement was as Carpet Man for the 2006 season in Carpet Man & Lino Boy’s Complete Clothing Solutions. Nick had been searching for another performer to work with on this show after two years of writing and feasibility studies, and Paul was keen to extend his stage and screen career to the street. This show took a huge amount of costume and prop development to achieve the desired results. We knew what we wanted but as is the way with a lot of our work there is no one to ask about how best to do it – you just have to get on with it. Months later we had a huge wardrobe full of bizarre and charming costumes – which we are still adding to every season. This show has the wonderful format of letting the public in on the act – giving them a chance to perform in a safe environment.
After much pondering over the winter of 2009 / 2010 Nick and Paul wrote what has turned out to be a very successful new show – The Thinker. Nick had been toying with the idea of concealing a PA system as some sort of body-pack, and linking it to a second person via a radio microphone who was to do perform the ‘thinking’ of the character. The whole concept fell into place very quickly after the selection of an appropriate character – Vernon Ponder – a retired Northerner, rather confused by the modern world. It has been a great success with surrealist shows all the way from the Caribbean to the RHS Cardiff flower show; and is one of Nick’s most favourite performances to do. It combines the very trivial, the very deep, the absurdist, the surreal, and the very present passing moment in a hugely rich and yet beautifully simple world of telepathy that can be enjoyed on so many simultaneous levels.
2010 and onwards has been very heavily invested in the development of new technologies and concepts for audiObscura – an installation soundscape project funded by the Arts Council. The concept was conceived by Nick and Paul whilst on tour through Central America over the winter of 2010 / 11 with the help of Sea Change Arts from Great Yarmouth, who helped steer the application process.
As a company we are most ‘at home’ producing work that is both contemporary and challenging to cultural concepts and conventions. This makes many of our performances a bit intentionally edgy in order to achieve an honest emotional response from our audiences, and maybe a bit of pondering. Performance art can be a very useful tool for highlighting the absurd world that surrounds us, which is all too often invisible by the nature of its saturating presence. Currently the company spends a great deal of time doing soundscape commission work for all sorts of clients, developing new ideas, new technologies and concepts. The website commissions page shows off a lot of recent work.
Meanwhile since 2008 Nick has been developing the ever growing sales side of his business, and has become a well respected world leader in the area of design and sales of small PA system…get your PA’s and Q Thing here!