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Interview with Niall Phillips, Director of new play Olympilads

OlympiladsDirector Niall Phillips and Writer Andrew Maddock form the production company Lonesome Schoolboy Productions. Previous plays IN/OUT (A Feeling) & HE(ART) are Off West End Nominated and were described as ‘Enthralling and Urgent’ (The Stage), ‘a joy to hear, never mind see’ (Exeunt) and ’raw and poignant’ (The Upcoming).

OLYMPILADS marks the start of Lonesome Schoolboy’s summer season of new writing, which also includes the premiere of TURKEY by Frankie Meredith (Soho Young Writers) who was discovered as a result of the company’s open submission policy and has since become an associate writer and tasked with discovering new work.

Niall Phillip recently took time out to answer a few questions about himself and OLYMPILADS.

Q: Together with writer Andrew Maddock, you form the production company Lonesome Schoolboy Productions. Can you tell us about the company?
Niall: LONESOME was set up 7 years ago. We were surrounded by actors, directors, and writers that all wanted to work. All had ideas and stories, all had spent loads of time waiting for the phone to ring. I was told years ago that creating, whether, writing or acting etc is a muscle that needs to be worked, otherwise it gets rusty… so I started with workshops, new writing nights and group readings in my bedroom. Anything to meet new creatives and support fresh talent! Then we just built up, now we make work year in year out and love every second.

Niall Phillips
Niall Phillips

Q: Your latest production is OLYMPILADS. Can you tell us about this?
Niall: It’s another Mr. Maddock beauty. We go for drinks and I just watch his brain work and ideas and characters grow and then he presents an idea or an outline for a story. This is a very honest tale of family. It’s one of his best, most truthful plays to date.

Q: OLYMPILADS is on at Theatre N16 from 8th to 26th August – what next for you and the production company in 2017?
Niall: During one of our workshops we met loads of new writers. We spent some time working with a wonderful writer called Frankie Meredith. We did some workshops, had some debates and now LONESOME will be producing her first full-length play called TURKEY in late 2017.

Q: Away from theatre can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Niall: I’m a workaholic. I work 7 days a week and love every second. I teach & direct at drama schools, I work with EBD kids in East London and I do one to one acting tuition. I never stop. I’ve got too much energy to sit and do nothing. I’m also a cat owner, but not one of those weird cat owner types.

Q: How long have you been a vegan for and what made you choose to be a vegan?
Niall: I’ve been veggie for 3 years, and vegan for just under a year. It all started when I sat on my sofa, with my dog on my right and my cat on my left and watched EARTHLINGS. I was shown a world that genuinely hurt, made me feel like a selfish human being and made me want to change immediately. Since that day I’ve not gone near meat at all. Then I researched further, had more arguments and decided to cut all animal products out my diet and lifestyle.

Q: How easy is it for you to find vegan food to eat on a daily basis?
Niall: I’m always on the go, so I just have to plan better and organise where to shop. I’m determined that I won’t contribute to that industry so I just need to be more disciplined with the choices I make.

Q: How does being a vegan fit into the world of theatre in terms of yourself and productions that you are involved in?
Niall: Being vegan is a massive part of my life! It has changed my outlook on the world and my place in the world. I feel very strongly about my choice but don’t allow it to alter my creative standpoint. It’s good to meet other vegans within this small industry but it doesn’t make a difference to how we cast or create.
I’m really against fur, it makes my blood boil, in every single way, so part of the production process with costume design must always incorporate the vegan movement.
I joke a lot about being vegan, on social media etc, but I think that’s a subtle way to let people know not to offer me that kind of food or to eat dead animals too close to me.
What I will say, is in the next 10 years, maybe sooner, you will notice a massive shift within society and our relationship with living, beating hearts.

Q: What message would you say to any non-vegans about becoming a vegan?
Niall: We live in troubled times, lots of issues wrapped in animosity, it’s getting scary. So I kind of think we can all bring a little bit less pain to the world by a daily endeavour for compassion towards animals. The vegan lifestyle is easy as it’s 2017. The options are endless. I’m never stuck for places or things to eat, vegan southern fried chicken to vegan kebabs. Also, In London there is always a park or open space, so you can always just get on all fours and gobble some freshly cut green grass.

*****

OLYMPILADS
Darren’s convinced he’s going to beat Usain Bolt in the Men’s 100m Finals.
Abigail won’t stop applying varnish to her fingernails.
Simon just wants to make sure his brother and sister are both eating right.

Brought to you by one of ‘The Independent’s Playwrights to dominate 2017’ OLYMPILADS by Andrew Maddock explores a complex relationship between two brothers and their estranged sister, living their lives under the shadow of austerity and the hope for a lasting London legacy during the 2012 Olympic Games. The piece was selected as part of Scott Ellis’ first season as Artistic Director of Theatre N16.

On previous work
★★★★★ ‘Just go and see!’ Londontheatre1 for IN/OUT (A Feeling)
★★★★ ‘enthralling and urgent’ The Stage for IN/OUT (A Feeling)
★★★★ ‘incredibly touching’ The Reviews Hub for The We Plays
★★★★ ‘The beauty of this piece sneaks up on you and sweeps you away’ THE UPCOMING
★★★★ ‘touching and beautiful’ View From The Gods

Creatives
Writer Andrew Maddock
Director Niall Phillips
Music Don Pinch

Cast: TBA

Listings
Dates and times: 8th – 26th August 2017 (Tues – Sat, No Matinee)

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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