Born: Southport, England
Publications: "Shakespeare's First Texts" (a how-to explore/guide to the First Folio and quartos); thirty-six individual "Applause First Folio Editions" (annotated modern print versions of the plays contained in the 1623 First Folio) now used by many professional theatres and university theatre departments /professional training schools throughout USA, Canada and England; 1200 page plus "Applause First Folio of Shakespeare in Modern Type"; a series of three linked books of audition material "Once More Unto The Speech, Dear Friends" (involving 900 speeches instead of the customary 300) with annotated modern text and First Folio text versions of each speech plus explanatory commentary side by side were published by Applause in 2006.
Education and Training: University of Nottingham; Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (John Gielgud Scholarship and the School Free Place).
Having hastily abandoned in quick succession careers in accountancy, social research, social work, and advertising, (much to the relief of the various clientele left behind), Neil entered the world of theatre via weekly stock, acting and directing, and then the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (thanks to the John Gielgud Scholarship and The School Free Place).
Dividing his time in England between acting (radio and television), teaching, and a two year stint as an artistic director, he came to Canada to find out what he wanted to be when he grew up theatrically, and still doesn’t know.
Currently in the Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing at UBC, he holds a Founder’s Ring (and the position of Master Teacher) with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass, and has been recently appointed Text Consultant with both Seattle Shakespeare and the newly founded Whole Actor Enterprise in California. He is/has been a guest faculty member at more than two dozen professional theatre schools in England, U.S.A., and Canada, and has acted with the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, The (Ontario) Stratford Festival, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz.
Neil's approach is to start with easy games to discover the hidden principles of debate and argument (so key to the heart of all Shakespearean characters) and an easy approach to revel in the richness of the language.
Neil then guides actors, directors, teachers, students as to how to make practical use of the texts given to the first Shakespearean actors (texts so different form their modern counterparts) so as to glean literally hundreds of extra theatrical clues the modern texts have unwittingly wiped out no matter how carefully prepared. Participants will be offered two sets of texts, the original based on rhetoric and the modern based on grammar, and encouraged to explore both as if they were their own Shakespearean detectives - discovering the facts first and then playing with the myriad of possibilities after, the whole based on both brain and body experiences.