We’ve decided to start doing an “Artist Feature” segment on SIA’s blog once a month to highlight the actors working with SIA and the good works that they are doing for the community.
Neil Silcox is SIA’s Managing Producer. Neil has extensive training in theatre and education. He holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting and Directing with and Emphasis on Education from York University. Neil has worked as an actor and director for more than 10 years, working with companies like Humber River Shakespeare, Hart House Theatre, the U.C. Follies, and the Toronto Youth Theatre. Neil served as Artistic Director for the Toronto Youth Theatre from 2011-2013. Neil has worked with Sheridan College, Centennial College and York University and teaches and coaches private students.
We sat down with Neil to get an deeper insight on his passion for acting, his love for Shakespeare and what has brought him to pursue youth education.
What attracted you to wanting to work with youth in the community?
I love the energy and vitality that comes from working with young people in the theatre. All things are possible when you’re working with them, and there is an almost unlimited amount of creativity and problem solving. I’m also very keen to help foster in young people an understanding of the importance of live performance in order to foster the future creators and consumers of theatre.
What is your acting philosophy or method?
My acting philosophy is built around two quotations from the amazing Jim Henson. The first is “Simple is Good”. Although complexity and virtuosity are important there is something very powerful about simplicity in the theatre. A simple thing done clearly and cleanly has the ability to touch something deep within us. The second quotation is “Listening is the first step and the last step.” This applies just as much to performing a scene or a monologue—where one must always be listening to one’s scene partner—but it’s also very important in the creative process, where if you don’t really listen to the other people on the team the whole process can fall apart quickly.
What is your favourite Shakespearean Play?
My favourite Shakespearean play is Romeo & Juliet. I love Shakespeare’s nuanced understanding of the ups and downs that come with love, and the ways that romantic love can cause great pain alongside great joy.
What advice would you have for a youth or even an adult who wants to try and break into acting and the industry?
It’s important to train. Talent can carry you a certain amount, but having a real understanding of how the craft of acting and making theatre works is important. You don’t necessarily have to go to school for theatre, but there’s no other way to get as much experience in as short an amount of time. If you do go to school, find the one that’s right for you. Meet with students and teachers and talk about their priorities and what they believe.
Who are your favourite playwrights other than Shakespeare?
I love Tennessee Williams, Suzan-Lori Parks, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett
What Shakespearean roles have you played?
I’ve played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macduff in Macbeth, Edgar in King Lear, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Oliver in As You Like It, Antipholus of Ephesus in Comedy of Errors, Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Buckingham in Richard III.
Which was your favourite?
I really loved playing Edgar in Lear, he has amazing growth and discoveries throughout the play (and he gets to be the king in the end!)
Do you have any dream roles you haven’t had the chance to play?
I always wanted to play Romeo, but I think my ship has sailed. At 35 I’m just too old for the role.