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Nonsuch's Edward Boott: "Let’s not make art boring. The world is bad enough."

2 July 19 words: Bridie Squires

There’s summat in the water at the bottom of Hockley. Sneinton Market is thriving its creative butt off, local print artists Dizzy Ink have recently opened up The Carousel and, just around the corner, theatre company Nonsuch have moved into the old Service Graphics building on Lower Parliament Street. We sat down with Artistic Director Edward Boott to hear about the movements…

It’s April, and Edward Boott is guiding me through the rooms of Nonsuch’s new premises – drilling and hammering sounds ricochet off the chipboard; bits of stage, boxes and abandoned office equipment are dotted around the place. “We’ve got 400 school kids coming to see a show here in two weeks,” he says, eyes smiling. Ed reminds me of that meme with the dog sat in the middle of a burning room: “I’m fine. This is fine.”

Of course, that comparison doesn’t reflect Boott’s impressive ability to pull a challenging situation together – more so his calm attitude that clearly steadies the steer on Nonsuch’s stream of projects.

The next time I see him, Ed’s decked in usher attire, wired up to an earpiece and guiding people into Antosh Wojcik’s How to Keep Time for Nottingham Poetry Festival. The simple black cloth adorning the walls, bunting and new bar have totally transformed the place and it’s clear everything is, in fact, fine.

“I was told some wise words by an old manager at John Lewis,” he says. “‘Whatever happens, we’re working in a shop. No-one is going to die.’”

After a stint studying European Theatre at Rose Bruford drama school, Edward returned to Notts in 2013 and noticed a lack of artist development programmes in regional theatres. Nonsuch have played a key role in bettering the scene locally and beyond over the past six years; with Ed’s knowledge of European theatre, he was asked to be a part of the European Capital of Culture bid team.

With their first official studio opened on Clarendon Street in 2015, Nonsuch have been building on their work as theatre-makers with a focus on community project development. Their new space is six times bigger and is the only dedicated theatre rehearsal space in the city.

“I'm sat in meetings saying that people aren't engaging in the arts because it's all inside the city centre, and we need to be doing things outside of it,” says Ed. “We know there's the demand for it, but we need to redouble our efforts to do things outside of the city centre too. We're using the strength of a bigger space to make more things happen elsewhere.”

Nonsuch deliver sessions in schools, community centres and care homes, from Clifton to Aspley. They’ve also been working with the women of Emmanuel House to run events and activities in a project called Womanuel. “We use our organisational experience as artists to help people unlock their own skills,” says Ed. “It's not ‘Hi guys, we're here to teach drama!’ More like ‘Let’s have a discussion, what do you like to do?’”

The new space on Lower Parliament Street has been open since April and, after the official launch, the doors have been flung wide to local artists needing a space to develop work, as well as anyone who wants to see incredibly forward-thinking theatre, or get involved in workshops and masterclasses.

“We’re a space to be creative,” says Ed. “Just come. Tell us about interesting stuff you’ve seen and we’ll try to bring it here too. Let’s not make art boring, and let’s not kill ourselves while doing it. The world is bad enough. Let’s celebrate the good stuff, and just have a bit of a party.”

Nonsuch Studios, 92 Lower Parliament Street, NG1 1EH. 0115 837 1950

Nonsuch website

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