Producer Patrick Collier names the inspiring, perceptive and – occasionally – annoying people who have guided his working life.
David was one of my lecturers at University. He has directed shows on most of the main stages in Dublin. In my third year, he gave me my lowest ever mark for a piece that I’d directed. I was devastated. But it made me completely re-evaluate how I made work as a director.
David has a gentle manner but uncompromising artistic integrity. I’ll be forever grateful for his insistence that I could, and should, do better. However, when I spoke to him about it afterwards, he was almost dismissive of the mark. He called it a ‘single moment’ and insisted that I focus on the next piece, and the next piece, and never get too caught up on what people might think of one project.
Paul is Creative Director of Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, and has been a regular supporter of my work. As the artistic head of a beautiful old venue that sits firmly on the large-scale touring circuit, he shows an exciting interest in experimental work and emerging artists, and particularly in presenting this type of work outside of London. He’s been instrumental to some of my work with Theatre Témoin, helping to bring marginalised groups to professional work, and encouraging a diversity of audience and artists.
When I was quite early in my career, Paul sat me down at Edinburgh Fringe over a pint and said: “So who are you Patrick? What do you want?” Sometimes, in the maelstrom of everyday producing tasks, the long-term goal can slip. Paul’s questioning keeps bringing me back to strategy, and the importance of continually pushing a long-term agenda in this career.
Amit is one of the most annoying people I’ve ever met. He recently called me and convinced me for five minutes that he was my long-lost cousin Declan from county Roscommon. I’m quite sure I was on speaker phone. More seriously, he has one of the keenest and most perceptive minds that I’ve encountered in this industry.
Amit is Associate Artistic Director at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and we’ve recently been working together on a project for Graeae Theatre Company in India. He’s (perhaps unknowingly) become somewhat of a mentor to me. He reminds me to be completely impatient with the lack of diversity in the arts, and observing him in meetings has been a masterclass in emotional perception. He joined the Royal Exchange through the Arts Council’s Change Makers programme, and his passion for making change in the arts in infectious, and essential.
Andrea has been a long-time friend and collaborator, and our partnership has taken off through 201 Dance Company, the company he founded and where he is Artistic Director.
Andrea’s drive has been a constant fuel for me. As a producer, I’m often in danger of becoming a cynic – I feel that an element of my job is to look out for pending problems, to catch issues before they arise and to take obstacles away from artists. Andrea, on the other hand, has a constant focus on the possible.
Within months of founding a company, his first show as a choreographer was selling out to thousands and receiving widespread critical acclaim. Andrea is a constant reminder to me that you mustn’t always be cautious, and that you won’t really get anywhere without taking risks – to focus on the possible rather than the problem.
Niamh’s my big sis. She works in development, for the United Nations Development Programme in Bhutan. Growing up we shared a passion for development, and our parents encouraged us to be aware of what was happening in the world.
She’s become something of a moral compass to me these days, and is a good reminder of why I do what I do. I passionately believe that the arts have the power to shift perspectives and make change. As a producer, I’m really only interested in work that presents something new to an audience – a new perspective or experience that they hadn’t thought about before. I think it’s so important to stay aware of the power for change that the arts possess.
Niamh’s enthusiasm for her work has always encouraged me to push harder to try to effect change with each project, whether that’s sharing LGBTQ stories with young hip-hop audiences, or creating debate around disability policy. In whatever small way is appropriate with each project, I think it’s essential to consider how the work might affect people.
The artists I work with…
CHEESE ALERT! But that is why we do it, isn’t it? Independent producing can be a lonely job, and the concept of holidays doesn’t really exist. One of the things that gets me through the regular exhaustion is the wonderful people I work with, and the chance to make that work happen.
I’m blessed to go to work with people who consistently challenge me, and who are constantly coming up with new ways to look at the world. When you’re jumping between meetings with creative people, you very rarely have a dull day. I feel very lucky for that.
Patrick Collier is Producer for 201 Dance Company.
201 Dance Company are currently touring Smother across the UK and will perform their new show Skin at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.