Veteran actress future focused
Nancy Schroder of Titirangi has a new children’s show.
So, who are you?
My name is Nancy Schroder. I am the artistic director of a stage company called KISS, which is Kids in Show Seats. I am also the director of the Auckland
Academy of Dance. I am an actor and now I’m directing.
What have been the highlights of your career?
I went to ballet and stage school in London. I came out here to New Zealand and the Mercury Theatre under the artistic direction of Raymond Hawthorne, who gave me my first professional acting role. That was amazing. It was the Crucible. I remember my first steps going on to stage and being a serious actress and that was massive.
What sort of feeling do you get when you go on stage now?
Before I go on stage it really is quite overwhelming. I just have to be really quiet, really calm, do things really slowly, set up really slowly.
I can’t be animated or chat to anyone because it will just heighten my fear that I already have. But the minute I step out on to that stage, you go. And all that
‘‘I used to always say if you're not nervous, you should be nervous.’’
energy that you have been holding on to just comes out. And that’s what drives you. That’s what makes a performance. Nerves are great. I used to always say if you’re not nervous, you should be nervous. Because nerves are what will get you through it. It’s your respect for the audience. It’s hard, but once it’s over it’s such a high. You get such a high.
And what do you tell your students?
Exactly what I’ve told you . Be nervous if you’re not nervous. It’s a good thing to be nervous, it gives you peripheral vision. It makes you aware of things you wouldn’t normally be aware of. That fight or flight, so if things go wrong you react.
Do you worry about the acting industry in New Zealand?
I think the film industry is really growing. We are a good incubator of talent. But I think in musical theatre and theatre you have to go away. You have to go to Australia, you have to go to America, you have to go to England. You have to try and make it there. Come back, yeah, but I think we just don’t have enough theatres, enough shows or enough money. You have to go where the work is. What is your new show,
Tom’s Marvellous Imagination is about a little boy whose parents only allow him to read academic books. The word imagination is banned from the house. Then his grandmother comes to stay and she kind of messes things up. She brings a story book. There are a few battles and then the stories start taking over his bedroom and it goes a bit crazy from there.
Would you encourage readers to go into theatre?
It doesn’t matter what you want to be in life or what you end up doing. Dance and performing arts are really important to do – as important as sport. The confidence it gives you, the social agility it gives you, which you can take into any career, anything at all. It teaches you how to take direction from people, it teaches you how to take criticism from people and how to apply that criticism. And I think that’s a really important thing for us to learn. It teaches you how to be disciplined. All those things you can get from performing arts you can take into anything.
So you love it?
Yeah, I do love it.
Actress and director Nancy Schroder Nancy Schroder’s show Tom’s Marvellous Imagination is at The Auckland Performing Arts Centre.