Nicholas Till

Kandis Cook

Nicholas Till

Nick Till is widely recognised for the breadth and originality of his work as scholar, critic and theatre-artist in both Europe and the USA, where in 2001 he was a visiting professor at UCLA, Los Angeles, also teaching at the California Institute for the Arts and at Stanford University.

Nick began his professional theatre career as a staff-director with Scottish Opera, Opera North and Glyndebourne Opera. In the mid-1980s he was director of drama at the Royal College of Music Opera School, and director of the Music and Drama for the Community programme at Morley College. His opera productions range from Emilio Cavalieri’s La rappresentazione di anima e di corpo of 1600 (London International Opera Festival, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, 1987) to Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco of 1971 (LIOF, 1988), and the first British production of Viktor Ullmann’s Teresin opera The Emperor of Atlantis (Imperial War Museum, 1985). He has directed his own works as a librettist with various composers for the Royal Opera Garden Venture (Royal Court Theatre, 1989), English National Opera Studio and Modern Music Theatre Troupe (Place Theatre, London, 1991). He also has extensive experience of community and education projects for the Royal Opera, Glyndebourne, Royal National Theatre, etc.

Nick Till’s book Mozart & the Enlightenment (Faber & Faber/W.W. Norton, 1992) is a comprehensive study of Mozart’s mature operatic works. The book was described by Michael Kennedy in the Telegraph as "one of the most substantial reconsiderations of the man and his music to have been published for some time" and received widespread acclaim: "A dazzling tapestry of history and interpretation" (TLS); "An erudite mix of music, history, philosophy, biography, sociology, and even depth psychology adding up to a triumphant study of Mozart's supreme masterworks...Few books provide such a satisfying exploration of the thoughts and feelings from which great art is born" (Kirkus Reviews, USA); "His study of the Enlightenment exemplifies the Enlightenment's own project of trying to unify the fragmented world of knowledge, and see the world as a whole. Brilliant and searching…an exceptional book that illuminates both composer and his epoch." (Guardian)

Nick’s critical writings on contemporary art range widely across music, performance, visual art, video and architecture, and he has written about the work of artists as varied as Christian Boltanski, Duane Hanson, Thomas Schutte, Julian Maynard-Smith, Heiner Goebbels, Salvatore Sciarrino, Societas Raffaello Sanzio and Bill Viola. In 2000 he collaborated with artist Julia Bardsley, writing a series of texts to accompany images from her installation piece Punishment and IceCream, to be issued on CD Rom.

Until August 2004 Nick was Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art and Performance at Wimbledon School of Art. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex, where he is Director of the Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre ( In 2000 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Surrey for his body of artistic and scholarly work over the past ten years.

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Kandis Cook

Kandis Cook was born in Canada. She began studying painting at 15 attending Banff School of Fine Arts followed by Alberta College of Art and Design and finally Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where she gained a BFA studying performance art and independent film making. In 1974 she moved to the UK and, in order to pursue her interest in working in real time and space, she trained as a theatre designer with Motley. She works as a designer for theatre, opera, ballet, film and TV, and continues to paint.

Kandis has worked as a designer for a wide number of theatres in the UK and North America, including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Manchester Exchange, Opera North, English National Opera and Wexford Opera Festival, and has designed numerous productions for the Royal Court Theatre in London.

Recent theatre projects as set and costume designer have included work for the Royal Shakespeare Company (Henry IV Parts 1 & 2; The Tempest, Beauty and the Beast 2003/4, King Lear 2004), the Abbey Theatre, Dublin (Tartuffe), Shakespeare’s Globe (A Mad World my Masters) and the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool (The Promise)

Recent ballet projects have included work for the Royal Ballet (Turn of the Screw, choreographed by William Tuckett), Danish Royal Ballet (Amor and Psyche, choreographed by Kim Brandstrup, with the Brothers Quay), Birmingham Royal Ballet (Powder, choreographed by Stanton Welch, Orpheus Suite, choreographed by David Bintley, 2004), San Francisco Ballet (Taiko, choreographed by Stanton Welch), and Montreal Ballet (The Queen of Spades, choreographed by Kim Brandstrup). Cincinnati Ballet (Finger Prints choreographed by Stanton Welch)

Recent work for TV includes the dance works Duet (Channel 4 TV) and The Sandman (C4 TV), both choreographed by William Tuckett, and The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, (Mediopolis/Koninck/Lumen, film and TV), directed by the Quay Brothers, to be released 2005. 

Kandis has taught theatre design at Motley, Central St Martins College of Art, and at Wimbledon School of Art, where in 1996 she became course leader of the MA in Theatre Design / Scenography, the first MA programme in theatre design in the UK.

Kandis served as a member of the Directors Training working party for th National Council for Drama Training and is a member of the Advisory Council for the Drama Centre London set up with the London Institute. In 1998 she was a judge for the Linbury Prize for stage design.

Publication of drawings for "Scar Lines", poetry by Griselda Cann, Cast Iron Press 1994.

Kandis's current artistic interests concern interactions of real, virtual and represented spaces, and the ways in which the viewers experience of real space is modified by sound, time and human presence.

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”Our theatre activities are really just part of the larger investigations that we're each engaged in from our individual perspectives. The point where those intersect is the point where our theatre work starts.”

Nick Till and Kandis Cook in Conversation

For those of you that have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in their computer, the Interview Document can be downloaded and printed by clicking here:

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© Post-Operative Productions, Nick Till, Kandis Cook, 2002