Rise Up: Nathaniel Hall

With practice seeking to empower individuals to tell their own stories, Nathaniel Hall is a proudly northern writer, director and producer of inspiring, bold, provocative and socially-minded work, and has been doing so for the last ten years.

After his first show The Newspaper Boy was a sell-out for its entire 14-night run as part of Manchester’s Queer Contact Festival, Nathaniel was invited by Dibby Theatre to produce his own first show: First Time.

The Newspaper Boy was written by Artistic Director Chris Hoyle, and was a semi-auto biographical show about his experiences as a child actor from a famous soap opera, and how his brief spell of fame came to an abrupt end after he was on the cover of national tabloids following being caught in possession of marijuana.

Talking about his run of The Newspaper Boy, which was set on a fictional soap opera Mancroft Walk in 1994, Nathaniel says:

“we had great fun recreating the fashion and culture of the time”.

As well as being a successful theatre maker, Nathaniel also describes himself as an HIV activist, which is what inspired his current show First Time.

Nathaniel has been living in “fear, shame and silence” with HIV since being diagnosed 14 years ago, but this, he says “is no longer an option.”

The show is a funny and frank look at the impact HIV had on my young 16-year old self and also how it has impacted the gay community more broadly.

Most importantly, it smashes through stigma and includes key public health messages and information about the radical improvements in HIV healthcare and prevention.

First Time premiered in the run up to the 30th World AIDS Day and not only does it make for a wonderful and inspiring piece of theatre, it also allowed Nathaniel to come to terms with his own diagnoses and this, says Nathaniel, is his highlight as a theatre maker.

Nathaniel had everything riding on the show professionally and personally, so it was a huge relief that it was a success, not at least because it was his first time on stage for six years!

It has been such a success and resonated with so many people that First Time has caught the attention of many; from BBC News to Buzfeed, Gay Star News and BBC Breakfast, Nathaniel’s story has been snapped up by many.

You can catch First Time at Summerhall from 31 July – 25 August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year before it embarks on a national tour in Autumn and Spring 2020. If all goes to plan, Nathaniel hopes to still be touring with First Time and in the process of creating new work under the same umbrella of themes.

In order to get to Edinburgh, Nathaniel has set up a crowdfunding page and would be whole-heartedly grateful for any donation to support his work.

Chris Hoyle is also in the process of writing a new play A Difficult Translation that Nathaniel will be assisting on. The show will be about the fall-out following a Muslim-Algerian family find out their son is married to another man in the UK. Keep an eye out for it!

Nathaniel believes that the truth is stranger, and often more compelling than fiction, causing his love of telling real stories, and this is why there is nothing more powerful than witnessing a person testify their truth on stage to him.

First Time is produced by Dibby Theatre in association with Waterside Arts and is kindly supported by Arts Council England, Superbia, Creative Industries Trafford, the Greater Manchester PASH Partnership and HIV Scotland.

Quick Fire Questions

  • In the theatre world, who inspires you? “I’m inspired by those companies who are tearing up the rule book when it comes to representation and who gets to be seen on stage”
  • What is your favourite show that you’ve seen? “That’s a tough one! I saw a Frantic Assembly show called Stockholm in 2010 – it totally revolutionised my idea of what theatre could be”
  • What is your favourite genre of theatre? “I’m a big fan of genre-defying theatre – companies that blend and mix surprising art-forms do it for me”
  • What do you think we need more of in theatre? “Diversity, diversity, diversity”

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