Adam Nichols is the Artistic Director of OVO and The Maltings Theatre and The Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans.
In 2021 Adam was named in The Stage 100, the definitive guide to the most influential figures working in the UK theatre and performing arts industry today. He also featured in the UK Social Entrepreneur Index in 2019, 2020 and 2022.
Adam has directed over 30 productions for OVO at the Maltings and Roman Theatres and has directed and acted at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall – winning the 2016 Best Production trophy for his production of As You Like It – the Rose Playhouse and Bridewell Theatre in London and venues in Stratford upon Avon and Edinburgh.
The Roman Theatre Open Air Festival is fast approaching, what can you tell us about the event?
The Roman Theatre Festival is one of the country’s biggest open air theatre events, running for three months every summer at the historic Roman Theatre of Verulamium in St Albans. The Festival features bold, imaginative and surprising takes on classic plays and stories, presented by OVO and our associate companies.
How did you go about creating the festival?
OVO had a long track record of open air and site specific work prior to creating the Festival in 2014. We worked with the Grimston family, which owns the Gorhambury Estate, within which the Roman Theatre is situated, to bring the venue back to life after a mere 1,700 year absence! Building a temporary fully functioning theatre within a scheduled ancient monument is a significant challenge, which is probably why a few centuries had passed without anyone else trying. But, thanks to our amazing team, we have managed to (re)create a truly magical venue for live performance.
This will also be a year of firsts, what more can you tell us about this?
2023 is the first year in which we have co-produced shows at the Roman Theatre, and we’re really looking forward to our collaborations with Pitlochry Festival Theatre on Sherlock Holmes, and Creation Theatre on Much Ado About Nothing. We’re also producing our first Noël Coward play, Private Lives, which I am very much looking forward to directing.
Is there any part of the programme you’re particularly looking forward to?
In our 20th anniversary year it’s great to be returning to Romeo and Juliet which was the very first play we produced back in 2003. I’m also pleased to be directing The Threepenny Opera, having spent many of my formative years working on Brecht productions, and it will be exciting to create a show that is a theatre / musical theatre / opera crossover, with a creative team and cast drawn from a mixture of those genres.
And what do you think will be the biggest challenge in staging the festival this year?
It’s always the weather! Last year, for a change, it was the incredible heatwave, and we went through the entire three months with only a single day of rain. Much as it’s lovely to be performing in the open air when the sun is shining, I think we’ll all be happy if we see more normal British temperatures this year.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming along to the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival?
We can promise you a fantastic show in the most beautiful and unique surroundings. There really is no other live entertainment experience like it.