Nomi Cohen

Since graduating the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) in 2012 and The Actor’s Program in 2013, Nomi has worked on numerous projects both on and off the stage and screen.

In 2014 you created your own show Hungover and performed it at the Forge theatre. After this experience, what do you think makes it so important for performers to create their own work in NZ?

Creating your own work is so important, particularly in New Zealand. There simply isn’t enough work to go around here. That’s just fact. Half the work I’ve done at The Basement (Auckland) has been work I’ve created myself or a friend has created it and asked me to be involved.

With Hungover, the show really came from a desire to test a theory I had which was that your average theatre-goer really likes music theatre, but they just don’t know it yet. So that was one of the main reasons for creating the show but also at the time I started working on Hungover I was working at an office and I just needed creative fulfilment. I was so bored!

What has been your experience creating the one woman cabaret entitled Puss?

Eventually the opportunity to perform cabaret for a festival called Short and Sweet in Auckland came up and I knew the organiser who asked me to produce some new work and I said “Sure, I just want to be a cat” like I literally didn’t really think beyond that I just wanted to have fun. So, I put the idea on stage and we just smashed it.

PUSS has had many different stages, and to be honest when I was at NASDA I was never very good at working on a project and continuing to work on it. I preferred to do something and then see it as a finished project. But having said that I’ve gotten better at self-taping  work, watching it back and realising “Oh right, that worked, that didn’t work.” And improving the show accordingly.

I’ve performed Puss twice since then in different ways. Then recently I thought “fuck it”, I’ll just enter the comedy festival, so I’m currently trying to take the 15 mins I have and turn it into an hour.

You graduated in 2012 and went to Auckland to study at The Actors’ Program. What was it like studying for three years and going straight to a separate full-time course?

The Actors’ Program is an entirely different experience. I credit a lot of my success to it thus far. The no excuses vibe of the place was again, entirely different. There was a very different attitude in terms of what was taught.

I found with NASDA the motto was very much “We have very little time, so we’re going to teach you this one style and teach it thoroughly” whereas the Actors’ Program was “We’ve got hardly any time so we’re gonna give you a taste of everything, and you better be fucking ready.” I saw people kicked out of class, locked out of class if they were late and I think you could only miss a total of eight days. You just had to be prepared.

I learnt so much about who I am, what kind of actor I want to be, what kind of learner I am. It was monumental in terms of setting myself up in the industry as an actor who knows who I am.

I recommend for anyone graduating NASDA to do workshops with The Actors’ Program directors. Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Sara Wiseman, Cameron Rhodes, Michael Hurst, they all take workshops and it’s so worth the money you spend.

Agents! Do you need one?

If you want to do film or tv. Yes, you need one. For example, if you don’t have an agent,  you wouldn’t be aware that they’re currently working on a reboot of Charmed. Those kind of tv jobs will only come through agencies, otherwise you won’t hear about them.

If you just want to do theatre, there are other ways of doing it and chances are you don’t need an agent and there’s a chance that having one could become annoying since often they don’t want you to take theatre jobs because you won’t earn as much as on film and obviously agents are commission based so the more money you get, the better off they are.

So really, it’s up to you! If you want one though, do your research on agencies, look at what the people on their books have done. Smaller agencies are in your favour because chances are they’ll work harder for you to get work. Then eventually if you’re lucky you’ll have a meeting and if they seem like someone you could work with then great.

Dream roles?

Baker’s Wife from In To The Woods (Sondheim)

Mrs Lovett from Sweeny Todd (Sondheim)

Kate in Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare)

Where can we see you perform next?

Puss is in Auckland on the 27th and 28th of April. Come catch me at the Basement Studios at 10pm and at the comedy festival, graduate Andy Manning is on the keys and he’s brilliant. Also we’re hoping to bring it to Christchurch in early May so keep an eye out, give me your money and feel free to say hello after the shows. Then I’m off to London!

One last thing. Any shout outs? What’s good to go see at the moment?

Go see Rutene in his show Super HUGH-Man! He’s great! Also go see Titus! There’s some NASDA graduates there, it sounds like it’s gonna be some fucking cool super bloody Shakespeare and it’s important not to just see the happy-go-lucky theatre aimed at your usual crowd. I don’t think there’s anything else super specific…

Get your tickets for Wicked though!

Oh yes of course! I’m just about to go book those. Oh! Support anything by Two Productions! They are creating a program that young actors’ will absolutely benefit from in the long run. The more support you give them now the more they will be able to help you when you want help creating your own work. And also they’re just generally fantastic and creatives should be supporting each other anyway.

Thanks Nomi! See yah round.

Catch yah later fools!











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