Born in the U.K (Southport, Lancashire) Neil entered the world of theatre via weekly stock, acting and directing, and then the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (thanks to the John Gielgud Scholarship and The School Free Place), and after several years in England dividing his time between acting (radio and television), teaching, and a two year stint as an artistic director, he emigrated to Canada.
Currently holding the position of Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing at UBC, he holds a Founder’s Ring (and the position of Master Teacher) with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass, and has been recently appointed Text Consultant with both Seattle Shakespeare and the newly founded Whole Actor Enterprise in California. He is/has been a guest faculty member at more than two dozen professional theatre schools in England (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School; British American Drama Academy; etc.), U.S.A. (the training company of Alabama Repertory Theatre; N.Y.U; Ohio State; University of Northern Illinois; UCLA; UCSD; Cal State Long Beach; Cal State San Jose; Loyola Marymount; BYU Provo; etc.), and Canada (National Theatre School; The National Voice Intensive; Concordia University; Dalhousie University; Stratford Festival Conservatory; University of Calgary; Studio 58 of Langara College; etc.), and has acted with the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, The (Ontario) Stratford Festival, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and the Vancouver based Savage God Bardathon – staged rehearsed readings of all the Shakespeare plays for which he was also Dramaturge.
In the world of professional Shakespeare he has acted in fourteen of the plays, directed twenty-four, and coached them all many times over. He has also created and directed for Bard on the Beach (Vancouver) three separate concert shows for actors and orchestra combining Shakespeare and music (The Four Seasons; A Midsummer’s Nights Dream; If This Be Love).
His groundbreaking work in using the first printings of the Shakespeare texts in performance, on the rehearsal floor and in the classroom has led to lectures at the Shakespeare Association of America and the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America, and workshops at both the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and the Voice and Speech Teachers Association, and grants/fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (USA), The Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Canada) and York University in Toronto.
Published by Applause Books of New York & London, his first book on how to use the original scripts, Shakespeare’s First Texts, is now in its second printing, and, in addition to the thirty-six individual Applause First Folio Editions (annotated versions of the 1623 First Folio in modern print) and the large 1200 page Applause First Folio of Shakespeare, he has just finished preparing a new set of texts exploring the poetic rhythms in Shakespeare plays, setting them down on paper in a way to be of immediate use for both the theatre practitioner, as well as the scholar, teacher, student, and general reader, twenty of which are currently/have recently been tested in Canada and the USA (with responses being uniformly remarkably supportive and excited).
A series of three linked books of audition material (involving 900 speeches instead of the customary 300) were published by Applause in 2006 and he is now working on a new series, the currently entitled “Parallel Texts” with quarto and Folio texts set side by side, the differences between them lightly shaded for immediate access.