Thursday, May 29, 2008

Prague Fringe Festival

Thanks to the lovely Stephen Gove from Edinburgh, we have a zappy Fringe Theatre Festival in Prague. I'm always advising my students, that if no one is casting you then cast yourself in something... do a fringe festival. And sure enough some of my Prague actors are doing just that. I was so proud of Matt Blood-Smyth, James High and the whole cast and crew of "Sacred Cow" that's playing at the Rubin right now. I congratulate Brian Caspe on his direction and Elleanor Cummins on her script. The play is ever so Irish, reminding me of the caustic, but darkly funny Beauty Queen of Leenane and like. The only decision that didn't work for me was that the role of Pavel, the Czech pub owner, should have been played by a Czech actor. Come on Brian, there are plenty of them here in Prague! See for details. 

I also caught Magic and More with Frisco Fred. He says it's for all ages. It's not. It's for kids. 

As for Pip Utton with his Hitler, and Michael McEvoy with Not in My Name; the trial of Machiavelli, I have some ambivalent reactions. I loved McEvoy's thesis that Machiavelli's "Prince" has been bastardized, and that many of the same torture techniques that were used on him are still being used today at Guantanamo... but why did he need to take out a sledge hammer and bash it over the audience's heads at the end? OK... we got it that he was making a comparison with Bush and the US before he started lecturing to us about how nasty our war is (yes... we all know), with the final blast of Bush's voice at the end. It would have been far more interesting if he had let us come to the conclusion ourselves, which we easily would have. 

Pip Utton was a much more skilled performer, who finds moments of resonance in taking clips from Hitler's actual speeches which as a whole also... yes again... found correlations in contemporary times. I'm not quoting this verbatim but "a lie becomes truth if you repeat it many times." Yes that's politics today. And as this nefarious Hitler character spit out his ethnic cleansing aphorisms, "if a people are a problem, then just get rid of them," (Sorry again not quoting exactly)I was haunted by Rudi Giuliani's removal of homeless people from NYC. (OK, he didn't kill them but that's next.) I was so happy and relieved that Pip Utton didn't feel the need to lecture to us about that... but no, I was wrong! Lights went down, then up, and he slipped into another character, letting the audience think it was the real Pip Utton. Then he started casually flipping off the racists jokes and sentiments... all so that he could prove to us, his dumb audience who can't figure it out ourselves, that racism still exists. I was squirming like a jelly fish I was so angry. Why didn't he trust us to figure that out ourselves? No... he had to explain the play and its relevance to us. Though maybe he's right that the audience IS stupid... a few people left during this section since they thought he was serious. OK... so actually these offended audience members merely lacked humor. I would recommend the show, just leave after the first forty five minutes and you'll feel really enlightened. 

TOPPING AND BUTCH is always good too, and I'd love to catch Peter Hoskin's show (he's pictured above, shaving) A Stretch of the Imagination.

And support the Fringe. Our arts are in danger in Prague.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Havel's new play

I felt so honored to be at the premiere of Vaclav Havel's latest play, Odchazeni (Leaving.) Kate Connolly, a Guardian journalist, went around with a mic reminding everyone that it had been twenty years, since he had written a play!

I must say, it was typicially Havel. He keeps his style of playing absurdism in a realistic setting, and I had to giggle at all of the conventions that I know so well from his earlier plays... the characters who appear on stage and don't speak, but non the less steal the show, the hubris of the main character... yet it's all in a post market economy context. 

Havel says it's not about him, but it's about an ex Prime Minister, with a glamourous "long term girlfriend" (which his wife Dasa was meant to play), and his nemesis is a character called Klein (which couldn't have anything to do with Vaclav Klaus.) The fact that his wife, actress Dasa Havlova, backed out of playing the role of Irena at the eleventh hour, was the subject of much gossip. Ostensibly her absence was for medical reasons, yet no one seemed to believe it... speculating that she had fought with her husband, or with Jan Triska (the lead actor) or the director. Yet, when I talked to other actors in the cast, it seemed that she really had simply stressed out, putting real pressure on a weak heart and thyroid. In any case, she was sitting next to him and smiling during the performance. (It must be stressful to play yourself in your husband's play.)

As I was reading the play, previous to seeing it, I was snickering a lot about the convention of the "voice" which intermittently comments on the action, reminding the actors to stop exaggerating and over- acting, and occasionally criticizing the play's construction. It turned out to be Havel's voice, which was perfect.  I noticed that one critic called this a "new convention," but it reminded me of the voice from the hole in the wall in "Memorandum." My friend Lou Charbonneau, who has done considerable research on the play, as he wrote his Master's Thesis on it, told me that apparently Tom Stoppard advised him to loose the voice. At the end of the play, the voice enters to say something like "my colleague told me I should end the play here, but I must apologize to my advisor." It must have been Stoppard. I'm glad he didn't listen. As much as I like Stoppard, Havel has is own humble style that works for him. Part of that style, is doubting his every step, but then making fun of himself in the process. 

Martin Palous (Czech ambassador to US) introduced me to Havel in glowing terms, saying "this is Nancy Bishop who directed a very funny film about Americans living in Prague," and I shook his hand, but it was awkward and I didn't know what to say to him beyond congratulations. My first meeting with him was much more interesting. It was a summer night in the year 1995. President Havel was enjoying a beer at a pub on the stairs to the castle. He was sitting with Dasa though it was before their marriage. I introduced myself in my awkward novice Czech and told him that I was directing one of his plays in English (I think it was Protest.) I then told him that it seemed that many Czechs didn't like it that Americans were working on his plays in Prague. He smiled at me and said, "before the revolution there were 10 million Czech communists, but now after the revolution there are 10 million Czechs against communism."



I'm currently looking for a very short, very round man to play a French Chef  in GI Joe. (Like under 5'5" or 170 cm).  Shoots in Prague 7+11 June.  Director, Stephen Sommers, is looking for a Gaston type character, like from Ratatouille. The is for locals in Prague only. Please send submissions to


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Short Film Competition

See this website for short film contest: If you're not working, then get off your butt and pitch your own film! There are cash prizes as I understand.

Friday, May 23, 2008


The Edinburgh Film Festival presents top castings directors and talent agents on a panel to discuss topics of interest to actors. This two hour symposium will include one hour, moderated by Nancy Bishop, in which panelists John & Ros Hubbard, Maureen Duff, Priscilla John, Maryam Hunwich and Derek Power will discuss:

- How actors can establish a relationship with an agent and casting directors
- What are casting directors looking for in actors
- How actors can best promote themselves
- What are the possibilities for Scottish actors to reach beyond the Scottish, and UK market
- What is the process for actors to pursue work in the US

This will be followed by a one hour questions and answer session, in which participants can directly address the panel.

When: Friday,  20 June, 2008
Time: 3.00
Where: The Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Cost: 5 GBP
To book tickets see:

About the panelists
Moderator: NANCY BISHOP, CSA, is an Emmy award nominated casting director. An American, working from Prague, she has cast over fifty projects. Her credits include, Prince Caspian, Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist, and she is currently working on GI JOE for Paramount.

MAUREEN DUFF was born in Glasgow, but has been working in London for many years. Her projects include, The Flying Scotsman, X-men, Still Crazy, The Beach, and Richard Attenborough's Closing the Ring. 

JOHN and ROS HUBBARD are well renowned casting directors in London who have been casting in England, Ireland, Scotland (where they cast Taggart) and around the world for twenty-five years. Their work includes Evita, Bourne Ultamatum, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

MARYAM HUNWICK has established an excellent reputation for her talent agency, Hunwick Hughes (formerely 41 Management) in Edinburgh, for guiding the careers of award winning stage and screen artists, including Kate Dickie, Martin Compston, and Kathleen McDermott. 

PRISCILLA JOHN is a well established casting director in London. Her prolific career includes Jewel in the Crown, Coronation Street, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad and About a Boy. 

DEREK POWER is a Hollywood based talent agent who often represents Eurocentric talent. Among many he has helped guide are Sir Ben Kingsley, Greata Scacchi, Robert Dornhelm, and now Graham McTavish, a Scottish actor who recently starred opposite Sylvester Stallone in the return of Rambo

Monday, May 19, 2008

Georgina and Waldemar

Georgina and Waldemar

Georgina Verbaan and Waldemar Torenstra cold reading a troubled, married couple. He wants some action but she doesn't.


Here's Thomas Cammaert playing the cannibalistic maniac, Hannibal Lecter. He's such a handsome devil!

Tine as Edith Frank

Tine Joustra played a wonderfully complex Edith Frank

Georgina and Sarah

Georgina Vebaan and Sarah Jonker are cold reading from a psychological thriller scene

Dan and Tom with the aliens

Daniel Boissevain and Thomas Cammaert are battling aliens in a scene from Alien Vs. Predator. 

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Robbie Kay and Fugitive Pieces

Here's ROBBIE KAY in FUGITIVE PIECES, (directed by Jeremy Podeswa) which just opened in the US. I'm really proud of Robbie, because not only did I cast him in it, but he was my student. Production hired me to coach him since he had so little experience at the time, and he ended up putting out a superb performance! According to Peter Howell at, "the grandest laurels must be reserved for Robbie Kay, who plays Jakob as a young boy. Relatively new to acting , he invests the role with an intensity of purpose not often seen in an actor of so few years." Howard Schumann in International Entertainment, claims that "Robbie Kay turns in one of the best child performances I have seen in years." Congratulations Robbie!
Robbie went on to further performances, after picking up a London agent, Kate Buckley. Here's a preview of Robbie in the upcoming Hallmark production of Pinnocchio with Bob Hoskins.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Panther Command

Stills from "Panther Command". Dennis Lyons and James Babson are heroes in this Swiss produced cop show I cast from Prague....

Dennis discovers the shaken James


Isn't he brave?

Friday, May 2, 2008


THE CASTING DIRECTOR PANEL DISCUSSION is definitely confirmed for the Edinburgh Film Festival on 20 June. Time and date to be announced later. Please stay tuned. It will include UK casting directors John & Roz Hubbard, Maureen Duff and Priscilla John, and American talent manager Derek Power. 


London: 3-4 June are the correct dates. Please contact Louise Bolton at

I'm also adding an Edinburgh workshop to coincide with the film festival: 17-18 June
Please contact Helen Raw at

I also want to introduce Lucie Lechner, who will organize my Munich workshops on 23-4 June during the Munich Film Festival. To learn more about Lucie see