“I come from Washington, DC, where the National Zoo is free and open to all for a quick visit or a day’s worth of adventures, and the Gorgie City Farm shares that spirit.”
Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller has been a host on FreshAir Radio, the Edinburgh students’ station, since October 2015. At the university’s Bedlam Theatre he’s directed Frost/Nixon, Sir Arthur Saville’s Crime, as well as How To Sell A War. Nathaniel was elected President of Bedlam in March 2017 and his own script, Mack the Knife, will premier at this year’s Free Fringe.
Nathaniel has previously interned for the American Film Institute, including two seasons as an assistant at the AFI’s Silver Theatre in Cannes during the Film Festival. He was also a Youth Teaching Assistant at the Smithsonian Institute in his native Washington DC.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, and do you follow it?
The simplest, and most telling, is probably “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That is a lovely sentiment, in a way, and a ridiculous, completely unrealistic one in another. That’s a rule that makes us all nod meaningfully, but we all break it at least once an hour.
Realistically, we can separate justified criticism and unjustified criticism, I think; reviewers — and most people who have something intelligent/relevant to say on an issue — offer justified criticism every day (i.e. “Transformers 5 should not have been made” or “Donald Trump is an embarrassment to human history.” To me, the deeper sentiment of the “anything nice to say” advice concerns unjustified criticism, and I do try to live by that sentiment. If someone is having a bad hair day, or maybe made a mistake or two, best not to say anything that’s just not nice. I like that part of that idea.
If space invaders came to burn down Edinburgh, but wanted to leave just one thing standing, what would you ask them to leave? (You can’t say the castle. Not even space invaders could capture Edinburgh castle.)
The Gorgie City Farm. I almost said Bedlam Theatre or John Lewis (their employee contracts are so commendable!) but honestly the Gorgie City Farm is one of those parts of Edinburgh that gives it a unique feeling. The fact that you can hop on a bus and hang out with some cows and rabbits and the like for a while then waltz back into city life is just beautiful.
I come from Washington, DC, where the National Zoo is free and open to all for a quick visit or a day’s worth of adventures, and the Gorgie City Farm shares that spirit. They also had a beautiful horse last time I was there; as a horse rider I greatly approve.
What first brought you to Edinburgh? What keeps you here?
I came to Edinburgh to go to college and I am staying for the degree, but I spend a large share of my time working on student theatre with the Edinburgh University Theatre Company housed in Bedlam Theatre. The constant, edifying sense of what’s-next and what-else-can-we-do that keeps the society’s blood pumping is unlike any group I’ve been a part of before and keeps me energized and excited to be in this city around these folks every day. But I’m also going to get that degree.
What’s the first live performance you can remember?
Probably Al Jarreau performing at Wolf Trap in Virginia. It began a long fruitful tradition of my parents passing down their eclectic combined music tastes to me, most of which I still listen to and love today.
What’s the best live performance you’ve ever attended?
Seeing Eddie Izzard perform the premiere of his Force Majeure tour at the Warner Theatre in Washington in 2014 was really something special. I grew up listening to his stand-up CDs with my Dad, and I could probably recite over half of his bizarre trains of thought and most of his simply bonkers bits. But seeing him perform them live was fantastic, especially considering he added plenty of jokes specifically about DC and our audience. He even had a Q&A afterwards and nodded at me! Starstruck!
What are you most excited about seeing at #Edfringe17?
I can’t wait to see Melbourne sketch trio Aunty Donna live again; they’re up there with best live performances I have ever seen, and they’re certainly my favorite modern comedy group to follow. I’ve been watching their videos since 2014 — I’m an Aunty Donna hipster, yuck. But they are just hilarious.
I’m going to go ahead and mention I’m also excited to see how audiences find Mack The Knife, a play I am working on with a crackerjack cast and crew who are a real A-team of diverse talents and trades. We’ve got live music, noir plotting, twists and turns, very dark comedy, and a completely original script, but let’s see what the reviewers have to say about it. A plea to them, quickly: if you don’t have anything nice to say… etc.