Nick Enright OAM 1950-2003

Nick Enright

Nick Enright

Enright was born into a family of lawyers in Maitland, New South Wales on 22 December 1950.

The theatre had captured him – in 1966, at the age of 16, he was one of Fagin’s boys in a J.C. Williamson revival of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal in Sydney.

In 1973 Enright became the Melbourne Theatre Company’s first trainee director.

 

Man of the theatre

‘Nick was one of those people who believed in me and persuaded me to come to NIDA and teach, and, as it happens, direct Summer Rain, which he’d been working on with Terry Clarke,’ said Gale Edwards, who directed Enright’s The Boy from Oz. ‘It was an absolutely thrilling time at NIDA, something of a golden age, and I remember the cheers and streamers the night Summer Rain opened. Nick was a tremendous educator and I used to trail him on campus taking notes. I learnt a lot during that time and I remember [that] he was very clear about the process of acting and how much he loved and responded to young people’s energy and aspirations. Nick worked best in intimate, nurturing environments and found the ruthlessness of the commercial world unattractive.’

Actor, director, translator, teacher, mentor, and writer of plays, musicals and revue for stage, film, television and radio – Nicholas Paul Jonathan Enright was this country’s most widely talented theatre person.

Enright was born into a family of lawyers in Maitland, New South Wales on 22 December 1950. He was educated at Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview, and spent a year as an exchange student in California. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney in 1972. Well before this, though, the theatre had captured him – in 1966, at the age of 16, he was one of Fagin’s boys in a J.C. Williamson revival of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal in Sydney.

Enright spent 1972 as an assistant and small-part actor at the Nimrod Street Theatre; he also found time to try his hand at directing at the amateur Genesian Theatre in Kent Street and to write satirical material for The Mavis McMahon Show, a Gordon Chater romp at the Macleay Theatre in the Chevron Hotel, Potts Point.

In 1973 Enright became the Melbourne Theatre Company’s first trainee director. He took its production of David Williamson’s Jugglers Three on tour through New South Wales and Queensland, and worked with its ambitious touring Young Melbourne Company. In 1975, hoping to expand his directing skills, he obtained an Australia Council grant that enabled him to study acting and directing at the New York University School of the Arts. There he was encouraged by the playwright Israel Horovitz to write for the theatre, and he also began to teach acting to students in the dance program.

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Biographical references

Bryce Hallett: ‘The Words and the Wisdom Still Endure’, in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 2003
Veronica Kelly: ‘Nick Enright’, in Companion to Theatre in Australia, Currency Press, 1995
David Marr: ‘Nick Enright: Man of the Theatre’, in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2003