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Nigel Maister


  • Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director
  • Senior Lecturer

210 Todd Union
(585) 273-5159


Nigel Maister is the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of the UR International Theatre Program, a position he has held since 2002 (before that he was the Program's Associate Director).

Born in South Africa, he has trained both as an actor at the University of Cape Town, and as a director (MFA, Carnegie Mellon University).

Selected productions include The Crucible, Stupid Fucking Bird; Maria Irene Fornes's The Conduct of Life; Gone Missing; Lars Noren's Terminal 3; his own adaptation of The Government Inspector; a new "pop" musical version of Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children (with composer Matt Marks); Madame de Sade;Cinderella (by Joel Pommerat; US premiere); The Rochester Plays (by Spencer Christiano; world premiere); The Winter's Tale;King Lear;Hamlet;Adding Machine: A Musical;Hello Again; Peter Handke's The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other; his own adaptation of Gorki's The Lower Depths and Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist;Hedda Gabler;Miss Julie;The Threepenny Opera; the New York premiere of Manfred Karge's Conquest of the South Pole; the American premiere of his own translation (from the French) of Bernard Marie Koltè's Roberto Zucco (also Infernal Bridegroom Productions, dir. Troy Schulze), the world premieres of Andy Bragen's The Hairy Dutchman, W. David Hancock's The Puzzle Locker, Howard Marc Solomon's The Wildman, Ernesto Brosa's Towards Canaan, and his own Punch! (at the American Living Room Festival at Here, NYC). He has directed The Taming of the Shrew and A Lie of the Mind (both in Bulgarian) in Bulgaria, Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day in South Africa, and staged John Cage's Song Books for the ESM's "Ossia" new music ensemble, and Benedict Mason's AWS/Miller - The Fifth Music: Resume with C.P.E. Bach at Miller Theatre in NYC.

He has acted in Europe, South Africa and the US, and studied clowning in the Czech Republic, Noh theatre with Noh Master, Akira Matsui, and puppetry at the National Puppetry Conference at the O'Neill (where he has also twice taught as a guest artist).

He has worked with and/or assisted Peter Sellars, Giorgio Strehler, Richard Foreman, Christopher Alden, Tazewell Thompson, Theodora Skipitares and was the Assistant Director on the original NYTW production of Rent. For two seasons he was a staff director at Glimmerglass Opera, working on productions of Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites and Offenbach's Bluebeard.

He is the recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship, The "Fleur du Cap" Theatre Award, the Steven Bochco Award, the Van Staveren and WQED-Buhl Foundation fellowships; and his work has twice been featured as "Highbrow" and "Brilliant" in New York magazine's approval matrix.

In addition he has designed numerous productions and composed music for The Conference of the Birds, Hamlet, Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata and Eliot's The Family Reunion, as well as for the ballet, The Swimming Hole (chor. Gary Gordon).

He is the author of four plays, numerous librettos, and a song cycle. His music-theatre work Paper Pianos (music by Mary Kouyoumdjian) debuted at EMPAC in 2023 and will have a New York City premiere at the Perlman Center in an upcoming season; his I Was Here I Was I (music by Kate Soper) received its world premiere at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur in Summer 2014. The world premiere of his piece for narrator/actor and music ensemble, Paper Trails (with music by Stefan Freund), was performed as part of John Adams's "In Your Ear" festival at Carnegie Hall's Zankel auditorium. His adaptation of Robert Fagles's The Iliad received its world premiere at the University of Rochester in April 2000. His short fiction has been published by (amongst others) Penguin in Lynx - Contemporary South African Writing, and New Contrast: New South African Writing, Prism International, and Tongues: Contemporary World Literature.

Nigel is a founding member and resident theatre director of the new music group, Alarm Will Sound (with whom he has staged concerts at the Lincoln Center Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Holland Festival, NYC's River to River Festival, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, EMPAC, The Center for the Art of Performance (UCLA), the Cork Opera House (Ireland), and NYC's Miller Theatre. He is an alumnus of the Drama League Fall Directing Fellowship, and a New York Theatre Workshop, "Usual Suspect".

Nigel is also a photographic artist, and a passionate collector of early 19th century, 20th century vernacular, and contemporary photography, some of which can be seen on his website: