16 For 2016: Clare Williams

It’s not just venues looking forward to 2016. Our theatre landscape is also made up of an impressive number of companies that tour work across the country and engage local communities.

Continuing our fascinating series 16 for 2016, we head to Wales to visit Hijinx Theatre company. Based at Wales Millennium Centre, Hijinx tours small-scale theatre throughout the UK and Europe with casts that includelearning disabled actors.

Glen Pearce spoke to Clare Williams, Chief Executive of Hijinx, about the past year and plans for 2016.


What have been your theatrical highlights (and challenges) of 2015?

It would have to be Beneath the Streets –a collaborative reprise of the immersive show created with Punchdrunk Enrichment. An enormous undertaking with a cast of 20 and spread over three floors of an Antiques Market in Cardiff. Producing this at the same time as curating the Hijinx Unity Festival and running an international inclusive conference was probably a foolish undertaking. But we survived it (just).

Apart from Hijinx shows, my personal highlight would have to be Hand to God,which I saw on Broadway on a recent trip to New York. The inkiest black of comedies – it transfers to the West End this year and has to be seen.

What do you see as the highlights (and challenges) for your organisation in 2016?

I’m off to Africa in February – on a scoping visit – with the intention of taking a couple of our small-scale productions out on tour to Lesotho later in the year. We also plan to take our new show Meet Fred to Edinburgh (the first production to be directed by Ben Pettitt Wade in his role as Artistic Director). But before that, in spring this year, we will be unveiling the results of the first part of our research and development project called Extinction – a physical theatre performance with an explosive revelation. It will be directed by Scott Graham with Frantic Assembly. This is probably the most profound and theatrically important events in Hijinx’s history (and mine), which should have a really significant impact on the perception of disability. I am immensely proud (and excited beyond words) that we will be producing such an important production…..watch this space for more details

What is your theatrical New Year’s resolution?

We must never lose the youthful spirit of adventure and must continue to be courageous in our ambition. In the words of a very, very young friend – we must ‘do it more biggly’. Society has a long way to go in accepting the rights of learning disabled people – Hijinx can be instrumental in helping make those changes.

Excluding funding, if you were Minister for Culture what is the one aspect of the arts sector you’d like to change?

Fear. Fear of failing. Fear of offending. Fear of making waves.


To find out more about Hijinx visit www.hijinx.org.uk

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