'We Can't Afford to Sit Still' BIG READ Hijinx Theatre Is Renowned for Staging Quality Theatre Featuring Professional Actors with Learning disabilities.As It Prepares to Make Its Glastonbury Festival Debut, Executive Director ClareWilliams Tells Karen Price about Her Plans for Changing Audience Perceptions

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

'We Can't Afford to Sit Still' BIG READ Hijinx Theatre Is Renowned for Staging Quality Theatre Featuring Professional Actors with Learning disabilities.As It Prepares to Make Its Glastonbury Festival Debut, Executive Director ClareWilliams Tells Karen Price about Her Plans for Changing Audience Perceptions


MONEY may be tight but Clare Williams is looking forward to an exciting - and ground-breaking - few months for Hijinx Theatre.

As well as launching an innovative touring project, which will take 'bitesize' pieces of drama into the community, the Cardiff-based company is making its debut at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival.

While most actors, directors and writers would give their eye teeth to have this kind of global platform, for Williams and her team it's perhaps even more important as it's another essential step for them in flying the flag for inclusive theatre.

During the course of three days, they will be hosting three performances of two short works - Snooks Brothers Bank and Snooks Brothers Aquatic - which will feature both able-bodied actors and those with learning disabilities.

"The pieces have toured extensively in Europe where audiences are more used to inclusive performance - in the UK it's still something quite new and surprising," admits Williams. "I hope this will be the start of a long relationship between Hijinx and Glastonbury. The company's very excited that we can reach a huge mainstream audience which may have never seen disabled actors on stage before.

"On a traditional tour our audiences will have already made a decision while sitting at home to buy a ticket to see a show which stars someone with a disability - they've already been converted to our work.

"Our ambition is to get hundreds of thousands of people who would have traditionally never bought a ticket to see someone with a disability perform.

Now they will see our show at Glastonbury and hopefully love it and not have to think twice again.

"Hijinx is a hugely-loved company with a very loyal following both in Wales and the rest of the UK but we need to reach new audiences. We can't afford to sit still. We need to convert people to the brilliance of seeing the world through the eyes of someone with a disability."

Williams, who took up her post as executive director with Hijinx last year, is clearly passionate about spreading the message - and she's not letting dwindling finances stop the team.

When the Arts Council of Wales published its controversial Investment Review in 2010, Hijinx was one of the companies which lost considerable revenue funding so it had to make a number of cutbacks.

In the past, the company has toured one major show a year but now Williams is taking a new approach to touring - by offering venues a 'pick and mix' of bitesize productions known as Hijinx Pods. They will be able to choose two out of five productions to be performed as a double bill. As well as the two Snooks Brothers shows, which are already part of the repertoire, there are three new plays - The Waiting Room, Flossie & Jet and Snoutology For Beginners.

"Touring has become prohibitively expensive of late," says Williams, who was previously director of the Cultural Olympiad project Cauldrons And Furnaces. …

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'We Can't Afford to Sit Still' BIG READ Hijinx Theatre Is Renowned for Staging Quality Theatre Featuring Professional Actors with Learning disabilities.As It Prepares to Make Its Glastonbury Festival Debut, Executive Director ClareWilliams Tells Karen Price about Her Plans for Changing Audience Perceptions
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