Advocates: Faynia Williams

Faynia Williams - Faynia Jeffery when working as an actor, including as a contract artist with MGM in the USA, and with Studio Theatre between 1958 and 1960 - has worked variously as a BBC radio producer, film maker, opera director, and as a freelance and resident director of theatre. Specialising in non-British theatre, she was the first artistic director of Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, and has set up companies including the Oxford Free Theatre and Brighton Theatre. She is longstanding Honorary President of the Unesco International Theatre Institute (ITI) Dramatic Theatre committee - a role which has seen her forge important links abroad, including in Iran, Mongolia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Williams remembers Stephen Joseph as "amazingly charismatic", but an unusual director. In a 2008 interview she told me that Stephen "used to come into rehearsal with a motorcycle magazine… in his full gear, and sit at the back, and he would not look up from the magazine until you gave him something to look up for". She concludes: "You couldn't rely on him doing the work for you". Williams recalls her time with Studio Theatre as the "formative experience in my life": among other collaborative activities, she remembers designing the interiors for Joseph’s model ‘Penny Theatres’, which were built to show audiences and others what was possible. One of Britain’s most internationalist theatre makers, Williams considers that Joseph "opened me up to a world outside theatre… [he] showed me that… I should always try and pioneer, and not go back to doing what other people had done".

Copyright: Dr Paul Elsam.