Monday, 31 August 2009

TALLAWAH Q & A: Faynia Williams

ART & PASSION: Faynia Williams has a thing for the arts

As president of the Dramatic Theatre Committee (DTC) of UNESCO’s International Theatre Institute and artistic director of England’s Brighton Theatre, Faynia Williams is always up to her neck with work. Thankfully, she enjoys what she does so much that she hardly finds time to complain. Plus, she gets to travel to exotic locales all the time in carrying out her international duties. Her most recent stop was in Kingston, Jamaica, (August 24-31) where she led a symposium and series of workshops on theatre, conflict and the development of the arts.

A fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Arts, an award-winning theatre and opera director, as well as a BBC radio play producer, screenwriter and filmmaker, Williams is a seriously gifted woman madly in love with theatre and is unswerving in her advocacy for its growth and preservation around the world.

TALLAWAH: What are your thoughts on the theatre atmosphere in Kingston, considered the theatre capital of the Caribbean?

Faynia Williams: From what I’ve seen so far, it’s very lively. What I find interesting is how your young actors respond quickly to scripts, like at the symposium [on Friday]. I was really very impressed.

TALLAWAH: Tell me about the state of theatre back home in England.

FW: In England, the theatre business is very large. It’s also very regional. You have commercial theatre at West End, which was set up to bring in money and make profits. You also have fringe theatre, which is not for profit. There is also a lot of performance across boundaries employing channels like art, video installation and other alternative methods and ideas. There is also quite a fashion for turning films into plays and plays into films. Many of our big actors came out of that arrangement.

TALLAWAH: What books are you currently reading?

FW: I am actually reading The Pirate’s Daughter, which is set in Port Antonio. We are going there tomorrow. I am also reading a biography of Bob Marley. Those are the two books I brought with me. Usually, I am reading some heavier stuff (Laughs).

TALLAWAH: Is this your first visit to Jamaica?

FW: Yes, this is my first visit to Jamaica, buy I have been to the Caribbean before; I’ve been to Guyana.

TALLAWAH: I know you plan to return.

FW: Definitely, I enjoy it here. And I have been asked to return. It was important for me to come and not impose my culture on people here but to come and work on the ground. And I have been enjoying it. I love the people and I love the food (Laughs).

TALLAWAH: In what ways would you like to see the ITI Dramatic Theatre Committee (DTC) move to new heights as you move forward?

FW: Well, we’ve always wanted to diversify so having Dorothy [Cunningham] as our first Caribbean member is very important. We hope to grow with many other countries taking part. We have our biennial congress taking place in 2010, and we want to continue our projects as well as establish archives so that an information bank of our work and ventures will be available.

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