Following her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut, Miss Jane Williams, Albyn School’s Head of Drama truly understands the challenges and the rewards of creating, and acting in, a show in front of a global audience.
The gifted actor and educator, who joined Albyn School in 2008, brought her thought-provoking one-woman show to the world-famous festival for two weeks during the summer break.
Inspired by T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, Miss Williams aimed to create a dialogue between the 1922 poem and her own experiences.
The show’s name – What the Thunder Said – is the title of the final section of the poem.
“The Thunder, to me, is a metaphor of all external factors and what is going on in your brain,” said Miss Williams who previewed the show at Aberdeen Arts Centre.
“The piece ends when everything seems to calm down but then the thunder starts again. However, this time it is different. I can just stand and be resilient in the midst of it.”
Some of the reviews described the show as “mischievous, deep and unflinchingly honest” – which the Albyn School teacher thinks is a fitting summary of her performance.
She added: “The show is very honest and it has been a very healing experience. The main lesson I have learned is that creativity is a really powerful resource that we all have and if you can do something creative, it can be a very empowering and healing tool.”
Miss Williams was delighted to see some familiar faces, which included a few former pupils of Albyn School, in The Banshee Labyrinth audience.
The Head of Drama is passionate about staging “different and ambitious” productions at Albyn School. Miss Williams previously worked with pupils to put on performances including Animal Farm, The Women of Troy – a timely feminist retelling of The Iliad – and Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
She said: “The ambition is for every show to be a little more than a school play. For instance, The Women of Troy was a really complex text but we also had movement work and an aerial element.
“I try to offer pupils a really fulfilling experience in both curricular and co-curricular drama because I see drama as a way to open up pupils’ creativity and confidence.”
Miss Williams concluded: “Being able to create my own work and bring it to the audience complements a lot of what I am doing at Albyn School. I am going through the same process that I am asking our pupils to go through and I know the hurdles and the rewards. I feel fortunate that I can be in a position to combine both teaching and acting because they help feed one another.”
Headmaster Stefan Horsman said: “Miss Williams’ dedication to drama and her ability to translate that passion into inspiring performances for our pupils is truly commendable. Her creative endeavours mirror the ethos of Albyn School where we encourage our pupils to embrace challenges and strive for excellence in all they do.”