Anthea Williams is an award-winning theatre director and emerging film director specialising in developing new Australian performance. Her work focuses on marginalised experiences by creating space for new and diverse voices, working with radical narratives and processes in order to privilege the relegated and forgotten. She is interested in how silent histories can and do impact upon the present. Williams is also an advocate for disability rights.

As a current City of Sydney Create Live Work resident (Darlinghurst) we had a chat with Anthea to find out more about her practice. 

Image: Anthea Williams in her Darlinghurst Create Live Work space, Photograph by Katherine Griffiths 

As someone in the performing arts, how did you find working remotely during lockdowns?

I’m still not really out of lockdown because I’m immune compromised. Luckily I do a lot of development of new work: films, plays and television series and that work as been able to continue.

You have a lot of experience working on new local and international projects. Are there any noticeable differences in the way new shows are developed (locally vs internationally)?

Actually I researched this topic when I did my Churchill Fellowship just before travel was shut down with the pandemic. I think one important difference is that many international companies have funding in place to be able to develop the arts not just works. And of course a lot of the best artist development happens though production. But when theatre companies are freed from needing the majority of developments to turn into shows in their subscribers seasons, brilliant legacies are created.

You went on a national search to find the right cast member for the Belvoir production of Hir. What do you think is the difference when casting is afforded appropriate resources?

Authenticity. I also went through a similar process when casting a young boy with Cerebral Palsy on my short film Safety Net. Hir and Safety Net are two of the works I’ve created that I am most proud of. Part of the reason they are so strong is the casting at the heart of the work. Authentic casting changes so much about the making of a work; the team of people telling a story all change and learn because of it.

Also, I think as a community we’re growing more sceptical of the stories of minority groups being appropriate without representation.

What are some of the ways your experience in different roles has helped you? 

Well it was certainly great directing my first film, having a grounding in directing theatre. Not just an understanding of text, blocking and how to work with actors, but also learning how to manage lighting, set, cast, crew and time.  

I’m also really grateful that I’ve done so much script development work. Story structure and character are fairly universal across artforms, differences lie in how the stories are told, and that’s really exciting to play with.

Stay up to date with Anthea here: 

Instagram: @anthea.williams