Jim Williams is an actor’s director. His days (and nights) as a thespian span three decades. In that time, he has played actor/singer and director and grew a deep passion for both. On Halloween, one of his most ambitious undertakings will come to life. The theatrical asylum doors will swing over, and HITW patrons will get a front row seat to the whacky world of Dale Wasserman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
This is a project that Jim has wanted to work on for twelve years. He saw a production of it in NYC by the Steppenwolf Theatre. He was already a fan of the book and movie. This production left an indelible, inspiring mark on him.
Jim is the perfect person to direct this ensemble piece because of his background as an actor. “The cast is very receptive and extremely creative,” he said. “They liked my collaborative style. They weren’t afraid to ask questions and give opinions. As a director, I want to give actors latitude.”
Like most directors, Jim doesn’t like to over explain his art. He puts it out and lets the audience interpret it for themselves. However, he does hope “that (viewers) doesn’t stop at the oppressive tone and ending of the show. It ends on a hopeful note. There is a reason for that.”
Jim’s love affair with theater began when he was a kid. He auditioned for the school play through encouragement by his English teacher. “I did it, and I have never looked back since. I got up there and loved it. It was where I was meant to be.”
Jim has worked with numerous theater groups and production companies including the West Hartford Summer Arts Festival, Little Theater of Manchester, Cirillo Summer Theater and Elmwood Productions. A CCSU graduate (B.F.A.), he has experienced a personal renaissance in recent years and has worked (literally) non-stop as an actor and director in the local theater scene. He mastered iconic roles such as “Tevye” and “Jean Valjean” and mounted mammoth productions of The Producers and Godspell.
This led him to where he is today and to the opening night of one of his proudest achievements. He encourages patrons to “Come see the show because it is an excellent example of what local theater can be. Too often, the quality of shows is not up to certain standards. The throw away excuse is `Well, it is Community Theater.’ I have always strived to go beyond that. The people I surround myself with have that philosophy. I would love for people to come see what local theater can be.”
And what has Jim taken away from this experience? “I learned that when life throws you a curve ball, if people band together and concentrate on the work, greatness happens. It reaffirmed my philosophy of the ensemble and what it can accomplish. When you get a group of people who give a damn for the production as a whole, not just their personal needs, something special happens.”
You can see Jim’s vision come to life when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest opens on October 31 and plays on November 1, 6, 7, 8, 14 & 15, 2014 at 8:00p.m.