ALYS WILLIAMS /
aka Sardines Theatre
Alys is a professional actor and theatre-maker. She trained in physical theatre at the internationally renowned school of Jacques Lecoq (Paris). Alys has performed in 7 different countries, making her own work as well as working with various companies across the UK and in Paris.
Alys grew up in Lancashire and is passionate about regional theatre. She trained in theatre after completing a BA in English (Cambridge) and an MA specialising in feminist and performance theory (KCL).
Alys has worked extensively for Saltmine Theatre Company, touring national productions and appearing in the live filming of 'The Soul in the Machine' at the Birmingham MAC. She has also performed for thousands of children and young people across the UK in various theatre-in-education productions, including projects commissioned and supported by Derby City Council and the Home Office.
She has also performed with OYO Contemporary Dance Co. (Windhoek, Namibia), Cygnet Theatre (Paris), Tapis Theatre (Paris) and Corrymeela Arts (Northern Ireland) and worked as a movement director for Night Train (Hotbed 2019, Cambridge Junction).
Recent performances include: Sugar Plum Fairy, The Nutcracker (Saltmine, 2019); Sarah, Ghosts That We Knew (Corrymeela: Northern Ireland, 2019); Dogberry, Much Ado About Nothing (Cygnet Theatre: Paris, 2019); Julia Davies, The Soul in the Machine (Saltmine: London Excel Arena, 2019; Birmingham MAC, 2018); Katie Luther/The Devil, Legacy (Saltmine: Edinburgh Fringe, 2018; Norwich Playhouse; Mumford Theatre, Cambridge; Swan Theatre, Worcester; Theatre Royal, Margate; The Key Theatre, Peterborough).
When I was a child, we played the game ‘Sardines’ at Christmas. It’s a sort of backwards hide-and-seek where one person hides and everybody else goes looking. When you find the person hiding, instead of giving them away, you squash in with them. In the end, there are about 10 people in a tiny hiding place, crammed in together.
The main thing I remember was how silly it all was. People would step on each other and get the giggles; someone would suddenly need a wee or get a cramp; my Uncle Rob sat on our toilet roll holder and snapped it clean off the wall! It was ridiculous and risky and real - just as theatre should be. I love the idea that theatre is, for the audience and the performers, a sort of hiding place from reality where we conspire together.
But most importantly, in Sardines, you don’t give anyone away; it isn’t a manhunt. It’s a game where the few become the many, where the minority becomes the centre; where you muck in, get down on someone’s level, jump in alongside, and join a story that is not your own. This is what compassionate theatre should look like. It should be finding the invisible people - the silenced voices - and putting them at the centre of our shared experience. It should be occupying strange spaces and finding new, exciting places together. It should be fun, and dangerous, and smell of bodies. It’s a game, yes, but it feels like life and death. It’s Christmas. It’s childhood. It’s so big and messy that it’s bursting out of wardrobes and peeping out from under the curtains.
It's when everything goes quiet and you realise that you're all alone, searching for friends in the dark,
until, suddenly -
Sshhh! Someone's coming!
There you are!
There's no room.
There's always room.
Come on, budge up!
Alys Williams (2019)