Ever wondered what the Executive Director of a theatre does?
July 11, 2011, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Staff

Sue Williams, Executive Director

Meet Sue Williams, Executive Director at Unity!

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Sue Williams, Executive Director.

I do a bit of everything – look after people, write business plans, apply for funding, set budgets, attend meetings (lots of meetings!), help to make programmes and projects happen, encourage people to have a go and drive everyone in the office mad with my inability to master anything relating to computers and new technology!

How did you come to be at Unity?

I took the long way round!  I set out to be an actor, but found more work doing stage management, tour booking and house management, and one day I realised I was working more backstage than fore.  I’ve worked at the Everyman, Bluecoat and Hope Street Ltd.  Eventually I landed up at the Arts Council, stayed put for a while and then a job at the Unity came up.  I thought it would be great to focus on the development of just one company, applied, crossed my fingers and here I am……lovin’ it!

What’s the best thing about Unity?

People and programme.  Everybody involved with unity gives 110%.  Our staff team are great;

dedicated and real pro’s.  The programme is so unique and surprising, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been blown away by something and amazed by how creative artists can be.  We do take a measured level of risk though and so sometimes you think “what was that?” – but it’s always worth it, as risks are when the moments of wonder appear.

Best show you’ve seen at Unity?

I’ve been here 16 years, so there’s no way I can name a best show!   I’m really proud of our productions of Angels in America and Gold Mountain and I’ve loved all the Tmesis shows we’ve had here.  Despite being an Evertonian, I thought Beating Berlusconi was great and really enjoyed Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Pants on Fire.  Some of my favourite shows have been from our Children’s programme –productions by Fevered Sleep, Lyngo and TPO create such magic that you become completely engulfed by them.

Best show you’ve seen elsewhere?

Best show?  Sorry, it has to be shows and I’d still be leaving loads out!  My first Robert Lepage show Needles & Opium and Complicite’s Street of Crocodiles both left me stunned.  I’m a complete sucker for musicals – all and any, and if pushed, I’d say West Side Story is my favourite, and anything by Sondheim.  More recently War Horse made me cry and It Felt Like A Kiss, a site specific piece for the Manchester Festival last year, had me screaming and running down darkened corridors.  Exhilarating!

What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in theatre?

Well it ain’t easy, that much I do know, but if it’s what you want, you’ll make it happen.

Take every opportunity you can to get a foot in the door, learn your craft, whatever you’re doing.

It doesn’t always have to be formal study, but learn from everyone you work with. Do it with gusto, commitment and a sense of humour.  Enjoy it, soak it up, keep trying.  It’s a pretty insecure world, but also such a good place to be.

Keep checking back to our wonderful blog to meet and greet more of the Unity staff!


1 Comment so far
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Hi Sue,

I am a third year Drama student at Liverpool John Moores University and I’m currently working on a module involving stage management and production. I have previously visited the Unity Theatre and seen some of the work that has been produced there, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It would be a great help if my fellow classmate and I could come in and have an informal, recorded chat with you about your work, to aid us with our dissertation. Could you please contact me at my university email address: or via mobile:

Thank you, hope to hear from you soon.

Rosanne Hassall

Comment by Rosanne

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