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By Max Shore (April 2012)
Though her namesake might be the season of idleness, drama teacher Summer Williams is as busy as can be.
In addition to teaching and directing at the high school, Williams is heavily involved with local theatre company Company One, where she directs shows and serves as the company’s marketing director.
Although it may seem impossible to teach four drama classes, direct the annual spring play, direct shows and be the marketing director at a professional theater company, Williams somehow manages it all.
“It’s always a balancing act for me,” said Williams. “There are times when I feel pulled in one direction and pulled in another direction.”
Williams co-founded Company One shortly after college with a group of her peers from Clark University, including drama teacher Mark VanDerzee.
The company began with actors who were friends with the founders, and it soon prospered. The Boston Globe called Company One “one of the city’s most important small companies.”
“As the company has gotten older and matured, the talent pool that that we’ve been able to work with has had more seasoned professional actors,” said Williams. “It happens over time. You build a reputation for yourself if you’re doing the right sort of work.”
Williams has earned a number of nominations and awards for directing, including the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director at a small company for Voyeurs de Venus.
Equally important is the praise that nearly all of Williams’ students have for her.
“Summer is awesome,” said senior Laura Jacobs. “She’s so fun to work with and relates to all of us really well.”
Although she works extensively with both students and professional actors, Williams said her approach is more or less the same.
“I like to work on challenging material, and that doesn’t matter how old you are,” she said.
However, Williams does have different roles at each venue.
At the school, Williams and the other directors do much more than just direct. They are also responsible for scheduling, making sure students get dinner, insuring that all of the actors show up to rehearsal and many other jobs that are usually handled by specific people in a professional setting. While Williams enjoys the production aspect of her work at the high school, she certainly does not mind a change of pace at Company One.
“It’s nice to walk into a room and it’s just ready for you to start working,” said Williams, “as opposed to you needing to create what has to happen there.”
Williams does not plan on moving away from teaching anytime soon and feels lucky that everything she does is theater-related.
“I think I’ll always teach and I’ll always direct, but the way in which I’ll do that, I don’t know. But I do know that those are two things that are really important to me,” said Williams. “I also like working with teenagers a lot. Because even though you guys are stinky, you’re a lot of fun.”
Max Shore can be contacted at email@example.com.