Interview: performer Judith Williams, star of Hans Christian Andersen adap The Red Shoes

Interview: performer Judith Williams, star of Hans Christian Andersen adap The Red Shoes

Photo: Allister Gourlay

The family friendly stage adaptation dispenses with some of Andersen's more grisly details

Hans Christian Andersen didn’t shy away from the dark side, but even he excelled himself with the macabre punishment in The Red Shoes.

Happily for family audiences heading to Tramway this winter, the new stage version, created by Glasgow-based singer, dancer and performer Judith Williams, dispenses with the feet amputation in Andersen’s original.

‘There are moments when you can see where my character, Judy Two Shoes, could have made other choices,’ says Williams. ‘And this is a cautionary tale, so I do get my feet hurt. But it’s not like the original.’

The first ever ‘winter show’ at Tramway (notice the deliberate absence of the words ‘Christmas’ or ‘festive’), The Red Shoes plays with size and scale to evoke the disparate worlds of the countryside and the city.

‘The animals in the forest are human sized,’ explains Williams, ‘and then there are moments in the city when the high rise flats are made out of shoeboxes. The show seesaws between the city and the forest, so that Judy Two Shoes has one foot in each world and is trying to make her way between them.’

Joined on stage by four other performers, including musicians on cello, brass and guitar, Williams has injected her own love of the outdoors into the performance.

‘If I haven’t been to the park for a while, I’ll get caught up in the city pace,’ she says. ‘And in the same way that the frog in this show lives in and out of the water, I think it’s the same with humans – we need a dose of the countryside in order to be able to sustain ourselves truly in the city.’

Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 29 Nov–Sat 21 Dec.

Red Shoes

Family adventure about the journey of Judy Two Shoes. Presented in a non-commercial way, allowing non-religious and diverse cultures to connect with a ‘Christmas’ event.