Jan Palmer Sayer MA B.Ed. GoDA
Jan studied at Trent Park College and at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. Eight years ago, she retired as Headteacher of Hertswood, a Specialist Arts College, featured in a BBC’s autumn education series with Professor Dylan Wiliam. In 1998, she was awarded an MA in Theatre and Performance Studies at the same time as running her own theatre company – Shattered Windscreen. Her theatrical exploits have taken her as far afield as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where her production of The Fall of the House of Usher was a sell-out show and awarded 5 stars by The Scotsman.
In 2015, at the other end of the country, her production of The Grapes of Wrath, the Steinbeck classic adapted by Frank Galati, was one of a sequence of regular appearances by her theatre company at the famous cliffside Minack Theatre and it gained the company another 5-star review as well as the coveted Minack Trophy for the best production of 2015. In 2014, Jan was commissioned by the Arts Council, Isle of Man to direct a community passion play at Easter as the island celebrated its year as the first Island of Culture.
In 2019, her company returned to the Minack Theatre with a 5* production of I, Don Quixote, by Dale Wasserman, named runner-up for the Minack Trophy and playing (when it wasn’t rained off!) to full houses, and she was once again invited to play there (as lockdown ended) in 2021 with a madcap production of The 39 Steps – a suitable antidote against the country’s lockdown. The company returned to the Minack in 2023 with Jan’s production of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It was a smashing vehicle for that particular stage and was well reviewed: What a beautiful production:, visually rich, musically enchanting and deeply moving. . . Jan’s other recent directing credits include a promenade production of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde, Our Man in Havana, Alfie, Hindle Wakes, Pressure by David Haig (which won the British All Winners Festival in July 2021), Husbands and Sons, Peep by Jodi Gray, and she is currently rehearsing The Cane by Mark Ravenhill for a local theatre company in Hertford.
Jan was appointed as a GoDA adjudicator in 2001. She returned to GoDA’s Council in 2014 to organise the 2015 National Festivals Conference, held in London. She is a past Chairman of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators, and one of the its busiest members. Over the last four years she has adjudicated festivals in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Gibraltar and the USA. Later this year, amongst other engagements, she will adjudicate Maidenhead Festival and the Worcestershire Theatre – and she is very much looking forward to a return visit to Maidenhead.