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Review Dick Johns – Let’s Talk About Death, Baby, Chapter Arts Centre by Hannah Lad

Dick Johns presents ‘Let’s Talk about Death Baby’ in the Seligman Theatre at Chapter Arts Centre. The show is presented in a cabaret style with audience sat around tables to be brought in to Dick’s story of football, bandannas and space hoppers.

The piece is honest and raw, a story very personal to the performer and writer Dick Johns. It follows the parts of his childhood/life relating to his father as the story is about the passing of his father. It is presented in fragments of Dick’s life, all these fragments relating to life and death. Stories about personal belongings and their value after you are gone.

The story was a little bit of magic because Dick performed with such truth that the audience were with him every step of the way, feeling like they were in the car on the way to West Wales or having a hidden cigarette out of the bathroom window. There were also lovely moments where we got brought in to his story where we put on football stickers or bandannas, and shared laughs about that.

My favourite part of the performance was when we got to speak to Dick through the generations to get a real sense of the performer. This show had brilliant heart, laughs and some tears. But overall it was an incredibly enjoyable and comforting story, about a topic people avoid talking about.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show and highly recommend it.

This production can be seen at Chapter Arts Centre until Thursday the 27th of September.

Hannah Lad      

Preview Decolonising Environmentalism by Yasmin Begum 

In a fitting location near the banks of the river Taff, the groundbreaking “Decolonising Environmentalism” will be taking place in one of Wales’ most diverse and multicultural communities, Grangetown. It’s a film screening of Thank You For the Rain, Q+A discussion and a community meal with invited speakers organised and programmed by gentle/radical headed by local artist Rabab Ghazoul.

Thank You For the Rain is a multi-award winning film directed by Julie Dar. Kisilu, a Kenyan farmer, records and documents the experiences his life, community and his family- and the effect that climate change is happening on their lives. A chance meeting between the director and Kisilu changes a few things: but you’ll have to watch and find out what happens.

 

Decolonisation isn’t something typically discussed in every day Wales and neither is environmentalism. In fact, we focus on equality, and diversity: but decolonisation remains a little-uttered word in Wales until gentle/radical’s recent innovative work such as the frequent (and well frequented) Imagination Forums. It’s definitely a radical event its vision in that it’s radically different to anything anyone’s ever done before, and it’s this radical vision that has been met with success in the nation’s capital.

 

Environmentalism and decolonisation have huge impacts and implications in Wales- just look at the recent conversation on the tidal lagoon in Swansea, the legacies of post-industrialisation or the environmental racism of gentrification in Cardiff city (and beyond). gentle/radical’s work has grown to accommodate a need in the city for diverse and innovative programming for Cardiff city as it so rapidly grows. It’s the second people’s symposium following the phenomenally successful “Death of Distance” that saw Amrit Wilson and others discuss the legacies of the Balfour Declaration and the Partition India.

 

Gentle/radical will be bringing Joshua Virasami from Black Lives Matter, Sakina Sheikh from Platform London, Suzanne Dhaliwal from UK Tar Sands Network, Asad Rehman from War on Want to explore the connections between topics such as environmentalism, race, power and colonialism.

 

The event will be taking place at the Shree Kutchi Leva Patel Samaj Cardiff in Grangetown this Saturday 1st July 2018. Tickets are £15 for fully waged people, £10 for partially waged people, £5 for unemployed people and they’re likely to sell out before the weekend. Tickets are free for asylum seekers. Book your tickets here

 

Review The Dress Rehearsal, Felix and Sam by Martin Patterson

 

(4 / 5)

 

The Cardiff Fringe has enjoyed a nice drag contingent as of late- for the past couple of years we’ve seen drag nights, street parties at Mary’s, as well the delightful Felix and Sam (among others!) at the launch party, and with a bonafide show of their own on the roster. And what a lovely show it was.

I’ve always been a little terrified of drag- I’m very much a cardigan-and-corduroy queer, so the noise, the glitz and bombast has always made me a little hesitant to attend such shows. ‘What better introduction’, I’ll pretend I thought for the purpose of this review, ‘Than a structured show to get a taste of what it’s all about?’ I’m ever so happy to report that my fears were allayed, and we came away with nothing but praise for this wonderful offering.

The normally cavernous foyer of the Sherman Theatre had been transformed into an intimate cabaret setting (side note: they’re also stocking beers from local brewery Mad Dog, who make an extraordinary New Zealand Pale), ready to explode into a supremely entertaining hour of songs, laughs, costume changes, magic and thankfully minimal audience participation (outside of the many roars of laughter heard throughout the show).

Our titillating titular stars emerge to perform a rousing rendition of Puttin’ on the Ritz, before the first of many of Felix’s costume changes. Don’t think that Sam has nothing to offer in the fashion department- we are treated to a fantastic onstage costume change from him that I’m loath to spoil (it’s far, far more than just putting on a new shirt!). Both are living up to the opening number, dressing an re-dressing throughout the evening, treating us to a fantastic array of dresses and suits. It’s a feast for the eyes that’s matched by a bewitching soundtrack, with plenty of musical hits to keep my partner happy, as well as The Dresden Dolls’ Coin Operated Boy, which I had a lovely time with. The piece gains momentum throughout the evening until the grand finale, replete with the most extraordinary suit jacket I’ve ever seen accompanying a wondrous fan dance. Both Felix and Sam were approachable after the show, which is always welcome- it’s great to enjoy performers both on and off stage, and both have a wit and geniality that makes them great company on either side of the playing space.

The Dress Rehearsal is a wonderful hour of entertainment, with a wide range of different set pieces to delight the audience, but therein lies my personal gripe with the show- and what a small gripe it is! I’m a huge proponent of character development in all its forms, particularly within the narrative of a structured performance. I would have loved to have seen a little more of just who Felix and Sam are- this is pure conjecture based on their blurb in the Fringe brochure reminding me of Tim Foley’s blistering backstage opus The Goddess of Walnuts, and does not detract from the delectable cabaret that was offered unto us. Perhaps one day we will enjoy a vaudevillian evening of talent bolstering a deeper narrative. Until then, I’m more than content to enjoy clapping along to the songs, laughing at the jokes, being impressed by the magic and enjoying the good-natured bickering between the two.

If The Dress Rehearsal is Felix and Sam in a nutshell, then let’s hope that we’ll see them take root and grow into something even more magical soon.

 

Get the Chance Win at Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, Excellence Wales Awards.

Pictured left to right,  Rebecca Woolley, Director, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, Get the Chance volunteer Helen Joy and Maggie Hampton, Trustee, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru.

Get the Chance were recently announced winners at the Action on Hearing Loss, Excellence Wales Awards 2018. The Awards were presented by ITV Wales news reporter Megan Boot at the St David’s Hotel, Cardiff, on 4 May, 2018.

Get the Chance won the Excellence in Arts and Entertainment, Fewer than 30 employees category.

The awards are an opportunity to celebrate organisations in Wales that make themselves accessible to people who are deaf or have hearing loss. This includes making services truly available and/or ensuring that opportunities in the workplace are open to all.

On accepting the award on behalf of Get The Chance volunteer critic Helen Joy said,

Its an absolute privilege to represent an organisation which simply treats people as people. Get the Chance gives all of us the opportunities to develop our skills and our confidence; and find our voices in a safe, encouraging environment. 

It’s about encouraging all of us to concentrate on what we can do, not what we can’t. For me, Get the Chance has shown me that I can change, that I do have a voice and that it matters.”

If you are interested in joining Get the Chance or supporting our work please email getthechance1@gmail.com

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

 

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

Get the Chance is in the running to be named as one of Wales’ best organisations for being accessible to deaf people.

The shortlist has been announced for the Excellence Wales Awards 2018 – the annual awards run by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru.

The charity’s awards recognise businesses that take steps to make their services accessible to the 575,500 people in Wales who are deaf or have hearing loss.

All organisations either nominated themselves or were put forward by a person who is deaf and has received a good service in the past year.

The shortlist is now in the running to be awarded one of four titles;

  • Service Excellence
  • Excellence in Health
  • Excellence in Arts and Entertainment
  • Excellent Employer

The awards will be decided by an independent panel, made up of people who are deaf or have hearing loss. A People’s Choice Award will be chosen by the public, to vote for Get the Chance in this category please click on the link  here.

Rebecca Woolley, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru said,

“The judging panel now have a difficult job to decide the winners from an impressive shortlist. All the shortlisted organisations prove that simple changes can really improve the lives of people with hearing loss. I hope that organisations across Wales are inspired by this shortlist and start thinking about the simple changes they can make to ensure their services are accessible to the one-in-six people who are deaf or have hearing loss.”

Guy O’Donnell, Director, Get the Chance said,

“Our volunteers produce unique content which supports Deaf audiences and artists to ensure a range of opinions are seen and read relating to sport and cultural provision. We are honoured and humbled to be shortlisted as part of this years awards.”

The awards will be held at Cardiff’s St David’s Hotel on 4 May 2018, presented by ITV Wales News reporter Megan Boot.

A Declaration “What is Diversity in Theatre?” by Hannah Lad

Fio Theatre company at the frontline, in the fight for diversity and equality in the Welsh arts industry, opened its doors to fifteen performers, playwrights and directors in February for a week of masterclasses delivered by some excellent industry professionals followed by a creation week, a Declaration to the arts in Wales.

The first workshop was led by Abdul Shayek and Shane Nickels giving us a warm welcome into the Fio family. Before this masterclass we were set tasks based on our chosen practice, we explored different text and styles. Creating conversations between the groups about what is theatre and who should it effect. The biggest question being “What is Diversity in Theatre?”

As the week progressed masterclasses were delivered by Eric Ngalle Charles, Lisa Zahra, Cathy Tyson and Ryan Romain. All these masterclasses were invaluable to me, each one gave me something that would improve my learning as a performer. For me as an actor, I personally really enjoyed Lisa’s workshop, helping me tackle Shakespeare, unlocking my emotions simply and giving me exercises to have under my belt to help me at auditions.

After this week of masterclasses it was time to get into groups and create! I was lucky enough to have a splendid group made up of, Connor Allan as our incredible writer, Othniel Smith as our Director. I was lucky enough to perform alongside Kama Roberts and Aly Cruickshank. Connor’s play was a pleasure to explore during this week, an honest and resonating piece of writing written incredibly well for the performers in the piece. Our group spent a week exploring this text to create a final piece. The extract was called ‘3 Lost Souls. ‘ The final sharing of this work was incredibly successful for our group.

The aim of Declaration was to give diverse professionals a platform to create, I cannot stress how important that is! As a working class performer just breaking into the industry projects like this are a lifesaver.

Our theatre industry in Wales is very hard to access for someone who doesn’t fit certain criteria. Actors not getting paid, writers not having a platform to share their work, and audiences being of consistently one class. I believe it is time to change so, I think that everyone should ask them self “What is Diversity in Theatre?” It needs thought!

Hannah Lad

Review Wave Me Goodbye, Jacqueline Wilson by Jennifer Owen

(5 / 5)

As a Jacqueline Wilson Fan, I found the story very moving and realised. This story of a child evacuated from their home during World War Two, is one of the most moving stories I have ever read.

I felt sorry for Shirley being evacuated away to the country from her parents.For Shirley to find a best friend called Jessica but Jessica was a rich person, so she stayed with sister Josephine, but Shirley wanted to stay with Jessica wasn’t allowed too, she was put with two boys Kevin and Archie.

Archie was acting  like a baby and Kevin was tall and he likes playing Cowboys games and would often ask Shirley and Archie to play with him. Kevin and Shirley sit next each other in classroom at school.

I found it really interesting how Shirley was so clever and liked reading books, likeing  Ballet shoes and she was very sensible too.

I would recommend this book to anyone.

Jennifer Owen

Review Comedy at HOWL: International Women’s Day special by Hannah Lad

As a celebration of intentional women’s day Comedy @ HOWL gave the stage to an all-female line up featuring some hilarious comics and hosted by the wonderful Lorna Prichard.


The night consisted of 5 comedians, Karen Sherrard kicked us of introducing us to Iris Evans and her village fête, the set was fun and included some really interesting audience participation that engaged the crowed instantly.

This was followed by Jessie Johnson a Transgender comic with stories of her running’s with the Russian Mafia her witty response and good use of comic timing put everyone in high sprits.

Leading into Ems Coombes a disabled comic with stories about periods and songs about social edict that inspired me to not be so self-conscious in public.

Then fourth up we had Alice Taylor Mathews who was expecting a little ray of sunshine soon! An example of how women have more to deal with than men when it comes to biology!

Then ending with the brilliant Anna Keirle who had a well-crafted set that was delivered with brilliant timing and presence.  I can’t not mention the hosts Lorna Prichard’s brilliant interludes between this fab five. She set up each act in the perfect way so the audience were excited and in anticipation of what was to come.

I found the atmosphere of the night very interesting. It was a true celebration of diversity with a discussions after the show about women in comedy and women in the industry in general and some of the things women have to put up with. Listening to story`s from other women about the experiences they have had and things have been said to them gave the audience the majority of whom were women  a support network, this gave the evening a “gritty feel” said Lorna Prichard.

It posed the question me of “What can we do?” the treatment of women in society and the arts is said to be constantly improving, but I don’t believe it is. I only last week experienced myself an uncomfortable  rehearsal room. On top of being the only female in the room, I had to put up with sexist `jokes` some mocking the brilliant ME TOO campaign that has made massive strides for women. But are the strides really making a difference if they are mocked? All I can say is the way to stop this absurdity is by having these nights of celebration and create these support networks. We have to continue these conversations so change can happen.

I would invite men, women and others who may have opposing views to join me to talk about these issues safely so we as a society can progress. The only negative comment I would make about HOWL was the under representation of BAME performers and audience members, after just finishing with FIO on their brilliant project Declaration this was something that really stood out to me. But overall the night was exciting, thought provoking and was the centre of some interesting conversations.

Hannah Lad

Review Cannonballista, Sherman Theatre by Eve Limbrick

A production exploring the Inner self that tells us to just – Do it!

Betty Bruiser lives inside of Liz but is projected as a character completely outside the norms of Liz Clarke. Betty is a person of complete contradiction to Liz, who is an insider living in the comforts of motherhood and home. The show creates a sense of grief and the trauma that has engulfed her from the loss of her sister. Growing from this is Betty Bruiser, the electric blue superhero alter ego.

Betty is tough, Loud and electric . Betty captivated the entire audience with her incredible mix of live art, music and burlesque.

Cannonballista explores grief in a completely new light, losing someone who is close to you and the ways in which we escape from bereavement. For Liz, Betty is a powerhouse who brings Liz out of herself and into a complete sense of invincibility even in the moments that Liz wants her gone, Betty is there fighting for Liz and her need to cope. The audiences were given the opportunity to form a bond with Betty and understand Liz when we delve into the character.

It is show worth the watch if you are exploring yourself and your womanhood. You may find your own inner superhero such as Betty Bruiser. Cannonballista is an explosive performance that will stick with you in times of love and times of loss.

Eve Limbrick