Ann Davies

Rhondda Road Episode Three by Ann Davies

People enter the Lounge of the Park and Dare Theatre in Treorchy; they remain expectant as actors arrive. Young people comment on how much they have relished contributing to the soap opera, in recent weeks. A tutor has brought her pupils to see how such a project works, a grandmother and granddaughter enjoy each other’s company as well as that of the theatre company’s cast. Members of a jazz club were worried that an accident might result in a broken arm to combine with the broken leg of a past episode (which they thought was part of the script!)

An intergenerational audience settle themselves at the café tables as we are all invited to watch Episode three of Rhondda’s very own live soap opera.

“Welcome to Rhondda Road” Shane Anderson, the producer proudly announces

“The Fourth Wall Café” is open, as part time waitress Seren catches up with café owner Alex protesting that she has not been paid for the last fortnight, she has her own concerns, she cannot continue working, she has the promise of another job. Alex strains to find an answer as Seren storms out of the café unrequited.

A man in a dark suit struts into the café, he look intently at all the café’s fixtures and fittings; Alex appears nervous, as the man queries if Alex is Ok.

“It’s just one of those days, Dan” Alex answers “How can I help you?”

There is an air of irritability as the man demands that Alex pays the money owed to him by the next day. He repeats the amount he is owed at the percentage of interest it has gained. Dan absently picks up a bunch of drinking straws from the bar, and deliberately drops them individually onto the café floor as he repeats the amount, the interest and the time they will meet.

“Got the message?” he states as he leaves.

“Interesting character” Sion announces having witnessed the conversation, “Friend of yours?”

Alex replies that they have done business before.

Sion opens and reads from his iPad, he confronts Alex.

“Alex I have access to your accounts, stock and everything else. Why is your expenditure more than your income?” Alex tries to explain about new ideas, new brands but Sion is firm in his knowledge.

“There is a large amount of withdrawals. Are you in trouble Alex? What have you been doing, drugs?” Alex shakes his head.

“It’s not funny when money goes missing from a business. How much debt are you in?”

Alex is in denial as Sion, realising the situation, offers Alex the chance of clearing his debt; he will transfer the money owned into the café account.

“We can help each other out, I’ll scratch your back, if ……I think Megan will listen to someone who loves her”, as he outlines his plan. His son Ioan has gone off the rails and Sion needs Megan to talk to Ioan.

“I don’t want her to say anything about the past, the Past IS the Past” he warns. “Talk to Megan and your debt will be paid off”.

“What’s the catch?”

“Simple, there is no catch, talk to Megan, get her on side, I’ll give you the money to pay your debt. Make me the promise, no more gambling”

Alex remains at odds with the plan but can think of no other way out of his dilemma “OK yes” as Sion sets the transfer in motion via his iPad “Job done” he states as Alex shakes hands reluctantly with Sion.

Liam strolls into the café as Alex storms for him to use the side entrance to access the flat. Sion asks Liam how his job search is going, Liam can only answer negatively. Sion hits on an idea that Alex needs help with the café, and Liam is looking for work. Alex is astounded “I KNOW where you’re going, this is not happening. We had a deal!” he protests.

“Just hear me out” the estranged father of Megan continues, not wishing to be denied “You’re short staffed and Liam is looking for a job”

“You can’t expect me to pay his wages..” Alex shouts

“I’ll pay his wages” Sion answers.

Alex can find no answers as he fires questions like bullets at Liam. Alex offers Liam a temporary job, although the situation only feels like more salt is being rubbed into the open wound that is a nightmare of his own making.

Megan enters the café with Cerys; the mother of Seren, looking for Seren, Alex can only offer the excuse that Seren is out shopping.

“I’ll have a gin and tonic” Cerys repeats several times, as Megan demands from Alex what he and Sion were talking about, as Alex explains that all Sion wants is for Megan to start speaking to Ioan. Cerys moves erratically around the café “There’s a stage here, I used to be an actress” she informs Megan as she is negotiated back to her café table repeatedly requesting a gin and tonic.

Sion explains to Megan that he just wants to talk; he has a bottle of wine in his hand

“It’s not what you’re thinking, it is still sealed. THIS is what I WAS” he emphasises holding the bottle aloft, and then addressing himself states, “THIS is what I am NOW

Sion reminisces about seeing Ioan on his first day at school and how he was dressed, how he has grown into a young man.

“I remember my first day at school with second hand clothes… “Megan begins

“Times were different then”, Sion changes his tactics “Do you remember Barry Island?, paddling, building sand castles, finding seashells …”

“Looking for mermaids ….” Megan remembers other things too “THEN you needed a drink … Don’t touch it!” she storms at Sion, as she retrieves the bottle and places it in the dustbin.

Charlotte, Megan’s sister brings a sombre looking Ioan into the cafe, as Megan asks him what he wants to know

“What happened?” is Ioan’s response.

“He drank, drink made him bad, he was bad to me. Speak to Sion” is all Megan can offer.

“MY Dad was my hero”

MY Dad was not a hero”

Seren enters the café, she attempts to comfort Ioan as he leaves, but he shuns her. Megan is worried about Cerys “I saw your Mam in the street, I thought I’d bring her here” as Seren explains that she wants to see Alex about her unpaid wages. Megan can only agree to help her sort out the problem.

“Can you give me a hand?” a call comes from Ieuan, who appears in the café with donkey ears upon his head

“What do you look like?” Megan covers her laughter

“A donkey! I need you to go over my lines with me. ALEX! “his cry reaches the skylight and resounds “I need your help”

“What the hell do you look like?”

“I’ve got an audition later today” Ieuan explains as Seren tries to gain Alex’s attention, he in turn asks her for two minutes.

Ieuan, as Bottom from Shakespeare’s”A Midsummer’s Night Dream” continues his speech.

“Bless thee Bottom what angel wakes me from my spell?” comes the voice of Cerys as she serenades a shocked Ieuan as they continue to exchange the Bard’s words

“I love thee methinks you should have little reason for thee thou are wise as thee Cobweb and Mustard seed” Cerys recognising her daughter Seren, “I was Titania. I was an actress” then confusingly she continues “ I don’t know where I am. I want to go home. Home now” she demands of Seren. As they leave Alex assures Seren that her wages have been paid into her account, as she reminds him that other people have problems too

“What is he doing behind the bar?” Ieuan storms as he sees Liam

Alex tries to explain that it was not his decision that it is Sion who owns the building

“Sion is paying him?”

“You’re taking Sion’s money? You haven’t told her …!” Ieuan confronts Alex

“This is a very different situation”

“What haven’t you told me?” Megan questions Alex

“Everything is getting sorted” Alex digs himself further into the hole of his own making.

Abbie arrives in time to defuse the situation

“Don’t ask!” Ieuan warns his niece as she is about to ask about his donkey ears, as Abbie informs Ieuan that she has talked with her parents and there are no more problems with their marriage, as they both leave the café.

“Why are you taking Sion’s money? What is Ieuan saying? ALEX, LOOK AT ME, tell me the TRUTH! We said we would have no secrets ….” Megan states

“There are complications, he’s just trying to help” Alex flounders as Megan storms out,

Alex hits his head against the bar grill as Liam enters from the cellar and picks up various items from the tables.

“GET OUT!!! Just get out” Alex storms as Liam is bustled out. Alex cries out, as in his waterfall of life becomes a torrent of anguish and despair. The truth comes out like oil on water.

To conclude to quote the Bard

“No legacy is so rich as honesty”

Let’s hope it all ends well

Be sure to find out at the next live episode of “Rhondda Road”

On Tuesday, 5 December at 4 pm in the Lounge Park and Dare Theatre Treorchy

As individuals, we are all unique there can be so many secrets deeply hidden; we can never walk in another’s shoes to realise just what they are going through.

Drink Wise, Age well as the Christmas Season approaches.

Let’s celebrate enjoy, be wise, drink aware, and take care.

Thanks to Drink Wise, Age Well for your support with story, Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy for your support 😊 and Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund CIC filmed by #RubberHeadMedia

 

 

 

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    Art in the Attic, an Interpretation of an Art Exhibition by The Subjectives, The Factory, Porth by Ann Davies

    Corona pop man (photo: Alan George, oldmerthyrtydfil.com)

    The ‘Welsh Hills Works’ or Thomas and Evans of Porth, were the Universal Providers of most essential grocery items, with its Corona Pops, Stone Ginger Beer, Lemonade and other beverages being known as “absolutely unequalled for purity and flavour” from the late 19th century into the middle/late 20th century. This vast business empire was affectionately known throughout the Rhondda Valleys simply as “T & E’s”or Terry Stores.


    In this the 21st century the Welsh Hills Works can be defined as a diverse and creative multimedia organisation with community ideologies, providing a stepping stone for the creative industry and a social enterprise network. It promotes artwork through its workshops, provides workspace that can be used by local artists as well as professional photographers/artists in its Art in the Attic. In recent years it has held various televised popular music programmes plus the original S4C production of the Jonathan Davies Sports Programme entitled “Jonathan’.


    All Art is Subjective, Right? was the question asked by a group of creative artists whose Exhibition “An Interpretation of Art” was presented from Monday, 30 October to Friday, November 17, in The Robert Maskrey Gallery at The Factory. The Gallery itself is situated on the top floor of the Factory, it is accessed by four flights of stairs – a stair lift is available – and as with all Art Exhibitions held at this venue, it is entitled Art in the Attic. The Gallery is open Mondays to Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm.

    On Friday, 3 November an invite to view was given to all. It was a great exhibition combining all local art in contemporary forms. All artwork are PriceOnAsking (POA). Artists exhibiting were:
    Barbara Castle, Jeff Rowlands, Gervaise James, Jane Fox, Rhys Burton, Eric Thomas, Dawn Hoban, David Hoban, Joanna Israel, David Roberts and Oneill Meredith.

    From the glistening glassware, the ceramic houses, the in depth landscapes that you could almost walk into, combined with contemporary displays. The use of clay moulded into exquisite sculptures that made you think, the vast array of photographic views that took your breath away, comparable to the face that appeared almost to be alive, like an ancient Pharaoh or Poseidon emerging from the Ocean. It was an eye catching event that held everyone captive. It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this Exhibition showed the magnificence of creativity within the locality.

    The Gallery itself was crowded with many relatives, friends plus people who knew their ‘Andy Warhol’s’ from their child’s ‘artistic’ blobs. The atmosphere was alive with the colours of the rainbow as the bronze bust of Dylan Thomas (£3000) created by Oneill Meredith, greeted everyone on entry. It was seemingly apt that the bust was placed close to the table offering wines, fruit juice or water. Next to an array of food lay a book where you were invited to make known your comments about the Exhibition; you nibbled as you deliberated. The number of people attending up to the time of the private view had been upwards of 90 which showed the strength of interest and knowledge of a reflective audience in the work of the local artists.

    My one query on the night was
    How did they manage to get all the pieces up the four flights of stairs, safely and securely, to the Gallery.
    The swift answer came from husband and wife artists Dawn and David Hoban
    “Very carefully”
    Dawn’s work shown was an accomplished collection of oils on the Fragility of Life and a series of Still Life in Brighter Colours, with her three Ceramic Collections entitled Progress with a Question Mark?. The assembly of which reinforced the Artist’s views of the history of the Rhondda Valleys and its people.

    The Entertainment was provided by three musicians Gerhard, Phil and Rob, who, as they were all wearing hats, finally named themselves “MenInHats”.

    The Gallery glittered, the audience as one provided compliments as families expressed the pride in their family members. The music played on well into the night.

    William Evans (1864 – 1934) came to the Valleys a raw country lad from Pembrokeshire; he was a stranger to the heavy industrial changes that were affecting the area’s ancient industry of farming. It may be the tallest of the remaining existing buildings of Porth, (bearing on its turret side the title of Welsh Hills, the first brand name of the mineral waters produced by Williams Evans), as The Factory as it is now known is the heartbeat of the town. It throbs with life, as in a new era it rises with the development of the Rhondda Valleys.

    Why not pop into the POP Factory Porth and see for yourself?

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      Community Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Ferndale Mining Disaster of 1867 on Wednesday 8th November 2017.

      On Friday 8 November 1867, the whole district of Ferndale and Blaenllechau was shaken by two consecutive explosions at Ferndale No.1.

      Rescuers were hampered by roof falls, and with the air so foul, with some trepidation the furnace which powered the ventilation was relit. It took a month to recover the remains of the 178 men and boys, with most bodies showing signs of severe burning, and many so badly disfigured it made identification impossible.

      Teenage boys as young as 12 perished and at the subsequent enquiry, the lamp keeper stated that safety locks had been tampered with, and incidents regularly occurred that breached the company’s rules. Although reported to the mine manager, these breaches were ignored. This was later disputed by fellow miner’s from the Aberdare valley.

      On Wednesday 8th November at 5.00pm, to commemorate the event the community will congregate for a short service at the Ferndale Miner’s Memorial in Greenwood Park (which was erected in 1988), with the community following in the footseps of many miner’s to Penuel Chapel, in Duffryn Street, Ferndale.

      At 6.00pm at Penuel Chapel, the young men and boys will be remembered through an evening of reflection and reminiscing by children from Darran Park Primary School and songs from Cor Meibion Morlais and music from Tylorstown Silver Band. There will also be poetry readings, film and the launch of a community exhibition outlining the development of the coal mines, the disasters and what followed as a result.

      Organisers Ferndale Grassroots are grateful for all the support received to date but are still seeking relatives of those who lost their lives or who have any memorabilia, photographs etc. relating to Ferndale Colliery, which could form part of the week long exhibition.

      ‘We are keen to ensure that those who lost their lives are remembered by all generations in the community and we have been working with both young and old to bring this significant event in the life of Ferndale to the fore. Thanks to a grant from RCT Together, we believe it will be an event fitting for the occasion.’

      This is a ticketed event (due to capacity) and tickets can be booked via email: ferndalegrassroots@gmail.com, Facebook: Ferndale Grassroots or contact Catherine on 07792 423493.

      Ann Davies

       

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        Review Rhondda Road, Episode two by Ann Davies

        “Rhondda Road”

        “Rhondda Road” Treorchy’s very own LIVE soap opera continued with Avant Cymru Theatre actors and its Director Shane Anderson, when its second live episode was presented on Tuesday, 10 October in the lounge of the Park and Dare Theatre. An accident had certainly occurred since the inaugural episode, as one character proceeded to act out the whole performance on crutches. Such injuries happen in real life, and the wisdom of saying ‘break a leg’ should be given with a health warning!

        The scene is set as you enter the confines of “The Fourth Wall Café”

        A door slams as owner Megan rushes in with her daughter Isabelle close behind her.

        “I’ve had enough!” Megan exclaims.

        LISTEN TO ME!” Isabelle cries out blatantly.

        Seren, the part time waitress is busily attending to the tables, she asks a young girl sitting alone whether she would like a drink. Liam remains at one table, both Seren and Megan look on curiously wondering just what Liam is doing there.

        Ioan and Charlotte sit on another side of the café contemplating a school project. Ioan only has eyes for Seren, as he implores Charlotte to give him information about Seren.

        “Well, I MUST assume she fancies me…”

        “She doesn’t fancy YOU!” Charlotte is adamant, as Ioan continues his line of enquiry until Charlotte replies conspiratorially “What I was told was confidential” Ioan is intrigued. Charlotte informs him that Seren is always late for school or work due to her ailing Mother, who has a ‘condition’; “Dementia” she concludes, “but I hope that won’t make any difference.” Ioan goes to the Bar to ask Seren for an order of drinks; he nervously exchanges opinions on the Project they are both undertaking, and then asks Seren how her Mother is. This leaves Seren in turmoil as she provides a drink for the young girl and then delivers their order to Charlotte.

        “You told him!” Seren accuses Charlotte.

        “Can I have a straw?” Charlotte asks.

        Seren can only offer a Welsh language retort

        “I heard that!” Charlotte scowls

        “Your Welsh is improving then” Seren answers as Alex enters the Café walking with the aid of crutches

        “Don’t ask!” he states.

        Megan can only berate Alex for not being at the Meeting with Isabelle which has resulted in the case being taken to court. Alex explains that he was at the Drs, and apologises to a distraught Megan, attempting to change the subject he offers a consolation; he has visited a jewellery shop.

        “What? The one with the gold rose ring and the special diamond cluster? You shouldn’t have told me, it’s supposed to be a surprise!” Megan admonishes and embraces him at the same time.

        “I’ve got THEM!” Ieuan arrives flourishing two tickets excitedly in front of Alex

        “You’re not going I remember the last time!” Megan defuses the situation as the two men protest their innocence.

        “What happens in Panto stays in Panto” a light sparks in his eyes.”I KNOW we could have a tribute band Night here”

        “Not another one, I remember your Shirley Bassey…

        “The dress didn’t fit properly” Ieuan remonstrates, as he and Alex hum the Star Wars theme tune using the crutches as air guitars.

        “What’s he doing here?” Ieuan recognises Liam.

        “He’s meeting me!” Sion explains as he strides proudly into the café.

        His estranged daughter Megan asks him to go.

        “I’m here for Liam”

        “DAD?” the startled cry comes from the lips of astonished Ioan; Sion can only look at him, “Ioan?”

        “DAD?” Megan’s emotions threaten to overwhelm her, as she realises that her father is also Ioan’s father.

        “Always keeping secrets” Megan states as Sion asks for the keys to the upstairs flat.

        “You manage the café, I own the building” he proclaims with a gleam in his eye that is enough to unsettle any respectable lady in the neighbourhood. Alex hesitates knowing that Isabelle is upstairs; he issues the command ‘You’ll follow me”.

        Ieuan warns Megan about Liam, “Promise me you won’t trust him” as Megan follows Sion upstairs.

        Abbie questions her Uncle whether her Mother stayed overnight, Ieuan tries to explain that sometimes when you are married, things get difficult, that her Mam and Dad are going through a bad patch; he tries to reassure her that there will always be a place for her to stay with him. Ieuan hits out at the café furniture in frustration, then seeing Liam, singing with some satisfaction, on his way out of the cafe he storms “I’ve lost my family, my friends all because of you. I’ve lost all of my money to keep you. Would you do the same for me? WOULD YOU?” Ieuan cries out in anguish to a disappearing Liam.

        Alex returns and building up his courage he asks Ieuan for a favour “Can you lend me some money?”

        “Don’t ask me that now, I haven’t got any … “ Alex explains that he is under terrible pressure, that the present situation is doing his head in. Ieuan outlines his position: he has no job; he has to look for employment elsewhere, perhaps go to London. Alex states truthfully that he owes a lot of money, as Ieuan realises that his friend is gambling again and owes £5000. “I thought this was MY time” Alex explains.

        “TELL Megan or I WILL” Ieuan states as he notices Anna sitting in the corner and discovers that she has been left there by her Mam. Anna hands over a note to Ieuan who, on reading it, rushes out of the café after handing the note to Alex. Meeting with Isabelle Alex explains that Megan has told him everything; he also queries Isabelle about Anna’s family life. “Her Mam is just like my Mam” Isabelle answers as Megan and Sion exchange explosive words as they come downstairs to the café.

        NO!” Megan storms

        “Think about it, stop running away from me” Sion responds. “No strings attached”

        “There’s always strings attached with you!” Sion leaves as Alex questions Megan

        “He wants to give me the café as a Christmas present …”

        “It’s all we’ve ever wanted ….”Alex states as he shows the note to Megan; a shocked Ieuan returns “Where’s Eleri?” Megan demands, Ieuan motions that Eleri is outside.

        “Are you OK? You’ve done really well bringing her back, that’s really good” Alex reassures Ieuan, as a distressed and tormented Eleri shrivels up into the welcoming arms of Megan.

        “It’s too hard, I can’t take it anymore. What have I done?” is all Eleri can manage to say as she is reunited with her daughter, as Ieuan leads her and Anna out of the café.

        “Let’s go home” Megan gathers Alex and Isabelle close to her “We’ve got to get things sorted first.

        No more secrets”

        That is how Episode 2 of Rhondda’s very own soap opera “Rhondda Road” ended.

        As in life, there are things that we do not tell each other; secrets that run too deep. Exceptional that in the week of World Mental Health awareness this topic was incorporated into the storyline.

        Life, participant or spectator, involvement is the difference.

        Episode 3 Tuesday, 14 November at 4 pm Park and Dare Theatre, Treorchy

        You can catch up with episodes one and two below.

        You can read Ann’s review of part one here

        Rhondda Road is Avant’s very own live soap, where our community influence the topics covered in this improvised drama. It takes place every month in the Park & Dare Theatre.

        Included in the cast are community cast members, some of who attend Rhondda based schools.

        https://www.avant.cymru/rhondda-road

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          “Rhondda Road” A new soap opera in the Rhondda by Ann Davies

          So what do you think about soap opera in the Rhondda? Would it be full of soap adverts with an aria from a male voice choir entwined? Would it be in black and white or colour? This was no soap opera, this was diverse, this was real, raw and blisteringly true to present day issues!

          “Rhondda Road” – was Treorchy’s very own LIVE soap opera safely in the hands of the Avant Cymru Theatre actors and its Director Shane Anderson, when its first live inaugural episode was presented on Tuesday, 12 September in the lounge of the Park and Dare Theatre.

          As you entered “The Fourth Wall Café” you were invited to take your place at a café table, the owner hovered around clearing each table. Balloons decorated areas and a greetings banner was in the process of being aligned to the wall. We realised that a Birthday was being celebrated and realised that we were all invited. This was different.

          The people began to talk – this was not eavesdropping, we were not busy bodies, we were there and their lives and emotions were being unravelled before our very eyes. It was interestingly engrossing to actually know what was going on, without being classed as ‘nosey parkers’.

          Alex and Megan, partners in real life, run the café with their friend Ieuan. This day was the 13th birthday of Isabelle, Megan’s daughter. Alex, who has been attempting to build a relationship with Isabelle, has organised a surprise party for her, drafting in Ieuan, Seren, a part time waitress and young carer, and Charlotte, Megan’s half-sister to help with the preparations. Charlotte has already informed Megan that Isabelle is not coming, that there is something wrong, but won’t divulge any reasons. Abi, Isabelle’s best friend and Ieuan’s niece, has been given the duty of getting Isabelle to the café on time. Seren arrives late, having attended to her ailing Mother, she quickly attends tables placing cakes, serviettes and streamers on each one.

          Alex’s emotions swing, as he exclaims that his offer for the café has been accepted. “It’s all we’ve ever wanted” he exclaims as he and Megan lovingly embrace; in his dreams they will marry and he will adopt Isabelle as his own daughter. Charlotte walks out in a huff as she witnesses their attentiveness.

          Life is a rich tapestry and as such, other strands gel into the mixture. Ieuan is a struggling actor and is often seen using the café premises to prepare for auditions and devising ideas to attract people to the café. You suddenly hear a booming voice from behind you, and you literally jump out of your skin. ‘I am your Father’ is directed at the occupants of the café, as we watch Ieuan appear in all his ‘Star Wars’ attire, plus a bucket on his head. His announcement is almost prophetic.

          Abi rushes into the café, Isabelle is not with her, and there are concerns that all is not as it should be as we await the arrival of the Birthday girl. Abi confides in her Uncle that Isabelle won’t talk to her anymore, whilst Ieuan quietly tells her to be there for Isabelle whatever is wrong.

          Isabelle enters, as the streamers are popped, and Happy Birthday Greetings resound, but this girl is not in a celebration mood; she is distressed and unhappy and can take nothing in. In a quiet corner, Megan manages to prize the problem out of her, Isabelle is being bullied. The couple have to decide what course of action they will take next.

          Ieuan has his own concerns as he prepares to cut the birthday cake. Liam, his homeless friend from Uni. arrives. Liam has stayed with Ieuan for what was only going to be a few weeks but has ended up staying for months. Ieuan instructs Abi to go home, he has run out of patience, there is a clash of opinions; enough is enough as Ieuan asks Liam to find other accommodation.

          An older man walks into the café, looks around, senses the nervy atmosphere and sees the desolate Liam berating his own life, and offers him some consolation as they walk out together.

          Seren, in the meantime, has her own problems; time is precious to her, her part time job and her caring responsibilities. Sometimes it proves too much, especially when she sees other girls her age not having the daily worries that she has to tend to. Life is further complicated by the attentions of love sick Ioan, who follows her around pausing for every word she speaks, whereas it is Charlotte who wishes to be by Ioan’s side.

          The older man returns to the café, but this time his demeanour is not so serene and helpful. It is soon apparent that he is Megan’s Father, Sion. Megan, so strong and resilient, visibly shrinks under his stoic glare; remembering the damage he had inflicted on her during a traumatic childhood. Tempers flare and Megan attempts to guard her daughter from his grasp. Sion states that he has changed, he wants to be part of a family again, to get to know his granddaughter, but Megan stalwartly insists that this will never happen and leaves Alex and Sion alone.

          Sion’s mannerisms change, there is no emotion, he is malevolent; his intentions are as clear as his final threatening words

          I’ll be back, I’ve bought this café

          That is how episode one ended. “Rhondda Road” showed life as it is wherever you happen to live, its concept and format is different and entertaining. You feel the emotions of the people performing, and in the final minutes, we saw such a difference in the character of Sion Andrews with his hurtful threats, that you almost wanted to cry ‘Boo! Hiss!” at the villain, connecting in every way.

          It’s not black and white, it’s not colour, its Life and it’s RAW. It brings a format and a way of storytelling (or soap opera in this case) alive.

          Episode 2 Tuesday, 10 October at 4 pm, Park and Dare Theatre, Treorchy

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            Review Swarm, Fio Productions by Ann Davies

            The rendezvous was made; a meeting with others. The night was dark and dank as the drizzle stormed down on our gathering. Black Gothic gates barred our entrance to the large stone building. We waited patiently. We were all strangers, curious about what lay ahead. We didn’t know just what to expect.

            At last, the clanking sounds came of the gates being opened; we were told to assemble in straight lines. It was almost as though we were awaiting some sort of detention duty. A loud cry went out as another person came scrambling out of the darkness crying “My child, please see to my child” as uniformed personnel rushed around, issuing orders for us to enter asking questions “Were you followed? How many? Are there any more?” “My wife, my child” were the only words that the man managed to utter within his sadness. Lost in explanation, a large door began to open to a warehouse type area; as one, we were herded into its vast inner sanctum.

            Slowly, we became aware of our surroundings. We came under an incredible amount of scrutiny from a multitude of people, and saw children huddled together in one corner, as if afraid of our arrival. “We have a few supplies and blankets, please share the blankets” the voice on the speaker announced. Some people came forward as if on a welcoming bid, imploring details about the outside. The man and child were rushed to an enclosed area with a Red Cross embellished on it.

            “For fear of disease” the voice continued “you will have to be examined. Your photograph will be taken, a detailed form will need to be completed; you will then be assigned a number “.

            The air was stifling; people were talking wildly about their relatives and whether anyone of us knew anything about them. Hands were inspected and washed; we were each issued with toiletry samples. The siren shrieked shattering our thoughts, as the lights dimmed

            “Get down and remain still!” the urgent command drilled.

            We all lay prone on the hard floor using the blankets provided.

            Repeated blows on the door followed as security personnel entered, they were looking for certain people, but received only a stony silence. A child cried out in pain “There is nothing we can do” a medic announced as the man walked aimlessly around.

            Fear held us in its grasp. Notices on the wall were adorned with desperate messages; missing people cried out to be found. You could almost reach out and touch the growing mania of panic and distress of what we were all witnessing.

            This was an experience that we had not only watched; we had participated in a human drama.

            “You’ve got a swarm of people coming, seeking a better life” A play had been performed but we were also the actors, the performance may disappear but the crisis of the refugees would not go away. It was an experience driven by conflict, of painful human reality of what is actually happening. The play was called ‘The Swarm’; the company were the Fio Productions and it was staged at the Pop Factory, Porth.

            It was not a tale of the unexpected. At its conclusion it was a diverse platform for the further discussion of ethical and political issues.

            The truth hurts.

             

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