Guy O'Donnell

Hi I am Guy the project coordinator for Get The Chance. I am a trained secondary teacher of Art and Design and have taught at all Key Stages in England and Wales. I am also an experienced theatre designer and have designed for many of the theatre companies in Wales.

An interview with Charlie Hammond from Me Me Me Theatre

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Charlie Hammond. Charlie spent time training in Cardiff and was one of our Young Critics. We discussed his career to date, Me Me Me’s current production ‘Clonely’ and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Hi Charlie can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Sure, I am an actor and theatre-maker based in the North-West. I create a lot of physical, visual, and chaotic performances. I borrow heavily from clown and physical comedy, and I have trained with various clowning and physical practitioners, in particular Philippe Gaulier, who is regarded as a leading practitioner in clown and performance training. His school is near Paris. I have also worked closely with director Cal McCrystal, who I learnt a great deal about directing and performance from whilst acting as associate director for Giffords Circus. Giffords are a traditional 1930’s style circus who create intimate performances which tour largely in the South-West of England.  Originally I studied English Literature at Cardiff University, and spent a large amount of my time being involved with the artistic community in Cardiff, including writing for the Young  Critics.

http://community.nationaltheatrewales.org/profiles/blogs/young-critics-review-children-of-mine-by-charlie-hammond

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-news/review-its-family-affair-well-6140851

So what got you interested in the arts?

Just everyday culture really. Growing up my parents watching a lot of comedy, Red Dwarf, the Young Ones, that kind of seminal alternative comedy, and I absorbed a lot of that. And then the high school I attended had very good arts facilities and that really started my interest in performing, and I did a lot of singing in chamber choirs and a barbershop choir, theatre productions and musicals. I also always felt that the arts was actually something I always found challenging, where as more traditionally academic subjects like mathematics and science came a little bit easier to me.


Thanks Charlie, can you tell us about the work your company is taking to this Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

So, our show Clonely is a sci-fi adventure in existential crisis, a blend of bulls**t arthouse theatre with nonsense games and DIY props.
Our company, Me Me Me Theatre, strive to poke fun at the avant-garde, science fiction cinema, the audience, and crucially, ourselves. It’s a mixture of theatre, sketch comedy and audience interaction that blends together into a surreal and anarchic hour long show about space and being a clone.


Me Me Me is made up of myself, and writer-performer Jasmine Chatfield, who recently won a Northern Writers Award 2017, and produces and excellent art event in Manchester called FLIM NITE. We started working together this year, and have set out to make the kind of weird and funny work that we would like to see on stage. Closely runs Friday 4th to Sunday 27th August (Mondays off):, Laughing Horse Free Fringe at The Mockingbird, 2.45 (1 hr).

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/clonely
The festival features a huge range of productions and there is great deal of competition for audiences, why should audiences come and see your production?

To support the free fringe and new work. But if you are interested in weird comedy, with sci-fi elements which doesn’t take itself too seriously then you should watch our show. We are very proud of it, and really feel that it captures the best of free fringe. I mean and also the Scotsman gave us 4 stars, which we were pretty chuffed about, and called us ‘gifted physical comedians’, so there’s that as well!


What would you recommend seeing from this years festival?
Butt Kapinski’s film-noir show is one of the best pieces of clown which really plays into its concept and gets the audience on board. I love Red Bastard, and his new show Come Lie with Me is a very interesting and electric dissection of the rules of love. Jordan Brooke’s Body of Work is a fantastic show; it’s just transferred to the Pleasance Courtyard and is a masterpiece in audience manipulation. But that’s just the few I’ve been able to see.


What do the artists and companies do when they aren’t performing?
Anything to pay the bills! It differs from person to person. Most artists hold down a couple of days a week doing a steady job, some work full-time and balance creative opportunities on top of that. I am very fortunate as I currently work pretty much full-time as a performer, but I also run workshops and do various little jobs to make extra cash. But when I say full time a lot of that time is spent making work, which tends to be a labour of love.
And finally what’s the best Fringe show you’ve ever seen?

Couldn’t pin it down to one. You assign so much weight to a type of show you’ve seen for the first time. John-Luke Robert’s work has always been memorable for me, he was my first introduction into a very different type of comedy and show. The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society has always been one of my favourite shows to visit to see something totally different. I remember rating NTW ‘The Radicalisation of Bradley manning’ as a powerful and mesmerising performance. But then it might have to be A Young Man Dressed as a Gorilla Dressed as an Old Man Sits in a Rocking Chair for 56 Minutes and Then Leaves, which is exactly what is says on the tin as is for one-night only, and represents the fringe perfectly.

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    Irlen awareness at the Welsh Assembly and Houses of Parliament

    Irlen Ambassador Jennifer Owen, 27 from Merthyr Tydfil has taken her campaign to get Irlen Syndrome recognised in schools to a national level. Jennifer was invited to hold a Irlen Awareness’ event in Parliament after her successful event last year in the Welsh Assembly. Jennifer gives a personal response below to her advocacy activities.

    Photo Credit by Up Coming

    I had a meeting with my A.M. Dawn Bowden and my M.P. Gerald Jones, Dawn suggested ” We could hold an awareness day at The Welsh Assembly”  I was totally shock and excited about taking my campaign called the ‘Voice for people with Irlen Syndrome’ with my aim of those living with Irlen syndrome beckcoming recognised by the NHS and in schools.

    I didn’t expect my event to so be successful, Hannah and I gave our speeches about living with Irlen Syndrome and the issues we  face on daily basis.

    It was an amazing experience to hold an event at The Welsh Assembly and for Dawn to take forward Irlen Syndrome and the associated issues to. The Welsh Assembly holds a special place in my heart because it was the start of our campaign moving  forward and that the politicians started listening to us.

    Jennifer and Hannah meet Gerald Jones M.P.

    Photo credit Up & Coming

    Jennifer was then invited to hold a Irlen Awareness’ event in Parliament after her successful event last year in the Welsh Assembly. On Tuesday 28 March she headed up a group of Irlen representatives and supporters for the event which was hosted by Gerald Jones MP for Merthyr and Rhymney.
    Hanna Miller, Irlen campaigner said:

    ‘It was great opportunity to go to Westminster as Irlen ambassador to campaign for the condition due to no funding for the lenses and lack of awareness in schools to have Irlen screeners in every school.’
    The event started with a warm welcome from Gerald Jones MP followed by speeches from Jennifer and Hannah Miller talking about their experiences with Irlen syndrome. After that there was a discussion about the issues people with the condition are facing on daily basis – like being refused coloured paper. MP’s Stephen Doughty (Penarth and South Cardiff), Carolyn Harris (Swansea) and Chris Elmore (Ogmore) were among the politicians who came to hear the views and engaged in debate.
    Jennifer said of the day:
    ‘Getting our voices heard in Parliament is remarkable and one that will never be forgotten because of how important the condition is. It was so important to able to educating the people in power about the way they are treating people with Irlen syndrome – as at the moment it is so wrong! I am so gratefully to my own MP Gerald Jones for hosting this event and to other M.P.’s like Stephan Doughty for being interested in learning about Irlen Syndrome.”
    The event helped to raise awareness of Irlen syndrome and to educate people about the implications it can have on a person’s whole life. The campaigners hope that Irlen will be officially recognised, especially in schools where it can have a huge impact on the learning outcomes for young people.

    What is Irlen Syndrome?

    Jennifer is a member of the Up and Coming project based in Merthyr Tydfil. Some of the information in Jennifer’s article first appeared on the  website below.

    About the Project

     

     

     

     

     

     

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      An interview with Ben Atterbury, Associate Artistic Director, The Other Room

      Hi pleased to meet you. Can you please give our readers some background information on yourself and your role in the arts in Wales?

      Hi! My name is Ben Atterbury and I’m an English Literature graduate turned Digital Marketeer turned Creative Producer turned Associate Artistic Director (whatever that means, titles are a funny thing). I grew up loving theatre and, although not Welsh myself, I spent three brilliant years at University falling in love with Cardiff and decided to stick around for a bit afterwards; it felt like something was about to happen in the city and I wanted to be around and be a part of it. That thing happened a year later when I met Kate Wasserberg and Bizzy Day and started to help them set up The Other Room, where I still work, although I now run the theatre with Bizzy and our newly appointed Artistic Director, Dan Jones.

      http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/
      Can you tell us about the work your company is taking to this years Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

      Seanmhair is a new play by the brilliant Welsh writer Hywel John. It is a play about a chance meeting between two children, Jenny and Tommy, on the streets of Edinburgh that brings about a terrible reckoning upon them both, which resonates and reverberates throughout both their lives. It’s a vivid and dynamic show about love, fate and blood beautifully performed by three incredible female actors who play the central character Jenny at different stages of her life, along with every other character in the story. It fuses epic romance with a kind of modern poetry and I’d never really read anything quite like it, so it’s brilliant to see it brought to life, first in Cardiff at our theatre, The Other Room, and now as it moves to Edinburgh!


      How is work selected to go to the festival?

      One of the most brilliant things about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is that if you have something that you want to take, you can take it. With the growth and expansion of things like the Free Fringe over the past 20 odd years the only barriers that exist now are practical; most financial. Bigger producers (Pleasance, Underbelly, Summerhall etc.) obviously have more selection barriers and they will programme the work they think is the best fit for their programme and their venue but ultimately, the only person who can select whether to be at the fringe or not is you!
      Wales Arts International who have funded some of the companies this year state,

      “The idea is to help the selected Welsh companies to present their work at the Fringe in the best possible way – with the best conditions – and, importantly, to connect with international promoters and programmers participating in the British Council Edinburgh Showcase.”

      Why is their support important along with Arts Council Wales and British Council Wales?

      It’s crucial. Without this support the huge financial risk that we are taking in mounting such an ambitious show in Edinburgh would be insurmountable. This investment in the arts (and it is investment) actively takes work made in and for Wales and places it firmly on the international stage at the biggest arts festival in the World. If we are to live in a country and a world that values and promotes culture, and I would prefer that we did, the support of organisations like Wales Arts International, the Arts Council of Wales and the British Council is of critical importance in affording us the opportunity to be daring, risky and ambitious in pursuit of making great theatre.
      The festival features a huge range of productions and there is great deal of competition for audiences, why should audiences come and see your companies work?
      Audiences should come and see our work because it features amazing performers telling a dark, gripping story in a beautifully designed space with really cool lights and sound. And the comfiest theatre seats in Edinburgh. In all seriousness, they won’t have seen anything quite like Seanmhair before, and the seats really are very, very comfy.
      Welsh artists/Companies will be showcasing a range of art forms including theatre, new writing, site-specific work and contemporary dance. In your opinion is there anything that is distinctly Welsh which links them?

      Unfortunately I can’t speak in absolutes here as not only have I not seen all of the shows, but I’m not Welsh myself. But I would question the idea of something distinctly Welsh that links the work itself; I think what does bind us is that spirit of all being Welsh companies, together, in Edinburgh, showing work that was made here at home. There’s a bond and a solidarity in that I think, that I’m really looking forward to strengthening over August.
      What would you recommend seeing from the other Welsh/Wales based companies going to this year’s festival or perhaps the festival as a whole?


      All of it! Obviously in terms of new writing and our own tastes we’ve got to give those Dirty Protest kids a shout out (they’ll be over at the Paines Plough Roundabout) but honestly, go explore! It’s what Edinburgh is all about. In a festival as a whole sense, I’ll definitely be booking in for The Wardrobe Ensemble’s Education Education Education and Barrel Organ’s new show, but that’s all you’ll get from me for now!


      What do the artists and companies do when they aren’t performing?
      Watch shows and drink beer. Although I’m really only speaking for myself on that one!
      What’s the best Fringe show you’ve ever seen?

      Oh that’s really hard! I’ve seen some of the best shows I’ve ever seen at the fringe. But one that’s always stayed with me was a show by Chris Larner called An Instinct For Kindness, it was a one man show about Chris taking his ex-wife (who he had remained great friends with) to Dignitas after she was overwhelmed by her multiple sclerosis. It was so moving, beautifully simple and passionate that yeah, I think it’s stuck with me ever since.

      http://www.aifk.co.uk
      Thanks for your time Ben.

       Listings  

      Fri 28 July, 8pm & Sat 29 July, 3pm & 8pm

      Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre

      Tickets – www.otherroomtheatre.com

       2-7, 9-14, 16-21, 23-28 August at 4.55pm

      Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49)

      Tickets – www.edfringe.com

       

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        Review The Tempest, Taking Flight Theatre Company by the young people of Up and Coming Project, Merthyr Tydfil.

        Shakespeare Made Fun!
        I will admit that in 2016 I had the privilege of watching The Tempest at the Southbank Globe Theatre. One may argue that this would be the best way to experience Shakespeare and up until a viewing of Taking Flights production, I too was under this impression. However following this production my opinion has somewhat changed.


        The production broke many of the rules of theatre. Instead of sitting in a darkened theatre, we the audience watched the play outside, toe to toe with the performers. It was also not stationary as we moved around the park to a different setting between each scene. The performers frequently broke the fourth wall and interacted with the audience, giving one the impression that they are intimately involved in the story: you may find yourself getting quite friendly with the characters. This is also aided by the smaller audiences, giving the play an exclusive “Just for You” feel.


        However, having the play performed in this way did cause some minor inconveniences. Having to bring your own chair and then to move it around between each scene may feel a little tedious. Fumbling with an umbrella (for it was raining) was also not brilliant. The quality of the acting along with the quality of the play is enough to distract from these little hiccups, though. And really, isn’t that what we came out to see?


        The production has a distinctly surreal 1920s vibe about it, keeping the atmosphere true to the original play. It’s cleverly integrated audio descriptions and sign language allow the world of Shakespeare to be open to the blind and deaf among us, something that is not necessarily offered in conventional performances. Younger audiences, as well as those who are not well acquainted with Shakespeare’s language will also find themselves at an advantage for the more difficult elements of speech are edited just enough to be understood, but carefully enough to retain their beautiful Shakespearian quality.


        It’s not just the story that’s worth seeing: the musical performances demonstrate the performers’ vocal and instrumental skills with flawless performances in several genres from traditional Baroque to modern Rockabilly.


        In conclusion this production is an engaging and delightful little show, accessible to all and a lot of fun. It is a perfect blend of traditional Shakespearian humour and modern quirkiness: there is definitely a whiff of ‘Carry On’ in there. Speaking for myself, I found myself smiling and engaged all the way through, as I’m sure did many others.

        Ryan Crowley

        Naturally I did know what to expect but I was very confused by the way the scenes transitioned from normal then into Shakespearean language. The weather was bad and there were midges too!

        The sign language was integrated into the production naturally as was the audio description,

        I wouldn’t personally recommend this show .

        Jennifer Owen

         

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          Review Deffro’r Gwanwyn/Spring Awakening by Miriam Elin Jones

           

          This is an English Language review of a production performed in the Welsh Language. You can read the same review in the Welsh Language at the link below.

          Get The Chance

          With Love Island such a phenomenon at the moment – with extracts tweeted, worn on t-shirts and discussed in the most unlikely of places – I couldn’t imagine many leaving their nightly fix of, ahem, blatant romps on the reality TV show to attend the theatre. However, last Friday, the Welsh-medium Performance BA students’ version of Deffro’r Gwanwyn (Spring Awakening) was a sell out, and a roaring success.

          At first glance – in a world where sex is no longer taboo (and Love Island isn’t the only proof of this) and the American President openly jokes about groping women – I struggled to foresee the impact that a musical discussing sexual repression would have in this day and age. However, masterfully directed by Angharad Lee, the young and talented cast tackled the challenging themes with seeming ease, presenting their own interpretation of Dafydd James’ Welsh-language translation.

          The story follows the trials and tribulations of a community of teenagers, their hormones astray and the parents and teachers refusing to acknowledge their passionate emotions and desires. Wendla innocently quizzes her mother about how babies are made and is denied an answer, whilst Moritz is terrified about the strange, recurring sexual dreams that haunt him at night. Both are, according to their parents, led astray by the well-read Melchior, who presents to them a natural, organic truth. All that needs to be said about the plot and its development is that ignorance is not always bliss.

          The Gate Centre appeared ironically appropriate for an interpretation of Deffro’r Gwanwyn, for it was once a Presbyterian church, now adapted into a theatre space but still littered with period features. Sitting on old pews – forced to be uncomfortably stiff and sombre during the performance – felt apt, with the ornate pillars suitably shaken to their core by a striking performance.

          The set was simple – a set of movable tables and chairs – and it was the use of immensely physical choreography that made the best use of filling the stage. Where there was once a pulpit and a preacher, a band was placed, cemented as the driving force of this angsty musical. In addition, an intense heat filled the auditorium – whether deliberately or not – with everyone, audience and cast members, drenched in sweat by the end of the evening.

          Without a shadow of a doubt, a subtle charisma linked every cast member in his or her turn, showcasing their bond as fellow students and co-workers. Due to the very nature of Deffro’r Gwanwyn, each cast member received the chance to shine, even supporting cast. Martha’s (Heledd Roberts) anger is felt, and Lloyd Macey as Otto’s solo was a memorable moment – despite Macey’s physical appearance making him an uncredible schoolboy. It was Jemima Nicholas as Wendla who stole the show, with her poise and posture along with her beautiful voice capturing the innocent and mischievous curiosity of her girlish character. Although she and Josh Morgan as Melchior shared an intense and sizzling chemistry, his speaking and singing voice was often swallowed in the music, and slight technical hitches didn’t help matters either. Watching Siôn Emlyn Parry’s portrayal of Moritz and his declining mental state, I felt goosepimples along both arms, and a chorus of sniffs surrounding me proved his performance had reduced many to tears.

          Without a doubt, the striking costumes added to the performance’s success. The previously starched collars and Puritan outfits worn by male characters at the beginning of the musical were shed, replaced by almost sheer dirty-white vests and braces, and a mob mentality as Melchoir is sent away. The girls pranced in baby doll dresses with long stockings both seductive and sweet, with each one appearing delicate, like dolls. All had mascara-stained eyes, a striking touch, with the emotion overcoming each one, especially as the musical progressed. As well as the provocative clothing, the choreography was laden with suggestive, sexual connotations – groping, grabbing and thrusting – and a clear rebellion against the staunch religiousness of the elder generation. The only flaw in the otherwise faultless choreography was that sometimes, backs were turned, and the audience shunned. However, a ready round of applause at the end of almost every song proved that no one took offence.

          That evening, not even the biggest Love Island fan would’ve had the chance to regret leaving his or her television set for the night. Deffro’r Gwanwyn’s success was testament to the hard work of each one of the students present, and their lecturers, and although Deffro’r Gwanwyn was the end of one exciting chapter, the beginning of a next one, and promising a prosperous future for the creative industry in Wales, and beyond.

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            Review National Theatre Live: Angels in America by Danielle O’Shea

            5 Stars5 / 5

             

            Survival is central to the first part of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America”. This can be seen in the consideration of the fight to survive illness and addiction but also by asking how far you would go to make a relationship survive or to survive oppression. As well as survival, themes of morality, religion and politics remain essential to the play and are used as tools for character development.
            As mentioned in the pre-show interview with its director, Marianne Elliott, the play moves from domesticity to magical realism due to the hallucinations experienced by several of the characters which become more overwhelming as the play progresses.


            Rooted in 1985 New York during the AIDS epidemic, the harsh reality of each character’s situation is evident and is kept in mind through the use of three side-by-side mini sets so even as the play moves from one character to another, their set remains darkened but still visible. The neon lights bordering each set give an almost magical aura but initially act as barriers between characters before falling away and allowing characters to cross them.
            The entire cast give incredible performances that portray characters vividly and in a way so that no matter their moral or political stance the audience still builds a connection with them. However two actors in particular captivate the audience, Denise Gough as Harper Pitt, a Valium addicted Mormon housewife, and Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter, a charismatic AIDS sufferer. Both characters act as bridges between fantasy and reality and their one scene together was charming and captured the attention and imagination of the entire audience.
            As a whole, Angels in America is a stunning political portrait that remains extremely relevant today due to its discussions of American politics and the changing identity of America. It is an emotional roller-coaster that will keep you on the edge of your seat and I will definitely be seeing the second part.

            National Theatre Live: Angels in America
            Part 1:Millennium Approaches

            20th July 2017
            Gwyn Hall, Neath
            Running time: 3 hours 40 minutes with two 15-minute intervals
            Author: Tony Kushner
            Director: Marianne Elliott
            Design: Ian MacNeil (Set Designer), Nicky Gillibrand (Costume Designer), Paule Constable(Lighting Designer), Robby Graham (Choreographer and Movement), Adrian Sutton (Music), Ian Dickinson (Sound Designer), Finn Caldwell (Puppetry Director and Movement), Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes (Puppet Designers), Chris Fisher (Illusions), Gwen Hales (Aerial Director), Harry Mackrill (Associate Director), Miranda Cromwell (Staff Director)
            Cast: Susan Brown, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, Nathan Lane, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Russell Tovey, Stuart Angell, Laura Caldow, Claire Lambert, Becky Namgauds, Stan West, Lewis Wilkins

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              An interview with creative producer Laura Drane

              Hi Laura, can you please give our readers some background information on yourself and your role in the arts in Wales?

              Light, Ladd & Emberton is a collective of three Wales-based dance artists – Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton – together with creative producer Laura Drane. We came together in 2014 to make CAITLIN, a show commissioned for the Dylan Thomas centenary by the National Library of Wales. Through collaborative working, Light Ladd & Emberton creates original professional performance work, with the aim of creating exciting and inspiring productions for audiences in Wales and beyond, and to represent Wales and the UK on a national and international stage. We draw on history and identity, predominantly of Wales, to create productions that have contemporary relevance and are culturally engaged.

              We have two other productions this summer – a large outdoor piece in Harlech, called Croesi Traeth/ Crossing A Beach, which has just happened during Gregynog Festival; and another outdoor show touring to CADW castles in north Wales called Disgo Distaw Owain Glyndwr Silent Disco. So it’s a busy time to say the least! We also hope to do UK and international touring with CAITLIN after this summer so watch this space.

              Can you tell us about the work your company is taking to this Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

              Caitlin was the wife of poet Dylan Thomas. At the start of the 1970s, twenty years after he died, she started going to Alcoholics Anonymous. In a circle of chairs, set out for an AA meeting Caitlin makes a determined effort to deal with her tempestuous past. The audience sits in the circle with Caitlin as she revisits her life with Dylan. It is a relationship fuelled by love, addiction, jealousy and infidelity. As Caitlin and Dylan drink, fight, love and leave each other the unoccupied chairs become part of the action in this physical and powerful duet. CAITLIN was commissioned by National Library of Wales for DT100/ Dylan Thomas centenary in 2014, and won Best Dance Production in the Wales Theatre Awards 2015. CAITLIN has toured several times from 2014 till now, including a run at Dance Base for Edinburgh Fringe 2015 and a week at Battersea Arts Centre for #ANationsTheatre. It is part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2017. This Fringe run is funded by Arts Council of Wales ‘Wales In Edinburgh’ funding, via National Lottery, with Wales Arts International and British Council Wales.

              Tell us about your team.

              CAITLIN was, is and will always be a team effort. The choreography was developed by Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton, under Deborah’s direction with Eddie and Gwyn performing. The third performer is Sion Orgon, who live mixes the score every show, with original music created by Thighpaulsandra. Neil Davies designed the costumes and the striking images are by Warren Orchard and Noel Dacey, and Pete Telfer did the film capture which gave us the trailer and more. Laura Drane produces the show. Mostly when we are doing the show though it is just Eddie, Gwyn, Sion and either Deborah or Laura, on the road; a merry band of four and sometimes five. We do everything – driving, loading in, measuring up, sound and tech set, show sets and resets, front of house, post show talks, get out, the lot. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

              How is work selected to go to the festival?

              Well that’s the best bit – no-one picks, and anyone can book a space and go! The whole ethos of Fringes across the world is based on this, begun 70 years ago at Edinburgh when some companies who weren’t selected for the Festival just turned up and performed anyway. Having said that, CAITLIN has been selected to play as part of the British Council Showcase this year, a very prestigious programmed week of the best theatre and dance shows from the UK.

              Wales Arts International who have funded some of the companies this year state, “The idea is to help the selected Welsh companies to present their work at the Fringe in the best possible way – with the best conditions – and, importantly, to connect with international promoters and programmers participating in the British Council Edinburgh Showcase.” Why is their support important along with Arts Council Wales and British Council Wales?

              Because simply put, without it we couldn’t perform there and get the most from the opportunity – it really is a game changer.

              The festival features a huge range of productions and there is great deal of competition for audiences, why should audiences come and see your companies work?

              It’s award-winning and has already had a sell out run at Dance Base in the Fringe in 2015. We were also selected for #ANationsTheatre at Battersea Arts Centre in London in 2016 as one of only two shows from Wales. Audiences recommend it on having seen it and use words like intimate and brutal. But really you’re going to have to see for yourselves to know what you think…

              What do the artists and companies do when they aren’t performing?

              During the Fringe, we tend to sleep and eat well and have a physio session (performers only!) and then sleep some more. But we also do try and see other shows and go out to have some fun, meet other artists and companies, and so on. But CAITLIN is such a physically demanding show that self-care comes top.

              What’s the best Fringe show you’ve ever seen?
              That’s a tough one since some of us have been going to the Fringe for 30 years! But if we had to pick a standout from last year, Laura really enjoyed Lost Dog Dance’s Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me). It uses a Nick Cave track at one point and it was a really weepy moment.


              And finally, what does the Edinburgh Fringe mean to you?

              Shows that hit and shows that miss, and some wild, wild nights! No, seriously. We are honoured to be up in the cradle of creativity, the mother of all Fringes, this year – its 70th anniversary and the 20th British Council Showcase year. It is possible to use only superlatives and cliché when talking about Edinburgh Fringe but it really is a melting pot of talent, a hubbub of creative endeavour, and a great place to spot and be spotted. We are looking forward to presenting the show in a church hall which will help it shine for audiences. Having been up before with CAITLIN in 2015 at Dance Base, and with other productions before, we are used to the hustle and bustle. The thrill of performing this piece and seeing audiences reactions never gets old. And it’ll be great to be up in Auld Reekie again, hoping that our show really does hit and that we have at least one wild night…

               

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                An interview with Catherine Paskell, Artistic Director, Dirty Protest.

                Hi pleased to meet you. Can you please give our readers some background information on yourself and your role in the arts in Wales?

                I’m Catherine and I’m the Artistic Director of new writing company Dirty Protest. I’m directing SUGAR BABY by Alan Harris, which Dirty Protest is taking to Paines Plough’s ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall venue with Wales in Edinburgh this summer. I was a founding creative associate of National Theatre Wales – it was this opportunity that brought me back to Wales. I love what I do and connecting to people with theatre making in Wales.

                https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/778434-sugar-baby/

                Can you tell us about the work your company is taking to this Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

                SUGAR BABY is a new one-man comedy drama, about a young lad from Fairwater, in Cardiff, called Marc. Marc is trying to borrow £6,000 from a local loan shark, help out his old man, save a girl and survive the day. It’s very funny. Alan’s got an exceptional voice for these Welsh characters, the stories and details pull you in, and you are rooting for Marc the whole way. The cast is one man: Alex Griffin-Griffiths, he’s a graduate of RWCMD and he’s brilliant. It’s a lot of fun to work on together and we are previewing the play in Chapter at the end of July. Chapter are fantastic supporters, their help means that anyone who can’t make it to see the show in Edinburgh can come and see the previews in Cardiff, and help us to develop the play before we head up.

                How is work selected to go to the festival?

                We want to showcase the best of Welsh new writing, from a writer living in Wales. Alan’s writing is exceptional, and we wanted a play that was uniquely Welsh but that wasn’t stereotypical in its exploration of a lived Welsh life. We chose Sugar Baby because it’s authentic, and an antidote to all the poverty porn plays and TV programmes that we have seen lately. Sugar Baby is a Welsh play at an international-looking Fringe Festival, and will stand alongside some of the best theatre in the world.

                Wales Arts International who have funded some of the companies this year state,

                The idea is to help the selected Welsh companies to present their work at the Fringe in the best possible way – with the best conditions – and, importantly, to connect with international promoters and programmers participating in the British Council Edinburgh Showcase.”

                 Why is their support important along with Arts Council Wales and British Council Wales?

                We couldn’t go to Edinburgh without this support. It’s vital for our company growth and to get the best new writing out of Wales. We took Dirty Protest’s production of LAST CHRISTMAS by Matthew Bulgo to Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014, supported with Wales in Edinburgh funding. That whole experience was very successful for Dirty Protest. Producers, theatre programmers and promoters from across the world came to see our play and booked it for their venues. We produced LAST CHRISTMAS in the Soho Theatre in London and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. We also had many more conversations about other projects, that are now starting to come to fruition. This happened with the support of Wales in Edinburgh. Dirty Protest is a project-funded company, and usually the grants we receive only allow a maximum 15% of a project to happen outside Wales. For us to build our company, we have to stand on a more prominent stage. It’s difficult to get reviewers and promoters outside Wales to see our work when we perform at home. Going to such a high-profile festival as Edinburgh Fringe has benefits for us, for the artists making work here and for the promotion of Wales’ arts.

                The festival features a huge range of productions and there is great deal of competition for audiences, why should audiences come and see your companies work?

                It’s a proper laugh – you’ll leave and have had a really good time for less than an hour, so you’ll have loads of time to walk to your next show without having to rush! SUGAR BABY is part of an incredible programme in an amazing venue. There’s something really exciting about being in that environment, watching an excellent actor as you are pulled along this funny and edgy Cardiff story. All that matters is the writing, acting and the relationship between performer and audience. It’s the ultimate live event!

                Welsh artists/Companies will be showcasing a range of art forms including theatre, new writing, site-specific work and contemporary dance. In your opinion is there anything that is distinctly Welsh which links them?

                What links the artists and companies is a distinct camaraderie. We are a collective who are representing Wales and are proud of presenting our world-class work together. We are all there to help each other out, to bring each other up, and that is something special about the Welsh arts scene. The diversity of art form in the WIE showcase shows that this community belongs to everyone, whether they are into well-made new plays, live art, contemporary dance, reimagined classics – and this needs to be reflected not just in Edinburgh, but in Wales throughout the rest of the year.

                What would you recommend seeing from the other Welsh/Wales based companies going to this year’s festival or perhaps the festival as a whole?

                I loved F.E.A.R., the one-man show created by Mr and Mrs Clark and performed by Gareth Clark when I saw it earlier this year. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who’s going to see it, but there are so many joyful and beautiful and thought provoking moments in the performance. I’ve heard a lot about Revlon Girl, the cast are awesome and I have a huge love for Pontardawe Arts Centre, so I’ll be seeing that. I thought A Regular Little Houdini was great at the Fringe, so I want to see Flying Bridge and Daniel Llewellyn-Willians’ next show, Not About Heroes. I can’t wait to see Seagulls, especially because Volcano who are making it have a whole venue in Leith we can hang out in! I haven’t yet seen all the shows this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing all the productions in the WIE showcase. For the festival as a whole, I’m mainly looking for new, young companies, actors, playwrights and comedy writers. Every year at the Fringe, I discover artists who I know I’ll be looking out for in the years to come. This year, I’ll be checking out FRED AND ROSE in Venue 13. The show is by a group of USW Atrium drama graduates, who are going to Edinburgh for the first time and it looks great contemporary theatre piece. I’ll be watching a lot of comedy too. I’m excited by Tom Neenan’s ATTENBOROUGH, Tom’s a great character comic. His show last year was a about a haunted old vaudeville theatre and it was great comedy storytelling. And who doesn’t love David Attenborough?! Also, the brilliant Jordan Brookes’ newest comedy show on the Free Fringe is him talking about his nan; last year, I saw him re-enact his own birth. This guy is surreal and excellent. And if you missed it last year, my favourite show of the Fringe in 2016 was the Free Fringe comedy, Richard Gadd’s Monkey See Monkey Do. It was exceptionally funny but also hugely brave and just incredible. The show won the Edinburgh Comedy Award last year and is back, this time at Summerhall, just for a limited run.

                What do the artists and companies do when they aren’t performing?

                We watch other artists’ shows, we see people we haven’t seen since last year, we support each other and meet promoters and venue programmers to get the show on again after the Fringe. Edinburgh is a bit of a bubble, so you try and maintain some perspective and remember there is a world outside the city. I always go to the art galleries and museums in Edinburgh because they are chilled spaces with wonderful exhibitions during August. They open my mind and give me space away from the buzz of the festival. Last year, I went to the Harry Benson photography exhibition in the Scottish Parliament and was in there for 4 hours.

                 What’s the best Fringe show you’ve ever seen?

                I’ve visited the Fringe, as an artist and a punter every year except one for the past 17 years. The Fringe show that sticks with me through that whole time is VICTORY AT THE DIRT PALACE by Adriano Shaplin and the American theatre company, the Riot Group. I saw it in 2002. It was an intense, satirical play, in a tiny performance space that wasn’t one of the big commercial venues. It was about the post-September ’11 American mindset. 9/11 had only happened less than a year ago; the writing was sharp, funny and urgent. The details acutely observed. The ensemble of four were witty and clear. As an emerging artist, about to leave the UK for training in America, I knew that was theatre I aspired to make.

                Thanks for your time Catherine.

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                  Adolygiad: Deffro’r Gwanwyn, (The Gate/Canolfan Berfformio Cymru) gan Miriam Elin Jones

                  Yn ddiweddar, mae’n bur anodd credu – gyda phob sgwrs yn bob man yn troi o’i amgylch – bod unrhyw un yn gallu gadael eu ffics nosweithiol o Love Island a dianc i’r theatr. Fodd bynnag, nos Wener ddiwethaf, llenwyd seti The Gate gan gynulleidfa yn mynychu perfformiad olaf myfyrwyr BA Perfformio Prifysgol y Drindod Dewi Sant, Deffro’r Gwanwyn.

                  Mewn oes lle nad oes yna’r un weithred rywiol yn dabŵ a cham-drin rhywiol yn jôc ar enau Arlywydd America, pendronais sut ymateb byddai gan sioe gerdd yn trin a thrafod gormes rhywiol a chulni crefyddol? Dan arweiniad y gyfarwyddwraig Angharad Lee, aeth y cast talentog ati i daclo themâu heriol y ddrama, gan osod eu stamp eu hunain ar gyfieithiad medrus Dafydd James.

                  Dilyna stori’r ddrama hynt a helynt cymuned o laslanciau a glaslancesi, eu hormonau’n rhemp a’r rhieni ac athrawon o’u hamgylch yn gwrthod cydnabod eu teimladau na’u dyheadau nwydus. Cyflwynir Wendla a Moritz – y naill methu deall o ble ddaw babis a’r llall â pharchedig ofn ei freuddwydion melys gyda’r nos – a Melchior y rebel sy’n eu harwain ar gyfeiliorn, yn pwysleisio normalrwydd eu dyheadau. Heb draethu rhyw ormod am y plot, dysgir yn fuan iawn nad melys pob anwybod wedi’r cwbl.

                  Roedd awyrgylch Canolfan The Gate yn gweddu’n rhyfeddol i’r sioe gerdd arbennig hon. Mewn hen eglwys Bresbyteraidd wedi ei haddasu’n theatr, gosodwyd set syml ond symudol – pedwar bwrdd a stolion – a llenwyd y gofod gyda pherfformiadau a choreograffi egnïol. Wrth fynd i eistedd ar un o’r meinciau pren (a brofodd yn briodol o anghyfforddus) roedd yr actorion yn chwarae plant yn ddiniwed braf ar lawr. O’n hamgylch, roedd pileri addurniadol yn britho’r lle, rhai ag ysgydwyd i’w craidd yn ystod rhai o uchafbwyntiau dramatig y cynhyrchiad, ac yn lle pregethwr mewn pwlpid, gosodwyd y band, wedi’i godi i le haeddiannol ar dir uwch. Er ehangder yr ystafell, roedd hi’n eithriadol o gynnes, ac o ystyried gwres y caru tanbaid sy’n rhan mor ganolog o’r sioe, bosib bod hynny’n fwriadol – ond roeddwn ni’r gynulleidfa a’r cast i gyd yn chwys drabwd erbyn diwedd y sioe.

                  Heb os, roedd carisma cynnil rhwng bob un o’r cast yn dystiolaeth i’w hagosatrwydd a’r cyd-weithio cyson sydd wedi bod yn rhan mor greiddiol o’u cwrs. Golyga natur y sioe bod pob un yn cael cyfle i fynnu llwyfan, a nifer o’r cymeriadau ymylol yn cael cyfle i gamu i’r goleuni. Roedd dicter Martha (Heledd Roberts) i’w deimlo a solo Lloyd Macey fel Otto (serch lletchwithdod ei daldra’n golygu nad oedd yn argyhoeddi fel disgybl ysgol) yn un i’w chofio. O ran y prif gymeriadau, roedd Jemima Nicholas fel Wendla yn serennu, gyda’i holl osgo a’i llais yn efelychu chwilfrydedd diniwed a drygioni merchetaidd ei chymeriad drwyddi draw. Er bod Josh Morgan fel Melchior a hithau yn argyhoeddi fel cariadon ifanc, tueddai i’w lais ef foddi dan sŵn y gerddoriaeth, ac nid oedd mân broblemau technegol o ran y sain yn hwyluso pethau iddo chwaith. Yn goron ar y perfformiadau oll, roedd ymdriniaeth Siôn Emlyn Parry o gymeriad Moritz – yn enwedig ar ddechrau’r Ail Act. Llwyddodd i yrru ias i lawr fy nghefn wrth i’w wewyr meddwl ddatblygu’n raddol, gan ddenu’r dagrau yn ystod ei olygfa olaf.

                  Wrth i’r ddrama fynd yn ei blaen, diosgwyd siacedi stiff a choleri hirion, Piwritanaidd y llanciau, ond aros gwnaeth y mascara wedi staenio’n drwch dros eu llygaid. Pranciai’r merched ar hyd y llwyfan yn ei ffrogiau llac, gyda’u sanau hirion yn sidet ond yn seductive ar yr un pryd, pob un yn ddoli fregus, hyd yn oed Isle herfeiddiol (Lleucu Gwawr) wrth geisio hudo Moritz. Ynghyd â’r gwisgoedd, gwnaethpwyd yn siŵr fod y llwyfan wrth i’r coreograffi’n ferw o weithgareddau rhywiol, awgrymog gyfleu’r byd newydd y deisyfa’r cymeriadau. Yr unig fai oedd i’r coreograffi ar adegau olygu bod y perfformwyr yn troi cefn ar eu cynulleidfa yn ystod y sioe. Fodd bynnag, ni phechwyd yr un ohonom. Roedd cymeradwyaeth parod wrth gwt y rhan fwyaf o’r caneuon yn dyst i’n mwynhad o’r sioe.

                  Gyda’r gynulleidfa gyfan ar ei thraed ar ddiwedd y perfformiad, gallaf ddatgan yn bendant na chafodd neb gyfle i ddifaru colli pennod nos Wener o Love Island yn ystod Deffro’r Gwanwyn. Er mai noson olaf eu cwrs dwy flynedd oedd y cynhyrchiad egniol hwn, dyma godi’r llen ar yrfaoedd disglair i nifer o’r cast, sy’n argyhoeddi’n gyffrous iawn i’r diwydiant theatr yng Nghymru, a thu hwnt.

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                    Top Tunes with Rebecca Jade Hammond

                    Hi Rebecca great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
                    I’m a Cardiff born actor and writer and more recently Artistic Director of Chippy Lane Productions Ltd. My next project is “Chippy & Scratch – Does The Diff” performing Tuesday 18th July at Chapter. Limited tickets still available www.chippylaneproductions.co.uk. This is a scratch night for emerging Welsh and Wales based playwrights.

                    https://www.chapter.org/chippy-scratch-does-diff

                    This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to?
                    Well – firstly this was such a great challenge to put together. Music is a massive part of my life and work. It’s so funny as what I’ve chosen now is not what I would have chosen fifteen years ago when I was obsessed with Garage, Incubus and Dido. However, I’ve tried to mix it up to reflect what was me then and now as it’s all contributed to my current taste.

                    At present I’m listening to H.E.R a mashup of soft R&B and vocally reminiscent of early Aaliyah. Soulful and sassy and easy on the ears it’s great listening when you want to block out the noise of the city. If you like Ray Blk and FKA Twiggs I would definitely recommend it. Old R&B reminds me of my teens, circa 2001 when all I cared about was my Adidas Galaxy’s and my discman breaking (anti-shock button was a lie, it never worked) so any R&B at the moment new or old is very much on my playlist.

                    We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?

                    “Bjork” – It’s impossible to pick one… all of her albums are such exquisite provocative pieces of work. Each, cinematic and theatrical. All of her music transports you to a space of sublimeness. I have to pick though, so probably “Post”. The first play I ever wrote, which looking back was frightfully naive and man-hating included tracks from this album. You can’t help but want to move when you hear her music and it’s impossible to sit still. I remember seeing her live and it was otherworldly and I always feel happier listening to her voice. Favourite track – “Possibly Maybe” – mainly because I’m a sucker for great lyrics and hopeless romantic and when she sings “…but afterwards I wonder, where’s that love you promised me? Where is it?” makes my heart breaks every time.

                    “Imogen Heap” – Everyone who knows me, knows that Heap is my idol. Her musicianship, creativity and talents knows no limits. Who re-mortgage’s their house to make an album? She is the antithesis of a musician making music to belong to other art forms. I had the pleasure of watching her work as the soundtrack to a Frantic Assembly piece called Pool No Water by Mark Ravenhill several years ago and again in the new Harry Potter play and it simply is extraordinary. Her album “Ellipse” – my favourite I listened to whilst writing a my Masters dissertation on “Theatre as spectacle”. It’s one of those albums where you can listen the whole way through without skipping and it never ever gets overplayed because there’s so much to discover. Favourite track – “Earth”.

                    “Kate Bush” – I was lucky enough to watch her show in London in 2015. It was a theatrical feast of music, puppetry, Theatre and storytelling. I’ve never witnessed anything like it and i’m pretty certain anyone else who saw it would agree with me. Again, hard to pick a track… but probably “And Dream of Sheep” from “Hounds of Love.” Lyrically beautiful and thought provoking. I listen to a lot of Bush to get things done and I always do!

                    “Drake” – I can’t really explain it, but when I listen to his work much of what he raps or sings about is the want and need to strive to be better, for success. His compositional skills of sampling and mixing are in my opinion some of the best songs around. He is one of the few rappers that transcends his own genre. I love listening to his albums “Views” and “More Life”, when it’s on my ipod it’s impossible not to walk down the street with confidence thinking – I can do this! Top tracks is “Views”. Lyric – “The only way I got here, coz I put the work in, and did it with a purpose.”

                    “Beyonce” – Everything about her is just divine. Every album is symbolic of a new chapter in my life. She promotes power, feminism, equality and proof that if you work hard enough you can achieve great creative things. Favourite track – “Grown Woman” from her self titled 5th album. It makes me think anything is possible and it’s just great to dance to with friends or blast out in your car. I love her so much I did a parody in my webcomedy of her video 7/11, I mean I’m no Queen B but I gave it a good go.

                    Thanks Rebecca, just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?

                    Imogen Heap – “Earth”. Her music is beyond important to me. She is, as my friends would say “Oh – Imogen heap, she’s just so you Bec!”.

                    Thanks Bec!

                    Check out Outpost Coffee and Vinyl Cardiff. For the latest and greatest vinyl and great independent coffee!

                    http://www.outpostrecords.co.uk

                     

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