Helen Joy

Smallholder, artist, aspiring writer

Review The Tempest, Taking Flight Theatre Company by Helen Joy


4 Stars4 / 5

 

It is indeed a rough magic. A clever, witty, kind sort of rough magic woven through this production of one of Shakespeare’s stranger tales.

Ambulating through Thompson’s Park, a space for the imagination if ever there was one, this charming, funny and imaginative version enchants us all.

Dull and colourless as this audience is in its raincoats and wellies, we provide a suitably leaden contrast to the spangles and sequins of the cast. Blue against the green leaves, gold against the grey bark. Barque. The puns are smart, the lines are clear. Nothing is left unexplained, untranslated, misinterpreted. It is all done with a competent amusement.

It is a marvellous interpretation. A 1930s cruise, flamboyant characters and the utter bonkersness which this Company does so brilliantly.

One of the things it also does so well is multi-casting. The comedy trio of Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban is just joyous. I absolutely love them – and this audience laughs back into their contorted faces. The three of them swap between roles smartly and provide that bit of Shakespearean slapstick we need between the heavy bits. Caliban is familiar, he reminds me of Moriarty, all cute and smarmy. Handsome as the glorious Miranda’s short (you will have to see it to get that) lover, he is captivating all round.

As is Prospero. A difficult and lengthy role which is delivered with assurance and terrific suavity. The compere of the evening, he is maitre d’ of his Island and of us all. He is appropriately edgy and advances on us loitering observers with confidence, making us fearful of his abilities.  His soft voice persuades us to come closer, he is in charge.

Now. Ariel. The singer. The dishy sprite with the admiring backing group. Another tricky role and well played.  As are all the roles. The exaggerated expressions, the songs, the comic timing, the acting, is all delightful. There is magic here. There is nothing not to like here. Shakespeare would’ve loved it, loved the inclusiveness of it all, loved the weather it played out in – can we ever control anything, anyone, however powerful we think we are?

We trip into the performance on bright blue boats and trip out wishing Prospero well in his new life. We have understood this complex play in a way we never have before, we have been entertained, educated and included.

Go see – take a lightweight, foldable chair & check the weather forecast as you may need a hat; sensible shoes are de rigeur.

 

 Helen Joy for Get the Chance, 3rd Act Critics.

Photography – Jorge Lizalde- Studio Cano

TAKING FLIGHT THEATRE COMPANY

presents

THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare

Director- Elise Davison

Designer- Becky Davies

Composer and Musical Director- Dan Lawrence

Costume Maker- Angharad Gamble

BSL consultants- Jean St Clair and Daryl Jackson

Cast

Milton Lopes- Ariel

Dean Rehman- Prospero

Stephanie Back- Miranda

Sian Owens – Antonia/ ensemble

Paul Henshall- Gonzalo

Sami Thorpe-  BSL  Dance Captain

Sam Bees- Alonso/ Stephano

Ioan Gwyn- Ferdinand/ Caliban

Huw Blainey- Sebastian/ Trinculo

Shannon Davison- ensemble

Lauren Burgess- ensemble

Audio trailer- English

Audio trailer Welsh

 

*Please contact beth@takingflighttheatre.co.uk or on 07785 947823 to discuss any access requirement. Touch tours and BSL introductions are available by arrangement.

Supported by Arts Council of Wales

 

TOUR DATES

 

Unless otherwise stated next to date, follow this link below for tickets.

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/taking-flight-theatre-company

 

JUNE

 

Thompson’s Park, Cardiff

(meet at main gate on Romilly Rd)

CF5 1FH

June 8th  12pm & 6.30pm

June 9th   6.30pm

June 10th  2pm & 6.30pm

Chapter.org 02920 304400

 

The Pavilion, Langland, Swansea

SA3 4SF

11th June 2pm

 

Bryntirion Comprehensive, Bridgend

June 15th  6.30pm

Buy on the door

Elan Valley

(meet at visitor centre)

LD6 5HP

June 16th  12pm & 5pm

June 17th 4pm

Roath Park, Cardiff

(meet at conservatory)

June 18th 6.30pm

Beaumaris Castle

LL58 8AP

June 21st  7pm

Coed Y Brenin

(meet at visitor centre)

LL40 2HZ

June 22nd   7pm

Denbigh Castle

LL16 3NB

June 23rd  12pm & 7pm

June 24th  2 & 7pm

Loggerheads Country Park

(meet at visitor centre)

CH7 5LH

June 25th   7pm

Tickets also bookable at site

Caerphilly Castle

CF83 1JD

June 28th  7pm

Strata Florida Abbey

SY25 6ES

June 29th   7pm

Dylan’s Restaurant, Criccieth

LL52 0HU

30th 7.30pm

For theatre tickets only please use Ticketsource link

For theatre and dinner tickets email criccieth@dylansrestaurant.co.uk or call 01766 522773

www.dylansrestaurant.co.uk

 

JULY

 

Hijinx Unity Festival 

Caernarfon Doc Fictoria

July 1st 12pm

July 2nd 2pm

Free

www.hijinx.org.uk/unity

 

Bellevue Park Newport

(meet at The Tea Rooms)

NP20 4EZ

July 5th   12pm & 7pm

Tretower Court

NP8 1RD

July 6th  7pm

Blaise Castle Estate Dairy Farm

BS10 7QS

July 7th 12pm & 7pm

July 8th 2 & 7pm

bristolshakespearefestival.org.uk or use ticketsource

Tretower Court

NP8 1RD

July 9th 5.30pm

Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr

(meet at bandstand)

CF47 8RE

July 11th  12pm & 7pm

Rhuddlan Castle

LL18 5AD

July 13th  7pm

July 14th  12pm & 7pm

Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen

LL20 8DD

July 15th & 16th 7pm

llangollenfringe.co.uk / 0800 1455779 or use ticketsource

Cilgerran Castle

SA43 2SF

July 19th  7pm

Stackpole, Nr Pembroke

(meet at Lodge Park Woods)

Carpark  postcode SA71 5DE

July 20th 7pm

July 21st 12pm & 7pm

July 22nd 2 & 7pm

Hilton Court, Haverfordwest

SA62 5AE

July 23rd   6.30pm

Beechenhurst Lodge, Forest of Dean

GL16 7EG

July 25th 7pm

Tintern Abbey

NP16 6SE

July 26th 7pm

Kidwelly Castle

SA17 5BQ

July 28th 7pm

Trelai Pavilion, Trelai Park, Ely, Cardiff

CF5 5AQ

July 29th 12pm

 

The Kymin, Penarth

CF64 1JX

July 30th 4pm

penarthtowncouncil.gov.uk  02920 703200

 

 

Taking Flight Theatre Company (TFTC) was formed by Beth House and Elise Davison in 2008. Beth met Elise whilst working on a youth theatre project in South Wales. Having worked extensively together since then on a freelance basis, they decided to make it official and set up Taking Flight Theatre Company. Our aim with this company is to work with groups of people who have traditionally been underrepresented in theatre, film and television, and to make fully accessible and integrated theatre for all ages. Taking flight Theatre Company regularly tour to some of the most gorgeous open spaces across Wales (and occasionally England) with beautifully realised Shakespearean adventures every summer. TFTC have also led on a Welsh Government initiative tackling Disability Hate Crime for the last 3 autumns- reaching over 9,000 young people in the last 3 years. TFTC also perform festival and street theatre pieces during the summer. You’ve Got Dragons is their first production especially developed for theatres and professional and community performance spaces.

 

Taking Flight Theatre Company have an integrated casting policy which goes hand in hand with their belief in creating fully accessible and integrated theatre- employing the best creative talent regardless of visible and invisible abilities. Our philosophy reaches out to performers who might traditionally have been overlooked by mainstream theatre, and as such they often employ disabled, D/deaf and sensory impaired performers, placing positive disabled role models centre stage.

 

Website: takingflighttheatre.co.uk

 

Follow us at: @takingflightco

 

Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Takingflightco/

 

Selection of cast biographies

 

Ioan Gwyn

 

Following 4 years of touring theatre across Wales with various companies (Arad Goch, Bara Caws, Mess up the Mess), Ioan went on to study a Masters in Classical Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Since graduation he has performed in a variety of classical plays such as Volpone, Cymbeline and a one-off performance in Shakespeare’s Globe of an unearthed play by Thomas Jordan, Tricks of Youth.

Aside from performing Richard III at The Tower of London, this is Ioan’s first outdoor theatre tour, and he looks forward to the inevitable performance in the rain!

 

Paul Henshall

 

Paul trained at Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre.

He has worked extensively in theatre, and his TV credits include; Dr Dean West: Holby City, Paul Ball: I’m With Stupid, Michael Scant: A Thing Called Love, Ollie Beresford: Casualty, David Hobbs: Playing the Field, all for BBC.  Prankster: Off Their Rockers – Blue Badge Special, ITV

Paul was the first disabled person in the country to gain a qualification in stage combat from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat, and in 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University for services to acting and the promotion of disabled actors.

Paul is also a trained and registered Hypnotist, specialising in confidence, stage fright and phobias, and also performs comedy stage hypnosis shows

 

 

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    Review: The Request Show – The Cooperativa Maura Morales by Helen Joy

    3 Stars3 / 5

    Smart hand-drawn backdrop. Black and white lines of a kitchen-living-room. Strange distorted dystopian home of the bored and disaffected. With a loo off the side. A few spots of red from some flowers in a painted jar. She is black and white too.

    This is a very odd start. A woman neatly dressed piddling noisily, then stroking her hair back from her head with her wetted hands. What a thing to remember so clearly. How shocking it is. How very very personal. And so it continues.

    Intense, in your face, curiously flamboyant. Radio triggers a reminder of passions unspent. English at first. German later. This is an extraordinary physical breakdown of a woman tried by her own life, afraid of engaging with the outside world, trapped in her silence. It is her world and she seems ok with that.

    Till she changes half way. When her hair comes down.

    One very able dancer expresses the need for company and contact through a very emotional, tight series of movements which I long to become fluid and sloppy, warm from cold. Which they do, just for a short while, not long before the end, not long before she eats the red roses, dropping their bloody petals onto her green dress. Her mouth crammed with sadness, her tears quite real.

    It seems completely inappropriate to applaud. Wrong. Hurtful.

    The audience slopes out. A few check out the set, taking pictures, reverently whispering. Me too. I do not ask anyone what they think this time.

    Helen Joy for Get the Chance, 3rd Act Critics.

     

    The Request Show – Cooperativa Maura Morales

    The Request Show (Cuba/Germany)
    Performed by Maura Morales
    Music composed by Michio Woirgardt

    Seen: 6th May, 2017

     

    Where: Dance House, Cardiff

     

    For tour dates and more information:

    http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/what-s-on/calendar/spring-dancehouse-the-request-show-the-cooperativa-maura-morales/

     

     

    …………………………………………………………………………………

     

    To support the National Dance Company Wales, please consider their new Lift Lifft scheme at http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/about/support-us/individual-giving/

     

     

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      Review tic toc, a sharing, Parama2 by Helen Joy

       

      All photographs credit Kirsten McTernan

      Review: Tic Toc, a sharing

      An invited audience to consider, critique and approve a new play from the Parama2 team, staged during Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival 2017.

      Examining and delighting in the lives of female factory workers in Wales

      As part of a series of creative activities working with factory workers and the likes of us, the public

      This time last year, I was one of a small number of women lucky enough to play a part in the MakingIt! creative writing workshops. Loosely addressing the broader project researching the lives of women in Welsh factories, we wrote and acted in our resultant plays. It was fantastic! It opened my eyes to these remarkable women and to the impact their lives had on ours; and a glimpse into the world of writing, producing and acting.

      Project Review, Making It! by Helen Joy

      So, when I had an invitation to attend a sharing, a mid-way production of a play written and produced by the same team, I was delighted and very proud. It was joyous to meet my writing group again and we are very much looking forward to the next stage in our joint creative development, thanks to Parama2.

      And as to the play itself. Well. What a thing.

       

      Some things make you feel like you have seen them before. You haven’t. They just have something about them which you recognise, instinctively. They appeal on some very basic level. They are the stories you have heard all your life but never read.

      This is how this play makes me feel. I know these women. They are the women I descend from. They would not know me at all. I would be English to them, posh, privileged; and they’d be right. I loved everyone of them. I wondered how my grandmother in the ribbon factory during the war would’ve fitted in.

       

      Great characters all and very well played. Each one clearly defined early on, no messing. Nice clear scripting supported by simple direction and uncomplicated acting. Neat storytelling, relying on the punch of the words and their delivery. Everyone different and balancing against each other perfectly. Enough given away to know there is a bigger story or two out there in the wings but that we will have to wait to hear them. A precious ring and a grammar school kid for starters. Great stuff. Nothing spectacular, realistic and homely.

      And funny. A terrific bombastic lead with a right few pals around her but no one hogs the show. This is partly because of the singing. We sing. We’re Welsh. We can’t help it, apparently. It turns a play into a musical and in those moments, we get the chance to breathe and to think and to piece it all together. The songs are clever, witty, sad and funny and really well sung. There are some really good voices on that stage and they add to the individuality of the women, they make them even more solid and agreeable.

      And as a retired factory worker in the audience said,

      ‘We were on the bus and this woman wouldn’t stop singing – someone shut that woman up, they said. Shirley Bassey it was.

      We all like a tune to take home.

      We are shown a film too. A touching vignette of a tea dance in Porthcawl wrapped up with Tom Jones. And there they were, some of them, sitting just in front of me. Truly delightful and very much part of the story of the factory workers but I wasn’t sure how this fitted in with the play. Perhaps it was just a reminder of the continuing zest for life they had, in spite of or perhaps because of, the hard work and their fights for rights. And to remind us that they are not all dead, it is not that long ago. Keep up.

      Discussion afterwards is relevant and interesting. It has the feel of an audience wanting to be heard, full of ideas and histories.

      More men comment than women. Maybe they still just shout louder. Different people from different backgrounds suggest different angles – more facts, more slog, more reality. There is enough of all of these. These women found fun in what did, they were the trailblazers for our freedoms and quite frankly, we could learn a thing or two from them.

      This play will help them teach us, if only we listen.

      I loved it.

      https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cofio-remember-tickets-33923529189?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=estw&utm-source=tw&utm-term=listing

       

       

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        Review: The Green House / Profundis by Helen Joy

        I have seen Profundis before and I loved it. I described it as a Kandinsky come to life. Colourful, clever, witty and thoughtful: it is a kaleidoscopic trip into the nature of things. This time, it is slicker, clearer, funnier, more confident in its story-telling, more engaged with its audience. It is less distracted and even more enjoyable. I feel that the dancers are actively seeking our attention and allowing us to show our shock, confusion and joy. It is a delight. I love it still.

        Now, The Green House is a difficult thing. Definitely verdant. As a dancer sitting beside me said, dance makes you feel emotions you didn’t know you had. This is an uncomfortable piece. I cannot take my eyes off the green dancer rolling then scrubbing his green apples against his green skirt, picking them up, putting them down, in the bowl, in the sideboard, in the bowl. He is on the furniture, scrubbing his eyes, picked up, put down, on the floor. Hard stuff this.

        You see, I got this wrong. I thought it was The Green Room. This made sense of the ON AIR sign and the APPLAUSE. The waiting around to be called. The back of another room on show. The green. I was wrong.

        The Green House. Hot, confining, controlling, use the windows, the door, keep it in, shut it out. It is a dance of all of these things. It is disturbing, beautiful, green. There is just enough lightness, there are just enough laughs.

        The group pieces are, as always, exquisitely choreographed. Painfully perfect. I would watch this again and again as they go round and round in their green world. I can’t bear it and I can’t leave it alone.

        The solos are dervishly wild and tight and someone says to me, how do they learn this, how can they repeat something that looks so improvised, so in the moment, so free? I have no idea.

        I reel from this. 43 minutes of green gilded anguish and heartache. I am going to see this again. And again.

         

        Profundis

        Creative director: Roy Assaf

        The Green House

        Creative director: Caroline Finn

        Dancers:

        Josef Perou

        Camille Giraudeau

        Matteo Marfoglia

        Àngela Boix Duran

        Elena Thomas

        Ed Myhill

        Franklyn Lee

        Alexandra Pholien

        Oliver Champman

         

         Seen: 29th April, 2017

        Where: Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

        For tour dates and more information:

        http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/what-s-on/spring-tour-2017/

        Free to attend but please book a space – email megan@ndcwales.co.uk for more info.

         …………………………………………………………………………………

        To support the National Dance Company Wales, please consider their new Lift Lifft scheme at http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/about/support-us/individual-giving/

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          Review: Lakme, Swansea City Opera at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

          4 Stars4 / 5

          Absolutely beautiful – the colours of India, the sentiments of its time, the tragedy of love over birth – exquisite.

          It makes me cry. I have loved the music from this rarely performed opera for years and years. It is absolutely beautiful. And the characters are all visually believable – both leads are young and lovely looking, their voices ardent as their passion. No one is miscast, no one is out of place.

          It is as gentle and as curiously English as a Wildean play but with the underlying expectation of tragedy teasing us along the way. It is Madam Butterfly meets Passage to India. I wonder whether I may feel less or more affected were it sung in the original French and conclude a handsome, manly colonialist colliding with a hidden jewel of a local lass will sound the same in any language where it is sung with conviction.

          The clash of backgrounds, religions, family and commitments is very predictable and the terrible messy tragedy of it all plays out predictably too. Delibes opera is based on Pavie’s story. But this is a predictable tale prettily told, beautifully visualised and fabulously well sung.

          The Flower Duet between Lakme and Mallika is exquisite, Lakme’s Bell Song heart-achingly lovely with the sopranos comfortably balanced by the tenor of Gerald and the bass-baritone of Nilakantha.

          The set feels a little clumsy initially but its simplicity allows us to concentrate on the opera and enjoy the music, the period costumes and the sublime singing. How lovely it is to revel in Lakme performed as it might have been at the turn of the last century.  

          But yet again, I leave a performance wishing I could take it home with me somehow – I want to listen to it all again and again and I can’t – I want to take Lakme home with me, fill my house with her voice, send it out into the darkness of the night so others can hear her, feel her hope and her sorrow, scent the flowers in her garden, scream at her not to take the poisonous datura…

          I am left bereft.

           Beautiful

           

           

          Helen Joy for Get the Chance, 3rd Act Critics.

           

          7 March, 7.30pm

          Prices

          £15 -22
          Concessions: £2 off
          Under 25s: Half price

          More information

          By Léo Delibes
          Director Brendan Wheatley

          Pre-show talk: 6.15pm

          Running time: 135 minutes (20 minutes interval)

          http://www.swanseacityopera.com/productions/lakme/

          Tour dates: http://www.swanseacityopera.com/productions/lakme/

           

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            Review: Youth Dance Night at NDCWales by Helen Joy

            NDCW Youth

            Right, this is a hard one; I have thought long and hard about this review.

            My conclusion is this: I am not here to comment on any of the pieces critically, I am here to congratulate and celebrate everyone involved in creating beautiful dance through giving all these extraordinary young people the chance to dance.

            Every dance has a message for us and in essence I think it is this:

            “Listen to us, we may be young and we may seem to have so little experience next to you, the big grown-up, but we have a voice and we feel and we want you to hear us and respond. Our need to express ourselves and to be understood is as great as yours and we will be heard, we will use clothes and colour and tears and anger; we will use movement and action; we will use dance.”

            Each piece is so different, working so carefully with the ages of the dancers, their abilities and their stories. Some dancers have that special something – you can already see it, something in the way they look straight at you, something in the way they love the connection between their bodies and their minds, something just special. Every dancer in front of us performs as a professional – confident, charming, athletic and poised. Confident enough to use humour and we in the audience are impressed and laugh with them.

            They dance of war and remembrance, of love and loss, of action and inaction, of communication and self.

            I have no warm personal association with this – I was once in the wrong queue at junior school and accidentally arrived in the ballet class, surrounded by pink leotards and birds in cages. I was about 6. I can still feel the horror of it.

            Yet, here I am wishing and wishing I had had the gumption these young people have and to have stayed in that class; wishing I had that gumption now too. What amazing young people they are, what remarkable people they will remain and in part because of this opportunity they have the gumption to take, to value and to work at – for none of this comes easy, I am sure.

            I am sitting next to Luke, a dance teacher, and we discuss what makes the difference between the Associates’ piece and everyone else’s. There is something about the last piece which is more polished than the others, slicker somehow. Time is partly the answer – these dancers have been selected and given the time to train in a way the others do not have.

            This suggests to me that it is time that we all must have to perfect what we do – all these young dancers deserve our support to give them the opportunities and the time they need to grow into the adults who will make our world more than just a little better.

            To support ETC, Fantasy Feet, Rubicon and the NDCW, please see the links below.

            Every young person should have the chance to dance, please help them to get that chance.

             

            Helen Joy for Get the Chance, 3rd Act Critics.

             Curator:  Caroline Finn, NDCW Artistic Director

            Showcasing:

            ETC Youth Dance
            Fantasy Feet (2 x pieces within their 12 minute slot)
            Rubicon (Urban Flagship Group)
            Joon Youth Dance Company
            National Dance Company Wales Associates

            Seen: 26 February, 2017

             Where: Dance House, WMC, Cardiff

            Tickets: £10 | Concessions £7

             Find Youth Dance at:

            Fantasy Feet, Merthyr Tydfil

            http://www.fantasyfeetdance.co.uk/

             

            Rubicon Dance, Adamsdown, Cardiff

            http://www.rubicondance.co.uk/

             

            Joon Dance, Solva, Pembrokeshire

            https://www.facebook.com/JoonDance/

             

            ETC Youth Dance

            https://twitter.com/etcdance

              

            NDCWales, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

            http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/get-involved/dance/associates-age-14-19/

             

            To support National Dance Company Wales, please consider their new Lift Lifft scheme at http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/about/support-us/individual-giving/

             

             

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              F.E.A.R. by Mr & Mrs Clark, a review by Helen Joy

              F.E.A.R.

              An autobiographical tour of the constructed fear that society, religion and family place onto young shoulders.

              Mr & Mrs Clark

              There is someone in front of me who is bored, who doesn’t like it. There is much loud huffing and shrugging. But as far as I can tell, everyone else is in thrall to this captivating performance. Most of us are about the same age as Mr Clark and he is describing us. To a tee.

              These are our fears too. Nostalgia and angst. Nuclear war and homemade bunkers. Overhead cables and safety belts. Clunk click. Superman y-fronts and God.

              Being watched, getting a proper job, having sex, getting AIDS, getting a girl pregnant, not having children, having a mortgage, taking drugs and dancing. Hair, too much in the ears, too little on the head. Farting. Weeing. Keeping it in. Keeping it up.

              God, this is so uncomfortable, so perfectly awkward as we confront the identities of our public information inspired youth and our middle age of worry.

              It is inclusive – we want to bop about with him on his dance floor, we don’t want to admit to being the 1 in 3 who voted to keep immigrants out, we want to relax into our group hug. We remember terrorism then and now, we remember war, then and now. Why would you want to join the army? Get a proper job. Put your hand up if you have taken an AIDS test.

              We all hide in our masks – our crocodile facade, we feel responsible for everything bad in the world and wonder constantly how we are still here, how we didn’t catch diseases from loo seats and get run over by trains. But we are being watched by God, by Jesus, by cameras, by the internet. Brilliant.

              This is brilliant. It is funny, challenging, difficult, joyous, hard viewing. Mr C’s eye contact is hard to return. We feel guilty, the collective conscience of the ‘70s.

              FEAR. And the really clever bit is its accessibility. Signed and spoken as part of the production, not something outside of it. This is most properly inclusive and even better for it.

              Maybe we have learned something after all. It is these children who became the adults who changed our social makeup, who challenged the divisions between sexuality and race and class and ability, who invited everyone to join in, who broke the boundaries we inherited.

              Perhaps FEAR is not always such a bad thing. I wonder what that man in front of me was really feeling.

               

              4 stars

               

              Project Details

              Directed by: Agnieszka Blonska Performed by Gareth Clarkcroc

               

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                Helen Joy, I am a 3rd Act Critic because……..

                Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access and respond to sport and cultural provision . 3rd Act Critic Helen Joy gives a personal response in the video and article below on her reasons for being a member of our team.

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

                Crikey, here goes: after first degree in Geography and politics aeons ago, was self-employed as a graphic designer and printer in Cardiff. This went wrong. Very wrong. After a bankruptcy and divorce and the completion of Foundation Arts and Design, I then joined a contact centre answering calls for National Rail Enquiries and ended up working for this international contracts organisation for 12 years, eventually leading their off-shoring programme to India.

                Some time later and for reasons various, I returned to South Wales, took a Masters in Fine Art at Cardiff Met Uni and started keeping pigs.

                So what got you interested in the arts ?

                Nothing got me interested in the Arts – I was always drawing, making and painting for as long as I can remember. But, like many of us, I followed other people’s dreams and not my own for much of my life. I dipped in and out of the Arts at points but it is only now that I feel able to justify spending so much more time as a fine artist, writer and illustrator. I also work as an artist-facilitator, specialising in art classes for older people.

                How did you get involved with 3rd Act Critics

                Through a community arts project run by A3, I met Guy O’Donnell and saw his work on encouraging young and old to become critics and reviewers in Wales, fulfilling a national need. This opportunity to start pulling together the skills I had acquired over the years with my love of all things arty was too good to miss.

                It has given me the confidence to produce articles on smallholding, arts and life in general for publication. Through this, in part, I have had invitations to speak at events, collaborate on books and exhibit my own drawings.

                Helen participating in a playwriting workshop at the Wales Millennium Centre

                Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision . You as a 3rd Act Critic are one of the groups Get the Chance supports. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based critics?

                I think that it is hard to break in to the Arts when older; and also as a Welsh person who doesn’t speak Welsh. Language can be used to exclude and deter. I also think that assumptions are made about people who appear to be privileged in some way and they too are disadvantaged. Prejudice is subtle.

                 If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

                Older women. We are often treated as a bit of a joke, we seem to have comfortable lives and seen to have had our chances; we are the invisible glue of local communities, giving our time and expertise with humour and hope but with little acknowledgement or reward. It is assumed that we have incomes, partners and that we are in the Arts as a hobby, for play. We are the ones who will develop the young, mentor the adult and encourage the old. We do not qualify for much by way of support and yet we keep it all going.

                What excites you about the arts in Wales? 

                There is a lot going on; at last craft is seen as having a value almost on par with fine art. Ditto participatory and community art.

                What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

                Training to produce radio where I hope to interview people about their lives, all great and none small.

                Check out 3rd Act Critic Helen Joy’s reviews for Get the Chance at the link below

                Get The Chance

                 

                 

                 

                 

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                  Review: Babulus, Gwyn Emberton and ilDance by Helen Joy

                  Babulus

                  4 Stars

                  Tower of Babel, says a friend next to me.

                   Communication, that’s what it’s about, she says, all the different ways of communicating.

                   I’m not sure about the bear, I find the bear creepy. Oh, she says, I like the bear.

                  Did you like the dance as a whole? Oh yes, mesmerising. I like going to things with you, I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see.

                  I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see. This is one of them for me too.

                   

                  I was facilitating art classes last week with older people in hospitals and care homes and one of them, Brian, was unable to speak or hear. Don’t worry, the nurse said, he will make you understand him. And he did. Brian painted flowers, big colourful flowers. We chatted with our hands, our faces and our paint. We did not need to use our voices. It was a dance between two people.

                  Babulus is a dance between five people, one of whom is a bear now and again. A bizarre, fluffy, comedic yet sentient and sympathetic character to foil the darker elements of tied hands and closed mouths. I still found it creepy. The clown in the classroom, the slapstick to the poignant. I realise that this is just me – everyone else loved the softer element, the balance, the reference to a childhood toy. I still have my Bear, he sleeps with me still and he is my most valuable possession so I do get it, I get the thinking, I just don’t like it until I watch her loose a dancer’s bonds, quietly, softly.

                  But the dance itself? Oh it is superb. The dancers come together, push apart, come together, push apart using movement, chatter, language, sticky tape, song and light. They are beautifully choreographed, they are beautifully lit. It is mesmerising. There are two themes I particularly like: the holding of hands over each other’s mouths; and the bunching together babbling in their mother tongues. I like that they emerge from behind us, that they make eye contact with us, that they threaten us and engage with us. They laugh with us too.

                  It is the dance between two people, one with his hand over her mouth with her twisting away to speak, that I will remember most – they roll into and over each other in a balletic, deceptive, controlling, power struggle. I wish I could see this again and again. It called to me.

                  It is also one of the best after show discussions I have ever attended. The performers, dancers, are as engaging vocally as they have been throughout their piece. Clever, open, responsive to their audience, they are indeed communicating at all levels. Not babbling at all, really.

                   

                  Event:                   Bablulus

                  Seen:                    1930, 17th February, 2017

                  Reviewer:            Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

                  Running:               Friday 17 February – Saturday 18 February

                  Cost :                    Tickets: £12/£10; Age 11+

                  Running time: approx. 50mins  

                  Links:     http://www.chapter.org/babulus

                  Production:         Gwyn Emberton and ilDance collaboration

                  Music:                  Oscar Collin

                  Lighting and design:         Joe Fletcher

                  Direction:            Sara Lloyd

                  Babulus was created and toured with the support of Arts Council Wales, Gothenburg International Theatre and Dance Festival, The Work Room, Wales Arts International, Göteborg Stad, Västra Götalandsregionen, NDCWales, Ballet Cymru, Balettakademien Stockholm, Konstnärsnämnden, and Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

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                    Review: Love’s Poisoned Chalice season – Madam Butterfly & Le Vin Herbe

                    Madam Butterfly & Le Vin Herbe

                    Love’s Poisoned Chalice

                    Welsh National Opera at Wales Millenium Centre

                     

                    Madam Butterfly 4 Stars

                    Sweet little Butterfly is but 15. A child.  A beautiful, lost child to us.

                    Pinkerton is to our eyes horribly unattractive, horrible in deed, fact and person. I don’t want him anywhere near her.

                    But, she is in love and he is in lust.

                    He is the archetypal American soldier – overpaid, oversexed and over here. He has the tacit and overt support of his colleagues. He blinds Butterfly’s friends and family with his pomp and wealth.

                    It is an arranged marriage. Butterfly enters into it with enthusiasm and a love for Pinkerton which is not reciprocated.

                    He, of course, leaves her. She brings up their child with the help of her servant, Suzuki, over the 3 years of his absence in hope and penury. Pinkerton returns with his American wife and they assume the boy as their own. Butterfly kills herself. She has loved too much.

                    Not a new story in any sense. It is utterly predictable and pitiful. And honest.

                    I have seen this production before but I have not heard or seen such an utterly perfect Butterfly before. She is a little light burning into the sepia staging. She sings with her soul on fire.

                     

                    Le Vin Herbe  5 Stars

                    The story of Tristan and Iseult the fair. Accidental lovers brought together by circumstance and potions. Their love is inconvenient and uncontrollable. Their exile and their isolation disrupted by a secret visit from the king, Iseult’s husband to be, who leaves his sword to show his lenience. The lovers overthink his intentions and return to their respective lives at court.

                    Tristan marries Iseult of the white hands who takes her revenge on his love for the ‘other woman’ when he is dying. Iseult returns to die over his dead body. The brambles entwine their bodies for eternity.

                    An outstanding production. Skeletal, dark, passionate, ironic.  Show-stealing leads against an outstanding chorus. This is a well-known story well told and chest-beatingly hot.

                    A few thoughts:

                    Now, both of these operas are about love and life and fate and death. They both imply you can love too much. They both sing to us of the nasty twisty business of chance and tell us that passion will end badly. They both show us women who give up their hearts to their men, to their lords and masters.

                    Butterfly sees a way to a happy, comfortable, settled life with her soldier and gives up her faith, family and friends to do so. Iseult gives up a husband, crown, wealth and status to follow her knight into the woods to live in a poor shed full of flowers.

                    Pinkerton makes no sacrifices; he is not in love. Butterfly, Tristan and Iseult are all in thrall to love and make the ultimate sacrifice. Pinkerton is rewarded for his disinterest.

                    Messing with fate is clearly a bad idea but the music it invokes is not. These are two visually and vocally disparate operas with similar stories to tell. They are well chosen, well cast and masterly.

                     

                    Madam Butterfly’s Un Bel Di Vedremo is Puccini at his best; Le Vin Herbe is opera at its best.

                     

                    Event:                   Madam Butterfly, Puccini

                    Seen:                    Feb 10, 2017

                    Website:              https://www.wno.org.uk/event/madam-butterfly-0

                    Running:              Friday, February 10, 2017 – Saturday, April 29, 2017

                    Conductor                           Lawrence Foster (until 4 Mar). Andrew Greenwood (from 24 Mar)

                    Director                               Joachim Herz

                    Revival Director             Sarah Crisp

                    Designer                              Reinhart Zimmermann

                    Costume Designer         Eleonore Kleiber

                    Chorus Master                 Stephen Harris

                     

                    Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton           Jonathan Burton

                    Goro marriage broker                                                 Simon Crosby Buttle

                    Suzuki a servant                                                             Rebecca Afonwy-Jones

                    Sharpless the American consul                                David Kempster

                    Cio-Cio-San (Madam Butterfly)                             Karah Son

                    A Welsh National Opera production, sung in Italian

                    ……………………..

                    Event:                   Le Vin Herbe, Frank Martin

                    Seen:                    Feb 17, 2017

                    Running:              Thursday, February 16, 2017 – Tuesday, April 25, 2017

                    Conductor                                           James Southall
                    Director                                               Polly Graham
                    Designer                                              April Dalton
                    Lighting Designer                            Tim Mitchell
                    Storytellers                                        Full Company
                    Iseult’s mother                                 Catherine Wyn-Rogers
                    Iseult the Fair                                    Caitlin Hulcup
                    Brangien, companion                    Rosie Hay
                    Mark King of Cornwall                   Howard Kirk
                    Tristan his nephew                         Tom Randle
                    Duke Hoël a nobleman                 Stephen Wells
                    Kaherdin his son                              Gareth Dafydd Morris
                    Iseult of the White Hands           Sian Meinir
                    Solo narrators                                   Anitra Blaxhall, Rosie Hay, Sarah Pope, Joe Roche, Howard Kirk, Stephen Wells, Catherine Wyn-Rogers

                    A Welsh National Opera production, sung in English

                     

                     

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