Category Archives: Art

A response to Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

Our mission statement at Get The Chance is “Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events.”

We were very pleased to see some of the priority areas in the new Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

In particular we were interested in Commitment 2 below

We will enable a greater number and a wider diversity of people to enjoy, take part and work in the publicly funded arts.

ACW then go onto make a series of intentions (below) for where they want to be in 2023 (5 years)

We will be able to demonstrate clearly that all our funding programmes promote and contribute to equality and diversity

There will be a narrowing of the gap between those in the most and least affluent social sectors as audiences and participants

We will develop the creative work of disabled artists by funding “Unlimited” commissions and developing a scheme similar to “Ramps on the Moon” operated by Arts Council England

We want to introduce a “Changemakers” scheme placing BAME and disabled people in senior executive positions in the arts

We want to see a doubling of the number of disabled people in the arts workforce

We want to see a doubling of the number of Black and Minority ethnic backgrounds in the arts workforce

We want to have introduced an Arts Council Apprenticeships scheme designed to provide opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds

We will have achieved a trebling of the number of BAME and disabled and on APW boards of governance

We have been in discussion with a number of colleagues in the arts sector in Wales to request a personal response to Commitment 2 and are pleased to share their responses below. Please do get in touch if you would like to contribute.

ACW are currently asking for responses to their Corporate Plan and future Lottery funding priorities from members of the public,  you can make an online response at this link .

Or attended one of the physical meetings. The public meetings associated with the consultation will take place at Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham (30 November), Volcano, Swansea (10 December), Riverfront Newport (7 January 2019), Aberystwyth Arts Centre (11 January 2019) and Pontio, Bangor (21 January 2019).

Further details are available on the Arts Council of Wales website. The consultation closes on 15 February 2019.

Carole Blade, Creative Producer

Coreo Cymru

During 2019, Bombastic and Coreo Cymru will be hosting Family Dance Festival, a 70-minute entertaining and interactive dance programme for families, presented free of charge in theatre foyers and outdoors during the Easter holidays. Piloted in 2017 and further developed in 2018, Family Dance Festival features three Wales-based professional dance companies and local youth groups at each venue plus taster workshops for all, framed within a bilingual (Welsh/English) context and supported with accessible shows and feedback systems.

Our 2018 programme delivered an accompanying training and seminar event to promote Audio Description, resulting in the first Welsh language audio described live performances. In 2019, we will also offer BSL interpreted shows and focus on developing an audience and appetite for these services by actively forging relationships with members of the blind and D/deaf communities. We will do this through visits to local support centres, clubs and groups, offering programme insight and critically supporting a dialogue, asking questions to inform our deliver methods and to reveal a wider view of general provision, requirements and needs. Working in collaboration with Creu Cymru’s Hynt and the local venue, we will gather data to support general approaches to accessible practice in Wales starting with visits to local clubs and later request feedback relating to their FDF experience.

We will again work with Audio Describer Ioan Gwyn, who benefited from FDF2018 bespoke training programme and toured with the company offering both Welsh and English language descriptions. We will also work with experienced BSL interpreter Sami Thorpe of Elbow Room, to support the text based work and our reach. Their understanding of the target audience and experience within the performing arts, coupled with our plans to consult with individual service users through visits to their respective clubs and groups, prior to the tour, will enable the means and structure for a quality service. Ioan and Sami will work with the Front Of House staff at each venue to ensure quality customer care of our accessible audiences, positioning themselves at the box office to welcome and familiarise. Where possible we will integrate Ioan and Sami into the actual performance to positively reinforce inclusiveness and will create specific feedback forms to inform delivery and methods.

Gareth Coles / Voluntary Arts Wales Director / Cyfarwyddwr Celfyddydau Gwirfoddol Cymru

The second commitment in the Arts Council of Wales’ new Corporate Plan recognizes that the challenge is to increase and diversify participation in the publicly-funded arts. But levels of participation in different forms of creative activity may actually be very high, as people practice their creativity in libraries, church halls, pub function rooms and on kitchen tables and bedroom desks. Voluntary Arts Wales estimates that there are around 4,000 community and amateur creative groups in Wales. But these voluntary and everyday creative activities may not benefit from public subsidy, and therefore may not regularly appear on the radar of public funders.

There is a rich and diverse ecology of the arts in Wales: an ecology that we believe includes amateur, everyday creativity as well as the professional arts, and in which all elements are interdependent and mutually supportive. An attempt to engage more people in the publicly-funded arts might start with an appreciation of the creativity that people choose to practice themselves. Rather than see a deficit of engagement in the arts, we might recognise the cultural assets and activities that already exist within communities across Wales, and build stronger links with the publicly funded arts.

 Diversifying governance

In 2016, Voluntary Arts conducted a project called Open Conversations to improve our understanding of creative cultural activity in Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities across the UK. We convened an Advisory Panel of experts in BAME creative activity, who made introductions, accompanied staff on visits, and met regularly throughout the project to discuss findings. Voluntary Arts staff and Expert Panel members conducted long, unstructured and informal conversations with practitioners across the UK. At the end of the project, we invited the Panel members to become Trustees of Voluntary Arts, and now 5 of our 11 Board members are from BAME backgrounds. As a result of this work, we became the first arts organisation to win a Charity Governance Award for Board Inclusion and Diversity.

We have also sought in recent years to celebrate the excellent work that exists in the voluntary arts sector to champion diversity, through our annual Epic Awards. Get the Chance was a recipient of the Celebrating Diversity award in 2017.

Increasing participation

Our Drawn Together project, a partnership with Coast Lines, has engaged over 2,500 people of all ages in producing over 5,000 observational drawings – creating a collective visual representation of Wales in 2018 (now on display in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff). The feedback shows that 96% of participants felt happier and more positive as a result, but the majority weren’t creatively active, or involved in any arts or community groups. We believe this worked because we took the project to places where people convene: in existing community groups, libraries, cafes, care homes, workplaces and schools. We worked with Big Issue vendors in Cardiff, residents living with dementia in a care home in Pembrokeshire, RNLI volunteers in Aberystwyth and farmers in rural Denbighshire. A majority of project participants now want to continue their creative practice.

Branwen Davies

Writer/Theatre Maker

I welcome this commitment. We all should. We all benefit from a wider diversity of people enjoying and taking part in the arts.It needs to be ever evolving and new energy and life bought in. We all have skills, experience and stories to share. Quite often I find we are ignorant or unaware of challenges facing others and it needs to be addressed and challenged and become second nature not a box ticking exercise.

In uncertain times socially and politically, especially where people feel threatened and surrounded by divisions and threats, the arts can play a pivotal role in confronting fears and open channels of communication. We are social animals. We need to seek each other out. We need to go knocking on doors and meet face to face and not rely so much on social media to connect.

I constantly bang on about the transformative power of the arts! It’s life-enhancing – music, theatre, images, installations, dance etc in all it’s glorious forms. They enable us to communicate, engage and express ourselves and that positive experience can spill out in to all areas of life. It gives us an emotional literacy and helps us try and make sense of the world and our surroundings. It infuriates me that music and drama and literature are constantly threatened within the education system and that there are less opportunities from an early age to engage and benefit. Mental health issues, anxiety and lack of confidence is on the rise in schools and I am in no doubt there is a direct link. The arts are essential to our wellbeing and the earlier we are exposed the better. It is also vital to ensure that there are opportunities for all ages and that it isn’t all focused on youth but continuous in to old age.

It has to start with a conversation – what are the complex needs of different cultures, genders and abilities in Wales? For a small nation our diversity and needs are huge! There is no one size fits all. What are the present weaknesses and gaps and challenges and how do we approach change and a new model of addressing and implementing things for the benefit of all? It’s essential to give a voice to those who aren’t usually given a platform and we must empower those who don’t think their story is of value. We also need to showcase and showoff what we can offer so that people are aware of the possibilities and the work that is and can be created.

The image of the arts needs to be changed so that people feel that they can take ownership and that it belongs to them. It’s up for the current gate keepers not to just welcome and implement an open door policy and a willingness to listen but to actually do the ground work and seek people out face to face. This connection and nurturing needs to be sustained. We have the talent, skills and expertise in Wales but we need, especially in times of funding cuts to pool resources and collaborate and communicate much better than we already do and to be in regular contact and communicate and share knowledge with each other.

My background is in playwrighting and one positive experiences I have had was ‘The Fresh Ink’ initiative with the Sherman Theatre where over a period of 10 weeks I visited St Teilo School in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff. I worked with a group of students who had never visited the theatre and who had little confidence or interest in writing. Allowing them to step away from thinking and writing academically, encouraging them to find their own voice and to take ownership of their language and rhythms of speech the students grew in confidence and produced extremely moving and passionate short plays that were then performed by professional actors at their school in front of their peers. Their reaction and their pride in their words and stories was empowering. For the first time some of them felt they had created something of worth and value and were proud to share it. The Sherman are currently running a playwrighting scheme for similar students to whom opportunities have been limited. The weekly sessions are free of charge and transport is provided. The students work will be performed at the Sherman in the spring.

 

 

Adeola Dewis

Artist, researcher, academic and TV presenter

I have just read the corporate plan. I feel little excitement although I think the targets are attractive. My main contribution to this goes back to the idea of getting out of offices and on to the streets, into community spaces without an agenda and seeing what one can learn.

This feels like wanting to do research and already knowing the answer. I think its problematic in its genesis.

Of course the key is the youth, the next generation but I also believe that bodies like the ACW already have a public image and in order to broaden its public perception (increase participation and attendance in publicly funded arts), honest work will need to be done from the inside, beyond inviting token BAME individuals to be on their board. This crucially involves getting to know who you are working with and for and perhaps getting your ‘targets’ from the people and what matters to them rather than the governments with their outward facing strategies.

I am struggling to articulate a coherent response to that as I believe the response would need to be rooted in research. What I mean is, we are talking about arts participation, but that is just ‘our’ arts. There are groups and communities making ‘arts’ and doing their thing that get washed over for various reasons. What is at the core of the desire to increase participation? What are ‘more diverse’ communities and groups already doing and how do we foster conversations that facilitate an equal space for voice and visibility and limits the threat of appropriation.

 

Bethan Marlow

Writer 

First of all, the fact that these goals and priorities have been set is fantastic because it means we’re really acknowledging that this is a problem. There are many, many people still feeling excluded from the arts (not just as audience members but as people wanting to work in it too) so having a goal to change that can’t be anything but a good thing.

How will it actually be achieved?…….. action. Action by all. Everyone, every single one of us currently working in the arts needs to assess our ways of working, our processes and avenues of finding collaborators and we need to really question how inclusive we’re been the past. And if we haven’t been inclusive, or inclusive enough, we MUST, must make change. From hiring to casting to finding audiences we must continuously ask ourselves whether we’re doing enough to make sure that ALL people feel invited. I sometimes feel like I’m the P.C police these last few years (I’m sure my co-workers feel it to!) because I have made a conscious decision to ask the difficult questions and speak up for those not in the room. And it’s not always comfortable. It makes people uncomfortable but the only reason we all feel uncomfortable is because we know there’s a problem. “Have we gone to all lengths possible to find BAME actors that can audition for this part?”, “Our focus should be on finding female musicians”, “have we considered Welsh learners for this part?” I don’t ask these questions to make people feel guilty, I’m doing it so that we can create active change so that we’re not guilty of being exclusive. We need to keep reminding each other of being inclusive until it becomes second nature.


Abdul Shayek

Director of Fio

I guess my major reflection on this has to be that whilst we have a statement being made by ACW which I believe is the right one. What seems to be missing is the response from arts leaders who have the resources to really make a difference. I guess unless a firmer and clearer picture is presented in terms of the sharing of power and resource, the inevitability is that this will remain words on a page. We, have to question how a sector which is led by same people will suddenly decide this needs to be prioritised just because ACW has said so, we need to go further and find other more innovative solutions where power is shared more equally?

Review Van Gogh on the Beach by Poetry House review by Tanica Psalmist

(4 / 5)

Van Gogh on the Beach is a tale of Vincent’s love, art and heart in Lost Angels written and performed by talented Jahmar Ngozi. Van Gogh on the Beach fuses together a blend of poetry, drama, dance and art, where the Great Vincent Van Gogh exploits, highlighting his infatuation for an enthusiastic, endowing sexually elevated women and of course his passion and gift for his artsy, God given gift.

The time period of Van Gogh on the beach is Set in Los Angeles during the buzzing, booming century of the 80’s/90’s, where they’re seen in the play rocking out vintage, classy and sleek dress wear and suits, smoking cigars and remaining optimistic when feeling drained from a bruised community, as they expand on the stigma of artists only associating with their respective peers. However, through all of that heat a cool breeze shifts the air as they seek a solution to the problem. Expanding into the era when the enlightenment of art was detached from anything that bound it, acknowledging that art  is an expression of anything you allow it to be.

Van Gogh on the beach is a fantastic, historical admiring play that’s full of energy, powerful words and heartfelt scenes. This play channels the excitement of jazz, spoken word, passion, romance and the importance of art.  The overall production is cultural, eloquent and historical as you travel through the journey of different lives that contain factual, fantasy and inspirational entertaining content. A well presented show, as Van Gogh on the beach is extremely engaging and exhilarating to watch.

Tanica Psalmist

 

The Double FF — Ffabulous and Fflamboyant — Bus Tour

The Double FF — Ffabulous and Fflamboyant — Bus Tour

When do grown ups … get the chance to be that free?”

“I am so glad it was such a buzz for everyone! I am really, truly grateful and very happy.”

The Ffabulous and Fflamboyant Bus Tour around Cardiff, on Saturday 19 May 2018, was the second consecutive event I produced for Get The Chance during the Gwanwyn Festival of Creativity for Older People in Wales.

Also for the second time, Suzanne Noble, whose Flamboyant Bus Tour in London was the highlight of Advantage of Age’s 2017 events calendar, inspired our Wales-based event.

AofA’s Arts Council of England-funded events drove impressive numbers to their now 3,000 plus members-strong Facebook group, Advantages of Age, Baby Boomers and Beyond and 6,500+ followers-strong Instagram account The London bus tour helped to consolidate the AofA community, and it was the primary driver of human traffic to the group.

Through the power of our partnership with Advantages of Age, Get The Chance’s events have the chance to reach many more people. I was keen to build on the success of my 2017 event, Creative Listening, and to continue to develop this relationship.

Creative Listening could have been perceived as ‘fluffy’ due to it being set in a hot tub. On the contrary, it was quite a cerebral event.

Similarly, AofA’s inspired series of hot tub salons earlier in 2017 were by no means fluffy.

I was pleased to have received another grant and another chance to produce. For many reasons I wanted to mix it up this time, do something different, and I felt that it would be great to do something that was for just for fun for a change, particularly because of how intense the social and political climate in 2018 had been. People needed some levity and an opportunity for some escapism. I had no intention to make light of something that warranted a serious take — but without a doubt a creative event such as a bus tour was a platform to be able to offer such levity, and I loved being in the position to be able to offer people this opportunity.

The Double FF Bus Tour offered participants a chance to express themselves — however the mood took them. There were no dictates, no rules, only to be as flamboyant as they liked — whatever that meant to them, and feel as fabulous as they could — inside and out! A chance to hop on board and be themselves — to come out, enjoy and have as much fun as they possibly could on an open top bus around Cardiff!

So, how did it go?

From a marketing perspective, Facebook was my primary marketing tool. I started to promote the event via the Double F Facebook ‘public group’ in early March —

FFabulous and Fflamboyant Bus Tour

March 12

Gearing up for a great event. It’s greatness will be measured by levity and uncomplicated fun. It will make a nice change. Please come and join us.

The Double F Facebook group page got 75 members; Fabulous and Flamboyant Bus Tour @ Get the Chance page attracted 50 members and continues to get Likes; and the Event page, attracted another 19. Examining the analytics, there is room for improvement on these social media numbers. But before I shoulder any ‘blame’ for these less-than-ffabulous results, I would like to comment on how I felt whilst working on the social media campaign. I felt confused, and somewhat overwhelmed by what was on offer on FB, and I believe the confusion stems from the option to set up a ‘page,’ a ‘group,’ and an ‘event’.

I started by setting up the Double F group,

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409058989223408/,

which somehow got linked to last year’s Creative Listening page, and then thought I’d better set up a separate page for the Bus Tour, and so I set up The Fabulous and Flamboyant Bus Tour @ Get The Chance

https://www.facebook.com/GetTheChanceCymruWales/,

and then supposed that we needed something to flag up the ‘event’, and set up an Event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/200768290519952/.

I thought all of these would link up simply and seamlessly and that cross communication would flow, but this was not the case, and as a result, my efforts on FB were split between 3 different places. For the purposes of managing communications with existing ‘members’ and managing promotional efforts to attract more, it became somewhat confusing for me, and I have no doubt that it was not entirely clear to the public either. And so, while Facebook does provide an excellent way to reach the public, I have a feeling that they are now complicating their offer beyond what is practicable. Or, perhaps I need to up my game, and just figure it out! I would welcome comments from others on their experiences with promoting via Facebook.

That said, Facebook analytics have provided me with some reassuring and encouraging stats:- We ‘organically reached’ 2,344 people. Reach is defined as the number of people who had info about the event ‘enter’ their screen.

The majority of those reached were females between the ages of 45 and 64 years old. Iam satisfied with these results. Perhaps my next event will attempt to address the imbalance between men and women reached.

Oftentimes the event organizer is too busy to actually participate, but because most of the work had been done in advance, I was able to feel like a participant. I was able to really enjoy and feel part of the day, which was amazing.

Judging the mood on the day of the event — it was high spirited! The weather was ideal — it could not have been better! And the Royal Wedding on the morning of our 1pm scheduled event was quite likely a contributing factor to the sense of occasion that was in the air. The cumulative effect was wonderful.

“The Double FF Bus Tour… ‘…took a great event and made it better.”

As a producer, I am confident the event went very well, and that it achieved its objectives — we had a chance to do something different, be ourselves and have a fun day out with a group of older people. Measuring the degree of levity and volume of uncomplicated fun — our cups were full and spilling over.

The experience also offered me a learning curve — there were things that could have worked better. Logistics were the primary problem, having a starting point in one place — The National Museum of Wales — and an end point in another — Cardiff Bay. The problem this presented only became clear as it was occurring, by which time it was too late to change. And so, after the full loop through Cardiff City Centre, down to the Bay, and back up to the Castle, participants who had parked their cars in the City Centre near to the museum did not want to go back to the Bay for tea and cake. We were only a handful of people at Ffresh. Too bad we didn’t think to start and end in the Bay, that actually would have made much mores sense …..But that is part and parcel of doing something for the first time. You cannot possibly think of everything. The other was that, due to road closures for another big event going on, which we hadn’t been previously aware of, the bus driver had to improvise the route. For example, I don’t think an open top bus would have gone under the rail bridge in Riverside except under these circumstances — and in their feedback some participants said they’d found this scary. I’m very sorry about that, but it was something that was out of my control. I did check back with the bus company on this matter and I am relieved and reassured by their response:-

Dear Leslie,

Yes, we used the route through Riverside due to diversions on the day.

As you can appreciate we have been running the tours in Cardiff for over 22 years, the bridge although appears low, with a very tall person standing, they clear the bridge with a lot of room. 

We have route risk assessments done on all roads covered by our main tour,  and any roads covered due to diversions. We have used the Riverside bridge route many times over many years.

I am grateful to the bus driver, Maria, for her professionalism and for being such a great sport. She really entered into the spirit of the day. I am also grateful for Lynn Hoare’s contribution — she brought along an array of costumes — hats, feather boas, masks, capes, etc., from Marigold Costumes — which were there for the borrowing.

“The costumes were wonderful; you could see people change as they put them on.”

Another big thanks to Lucy Purrington who was our stills photographer and videographer on the day. Please enjoy her photos in the is article! Here is the short video Lucy produced.

I was thrilled to have connected with Bethan Frieze, the conductor of choir Only Menopause Aloud, and for the choir to have been part of the day. Their contribution added a huge surge of energy!

The event could not have happened without the extra sponsorship from Spice! I am especially grateful to Rachel Gegeshidze and her team for helping promote and attract participants to the event.

 

And, of course, to Guy O’Donnell, Director of Get The Chance, to Emma Robinson at Gwanwyn, and to Suzanne Noble of Advantages of Age.

There was a lot of positive and constructive feedback, amongst my favorites, pulled out and highlighted in this evaluation:-

Bethan Frieze, Conductor, Only Menopause Aloud, captures a special essence with hers:-

‘When do grown ups (who are not performers) get the chance to be that free?’

Suzanne Noble joined us on the day, and her comment makes me feel proud:-

‘The Double FF Bus Tour took a great event and made it better.’

A really happy couple of hours…I suspect that it will stay a very happy memory for all.”

Leslie R. Herman

July 2018

 

Preview Decolonising Environmentalism by Yasmin Begum 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Review: English, National Theatre Wales, Dance House, WMC by Luke Seidel-Haas

English

 

★★★★☆

Afternoon tea, Apple, Belonging, Brexit, Cricket. What connects these words and phrases? Well on the surface, not much. In the black box space of the Dance House at WMC, with audience sat in the round and screens at two ends, words from a pre-arranged lexicon flash up in alphabetical order on a screen. With the encouragement of performer Jonny Cotsen we the audience are encouraged to stop the lexicon and discuss anything in relation to these. English is a collaboration between National Theatre Wales and Quarantine and forms part of the Festival of Voice celebration. It is a live performance which is by nature different every night, and blurs the boundaries between creator/receiver and audience/performer.

In typically British fashion, people are initially rather hesitant to contribute to the conversation and instead sit silently in their chairs. For Jonny this isn’t an issue – he is an excellent and engaging storyteller in his own right. As words flash up he regales us with stories from his own life; from planting an apple tree for his daughter, to his time as a shepherd on a kibbutz in Israel, to his struggles during voice therapy learning to make speech sounds by feeling the vibrations on a balloon. As someone who is profoundly deaf and who has only recently started learning British Sign Language Jonny offers a fascinating perspective on the use of English and the ways in which people communicate.

With a strict time limit imposed by the stage manager of 90 minutes, our progression through the words continues apace. As people warm up to the idea of contributing, discussions bounce across the space – from the derivation of the phrase ‘arse over tit’, to a reminder of the poisonous qualities of the ‘daffodil’ Topics of conversation are generally light, with more contentious words such as ‘Brexit’ and ‘de-colonisation’ generally considered the ‘Elephant in the room’ (another phrase on the lexicon) and skirted over.

Occasionally the lexicon is interrupted by a filmed segment, or an invitation to contribute to the piece in another way. These range from the wacky to the surreal. This is a great way of breaking up the structure of the piece and ensuring that the performance never feels too much like an empty void which has to be filled with conversation. Towards the end Jonny encourages us to use alternative methods of communication – instead of speaking we use paper and pen to all contribute our ideas and answers. This provides the audience with some fascinating insights, from people’s first language (English, Welsh, Spanish, Dog) to where they consider home (the USA, Wales, New Zealand, Unsure) and many more. These serve as a reminder that while English may be our shared method of communication, we all arrive at it from different perspectives and angles.

Finally it hit me what the connection between the words was. They were all things associated with English/British identity. It is interesting that a production by NTW does not have more of a focus on Welsh heritage or identity, with Daffodil the only specifically Welsh centered word. Perhaps on another evening, with a different audience this may have come up in conversation. When the word ’empire’ flashed up, it is interesting that the conversation turned to the Aztec, Inca and Mongol Empires rather than the obvious choice of the British Empire. This only further highlighted the anglo-centric bias of most of the discussions of the evening.

The main difficulty in reviewing a show like English, is that while the structure and concept of the show will remain the same, the show that happens tonight or the next night will be radically different in content to the show the happened last night or the night before. So much of the show depends on the generosity and openness of your fellow audience members. This type of collaborative method for creating a show may not be to everyone’s tastes. However if you’re interested in seeing something a little different, in becoming part of a conversation about language and identity rather than just a passive audience member then English is a fascinating piece.

English

Live performance/performance art

Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre

20th June 2018

Performed by Jonny Cotsen

Directed by Richard Gregory

Part of the Festival of Voice – more info and tickets here

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, sunglasses and indoor

Luke Seidel-Haas

 

 

Review Alternative Routes 2018, National Dance Company Wales by Helen Joy

 

Panopticon

I’m never quite sure what we are trying to say when it comes to our use of the internet.

And I’m none the wiser after this performance.

We dance around the issues of data-sharing and personal exposure. We dally with each other’s lives and throw our own out there into web-space without thought for the consequences.

We trip the light fantastic with our innermost secrets reluctantly and willingly bared.

This is elegant, cautious, a ripple of ideas from dancer to dancer. We give and we take, we argue and hide. We watch the interplay of give and take played out as always with beauty, story and perfect timing.

We watch two reluctant lovers forced together by circumstance and unavoidable magnetism progress into companionable partnership.

This philosophic performance makes me think: do we have a choice?

Clever, thoughtful, poetic.

All photography by Sian Trenberth, Panopitcon by Tim Volleman, Set & Costume: Sophie Wheelan, Lighting: Jose Tevar , Sound Design: Benjamin Smith, Composer: Trailand Elzorth. Dancers: Elena Sgarbi & Oliver Chapman

Un

Some people just make you wish you could be someone else, have someone else’s gifts – maybe just for a day.

This is clean, smart, strong. She stands confidently alone and accepts the challenges life brings.

I am agog at the power in this dance, this dancer. She is utterly beautiful and complete.

‘Un’ by Kat Collings , Set & Costume: Megumi Okazaki, Lighting: Jose Tevar , Sound Design: Benjamin Smith , Composer: Sylvia Villa , Dancer: Julia Reider

Ecrit

To my left is a choreographer and dancer and she says of this: they fly!

And fly they do.

This piece is the reason to follow this dance company, to follow dance, to sit here in the dark and let the lights and the simplicityof the stage capture you, to let the music touch you and the movements of the dancers feed your soul.

The love in this dance makes me cry. This feels as if it has been born perfect, perfection born of two imperfect creatures in a story of passion and pain.

“Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or listen, or love. To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your great anguish, and within the very beating of your heart. All this madness, if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence, there would be only confusion. I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light and your warmth. I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors, because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love. ”  Diego Riviera

I see this piece again and again behind closed eyes and relive it best I can.

To my right, the costumier says, however many times I see this it will not be enough. I agree.

‘Ecrit’ by Nikita Goile, Set & Costume: Erty Huang, Lighting: Jose Tevar , Sound Design: Benjamin Smith , Composer: Florencia Alen
Dancers: Nikita Goile & Cyril Durand-Gasselin

Why Are People Clapping

Because they are having fun!

Slapping, clapping, rollicking dance as a lively contrast to the soul-searching we have enjoyed before.

I find this hard on my ears and squint back at the stage, recoiling slightly at the noise. It is such a shock! The rhythm of life beats and the audience laughs and we pull faces back at the dancers’comic turns.

This feels like an exercise, an exploration – a start to something this extraordinary company of dancers will see through in its own way and I very much look forward to seeing it too.

‘Why Are People Clapping?’ by Ed Myhill,Set & Costume: Elin Steele, Lighting: Jose Tevar, Sound Design: Benjamin Smith , Dancers: Julia Reider, Kat Collings, Tim Volleman, Elena Sgarbi & Oliver Chapman

A wonderful series of pieces – I left exhausted and elated.

#altroutes18

alt-ROUTES

7 – 9 June 2018

Seen: 8 June

National Dance Company Wales

Dance & Design from Cardiff’s emerging artists

Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre

Panopticon

Choreographer – Tim Volleman

Dancers – oliver Chapman & Elena Sgarbi

Un

Choreographer – Kat collings

Dancer – Julia Reider

Ecrit

Choreographer – Nikita Goile

Dancers – Nikita goile & Cyril surand-gasselin

Why Are People Clapping

Choreographer – Ed Myhill

Dancers – Julia Reider, Kat Collings, Tim Volleman elenaSgarbi, Oliver Chapman

Helen Joy

Review Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom by Jonathan Evans

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom works by being a true blockbuster and tapping into what makes them great watches. Simple and engaging characters that move from one set-piece to the next. Along the way we see wild images and feel a gamut of emotions and leave feeling satisfied.

(5 / 5)

I enjoyed the first Jurassic World movie enough but found there were many pointless elements, plot points that didn’t make any sense and some wasted potential. It did, however, make a lot of money so a sequel was inevitable. But they announced that J.A. Boyegar was taking over the reins as director. From his Gothic horror movie of The Orphanage to Disaster movie The Impossible and the best movie of last year with A Monster Calls he has quickly built-up a reputation as one of the top filmmaking talents. His movies cut deep into human emotions, whether they be fear, endurance or dealing with reality they are emotionally driven. He adapts himself to using some similar shots that we know from this established franchise (one particularly iconic helicopter shot) and more chatty and joky characters and has made something him and is part of a franchise.

Now for the synopsis. Jurassic Park was meant to be a park where they brought Dinosaurs back from extinction and the people could experience them. This was obviously a bad idea but lent itself to a great scenario so they did it anyway. It went badly. The Dinosaurs got free and now run the island, that is the current situation, but the volcano at the center of the island is about to erupt which will wipe out all the Dinosaurs. Some say they should be saved because they are living creatures others say they can never be controlled and are man-made so be left to their fate. A special group is financing a rescue of two of each species and they recruit Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) from the last movie to assist, she then brings in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) also from the last movie because of his expertise and connection with Blue the Raptor.

From here on the movie strings together set-piece to set-piece and thematic elements into a whole. It isn’t at the non-relenting passe of Mad Max: Fury Road but it is brink and with a bountiful serving of variations. There are suspenseful moments of having to sneak around, chases, and confined situations of claustrophobia.

There seems to be a resurgence, since the release of The Force Awakens, of using practical effects and prosthetics again and I am so happy to see it. C.G.I. is a wonderful tool but it is not the answer to all, practical effects give weight and believability to the creatures. C.G.I. ages very quickly and a real, well textured and painted model or puppet won’t. As well as that it gives the actors something to genuinely act with.

There is an understanding that Dinosaurs are the biggest predators that ever walked the Earth and to be around one that eats meat, is one of the most dangerous things you can do. It is quickly established with the dread the characters talk about them, the fear that flashes on their faces and a few selective devourings of characters. Even the herbivores are so large that if you get in their way, you will be flattened.

When development of a movie begins there is what is called “Concept Art” these are pieces of art that seeks to give a feel for the tone and mood of the movie and give the filmmakers something to work towards visually. They are usually expressive and quite beautiful. Through the movie, you can see moments in which were clearly taken from a piece of illustrated art and are some truly beautiful and haunting moments of cinema.

Thematically the movie is focused on the original movies concept as well as going further to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (she even gets a cameo in the movie in the form of a painting) and that is the responsibility of creation.

This movie is a reminder of what a great experience you can have sitting in the seat of a theater and seeing the images on the big screen and hearing the loud sounds all around you. It respects the original material and boldly pushes it forward and will have you in awe and tremble in fear of Dinosaurs.

Jonathan Evans

An interview with Aisha Kigwalilo

The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Aisha Kigwalilo. They discussed her background, a new arts project called G.I.R.L. Xhibtion and her thoughts on the arts in Wales.

Hi Aisha great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hi, I’m 19 years old and I live in Cardiff, yet I am of African descent. Currently I’m an undergraduate student finishing 1st year study of International Relations and Politics however I have not always been in this field. Throughout high school, college and now I’m involved in music as a vocalist and songwriter.

So what got you interested in creative expression, the arts and social activism?

Creative expression has been something I have always embodied, in my music, dance and musical theatre phase. However, my interests in social activism and supporting human rights and social justice has always been brewing; it was being placed in an environment such as politics that reminded me how important those issues truly are. Considering the fact, leader fellowship programme, TuWezeshe Akina Dada gave me this opportunity I believe that, even though I’m not an artist myself, art is the best language to translate feelings that leave words speechless.

Thanks Aisha,  can you tell us more about TuWezeshe Akina Dada and  G.I.R.L. Xhibition?

TuWezeshe Akina Dada is a leadership programme built to encourage, mentor, and inspire young women to live to their full potential. Operating since July 2016, TuWezeshe selects young women from England, Wales and Scotland, training us how organise our own projects of activism in both the British and African diaspora.

The projects we decide to create surround the lessons taught in our training, gender-based violence, identity, and empowerment. G.I.R.L. Xhibition lies in empowerment, because it focuses on how society only gives platforms to certain narratives. With the limitations communities face when it comes to representation, numerous narratives can shape an individual yet many of those narratives hardly explored. G.I.R.L. Xhibition aims to present the narratives of the ordinary, through the expression of art. Making the unconventional, the new conventional.

Therefore, with donations from Comic Relief TuWezeshe’s founder FORWARD UK has partnered with Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel Wales thus each fellowship is granted £500 for their project. However, for personal reasons and I believe many could relate to I have registered G.I.R.L. Xhibition to be a fundraiser for Velindre Cancer Centre. It is something that hits home for me and I know it is a narrative many individuals can relate to, thus all profits e.g. ticket sales, drinks will be donated there!

 

One of the Get the Chance team, Amina Elmi is involved in the exhibition in Cardiff, how did local females get involved in the project and how did you select the work to be exhibited?

Well I selected Amina Elmi to model for G.I.R.L.’s promotion campaign. In the actual exhibition, nine artists from across the UK (Cardiff, Newport, Bath, Bristol, Swindon and Portsmouth). I wanted to select ordinary girls like Amina because I wanted to help expand the platform of the representation of black women, to ordinary girls and those of African and Caribbean descent. Amina’s poster is one of four other posters, each one designed differently and highlighting their character/personality. They aim of my campaign was to highlight the cultural and personal dimensions. I selected each girl based on their individuality and the differences that them similar to me, others, and perhaps yourself!

We asked Amina to give a personal response to her involvement in this new intiative.

How did you come to be involved with this project?

Aisha and I were friends in college. We recently caught up with each other and Aisha told me that she was planning an exhibition. I was really impressed as she was so passionate and excited when explaining the project to me. Later, she then asked me if I wouldn’t mind being in some photos for the promotion of the event.

Can you tell us more about your work featured in this project?

Myself and 3 other amazing young ladies were asked to do a photo shoot. This was for the promotion online and leaflets that Aisha was going to make. In the photo shoot, Aisha made sure we were all comfortable and reminded us that she wanted us to be ourselves. This allowed the photos of us girls to represent a different types of black women.

You have spoken in the past about the lack of representation of Muslim females in the mainstream media. Do you think projects like this go some way to improving the situation?

Definitely. This exhibition is about black women. A group I feel is restricted by stereotypes and ignored by the mainstream media. By showcasing different types of black women this exhibit is defying those assumptions. In my case, Aisha wanted to highlight that the experiences of black hijabi women are also valid.

Thanks Amina.

Aisha, Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based creatives?

I’m aware of the barriers to equality and diversity in Wales to a great extent, presently I’m noticing a growth in Welsh based creatives showing more presence, especially in Cardiff’s art festivals. When I was searching for the artists I made sure to provide Wales based creatives (Newport and Cardiff) the opportunity to showcase in an art exhibition I believe, has not been displayed in Wales. And I hope after this exhibition, more Wales based creatives will be inspired to develop exhibitions like G.I.R.L.

There are a range of organisations supporting Welsh and Wales based creatives, I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities feel ‘healthy’ to you? Can more be done?

Well, I am receiving a great deal of  support from the National Museum of Wales, which is exciting! But except for that the current support network I am receiving at this moment is from individuals, specifically artists in their own right within the Welsh university community and friends; I believe that is more than ‘healthy’. Yet more can be done, because when looking at the works of all nine artists I realised that in exchange for them volunteering their artworks to such a great cause, the least I can do is provide them the exposure and attract creatives and galleries within the Cardiff area.

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

This is a hard question but honestly, I would direct my funds to art departments in Welsh schools and universities. There is scene there that deserves to be noticed, I believe that many artists get discouraged to continue as it is considered an ‘unrealistic’ career choice especially in African and Asian communities. If art students are given more platforms to showcase and interact with other Wales based creatives/artists that will be worth something!

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

What excites me about the art in Wales is the subtle growth of creative expansion. I appreciate the Celtic and culturally Welsh inspired to the postmodernist statement exhibitions taking place in Wales! I just hope G.I.R.L. Xhibition can contribute to this growth of expansion and open up another avenue the Welsh creative community can explore.

Thanks for your time, Aisha

Thank you for having me!

 

Review: ‘People – Picture – Power – Perception’ by Gareth Ford-Elliott

(3 / 5)

 

With ‘People – Picture – Power – Perception’ (PPPP), Avant Cymru set out to explore what Welsh Hip-Hop theatre is and to showcase the hip-hop talents of Wales at the Chapter Arts Centre as part of the 2018 Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival.

As the title suggests, the piece portrays people, gives them the platform to show their picture, which gives them the power to change the perception surrounding hip-hop. In the mainstream, hip-hop is portrayed as specifically rap with themes of drugs and gangs. A major worry when attending this performance was that it would be too much like this. I have had experiences with Welsh hip-hop before and it has been limited to that field.

However, Avant Cymru do not fall into this trap. If you’re not aware, allow me to give a very brief history and explanation of hip-hop culture. Hip-hop culture consists of four main art forms known as the four pillars of hip-hop; emceeing/MCing (rapping/singing/spoken word), DJing (beat production, beat-freestyling, beat-boxing), breaking/break-dancing and graffiti art. It started in New York and has grown into the one of the biggest art movements in the world.

Jonzi D, a pioneer of hip-hop theatre, was told at his dance school, “Hip-Hop is not valuable for the theatre,” before going on to define what British hip-hop theatre is, with the help of people like Akala who created the Hip-Hop Shakespeare company. And now, we have Avant Cymru attempting to do the same in Wales, with specifically Welsh artists, Welsh voices and Welsh themes.

Starting with the DJing, mostly produced by Jamey P, the beats used for ‘PPPP’ are exceptional. The production is one of the outstanding elements of the show. The production always fits, sounds incredible and even when left to stand alone is enjoyable.

Beatbox Hann performs his championship-winning beatboxing skills very well. His accolades and CV speak for themselves, but here he showcases real talent. Understanding when to blend into the background and when to come to the forefront.

The stand-out section of the show is a piece between Hann and breaker, Bboy Flexton (James Berry). It starts with Flexton sat at a table, whilst Hann starts creating a beat with his vocal chords. He mixes this together on what appears to be an MPC of sorts, so each sound loops and eventually builds into a beat. Eventually, Hann turns the beat off and starts beatboxing on his own.

Whilst this happens, Flexton starts to break into a dance. At first it isn’t exactly clear what is going on but as the dance progresses we see Flexton appear to hold a gun to his head before wrestling it away. This collaboration of beatboxing and breaking works very well and appears to portray a kind of suppression of violent outburst and possibly suicidal thoughts. It certainly would be interesting to see a slightly extended version of this.

Moving onto the breaking, and Flexton pops up again, portraying an aggressive nature. However, Flexton is the only breaker that seems to portray a specific type of character. This is not a fault of the breakers themselves, at different times they all proved themselves to be talented dancers. It is more a fault in the choreography and direction of the show. The expression could have been more clear at times. It will certainly be interesting to see the difference between this show and Avant Cymru’s upcoming ‘Blue Scar’, another hip-hop theatre show with more of a set story.

The emceeing is of a very good standard. Occasionally repetitive, but very good at getting the point across. Rufus Mafasa, Maple Struggle and Jamey P all perform well. The themes do jump around a little bit, but the lyrical content, delivery and flow are all strong. The highlight is Maple Struggle’s song, Quit Mooching, which starts with Maple Struggle getting left with the bill after a date before breaking out into a song about his perception of how some women will use men as well as general materialism.

The graffiti used in the performance is minimal. The piece as a whole could really capitalise on the art form better. There is a stylistic writing of the piece’s title on a screen off to the right of the stage and on a screen at the back of the stage, at times are pictures and moving pictures of graffiti. However, even sitting at the front it was hard to make out exactly what the graffiti was and certainly wasn’t used as well as it can be. The simple set worked well, but could do with more graffiti.

The main theme of the show is gender which is explored thoroughly. Toxic masculinity is portrayed particularly well by Bboy Flexton with the aggression as well as suicidal thoughts. An issue very specific to toxic masculinity and very important in the South Wales region. Rufus Mufasa also had powerful moments of feminist lyricism and generally portrayed herself as a powerful woman. Some of the breaking could be more clearly focused on this theme.

As far as is it worth seeing? Yes, it is worth seeing. It’s not the most rehearsed piece of hip-hop theatre or the most concise. But in terms of exploring what Welsh hip-hop theatre is, it is pioneering. If you’re a fan of or are involved in hip-hop then definitely see this if Avant Cymru ever bring it back. If you’re not into hip-hop, then I recommend seeing this for a positive introduction to hip-hop.

After the show there was a bit of a freestyle from those involved and some from the audience and the feel of community this gave off was beautiful. As a hip-hop fan, it was great to see the true power of hip-hop community shine bright.

As this was a once-performed show with no known future dates, go and check out Blue Scar by Avant Cymru at the Park & Dare Theatre in Treorchy on July 12th and 13th and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Much of the same cast will be involved and the preview they gave at the end was very good.

Info:
People – Picture – Power – Perception’
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
31st May 2018
By Avant Cymru
Directed and Choreographed by: Rachel Pedley, Tommy Boost and Jamie Berry.
Music From: Maple Struggle, Rufus Mufasa and Jamey P.
Set Designed by: Unity (Amelia Thomas).
Breakers/Dancers: Rachel Pedley, Bboy Flexton, Tommy Boost and special guests (uncredited).

Review by: Gareth Ford-Elliott

Review: Everything Changes, AJ’s Coffee House by Luke Seidel-Haas

Image result for everything changes weeping tudor

★★☆☆☆

 

Billed as a fusion of storytelling between Celtic and Zimbabwean cultures, Everything Changes is a collaboration between professional storyteller Bevin Magama and founder of Weeping Tudor productions James Ellis. Taking place in the cosy setting of AJ’s Coffee House on City Road, this show is part of the “Fringe Labs” strand of this years Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival – that means that it is ” either totally new, or [a] work-in-progress. This will be a platform from which they can make their first leap into the public eye, and develop their work”

As the show begins, James and Bevin enter the space to the rhythmic sound of a beating drum. Scattered on the floor around the stage are various instruments and props, of both African and European derivation, from the African Mbira to the Triangle. Bevin is resplendent in a colourful Dashiki style top and baggy pantaloon style trousers, while James’ costume also appears to be inspired by African clothing, but with a western twist. His top is similar in style to Bevin’s, but in a denim style, and instead of pantaloons he wears a navy skirt. Using a storytelling structure, both Bevin and James take it in turns to tell stories inspired by their own background and culture. We hear diverse stories such as the Welsh myth of Twm Siôn Cati, the Zimbabwean story of the Snake who crossed the river, and the myth of St Telio – patron saint of Cardiff.

Theses stories clearly demonstrate the very different storytelling traditions of both Celtic and Zimbabwean cultures. While James’ sections are poetic monologues performed with a simple sincerity, Bevin is much more animated, utilizing the call and response technique of audience participation, and allegorical storytelling style more common in in the African tradition. While Everything Changes promises to be a fusion of stories, these two traditions feel like they exist entirely separately within the theatrical space. Both James and Bevin sit entirely still while the other tells a story – there is no interaction or combination of storytelling whatsoever. There is also a strange difference between the two performers; Bevin is clearly an experienced storyteller who is captivating and dynamic, whiles James seems less confident of his oration.  As an experimental piece of work still in progress it is absolutely fine for you to read your lines off a script – however disguising this by hiding your phone away on a music stand to read off is a disservice. It may have been more effective to own this decision, to put the script into a storybook which you are then telling the audience.

A highlight of the piece is the title section Everything Changes; a story about the impermanence of everything. Told while playing the Mbira, the monologue is beautifully enhanced by the dreamlike quality of the instrument. Other uses of instruments meanwhile feel a little more tacked on, with the instruments used in James’ stories adding nothing to the overall effect. Perhaps more sucessful would be to combine both storytellers together, with one telling the story while the other provides a soundscape behind it. Similarly, the ending of the piece, while cleverly experimental, jars with the tone of the rest of the production. This involves James opening the curtains to the venue, allowing us to see out onto the bustling main road and for them to see in to the venue. James then walks out, across the road and out of sight. As an ending this is totally unexpected and an interesting concept, but bears absolutely no relation to the rest of the show.

As a concept the idea of the show is an interesting one – the collision of cultures and storytelling traditions has the potential to be a way of celebrating both cultures while demonstrating clearly both their similarities and their differences. Sadly the execution in this piece is lacking, and the piece feels like two storytellers separately exploring the narratives of their own culture, rather than an exiting fusion of the two. A great concept with some entertaining moments, but ultimately delivered only half baked.

Everything Changes

AJ’s Coffee House May 31st-June 1st 2018

Part of the Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival – more information and tickets here

Luke Seidel-Haas