Coined as Horror Comedy, What the Dolls Saw from House of Macabre is just that – full of twists, turns, comedy and crazy characters, this is 1 hour of a real treat for theatrical minds.
With an all female cast, the story sees the tale of a family of women on the wake of their late patriarch – the father of three girls, an adopted grand daughter and the wife left behind. All with their unique style, character and personality, this family holds a deep and dark past, not investigated, and yet now seems like the right time to do so.
With their father as a late famous doll maker and their mother a dramatic retired actress, it’s no wonder that this story verges on the comical and flamboyant but yet eerie and spooky.
The characters are well developed: we love and hate the mother who is mad as a hatter, glamorous and blunt which causes plenty of comedy; the daughters are lovable, fun and we believe their loving sisterly relationship implicitly and the granddaughter, who is mute, does well to convey amazement at this dysfunctional family.
With the bumps in the night, use of atmospheric music and lights not only from the set but use of torches (well known in spooky stories), we are often on edge and unable to see the twists in the story.
What The Dolls Saw is nothing but an enjoyable experience. As one who is a total wimp when it comes to horror, there is enough to keep my heart beating and make me jump but not so much that I have to run for the door. And when i’m not gripping onto my seat, I am laughing and smiling at every moment.
Have you ever felt entirely alone? Too loud for a room? Like you do not fit?
Gobby is a one woman play about self discovery, about changes in young adult life and finally being okay with who you are.
Set within the premise of 5 different parties, Bri (like the cheese but not because it is spelt differently) finds herself lost and alone in the aftermath of a destructive relationship. Her friends, that she ignored during this period, now don’t want to know her, and Bri struggles with this reality, and her own loneliness.
This narrative feels like something we can all relate to – bad relationships, loneliness, and a sense of not belonging. The play is written as an inner monolgue, occasionally breaking away with the use of props (balloons with party hats on top) or a mild change in stance and addition of a stereotyped accent to bring in other characters. The characters are funny at first, and the over the top expressions of them help differentiate the story line. It becomes more subtle when the story becomes more serious, which is a clever maneuver, keeping us engaged.
While staged as a retelling of Bri’s life, often Jodie Irvine (our only performer) addresses her feet when speaking to us. At times this is endearing and adds to the awkwardness of the character, but eventually we want to make eye contact with her more – evidently with her obvious skills as an actress, she has reason to be more confident in her performance and we desperately want her to bring this to the stage.
We also believe that much of the outbursts and way Bri feels is due to a past relationship. But little is explained about this and we come to a point where nothing will do but knowledge, for us to be able to connect to the character. The rest ranges from comical to climactic releases, and so despite the lack of story, we are surprised at every turn.
Gobby is a passionate play about liking oneself and discovering who you are after trauma. It’s about growing up but also growing into yourself and so becomes a real coming of age tale that many in their early 20’s need to see to know that it will be alright in the end. We just want Irvine to be more confident in her well devised production!
Donned in neon pinks, greens and blues. we enter the room to subtle yet catchy indie meets electronica music, played by a gorgeous person in the corner. Long hair and a dress and shoes to kill, we already know we are in for something special.
This person isn’t Teddy Lamb, but their partner in crime, providing the soundtrack to this one person play. Lamb tells the story of their friendship with someone that was all consuming. They touch on aspects of mental health, death and grief but also coming to terms with and discovery of who one is.
Lamb is energetic, engaging and a lot of fun to be with. Addressing us as if we were their late friend, they reminisce on their time together, on their feelings and thoughts and actually how one’s mental health can drastically affect your own. Lamb makes us feel included in the story, makes us feel like their friend and there is a real sense of trust between us and Lamb with them sharing their life with us.
While full of emotion, darkness and open-ness, there is also light, comedy and a fabulous nature to the storytelling. Constantly with a soundtrack, this dramatic telling of their personal history draws us in on every level; especially bringing in trademark nods to us millennials and our childhoods.
Since U Been Gone is heart wrenching, heart warming, comical and beautiful. While Lamb continues to a focus on personal discovery that only a few would understand, we still relate to developing as a person, to certain emotions and feelings and come away feeling like part of an extended family.
In November 2018 we published an article in response to the new Arts Council Wales Corporate Plan “For the benefit of all..” with a range of contributions from Creatives in Wales. We revisit this area in the updated article below with responses from one of the creatives featured in the article as well as an additional contribution.
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
I struggle to fully engage this as a response. My recent experience has revealed that there is certainly a surge to include diversity in all its forms on boards and in creative spaces and projects. However, this new ‘interest’ feels more like organisations ‘needing’ to diversify rather than ‘wanting’ to diversify, in order to secure their future and funding. I am hopeful though.
Artistic Director, Taking Flight Theatre Company
What a year of change 2019 has been. For Taking Flight it has seen the company move away from the annual Shakespeare production to more indoor, venue-based work.
peeling by Kaite O’Reilly, opened on International Women’s Day in March at The Riverfront, Newport and then toured Wales and England and was a huge success earning 4 and 5* reviews.
The Guardian stating “Accessible theatre? Do it properly – do it like this”. Following this Taking Flight was invited to Grenzenlos Kulture festival in Mainz, Germany as an example of best practice in accessibility. It was a huge tour and highlighted once more the inaccessibility of much of Wales; accessible accommodation is very hard to find, and some venues struggled to meet our access riders. However, this did lead to some very inventive solutions involving temporary dressing rooms created with flats, curtains and even a marquee! Obviously not the ideal but with our hugely creative stage management team always looking for solutions rather than the problems and the support of venues we made it work. High applause to Angela Gould at RCT Theatres for her work in this department.
One of our lovely actors toured with her dog who was a lovely addition to the team. Max is a therapy dog; many places we visited were only familiar with guide dogs, which made us realise how much there is to learn about the different types of assistance dogs.
Everything we learnt during this extensive tour will feed into the work we have been developing towards a scheme like the Ramps on the Moon initiative. A scheme like this can never be replicated, but the interest and passion from venues in Wales to be involved is overwhelming. Creu Cymru, hynt and Taking Flight have been in ongoing discussions about ways to make this happen. We read with interest that it was also a priority for ACW and have begun conversations with them around a similar scheme. As we have been researching and pushing for this to happen since ‘Ramps’ began in 2016, we are passionate that this becomes a reality. Taking Flight has just received funding for their next production, Road, at Parc and Dare, RCT Theatres and we hope this partnership will be the first step. Taking Flight will give support to participating venues to be confident to manage and produce inclusive work, to provide excellent access and a warm welcome to all- both audiences and creatives.
While peeling was out on the road in the Autumn, we also remounted the hugely successful and totally gorgeous You’ve got Dragons. After a run at WMC we hit the road again for a UK tour including a week run at Lyric Hammersmith which was almost sold out and incredibly well received. The desire for inclusive and accessible work for young people is growing. Watch this space for more news on You’ve Got Dragons next adventure.
Taking Flight has often dreamt of setting up a Deaf- led Youth Theatre for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing young people and with funding from BBC Children in Need we have finally done it. Led by the tremendous Stephanie Back in BSL and English, the youth theatre began last week and the results are already fabulous. The Wales Millennium Centre are our amazing venue partner and host the weekly sessions for D/deaf children aged 4-18. We have been overwhelmed with interest in this project, demonstrating that this has been needed in Wales for a long time.
There has also been a surge in interest from companies and individuals wanting to consider access while writing funding applications. There is a general excitement around making work accessible. There are some brilliant intentions and I’ve had exciting conversations with companies about different types of access and have been able to recommend consultants and access professionals.
The ground has been fertile for change for some time and there is much more inclusive and accessible work being created here than when we first started 12 years ago. Theatres are also much more interested in programming diverse work and many have invested in Deaf Awareness training with Taking Flight (Led by Steph Back).
There is a real desire to diversify audiences and welcome them to theatre spaces. Taking Flight’s next symposium on 28th Feb at Park and Dare RCT theatres on Relaxed Performances brings the brilliant Jess Thom, Touretteshero to Wales to discuss ways to provide the warmest possible welcome to those who may find the traditional etiquette of theatre a problem.
There has been a surge of work featuring D/deaf and disabled performers, productions like Jonny Cotsen’s Louder is Not Always Clearer, Leeway Productions Last Five Years and Illumine’s 2023 really engaged new audiences and the venues have really built on this success. There have been more productions that embed access in a creative way, a gorgeous example in Gods and Kings by Fourinfour productions with integrated BSL from Sami Thorpe. I had lots of fun working with Julie Doyle and Likely Story integrating BSL interpreter Julie Doyle into Red. Companies are choosing to interpret, audio describe or caption all the shows in a run rather than just one which is really encouraging and promoting more equality of access to shows.
So, the will to make accessible work is absolutely there, the best of intentions are definitely there and, now the funding for access is factored into budgets, the funds are usually there. However, why is it still access that falls through the cracks, gets pushed aside or forgotten as a production approaches opening night? I hear stories of interpreters and audio describers who can’t get into a rehearsal space to prep or are placed somewhere on stage that is neither aesthetically pleasing nor practical. It can still sometimes feel like access is something that needs to be ticked off a list in order to fulfil a funding application.
I am absolutely sure that this is not the intention; but we are all so overstretched, one person is often doing multiple jobs (especially in small companies) and when no one is directly responsible for access or it simply forms ‘part’ of someone’s role. So those best intentions and exciting plans are really hard to fully achieve. Taking Flight are exploring this lack of provision for access co – ordination with Bath Spa University so watch this space for the results of our research… The next generation of theatre makers are coming, and they really care about making work that can be accessed by all – that makes me happy.
I am sure that many of us would dread to know what the contents our minds would look like if they were to come into reality. Those odd dreams, the nightmares and the fears.
Peeping Tom’s Child brings all of these to the forefront in a bizarre continuous performance staged in a pretty normal looking forest clearing. Taking the fears and dreams of a child, what we encounter for the next hour or so is not only comical but at times quiet frightening and confusing.
By no means is this a negative comment.
With a little feeling of inspiration from the likes of Antonin Artaud’s theory of Theatre of Cruelty and a touch of Bertolt Brecht’s Alienation effect, we are intrigued by and at times disgusted at what we see. For the few, this is too much but for the many, once you are invested, there’s no leaving until the end.
Engagement comes in the anticipation of the next scene. Seamless in delivery, and with seemingly no obvious scene changes (although, of course there is, but they meld into one another so well, you can hardly tell) we encounter bizarre character’s with little relation to one another; scenes that we couldn’t even imagine in our wildest dreams, and they form together to give real laughter, uneasy laughter and real “WTF” moments that are nothing but brilliant.
There are ranges of physical theatre throughout the piece – bodies push the boundaries of what we understand they are capable of; like liquid, at times mechanic, without fear and flawless. One cannot help but be in awe of the performer’s capabilities and inspired by how graceful and yet at times fearless their movements can be.
Child is really something special. Not for fans of contemporary or traditional theatre, but certainly something that everyone must try for the sheer courage and impossible creativity it exudes.
(When we enter a workshop or performance
we already carry so much with us, which shapes and resonates perpetually in how
we feel, sense, think witness… and determines what we take away.)
Possibly I enter each workshop dressed
in degrees of resistance and estimated angles of surrender,
definitely un-definitive desires.
Desires secretly aflame stashed as best
I can for another occasion.
The geometry of these desires has been
formed by my habitats of dancing, which have since childhood most predominately
been solitary experiences, practices and investigations. Flickering into
dancing nights out and occasional classes or workshops.
(Working under or up to a choreographer
or even a teacher never quite seems to fit.) The implicit–explicit hierarchies and
structures involved in the process of ‘becoming a dancer’ contrast significantly
with those of other art forms.
My tendency seems to ‘dip in’ intermittently
to social sites of contemporary dance- seeking conversations, connections with
other dancing bodies- sources of reorientation rather than reproduction.
There is a lot I keep stashed under
wraps in workshop situation.
That I edit out of my dancing in order
to be there.
Perhaps everyone there does.
How thread bear can the fleshy garments
we wear between life and dance?
I continue to find it distracting being
in a room full of dancers ‘doing moves’ -moves which have been shaped by the
aesthetics and conduct of contemporary dance class. There is a strong
determinative current in the room- in some ways experienced as an opportunist ‘expansive’
and fertile energy- yet also
subliminally restrictive, prescriptive and within determining stylistic
Ever-present (even in absence) is the
omniscient all-knowing mirror in the room- in the held faces.
Sprayed on songs counted in 8.
An inheritance of aesthetics and ideologies.
As such dance classes and workshops are
also a site of renouncement.
Resonance and Dissonance have been as
much a part of my dance quests and navigations as my desires.
disappointments, preconceptions. These ebb and flow, merge and submerge,
comforts and discomforts, hopes barriers, openings, shields. Somehow I wear
them all… as in the misspelling the 2nd hand blue sweater I am wearing as I
Love and Conflict co-inhabit as Survival
in the way i wear and experience my body- in dance and life.
My anti Ideologies include paradox and
contradiction, which resonate harmonically with dissonance and self undoing.
Everyone has their rules and regulations…to
apprehend…however morphic, unrecognisable, displaced from the establishment
There is a welcome greeting from
Rosalind which extends somehow as a climate, an
atmosphere into the first actions of the day.
She is throw away with her words and
tasks…as if shooting a tin can with exactitude and disarming laughter. Sending
things flying in disarray… arriving with a perturbingly exacting landing. I
believe in the moment I shall remember everything she says… yet never seem to.
We are invited to wear in-depth, the
fleshy gestures we enact as we ‘Warm UP’.
Somehow there is a dressing and
undressing from our needs- practical, physical, emotional. Which elements do we
self-consciously edit out or adjust in this social situation?
A few years ago I stripped away Warming UP.
It had always been a synthetic add on.
Easy to let go of…and almost made necessary by life’s constraints.
Anyway my real desire was always to
begin by dancing without expectation. Perhaps what I identified as ‘warming up’…has been
historically identified by what I am not ready, or not yet good enough for.
If any thing I ‘warm down’ – a practical
apparatus to be able to carry my dance back into my life- patterns and
constructs of my body in day to day survival. A kind of savoury dessert. An
elixir of the ordinary.
It is a chorus somehow strangely echoes …down
the line from Deborah Hay….
“Getting What You Need”
Not here or now this morning… yet
somehow it echoes of its own accord.
When this incantation first resounded in
my radar I had to undress it from associations of affirmation. It seems to fit
easy when I recognise “what I need” as a cellular unidentifiable, morphic,
surprising and self unravelling experience. What I need as a question, rather
than an acquisition.
An invitation, direction or gesture of
departure as well as arrival.
Somehow Rosalind offered Warming UP as question…. an
invitation to reconfigure ‘needs’…moving within easy to reach field of
Perhaps if I rechristen Warming UP as acclimatising.
“Warming UP” could feel like an invitation to
include very practical and ordinary elements of my everyday body- needs, fears and desires.
Warming UP deciphers beginnings and
endings, invitations, expectations to tuning into tuning out of.
Rosalind describes a musical scale as a
metaphor for Warming Up.
A series of portals to experience
aspects of feeling and being which appear and disappear.
Warming Up those vital aspects of ourselves,
dormant, or attired in getting through life, which can dishabille dancing?
I am aware of how I am tethered by by my
own discreetlyoppositional anti establishment ideologies…which have their own
restrictions within civilised systems.
Rosalind speaks of “Shedding”through the day.
Somehow this Act of Shedding has been the only
way anything has ever formed, accumulated, been generated, or encompassed in my
the habitat of my dance.
There is a freedom and exactitude to “Shedding”.
She rechristens Warming UP as Noticing.
Like orphaning and rechristening a child
of the establishment as an illegitimate out of wedlock love child…tuning the harmonics and melodics of the
…the exchanging interface between life
body and dancing body.
*Orienting includes of Disorientating
Rosalind lightly describes years of being in
the studio alone.
And her fidelity to
“Just One Thing”at a time
…as a Practice.
“Practice” is another word I have orphaned, adopted and rechristened as a Habitat.
After all I always try to untether
activities from Justifications.
In a world where justice can only be a
fleeting or temporal accommodation.
The End of the World?
…Should it be a question any longer?
…So many worlds are ending.
…Yet the world is not a Mono-theistic
(Even if that is translated into modern
silhouette of Atheism or sacrificial
altar of Scientific Progress and Salvation. )
…Beyond my fingertips yes but not the
nerve endings of my the reality of my imagination.
…Extinction still seems somehow out of
reach…like the aspirational vote…on the top shelf of the corner shop.
…No-one ever shops there anymore.
…Warming Up as a mammalian being
flickering through other forms of alien earthly life?
…Shedding humanity as a destination.
Perceptually many worlds not one?
“Whoever says salvation exists is a slave, because he keeps weighing
each of his and deeds in every moment.’Will I be saved or damned he tremblingly
asks…Salvation means deliverance from all saviours…the perfect saviour …who
shall deliver mankind from Salvation”
John Gray STRAW DOGS
Possibly sometime ago I would have felt
a sense of inadequacy in attempting to commit to Rosalind’s “ Just one Thing.” .
Now I seem to realise I have a tendency
towards the inside out.
(My mother who is incredibly
superstitious insists its unlucky to change your clothes if you put them on
inside out…lately she seems to have extended this in recent years to back to
front scenarios.) She is suddenly older.
….I start with a myriad of unnamed
constellations and something strangely specific and singular seems to
crystallise amongst the sensations.
Rosalind seems to start with some
singular, visceral, displacing devotional action- distilling an undefinable,
multiplicity of sensation. Somehow her work reconfigures the relationship
between the dancers nervous and reflexive systems.
“For polytheists, religion is a matter
of practice not belief: and there are many kinds of practice….
Polytheism is too delicate a way of
thinking for modern minds.”
John Gray. STRAW DOGS.
In Rosalind’s practice duality and
multiplicity to experientially unfold through devotion and surrender through
attending a singular perceptual activity.
She speaks of the duality or
oppositional friendship between her dancing self and choreographing self.
fidelity to being moved by singular responsive action invites a dynamic
multiplicity created by possibilities of empathetic polarities…movements
between oppositional perceptions, or ways of apprehending experience.
She speaks of resting into/ committing
to the specific initiation of one definitive
activity – tethering the mind/ brain- keeping it busy- so body can be
free to… perhaps not act as its subject.
We begin with SURFACE(s)….interplays of
exchange, interfaces- membranes of
sensation…She specifies “SURFACE” not located, dislocated identified as skin, clothing, hair, aura, fat, nerves, space.
This definition is perceptually
inclusive rather than exclusive.
We begin differentiating the sense of
whole body and a body in parts.
We change channel to our VOLUME– Sensations of our how we are contained
within our forms.
“What if the depth is on the surface?” An echo from Deborah Hay.
Our Skin an outer brain.
Our Brain an inner skin.
The skin of a thought.
The mind of sensation/ feeling.
I wonder…What if we our whole being is
surface?… internally externally a site of exchange/ interface, a multiplicity.
Each organ, nerve, vessel, muscle, orifice an intricate accumulation- a series, a family of surfaces. Every cell
of our body…an intricate, responsive folding of surfaces, membranes, skins of
I inhabit my Volume. I feel my Surfaces.
I inhabit my surface. I feel my Volumes.
I feel myself one…I become many.
I feel myself as many…I become one.
“Opposition is true Friendship”
Marriage of Heaven and Hell. William
partial lecture about a partial history
an unfinished dance by a saturated body
an ongoing practice exposed
Rosalind’s meticulous distillation of
perpetual actions….materialise in her performance. Framed at once by immediate
incremental intervals… and over the history of her dance reaching into other
dance worlds and practices.
Films are shown as a windows into
different fields of her work- thefluid electricsof her nervous system
seems interconnected as other instruments of attentiveness ….perceptual
My daughter sits on my lap and laughs as
Rosalind enacts a live commentary on her actions- a self reporting journalist.
Each moment and action swallowed up by the channelling of next event. The
struggle between words and forms shaping and shedding..dressing and undressing
of destinies… shedding of destinations.
She speaks about the dancer being
carried away by the dance- like a babe in arms. Perhaps she speaks of marriage-
of fidelity rather than faithfulness. I feel the meaning… yet I fail to
remember the vows….the vowels without consonants…constants. Perhaps she is
speaking about different types of love, liberty and dependancy…all
intrinsically, synchronistically intertwined.
There is an ending…She speaks of riding
through forest, as a girl on horseback…and the revisitation to the devastation
of the wilderness she once was carried by and loved. She shows film of herself
dancing, moving in the bodies of felled trees- laid waste.
It is stark and hopeless in its
endurance and truth.
Her humanity exposed and stranded
between animal and machine.
She is a helplessly human visitation in
a scene of natural devastation. Yet she is dancing. Dancing somehow feels like
an authentic activism- where there is no graspable solution.
I am writing this over hearing a
conversation between the waitress at the Old Boys Club and a customer:
It is about animal life and meat.
It is about the value of life in the
face of death.
He says to her, “At the end of the day…When the animals are
going to die anyway…Whats the point of them being happy and living a good life?”
It is also about ourselves.
My dear friend has given me… hand inked
in lovely italics…a sign…
Hope is more convincing in French…because
I don’t speak french.
Rosalind’s incantations and dances are
untampered by representative justifications. Somehow her work channels with a
truthful and disarming delicacy, with apparitions of specificity- a commitment to the beauty and mystery of the
world- of existence.
Fidelity to incrementals of uncounted
She speaks of hands being at the end of
Being carried by the contact we have
with the earth..
The natural world…Out of sight…Out of mind… Out of our hands
But still resounding through our
turning us on the world’s surface/skin-
through our animal universals, rather than our human specialisations.
Perhaps we live in an age…where
salvation must be reconfigured an act of disarmament…
A shedding of Humanity’s Survival-
A shedding of Humanity’s aesthetics
governed by its fears an desires.
It was a dark Autumnal Valleys night where under feet the gravel crunched, it was almost like walking on cornflakes; curtains were drawn like closed eyes on terraced houses in the village. It was a cold night, with the mist draping the mountainside like a cosy quilt.
Ahead on the hillside, stood the whiteness of Carmel Chapel in the Rhondda Fach Village of Blaenllechau where Brian’s General Store, in partnership with the Blaenllechau Community Involvement Group and Blaenllechau Village Hall Project proudly announced a concert with guests the Tenovus Choir and Timeline.
Inside the Chapel there was a warm welcome with refreshments available as the choir began rehearsing their repertoire and people began arriving. The Chapel began as two wooden buildings built in 1858 – thus making it the oldest chapel in the Rhondda Fach Valley – its denomination was Presbyterian at birth, but since 2002 it has been an Independent Chapel which holds an Evening Service at 5.30 pm every Sunday, with Owen Griffiths as the Chapel’s Pastor.
The Tenovus Choir Pontypridd are one of the largest in
Wales, they are a mixed group of people who have suffered or know someone who
has or had cancer; their combination of singing and the message of enjoyment it
brought to all was well received. The Choir were arranged into rows of
musicality, they wore mostly black, and some with Tenovus T shirts but the main
colour was prominent. There were wigs, a boa stole, a cowboy hat, ties and
sleeves with jewellery that were the entire colour of pink. The message was for
Breast Cancer Awareness Week stating that men can get breast cancer too. Their
Choir Leader is Iori Haugen, he leads two Tenovus Choirs, and there are 16 in
Wales. The Charity itself will be 75 years old next year and the Let’s sing for
Cancer Project has been going for 10 years. Its aim is to raise funds for
similar units (to the Mammogram ones) which will bring Chemotherapy treatment
closer to the home of the patients. For further information please contact info@tenovuscancercare,org.uk.
Using backing tracks the Choir sang several songs which
highlighted their talent, “Mr Blue Sky”,
“We are Warriors” and “Sing a Song” particularly stood out.
The second group to entertain the audience was TimeLine, comprising of Gary, Nigel and Keith, a well-known trio of male singers from the area, formerly the Gooseberries with their formulae of songs which had the chapel rocking to the rafters. A trip down memory lane of “Waterloo Sunset”, “I’m a Believer” complete with the awesome “Hallelujah” which I am sure reached out well beyond the valley.
Special Guests were Deputy Mayor Councillor Susan Morgans (Ferndale Ward) and her Consort, Councillor Jack Harries (Maerdy Ward) both representatives of the local authority of Rhondda Cynon Taf. A presentation was given to a local couple by Cllr. Morgans consisting of a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a basket of goodies. Compere Brian Jones (in his pink shirt) of Brian’s General Store, Blaenllechau announced the results of the Raffle being held at the event comprising of wine, chocolates and homemade cakes.
In her speech Cllr. Morgans – who will be Mayor of RCT in
2020 with Cllr. Harries as her Consort, concluded that we are all one community
and that as one we should help one another. Cllr. Morgans has named Cancer
Research as one of her Charities for her tenure as Mayor.
The Valley was alive with song rocking the chapel to its rafters to be heard well beyond as the Tenovus Choir, TimeLine and the audience ended the night combining together with the Elvis song “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You”
With thanks and appreciation to all IN THE PINK of health
Working in the industry for around 10 years, it is a wonder
I have only just made the essential pilgrimage for every Performing Arts
This is not for want of not wanting to. Time, money… all
those factors. And each year I have major FOMO through all the pictures and
social media, friends and colleagues attending; my insides screaming WHY AM I
So this year, I planned in January. And trust me, when I
say, this is the best time to plan.
But when researching, I firstly reached out to seasoned
friends and colleagues on their tips and tricks of the Fringe and Edinburgh
itself (as, a double whammy, I had never been to Scotland either!). I have
immense gratitude to these beautiful people, and it was a lovely euphoric
moment of realising the collection of talented beings I know and love in one
City, from someone who has made these connections all across the country. To
have all these people in one place was surreal but also completely beautiful.
However, there was nothing more I could find from others
with perhaps a list of things to consider when making this trip, and while I
certainly do not know it all, I thought I would write a little something of the
things I learnt at my first Fringe.
What to Bring
Scotland is Scotland after all. It can be cold. It (weirdly)
can be pretty hot too. It buckets down. It shines. But it is still the UK. So
here are a few things I found out you NEED to have with you:
Coat – bring a light one. You can bulk with warm
stuff underneath. But when it rains, it bloody rains.
Wellies/Walking boots – I only brought trainers
and flip flops (oh the hopeful part of me) but when it pours, parts of streets
get quite flooded and soak through your socks. While I was suffering from quite
a lot of chronic pain at the time which affected my decision also, bring
hiking/walking boots with you if you plan on Arthur’s Seat. The day I wanted to
do this, it rained and trainers would just not have done the job. Sadly I did
not walk it this time due to all these contributing factors, but from what I
know, you can walk it any time, so be prepared!
Socks – man oh man bring enough socks. While I
came away with lovely highland cow socks, they cost me £4 and I probably should
have just been prepared. (There are shops like Primark and H&M is the newer
part, but if you’re busy you may not have the time).
Water – Yes you will drink a lot of booze. But
get a reusable (all about the eco)
bottle – pubs, venues e.t.c. will fill these up for you. And trust me, you will
need a lot to drink with walking the city.
Pre-pack some food – Do not feel like you always
need to eat out. It can get a bit pricey and if you are with limited time
between shows, a protein bar or some fruit in your bag will save your life. It
was delicious, but a £7 mini pizza was not healthy, rinsed my wallet and I
rushed it, feeling pretty unwell after.
The City is BEAUTIFUL. Take some time to
explore, be a tourist, enjoy!
Stay in Old Town / Near the Royal Mile – easily the
best part of the city, so beautiful but also a stone’s throw from most of the
Fringe activity. Some happens in the newer part, and the half price tent is
over there too but you will find most venues are in Old Town.
We’re still in the UK – Tescos, Lidl, corner
shops are still around to grab anything you need. It can be stressful when you
go on holiday and do not know the language or the area, but Edinburgh is
littered with places to grab any essentials.
Walking is good – I loved walking the City. It’s
pretty easy to do and the majority of things are pretty close together. But
beware, it is all hills! (I found this out the hard way). However, if you’re
struggling for time or feeling a bit lazy, public transport is amazing, and
there is Uber!
Google Maps – Add at least another 10 mins to
what google maps tells you. It is so busy and you will need to fight crowds at
times. If you do not know the City, it’s easy to read a road not a bridge on
the maps and end up going the long way. If you use public transport, there’s a
lot of traffic so add time. And ensure you can grab a drink before your show!
Get. Some. Sleep. – Part of this is planning
where you want to stay. I chose a hostel but the experience made me realise I
was A. Too Old for hostels now and B. It is NOT the place if you want to grab
sleep, naps, relax e.t.c. So really think where you want to stay. This leads me
Plan ahead – Get planning asap. Places sell out
fast. Prices go sky high. The sooner you can book your travel tickets (train,
plane, bus if you’re adventurous) and where to stay, the more you will save,
the more selection and therefore can grab that private hotel room if you
want/can afford and won’t end up sharing with a man who watches you leave/enter
rooms and get ready for bed.. (yes this really happened).
Eat Healthy – I am still fighting the worse acne
I have EVER had, and recuperating from lack of energy even a week and half
after I finished Fringe. It’s so easy to eat bad food and let your health go
down. Get some veggies. Drink some water. Practice serious self-care.
Have a freakin’ day off and organise your time–
I packed around 50 shows in 9 days. I sadly cancelled a whole day because I got
so unwell. 11am-11pm non-stop is insane, and why I thought I could do that for
9 days straight is beyond me. And organise your time – try not to do a million
shows a day. Spread them out; schedule time to have a drink with the acts
after; see some friends for lunch or coffee in between; go for a walk or take a
nap between shows. Because you cannot truly enjoy a show if you’re at the back
sweaty, exhausted and feeling like you may puke.
Plan your shows by distance – My second day I
walked back and forth from the centre of Old Town down to Summerhall (a 20 min
walk each way) at least 3 times. And I was a mess. If you’re seeing a lot at
Bistro Square/St George’s Square or all on the Royal Mile, you can take a seat
between, grab some food, chill in the park or a coffee shop and you’re not
panic walking half way across the city.
Flyers/Be adventurous – Artists put a lot of
money and time into flyers and flyer-ers. I spent my first few days politely
saying no thank you until I met up with a producer friend who put it in
perspective. Take the flyer, have a look, take a chance if you have the time.
And if you can’t go and see it, you’ve at least made that persons day a little
brighter by taking their flyer and considering it.
Equally, take a punt! I was lucky to be going for reviews and ended up seeing
some of the most incredible, the weirdest, the wonderful-est shows ever. And I
may not have chosen these on my own. Even if it looks crazy or odd, have a go –
you may be pleasantly surprised.
I also missed a lot of great work because I did
not look into them enough before. If you are reviewing, balance it! Do some
review work, see some shows just for yourself. I only did this once and it was
a lovely relief not to be writing about it and to just enjoy it alone; a little
break in between.
Be polite and chat with people – we’re
theatrical people. The locals are lovely. Make conversation, it will brighten
not only their day, but yours too. Everyone is really friendly.
Try not to hog pavements, doorways e.t.c It can
be so dangerous with the busy roads. Be mindful and helpful, and it will make
the Fringe so much better.
It may seem like a lot, but I learnt a lot from my first experience. I believe you need to experience it yourself and find your own ways to enjoy the Fringe but this is just a little to get you started.
Ultimately – ENJOY IT. It is probably one of the best things
I have done with my life.
And maybe see you there next year – message me at any of the
below and we can grab a drink!
Canadian born Leslie has come to London as she has always
dreamed. In her flat, she finds an unusual book with the conspiracy that Paul
McCartney died and all these years has been an imposter. And this begins a
journey into her insecurities, acceptance but also getting to know this
colourful lady through comedy.
Dressed magnificently (her boots are to die for, pink
sparkly platforms!) and her bright hair, it’s hard not to fall in love with
Leslie despite her fighting her own personal demons.
This work-in-progress performance is full of different
levels – from insight into her past, The Beetles and conspiracy theories, the
structure is well thought out and engaging as to what happens next.
There are times when Leslie needs to remind herself of what
is next, but takes this in her stride and her comical ability smooths over
these very brief breaks. Her ideas are all there, there just needs a little
more confidence and trust in herself and her writing, as when it goes well, it
is smooth and funny. This is not to say it never does not go well, but a work
in progress type show always has a little delay with the comedian working out
At times it felt a little more like a TED talk, and
thoroughly interesting in this way none the less. But there’s a little work to
do to deliver this as more of a comedy performance.
Leslise Ewing-Burgesse does indeed EXIST! She is flamboyant, loveable and we all want to be her best mate. Funny and insightful, she is one to keep an eye on as she inevitably rises through the comedy scene.
After previously seeing Jonny Cotsen and Mr and Mrs Clark
with Louder Is Not Always Clearer, it is safe to say my interest in BSL performances
and learning BSL has peaked more than ever before.
If we’re being honest, between us friends, I am not sure
before Cotsen’s show, that I have ever seen a show with BSL. Not even a
captioned performance. And for that I feel shame, but also think it makes a
great point of what Cotsen and Handprint Theatre and trying to achieve and put
across in the industry with these shows.
Moonbird is a gorgeous tale of a Prince whose parents begin
to realise he is deaf. Their struggle is explored on how to connect with their
child and their feelings of failure towards him, but we also explore Orla’s
(the Prince) struggle with being deaf, the world around him and ultimately
loneliness. Enter the Moonbird who introduces him to nature, where he learns
how he can communicate, and rebuild hIS relationship with his parents.
Throughout the production, BSL is communicated, along with
subtitles projected behind. They are patient and take their time, not rushing
through this to fully fulfil the message coming across. As one who does not
know BSL, the movements of communication are like a beautiful dance, and the
performers throw their all into it, incredibly bringing emotion and feeling
across. If there were not spoken word accompanying the signing, I believe that
you would still understand the story and feel every emotion within it.
The performers do well to change characters – a small group
of 4, the majority double, even triple up from humans in the palace, to deer
roaming the fields and monkeys playfully prancing the stage. During this time,
there is almost no speech at all, purely the communication through action,
movement and facial expressions. And nothing is over the top – it is enough for
the stage yet subtle enough to be realistic and understandable.
Use of puppetry (my favourite!) comes in the form of baby
Orla and Moonbird, and every movement is carefully thought out and taken time
with. There is total fluidity and realism with this and you forget that these
are not real actors on stage.
Lastly, the staging, lighting and general composition of the
aesthetics are magical and beautiful. Simple yet effective, it feels as if we
have jumped into a story book, with purples and blues, peacock colours spanning
the stage, and basic costuming and props to help the story along – but ultimately
this story is about the physical and nothing draws away from this.
Moonbird, while a production for young families, is really for everyone. The story is what every child’s story should be – magical, engaging and with a moral to the story. Moonbird is such an important performance for theatre going forward, I dare anyone to come away without being mesmerised and championing BSL performances.
Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events.