Category Archives: Literature

Creative Cardiff Pop-Up Hub: Reflections on Hub Environments for the Arts

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All images taken from social media linked to the project

In the same week that it was announced that Britain was leaving the EU, free-thinkers in Cardiff were exploring new and innovative ways for arts professionals to work together as part of the Creative Cardiff pop-up hub.

From the 20th-24th June selected creatives occupied a temporary pop-up workspace in the Wales Millennium Centre as part of an initiative organised by Creative Cardiff. Sara Pepper, director of Creative Economies at Cardiff University, was a key organiser of the event having researched existing approaches to creative hubs both within, and outside of Wales. Pepper champions ‘hub’ models as potential centres for innovation within the Cardiff creative economy. Sara Pepper has authored a blog post in which she outlines her research which you can access via the link below:

http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/creative-economy/2016/06/16/a-creative-hub-for-cardiff/

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Creative Cardiff is an online network of practicing creatives in the Cardiff area initiated by a team at Cardiff University. The network went live in October 2015 and already currently has a membership of over 550 practitioners.

This form of online network has already proven useful to both my peers and myself, practicing within universities as well as on a freelance basis. Organisations such as EMVAN (The East Midlands Visual Arts Network) provide valuable access to creative opportunities and share relevant events information, thus implementing a meeting of like-minded practicing creatives and audiences alike.

What Creative Cardiff achieved in this recent venture is to demonstrate that the hub environment prompted an acceleration of the outputs of its occupants whilst retaining its supportive values. There are early indications that hubs may prove to be beneficial to the development of creative networks and productivity within the city. That these values could be propagated successfully within the physical space of a hub supports the demand for more dedicated collision spaces for creatives, which could support existing online networks.

“Our network aims to bring together people from across the full breadth of the city’s creative economy – from dancers and marketing professionals to architects and app developers. By collaborating and sharing ideas we want to encourage more innovation and creativity in our city” – Creative Cardiff.

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Reflecting on my own experience of working in the hub, I found the pop-up nature of the arrangement provoked thought and reflection on the nature of the co-operative working arrangement rather than focusing on the development of individual creatives. This differs from the way in which arts students or employees within other creative industries are usually encouraged to practice, and on the surface seems to contradict productivity. Although the arrangement of the short-term hub might have been initially disruptive, established examples have indicated that co-operative working increases productivity – hence Google’s eagerness to provide exciting, open workspaces for their employees to work collaboratively.

I found the group was particularly concerned with how professionals from various creative fields might gather to achieve the aforementioned aims of Creative Cardiff, whilst still continuing to realise autonomous objectives within their own creative practices. Countless discussions were had on the topic, and throughout the week questions were raised regarding the benefits, physical design, core values, social and creative impact of working in this way to name but a few. Issues such as these are often interrogated on occasions where creative practice mingles with academic insight.

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A particularly successful feature of the pop-up hub was the daily ‘Provocation Sessions’ provided in the mornings within the hub space. During these sessions, the hub members were invited to hear professional reflections on the nature of creative spaces and productivity and discussion on these topics was encouraged. We heard from a range of speakers including Prof. Wayne Forster of the Welsh School of Architecture, Clare Reddington and Jo Landsdowne of WATERSHED (Bristol) and Prof. Jonathan Dovey, UWE Professor of Screen Media and director of REACT. Such sessions provided an opportunity for focused learning and interaction amongst the hub members that I believed complimented more casual encounters experienced in the joint space.

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I found Prof. Jonathan Dovey’s insights regarding the hub as a creative eco-system especially informative and motivational. His experience has demonstrated that hubs can provide instances of exchange, impacts and continued mutual support amongst their occupants. Dovey placed particular emphasis on the benefits of shared values within creative hubs, such as generosity, openness, trust and excitement.

It is the presence of these shared values, possessed by the members of the pop-up, which contributed towards the success of the Creative Cardiff hub, and defined the unique and progressive environment that I experienced as a member.

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With the project only spanning over a short week, the conditions of the hub could not be established in the way in which an organically cultivated hub space might. However, many would agree that the potential for development and continuation of the project was evident. Through research carried out by Cardiff University, we can be positive the project has contributed to the development of creative hubs in Cardiff in the future. As well as this, I hope there is recognised potential for such hubs to become part of an interconnected network of creatives spanning Wales, the UK, and even Europe and globally.

Perhaps the potential of a hub network is way in which creatives can demonstrate that, despite established individualist tendencies, we are in fact better together.

To view Amelia’s Creative Cardiff profile, please follow the link below:

http://www.creativecardiff.org.uk/users/amelia-seren-roberts

Twitter: @amelia_seren

 

“Which is why I am writing this” Creatives and critics on the EU referendum

 Creatives and critics from and based in Wales respond to the vote to leave the EU.
Beth House Founder/Creative Producer
Taking Flight Theatre Company
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I have been shocked and dismayed by Thursday’s vote in which just over half of the British public expressed their desire to leave the EU. As a theater maker working with marginalised groups, much of the funding of organisations we come into contact with- organisations, which support the most marginalised and disenfranchised among us-, comes from EU pots.

The aim of Taking a Flight is to provide employment opportunities for Deaf, disabled and sensory impaired performers. Whilst I don’t anticipate that the government of the day would reverse laws and Acts which have already been passed to protect the rights of disabled people, I fear that, with the UK’s poor track record for supporting disabled people and protecting funding and support, that the UK will begin to lag behind Europe in this- and many other areas. This will happen.

My immediate response of panic has been much more personal, as I feel already there has been a paradigm shift in the attitude of many people towards “the other”-I have heard in the street, on social media and on the news, Joe Public using the result of this referendum as an excuse to be overtly, unashamedly and publicly racist. It feels as if this referendum has opened the door for the metaphorical tattooing of the bulldog on the forehead and the waving of the Union Jack in the faces of those who remain supporters of membership of the EU- and those perceived as “other”.

Lastly, I am disappointed at the number of people who appear to have voted “leave” in error- who decided to vote against the government – a protest vote which has cost us- and our children- dearly.

I wish I could share the “lets make the best of it” attitude- that the best art is inspired by diversity, but I’m afraid that with so many of my friends of European origin already planning to leave, and so many friends speaking of “winding up” all their EU contracts, with the pound at an 31 year low and the threat of further knocks to the industry I love and make my living- such as if us- at, I cannot bring myself to optimism at this point.

James Doyle-Roberts (Co-Artistic Director, Citrus Arts based in Pontypridd)

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On the day of the result I was in a cheap hotel room next to London City Airport. The social housing estate next door is soon to be demolished to make way for yet more tiny 1-bedroom flats which claim to be “luxury” (as they always do), and will temporarily house workers rather than families, until they can’t afford to live there anymore.

This is how economic “growth” works, and is why I’m on the side of the social benefits that the EU delivers in our communities in Wales where it invests in apprenticeships, tourism and communities, so they can keep their shared spaces connected to their sense of self. And yes, that includes people who come from abroad who want to contribute to those communities.

At 6 am that morning, I woke up with the referendum result already in my mind. I checked my phone, and my heart sank into an empty-feeling stomach.

I’d already voted to Remain without a moment of doubt; I still respect some friends who have sound ideological reasons to distrust the EU’s current state, but don’t think their global revolution is coming soon and know a better bet on our current future when I see one.

The last thing I saw on TV the night before was the early Sunderland result declared alongside footage of cheering Leave supporters. This clip was different to the usual election results being declared to a band of victorious party-faithful, this was the kind of cheer we’d all seen in earlier weeks of the violence that accompanied the opening games of Euro 2016, it was cheering with anger and a F**k You attitude– the worst kind of victory cry.

I went downstairs to the breakfast room to see a man in his 50’s cheering loudly every time Johnson or Farage appeared on the TV above the heads of an international mix of fellow guests and staff. He’d clearly been having his own all-night Brexit party, surrounded by empty bottles and was enjoying himself by loudly addressing the staff (mostly non-white), in that particular smirking, dismissive, ‘you-know-what-I-mean’ way that the odious Farage has normalised into our political discourse in the past eight years.

I was being paid a small amount of money to attend Greenwich & Docklands International Festival (GDIF) and the networking events around it. Alongside my thoughts asking “what’s the point of going, now we have the repercussions of this terrible result to deal with?” I was also thinking “and so, here it begins . . .”, as I left Bully-Boy to his ugly antics.

The lump in my throat grew each time I thought of the future of my little boy, 19 months old, growing up in a society where facts and expertise become disposable when pitted against volume and vitriol. What kind of society are we allowing our media to shape where honesty and propriety are represented as just “one side of the argument”?

At the GDIF Marketplace event (where artists can meet programmers from around the world to sell our shows), the atmosphere was how I imagine a wedding party to be where the Bride or Groom have bolted, but the guests decide to stay to consume the food & drink anyway because it’s all been paid for. There was no banquet on offer, just opportunities to build relationships with fellow artists around Europe and the wider world, and chances for us to make the best of the funds we could collectively gather between us if we cooperate.

Speakers welled-up & choked as they tried to contextualise why we were all there. Scottish delegates had confidence that they would go their own way, anyway; I felt like apologising for Wales’ strong vote to leave the EU.

There is still hope for a way out of what looks like an ugly future, but without any current leaders with the integrity to step-up & confront the lies, it is up to us to build it together by talking to each other, our neighbours, the people we randomly meet, and not being afraid of Bully-Boy and his gang.

Rachel Tresize Author and Playwright 

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I’m absolutely devastated by the referendum results, not least here in my own Rhondda Valley where residents have benefited from so much EU funding in the past. I studied on an Erasmus scheme when I was twenty years old. It was such an inspiring experience to meet and study with so many students from all over the world and inimitable in introducing me to the world outside of my own area. As a writer I travel frequently to EU countries and am translated in Danish, Italian, Croatian and soon Slovenian and I would like young Welsh students and authors to have these same opportunities. I’m worried now that these ties will be severed due to financial and travel restrictions.

 Gemma Louise Treharne-Foose  Get the Chance Critic

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I’ve been a lucky recipient of EU-funded programmes over the years. I had a paid for apprenticeship after University to train as a researcher in TV production because I lived in the valleys. I have been happy to take advantage of the programmes and funding available to me because of my postcode and because people think I need a ‘leg up’ or a head start. But these programmes and funding pools are a sticking plaster for the real problems going on in the valleys. Long term unemployment, dreadful infrastructure and crumbling services. I’ve had lots of conversations with others living here that it’s ridiculous that in 2015/2016 we are still relying on charity handouts – whether they are from Westminster, Cardiff Bay or Brussels.

I think the remain campaign never really addressed this malaise and the deeper frustrations and resentment, unfortunately. I fear for how much worse things will be here now. EU-funded projects were the only thing helping people back to work in many areas in RCT as UK-Govt services (like Job centres) have ceased or been closed down. As much as I agree with the reasons to remain, I have struggled to articulate to friends and colleagues from wealthier and more prosperous communities why people here aren’t jumping up and down and doffing their cap because of handouts from the EU. I think there’ll be some harsher realities coming our way, though.

Sophie McKeand  Welsh Poet Young People’s Laureate Wales 2016-2018

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I’ve chosen to respond to the Brexit debacle by creating blackout/cutup poems every day for thirty days using only that day’s papers using the hashtag #thirtydaysofBrexit. These are protest poems in response to the right-wing media bias we’ve all been subjected to.

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This needs challenging, questioning and changing dramatically. Our media is homogenised and overtly right-wing which is why Jeremy Corbyn is getting such a roasting.

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I personally believe he is, hated by the political and media establishment, the underdog the British public will get behind in the future. We’re sick of cock-swinging politics and many like his quiet socialism, his let’s-have-tea-with-your-nan approach. I think he is someone who could reach out to Plaid Cymru, the SNP and Northern Ireland, creating a united group of countries.

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https://www.instagram.com/sophie_mckeand/

Iwan Bala Visual Artist 

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'Dis-United Kingdom'

Keith Murrell Community Artist 

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I should preface my response by saying that I didn’t vote

I’m not registered at the moment because I have no permanent address – I know there is still an option to register but I don’t feel like sharing my personal circumstances with the bureaucracy. Having said that: I’ve never been overly engaged with the ‘democratic process’ and have very little (none) faith in the political party system – I’ve only voted a couple of times in my life and that was about issues rather ideologies … at the previous general election I voted ‘Green’ not because I thought they could win but in order to show support and help them to keep their deposit. Had I been registered this time around I would have voted to remain: this in itself is more of an instinctive reaction to the politics of those who want to leave, rather than any shining virtues of the EU.

I personally have little regard for ‘national identity’, borders, or flags and I tend to think more in terms of community and the planet. In that respect, I’d find it more plausible to think of myself as a citizen of an actual place (i.e. Europe) than being a subject in some archaic theme park called GB, UK or whatever it might say on the vellum.

In practical terms: I think the EU is of great value with regards to the advancement of things such as Human Rights, Employment Law and Environmental issues, etc. On the other hand, I’m not particularly enamoured about the impact of European funding for ‘socially targeted’ projects. Having worked on several such projects with a total value of several £millions I witnessed most of that money being directed towards vested interests more than improving the communities intended… and at worst Euro funding has been used to disrupt, dis-empower and displace communities… Butetown has had more than £1billion of EU money and where is it now?

Outside of Cardiff – the areas of Wales which receive the most EU funding voted to leave and irrespective of the politics behind the individual votes this must be seen as indictment of the public and voluntary sector in the delivering the EU programme.

With regards to the political campaigns the apparent choice was between buffoons and liars (clowns to left, jokers to the right …) I didn’t hear anything convincing from either side but then again I wasn’t paying much attention.

Regardless, I reckon the high turnout was due to the media hyperbole rather than any actual knowledge of or even interest in the EU … it’s quite bizarre to think that people might be more concerned about the goings on in Brussels than their own Town Hall.

In the event, I was a little surprised – and disappointed – with the result: mainly because it demonstrates the prevalence of such retrogressive attitudes – and might encourage / permit more people to think more along these lines. Then again, it seems that there was a generational factor in the voting with the implication that the younger people think differently and in time they will lead the debate – if losing this referendum mobilise young people then that will be a good thing …

But my Facebook timeline was inundated with angry / fearful posts about the future without the EU – and my response was “it’s actually not that bad” …

The media, pundits, etc have great fondness for using terms like ‘historic’, ‘pivotal’ and ‘once in a lifetime’ because it makes their role in the affair all the more important – every major political, sporting or scientific event is presented this way – and the public buys it because it makes their lives seem less mundane – but in reality nobody is interested in history but historians: you couldn’t go into into your local pub or corner shop and hear about the economic impact of the Versaille Treaty – very few people in Wales were preoccupied with Wales’ history in the European Championships until the TV reminded us and if Wales should actually win it will pale into insignificance in little more than a decade

I don’t claim to know anything about macro-economics (which makes me better informed than most) but I do know that the actual economy has very little to do with elections (although I will also say that every penny earned and spent is a vote cast)

I personally don’t have any property, investments or pension to speak of and I have quite a low maintenance lifestyle – so market shifts mean little to me – but for those that have those concerns I would say that ‘there is many a slip between cup and lip’ so there will always be the potential that they could lose out but similarly there’s about as much chance that the pendulum will swing and at some point they may be ahead – and this has been the case from the Bible to Barings Bank

I don’t have a passport and have never travelled outside of Wales & England – so again the whole notion of passports, visas, etc has little impact on me directly – but I don’t know that I would be too bothered about filling in some forms if I wanted to visit somewhere that badly – and perhaps people should travel around Wales a bit more 🙂

Dr Emily Garside

Dr Emily Garside

I am sad, I am angry, I am disappointed. Above all I am frustrated. Frustrated with the politicians who led us to here, with the media who helped further campaigns fought on little or misinformation. And I’m frustrated with those who say because it was a ‘democratic’ vote we must all sit back and quietly accept the decision. I accept that the vote was democratic, I accept people’s right to vote Leave. I don’t have to be happy about it. Thatcher was elected democratically and I’m still angry with that, and the implications of what she did while in office. And much like what Thatcher’s government did to this country, to the poorest areas and to the arts, I fear that the decision to leave Europe will be felt for generations to come. And much like in Thatcher’s reign, Wales is a place where the hits will be felt hardest.

In Wales you really don’t have to look far to see one of those little signs with the European flag that let you know the building that was repaired, the social space rebuilt or the arts centre allowed to continue is still there because of European funding. So much of Wales has been rebuilt in literal and cultural terms by the EU, and that so many areas, so many voters let xenophobic notions and unfounded immigration fears blind them to that scares me.

I fear for our artists and our art. I fear for the millions in lost funding that the arts in all their forms are reliant on. Wales has always been outward facing in it’s art. We invite the world to share our stages for Eisteddfod every year. We hold festivals that people travel to from the world over. And we collaborate, we share, we create. It’s in our very nature as a nation of artists. And it is this loss of collaboration I fear most. When paperwork halts free movement, when isolationism means the hurdles are too great to overcome to collaborate and yes, when we no longer have access to the funding we do now, because we cut ourselves off.

It seems reductive, gauche even to reduce my fears about arts in Wales to funding and travel, but these are the vital tools that give our arts life. In cutting off the vital lifeline of European funding, and building barriers to ease of travel to share what work we can still create, what then? I think of all the work unmade, the opportunities not shared, and it breaks my heart.

The ‘leave’ campaign seems to be fought and now won on a backward looking attitude, a yearning for a country that in fact never was. If we look at Wales before EU funding we were crumbling, our arts were suffering. There are no ‘good old days’ to go back to. What an open Europe has done is open the doors to collaboration, to inspiration and to forward thinking, forward motion. To quote Tony Kushner ‘The world only spins forward’, and yet we seem to have voted to try and stop.

What now? That’s the question isn’t it. When you (democratically) vote in a government you know roughly what’s coming, for better or worse. You know policies, personalities and in four years you have the hope that they’ll be gone. Europe is a leap in the dark. The fear is real because the answer to the question of ‘what now?’ is ‘nobody knows’.

The most anger I feel is towards those who tell us all to ‘just calm down’ as if this was a bad football score (not that I hope to jinx Wales’ chances, football is about the only ray of hope I can see right now, and I don’t even like the sport!).  But maybe there’s hope in that. In the anger. If there’s one thing the arts does well it’s respond to crisis. And that is where I do have hope. I have hope in the voices of the artists, and will of the arts companies to keep fighting. To keep working however we can.

Yvonne Murphy Omidaze Productions

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The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction. I do not believe the referendum was managed in a fair and democratic way and since the Leave campaign spoke so highly of sovereignty I wish British Parliament to enact it’s sovereign right in overruling the referendum result in the best interests of Britain and ALL its people and its future generations.

And so I have launched a petition. Here is the wording:

Sovereign British Parliament to debate EU referendum result & vote to overrule.

The British Parliament is sovereign and it is accountable to the people through elections at which we choose those whom we want to represent us, NOT through referendums. MPs are our representatives & are there to decide what, in their judgement, is good for us and the country.

Many Leave voters placed a vote of protest against a range of things not connected to the EU, from austerity cuts, to rising inequality in Britain without actually understanding the facts or the full implication of their vote. This is why we elect MPs in our democratic country to make these decisions. e.g capital punishment was thankfully abolished in the 60’s although a clear majority of the population remained in favour of it. The nearly 50% of the population who voted remain need a hearing.

It takes a few days for a petition to parliament to be processed and approved. So while I wait for that to happen I have written this article/blog. The petition circulating and gathering millions of votes asking for a second referendum (which I signed) was started in May by a Leave campaigner worried that we would get a Remain result! I do not particularly want a second referendum. I want parliament to deal with this.  I didn’t want a referendum in the first place. Nor did at least half the country. So why did we have one?

We had a referendum because David Cameron took a high risk strategy with our country’s future to appease the right wing bullies in his party, to silence UKIP and stop the migration of Tory MPs to that party. He took that risk because he did not for one moment think the country would vote out. Even the man who ran against him (Boris) did not for one moment think we should leave (which is why he is now furiously back peddling) he simply wanted to ‘play the game’ and raise his profile so he could go for leadership next time round. The Co-leader of the Leave campaign Iain Duncan-Smith in a interview on Friday called the result ‘startling’ not once but twice and appeared to be thinking on the hoof of the next steps ‘well I think what we need to do is get together a group of cross party MPs…and maybe some people from outside…some Lawyers…to work out how to progress….’ No way? Great plan. And so the people of Britain were used as pawns in the games of these rich privileged elite Eton boys to further their own careers.

What they had not understood is how angry the British people are. The divide between the rich and the poor and inequality has grown out of all proportion. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet food banks have become the accepted norm in every town in Britain. When I told colleagues this on a recent trip to India they thought I was joking. They stood dumbfounded that such poverty existed in the UK. And it does. There are parents going without food in order that their children can eat. Today. In modern Britain. It is a disgrace.

And this is why people voted. They simply could not see or understand how it could get any worse. Because they were lied to by the Leave campaign. They were told if we left the UK millions of pounds would suddenly appear in the coffers of the NHS. They were told immigration was the cause of all their woes and the door would be shut. And this was the worst part. This emphasis and blame on immigrants which has opened the door to far right facism, racism and hatred on our streets and in our communities.

And worse still it has opened the door across Europe to Far Right Extremism with the National Front in France calling for France to follow suit and leave the very institution that was formed post World War II to ensure Facism never again gripped Europe and the world.

Shame on you Boris, Gove and particularly Farage. Shame on all of you for dividing our country. For peddling fear and hatred and intolerance. For picking at a scab until it bled. And shame on you for your lies.

Those who voted Leave were told we would get our country back. From whom? From our fellow countrymen? From the EU citizens who lived here, raise their families, contribute to our society, pay our taxes? Our country is now falling apart before our very eyes. They were told it would be an end to EU regulations. Like the ones which mean our children no longer swim in filthy polluted seas as I did as a child? Or the ones that ensure that workers have to be paid a fair wage and have decent working conditions? Or the one that gave us the Human Rights Act? Or the ones that say that the poorer more deprived areas in the EU (the very ones that voted Leave) must have the lions share of funding? Because they have. I remember Wales in 1992 when I first came here. It is a different country now and that is mainly due to being cited a ‘poor country within the EU’ and receiving a shed load of EU investment.

People in this country are not struggling because we are in the EU. They are struggling because we do not share equally the wealth we have at our disposal and the EU is a mechanism which actually helps share that wealth not hinders it. Without EU membership we will be MUCH MUCH worse off. Economically, culturally and spiritually. Many people voted Leave because they felt things couldn’t get any worse and then voted for the very thing that will absolutely ensure that it does.

 “For many millions of people, this was not just a vote about Europe. It was a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they felt they were out of touch and had let them down…The British people deserve the chance not to be stuck with the appalling consequences of a Leave campaign that stoked that anger with the lies of Farage, Johnson and Gove.” Mr Farron Lib Dems A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said people would feel “betrayed” with the outcome of Brexit and suggested the result had been won on a false prospectus.

And so in the words of the Independent

“All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.”

 Which is why I am starting the petition.

Which is why I am writing this.

Which is why I cannot quite believe that Labour – at a time when they should be stepping up and holding every Tory MP (on both sides of the campaign) to account who have brought this mess upon us are instead too busy have a row about leadership (again!!!) and allowing the Torys to rewrite history and yet another false narrative. Park your differences for a few months, unite and serve your country and not your own self-interests and do your job which is to OPPOSE not self-combust at a time when we need an opposition most.

And for my colleague who said

“My only question is what would happen with MPs who want to Remain who represent Leave areas? They’d never get re-elected…”

I say well that is a risk all MPs should be prepared to take. They are there to work in our best interests and not their own and sometimes that means taking the very difficult and unusual decision to NOT do what those who have elected them ask them to do. Because they are our representatives. They have the facts. They have the education. They have the time to read the policy documents which we do not. That is their job. And they must now debate in parliament if the result of this referendum is actually in our country’s best interest. And if the majority truly believe it is not then they must overrule it and face the consequences. That is leadership. Leadership is not easy. That is why they are paid the salaries they are paid. And now they must ALL step up and look into their souls and decide.

Barbara Michaels 3rd Act Critic 

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Brexit and the Arts in Wales

Now that the initial furore and panic is over, what is the future for the arts on Wales? As with in other parts of the United Kingdom, we have to wait and see. What is certain, however, is that for a time (and who knows how long that time will last?) everything will be in a state of flux.

Disturbingly, when budgets and funding are up for consideration – some might call it up for grabs – the arts are always in the firing line. In Wales, when the arts scene – and I refer particularly to theatre – is expanding as never before, to cut funding at this stage would be close to criminal. This does not apply only to our capital city, where we are spoilt for choice, but to rural areas – take the prestigious Theatre Clywd, for instance. New talent in both writing and performance are emerging all the time, and being given the chance to explore all manner of genres.

My fervent hope is that our government realise this and will continue to give them support. Many of our young people are dismayed by the result of the referendum. It is up to the powers that be to prove to them, and to all of us, that there is indeed Life After Brexit.

Helen Joy 3rd Act Critic

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An open conversation on Facebook between people who all know me but who don’t necessarily know each other, held in the week of the EU Referendum result.

Each contributor is represented by a different colour text.

 Time for something slightly different: how do you think the vote to leave the EU will affect Arts and Art funding?

The arts economy is marginal at the best of times. I can’t see this having an exaggerated effect on funding. A great deal of Arts Council funding comes from the lottery rather than government revenues.

Some 2yr + bids being wound up where applying for EU funding. Not arts bids.

It’s the cutting of cultural ties I worry about, the Little Britain mentality and the feeling that we can go it alone. I’ve always liked feeling European.

We are used now to a sense of continental culture, the arts seem to benefit from both being carriers of local identity AND being representative of something wider.

If a cultural tie depends on the blessing of a bureaucrat, or still worse funding from one, what is it worth? The ‘cultural economy’ as a whole is huge; it was revealed a few years ago that this country earns more from computer game design than from agriculture. However, it had never asked for or received a penny of government funding, so nobody noticed.’ Culture’ is what people do of their own volition. Start steering it with subsidy, and it becomes something else. That’s how we get the grotesque spectacle of state-funded ‘satirists’ on the BBC.

Sure, to quote Raymond Williams, ‘culture is ordinary’. However, the BBC isn’t the State, that’s a line peddled by James Murdoch.

It’s no longer disputed that the licence fee is a tax (one I don’t pay); the BBC’s establishmentarian bias on many topics is now beyond satire, not least on the referendum issue. It’s notable that two of the best cultural institutions in London, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Handel Festival, don’t ask for or receive state funding.

Maybe I just like the way the BBC presents the bias. In a world completely reliant on private funding or ‘sponsorship’ we’d have a lot less culture and most of it would have to satisfy the paymasters. I’d rather satisfy the Arts Council’s remit than try to please Monsanto.

Culture always has to satisfy the paymasters. I’d prefer those paymasters to be you, me and the people around us! Would you say that our film industry was more dynamic and creative than America’s? Most of the TV I watch now is American-made.

Wouldn’t argue with your first point about culture and who pays for it but if I had to rely on things I could sell I’d be doing something very different. I don’t have anything sensible to say about film and TV. I could happily live without it.

Have they actually had any, or is this part of the current campaign to whistle up hysteria? I’m currently dealing with people on my local FB page, putting up pictures of people they accuse of racist remarks, without any evidence to back it up.

We need to build new structures we need to encourage philanthropy we need to not be scared of making money

Did you know that artists, writers, musicians here (Ireland) pay NO tax? Legacy from Charlie Haughey.

Who decides whether what they do is ‘art’ ?

No idea, presume Arts Council.

I think it’s older than Haughey’s time ; John Huston moved his family to Ireland back in the 60’s, I believe. So the bureaucrats sit in judgment on the artists, who have to meet their criteria? H’m. Curious how there always seem to be salaried posts for arts bureaucrats, but not for artists. A friend once showed me the telephone extension list at the UK Arts Council: more names than the Menin Gate. You’d get more money to artists by summoning them all to Trafalgar Square on a given day and dropping the annual budget in pound coins out of a helicopter.

So not even arts bureaucrats, but the Revenue Commissioners, are the judge of the artistic merit of your work:

http://www.citizensinformation.ie/…/artists_exemptionArtist’s exemption from income tax. Some income earned by artists, writers, sculptors and painters in Ireland from the sale of their work may be exempt from income tax. How to obtain exemption from income tax if you are an artist and satisfy certain criteria…

No was Haughey who introduced it.

Or just work to a different model – fund public art but let the market decide on everything else, like an accountant or pianist. Arts Council England – radio 4 now – believe arts will solve problems on our streets

Hearing this, a vision comes to me of a fat abbot, standing outside the glorious choir of some great abbey, saying ‘Without us, who would feed gruel to the poor?’

That’s interesting, not such a surprise I suppose. I’d like to know more.

 

Twenty years of Kingdom Come and what have we learned? by Jonathan Evans

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The best pieces of work are born  from a reaction of the time they’re created on but have themes and morals that transcend and will always be relevant. Though Dr. Strangelove was created through nuclear terror it will always be watchable because of the laughs and the way it paints a portrait of the craziness of life. 1984 was written at a time where totalitarianism was seemingly taking over, yet we continue to adsorb the material because we still have those fears and worries.

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Kingdom Come is an Elsewhere miniseries from DC comics. It tells the story of years later from the regular status quo where the age of the heroes that we all know has passed and a new breed of heroes have taken their place. Heroes that kill their enemies and care nothing for collateral damage on the city they’re fighting in nor the civilians caught in-between. But eventually Superman Batman and Wonder Woman can stand back no longer and must return, but they face the question, does their brand of justice still work?

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In 1992 the comic company Image was formed. It’s founding members were Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarland, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri. It’s main policy was that creators could create properties without censoring restrictions or having to give-up their copyrights to their characters. This allowed the artists to create without any of the usual restrictions they would face from the “Big Two” (DC and MARVEL) but with that freedom came flatulent indulgence in their more base instinct and lack of inhibition. The characters were barely original, plots were thin and this was clearly a case of artist being given the heavy task of writing without possessing that talent. What we had were books where the heroes are heroes in name only. Because they killed willy-nilly and are just plain unpleasant people that you wouldn’t want to be around in real life, let alone pay money to read about them. But yet people did. The early Image titles sold well and changed the coarse of comics forever. They clearly tapped into the pulse of the youths at that time. Five splash pages every issue protagonist that drink, are sloppy and the stories were as thin as the paper they’re printed on. They picked them up, some people got rich, nobody got smarter and they were dropped and never picked up again.

But Alex Ross, now one of the biggest names in comics saw what was happening and needed an answer to it. He came up with the base concept of the book but it was only pieces, he was given Mark Waid a living comic encyclopaedia and equal lover of the true blue heroes and it was with their combination that  it really took form.  Kingdom Come was conceived in the wake of this terrible age but it came out when they were actually getting back on track, 1996. Titles like Grant Morrison’s Justice League, James Robinson’s Starman were things that reignited the feel of what the superhero ere should be. Riveting, imagination filled stories with a sense of hope.

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In the year 2013 we got the new cinematic Superman for this generation, Man of Steel. The image of the technology was sharper and denser, the costume was more elaborate and the color was absent. It ended in a battle which the writer of Kingdom Come himself described as “destruction porn.” A battle between two super-beings that results in dozens of square miles of property damage, definitely over a thousand people dead and no attempt on our “heroes” part to move the fight to a less populated area, finally ending with him killing his enemy.

That part alone was the start of so much debate. Should he? Should he not? Is not killing outdated? Beyond the fact that I don’t believe that Superman would ever do this, it goes against his ideals, both him as a character and his point. To always find a better way. That and there were at least a half doze ways he could have not killed him in that moment.

But lets address the question as to why shouldn’t he kill. Well at the base of everything Superman is an ideal, a fully fleshed-out character yes, but that is the point of him. He is meant to embody the hope and optimism that we should strive for. And he is meant for children first and foremost, yes adults can enjoy him too and can be used for more sophisticated stories but you must never loose that child demographic. If he kills then he is saying that life is worthless, if he takes a life then where does it end? He does not kill because all life is sacred and no one is lesser than him. In the sequel Batman v Superman the Man of Steel meets with The Dark Knight. The colours continue to get darker, Batman is a hypocrite because he himself is a mass murderer and we have no contrast between the two characters because they’re both dark, brooding men that have forgotten how to smile. It’s been twenty years and DC has forgotten the lessons that should never have been forgotten. Ironically though MARVEL keeps the lessons true to form.

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However in the MARVEL movies they do seem to understand the morals and lesson of the book. In Age of Ultron, a fight ensues between Iron Man and the Hulk. While it’s going on Iron Man tries to take Hulk out of the city but fails. At least there was an effort. Later in the movie, right before the big action climax, they use Scarlett Witch to evacuate all he people they can out so they can fight with no civilian casualties. They don’t evacuate everyone, and there was civilian life lost. But they tried and succeeded in taking out the villain and the death toll was as low as it could possible be.

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In the most recent movie Civil War the point that separates out heroes is that the Sacovia Accord. It was created because of the collateral damage that has arisen from these battles of super-people. Early on in the movie a bomb is about to go off and Scarlett Witch shoots it into the air. Yes, they have not saved everyone, because there’s no such thing as a perfect victory with these things. But they know that they need to save as many people as they can. Later in the movie Black Panther confronts that man responsible for his fathers, as well as numerous other peoples deaths. He lost his wife and child in the battle with Ultron, but in his quest to tear the Avengers apart he has found no happiness and others have been dragged into his misery. Black Panther then sees that vengeance will not grant him self satisfaction and it will corrupt everyone around him. So he takes him in alive saying such true words “The living are not done with you yet.”

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We were in a time where juvenile, popular creators were given free reign to craft stories where heroes were only heroes because their names were on the titles of the book. Kingdom Come taught us that even though there may no be perfect victories our heroes should still strive to do what they can for the people that they have taken a vow to protect the people.

Ennillodd Gwynfor Dafydd o Rhondda Cynnon Taf Y Gadair yn yr Eisteddfod 2016 am ei gerdd, sydd am y Cymoedd yn Ne Cymru cyn yr oes diwydiannol/Gwynfor Dafydd from Rhondda Cynnon Taf wins The Chair at The Eisteddfod 2016 for his poem about the post-industry valleys of South Wales.

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Ennillodd Gwynfor Dafydd o Rhondda Cynnon Taf Y Gadair yn yr Eisteddfod 2016 am ei gerdd, sydd am y Cymoedd yn Ne Cymru cyn yr oes diwydiannol/Gwynfor Dafydd from Rhondda Cynnon Taf wins The Chair at The Eisteddfod 2016 for his poem about the post-industry valleys of South Wales.

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Bachgen deunaw oed o Donyrefail ydw i, sydd ar hyn o bryd yn ddisgybl yn Ysgol Llanhari, a chyn hynny fe fûm yn ddisgybl yn Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Tonyrefail. Yr wyf wrth fy modd yn astudio ieithoedd, ac felly os caf y graddau gofynnol, gobeithiaf fynd i Goleg yr Iesu yng Nghaegrawnt y flwyddyn nesaf er mwyn astudio Sbaeneg ac Almaeneg ab initio.

Cerdd am fro fy mebyd ydyw’r gerdd hon sy’n ymateb i erthygl a ddarllenais i â’r pennawd ‘The unbearable sadness of the Welsh valleys.’ Felly, mae hi’n trafod themâu megis ‘anghyfiawnder cymdeithasol’, ‘tlodi’ a ‘diweithdra’ a’r problemau anochel a ddaw law y llaw â hyn. Er hyn, fe geir y teimlad bod cymuned yn mynd i gamu ymlaen erbyn y gerdd olaf, a herio’r sefydliad er mwyn creu cymuned decach a sosialaidd.

I am an eighteen-year-old boy from Tonyrefail, and am currently a student at Ysgol Llanhari, and before that I attended Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Tonyrefail. I enjoy studying languages, and am hoping to go to Cambridge next year to study Spanish and German ab initio, if I obtain the necessary grades.

This is a poem about the unjust treatment of the place in which I was born, responding to a poignant article that I had read with the headline ‘The unbearable sadness of the Welsh valleys.’ Therefore, it discusses themes such as ‘social inequality’, ‘poverty’, ‘unemployment’ and the inevitable consequences of this. However, there is hope in the last poem that the community will challenge the establishment and fight to build an egalitarian and socialist society.

 

‘The unbearable sadness of the Welsh valleys’ – Mark Easton, BBC.

 ‘”Why don’t you leave?” I ask an unemployed man in his 50s. “Because I’m a valleys boy,” comes the reply. “This is home.”’

 Yn datŵ damweiniol

ar noson feddwol, creithiwyd

y lle hwn

yn ddwfn i’r croen

ac i’r cnawd. Nid

fy ffawd, nid fy newis i

oedd deffro i ddyffryn

graffiti a gwm cnoi

lle mae brain yn toi’r

tafarndai a’r capeli a’r siopau.

 

Ond felly y bu.

 

Mae’r graffiti a’r gwm yn glynu,

y tatŵ yn gwrthod crychu,

ac eto,

rwy’n gofyn yn gyson:

 

Ai ni yw dy bobl

ynteu dy wystlon?

 

II

‘Many parts of the UK have suffered from the decline of heavy industry, and the Welsh valleys are a grim emblem of this.’

 

Cerdd Tad-cu beunydd fynyddoedd ei fro,

fel y gwnaeth ganwaith gynt â’i dad-cu e –

yn dilyn ei lwybr at y pyllau glo

a’i mowldiodd yn dalp o bentrefi’r de:

Ceibiwyd ei gefn i frwydro’r gwynt a’r glaw,

weldiwyd ei draed i’r pridd yn gusan hir,

siapiwyd ei ddwylo’n llyw i’w reddfol raw,

a thynnodd ef ddau blentyn bach o’r tir.

Ond heddiw, ar gyfeiliorn, mae ar daith

yn chwilio am fyd sy’n gorwedd fel rhith

dan y bryniau mud a’r twmpathau maith,

a neb i olrhain ei gam ond y gwlith.

Mewn tanchwa drachwantus, daeth gwifrau du

a pheilonau haearn i ardd Tad-cu.

 

III

‘There are no shops around here and the bus to town stops at 6pm. There are children who’ve never been more than a mile or two from their front door.’

 

Mae hi yno’n aros

bob nos yn yr orsaf fysiau.

 

Ni ŵyr pam.

Ni ŵyr i ble mae’r bysiau’n mynd.

Ond gŵyr mai bws yw’r ateb.

 

Rwyt ti wedi ei gweld.

 

Ffroenaist y patrymau

coch

ar hyd ei breichiau.

 

Baglaist dros y caniau gwag

oedd yn ei gwarchae

gan guchio’r minlliw

a staeniodd dy jîns.

 

Cuddiaist glustiau dy blant rhag ei rhegfeydd

(Sh*t. F*ck it. C*nt.)

a gwarafun gweld bod merch fel hon

yn griddfan mewn cynghanedd.

 

A phregethaist dan dy wynt

fod bysiau’n gorffwys

ar ôl chwech.

 

IV

‘Tonight, the place feels abandoned, and many people appear to have given up on God.’

 

Mae’r lle, heno, mor llonydd

â Duw (fel y mae bob dydd),

ei dreigl ar stop, a’i siopau

i gyd â’u shutters ar gau –

rhesi clòs o ddrysau clo

yn hisian … lle bu croeso.

 

Ac mae, heno, gymuned

yn y dump yn chwarae dead

hen le llwyd sy’n casglu llwch,

hen aelwyd mewn anialwch

unig, gwag, cans daeth i’r cwm

hualau … lle bu cwlwm.

 

A heno’n ein cyfannu,

nid oes ond gwe’r gwifrau du –

yn ddi-hid, cyfalaf ddaeth

i hawlio bro brawdoliaeth,

ac mewn ’stâd ddigymen, stêl,

mae’r hen dŷ ’n marw’n dawel.

 

V

‘”Politicians kick us and then they kick us again,” a local despairs.’

 

Mae tlodi’n halogi’n heolydd ni

a’i flas dros weflau’r mynyddoedd tost.

Treiddia ei rym drwy gracs y tai

am nad ydyw’n licio’u cod post.

 

Ymhell, bell dros y dŵr bas

mae ’sgidiau glân a syber-glyd

a droediant yn drwm ar ein strydoedd ni

o bell, bell â’u gwadnau di-hid.

 

Yno, ym mêr y muriau mawrion

mae rhagfarn eu cloc haearnaidd yn byw.

Yma, fe gosbir pawb ’r un fath:

pob hil, pob oed, pob rhyw.

 

Yr un yw’r gri o’r fynwent draw

yn y rhesi hir o feini rhad

a brynodd i’r pellfuddugwyr gynt

eu rhyfel drud ar faes y gad.

 

Ond clywch y drwm yn curo’n rymus

rhwng y cyrff a fwydodd y gweryd â’u gwaed

sy’ heddiw’n had i’r to iau

a dyf o’r dicter dan eu traed.

 

Daw’r curiadau anochel yn amlach,

eu cnulio’n atseinio’n uwch bob tro.

Llyfa’r tir ei wefusau’n wancus

wrth gyfarch eneidiau ‘glanach’ i’r gro.

 

Mae tlodi’n halogi’n heolydd ni,

tlodi sy’n dilyn cod post.

A’r un yw’r ffawd bob ochr i’r ffin –

’dyn ni i gyd yn cyfri’r gost…

Cwm Cnoi

http://www.s4c.cymru/urdd/e_index.php

Digwyddiadau ar stondin Amgueddfa Cymru, Eisteddfod yr Urdd Fflint 2016/Activities on Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales’s stall, Urdd Eisteddfod 2016

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Menter gymdeithasol wedi’i leoli yn Ne Cymru yw Dyma’ch Cyfle, yn gweithio tuag at greu cyfleoedd i amrywiaeth o bobl sydd am brofi ac ymateb i chwaraeon, celfyddyd, diwylliant a digwyddiadau byw

  • Mae Dyma’ch Cyfle’n arddangos gweithgaredd ar wefan cylchgrawn ar-lein http://getthechance.wales/
  • Mae’r wefan yn cynnwys gweithgreddau gweithdy, adolygiadau, erthyglau golygyddol a llawer mwy
  • Mae’r wefan yn blatfform i’n haelodau i rannu, trafod a gwerthuso eu hymatebion personol gyda’u rhwydweithiau a’r byd ben baladr
  • Dyma’ch Cyfle yw’r gymdeithas sy’n cynrychioli aelodau Beirniaid Ifanc Cymru, Beirniaid Cymunedol Cymru a 3ydd Act

Digwyddiadau ar stondin Amgueddfa Cymru, Eisteddfod yr Urdd Fflint 2016

 Dydd Mercher, 1 Mehefin 11:00 – Gweithdy Beirniadu gydag Aneirin Karadog

Dydd Iau, 2 Mehefin 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 – Gweithdai Beirniadu Dyma’ch Cyfle

 

Get The Chance is a social enterprise based in South Wales, working to create opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events

  • Get The Chance uses its online magazine website http://getthechance.wales/ to showcase its activity
  • The website content will feature workshop activity and outcomes, reviews, editorial features and much more
  • Our website is a platform for our members to share, discuss and evaluate their personal responses with their networks and the wider world
  • Get the Chance is the host organisation for members of Young Critics Wales, Community Critics Wales and 3rd Act Critics

 Activities on Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales’s stall, Urdd Eisteddfod 2016

 Wednesday, 1 June 11:00 – Critic Workshop with Aneirin Karadog (Welsh language)

Thursday, 2 June 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 – Get a Chance Critic Workshops (Bilingual)

Preview Milieu with Rhys Milsom

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Our project coordinator recently spoke to Get the Chance Creative Associate Rhys Milsom about the multi-disciplinary arts event he curates ,Milieu.

Hi Rhys, can you tell us about Milieu?

Sure, Milieu is a quarterly night of literature, art and photography. Always held at Little Man Coffee Co, and always free entry, the events so far have been jam-packed, with barely any standing room left. Milieu is French for ‘middle’ but also stands for ‘social environment’. This is key, as the art exhibitions are held downstairs in Little Man and the literature is held upstairs. Therefore, people meet in the middle as they go from the exhibitions to the readings and create a social environment for themselves doing so! Milieu is all about promoting up-and-coming, and established, writers and artists.

Sounds great! What are your aims with the event?

The aim is to give these writers and artists the chance to showcase their work in an environment that is creative, fun and inclusive to everyone who appreciates the arts. So far, Milieu has seen writers such as Rhian Elizabeth, Dan Tyte, Matthew David Scott and Rhys Milsom read and artists such as Liam Barrett, Pip Barrett and Jaydon Martin exhibiting their work.

Thats a great list of Wales based writers and artists, when is the next event planned?

The next event is June 10th at Little Man and we have Adam Jenkins, Renn, Gary Raymond and David Lllewellyn reading from their work with Liam Barrett exhibiting his art.

Come down and immerse yourself into a creative nucleus of Cardiff!

Thanks for your time Rhys.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1604132006545049/

 

Project Review, Making It! by Helen Joy

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Parama 2 Making it – LIVE!

A review of the programme of scripting workshops leading up to and including, the production: by a participant.

A small group of women of a certain age gather together in the curious spare rooms and spaces of the Wales Millennium Centre every Tuesday afternoon for 9 weeks.

March 15th

We introduce ourselves cautiously to our facilitators, Valmai Jones and Catrin Edwards; and to each other. Why are we here? Personal growth and development, honing skills and learning new ones, changing paths, making connections. A mixed bag of skills too–clowning, illustrating, writing, performing, acting – and a fair few years of life experience to boot. We watch Catrin’s film, Voices From the Factory Floor, with extra voices from the WMC breast cancer charity fashion show below. A heady mixture of women’s words on a Tuesday afternoon.

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Responding to the characters in the film seems easier to some than others. Some slip into roles easily; others struggle a little; I have no idea how to pretend and can only be me. I am astonished at the ease with which our group brings life and animation and speech to these women we have only glimpsed, sometimes second or even third hand. Real stories slip out so naturally hidden in the make-believe.

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Now, Val employs a little trick each week. Relaxation exercises for the body and the brain with closed eyes. Her mellifluous Welsh lilt calms our nervous spirits and revives our inner creativity. Staring intensely at paper mandalas to free up our right brains – mind over myth – becomes part of our shared experiences, part of bonding the group and comforts changes with consistency. This is neat.
We play a kind of Consequences – throw our titles into a hat, pick one, write some lines, pass it on… we read them out – remarkably adept little stories, tight, funny, sad, clever but mostly text, not so much dialogue.

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As the weeks roll on, we learned to examine characters and how to bring them to life through words and play. We had homework: write up your character – give her life. Give her words to say. And playlets form with monologues, dialogues, complex scenarios. Characters cry, laugh, shout and dance. Some of us stay with the themes of the film; some use the Consequences storylines; others choose something new. Somehow, perhaps not surprisingly, we all talk about the influential women n our lives.

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I struggle with reading out my words, my dialogue. And the first time it matters, I can’t do it. I am ten years old and I will be humiliated. I hand my script to Val. She is so kind and talks me through ideas and scenarios and builds my confidence.

The call goes out – posters are ready, the time and date is set – we will be performing at 3pm on the 9th May in the Preseli Rooms at the WMC. Tell your friends and families.

I write a script over an evening. I have been mulling over the idea for a few weeks now without realising. I cannot face reading it. I wonder how the others are managing.

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May 8th

Rehearsals. It is a beautiful, hot sunny day outside and we are all inside, fretting over scripts, tripping over stage hands and working with professional actors. This is getting very real. We are called to the stage, Val is acting and Catrin is directing. We are multi-tasking at a superhuman level.
I cannot open my eyes when they start to read my play. Gradually, I uncurl and watch and listen and begin to edit and critique and love it. Not love my work – but love the process. I discover acting is a joy – to be someone else for someone else is a privilege. I try so hard to do it as well as I can. Everyone else seems so much better at this but inside, I guess, we all feel the nervous.

May 9th, 3pm

Somehow, out of all the chaos, a slick series of plays is presented to a small but hugely appreciative audience. All credit to Catrin and Val for their inspiration and facilitation. All credit to the actors and stage hands for adding that professional edge.
And to us? Well. We pulled it off.

The audience, mostly made up of women from Voices from the Factory Floor, has enjoyed our efforts very much. The plays remind them of conversations had with their own mothers, fathers, daughters and friends. One said that we hadn’t needed scripts to read – that we could have just chatted amongst ourselves on stage – and there I see the compliment, our work was natural, candid observation with each of us adding our own personalities and quirks to tell tales. Not perfect but gentle, the work of women who have been there.

I am not alone in being relieved yet ecstatic as the event closes but oh so sorry that this series of workshops is not continuing and that we are left to go our own ways with our words.

The project  was supported by Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival which is funded by Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales, WI in Wales and Women’s Archive of Wales

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http://gwanwyn.org.uk

http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/making-it-free-drama-scripting-workshop-for-older-women/

http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/parama2-presents-making-it/

Review Devine Intervention Martha Brockenbrough by Sian Thomas

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There are a number of ways to describe Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough. I think odd is good, and hilarious, and different! Different is a great one. It’s not every day your female protagonist becomes a dog, which is, I suppose, the simplest (and best) way to explain the situation.

It’s wonderfully intertwined (and thinking about it, The Game Of Love And Death by the same author was also wonderfully intertwined. Maybe it’s a theme? Either way, it’s something I adore). The writing is fun, deep, relatable, meaningful. The writing alone is an abundance of amazing things.

The story was a thrill to experience, while also dually being funny and even a little sad (maybe bittersweet, too, is a good word to describe it). Towards the end of the book (spoilers!) we see our first main character, Jerome, be reborn after his trials and tribulations of protecting our other main character, Heidi (the girl who kind of turned into a dog). I’ve always loved the idea of reincarnation/being reborn as a story idea, and this played perfectly into my open, excited hands.

This is, hands down, a great book, with a riveting story, fantastic characters, and amazing jokes. I loved every line.

Review Film and Comic Con, Cardiff by James Briggs

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Every year the Cardiff International Arena changes from a concert venue to a top convention hall crammed with swarms of TV and Film fans attending the Film and Comic Con, Cardiff. Converging on the centre of Cardiff is an assorted crew of Sherlock’s with Deerstalkers, Marvel and DC superheroes, Disney princesses, Imperial Storm troopers following Darth Vader and assorted geeks decked out in shirts of their favourite shows. There was even an appearance from the Mystery Incorporated gang and their Mystery Machine featuring Scooby Doo.

Cc3S4fcWAAIsPL1.jpg-largeWhen visiting Comic Con you come to realise that Cosplaying has become a central part in the overall experience. The near-compulsory cosplay code can mostly mean that if you choose not to dress up you can stand out more than someone wearing the costumes. Many celebrities often use this to their advantage by dressing up in a costume of their choice and walking the floors of the Comic Con without being noticed.

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Angela Landsbury portrays Jessica Fletcher in MURDER SHE WROTE: SOUTH BY SOUTWEST.

From panels on Doctor Who and Cosplay showcases, to Thunderbird action figures, the comic con welcomes with open arms that which the rest of the world might think a little bizarre. The hall is crammed packed with stall after stall of different shops selling all sorts of collectables. A personal favourite of mine was the autograph section that sold the autographs of every actor or actress you could think of. Everywhere you looked on the autograph stalls there were famous names with Daniel Craig, Ian Mckellen and Benedict Cumberbatch to name but a few. I decided to opt for Angela Lansbury and Jim Dale. Two very big idols of mine.

IMG_0320It never ceases to amaze me with the lengths some people go to create amazingly accurate costumes from famous films, games and television shows. I knew that it was important to participate in this also so my brother and I decided to go as different incarnations of Doctor Who from the hit BBC series. I was dressed as Peter Capaldi with the striking red lined coat and done up shirt button and my brother dressed as his favourite Doctor David Tennant with a Fez added for good measure. One of the star guests at the Comic Con was Jemma Redgrave or as Doctor Who fans may know her Kate Lethbridge Stewart. As her fans gathered to have their photo taken there was an obvious sense of community about the event with many people talking to each other and having photos of their own taken. I even met a fellow incarnation dressed as Matt Smith’s Doctor.

James and Jemma Redgrave

With something for every fan of Film, TV, Gaming and Comic’s there is no reason why you would not want to go and in the words of Shrek “Let your freak flag fly” with pride! Although a word of warning you will most definitely be left with a feeling of wanting to have more money to buy all of the things you see.

The next Comic Con Cardiff will be held on the 29th – 30th of October 2016. Get your tickets now to avoid disappointment. They are available at: http://filmandcomicconcardiff.com/

Review Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas by Sian Thomas

 

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I recently read Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, and was thoroughly swept away by the books intensity.

The story is about how a group of friends, among them, Anna and Elise, who are two best friends, and Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, go on a week-long trip over spring break. The trip is relaxing, until Elise is found murdered in the house they were staying in. Our story experience is with Anna, who goes through the trials and being held in prison on account of being the prime suspect of the case. I won’t be going into deep detail about the plot, as it is something I could never recreate as skilfully as the author Abigail Hass and also because there are major spoilers and I would hate to ruin the story for anyone who may be interested.

The plot is complicated, yet magnificently executed. It is written in a way that shows you the truth in calculated chunks before the trial so you can pick apart what happened and speculate on the direction you believe you will be led. Some things happen before the trial they are linked with but with two things happening in that scene, one is relevant the next moment, and they still perfectly fit together for you to gain the bigger, complicated picture. Everything is up for questioning, everything about everyone, who could have done it, and why. It is all up for you to wonder about, but you know that you have to keep going. I felt very compelled as I was reading. The book was such a page turner that I took a break for lunch during a revision session, began reading as I ate, and didn’t put the book down until it had ended. It is so enthralling, the way the characters interact and the way the plot unfolds that you can practically feel yourself saying that you have to know what happens. You just have to know…

From our perspective, which is Anna’s perspective, we see as she pleads innocent and goes through, quite literally, the trials and tribulations of the case and the investigation. We root for her, and feel sorry and scared for her. We feel protective of her and even hope she gets a not-guilty verdict. She is a wonderfully complex character with a harrowing story and truly phenomenal portrayal.

The writing is amazing. It easily and brilliantly shows the struggles of dealing with a tragedy, but is also unimaginably inciting and exciting. The structure of the novel is wonderful, with flashbacks and far-off memories, the present day, and a ‘three months later’. It is alluring, and keeps you blissfully intrigued as you unwind the story and see it out in front of you.

The book makes you feel a range of emotions, and is especially good at making you feel intense, but hopeful. Scared, but knowing. It’s quite the experience. But it is especially skilled at teaching you not to believe everything you read. There is a twist, a truly unexpected twist, that puts the whole novel in an entirely different light, and leaves you stunned and wanting more. I know that I certainly did.

Links to further information on the author

http://abbymcdonald.com

http://authors.simonandschuster.co.uk/Abigail-Haas/409406742