Category Archives: Theatre

Nominations and further information on Inspirational Educator TCWA 2014.

Porthkerry-story-telling project Theatr Iolo

(Image Porthkerry Park Storytelling Project, Theatr Iolo)

For this years Theatre Critics of Wales Awards the Young Critics were keen to support educators who they feel make a real difference in supporting the link between the formal education sector and the performing arts. The creation of this new category was also a result of the new WAG Arts in Education review which was written by the Chair of Arts Council Wales Dai Smith.

The review recommends

There is also a need for recognition and awards schemes to encourage more and better quality arts activity in schools. To address this need,the Welsh Government should support the creation of an award, for individual teachers, to recognise excellence in creative teaching.’

The Young Critics agreed with Dai Smith recommendations so rather than wait for adults to create this award the Young Critics and the TCWA panel did it themselves.The Young Critics and the panel contacted a range of arts organisations and venues to request that they nominate an individual who they felt Inspired young people in the arts .

The nominations are shown below and in some cases links to the work that inspired the nomination.

Inspirational Educator

• Raina Malik: School of Basic Islamic Studies – Sherman Cymru

Raina supported her students to work on the Fresh Ink project with the Creative Learning Department at  Sherman Cymru, Cardiff.

• Ioan Hefin: You Should Ask Wallace – Theatr na nÓg

Ioan was nominated for his role in the You Should Ask Wallace production  the show, celebrates the life of one of the 19th century’s most remarkable Welsh intellectuals – Alfred Russel Wallace a Victorian Scientist from South Wales.The production took Ioan to Wales, England, Rio de Janeiro and Singapore.

• Aled Jones Williams – Theatr Bara Caws

Aled Jones Williams is an author and dramatist who has worked with Bara Caws on numerous occasions.  Though his work for the company in the past was mainly writing commissioned works, more recently he has been working in conjunction with Bara Caws  holding writing workshops both in schools and for the general public.  At the moment Bara Caws are working on an ensemble piece which will be staged in Spring 2014 which will be scripted by the cast members themselves, and they have  invited Aled to mentor the writing aspect of the project, which has already been put in motion.  He has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to all involved in his workshops.

•  Amanda Gould – Foundation Phase, S.E.W. Education Achievement Service

In her role as Associate Advisor for Early Years, Vale of Glamorgan School Improvement Service and now as Foundation Phase Officer for the Central South Consortium, Amanda works tirelessly with teachers to raise awareness of the importance of the relationship between the arts and education sectors.

She was the catalyst for two major projects with Theatr Iolo – “Words in the Woods” and “Tales of Driftwood”. These projects which encouraged story-making by children aged 3-7 imaginatively used a theatrical intervention in the beauty and excitement of an outdoor setting to engage the children’s creativity, stimulate their imaginations, and develop their literacy skills.

Amanda developed the germ of the idea for both projects, brought Theatr Iolo together with the Vale of Glamorgan Forest Education Initiative Cluster Group, and inspired teachers about the way in which, through engagement with these projects, they could work not only develop their children’s literacy skills (the primary aim of each project) but also explore each of the 7 Areas of Learning which form the Foundation Phase “curriculum”.

“Words in the Woods” was deemed to be such a successful model of good practice that it was embraced by the Welsh (Assembly) Government Foundation Phase Team and used as the main focus for a series of pan-Wales Foundation Phase Teachers’ conferences which were attended by the then First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, and four other cabinet ministers.

• Elen Bowman – Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Over the last few months, over the last few years to be more precise, Elen has influenced a great many  performers, directors, industry practitioners, students and pupils.  She has mentored prospective directors, and has offered training for prospective actors.

Over the past few months Elen has been actively running workshops in schools and colleges throughout the country, and led on the New Directors’ Training Course, held in partnership between Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Sherman Cymru and Living Pictures.

This scheme offered training for inexperienced directors.  Elen led the course which gave the attendees an opportunity to develop skills in text analysis, and to obtain a better understanding of the development of story and character. She gave the prospective directors an opportunity to work with an experienced creative team and with experienced writers, giving them the opportunity to research various methods of staging and designing for multi-platform, as well as an opportunity to learn marketing skills.

This September the course reached its peak with a special production in Sherman Cymru, Rhwng Dau Fyd (Between Two Worlds), which was directed by three of the directors who attended the course. This project formed part of the work presented in the World Stage Design Festival.

Elen commented: “Making the time to train as a director is valuable, not only in order to learn trenchant skills chosen from world-wide theatre techniques, but it is also an opportunity to ask creative questions in order to try to understand the sort of work which ignites the passions.  I’m hopeful that we have five different and unique voices about to cross the threshold of the Welsh theatrical industry, and I look forward to following their development over the next few years.”

Others who have worked with Elen express their admiration and appreciation of her work:

“Elen is a mentor who will not only teach you ‘educationally’, but will also develop you as an individual. The patience and perseverance she possesses to develop others is extremely influential,  and makes you want to help others as well.  She is an educator who really listens to your requirements as a student, she maintains discipline and presents challenges along the way. Though I have been working with Elen over the last year on the directing course run by Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Living Pictures and Sherman Cymru, I believe that she will always be there for me as a mentor who will offer assistance and as a friend. She has been responsible for my development as a theatre director and as an artist and lecturer. Under her leadership she creates a sense that anything is possible.  She inspires, challenges and questions constantly. For her, there is no end to the creative process. To develop is a way of life, and Elen’s way of life is to develop others.” Ffion Haf Jones

Here is Wyn Mason’s testimonial.  Wyn has collaborated with Elen during the last few months:

“Elen is a fantastic tutor and mentor.  There are many factors which contribute towards her effectiveness as a teacher, and in my opinion these are the main reasons:

Her exceptional enthusiasm for the subject.  Theatre means a lot to Elen, for her theatre is not merely about entertainment but an attempt to discover the truth – the truth about humanity.

Her ability to treat everyone as an individual, and her desire to understand what is unique about each person under her care. Elen attempts to understand the whole person, and aims at reaching to the heart of one’s beliefs in order to find the best way to help that person grow and develop, not only in his or her career, but also as a person.  She has a holistic attitude towards training.

Her readiness to be honest about her experiences.  Throughout her teaching Elen has been very giving about her unique journey as a director, and by being honest about her failures she succeeds in inspiring others.

And lastly, her wonderful energy and general positivity.”

Apart from teaching those on the directing course, over the last few months Elen has also been tutoring in schools and colleges.

During the Autumn she held workshops for school pupils in Y Llwyfan, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s base, and the feedback was very positive, many stating that they has been inspired by her:

“Thank you for the welcome and the fantastic and worthwhile workshops.  Pupils were very enthusiastic on the way home…” – Heiddwen Tomos, Dyffryn Teifi School.

Elen is a former associate director with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru where she produced:

‘Deffro’r Gwanwyn’ – an adaptation of the musical ‘Spring Awakening’

Many young people were cast in this production.  Elen taught many of them how to run their own workshops. Some of the actors continue to hold workshops and to develop their own work under Elen’s leadership.

Y Storm – an adaptation of ‘The Tempest’ which was part of the World Shakespeare Festival

Elen held workshops alongside the show throughout the country in order to introduce students to Shakespeare’s work.

Dyled Eileen – a production based on the life of protester Eileen Beasley.

Elen held workshops and talks for pupils and the general public.

During the last few months Elen has visited a great many organisations, such as Merched y Wawr, in order to teach the members about theatre, and to promote the work of Welsh language theatre.  Her energy as a teacher and mentor knows no bounds.

Mared Swain Associate Director, Sherman Cymru commented:

“Since meeting Elen back in 2003/4 on a writing course for ‘Script Cymru’, she has been a very important figure in my development as an artist. I have attended many of ‘Living Pictures’ workshops, and whilst on her Directing course in 2010, honed the art of directing which has been totally invaluable.

She is an extremely inspiring person, full of energy and very supportive as she helps artists to develop their craft. Without her work and devotion our community of Welsh artists would be a great deal poorer.”

Arwel Gruffydd, Artistic Director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru is equally eloquent in his praise:

“Over the years Elen Bowman has been an inspiration to a generation of theatre directors and actors in Wales because of her exceptional work as one of our most talented and ambitious directors. But she has also worked tirelessly specifically sharing her knowledge and craft with others. She has worked as a freelance director with a great many groups in Wales and beyond, including two national theatre companies in Wales, and as a director and tutor with many colleges such as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s. In her role as Co-Artistic Director of Living Pictures, and her work as Director and Associate Director with Sgript Cymru, Sherman Cymru and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, she has also organised, co-ordinated and led on training schemes, especially in acting and directing for the stage. Elen is one of the most generous persons I have known; generous with her time and with her heart. Elen’s commitment to the theatre, and especially in offering leadership to new directors, is second to none, often working without recognition – financial or otherwise. As a theatre director, Wales would be a great deal poorer without her influence and commitment.  Many of us theatre directors who work professionally in the theatre in Wales today, myself among them, owe a huge thank you to Elen Bowman.”

She is an inspiring person, tutor, and mentor. In our opinion, she fully deserves to win this important award as an acknowledgement for her tireless work promoting the world of the theatre amongst people of all ages.

The Arts in Education review

An independent report for the Welsh Government

into Arts in Education in the Schools of Wales

TCWA Venue Sherman Cymru and our panel

The Theatre Critics Wales Awards will take place at the beautiful Sherman Theatre in Cardiff on Saturday the 25th Jan at 7.30 pm.


sherman interior

Our panel for this years awards is below, all of the panel give their time for free to celebrate the work of Welsh artists.

  • John Roberts               The Public Reviews website
  • Sam Pryce                     Young Critic
  • Mike Smith                   Freelance Journalist
  • Sarah Finch                  Young Critic
  • Karen Price                   Media Wales
  • Adam Somerset           Theatre Wales Website
  • Pat Roper                      3rd Age Critic
  • Chelsey Gillard            Buzz Magazine
  • Gary Ramond              Wales Arts Review Website
  • Lowri Haf Cooke           BBC Radio Cymru/Pethe/S4C Arts Correspondent
  • Chris Howell                3rd Age Critic
  • Mark Rees                    South Wales Evening Post
  • Mark Thomas              Plastik Magazine online magazine
  • Charlie Hammond      Young Critic
  • Othniel Smith              British Theatre Guide Website
  • Michael Kelligan         Theatre Wales Website
  • Phil Morris                   Wales Arts Review Website
  • Elin Williams               Young Critics/Wales Arts Review Website
  • Rachel Morgan            Young Critic
  • Brain Roper                   New Welsh Review/3rd Age Critic
  • Sioned Williams          Barn
  • Jaqui Onions                The Public Reviews Website

Ticketing/Invite information Theatre Critics of Wales Awards

Dear Guest,

We are delighted to announce the second Theatre Critics of Wales Awards (TCWAs) recognising excellence in the performing arts in Wales, Jan-Dec 2013.

The Awards will be presented at a special ceremony at Sherman Cymru on,

  •  Saturday 25th January 2014, 7.30 prompt – aprox.10.00pm.
  • A free drinks reception will begin at 7.00 pm

This is an invite only event you must contact Response Wales to request entry. 

Dress Code Smart not black-tie.

Each nominated artist is offered a free ticket +1.

Each nominated production has a free ticket offered + 1 for all of the company members.

We may be able to offer additional tickets upon request closer to the event.

If you would like to attend please complete the information below and return to

Thank you

The TCWA Team


Nomination category.




Names of all attending.


Contact details.

Review The Sleeping Beauties, Sherman Cymru “spellbound from start to finish”

sleeping beauties image

On Wednesday the 11th of December I attended a completely sold out viewing of The Sherman Cymru’s – Sleeping Beauties.

With an outstandingly designed set by Rachael Canning, stunning costume design and fantastic lighting display, this really is the Christmas show of the year. Written by Robert Alan Evans and directed by Roisin McBrinn, Sleeping Beauties puts a modern day twist on a much loved classic fairy tale. Not only is the audience re-living a childhood dream, we are also exposed to many other favourites that have been intricately woven into this cleverly written adaptation.
Both children and adults were spellbound by this magical production, with the audience responding immediately and excitingly to the cast breaking the fourth wall, encouraging them to clap and sing along. Composer and Musical Director Lucy Rivers has ensured easy catchy tunes to enable us to join in quickly with no hesitations.
It’s the Christmas tale that adds a touch of sparkle that gives the production an edge you won’t find of a typical pantomime, we were spellbound from start to finish.
With an exceptionally talented cast, a special mention must go to Lisa Jen Brown for her superb portrayal of the Witch, a storyteller, cast member and singer, Miss Brown stood out from the rest with her clear love and dedication to the role being portrayed.
Following the eruptions of laugher from both children and adults alike, the standing ovations and the deafening cheers I would highly recommend this enchanting Christmas show to people of all ages as it’s so beautifully performed there’s something captivating that appeals to all of us.

Critics panel meets to short list for Theatre Critics Wales Awards.


The TCWA panel met yesterday at Media Wales, Cardiff to discuss and decide upon the short list for the second Theatre Critics of Wales Awards, will take place on Saturday 25th January 2014 at Sherman Cymru.

Organised  by Response Wales, the TCWA’s will once again celebrate the range and diversity of the performing arts in Wales Jan-Dec 2013, as voted for by the critics. This years awards will include a public vote for best production in the English Language and in the Welsh Language which will be hosted by Media Wales and Golwg.

Nominations in all categories remain open until Dec 22nd 2013.


Theatre Critics of Wales Awards panel meet to discuss nominations.

Official Awards Logo Small

The second Theatre Critics of Wales Awards, will take place on Saturday 25th January 2014 at Sherman Cymru.

Organised  by Response Wales, the TCWA’s will once again celebrate the range and diversity of the performing arts in Wales Jan-Dec 2013, as voted for by the critics.Members of the panel will meet this Friday to discuss the nominations, nominations remain open until the 22nd of Dec.

The  panel includes;

  • John Roberts               The Public Reviews
  • Sam Pryce                     Young Critic
  • Mike Smith                   Freelance Journalist
  • Sarah Finch                  Young Critic
  • Karen Price                   Media Wales
  • Adam Somerset           Theatre Wales Website
  • Pat Roper                      3rd Age Critic
  • Chelsey Gillard            Buzz Magazine
  • Gary Ramond              Wales Arts Review
  • Lowri Haf Cook           BBC Radio Cymru
  • Chris Howell                3rd Age Critic
  • Mark Rees                    South Wales Evening Post
  • Mark Thomas              Plastik Magazine
  • Charlie Hammond      Young Critic
  • Othniel Smith              British Theatre Guide
  • Michael Kelligan         Theatre Wales Website
  • Phil Morris                   Wales Arts Review
  • Elin Williams               Young Critics
  • Rachel Morgan            Young Critic
  • Brain Roper                  3rd Age Critic
  • Sioned Williams          Barn
  • Jaqui Onions                The Public Reviews

Review ‘Sue, The Second Coming’ Chapter Arts Centre “It is Sue-perb” Young Critic Sam Pryce.

Sue - The Second Coming 1

Photo Kirsten McTernan.

Sue – the lonesome, piano-plonking Christian – is back with a vengeance. In this, her ‘second coming’, she beckons us into her tastelessly-decorated living room, hands us a shot of eggnog and provides a festive freakshow armed with a piano, a soaring falsetto and a mini orchestra of deadpan, back-up Sues. After a cult-following developed at her Edinburgh Fringe show, My Name Is Sue, Sue is on tour to bring her unhinged joviality to audiences across the UK.

In a menacing medley of darkly funny ballads, Sue (embodied by the buttock-clenchingly hilarious Dafydd James) waxes lyrical on such subjects as the unfortunate vanishing of Macaulay Culkin, the lamentable tragedy of the Manky Goat and her intoxicated liaison with a dodgy Father Christmas.

In true seasonal spirit, the audience participates too in The Nativity According to Sue, in which Sue awaits the arrival of a new messiah from the very depths of her womb. Unsettled audience members are pulled up on stage to play wise men, lonely shepherds and the angel Gabrielle (‘Dreeeams can come true!’). It is Sue-perb.

The brilliantly disturbed minds behind this are Dafydd James and Ben Lewis, who, along with their indubitably talented company (Megan Affonso, Elena Pena and Francesca Simmons), have created something startlingly original that bears significance to almost nothing ever seen before in the comedy world. Although character comedy and comedy songs may be mediums that are considered to be one-dimensional, the company manage to blend in bracing musical interludes with a character exceedingly developed who has the (albeit slim) possibility of existing in the real world.

Sue Timms is a comic creation that has the potential to become something eternal in the comedy world. I know whose house I’m going to for Christmas dinner.

Review Script Slam, Sherman Cymru, Young Critic Sam Pryce


Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre is turning forty, can you believe? And it doesn’t look a day over twenty-one. Since life is meant to begin at forty, the theatre has themed this year’s Script Slam around anniversary material symbols – paper for one year and ruby for forty, and so on. If, like I was, you are unfamiliar with the Script Slam palaver, it’s essentially a competition stretched over three nights, each night hosting three short and original plays from local playwrights. À la X Factor, each play is then critiqued by a panel of theatrical aficionados who ponder its profundity and its extendibility before the audience decides via show of hands. And it’s all very casual – I mean, the actors have their scripts in the hands, for one thing. However, I should say that the acting is consistently excellent from Sara Harris-Davies, Gareth Milton and Hugh Thomas – all of whom interpreted the pieces with accomplished panache.

The panellists in question on the first night were: Sherman Cymru’s Associate Director, Roisin McBrinn; Associate Producer of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Michael Salmon; and Wales Arts Review’s Senior Editor, Gary Raymond. Every night also boasts a different director and Tuesday’s director was the brilliant Matthew Bulgo, one sixth of Dirty Protest, who you may have seen in I’m With The Band. Well, I did, anyway.

The first play of three was Neil Walden’s GM – a quaint piece about a jeweller in search of the gold he shall use for the Queen’s 40th anniversary wedding ring. It was humorous in places and the characters well-honed but I could source no meaning behind it. Perhaps it was simply following the brief. This led it to receive from the audience no favouring hands. But who knows? I could’ve misinterpreted it completely. Walden’s no stranger to misunderstanding of his work. He once won an award for horror writing for what he thought was a comedy.

The second came from previous Script Slam winner, Neil Bebber. He brought us Together – not literally; that’s its name. This play brought us a wonderfully detestable couple who had been bound to each other for forty years and couldn’t wait until death could finally part them. Through acerbic remarks to and fro, we discover the sexual escapades and liaisons each party had indulged in throughout their relationship. It’s a savagely funny play with echoes of Pinter-esque wit but a truly original tone. My hand thrust up for this one. In the air, of course.

And the last was A Very Modern Office by David Harris – a delightful, faintly absurdist story about change and its effects. A man goes about his business in what he believes to be his lifelong office where he works with paper and paper alone. At least until a young temp visits. He then discovers the world outside his office is rapidly changing – his office is now a storage room, paper is dying a dreadful death and books are being listened to instead of read. Quite a thought-provoking one, this; made me think quite severely about paper.

‘And the winner?’ you ask. Neil Bebber’s Together took the, erm… Well, the accolade. There wasn’t actually a prize, unfortunately. But there we are. Something for the CV, eh?

Review Parallel Lines, Dirty Protest “brimming with ferocious intensity and unflinching controversy” Young Critic Sam Pryce.


Dirty Protest have got their filthy (but ever-so-skilful) hands on Katherine Chandler’s fearlessly written and deeply felt play, Parallel Lines, which won the inaugural Wales Drama Award last year. And, as is the case whenever Dirty Protest put on something, it’s brimming with ferocious intensity and unflinching controversy. Directed with daring nerve by Catherine Paskell, this is a play with a wicked sting in its tail.

The narrative follows the parallel lives of fifteen year-old, Steph (played exceptionally with sexually-charged audacity by Rachel Redford) and her teacher, Simon (Gareth Pierce; equally superb). The divide is established through Signe Beckmann’s split stage – on the left (subtly political, perchance?), Steph and her mother’s grubby kitchen, worktop contaminated by empty mugs and unwashed dishes; and on the right, the spotless, chic-er kitchen belonging to Simon and his wife, Julia (a suitably overwrought Lisa Diveney) who are two middle class teachers too preoccupied with their jobs to consider each other’s infidelities. Steph and Simon’s lives collide when an accusation is made but everything is kept delectably ambiguous, at least until the earth-shattering conclusion.

Chandler writes with unabashed obscenity during the tumultuous rows between Steph and her mother, whose tragicomic nuances are embodied by the brilliant Jan Anderson. During monologues, however, the writing style becomes somewhat poetic; for example, in describing Steph’s deepest emotions, Chandler applies beautiful expression that retains adolescent uncertainty as well as something quite lyrical and emotional. It has an air of experience about it.

This is yet another triumph for Dirty Protest. It is comforting to be in the knowledge that theatre so courageous and yet so authentic is being made right now. Here is a theatre company whose consistence trumps any I know of working in Britain today, and Parallel Lines is another gleaming badge for their already glittering lapel.