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Review Smash It Up, Mr and Mrs Clark, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

Smash It Up!

Mr and Mrs Clark

Battersea Arts Centre

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Two years ago I was lucky enough to be part of the Wales Dance Platform. It was an amazing weekend of performance, film and photography from a range of Welsh professionals.

In Chapter Arts Centre, I witnessed Mr and Mrs Clark and their new performance – ‘Smash It Up.’ I came away mesmerised, proud and inspired. A piece that, as always, seemed polished, well-constructed and well created, was only a work in  progress to my surprise.

If you haven’t heard of the Clarks, then where have you been? To come from a working process to where this performance is two years later, seems almost impossible in how much more amazing it can be, when you already think this it’s pretty incredible to begin with. The company embark on a look into the destruction of art in our World and the substandard it is made out to be in relation to more ‘serious’ businesses and topics.

A low hum, we are introduced to a room of tables with destroyed items and highlights of art from music to images to paintings. Noticing under this hum is the sound of sheep – a link to the Welsh nationality being brought into the hub of London? It seems not – the gentle and patient movement of the tables and other furniture soon moves the audience members – purposeful, we are sheep being herded without argument.

The development proceeds from a sense of calm to gradual anger and destruction of not only art but of our freedom as creatives. The performers subject themselves to potential harm and injuries for their cause – a protest on stage.

Mr and Mrs Clark are known for their use of technology, their physicality and their in depth messages. All of this is in abundance and it is put together so amazingly well that the pieces of the puzzle slot together in such a concise but destructive way. Their energy is consistent and impressive, making you feel envious of how they are able to keep physical for so long – true professional and skilled performers.

If there is only one thing you do this year, it should be to see any show by this formidable company. Their open and in your face opinion and protest to the state of art leaves you not only thinking but also rooting for them if you weren’t already involved In the conversation. Flying the flag for Wales – The Clarks have easily conquered London.

Mr and Mrs Clark

Battersea Arts Centre

http://www.mrandmrsclark.co.uk/index.htm

Review Bird Sherman Cymru By Kaitlin Wray

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Bird’ the title of this play took off just like a bird itself. A play that took hold of us from the very moment the first word was uttered until the blackout at the end. Rachel O’Riordan, the director of ‘Bird’ with assistant director Elgan Rhys by her side made sure this play not only, ticked all the boxes but was a complete success.

This was a very clever production written by Katherine Chandler that had twists and turns, it was a play about two young girls in a care home struggling with their past but trying to face up to their future. This is a story that’s so raw I felt like I was trespassing into their private lives. Due to the raw nature, some of the words are at times  lost due to the quick-pace naturalistic acting  but even so, that didn’t take away from the performances overall. Each actor didn’t fault within their characters and it was definitely perfectly cast. The set, designed by Kenny Miller, was simplistic yet effective and I loved the use of the two levels.

Georgia Henshaw, playing the 15 year old protagonist, Ava, showed her naivety and was full of the energy that you could imagine from a girl of that age. However she also portrayed a girl that has been through a lot. Georgia really embodied her character and it was a great performance to watch.

Siwan Morris, playing Claire, Ava’s mother, did a phenomenal job at making the audience completely loathe a character and then feeling sympathy towards her in the end. After loving the character of Angie, Siwan played from the first two series of Skins, she was nearly unrecognisable as Claire. Yet both characters she played were phenomenal.

Rosie Sheehy, playing Ava’s best friend had a voice with such vocal clarity that I loved to listen to, furthermore her dancing skills were on point. Connor Allen, playing a 17 year old Dan who is Ava’s love interest felt like the realest character out of them all who says things as they are. Connor’s characterisation was comedic and entertaining. Last but not least was Guy Rhys who did a great job at acting like a creepy fatherly figure-like role. Throughout the performance it was unclear of his intentions with Ava and Guy and he did a good job at portraying this. This character has one big secret that causes the biggest twist of all.

If you want to know what happened then I would highly recommend going to see ‘Bird’ as it’s a performance that has great technical proficiency with outstanding direction and performers who will no doubt make a great career out of acting.

Director- Rachel O’Riordan

Writer- Katherine Chandler

Designer- Kenny Miller

Composer and Sound Designer- Simon Slater

Deputy Stage Manager- Charlotte Unwin

Lighting Designer- Kevin Treacy

Assistant Director- Elgan Rhys

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Corinne Cox

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Chandler weaves a narrative that is a mix of raw heady emotion with some truly lyrical writing.

Ava is on the cusp of adulthood. 16 next month and facing a future outside the care home, all that currently lies ahead of her is an expansive and overwhelming unknown. Her mum doesn’t want her to come home, sheltered accommodation will be miles away from manipulative Lee, and Dan might just like her. Luckily, as best friend Tash reassures her, they always have the option of just flying away…

As we join Ava as she navigates her way through this minefield of complex relationships, from the exploitative to the genuinely heartfelt, Chandler weaves a narrative that is a mix of raw heady emotion with some truly lyrical writing.

The stand out performance for me was Siwan Morris’s portrayal of Ava’s Mum, Claire. Throughout her interactions with Ava there was a stark discrepancy between what I was seeing and how it made me feel. We witness a mother, riddled with jealousy, rejecting her daughter time and again, in complete denial of the fact that her judgement of a new partner could be at fault. Yet underneath this front we feel the desperation of Claire’s intrinsic love for her daughter, a love that perhaps blinds her to the fact that she could ever have wronged her to this extent. A denial which continues to define both her and her daughter’s lives. Morris draws us in with her subtle portrayal of Claire’s own vulnerability as she asserts, as if to convince herself more than us, that she ‘had no choice’.

Georgia Henshaw’s portrayal of Ava is brave, raw and heartbreakingly funny, achieving a sensitive balance between Ava’s anger and her innocence, which is frequently represented in the damaging relationships she enters to fill the void that the desperation for a sense of belonging can create. Georgia subtly teases out these different levels of Ava, from the frantic energy that exudes from the character when she is engaging with her mum, to the fiery exchanges her evident frustration at her circumstance often results in these exchanges resorting to.

What is undoubtedly a challenging view is softened by some stark moments of tenderness – beacons of hope which the audience cling to desperately amongst the evident turmoil Chandler’s characters are facing. The unfiltered emotion in Dan and Ava’s embrace, Ava’s raucous cackling as she’s tickled by Tash, Claire’s reluctant admittance that she may in fact have got it wrong; moments such as these provide some light relief for the audience and humanises the characters.

The world premiere of Katherine Chandler’s Bird at Sherman Cymru this month immerses audiences in a range of difficult themes which more often than not simply aren’t provided with a platform. By giving a voice to those who are increasingly marginalised by society and the media, Chandler humanises individuals in Ava’s position, providing a refreshing alternative narrative which challenges established preconceptions and explores the individuals behind the circumstance. Bird is a thought provoking piece and an accolade to Welsh new writing.

 

Director- Rachel O’Riordan

Writer- Katherine Chandler

Designer- Kenny Miller

Composer and Sound Designer- Simon Slater

Deputy Stage Manager- Charlotte Unwin

Lighting Designer- Kevin Treacy

Assistant Director- Elgan Rhys

Review Belonging Re-live by Kiera Sikora

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The new production from Re-Live, written by Karin Diamond and directed by Peter Doran, focuses on the stories of two different families. Both families have one thing in common; one member of each family has dementia. But this play does more than tell the story of the horribly hurtful truth of the illness, it also tells us the story of the people who surround those with dementia, in a deeply delicate and witty Welsh way.

One family, a mother (Francine Morgan) with a son (Nathan Sussex), a daughter (Karin Diamond) and a grandchild are struggling through what seems to be the beginning of them recognising the mother’s illness. Her daughter is worried; her son is (at first) oblivious. The mother is frightened and increasingly forgetful sparking some worry in not only her family but her friends too. But amid the worry is the ever faithful humour the mother inhabits, her ability to make a laugh and a joke about her forgetfulness carries them as does her eventual willingness to listen to her family, their worries and fears and also her own.

The other family are an older married couple who have spent 42 beautiful years together in their happily bilingual love story of a life. But their story changes in front of us. We see Morris (Llion Williams), the husband, transform into the illness at a rapid pace. It is, in the most innocently brutal way, hard to watch. His chatty self disappears almost, as he loses his English and speaks only Welsh making communication a difficult deed for his non-Welsh speaking wife. He reverts back to his childhood memories frequently and it is only when his wonderful carer helps him to indulge his own world that we see him feeling comfortable again. Their story pays particular attention to Morris’ wife (Clêr Stephens) too, showing how far those around an ill loved one can feel pushed to the brink while also showing us how the courage, positivity and happy help of others is a golden necessity for anyone living with dementia.

‘Belonging’ is a deeply effective play. Yes, it’s upsetting and painful to watch at times and it’s quick wit does make it’s story feel very close to home. But it’s also a privilege. Rarely do we feel truly touched by what we see on stage; rarely do we see illness being talked about so freely. And rarely do we take the time to recognise that there are people who need us to do just that. To just talk. And to be told how to help and to be told that it’s okay to ask a person if they’d like our help. To some that message may seem obvious but seeing what we need to hear on stage brings a certain confidence to an audience. Re-Live have done just that having used theatre so warmly, to help us engage in conversation that would otherwise go unspoken because of the silence that can sometimes surround an illness like dementia.

Karin Diamond along with Peter Doran and their superb cast have tackled a treat of show. It’ll make you smile, cry and laugh- and you may even do all three all at once.

Torch Theatre, Milford Haven- 19th, 20th May

Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli- 24th May

Pontio, Bangor- 26th, 27th May

Neaudd Ucheldre, Holyhead- 31st May

Galeri, Caernarfon- 2nd June

Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon- June 8th

http://www.re-live.org.uk/belonging/

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Kiera Sikora

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5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

If you believe that theatre should make you feel like you’ve been hit in the head and heart with raw, honest and thought provoking reality then ‘Bird’ is a play that will soar through your mind well after you’ve applauded and left the theatre.

Set by the coast ‘Bird’ follows the story of two young girls in a care home, lost to the loniless of forced and inflicted cruelty. Ava, played incredibly by Georgia Henshaw, is torn inside the comfort she wants and the comfort she is given. Her friend Tash (Rosie Sheehy) a victim of the same complex, is her stead and dancing heroine who speaks more sense than sense usually allows. Together they are our focus- and we are thrown into their world of dance, danger and desolate distress.

We meet Ava’s mother (Siwan Morris), an irate yet seemingly frightened woman with a brash voice and an even brasher manner, who’s discomfort with dialogue mirrors her daughter’s physicality, and we are immediately shown the disfunctional relationship the two share- with the reasons why hinted at ambiguously. We see from the very beginning that Ava longs for a relationship with her mother, the lack of which which we assume to be her reason for wanting to find a certain sense of comfort wherever she can. It is this search for comfort and security that throws both of these girls into the danger of the men around them. Dan (Connor Allen) is a young boy looking to get lucky with a kind wit and a convincing smile, and Lee (Guy Rhys) is a middle aged taxi driver looking to lure and nest young sparrows at their very weakest.

But it is what Chandler does here, that really makes ‘Bird’ the prime play that it is. She humanises each character. With every flaw and every laugh, every smile and every slice of persuasion- she lets us see the people inside the story so closely that you feel sick for thinking that you could like a person like Lee. The horrendous thing is, Bird shows you how easy it to like him. And also how easy it is for vulnerable young women to disregard themselves so deeply that they become a target for the inhumane vultures who prey on them as he does. We steer away from these people in society, we ignore them and hope that we aren’t the type to socialise with ‘people like them’. But when human interaction is all that you want because it’s all that you feel you need to make your world more liveable, then you will find it and you will saver it, whether it’s wrong or right because nothing is more overpowering than desire. It is that that connects Ava and Lee, Lee and Tash, Dan and Ava and indeed Claire and Paul. The connections, the emotion and the drama that corrupts these individuals is harrowing and it’s hunger for revelation is hurtfully desperate.

There is so much to be said for this play- it’s impact, it’s design, it’s softly suited sound and simplistic yet cleverly constructed set. But it’s what this play achieves, along with it’s strong cast and carefully crafted direction that headlines it’s importance. To voice what it is to be a person on the outskirts of a society that has disregarded them. And what it is to listen to those voices and know that it’s happening. It’s real. And that we must think. Deeply. Often.

Katherine Chandler yet again strikes a burning match with her words and invites the audience into a world that many feel they cannot or will not understand- we owe her greatly for giving us the chance to try.

‘Bird’ runs at the Sherman Cymru, Cardiff until 28th May and then at Royal Exchange, Manchester from 8th-25th June.

It’ll hurt your heart but it’s worth it.

Director- Rachel O’Riordan
Designer- Kenny Miller
Composer and Sound Designer- Simon Slater
Deputy Stage Manager- Charlotte Unwin
Lighting Designer- Kevin Treacy
Assistant Director- Elgan Rhys

Review Bird Sherman Cymru by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Ava (Georgia Henshaw) and Tash (Rosie Sheehy) are young, optimistic and disfigured teens. Their friendship and integral bond is rooted within the whirlwind of complicated lives and a callous society. As Ava dashes and flitters off every object, person and syllable, Tash is always at heights, dancing at the edge of the world – awaiting flight.

Never have I experienced such an encompassing performance. I strolled into the Sherman, and left sprinting. But, regardless of my train times, Bird is a play that melts the facades and the barriers, and leaves you trying to fly – in all senses of the word.

An elderly man, as the audience were sipping the last dregs of their wine/settling, I heard from the front row, turn to his wife and speculate ‘I think it’s a comedy’. ‘I don’t think so mate’ I quipped, in thought. However, now I see that Bird cannot be constrained to a genre, or what people want it to be. Ava – stunningly performed by Georgia Henshaw – has an infectious spirit and an undeniably truthful perception of life. Resulting in imposing moments of frolic and uncontained rage, I didn’t feel the back of my chair once. Rosie Sheehy, too, must be applauded. Her exploration of the depth within the thirteen-year-old was wonderfully perceptive and chilling.

Katherine Chandler is a writer who sees the world empathetically and urges us all to do so. Desperation is far too attainable as the play’s women appease the men surrounding them. Does the honesty of ‘It just got too much,’ vindicate all the vodka, and the manipulation, and the self-serving? Chandler holds up a mirror to the real world and the audience are almost blinded by the familiar reflections.

Close to the surface lurks the grit and tensions of the women’s lives. The set designed by Kenny Miller, ingeniously incorporates this theme as the characters stand upon the yellowing, moulded tiles of a swimming pool beneath a sky of industrial light.

‘Bird’ is a sharply directed play – so successfully done that it’s easy to forget it had to be constructed that way. Rachel O’Riordan presents a piece of astoundingly compelling theatre as every silence, gesture and intonation propels the audience deeper within the crevices of the narrative.

Very rarely do you leave the theatre in, slightly paralysing, awe. A play as impacting as ‘Bird’ is not to be missed!

Review In Parenthesis WNO by Helen Joy

WNO In Parenthesis. Photo credit - Bill Cooper 925

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Remember me. The evening before I had sung those words when rehearsing with the Forget Me Not (dementia) Chorus. Haunting to hear them sung out again across the cavernous auditorium of the WMC by men in khaki uniform looking to their end in the First World War.

I am surrounded by men in uniform. Bearskins worn at the doors borne by giants amongst men. Soldiers in full dress, silver horn covers wedged in place with bits of blue cardboard and happy for a head scratch. Red carpet. ‘Busyness’ everywhere and the Centre comes alive to remember the dead.

The first half is hard going, like the waters of the Channel and the muddy war-torn ground Royal Welsh Fusiliers will tread on the Somme. Granddad Joy was injured out on the Somme. Joined up at 17, he would never talk about the war. Here we are, being entertained by it.

I wonder what the soldiers around me are thinking. The first act is removed from them by at least two generations, probably three. Soldiers on the stage sing their way into personalities of a different time.

Act two is different. The visceral consequences of a, by now, boring war. Surreal; trees engulf the men and pick them off one by one. The floral bonnets of the women are lain on the laps of the dead and they are commemorated, returning to the soil to push up new daisies, new trees.

I wonder how the men around me are feeling now.

The choral pieces, from both the male voice choir and the women’s, are gently discordant and hauntingly beautiful. David Jones’ words are spun through the air. The solos are clear and strong and tell the tale of men, old and young going to war. The women are left behind.

There is some humour amongst the pathos – in the back-chatting amongst the men – but not many of us laugh. We all sigh with the joyful relief of recognition when our lads sing Sospan Fach but we are only half way through. We sigh again over the filthy battlefield of Mametz and hope for them.

The sets are clever and simple – the inscribed grey wall slides down and the floor rises and soldiers are in a bunker, crawling away from safety and towards the light of fire.

We leave and push out into the red light of the commemorative installation outside the doors of the Centre. We have been entertained by war. It has been magnificent and dreadful and mad.

Type of show: opera

Title: In Parenthesis

Venue: Wales Millennium Centre

Dates: May 13 to July 1, 2016

Composer: Iain Bell

(Libbrettist: David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins – after David Jones)

Conductor: Carlo Rizzi

Director: David Poutney

Designer: Robert Innes Hopkins

Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth

Cast includes:

Private John Ball Andrew Bidlack

Bard of Brittannia/HQ Officer Peter Coleman-Wright

Bard of Germania/Alice the Barmaid/The Queen of the Woods Alexandra Decorates

Lieutenant Jenkins George Humphreys

Lance Corporal Lewis Marcus Farnsworth

Sergeant Snell Mark Le Brocq

Dai Greatcoat Donald Maxwell

The Marne Sergeant Graham Clark

Performances start at 7.15pm, except Royal Opera House on 29 June and 1 July at 7.30pm

Running time: approximately two hours and 30 minutes including one 20 min interval

Sung in English with subtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff)

See more at: https://www.wno.org.uk/event/parenthesis#sthash.6q0pYOy8.dpuf

Review by Helen Joy

www.theblockhouseblogger.wordpress.com

Review A Sunny Disposition The Other Room by Caitlin Finn

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A Vlog review by Young Critic Caitlin Finn of A Sunny Disposition written/directed by Nicola Reynolds, The Other Room, Porters Cardiff.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

A Sunny Disposition, The Other Room, Porters, Cardiff.

Cast:
Charlie – Neal McWilliams

Creative Team:
Director – Nicola Reynolds
Designer – Amy Jane Cook
Lighting Designer – Jane Lalljee
Sound Designer – Matthew Jones
Stage Manager – Lauren Dennis
Assistant Director – Alex Parry
Photographer – Aenne Pallasca

http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/whats-on/seasons/insomnia/a-sunny-disposition/

Interview Gwen Davies A young dancer with Ballet Cymru.

095Sian Trenberth Photography

Our project coordinator recently spoke to Gwen Davies, a young Welsh dancer with Ballet Cymru.

Hi Gwen, can you tell me how you got involved in your area in the arts?

I started dancing after a nursery teacher suggested to my parents to take me to ballet classes, because I was always active and loved dancing to music. At the age of four I took up classes locally in Cardiff at Chapter Arts Centre and then at 11 received a scholarship to attend Elmhurst School for Dance in Association with Birmingham Royal Ballet where i spent a further 7 and a half years training. I suppose I was immersed from a very young age in the arts and was lucky that my parents would take me to go and see various performances of all styles of art, from this I had an avid interest at a very young age.

You are currently working with Ballet Cymru, can you please tell us more about your relationship with the company?

I first got involved with Ballet Cymru after taking part in their Riverfront Summer Dance at the age of 8. After that I haven’t missed a single one of their summer school to date! I also took part in the workshops in Abergavenny which the company hold. Once I was training professionally the company were also really supportive in letting me partake in company class during the school holidays. I found it really helpful to be able to have access to professional standard classes from the age of 15. Something which is quite rare and it has definitely been invaluable to me in my development as a professional dancer.

Was there a moment when you thought this is the career for me?

I don’t think I have had one single definitive moment which made me decide it was the career path for me, but more the unfolding of events and opportunities I was given. I have always loved to dance but I don’t think I seriously considered it as a career until after I started vocational school in Birmingham where you then begin to have an understanding of the training and hard work required to make it professionally. Even then I think there is always an element of doubt as to whether you are actually good enough to make it after all the training. I think my mind was totally made up after getting more professional performing opportunities with Birmingham Royal Ballet. After getting a taste of working with the company when I was 17, in La Fille Mal Gardee and later Romeo and Juliet, there was no going back really. I don’t think I could find anything that could replace the feeling of performing to an audience especially when it’s with a live orchestra.

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When you aren’t dancing or watching dance what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to watch rugby in my spare time and have been an avid supporter of Newport Gwent Dragons, and I make it down to Rodney Parade as often as I can to watch matches! I also enjoy going to watch live music and any other kind of performance art to be honest.

Are their any individuals or organisations that helped support you once you realised a career in dance was for you?

In Wales my biggest support came from Ballet Cymru. They were really helpful in giving me advice when I was auditioning for schools and companies and really valued the opportunities, and improved in their classes. I’ve also been really lucky to have some inspirational and supportive teachers in Birmingham which I definitely wouldn’t have succeeded this far without. I have also been very lucky in receiving funding from the Elizabeth Evans Trust towards my training and also Cardiff Council who also funded an invaluable trip for Ballet Masterclasses in Prague for a fortnight which I learnt incredible amounts from and was an amazing experience to work with so many other professional dancers from all over the world.

What are the opportunities for those interested in dance as a career in Wales?

There are many companies across Wales which offer workshops and have associate classes. Ballet Cymru being one of them for classical dancers, and also National Dance Company Wales offer associates which focus on contemporary dance.

How do we get involved in your dance projects?

We are touring Roald Dahl’s Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs across Wales this season, opening on May the 20th in the Riverfront, Newport and continue to perform until early July. It will be a really fun performance to watch and is great for all ages! The company will also be teaching workshops in some of the venues we are touring to so there are  plenty of opportunities to get involved! We are also performing Romeo and Juliet for a small section of the tour in Portsmouth, Llanelli and Stevenage which will be a contrasting production to the more lighthearted Red Riding Hood.

Do you have any advice for anyone interested in following your career path?

To work as hard as you can but also to enjoy every moment of the process. It’s a career which requires a lot of determination and you will always encounter a lot of setbacks but the rewards always make every moment of perseverance worth it. I would also say to take every opportunity given to you, even if you think it might be relevant to what you’re interested in, but you would be surprised! I would try as many different styles of dance as possible but also to experience other art-forms to broaden your mind and experience something new. It’s always invaluable to have as much experience in anything you can, as you never know what will be thrown at you either in choreography or as a character in a production!

Thanks for your time Gwen

http://welshballet.co.uk

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/