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Get the Chance announced as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award at this years Epic Awards

 

Get the Chance  have been announced as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award at the 2017 Epic Awards organised by Voluntary Arts. The ceremony took place on Sunday the 19th March at the Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival.

 The Epic Awards were set up in 2010 by Voluntary Arts, an organisation that works across the UK and Republic of Ireland to promote participation in creative cultural activities. They celebrate the amazing contribution voluntary-led creative groups make to their communities.

https://www.voluntaryarts.org/epic-awards

The Celebrating Diversity Award is selected from across the full shortlist of 32 groups by a panel of judges representing  teams in each nation. This award celebrates groups that have taken an innovative approach to highlighting the positive effects that come from living in a diverse society and is something that is central to the work that Voluntary Arts does all year round. Get the Chance were unanimously praised by the Epic Awards judges for

The project’s unique approach to encouraging a diversity of voices

 Guy O’Donnell, Director of Get the Chance said;

Get the Chance is honoured to be selected as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award. We strive to reflect the diverse nature of society in our voluntary membership. We learn from our team about barriers to sport and cultural provision and seek to work together to provide responses which are representative of all citizens in the UK.”

https://www.voluntaryarts.org/epic-awards-2017-winners

Membership of Get the Chance is free for further details please contact Guy O’Donnell, Director of Get the Chance

 getthechance1@gmail.com

Get The Chance

 

 

Review, Castle Rock, Massive Owl, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

Back at the Battersea Arts Centre, it seems with their jam packed season, they may as well provide a bed for me! A busy season is always fantastic with the different art that is created and performed here.

The company Massive Owl have travelled from Bristol for their one night show Castle Rock, based upon the Stephen King  novella The Body and the 1986 film Stand By Me.  We see the character of Ray and his enthusiasm for boxing but with the need to feel invincible.  This narrative evokes a technical and physical abstract show showcasing the stage in his life and events that pass.

However, I came away not being a huge fan.  The performance was at one, slow pace for the hour duration, feeling a lot longer, and not in a positive way. I kept waiting for something to happen, to get fast paced, to change the dynamics, a shock twist but nothing did. Arguably there was a small crescendo nearer the end but it felt displaced.

Technically – the use of projection, microphones and a loop peddle was interesting and added some interest to the stage presence. Not to rely on prerecording always shows a new talent to a production.

Majority of the production saw physical theatre, which I’m always a fan of. And you could see what they were trying to achieve but unfortunately it just did not hit the peak. While what was enjoyable was a little bit of comedy from the character of Ray from his dialogue which was witty without needing a huge monologue to get there. He had a twinkle in his eye that felt could have been harnessed more.

Castle Rock felt very much still in a scratch phase and with guidance needed to hone what the company wanted to achieve. However, any artist can see the hard work and direction they wanted to go and that in itself is something to commend.

(2 / 5)

Review Gaslight, New Theatre, Cardiff by Jane Bissett

(4 / 5)

Gaslight is a psychological thriller and focuses on the behaviour and sanity of Mrs Bella Manningham. Jack Manningham, is a subtle and clever manipulator who is controlling his wife by questioning her mental stability Indeed it is he who has engineered her current fragile state of mind and preys on her insecurities using the knowledge that she is haunted by the facts that her own mother had what was termed a ‘weakness of mind’ and ended her days in the ‘mad house’. It is clear from the opening scene that she is a woman who is living with a roller coster of emotions, her behaviour is constantly being questioned by her husband.

Whilst most evenings Jack Manningham is out pursuing his own ‘interests’ Bella is left alone in the house. Lonely and fearful and with items mysteriously being removed for which there is no explanation, she believes that there is someone else in the house. The dimming of the gaslight and footsteps from the rooms above at the top of the house, which her husband insists is not to be entered by any of the household and the doors remain locked, only serves to heighten her fear and anxiety.
Bella’s eventual salvation comes in the form of a detective, Rough, who has an ongoing interest in both Bella’s husband and the house in which they now live. With the aid of Bella’s maid, Elizabeth, Rough visits the house to investigate the unexplained happenings, discover the truth and save Bella from both insanity and her husband.

Rupert Young’s portrayal of Jack Manningham is skilful and disturbing. From the moment we first see him with his wife, the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. Jack clearly has an agenda in which his wife no longer serves a useful purpose so he plans to be rid of her. Young’s skill and ability to transform from a caring and compassionate husband to a calculating and manipulating bully make for uncomfortable viewing as he plays on his wife’s insecurities and her fear for her own state of mind.
As a cad and a rouge Young’s performance was confident and calculating. His stage presence and arrogant posture made his character believable and that as a man living in a male dominated society he could do what ever he wanted without reproach.

In contrast, Keith Allen, the man who we remember most in the mad and bad roles gave us a wonderful performance as the seasoned detective Rough. He brought the character alive from the moment he sets foot onto the stage, with a commanding confidence that makes the audience warm to Rough immediately. His delivery of Rough’s humour engaged the audience and his on-stage presence brought the play to life. During a scene when Jack Manningham return home early and unexpected there is almost a hint of a farce as Rough hides in a dressing room and just for a few moments we almost forget the dark subject of the play. Allen outstanding characterisation gives us a view into the compassionate and understanding side of Rough’s character as he endeavours to uphold justice and save Bella from a situation in which she has no control.

The play was staged on a single set, the drawing room of the house, which was designed and lit beautifully creating a style of Victorian elegance which was in keeping with story telling. There was a particular attention to the lighting as the name of the play would suggest, Gaslight, and these were given by two elegant lights either side of a large over mantle mirror which also gave an additional perspective during the scenes where Jack Manningham was addressing his wife as his reflection could be clearly seen although his back was to the audience. The atmosphere of the set was also enhanced by the use of lighting outside the room, which we were to believe was from the street outside, casting shadows of the players against the back drop of the drawing room doors, and also from what has to be the most realistic fire I have ever seen on a stage.
The costumes were as expected of the period in which the play was set and gave an overall feel of authenticity and drama which followed throughout the performance.

The play is a tale of crime and domestic abuse. Jack Manningham believes in ultimate power and control over his wife. His behaviour is now recognised by society and the law as what is now referred to as ‘coercive control’. When Rough suggests to Bella that her husband is not all he seems and is creating the problems she now faces, she is resistant. Clearly a woman of low self-esteem she clings to what she knows, her role as the loyal wife to a man who loves and protects her rather that being able to accept that truth of the situation unfolding around her. Her need to be loved blinds her to the realisation of what her husband is capable until the end. It is only the maid, Elizabeth, who sees Jack Manningham for who he really is and it is her intervention that draws the story out to a successful conclusion.

 

An Interview with lecturer, artist and designer Becky Davies

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

Currently, my work involves three core roles. I’m a freelance Set and Costume Designer for Theatre and Performance, I am an Artist who mainly produces artwork via commission, and I am a part-time Senior Lecturer on the BA(Hons) Creative and Therapeutic Arts course. I am also an Associate Artist of Taking Flight Theatre Company (who produce accessible and inclusive performance), and a resident designer for new musical theatre company, Leeway Productions.

http://www.beckydavies-theatredesigner-artist.com/about

So what got you interested in the arts ?

It may sound a cliché​ (but it is the absolute truth!). I was obsessed with drawing and painting from as soon as I could hold a pencil. This was my absolute first love and my way of telling stories and inventing worlds. I have always had a vivid imagination and I used to routinely dress up in elaborate costumes and build cities out of cardboard, towels, sheets, rope, chairs​ and pegs, whatever was available.

I was very lucky as I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to pursue my passion and follow a path towards a creative career. I had a romantic idea that I would end up as a Parisian Bohemian in an attic studio in Montmartre! To earn money while at school and then university, I facilitated art workshops in holiday playschemes for a Welsh language charity from the age of 15.

By the time I had reached Atlantic College, I was making wearable sculpture in my art lessons and I thought I was going to go into fashion, or a Foundation Art course if all else failed. I went round all of the University Open Days, and the atmosphere everywhere I went was not the right fit for me. I was more taken by the prosthetics department in the floor above the fashion department when I went to an Open Day in London which should have told me something!

It wasn’t until the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama toured their annual puppetry performance to Atlantic College that I met Christine Marfleet (or ‘Marf’ to most of us RWCMD alumni) that I knew I had to go to an Open Day for what was then called the BA(Hons) Theatre Design course. I saw a room crammed with tiny, lit models for opera productions, a gloriously messy scenic painting workshop and beautiful garments being embellished in the sewing rooms – I was totally sold! It was RWCMD or nothing for me by that point, and I was over the moon when I was accepted. Everything moved at lightening speed from that point onwards.

RWCMD Annual Puppetry Performance

You are a visual artist as well as a theatre designer. Do the skills required to work in these art forms relate to each other?

A lot of my making skills and language of creative expression came from my training as a Theatre Designer. At the start of my Master of Fine Art course at Cardiff School of Art and Design, I could make an installation art piece or a sculpture pretty much exactly as I had planned it. I was used to being resourceful, problem solving and making under pressure. However, this foxed my Fine Art lecturers quite a bit as my process was very different from a Fine Art process. I very quickly realised that I needed to begin to discover what my work was about at this point through a more unpredictable process, to use this opportunity to explore not planning for an end product. As a designer, I can be playful in my preparatory model boxes, drawing etc., but as an artist, I started to push myself to play through the entire process of making with no pre-defined end product. This created an interesting tension and challenged me in a whole different way. I am very grateful to have explored the distinction between these two roles as a creative practitioner at that point. I graduated feeling confident in how I work.
As an associate artist of accessible and inclusive theatre company, Taking Flight, you are often breaking new ground with regards to access relating to areas of design. Do you think this is fair to say?

As an associate artist of Taking Flight, my role is incredibly exciting as I have opportunities and support to push the boundaries of creative access within the realms of design for their productions year on year. It is a constantly evolving area of research and most of this is done through Research and Development periods and whilst engaged in preparatory work and rehearsals for the show.

Increasingly, I have developed the sensory potential of the costumes, props and site dressing. These are rich in texture and detail which, whether an audience member or performer has a sensory disability or not, adds conceptual and experiential depth to the design. BSL interpreters and audio describers have roles in the production. I inform audio description from a design perspective and consider the sounds my costumes and props make in helping to define and identify a character. For Director, Elise Davison, and I, access is never an afterthought or an add-on, it is an integral part of the show​. The creative potential is massive and enthralling – it enters my dreams at night!

Taking Flight’s ‘Breaking Out of the Box’ symposiums bring theatre and access practitioners together to discuss the inherent challenges and creative developments. I cannot wait to explore creative captioning and audio description in ways informed by the works of Ramps on the Moon, Solar Bear and other interesting companies. I have been inspired to produce tactile pre-show boxes and models with advice from Robin Bray-Hurren from Graeae Theatre in addition to designing for touch tours. Being at the forefront of accessible and inclusive theatre, being part of a vital creative conversation, is a wonderful place to be making work.

And as if you aren’t already busy enough you are also a “current Senior Lecturer for the BA Creative and Therapeutic Arts, one of only two courses of its kind in the UK promoting the development of refined workshop facilitation techniques for inclusive and community benefiting creative interventions.” I wonder if you could tell us more about this role?

I was initially employed as a visiting lecturer, teaching art skills to students on the course. It was very different when I started in 2011, where students went out on placement, delivering art workshops only in education settings. I very quickly became Senior Lecturer and then Course Leader for 4 years and during this time, the course developed in a very exciting way. The placements and types of participants the students worked with opened up to incorporate elderly care homes, homeless charities, refugees and asylum seekers, women and children with experience of domestic abuse, people with disabilities of all ages, and the list keeps growing. This is to reflect the growing need for creative interventions, alternatives to the norm, to help participants grow, develop, connect with others and achieve a sense of wellbeing. The course incorporates placements every year, art studio practice as a prominent component, and supporting theoretical subjects such as Therapeutic Principles, Inclusive Practice, Human Development and many more. We feel that our students are very much at the forefront of this area of work, and they are supported by lecturers who are also engaged in current practice. I now enjoy lecturing on the course part-time, and my colleague Beth Pickard is Course Leader. Her vision continues to take the course from strength to strength.

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

I am very fortunate that in my own work I am usually surrounded by theatre practitioners, artists and creatives in general who are exploring the potential of inclusive practice with great enthusiasm. The role of a set and costume designer naturally demands that you deliver something beautiful, engaging or striking within restricted and often short time frames, under pressure, within a budget and against the odds that come your way. It is therefore frustrating when access is not a part of the process from the beginning. It is difficult for a designer to ensure that the vision for the show is cohesively applied across the production if the access requirements are added on at the end. It should be a dramaturgical decision really. However, the reality is that this conversation regarding creative access is far from mainstream and is still a very new concept to some companies. Consequently, I feel it important to champion this in my work.

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

I think the more research into creative access, the better. More funding will enable a rich exploration of potential methods and strategies to be adopted more universally.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

The ability to regularly work bilingually in a prolific Welsh language arts scene.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

I went to see F.E.A.R. by Mr and Mrs Clark at Chapter Arts Centre. This was an intimate, one man performance that had me gripped the whole way through and anxious about everyday, life worries and getting older! It also had an accompanying film that operated as a collage of nostalgic footage and impending doom – signature Andrew James Rock!

FEAR by Mrs & Mrs Clark

Thanks for your time Becky

Review Logan by Jonathan Evans

“You can run for a long time,

Run on for a long time,

Run on for a long,

Sooner or later God’ll cut you down,

Sooner or later God’ll cut down.”

-Johnny Cash, God’s Gonna Cut you Down

We are in the year, 2029, where Mutants have seemingly disappeared, or are at the edge of extinction. Wolverine’s years are beginning to show, wrinkles are more prominent, his hair is faded with a few whites as-well. Plus his healing factor is withering, he can still spit out bullets, but not at the efficient speed he once did, all the years are finally catching up to him. He’s living a life on the down-low, driving a limo, then he goes to a rusted shack where an albino named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and a very withered Charles Xavier lives. Possibly suffering from Alzheimer’s, its unclear.

This easily has the most mature content of any of the X-Men movies. There is regular alcohol consumption, swearing (of the four letter kind) from everyone and serious, brutal action sequences. The filmmakers clearly decided that if this is their last hurrah, then they’re going out without any soft-punches.

Hugh Jackman has been playing the role of Wolverine since 2000 and has had a small role in just about ever X-Men movie. This is as much his swan song as it is for that character. He has given a lot to the role constantly having to be in-shape and energetic, which gets harder and harder to do the older you get. He is able to add, subtle tenderness as-well as gruffness to this withered character that is just plain tired and needs a rest. The whole movie is about wanting to reach a goal, or looking back and realizing you unfulfilled dreams. This is also the bleakest of nearly any Superhero movie I’ve seen. But still, there is a the noble drive to the character that wont stand to see innocents oppressed.

He is successfully keeping a low profile when a strange woman finds him, saying she needs his help, he quickly refuses but when money is offered he agrees. The jobs is the transportation of a young girl across the border.

The girl is named Laura, who has similar powers to Wolverine, for the fans of the comics they will know her as “X-23” (which she is eventually confirmed as). I wont dare spoil the details of her origin here but it is a very good inclusion of the X-Men lore. Dafne Keen plays this very complex character extremely well. She needs to have the unassuming curiosity of a child, the quiet stillness of a bad-ass as well as threatening savagery. The character is a great highlight to be written in the movie and she brilliantly brings it to life between two elderly, accomplished actors.

The action scenes in this movie work just as good on their buildup as the actual fights themselves. They are like seeing an animal being chased and then cornered until they have to attack with all fangs and claws. Wolverine is slower, both in movement and healing than he has ever been so it would be best to avoid the fights, but he is pushed so the claws must be drawn. At this point in movie history we’ve really seen it all with action movies, two people, many people, with any weapon or and setting, we’ve seen it before. Over the course of watching X-Men movies you will have seen a man with blades in his hand’s fight soldiers, and it’s variations. These scenes work because we feel them, you can see that force delivered and felt by Wolverine you hear the bones break and the cutting of the flesh. It all adds to the do-or-die nature of the whole movie.

This is the movie to end the character and the actors journey with them. Through it you will feel, you’ll find small moments to laugh at, many more to sadden and shock you. But none of the scenes go by without invoking emotion and these aren’t healed over so easily.

Review King Kong, Skull Island by Jonathan Evans

(5 / 5)

Kong: Skull Island was made in the same way Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim was. As a love letter to they’re influences and bringing enthusiasm and justice to the genre that the filmmakers loved when they were children and wanted to make the best movie they could. This works because they clearly know what it is and builds itself around that and never divulges from it. It knows that it’s tongue is very firmly placed in it’s cheek.

Our opening scene is a beach in 1944 where two pilots crash land. One is an American, the other Japanese, they waist no time in trying to kill each-other. Their fight becomes a chase that ends on a cliff top where they meet a giant creature that makes them and their conflict seem so puny by comparison. Then a news montage takes us to 1973, America has lost the Vietnam war and two people are seeking funding for a expedition to Skull Island.

Usually in these movies the monsters are the stars and the thing that everyone wants to see. That’s still true here only they’ve put effort into the human characters, they have fun personalities and quips that make you like them. They’re not deep, extremely troubled and complex Shakespearean characters, far from it, but they are engaging. First up is John Goodman as Randa, the one that gets the whole operation going, Tom Hiddleston is James Conrad (a play on Joseph Conrad perhaps?) a tracker that is brought in to survive the wilderness of the island. Samuel L. Jackson is a war vet from Vietnam that is carrying a grudge that America “abandoned” the war. Brei Larson is a photojournalist who’s more than up for a dangerous, interesting trek, once again adding plenty of fun and personality to the mix. There are other soldiers and characters but to name them and describe them all would take-up too much space, but they are memorable and have fun, quippy moments.

When the characters get to Skull Island in helicopters no time is wasted in dropping bombs to get the layout of the land. This quickly gets the attention of the king, Kong. This is the Kong that fights Godzilla, not the original that was the size of a house, this one’s the size a skyscraper. He quickly makes quick work of the helicopters so now it’s a case of survival for the people to make it out of the island alive.

Of course it is not just Kong on the island. It is inhabited with very large, very dangerous creatures. I wont spoil it buy adding descriptions of any of them, but they are quite imaginative and wildly designed.

If this movie has anything to thank beyond the original King Kong movie or the Kaiju genre it is Apocalypse Now. The filmmakers clearly drew inspiration for much of the tone and imagery used in it. Being that it’s the same time-period helps, so it’s not out-of-place or influence for the sake of it.

Like Apocalypse Now this comes with a very pleasing colour pallet. Rich primary colours like reds, blues, greens and yellow’s saturate the screen with shading of true blacks that add contrast and add that threatening tone to the whole thing. Another of the similar creative choices is the use of rock music of the time. Adding a fun vibe to the movie.

Adding once again to the Apocalypse Now channeling is John C. Riley as the solider from the opening. He is like Dennis Hopper’s photographer character who has become very deranged with his time spent in the jungle among the natives. He’s spent years on the island so he knows how it works so he provides helpful information to both the characters and the audience and more than a few rather funny moments.

What makes giant monsters fighting truly engaging is conveying the scale of these massive creatures going at it. All the truly big creatures move a little slower than a human would, adding gravity to what they do, also all their actions are big actions, a punch, footstep and splash is a seismic event from our perspective. Then it all has to be conveyed in big, biblical painting-like images, which these are. This movie does it’s monsters justice.

If I would have had this movie as a kid it would have been played constantly. Seeing it as an adult, it takes me back to that state of being giddy in my chair and owe for creatures unlike any that have ever existed. This movie is not the reinvention, but the perfection of the genre.

Designer Charlotte Neville on designing Jason and the Argonauts

Jason and the Argonauts Set Build Video One

Jason and the Argonauts Set Build Video Two

 

Charlotte Neville set and costume designer for Jason and the Argonauts gives us exclusive access to the set build process for the production. We were also lucky enough to see some of the amazing costume and mask designs for the show.

“We’ve drawn together a range of influences, from 1980s animation theme tunes and the soundtracks of Wes Anderson, to the fantasy films of Jim Henson, by way of the deck of the USS Enterprise and the Doctor’s TARDIS.”

The Set Model of the ship the Argo

A Golden Fleece mask during construction

Costume Designs

“Jason is an ordinary human in a world bursting with gods, monsters and superheroes. Assembling a team of mighty Argonauts, he takes the fabulous ship Argo on the ultimate adventure – the quest for the Golden Fleece. But it won’t be easy. Along the way, he’ll meet crazy Kings, horrific Harpies, sinister Sirens… and the skeleton army of the Earthborn Dead. Does Jason have what it takes to be a hero, and bring the Golden Fleece back home? 

Jason & The Argonauts is a brand new version of the classic legend – a blockbuster theatre experience full of hope, heart and humour for the whole family. Suitable for everyone aged 7 and over.”

www.jasonandtheargonauts.co.uk

www.facebook.com/jasonandtheargonautswales

‘Must-See’ FREE exhibitions at RWCMD

If you have an interest in theatre or the visual arts there are a range of free exhibitions taking place at RWCMD right now!

Gridding Up Exhibition

Tuesday 3 January – Tuesday 28 March

Painted in just four days, these works by our second year Design For Performance students and MA Scenic Art students are scaled up from small images using traditional methods of ‘gridding up’. A chance to admire their work off the stage as well as on, in the sets of our Richard Burton Company productions throughout the year. The exhibition also includes a sound installation by RWCMD Composer Naomi Wright, inspired by the artwork.

http://www.rwcmd.ac.uk/whats_on/events/gridding_up_exhibition.aspx

There is also an exhibition of set design models for Opera and costumes by BA2 & MA students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with playwright Tom Wentworth

Get the Chance values the role playwrights living and working in Wales bring to the cultural life of our nation. Here is our fourth interview in this series with playwright Tom Wentworth.

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

Hello! Great to be here. Thanks for asking me. I’m a playwright for theatre, radio and television who identifies as disabled. I am also  the inaugural Chair of National Theatre Wales TEAM Panel and previously have been a script editor and produced radio for the BBC. As a writer, I am currently under commission to and developing projects with Graeae Theatre Company, Pentabus Theatre Company, National Theatre Wales and BBC radio. My latest play BEE HAPPY was performed at The Old Red Lion Theatre in London. Much of my work is concerned both directly and indirectly with diversity and inclusivity but mostly I am interesting in simply telling a good story and spending time with fascinating characters.

The Old Red Lion Theatre

Link to the Old Red Lion season announcement featuring Toms play

http://www.whatsonstage.com/london-theatre/news/old-red-lion-announce-autumn-season_41231.html

Link to Toms online biography

https://app.hiive.co.uk/profile/b213475a-2880-4923-90a9-185e324da489/#/

So what got you interested in the arts ?

It’s in my blood. My mum was a professional dancer touring in summer season and the much missed weekly rep and I was brought up on exciting stories of backstage antics. Our main family activity was going to the theatre (and still is!) I never considered that I wouldn’t write and studied radio at university because it is my favourite medium and I wanted to have extra skills but I have always written and occasionally performed which I hope to be doing in a new solo show later in the year if we get funding.

A great deal of your professional practice seeks to increase diversity across the sector. Is this something important to you?

It is greatly important and is both a blessing and a curse. I find it a very complex issue as an artist. For audiences on the one hand it is very simple – I firmly believe that we should all have equal access to theatre and live performance of all kinds. That’s why I believe so strongly in the work of Sherman 5 at Sherman Theatre.

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/sherman5/

However, as a writer it is very complex – on one hand my disability shouldn’t matter but on the other it drives my view of the world and therefore infuses my work (although not all of my work is about the disabled experience). It’s also incredibly useful for funding pots and being part of initiatives! I hope that doesn’t sound too mercenary but I think it’s important that artists acknowledge the things that commissioners and artistic directors are looking for which might give them an edge or be part of their USP. That’s not something that I’m totally comfortable with but I want to work!

In a wider context I am working all the time to increase diversity on our stages and screens with a particular interest in backstage roles right across the sector. Things are improving but we’ve still a very long way to go.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists or specifically writers?
I think there are still several barriers – not all of which relate simply to equality or diversity. However the main one is the lack of accessible work. While most producing houses in Wales are doing well with providing performances for diverse audiences. For example I know the Sherman works really hard to put on captioned  or relaxed performances but I would like to see more work done to make shows fully accessible throughout following in the footsteps of Graeae and Birds of Paradise (the latter of which toured Wendy Hoose to the Sherman Theatre and wowed audiences.) Their work builds access (captioning, BSL and audio description) into their work so that it’s fully integrated meaning that a disabled audience member can attend any performance rather than just the designated captioned show for example. I must acknowledge of course the great work that companies such as Hijinx, UCAN and Taking Flight do but we need to see this work on larger stages and in main houses.

Birds of Paradise and Random Accomplice, Wendy Hoose

The main problem is of course funding. Being disabled is a kind of ‘economic chaos’, we are at a point now where it is more expensive than ever to be disabled and access costs. This has to change, the culture has to change and there are lots of wonderful theatre makers such as Jonny Cotsen and Chloe Phillips who are striving to make a difference – and in a small way I hope that I am contributing too.

Chloe Phillips in a production by Taking Flight

Jonny Cotsen will be performing at this years Experimentica at Chapter Arts Centre.

Also, in Wales it increasingly feels that if you want your work performed then you must self produce. I know many brilliant practitioners who do this wonderfully and have made it a positive and rewarding part of their practice. However it is a time consuming and exhausting business and as a disabled person I have to be very aware of my small energy reserves so this not an option. I have tried my hand at producing and found it to be enjoyable but totally and utterly exhausting experience. I had to make a decision at that point that it would not be something that I could do if I didn’t want to spend a month in bed afterwards. So I prefer to work with brilliant people who do this much better than me. However this does mean that my work is currently very rarely produced in Wales and I spend most of my time on trains! I really hope that this will change. I’m not sure that any of these are specific to writers but to all theatre practitioners.

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

I feel very lucky to have a healthy personal support network as a playwright in Wales but I am not sure that this is the case in the wider context. I share a co-working space with another playwright and have lots of friends who also write or make theatre so there is a great culture of supporting each other but in terms of formal support I don’t feel that that exists. I am lucky to be so involved with National Theatre Wales who continue to champion both me and my work. However most of my career opportunities have come from outside of Wales simply because there are more opportunities for production – and being brutal – bigger pots of money to fund this. It makes me sad that this is the case as I love living in Cardiff and after 8 and a half years of being here it feels like I am just beginning to find my feet.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
More productions of new writing and money to fund script development departments who can nurture writers. It’s very simple. We are fantastic in Wales at scratch nights, shorts nights, R&D but productions of new plays still feel comparatively thin on the ground. I must acknowledge of course that much good work is being done by companies like Dirty Protest but they have very limited resources. Also, NTW (and in particular Head of Development Simon Coates) is doing a marvellous job of helping him artists from all disciplines to develop their work and themselves as artists. Also Theatr Clywd are running residences for writers which is a fantastic resource. We need our producing houses and companies to be funded to be able to commission more work which will increase the diversity of writers on our stages. We also need to be training the next generation of Literary Managers who can support emerging talent and script development and build up a relationship with a writer over a long career, working collaboratively on several projects. This cannot happen without money – and development is expensive but it is vital if we want to keep writers working in Wales.

Writer In Residence

Simon Coates, Head of Creative Development, NTW

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

The amazing community of working, angry, hungry artists we have in this country who are prepared to put themselves and their work on the line to say the things that need to be said. That is a great reason for living here.

Meet Fred Hijinx Theatre

I loved Meet Fred and have seen it several times. It is such a powerful piece of work which really speaks about what it means to be disabled in 2017 and more importantly what it means to be human. Outside of Wales I recently saw Lost Without Words at the National Theatre in London which was produced by the marvellous Improbable Theatre Company who have been working with older actors (all highly experienced) teaching them to improvise. It is one of the most engaging, beautiful and laugh out loud pieces that I have seen for a very long time. I am really looking forward to Love Cardiff at the Sherman too.

Love Cardiff Sherman Theatre

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/love-cardiff/

Also, the BBC Radio Drama department in Wales continues to produce over 50 hours a year of brilliant drama using writers and actors living and working in Wales from the most experienced hands to new voices. Daf James beautiful autobiographical play My Mother Taught Me How To Sing was one of the most moving and exciting pieces I’ve heard for a long time. Diverse, Welsh, political and yet intensely personal, which shows a bravery in this medium that I truly hope to see as an audience member commissioned for the stages of Wales.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08csqy4

Thanks for your time Tom