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Review The Freddie Mercury Project, Sinfonia Cymru, RWCMD by Sarah & Lucy Debnam

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All photographic credits Sarah Debnam

Dancing-dasies.co.uk

This was very exciting for me!

I thought the show was going to be fun and exciting, I am a massive Freddie Mercury fan.
The place we went to was quite big and it had comfortable seats.
I recognised a few songs- ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘We Are The Champions,’  ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Who wants to Live Forever.’
I thought they all played great, I enjoyed it a lot!
There was nothing I didn’t like 🙂

Lucy  Debnam aged 8 

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Hillsanddaffodils.co.uk

It has to be said the Freddie Mercury is a true legend, I grew up singing Queen songs rather than nursery rhymes and I know I am not alone, and now, without any real encouragement, my eldest daughter has become a huge fan also. So when we saw the Freddie Mercury Project advertised both of us were really excited to go and see what it was all about.

We were kindly asked to review The Freddie Mercury Project from Sinfonia Cymru (a young, talented and innovative orchestra in Wales) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and didn’t know what to expect from either the orchestra or the venue, but as soon as the musicians entered the room I realised this was to be something special, and I wasn’t disappointed.

From the very first notes the room filled with atmosphere and emotion, I was instantly impressed by the skill and the attention to detail that the orchestra had, the togetherness and how attentive they all were. There was an element of fun as well and some of the girls were rather enthusiastic on that section of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ that has everyone head banging along, did I mention that Sinfonia Cymru is described as ‘progressive’? I guess they have to be to take on Mr Mercury’s incredible songs, from ‘Bicycle Race,’ including bicycle bells, to ‘Love of my Life’ which gave me chills, down to ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ which was by far my favourite piece played, there wasn’t a thing that didn’t work in my opinion.

I was a little concerned about the fact that nobody would be singing at this show, it was purely music and I wondered how Freddie Mercury’s showmanship could ever be replicated. Well that was left to Vlad Maistorovici, who as composer, conductor and violin soloist had his work cut out for him, however I think he did an outstanding job, of not only pulling the whole orchestra together, in time, with enthusiasm, but he also played many of the solo parts of the songs that Freddie would have belted out, with his violin alone. I honestly don’t know how else to explain it other than he did it justice and I think Freddie would have been impressed!

This team of musicians also included the very talented pianist Robin Green and Harry Cameron-Penny on the clarinet who was mesmerising to watch, both incredible musicians and both adding something unique to the whole ensemble. The piano sections of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ were spot on and my girl chatted excitedly about this at the end, she couldn’t believe how it sounded exactly as it does on the recordings, he even played the piano in an unusual way at one point. Harry gave an air of confidence that made me feel as though he didn’t have to put any effort into his solo performances, making it comfortable and entertaining to watch, it was almost as if he just made it up as he went and still sounded flawless, a real talent.

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I won’t pretend to know if the notes were all spot on as I am not musical myself, but I do know that as someone who wasn’t sure what to expect from an orchestra playing Freddie Mercury’s songs, I was absolutely blown away by every single part of the show, Vlad was incredible and brought Freddie’s spirit to life momentarily for me, Robin and Harry were a pleasure to watch/listen to, and we enjoyed it so much that I bought tickets for the next night at The Riverfront theatre. This time taking my Dad (who is a big Queen fan) and my youngest daughter, and they both loved the show as well! I think this is a true testament to the Sinfonia Cymru as all ages were clearly entertained.

I think we witnessed something special in the Freddie Mercury Project, and think that the effort and skill poured into this production did not fail to impress. The standing ovation at both shows we went to echoed this as well I think.

Thank you Sinfonia Cymru!

Young Critics on the Edge, ASSITEJ 2016

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Last week some of our members took part in Young Critics on the Edge. Please find further information on the project below as well as a link to their reviews.

What is Young Critics On The Edge?

Young Critics On The Edge is a 5 day-long programme to develop critical analysis skills in young people aged 18–25 as part of On The Edge The World Festival of Theatre For Young Audiences.

Young Critics On The Edge is a collaboration between Barnstorm Theatre Company, NAYD (National Association for Youth Drama) Ireland and Mess Up The Mess, Young Critic’s Wales in conjunction with the Symposium strand of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.

ON THE EDGE is presented by TYA-UK and TYA-Ireland. It is the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2016. ON THE EDGE is hosted by Birmingham REP.

Young Critics On The Edge is open to young people aged 18-25 who are interested in watching theatre, discovering how and why theatre is made, and learning how to critically discuss, analyse, and review Theatre For Young Audiences

Over a five-day period they will see some incredible shows, make new friends and learn about the art of theatre criticism. All this happens during On The Edge The World Festival of Theatre For Young Audiences in Birmingham from July 3rd – July 8th 2016.

In a very exciting and innovative programme young people are given an opportunity to see quality productions, develop their critical skills and make their own critical responses under the mentorship of leading International drama facilitators.

Who can take part?

Two participants from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and a further two participants from the host city of Birmingham will be selected to take part.

Participants will drawn through the partner organisations of Barnstorm Theatre Company (Ireland), Mess Up the Mess (Wales), NAYD (Ireland), Young Critic’s Wales, Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, A Younger Theatre (England), Theatre NI (Northern Ireland) and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

In order to offer individual advice and guidance on developing each young person’s critical skills, places on the programme are limited to 12 places in total. Those who are interested should apply using the accompanying application form.

What happens during the Young Critics?

The Young Critics will meet in Birmingham from Sunday July 3rd to Friday July 8th. Over five days the Young Critics will attend a number of theatre productions, interact with the city, participate in workshops, live blog and share their views with delegates of ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.

https://youngcriticsontheedge.wordpress.com

Review Guys and Dolls, New Theatre Cardiff by Barbara Michaels

 

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(4 / 5)

Still popular well over half a century since it opened on Broadway, everything rests on the roll of the dice in Guys and Dolls, the iconic musical set in Manhattan and based on the short stories of Damon Runyon. Gangsters and their molls are at the centre of the action as con man Nathan Detroit struggles to find a venue for his upcoming illegal crap game. High-rolling gambler Sky Masterson offers a solution, but only if Nathan can come up with an attractive enough bet. And he does – in the shape of uptight Evangelist missionary Sarah Brown. The subsequent shenanigans take us from Times Square via the dance clubs of Manhattan to the sewers of New York City.

This latest revival, fresh from the West End stage, proves once again what a great musical this is. This time round it has the plus of being staged with choreography masterminded by the brilliant Carlos Acosta. It is difficult – I might go further and say well-nigh impossible – to find a dancer and choreographer who can equal Acosta for Latin American rhythms that sizzle with white-hot heat. As the action switches to Havana there is just about everything here – rumba, samba, cha-cha – you name it. Ballet – of course. Full marks to the multi-faceted ensemble for coping with it all.

So bristling with talent is this Chichester Festival Theatre production that it is difficult to know where to start with the accolades, but one must begin somewhere so let us be logical and begin with the two male leads whose crap games and on-off romances form the pivot on which the plot revolves. As Sky Masterson, Richard Fleeshman cuts a debonair figure in the role of the gambler willing to take on any bet if the stakes are high enough.  Fleeshman has a great tenor voice, heard to advantage in the number I’ve Never Been in Love Before at the closure of Act I. The target of his bet, with whom he ends up falling in love, is the Bible-bashing Evangelist Sarah Brown, played by Anna O’Byrne who belts out the lyrics with gusto.

That accomplished actor Maxwell Caulfield plays Detroit with a great sense of timing and a wry humour. His evident relish for the role is infectious. Caulfield’s Detroit is a likeable rogue, despite his dragging his feet where marriage is concerned: a fourteen year engagement seems a trifle overlong by any standard! The lucky lady is Miss Adelaide, lead singer and dancer at the Hot Box, the night spot where much of the action takes place. Louise Dearman, as Detroit’s fiancée whose dreams of domestic bliss are taking forever to come true , is superb, notably so in that wonderful number Take Back Your Mink. Dearman has the role down to a T – to the extent of almost stealing the show at times.

Detroit’s and Masterson’s fellow gamblers are all perfectly cast, with Jack Edwards as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and the lugubrious Craig Pinder as Harry the Horse, while Mark Sangster is a nimble-footed Benny. Boys – you were splendid. The live orchestra, under the direction of Andy Massey, provides the accompaniment to the memorable musical numbers which include that well-known Luck Be a Lady and the foot-tapping Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.

http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk/what’s-on/guys-dolls/

Runs until Saturday 9th July

Guys and Dolls New Theatre Cardiff

Music and Lyrics: Frank Loesser

Book: Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows

Director: Gordon Greenberg

Choreography: Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

 

Review Service Episode Four: Fire Walk, Cardiff Fringe by Kaitlin Wray

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(4 / 5)

After the success of Episode Three: Taking Stock, I saw at the start of my Cardiff fringe theatre festival, I was excited to watch Episode Four: Fire Walk. I was not disappointed in the slightest. The story line was even crazier and funnier than the first one. The writing  by George Infini is incredible, he knows exactly what will make the audience laugh.

One of the great things about this show and Episode 3 was the little sketches at the beginning. It sets the scene and gets you right into the show straight away. The ‘forbidden’ romance between Steven and Gene, played by Grant Cawley and Isabelle Paige escalated even more. It got to the point where Gene had to ask for Gavin’s help, played by Sam Harding. This whole interaction was hilarious and got the audience fully immersed with their romance. All actors stayed true to their characters from episode three and it felt like I was watching a series. For episode four there was an additional character called Marshall acted by Jonathan Dunn. His character fitted perfectly with the old manager, Jackie, played by Susan Monkton. They worked as a double team which felt the need to torment the restaurant staff in every way possible. They were a perfect combo that had some marvellous quirks added to their characters.

Even though it was a short comedy it told a great story and the ending left us wanting to see more. This is a well collaborated group where everyone has put in their time and effort into creating a great performance. It was wonderfully directed by Steve Bennett who added even more comedy moments to the already remarkable writing. I thoroughly love the collaboration between Infini Productions and A Clock Tower Theatre Company. I will be looking out for them in future productions.

Review Meet Fred, Hijinx Theatre by Lauren Ellis-Stretch

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(3 / 5)

In Meet Fred, Hijinx Theatre Company skilfully entwine all that is existential – penis jokes to political anguish – through one puppet called Fred. Just go and see it for yourself – It’s apparent simplicity and inclusivity (perfectly mirrored in The Other Room) is its charm.

Advocating the collaborative process, not only does the Director (Ben Pettitt-Wade) direct, but he also showcases this role within the play. Fred’s sublime puppetry and movement shows an inspired devotion from Dan McGowan, Morgan Thomas and Craig Quat through harmonious craftsmanship. However, some of the acting (rooted in improvisation) was, consequently, forced but then, quite suddenly, frenziedly unrestrained – as actors stormed out of doors zealous and soap-operaesque. Yet, blazingly Dan McGowan projects his Fred. In fact, it is far too easy to allow yourself immersion in, solely, his performance. Do resist the temptation, the spectacle of meeting Fred is within its unification for artistic illusion/societal awakening.

Through Fred, parallels are seamlessly drawn to today’s political climax as the defenceless, in an increasingly self-serving society, are subjected to the status of a puppet. Fred is begrudgingly bearing witness to the rise of the mercenary, or consequently lumped in a box. ‘Don’t blame me, blame the system’ penetrates an air of, too blissful, comedic ease.

Pettitt-Wade’s illustration of a messy, ‘self-directed’ life branches from the flourishing/twining set design to the incorporating of the deceivingly metaphoric. A lot of life is incomparable, and unexplainable to others; the cast and crew seem to relish in this conception – ‘Rice is water.’ It rains harder on some.

For the cast, sustaining an audience’s full submission with such taxing content: an unfulfilling, tragically ‘acceptable’ and some-what accepted lifestyle of the oppressed is hard – especially as Meet Fred is a play only wholly satisfying after being digested. So, take friends, chuckle at the lavish littering of expletives, and take it for what it is. An oppressed puppet, an oppressed, emerging under-class, or a shout into the void? Hijinx are pioneering in their ability to make innovative, intelligent, inclusive theatre. Challenging stigma; enabling their disabled performers.

Type of show: Theatre

Title: Meet Fred
Venue: The Other Room
Dates: 28th
Author: Devised by Hijinx Theatre
Director: Ben Pettitt-Wade
Ben Pettitt-Wade: Director
Ceri James: Lighting Designer
Tom Ayres: Technician
Martin Vick: Stage Manager
Dan McGowan: Puppeteer & Voice of ‘Fred’
Morgan Thomas: Puppeteer
Craig Quat: Puppeteer
Lindsay Foster: Lucille and The Maker
Richard Newnham: Jack
Tom Espina & Giulia Innocenti of Blind Summit: Puppetry Dramaturg
Running time: 60mins

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

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All images taken from social media linked to the project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter: @amelia_seren

 

REVIEW CABARET ((RICHARD BURTON COMPANY) RWCMD BY JAMES BRIGGS

(4 / 5)

Audio review of the production with music from the production

‘Cabaret’ is highly regarded as being one of the greatest musicals of all time and has some magnificent songs and fascinating characters, it also has a strong compelling and highly political storyline with a message from history that can’t be ignored. Set in Berlin on the eve of World War Two in the 1930’s, it shows the rise of the Nazis against the apathy of the masses, and describes a change that would prove to have terrifying consequences for everyone who lives in Berlin. Most of the story unfolds in the seedy ‘Kit Kat club’.

I was not sure of what to expect when attending the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for this production as I had only heard some of the songs from the musical and was unfamiliar with the storyline, so I must admit when the house lights dimmed and the characters began to enter the stage to the song ‘Willkommen’ I was slightly perplexed at the characters in front of me and their stage presence especially only being 17.

For many, including my mother who I attended the show with, imprinted on their mind was the film version of the musical starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Joel Grey as the compère and Michael York as the young Englishman.
The stage show opens with the arrival of a young American, Cliff Bradshaw (played by Jonathan Radford) in Berlin on New Year’s Eve 1930. In a chance meeting at the railway station, he’s becomes friends with the very polite and helpful Ernst Ludvig (played by Tom Corbishley) who refers Cliff to Fraulein Schneider’s lodging house while he is staying in Berlin. Later in the story, Cliff is introduced to the ‘Kit Kat Club’, a cabaret club where anything can happen. He meets Sally Bowles, a singer who escapes reality when performing her songs in the club.

Set against Cliff and Sally’s relationship, and the relationship between Fraulein Schneider and her Jewish fiancée, the Nazis start to show their might and their threat is felt by all at both the unassuming lodging house and the Kit Kat Club. Adena Cahill as the upper class English Sally Bowles is very good. Fraulein Schneider was played by the believable Rosie Archer whose characterisation was excellent as well as that of Dafydd Gape who played the kind, caring and helpful Herr Schultz. Jennifer Ruth-Adams who played Fraulein Kost was able to do this very well and produced some comical scenes when trying to get her sailor lovers out of the lodging house without Fraulein Schneider finding out.

However, for me the star of the show was Corey Jones as Emcee, whose performance was outstanding and whose stage presence was simply mesmerising and as soon as he entered the stage you could not take your eyes off him. Jones’ Emcee was extremely dark and edgy with an exceptionally strong character and you were never quite sure if he was simply a welcoming host, or one that really despises all people.

Corey Jones as Emcee

Photographic credit Kirsten Mcternan

The level of the singing in the production was brilliant and there was not one character that slipped out of their German or American accents. It felt as though I was in Berlin watching the show. The performance of ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ by Ross Hoey as a young Nazi was very chilling and this was made more powerful when the Nazi flags dropped down on each side of the stage. With well-known songs such as ‘Maybe This Time’, ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Mein Herr’ it is sometimes difficult to live up to audience expectations but the cast of this production surpassed themselves. The band that played during the performance was equally exceptional and brought the music to life.

The ‘Richard Burton Theatre’ housing the performance was very fitting and gave the audience a feeling of intimacy with the characters on stage. You felt you were part of the audience in the ‘Kit Kat Club’ taking part in all the action.

The staging worked equally very well with the theatre and as one entered the theatre we were greeted by a large structure hanging diagonally on stage with simply some chairs below it. There was also a large use of period lights on chains that along with the structure moved during the performance. This was used extremely well as it gave the effect that the ‘Kit Kat Club’ was opening up in front of the audience. The minimal set worked extremely well and allowed the audience to concentrate more on the characters opposed to the surrounding.

The Entr’acte from the Musical ‘Cabaret’.

Overall, this is an utterly breath-taking performance even if it is rather risqué in parts with a chilling end but I will certainly be attending far more shows at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama because if the level of performance is always this high, you are guaranteed an amazing night at the theatre.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Cabaret
Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Dates: 22-30 June
Director: Paul Kerryson
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Musical Director: Nathan Jones
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves
Set Designer: Tina Torbay
Lighting Designer: Becky Heslop
Costume Designer: Jessica Campbell Plover

Review Cabaret (Richard Burton Company) RWCMD by Helen Joy

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(4 / 5)

I go into the theatre weighed down by the recent slating on social media: in response to a comment in favour of collaborative working, I was compared to those who did nothing as Hitler rose to power. Troubling from all sides.

I hadn’t seen Cabaret for a very long time, if ever, and couldn’t say that I knew the story. Apposite as it turns out. We all know the songs but few of us know the context.

Partly it’s the space, partly it’s the artistic direction, but this is in your face from the start. And everything is in your face – teeth and tits and hips and all the grotesque of the carnival, smiling, enticing and taking you in. I watch the audience press back in their seats, personal space invaded and we are thrilled.

The story begins and like the train, rattles along happily. Two love stories unfold through song and speech – the older grocer and the landlady, the young American writer and the English show girl – against the light and dark and desperate of mid war Berlin.

The completely brilliant and mesmeric Master of Ceremonies holds each of us in his stare, winking and steely, welcoming and chilling. Better than Wayne Sleep, says my neighbour, he was evil too but ooh, this one makes me shudder. We all want him to notice us, take us into his lascivious dangerous, oh so colourful world.

Sally is sumptuous. Her voice purrs lines of love and confusion and roars and rises as the cabaret of her life is told. As it all unravels around her and the snippets of intrigue evolve into the political cabaret of Nazi Germany, we want her to leave, go to Paris with her man – but she hates Paris.

We witness the sadly comic and beautifully performed love affair of the Fraulein and the Frau over fruit and schnapps come together and fall apart and he leaves, his Jewish faith unwelcome now.

It ends. Our MC rides out with our battered journalist on his train home. He strips. His pink triangle stitched to his shirt. He folds into stage black.

I wish they sold CDs, says the lady in front of me. Oh, so do I. How much would I have relished hearing it all again on the way home. Brilliant, says another. Shocking, says someone else, hadn’t expected it to be so, well, sexual, not sure some of it was necessary. Wonderful, says a young man, reeling slightly.

I am reeling too. How do you know when it is time to act and when it is time to wait and see what happens? Cabaret.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Cabaret
Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Dates: 22-30 June
Director: Paul Kerryson
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Musical Director: Nathan Jones
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves
Set Designer: Tina Torbay
Lighting Designer: Becky Heslop
Costume Designer: Jessica Campbell Plover

Review Staff Room-Clock Tower Theatre Company by Kaitlin Wray

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(4 / 5)

Every child wonders what the teachers talk about in their lunch break, do they talk about them? Do they even get on? Well, Staff Room by Clock Tower Theatre Company explores this concept. This was a show that played on teacher stereotypes with bundles of laughs, great one liners and a comical storyline.

Firstly, any theatre company that opens the show with System of a Down’s ‘Chop Suey’ is a winner in my eyes. Michael Taylor, playing Paul the physics teacher walks in with his headphones in blasting this song. I believe this song was a perfect way to reflect on how the character was feeling at the time.

Next we see Chris Powell playing Mark, the sports teacher. It seemed that Marks whole ambition is to annoy the likes of Paul by constantly chucking cups and paper airplanes. This was a great introduction to the performance and really sets the scene for the comedy to unfold.

The guy that really caught my eye though sounded like the philosophy teacher John Lawrence, played by Osian Edwards. His over dramatic nature when he was being the narrator in the short story in the play was hysterical. It was really fitting within his character. Nicola Lean, playing the ‘motherly-like’ teacher reminded me of many teachers I had at school. Furthermore, what’s a staff room without a romance brewing? Paul, is in desperate love with pretty maths teacher named Sarah, being played by Hari Hodgetts. Each actor played their character perfectly to the teacher stereotypes.

This show was a bundle of laughs that really took you back into your high school years. It was fun and easy to watch.

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Interview Adeola Dewis “Art can allow new, creative ways of seeing the everyday to emerge”

 

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Hi Adeola, You are currently a Visual Artist and Research Fellow at the University of South Wales. Is it possible to give our readers some background information on yourself?

Yes, I am actually coming to the end of my research fellowship. It was an 18 month contract with the University of South Wales and part of a large AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) funded project called ‘Representing Communities.’ I am an artist, researcher,  a mother of 3 boys and a Caribbean woman resident in Wales since 2003. A lot of my work is informed by my day to day experiences.

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You held a President’s Award scholarship for PhD research at Cardiff University, Wales and have received several grants from the Arts Council of Wales to develop and realise collaborative arts projects. Was there a moment in your career when you knew the areas you wanted to focus on?

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When I was little I wanted to be movie star! (laughs) Drawing has always been part of my life from as far back as I can remember, and dance as well.  I knew I loved art and always wanted to be an artist or arts practitioner. I have very supportive parents and they really fostered my love for culture and always believed in my art, what I could do and the difference art could make to circumstances. It was during my first degree in Trinidad that I actually became convinced that I could be an artist, that I could make art and have exhibitions. My lecturers were also great examples of successful practicing artists. Being Trinidadian, Carnival was always part of my life. It was during my MA at Howard Gardens that I became interested in Carnival performance as a way of engaging the ideas of integrated arts. This Carnival interest has evolved to include ideas around re-presenting self in public spaces and what that means for social issues around notions of belonging and un-belonging, visibility and how we react to social, political, personal situations through temporary transitory performances and rituals.

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You mentioned your parents I wonder if there are any individuals or organisations that helped support you in developing your skills and knowledge?

 I have a long list of individuals that have helped in the development of my work but again I think the core always goes back to family – my parents, my sisters, my boys, my husband and so on. When I moved to Wales I felt in some ways as if I had to start again, to prove myself, make new contacts and forge my own little space within this art world. It was a really insecure space to be in to be honest. I joined organisations like W.I.D (Welsh Independent Dace) and C.A.D.M.A.D both of which no longer exist. S.W.I.C.A (South Wales Intercultural Community Arts) helped a lot as well, providing a space to explore and meet other artists with a range of different skills. My first solo exhibition in Cardiff was in g39 when it was on Mill Lane which was funded by the Arts Council of Wales. I feel like an ole timer now! The Butetown History & Arts Centre was also a great support to help me show my work. They too have recently lost their funding. I think the key thing though is about meeting people, travelling, experiencing, talking about your work and interests and being true to what you want to do. As part of this current research I have developed connections with the Butetown Community Centre and individuals working with and in community.

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Awareness of Carnival (which you have a great deal of personal experience and knowledge in) as an art form is growing. In your opinion what is needed to help the art form develop?

 That’s a great question. Carnival can be seen as a public participatory celebration of a people. It is moving and fluid and reflects issues within a society through song, dance, costume and so on. Development is a tricky word, because what does that really mean and for whom? In some regards Carnival development needs an injection of cash and government support. But I would argue that a Carnival really belongs to the people and ‘development’ could also be about handing-over and seeing what emerges over time. I am still learning about this Welsh space and I think there are carnivalesque ’emancipatory’ performances that occur in spaces like stadiums and on the streets on rugby match days. Carnival to me, becomes meaningful if the people need it. It’s tricky when it is just another fashionable purely aesthetic street parade.

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You are currently focusing on first generation Caribbean migrants associated with Butetown, facilitating ideas of community re-presentation. How did this project develop and what responses have you had to date?

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I have absolutely loved being a part of this project! I had the opportunity to work with Elder Caribbean migrants and to be immersed within Butetown learning about their rich history and why the space was so attractive to people travelling from the Caribbean. The project has culminated in several exhibitions including one at the Cardiff Story Museum, one in the Butetown Community Centre that includes a series of photographs of the Butetown Domino Club members by local photographer Simon Campbell.

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The other end-of-project exhibition is on the Network Rail wall opposite Loudoun Square on Bute Street. It is a series of portraits by different photographers who have made Butetown a focus in their work – Simon Campbell, Keith Murrell, John Briggs and Andrew McNeill. We even managed to get a photo by Bert Hardy.

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This Bute Wall exhibition looks at Butetown, the diversity, the elders and ideas of community wellbeing and representation. Generally responses have been positive.

Butetown Elders by Simon Campbell

Do you think that arts and culture in Wales represents the diversity of the citizens and communities you have worked with?

 Well I think if we look closely enough we will see people representing themselves in so many ways. I think representation is crucial and the diverse fabric of Wales has been actively engaged in places like Cardiff Story Museum and Glamorgan Archives. In my experience I am not convinced that the diversity is always reflected in the visual art world but again, it is about where we look, what is made visible and what inevitably becomes less visible. But I feel positive. I think there is good work happening, a lot of talent and room for alternative ways of engaging arts.

You frequently support workshop activity with members of the public, do you think this type of activity is important and why?

 Yes, I think workshops are important. As an artist working with the public opens you up to different people and conversations and experiences which as I mentioned earlier are crucial to art development and relevance. Also, I think one of the aims of art is that it is for everybody. It can challenge, inform, educate and really allow new and creative ways of seeing the everyday to emerge. Workshops are an opportunity to share art with different people and it also allows you to think about ways of making art-making/doing accessible and relevant to a diverse groupings

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What are the opportunities for those interested in carnival in Wales?

Carnival is huge! There is room for everybody. First there is the question of what aspect of Carnival interests you. I know the performance department at the Atrium are starting to actively use carnival as part of their teaching. Any formal art – music, costume and set design, painting, sculpture, dance can lend itself to Carnival. The main ingredient especially with performance is not the qualification but the desire and passion to want to do it. We have the Butetown Carnival on the bank holiday weekend in August. It is a great opportunity to create and explore the potential of a Carnival in Wales. Those interested can contact Keith Murrell founder of BACA (Butetown Arts and Culture Association) at the Butetown Community Centre.

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If you were in charge of funding the arts in Wales what would be your priorities?

 My priority will probably be informed by spending time with different artists and communities and seeing how their visions relate to the broader political agenda for the country.

When you aren’t involved in culture or research what do you like to do in your spare time?

 I feel like I am always involved in one kind of culture or another. I love spending time with my boys. I love drawing. I love dancing and laughing and learning. I also enjoy watching world cinema.

Many Thanks for your time Adeola

 Thank you!