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Invite to Kali Theatre Collaborators Tea Party, Sat 12th Nov.

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Kali Theatre Collaborators Tea Party 12.30-2.30pm
Saturday 12 November, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
BSL Supported event

This will be a networking event bringing local practitioners, producers and promoters together for a relaxed afternoon of tea, cake and conversations sharing ideas and opportunities for creating/commissioning new theatre work.

The Collaborator Tea Party will be facilitated by Kali’s Artistic Director Janet Steel inspired by the incredibly successful collaboration between Arts Alive, Black Country Touring and Kali that created My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding. At the Tea Party you can hear all about how we developed My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding into the popular, high quality, sell out show it has become and discover how you can do the same.

It will be an opportunity for Rural Touring schemes, promoters and rural venues interested in commissioning new work for rural touring to informally meet individual practitioners, producers and theatre companies to share ideas and discuss ways of collaborating in an informal and inspiring way. Kali wants to encourage and inspire more collaborative working to create new work specifically for local and national rural and small scale touring.

For more information and to RSVP please contact:
Jonna Nummela, Outreach Project Coordinator
Kali Theatre jonna@kalitheatre.co.uk +44 7879539936
http://www.kalitheatre.co.uk/whats-on/Collaborator%20Tea%20Parties.html

Launch of Creative Citizens Cymru

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Launch of Creative Citizens Cymru

10-12pm, Saturday 12 November, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
BSL Supported event

A morning of creative conversation to share your thoughts on ways to support the development of Creative Citizens acting as critics, ambassadors, volunteers, advocates, promoters, workshop leaders and more! A morning of relaxed presentations and conversation.

Please  RSVP as places are limited
Guy O’Donnell
Director Get the Chance
odonnell.guy@gmail.com

Get The Chance

Review Sŵn Fest by Osian Ifans

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For a such a small country Wales puts out strong competition when it comes to festivals. Festivals can often feel just standard but what makes me proud of festivals in Wales is that they all have their own unique atmosphere. However, that does come with draw backs take Green Man for example, it’s a fantastic festival that welcomes music and art lovers of all ages and the party goes on until early hours of the morning. Yet try and navigate your way through the music tents without tripping up on deck chairs. Festival No6 is probably the most gorgeous festival in the UK but it appeals to the glamping craze and therefore comes with an over inflated price tag. Sŵn Fest however has taken what worked so well for it ten years ago and simply expanded it across Cardiff and it’s just perfect. It’s a festival that not only showcases the City of Cardiff but also the wonderful atmosphere of the city.

This year it started off in, Cardiff’s newest arts venue, The Tramshed. We kicked off with The Crows followed by Pumorassa with a captivating performance. After that we had Spring Kings last minute replacement Estrons and Sandinistas. This may have been a misstep putting on two bands who were on the line-up later in the weekend rather than a band like Palomino Party, who perhaps should have been on the line-up anyway, but Meylir Jones’ performance made up for this. The Tramshed was the perfect place to kick the weekend off, it’s currently Cardiff’s coolest venue for sure and even though it’s a bit out of the centre It still feels like it’s part of everything.

Come Saturday I was feeling a bit worse for wear but after a stop off in Castle Emporium to check out the Sŵn Fest Museum and to get some Coffee from Outpost I started the day again. Saturday and Sunday was more your usually Sŵn Fest. Whereas on Friday we stayed in one location on Saturday and Sunday we were here, there and everywhere. At Clwb Ifor Bach I managed to catch a Dutch band who may be competing for the best band name ever Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda VHS? They came on looking the teenagers who hang around Blue Banna on Queen Street but came on blew everyone away with catchy tunes and an energetic set. Others at Swn like Winter Coat, Fenne Lily and Park Winter were also stand outs for me. At Clwb you could also get your hands on Sŵn Fest’s  pale ale which went down far too well. At Big Top, above Ten Feet Tall, I saw a very hairy band called Falls. As entertaining as they were, crowd surfing and using audience members as mic stands, their music wasn’t for me. Silent Forum took the stage after Falls being significantly less hairy they were a breath of fresh air. Silent Forum recently got into a twitter spat with, Radio 6’s, Adam Walton who insinuated that they were to young to play Post-Punk music. When they hit the stage at big top they blew everyone away, proving post-punk doesn’t belong to those who happened to be teenagers at the time of Joy Division.

A surprisingly good venue was upstairs at O’Neils where I saw, my weekends standout band, Stealing Sheep. At Moon Club I caught a bit of MCLUSKY but found it to be far too small to comfortably watch a band as loud as them. To end the night on Saturday Cate LeBon played in Buffalo and she was effortless, nodding approvingly at the crowd as she reeled off reworked versions of her best songs. It was cool to see her back in a venue she used to play at before taking over America.

You could hop from venue to another and all you’ll find is people willing to find some new music and have a good time listening to it. They started 10 years ago with a winning formula over the years Sŵn Fest stuck to it and I’m very grateful it’s Cardiff. I believe it competes with other festivals and what it has over the bigger ones on festival sites is that you can go home and have a wash.

Review Sŵn Fest by Emma Mazey

2016 saw the 10th anniversary of the legendary Sŵn Fest in Cardiff. If you’re not familiar (have you been living under a rock?) Sŵn Fest is a festival ran over three days and in 10 venues around central Cardiff from Buffalo to The Tramshed hosting small, indie bands and singers. It’s a fantastic opportunity to find new bands and artists that go under the radar. This year the talent was explosive, from the bad boy sounds of the Cradles to the more mellow sounds of The Gentle Good, there’s something to tickle everyone’s taste buds.

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Monico Blonde

I had the opportunity to view the set of a fantastic upcoming band, Monico Blonde. A quartet of four young lads whose talent hits you across the face, had the challenge of opening up the venue on Saturday 22nd in O’Neills bar. If they were nervous it didn’t show, the crowd were enraptured despite the sober atmosphere (it was 2PM in the afternoon after all!).

The Welsh indie band only formed a few months ago but it certainly doesn’t show, they were gentlemen of the stage and no one could take their eyes off the stage. After their set they were more than happy to answer the eager press of which I was part of.

They credited Swn Fest with giving ‘up and coming bands an audience to play to and to get their name out there,’ they also said ‘Its nice to play a festival that’s sheltered from the rain!’ Clearly they are no strangers to the unpredictable Welsh weather!

However, the Welsh natives don’t plan on keeping close to home and have big plans to go as far and wide as they can. After months of rehearsing and practicing and recording their plan now is to ‘gig, gig, gig, gig, gig and gig some more!’

Monico Blonde, who have the silky charisma of a band that’s been together for years profess their ambition to ‘headline a gig in the Castle’ as in Cardiff Castle by the summer ‘so hopefully with gigs like this such as Sŵn Fest we will get a big enough name to be able to do that within the next few years.’

Their single is coming out at the start of December; they will also be back in Cardiff around this time.

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The Cradles

Another highlight for me at Sŵn Fest was the Cradles, the indie rock band who are ever so reminiscent of the Beatles performed to the packed out venue of the Moon Club with the professionalism of a band twice their age.

Sŵn Fest will be back next year so keep an eye out for more opportunities to catch some great new bands!

Thanks to Get The Chance for the opportunity of a press pass!

 

Review, Key Change, Open Clasp, Battersea Arts Centre, By Hannah Goslin

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(5 / 5)

Key Change

Open Clasp

Battersea Arts Centre

Open Clasp, an all-women’s theatre company are doing and achieving wonderful things in the world of community theatre. Key change is a production based upon previous work with real women in prison – the aim to originally put on a piece of theatre to their peers, Open Clasp has now transferred it to the public with the use of actors.

Highlighting domestic abuse, drug addiction and the mediocre and difficult life sustained by women in prison, this clever company draws upon physical theatre along the use of staging, music and lighting to create violent scenes, verbatim stories and incidences with the ‘inmates’ role swapping to give power to the stories and breaking the forth wall and comical writing to cleverly cut the tension and emotional and powerful scenes.

The performers are excellent – ranging in ages, each one is physically able to move around the space and evidently enjoying doing so. They are also very clever to change their bodies, movement, voices and facial expressions to create different characters – some we hate, some we love. This is done in a way that when we hear the stories of each inmate, we forget when they showed us the wife beater or the times when violence in prison is rife.

Some of it is comical by breaking the fourth wall – we see times where the performers make it obvious that we are in a performance and play upon this for our amusement, but still never breaking character. There’s foul language and slightly rude insinuations but again these either helped with the comedy or pushed the boundaries of these true and horrifying stories.

Key Change is a beautiful piece of work. Open Clasp have given us the right balance in true life stories and issues with a hint of comic relief that is respectful and a truly wonderful piece of theatre. It challenges our stereotypes and beliefs of women ‘criminals’ and gives a sympathetic and realisation to the innocent and self-protecting reasons some of them have been incarcerated.

http://www.openclasp.org.uk/our_work/detail/Key-Change/83

Review Blackbird The Other Room by Kiera Sikora

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All photographic credits Kirsten McTernan

(4 / 5)

Set in an office break room, as unclean as their past, ‘Blackbird’ begins with Ray (Christian Patterson) and Una (Sophie Melville) on opposite sides of the small and intricate room, both wanting to speak whilst both unsure of what to say or where they can look.

With a firstly faltering light and some seriously uncertain small talk, a head-to-head confrontation begins between the two. They tell us of their past, how Una and Ray shared an illicit relationship which began and ended when Una was 12, and Ray 40, and how they both ended up here in Ray’s new life’s occupancy, after Una saw a photograph of him in a magazine. She tracked him down. And the past in put in front of them, staring at them in the flesh.

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What’s both horrendous and horribly beautiful about this play is how David Harrower has us question who the hell the victim is here. You see, Ray is not a monster- at least there was no sign of one at The Other Room for me. But his actions are undoubtedly monstrous. To abuse, a word prized from his own mouth by Una, a 12-year-old which has harmed her both emotionally and physically is evil. And there are more than a million of different kinds of evil in this world but I saw not just one on that stage, I indefinitely saw a few more. You see it seems that it is the cruelty of feelings that conjured up these horrendous events and emotional sky scrapers. Ray tells us that it was his genuine, non-tactical and uncontrollable desire to speak to Una. That ‘speaking’ lead to what they ultimately became. He would purposely look for ways and reasons to talk to Una not because he thought profusely about what she looked like naked but because he was emotionally attracted to her understanding of human feelings. Ray is likeable. Disturbingly likeable. You may well sit in the audience and see how he could be a very nice man to have a very nice chat with. He believes that Una ‘understood love’.

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But, for Una, it is that understanding of human feelings that could’ve been one of the ways in which she felt that she could and did love Ray. And it could’ve also been the reason why she thought he loved her too. From the beginning of the play we see that she is a girl who feels things on a deep and sensual level. That quality in a person is usually something that when discovered by somebody else can be a quality that helps them thrive together. But we can see here how that quality is what made her bleed for Ray. Una is delicate, a shadow of her youth who, though beautiful, is internally beaten. Seeing her at 27 with her heart pouring out of her mouth allowed us to see her as a 12-year-old. And seeing both her Ray (now 55) in the same room meant that what was put in front of us was two people who share a time that was both forbidden, but almost admittedly for both exclusively sometimes savoured.

This play is in very many senses difficult, wonderfully so under the direction of Rupert Hands who’s delicate and detailed direction compliments the script and its disorientating duologue of wretched honesty. It’s bright, bold and dissimilar design by Ruth Hall, with lighting designed by Alia Stephen and sound designed by Sam Jones commend the intricate space at The Other Room.

Christian Patterson and Sophie Melville are a credit to Harrower’s words making you throw your moral compass in a ditch and leave you wondering to the bar with no way of seeing what’s right and what’s honest.

Blackbird runs at The Other Room at Porter’s until Friday November 4th.

Prepare to be left in a concrete conflict of emotions.

http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/whats-on/seasons/autumnwinter-at-the-other-room/blackbird/

 

 

Review A House Repeated, Battersea Arts Centre, By Hannah Goslin

(4 / 5)

A House Repeated

Battersea Arts Centre

In a transverse stage, little set but two chairs and two hospitable hosts, A House Repeated is unlike any other show I have experienced.

Described as a game show piece of theatre, it was as if we were transported into imaginary cluedo. Acting in two teams, we made decisions as a team when faced with choices of direction and actions. With no idea the outcome of this experience, we willingly engaged in a comedic yet creative piece of theatre that could have lasted for an hour up to several.

Unfortunately for this company, two audience members of an older persuasion were not so open and left very quickly. While it would seem this would disturb the piece, the hosts were understanding, the other audience members made this comical and this helped to return to the ‘normality’ that we had been involved in. This was nothing to do with the clever on stage interaction, but a naivety of these particular members to the different between our traditional theatre and the more experimental and immersive theatre that is challenged today.

Beginning in control, we were told mostly what options were available for our movement throughout our imaginary building, we were also told what the building looked like and so little was left to us to decide. We began hesitate, until we realised that the options given to us were not the only options, giving us the freedom to think more for ourselves, warming up to the concept. This is until we were given the chance to decide ourselves. Hilarity and a range of possibilities were open to us, giving us slight control to what we wanted to see and where we wanted to be. Anything was possible and it brought a lot of fun and laughter.

We were given the chance to be a team but let our imagination run – enjoying the mystery and the joy of such an interesting and fun performance art.

Review Sŵn Festival by Emily Jay

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(4 / 5)

 

I can usually be found at one venue or another on Cardiff’s Womaby Street most weekends, so when Sŵn Fest time rolls around it can feel akin to a party in your own living room… only with more bunting, balloons, and bands of course. This is just one key element to Sŵn’s enduring success; the sense of community between organisers, venues, acts and fans alike. Whether you’ve travelled from far and wide or you live ten minutes away like I do, everyone’s there for the same reason – to discover the most exciting up-and-coming bands and artists, filling Cardiff’s best-loved intimate venues with a welcoming and buoyant atmosphere. 2016 sees the festival reach double figures, and I was lucky enough to join the party and celebrate as Sŵn turned ten years old!

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This year, Sŵn Festival begins early for me. On Wednesday, 19th October Pembrokeshire-born filmmaker Kieran Evans brought ‘Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave.’ to Cardiff’s Premiere Cinema for its global premiere. As a dyed-in-the-wool Manic Street Preachers fan, a one-off screening (for now, at least) of any of Evans’ work with the band, complete with a Q&A hosted by the inimitable Simon Price, is not to be missed. The film, shot during several dates of the Manics’ 20th anniversary tour of their groundbreaking 1994 album The Holy Bible, is as uncompromising and unrelenting as the record itself. Evans had pre-warned me in a short Twitter exchange that “there will be strobing…”, but after attending two dates on the THB20 tour myself, I knew that would only serve to make it a true account of the gigs; I was seeing black spots in front of my eyes for days afterwards. Evans’ focus on the fans, as much as the band, throughout the film illustrates the impact the album continues to have on its audience – not one face is captured missing a lyric, nor a word of the excerpts that have come to be such a distinctive feature of the record. They sing every song back to the band, their eyes never flickering away from the stage, with, dare I say, even more conviction and fervour than James Dean Bradfield himself.

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After the “visual and sonic assault on the senses”, as Evans’ describes the film, we are treated to a Q&A session where he reveals he is working on a “more personal” documentary with the Manics, provisionally titled ‘Escape From History’, to follow on from the more fact-based ‘Freed From Memories’ film that was included in the 20th anniversary boxset edition of Everything Must Go. This time, Evans says, there will be more focus on how the three remaining band members coped with the disappearance of their long-time best friend and fourth Manic Street Preacher, Richey Edwards, in February 1995, the difficult question of if and how to carry on as a band, and the resulting album Everything Must Go. Evans also deals with pleas from audience members for ‘Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave.’ to get a DVD release or other screenings around the country, mostly passed on by other fans that were unable to make it to Cardiff. While he makes no promises, particularly as “DVDs don’t sell anymore”, I think it would be a real shame for Manics fans across the world not to have the opportunity to see the live expression of an album we all hold so dear. Evans also reveals how the film’s title was settled upon, in keeping with the tradition of naming his album-based works with the band after lyrics from their songs (see: ‘Culture, Alienation, Boredom and Despair’ and the aforementioned ‘Freed From Memories’). During discussions with the band’s bassist Nicky Wire, the idea of ‘Suntan and Napalm’ from “ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart” was suggested and so, less seriously but perhaps just as fittingly, was ‘Sterilise Rapists’ from “Archives Of Pain”. Joking aside, Evans’ assertion that The Holy Bible is “a cultural statement unlike any other” is a description truly befitting of the Manics’ masterpiece and how vital it evidently remains more than twenty years on.

A couple of days later on Saturday afternoon, I collect my press pass from the warm and welcoming volunteers at the Castle Emporium and set off to find my new favourite bands. Unfortunately, I don’t get a chance to explore the Music Museum – a joint venture between Swn and Cardiff University – in the Castle Arcade over the weekend but having been told it will be open until mid-November, I’ll definitely be whiling away a couple of hours there sometime in the coming weeks!

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My first port of call from the wristband exchange is the BBC Gorwelion/Horizons stage, housed upstairs in O’Neills, to see North Walian four-piece Fleur De Lys. Their brand of indie rock comes complete with non-stop catchy hooks and striking Welsh language vocals, while the sense of joyful abandon inherent in their live shows makes them an unforgettable first find of the weekend.

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My obsessive habit of arriving early for gigs pays off in style when I get to Clwb Ifor Bach half an hour early for Matt Hitt’s Drowners. I squeeze into the very back of the packed-out downstairs room to catch a few songs from Bryde, and I’m immediately glad I did. Moving seamlessly between powerful chords and gentler melodies, and with a voice that is equal parts PJ Harvey and Stevie Nicks, I’d like to think it was meant to be that I stumbled upon Bryde’s performance as I haven’t been able to stop listening to her music in the days since. Bryde plays Clwb Ifor Bach again on 2nd November for Swn’s Hair Of The Dog That Bit You gig, a “one-off post-Swn new-band-chaser” that is not to be missed.

Dashing upstairs to join the already sizeable crowd collecting for Drowners, I don’t have to wait long before the band grace the stage exuding New York cool. Expecting an aloof, detached performance I’m pleasantly surprised to see a band who unashamedly look like they’re having a great time, and promptly check my preconceptions where I stand. I’d been sold on seeing Drowners after learning that frontman Matt Hitt was a Rhondda boy and that the band were named after Suede’s debut single – a surefire winner with me. But although their name might come from Brett Anderson’s boys, their sound is more akin to The Smiths and The Cure mixed with more modern indie flavours like The Walkmen and We Are Scientists, destined to fill indie disco dancefloors here and across the Atlantic.

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As I wind my way back downstairs, the growing audience for Shells catches my attention, and my decision to join them turns out to be an excellent one. Distinctive vocals on a bed of dreamy melodies helps the captivating delivery of her songs stick in your mind long after the performance, and it’s little wonder she drew such a big crowd at one of the busiest periods of the day, surely leaving everyone who saw her enraptured.

After catching up with friends at a nearby bar and sharing all the tips we have for who to try and catch tomorrow, we cross to the other side of Womanby Street to The Moon Club and we’re lucky enough to get there before they are forced to employ a one-in-one-out policy, evidence of the venue’s popularity and stellar line-up of acts. As we thunder upstairs, I’m unable to hide my excitement that I’m finally getting to see Mclusky* live! After being a fan for a mere twelve years, they don’t disappoint and are an obvious highlight of the whole festival for me. I’ll treasure the memory of being part of a packed-to-the-rafters crowd, screaming along to every witty, clever lyric that I never really thought I’d get to hear anywhere else than through my headphones sat on the X4 bus.

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Post-Mclusky*, I escape the sweatbox that The Moon Club has fast become and get my breath back on my way to O’Neills for Tibet who are closing the Gorwelion/Horizons stage. It’s the perfect finish to the night with Tibet’s energetic indie pop sounding bolder than ever, and there’s a belief shared between everyone I speak to that the band will be playing on bigger stages and to bigger crowds in no time at all.

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My first visit on the Sunday afternoon is to see Cardiff’s own Winter Coat who are declaring the Girl In A Band stage at Clwb Ifor Bach open. Carving their own niche in the dream pop genre, Winter Coat strike a wistful note between melancholy and careful optimism, and are the perfect antidote to the chilly October air with their melodies evoking a fresh, Spring-like feeling.

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Winning the award for Best Band Name of the weekend (against fierce competition from Strong Asian Mothers and Scott And Charlene’s Wedding) are Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? One of my favourites of this year’s festival, HYESTJFAV (because I can’t keep typing that out!) have come all the way from Finland to fill the top floor of Clwb with their synth-laden garage rock. Running from 60s girl group melodies to 80s electro-pop and back again, HYESTJFAV continue the rich tradition of wonderfully alternative bands from Scandinavia and I, for one, can’t wait to hear what they’ll do next.

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Another big draw to The Moon Club comes in the form of Let’s Eat Grandma, a teenage girl duo from Norfolk who I’m highly excited to see as I’ve heard so many plaudits thrown their way already. Hearing their darkly ethereal alternative pop, with influences far beyond their years, leaves me in no doubt that the praise is completely warranted. Imagine if Kate Bush and Robert Smith had a child and left Nico to babysit, and you’ll be somewhere along the right track towards the thoroughly unique brilliance of Let’s Eat Grandma.

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CwCw are next on my list of must-sees over at Undertone, the basement venue beneath 10 Feet Tall on nearby Church Street. Hailing from Blackwood, around eight miles from my hometown of Tredegar, I’m not about to miss the opportunity to support talent from my little neck of the woods. Formed at school (just like another Blackwood-born band I’ve previously mentioned!) if this taste of the band’s indie-folk sound is any indicator of what’s to come from them it won’t be long until their dream of being snapped up by a record label is realised. Special mention must be made to the tireless Young Promoters Network for curating such a successful stage at Undertone on the Sunday, and for slinging a free lei my way on entry!

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My final show of the weekend comes from Stealing Sheep, an all-girl trio from Liverpool signed to the wonderful Heavenly Records, who are appearing on the Make Noise stage upstairs in O’Neills. Doing my research beforehand, I saw the term “genre-defying” used a lot in regards to them, but I’ll give it a try… Let’s say, early-80s influenced electropop with a psychedelic edge, given an unexpectedly folk-like slant. Sort of. I’ve always admired bands that are difficult to pigeon-hole, and Stealing Sheep are no exception. With their live show full of energy and conviction, they are the ideal way for me to finally wear myself out and sign off from Swn 10.

It cannot go without saying how much work goes into making Sŵn Fest such a success, from the organisers and volunteers to the venues and the acts themselves, so a huge thank you and congratulations for a thoroughly enjoyable weekend has to go out to everyone involved! As someone who is constantly looking to discover new music, the weirder and more wonderful the better, Sŵn is continuing to prove itself unparalleled in offering fans of just about any genre the opportunity to enjoy the best venues in Cardiff and uncover the next big things!

www.facebook.com/emilyjay89

@emilyjaywrites

emilyjaywrites.wordpress.com

 

 

Review A Good Clean Heart, Wales Millennium Centre by Emma Shepherd

 

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(4 / 5)

This play – from writer Alun Saunders and director Mared Swain – started life in Cardiff’s award-winning pub theatre The Other Room, received rave reviews at Edinburgh and is now touring Wales.

Written while the playwright was going through process of adopting his children, it tells the story of Hefin – a teenager in a sleepy West Wales town – whose adopted parents reveal on his 18th birthday that he has a brother.

Angry and disillusioned, he flees home and heads to London to find his big brother Jay – who’s had a very different life to his younger sibling.

The play is all about contrasts: the comfortable middle class existence of Hefin against the dysfunctional urban upbringing of Jay; Hefin’s loving, caring mother versus Jay’s chaotic, colourful mum; growing up white in rural Wales versus growing up mixed race in London; and of course, the two languages.

The dialogue flows between English and Welsh, with projected surtitles in the opposite language forming part of the set. It’s done so slickly, I barely noticed that I was watching a bilingual play.

The play has a real passion and affection for the Welsh language, and a sense of humour about how others perceive the language – “So when I say ‘taxi’, I’m already speaking Welsh?”.

James Ifan and Oliver Wellington put in powerful performances as the fresh-faced Hefin and the streetwise Jay, but also as the other characters they portray – especially when they both slip into playing their troubled birth mother. A cleverly-done karaoke scene saw the pair perform a hilarious bilingual version of Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers.

The simple set that consists of a bus stop and a bin, becomes everything from a council flat to a classroom. Clever video projections take you on a tense bus journey through the inner city one minute, to a funny Facebook messenger chat between the brothers the next.

A Good Clean Heart was a touching, funny, modern piece of theatre that has left me thinking about adoption, family, nature/nurture, and all the Hefins and Jays out there.

 

 

Review Quentin Blake: Inside Stories National Museum of Wales by Helen Joy

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(4 / 5)

 

Charming.
Somehow these odd, quirky, scratchy drawings become pretty and delicate in this high, light gallery.
It’s wallpaper, says the guide, as we check out the canopy of characters clambering down the walls.
It was especially made for us. People want to buy it. They can’t.
He smoothes it along the wall, loves it.
The text, that’s vinyl lettering.
It’s honest, candid, an extension of the drawings, tucked under the pictures, telling us something about the artist as much as his work and in his hand.
I hear children: ooh, it’s Matilda… Mummy, look, it’s Matilda.
I see Michael Rosen’s heart on the walls at the far end. Blake chooses his pens and brushes as carefully as Rosen chose his words to describe his grief. Beautiful.
The guide loves this exhibition. He loves this Museum. We talk about the need to attract children to keep the funding. Museum having to morph from repository and display to school and play.
There is a low table with low stools. All bright colours and soft plastics. Books and pencils, bits of paper.
Here, which one to do you want to do?
This one, Mummy. Mrs Twit. I’m not very good. I can’t draw.
How sick am I of hearing this cri de couer. Who tells a child they can’t draw? Who?
So, we all sit down and pick up the colour pencils and the paper and we draw. The adults copy Blake. The children copy the adults. I just draw chickens.
How do we hang them on the wall?
Just clip them in front of the other pictures.
But I don’t want to hide any?
They’ll all be cleared away weekly.
Oh. Some of these are wonderful.
The guide lights up: yes, look at these – talented.
They all are.
Blake would want them all on display. He is happy to share his warts n all, so should we be happy to show off all our talents. Art is feeling, is communication – no right or wrong.
I get that the Museum needs income, I get that it should attract children for many good reasons but let the adults in too.
This exhibition is a truly refreshing expression of human frailties and our spirit, our humour, our ability to find laughter and hope everywhere. Blake shows us through caricature and exaggeration what it is to be a child, an adult, a human being, a creature of this world. It is humanity in ink. Deceptively simple.
As my Father always said, it takes genius to simplify, to explain. Blake does this perfectly.
I go home and I spend an evening replacing the nib in my great-grandfather’s pen and I start to draw.

16th July – 20th November, 2016
Free, suitable for all ages

https://museum.wales/cardiff/whatson/8916/Quentin-Blake-Inside-Stories/