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Review A Sunny Disposition The Other Room by Caitlin Finn

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

(4 / 5)

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

Cast:
Charlie – Neal McWilliams

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

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

Interview Gwen Davies A young dancer with Ballet Cymru.

095Sian Trenberth Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we get involved in your dance projects?

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

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

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

Thanks for your time Gwen

http://welshballet.co.uk

Project Review, Making It! by Helen Joy

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Parama 2 Making it – LIVE!

A review of the programme of scripting workshops leading up to and including, the production: by a participant.

A small group of women of a certain age gather together in the curious spare rooms and spaces of the Wales Millennium Centre every Tuesday afternoon for 9 weeks.

March 15th

We introduce ourselves cautiously to our facilitators, Valmai Jones and Catrin Edwards; and to each other. Why are we here? Personal growth and development, honing skills and learning new ones, changing paths, making connections. A mixed bag of skills too–clowning, illustrating, writing, performing, acting – and a fair few years of life experience to boot. We watch Catrin’s film, Voices From the Factory Floor, with extra voices from the WMC breast cancer charity fashion show below. A heady mixture of women’s words on a Tuesday afternoon.

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Responding to the characters in the film seems easier to some than others. Some slip into roles easily; others struggle a little; I have no idea how to pretend and can only be me. I am astonished at the ease with which our group brings life and animation and speech to these women we have only glimpsed, sometimes second or even third hand. Real stories slip out so naturally hidden in the make-believe.

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Now, Val employs a little trick each week. Relaxation exercises for the body and the brain with closed eyes. Her mellifluous Welsh lilt calms our nervous spirits and revives our inner creativity. Staring intensely at paper mandalas to free up our right brains – mind over myth – becomes part of our shared experiences, part of bonding the group and comforts changes with consistency. This is neat.
We play a kind of Consequences – throw our titles into a hat, pick one, write some lines, pass it on… we read them out – remarkably adept little stories, tight, funny, sad, clever but mostly text, not so much dialogue.

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As the weeks roll on, we learned to examine characters and how to bring them to life through words and play. We had homework: write up your character – give her life. Give her words to say. And playlets form with monologues, dialogues, complex scenarios. Characters cry, laugh, shout and dance. Some of us stay with the themes of the film; some use the Consequences storylines; others choose something new. Somehow, perhaps not surprisingly, we all talk about the influential women n our lives.

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I struggle with reading out my words, my dialogue. And the first time it matters, I can’t do it. I am ten years old and I will be humiliated. I hand my script to Val. She is so kind and talks me through ideas and scenarios and builds my confidence.

The call goes out – posters are ready, the time and date is set – we will be performing at 3pm on the 9th May in the Preseli Rooms at the WMC. Tell your friends and families.

I write a script over an evening. I have been mulling over the idea for a few weeks now without realising. I cannot face reading it. I wonder how the others are managing.

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May 8th

Rehearsals. It is a beautiful, hot sunny day outside and we are all inside, fretting over scripts, tripping over stage hands and working with professional actors. This is getting very real. We are called to the stage, Val is acting and Catrin is directing. We are multi-tasking at a superhuman level.
I cannot open my eyes when they start to read my play. Gradually, I uncurl and watch and listen and begin to edit and critique and love it. Not love my work – but love the process. I discover acting is a joy – to be someone else for someone else is a privilege. I try so hard to do it as well as I can. Everyone else seems so much better at this but inside, I guess, we all feel the nervous.

May 9th, 3pm

Somehow, out of all the chaos, a slick series of plays is presented to a small but hugely appreciative audience. All credit to Catrin and Val for their inspiration and facilitation. All credit to the actors and stage hands for adding that professional edge.
And to us? Well. We pulled it off.

The audience, mostly made up of women from Voices from the Factory Floor, has enjoyed our efforts very much. The plays remind them of conversations had with their own mothers, fathers, daughters and friends. One said that we hadn’t needed scripts to read – that we could have just chatted amongst ourselves on stage – and there I see the compliment, our work was natural, candid observation with each of us adding our own personalities and quirks to tell tales. Not perfect but gentle, the work of women who have been there.

I am not alone in being relieved yet ecstatic as the event closes but oh so sorry that this series of workshops is not continuing and that we are left to go our own ways with our words.

The project  was supported by Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival which is funded by Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales, WI in Wales and Women’s Archive of Wales

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http://gwanwyn.org.uk

http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/making-it-free-drama-scripting-workshop-for-older-women/

http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/parama2-presents-making-it/

Review Closer, Circa, Udderbelly by Hannah Goslin

http://www.udderbelly.co.uk/images/made/images/uploads/closer_for_web_750_500_60_c1.jpg

(4 / 5)

Closer

[Kloh-ser]

Adjective
Comparative of close

Close

[Klohz, Klohs]

verb (used with object), closed, closing.

to bring together the parts of; join; unite (often followed by up)

verb (used without object), closed, closing.

to come together; unite:

to come close: 

to grapple; engage in close encounter (often followed by with)

adjective, closer, closest.

having the parts or elements near to one another:

being in or having proximity in space or time:

marked by similarity in degree, action, feeling, etc.:

near, or near together, in kind or relationship:

intimate or confidential; dear.

based on a strong uniting feeling of respect, honor, or love:

Audio Described review 

The word closer has so many different meanings – the list goes on. It can be negative and it can be positive. In the case of Circa’s performance of ‘Closer’, it is certainly a positive experience emanating the above definitions and some more.

How much closer could one get to a small, intimate audience, only a matter of inches away from bending, flipping and tumbling bodies, inside the belly of a giant purple cow? Everything about this show is the definition of Closer – the performers with their relationship, trust and confidence in one another to undertake stunts in a small area, to be close physically with one another to do death defying aerial tricks, push, pulling and throwing each other around the stage; the interaction with the audience through speech, facial expressions and involvement of a select few.

Through the dangerous tricks, the rare but possible accidents and often the technical aspect of rigging and staging, it’s a new take on circus to attempt this in such a small area. Stereotypically we are used to the big tops, some branching out and bringing new takes on circus but still in large arena’s such as the astonishing ‘Bianco’ by Cardiff’s own No Fit State Circus and the occasional trapeze, hula hoop or juggling in small cabaret settings such as variety and burlesque shows. However, this is instantly something new. Minimalist set and rigging, the majority of the tricks performed make use of the performers bodies instead of staging and rigging. Moments that make the audience gasp in pain, when the performers look comfortable and still at ease. These performers make everything look so easy – but still, DO NOT TRY AT HOME!

These awkward oddball cool kids not only give us tricks, but they give us acting. Their strange romantic yet family-like playful interaction with one another as well as with us gives us a warm feeling inside and also a little giggle. With the addition of music which is a mixture of popular songs, remixed versions and then strange instrumental combinations, these parts of the Circa puzzle gives the whole sense of a strange Parisian world where these characters are the only 5 who reside – but yet we are welcomed and included with open arms.

Cringey yet fascinating and exciting tricks, air defying skills, a bit of danger, a laugh and something a little different to the ‘norm’ – what else would you want to spend your night watching?

ENO Season Launch 16/17 by Hannah Goslin

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ENO

[English National Opera]

Season Launch 2016/2017

Audio file of written text is below

It’s been a tough year for the ENO.  Over a year ago Arts Council  England warned the company that unless they were to figure out their business plans then they would face cuts to their funding. And so it did. A 5 million pound cut was issued on the company. If this wasn’t enough, several resignations have caused a threat to the future process of the ENO.

Lucky enough to be invited, I attended the season launch where the management team aimed to not only excite us on the upcoming year but also to eradicate any lack of confidence in the company after such detrimental events. The new artistic director, Daniel Kramer – from what it would seem, a veteran in directing through theatre, musicals and predominantly Opera in the last year, made an appearance to instil confidence in us. His passion of the industry and positive attitude to overcoming the past year or so gave a smiling safety jacket to industry interest.

One brilliant aspect that I found interesting from the season launch was the company’s ethos in their target market. Ballet and Opera is forever known as a white middle class past time. The company has released a scheme which, while not new, they insist is tried and tested from previous years. 500 tickets per performance for £20 or under to bring in the masses who find the West End and London theatre difficult to purchase. Ticket prices can be off putting – and the knowledge that those who can afford high prices are possibly those who you would not normally associate with. By making performances more accessible, this clever idea is appealing to the unusual Opera goers. But this does not stop there; ENO are producing performances that artistically are not the usual Opera. The production of ‘Lulu’ really stood out to me – as one who is used to the proscenium arch, heavy costumed and heavy make upped performers in Opera, video footage of this performance with its avant-garde noir set and visual effects appealed to me immensely. Kramer also insists his eagerness to bring musicals to the ENO – purely to show the company’s versatility and bring in a different audience who would not have even entered the building previously.

And the ENO has not stopped there. With a large period where the in house orchestra and performers will not be residing at the Coliseum, outside companies will be hiring the space. Another nod to their expansion in audience interest.

 Where will the company be during this long time? The ENO are bringing themselves to the larger horizon – Hackney Empire, Southbank Centre, and all the way to Blackpool Winter Gardens. The company’s insistence to open up to the masses cannot be ignored, and seems they will not stop till they are acknowledged by diverse groups.

A slight novice to this niche part of the arts industry, my lack of knowledge is not for want or for avoidance – but due to a lot of issues raised on price, market audience and general Opera stereotyped culture. These business implements, to me, seem an intellectual idea and one that has immensely appealed to my curious yet ‘common’ interests.

Review Bianco No Fit State Circus

No Fit State Circus perform Bianco at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. ©Richard Davenport 13

 

Photograph credit R Davenport.

Bianco’, performed by ‘No Fit State Circus’ was the last show I went to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I left the circus tent shaking in awe. When a performance has given you a lump in your throat that makes it hard to even cheer or clap, you know they have done well. Every section beautifully designed that was enhanced by the power of the live band.

There were no individual stars but an ensemble of talented performers, each bringing their own expertise to the stage. Even though this was a stereotypical contemporary circus show, they brought so much emotion to the way they performed that it stood out from any other circus acts. The music and the lyrics especially helped create this emotion and made mini-narratives for each section. There were moments in this show where I felt I’d left reality behind and stepped into a dream. It was aesthetically pleasing in every sense that I couldn’t believe it was happening before me. I never wanted it end. What was more interesting is that I felt like I was part of the production myself. The constant change of positions to re-arrange the performance space made it become even more immersive. Sometimes it took away from the essence of fantasy, yet it was necessary.

It was evident that every aspect of the show was well thought out and infused with professionalism. Every person so physically fit it was inspiring to watch. Overall ‘No Fit State Circus’ is heightened with pure talent, innovative imagery and a set to be admired at. Step into this tent and leave reality behind.

Review ‘The Greatest Liar in all the World’, Familia De La Noche

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‘The Greatest Liar in all the World’ performed by the Carmarthenshire based company, Familia De La Noche, take the story of Pinocchio, after becoming a real boy. Conrad Sharp, playing the older Pinocchio looks back on his life with grievance. Throughout his life he’s told lies to get him out of trouble and now his last request is to tell the truth, the story of his past. This is a well thought out story that merges farcical tales with romance, truth with pain. They use a variety of different arts such as puppetry, physical theatre, clowning and live music. Each craft, perfect for the story line making their work unique and immersive.

This highly comedic play has touching moments that emphasise the pain of Pinocchio’s past and his search for the one he loves. These moments are so contrasting with the comedy before hand, that it moves the audience so much more. The skilful Dot Cotton whom dances with such elegance is entrancing to watch. She is accompanied by a simplistic but highly emotive piano melody performed by Max Runham, a wiz with all things musical. He knows exactly how to create the perfect tune to accompany with the action on stage. However, the highly emotive section would be Conrad Sharp’s monologue and the very end scene, the unexpected heart-wrenching twist. Truly outstanding to say the least. After being through a journey with them, learning about his true life, this thought-provoking twist was a beautiful end to a magnificent piece of theatre.

This story, perfect for all ages captures the beauty within many forms of acting. Their high level of talent and the imagery they are able to produce makes it spell binding performance. I’m excited to see what they produce next.