Hi Rhiannon great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
So a bit of background – I’m a Cardiff born, Cardiff based theatre director. I mainly work with my theatre company Common Wealth but I also work on freelance stuff which has ranged from taking a circus to Gaza to making a show on a beach.
The work I make is socially engaged, often political and site specific – we find interesting places to stage our shows in the past we have made shows in houses,boxing gyms, courtrooms and now we’re making our new show in a huge industrial warehouse.
I grew up in Cardiff, St.Mellons – I’ve got a deep sense of love and pride for this city and the incredible people that I know here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, this city gives me the fuel I need to spark and fuel my imagination. I love the magic of this city.
I think it was growing up in St.Mellons that got me into theatre. We didn’t have very much growing up but what we did have is loads of kids to play with. I spent my childhood playing in the street, dressing kids up in my mums old clothes and on plays on in the garden. I think that’s where my DIY spirit came from in those early lessons of making the most of what you’ve got.
My company Common Wealth grew out of those roots – we were a group of people that came together to make theatre. We started with nothing, making shows in large empty buildings, without funding and with the generosity of people who wanted to get involved.
Over the years Common Wealth has grown, we’ve made work in many different places, with incredible groups of people and are now working on shows in places like Chicago and Germany. Currently I am working on a new co-production with National Theatre Wales called We’re Still Here – I’m mega excited, it’s our first big show in Wales, staged in an epic former industrial warehouse and inspired by the incredible Save Our Steel Campaign.
This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to?
Currently I’m listening to Kojey Radical’s album 23winters – he’s a London spoken word, grime artist. I’m loving it because it’s so poignant and powerful it feels like a new genre, he’s also a visual artist so he’s fusing all these different forms together. He’s a powerful man, full of real energy and rooted in his truth. I respect that.
We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?
The Holy Bible, Manic Street Preachers
This album changed my life, bit cheesy but it did. I discovered it when I was in school and it was one of those ones that spoke to me about who I was, it helped me make sense of the world. It’s genius, I’d go as far to say they’re some of the best lyrics ever written.
Drunken Lullabies. Flogging Molly
I love punk. I love how fierce it can be and that you can loose yourself dancing to it and let everything go. This song is particularly special to me, it’s a song me and my friends used to sing early hours of the morning as the sun was rising. It reminds me of a friend that passed away, Daniel Griffiths. It reminds me of the wild times.
The 4th Branch, Immortal Technique
I also love hip hop, especially it’s conscious, political and says things that we rarely hear. Immortal Technique is an independent rapper in America who refuses record deals, he holds his own. This song particularly resonates with me because it’s about the Palestinian struggle, it captures the situation in all it’s horrific truth. When I was travelling in Palestine this was a soundtrack for me, in a strange way it gave me hope that someone was writing music about it and that was reaching people that might not know.
Shame, Young Fathers
Young fathers live. Wow, I dont have the words. I saw these guys at Clwb Ifor Bach, I had no idea and instantly fell in love with their music, I’d never heard anything like it in my life. Shame – has had a massive influence on my work, I use it in most of my workshops, it’s urgency really inspires me. I LOVE the video too.
Let them Eat Chaos, Kate Tempest
Kate’s a force of nature an important artist of our times – she always pops up at the right time, she inspires the shit out of me and puts me back on track. She’s a friend of mine and I’ve loved seeing her grow and smash it over the years. She’s reminds me to be true to myself, the past and to not apologise.
Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?
It would have to be Shame, it makes me feel alive and full of fire. It’s a song you can run, dance, scream and shout too. That’s important to me.
Many thanks for your time