An interview with Janet Aethwy, Director of Estron, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Estron Rehearsals, Janet Aethwy (Cyfarwyddwr / Director). Images: Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design

Hi Janet, great to meet you. Can you give our readers some background information on yourself, please?

Hi Guy – I’m an actress and director. I can be seen sometimes on the Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm playing the role of a local detective. I’ve been acting for nearly forty years, but in the past five years I have turned to directing. I am a voice director for Welsh versions of animated series for S4C as well as a director for several one-person history plays for schools.

So what got you interested in Directing and the Arts?

In 2013 I attended a directing course with Elen Bowman of Living Pictures, which provided me with valuable tools and opportunities. I took part in several workshops ranging from Meisner and Frantic Assembly to writing sessions with Mike Bartlett and Sacha Wares. The creative process is integral to any vibrant society and developing the ideas of playwrights and staging their work enables me to contribute in that function.

A new initiative for Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru is Theatr Gen Creu which will support talent, develop theatre craft and offer unique opportunities to artists in Wales. One strand of this new initiative is support for new directors. Why do you feel this new initiative is important?

As a beneficiary of an innovative directing course myself, I fully endorse any support given to fledgling directors.

Ceri Elen (Han), Janet Aethwy (Cyfarwyddwr / Director). Images: Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design

Estron was previously brought to life in 2017 at the National Eisteddfod. Will this new production differ in any way?

As we have been given the opportunity to take the work around Wales, the production is not intrinsically different but it has evolved, developed and matured.

Playwright Hefin Robinson won the Drama Medal at the 2016 National Eisteddfod for Estron. As someone who has a personal relationship with this work, what do you think caught the judges’ eyes? 

Hefin’s writing is playful, imaginative and original. He confronts a difficult truth with a light, humorous touch. He deals with the subject of death and loss, but only as part of the continuum of life. His message is both positive and uplifting.

The production will have a BSL performance. Can you please tell us more about this, and why you feel it is an important part of your offer for audiences? 

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru are committed to making their productions accessible, and providing a BSL performance is part of that commitment. They want their productions to reach as wide an audience as possible, and they seek to remove barriers that may prevent people from attending. They are working with industry specialists – Cathryn McShane as the BSL interpreter and Jonny Cotsen as their advisor – to ensure that the BSL performance meets the needs of the audience.

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

We welcome the opportunity to extend our work to as broad an audience as possible. The theatre should reflect society in all its diversity.

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

I would like to see more funding for local musical/art/drama events in our communities. Supporting live events promotes small town businesses and engenders a sense of well-being to all those involved.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? 

The Welsh arts scene is an incubator for young talent as well as a stage for established and well-versed world class performers.

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

Recently, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Tudur Owen – a well-established comedian from Anglesey – at The Miners’ Theatre, Ammanford. I now hope that you will enjoy your visit to the same theatre to see Estron – directed by another Angleseyarian.

Many thanks for your time.

Estron is on tour 19 April – 19 May 2018 Y Daith / The Tour: Theatr y Glowyr, Rhydaman / Miners’ Theatre, Ammanford: 19 + 20.4.18 Canolfan Garth Olwg / Garth Olwg Centre: 24.4.18 Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli: 26.4.18 Y Stiwt, Rhosllannerchrugog: 1.5.18 Theatr Bro Alaw, Bodedern: 3.5.18 Theatr Felinfach: 5.5.18 Pontio, Bangor: 8.5.18 Canolfan Morlan, Aberystwyth: 9.5.18 Neuadd Gymunedol Maenclochog Community Hall: 11.5.18 Ffwrnes, Llanelli: 12.5.18 Chapter, Caerdydd / Cardiff: 14-16.5.18 Canolfan y Celfyddydau Taliesin Arts Centre, Abertawe / Swansea: 17.5.18 Galeri, Caernarfon: 19.5.18


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