Category Archives: Circus

Top Tunes with James Doyle-Roberts, Co-Artistic Director of Citrus Arts

Hi James,  great to meet you, can you tells us about yourself and your work?

Hi there, and thanks for inviting me to do this.

I enjoy telling people that I’m quite a good poster-boy for how the arts can save young people who lack direction and, in my case lacked a stable family background.

I fell in love with Hip Hop & Breakdancing as a young teen, and then in my 20’s I discovered circus and aerial work which became my career for almost 20 years. Both things came along at times when I was heading down negative roads. What they have in common are the life benefits of physical training and a strong DIY cultural ethic of just making things happen before seeking permission.

The soundtrack to my early childhood was new-wave punk, Ska, and the early years of Hip-Hop. Breakdancing and the version of Hip-Hop culture that landed in Wales was my path away from the miserable cultural confusion of the 1980’s.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in Manchester at the height of it’s music scene, in London at a time when arts & culture really mattered, and back in Wales to work with NoFit State Circus when they were really hitting their stride.

I’m now Co-Artistic Director of Citrus Arts, along with the amazing Bridie Doyle-Roberts. Citrus have been making shows that combine Circus, Theatre, Dance, and Design since 2009 and we’re based in the Rhondda Valley. We tour shows around the UK and the last few years have seen us championing the hands-on skills that come with Circus life as a way to bring the people of our community together to create ‘Exceptional Experiences for Everyday People’.

 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? 

Music is and always has been, a major force behind my path as an artist.

As performers Bridie & I played in plenty of shows where the music felt like an add-on background texture, that’s why Citrus Arts places an emphasis on picking high quality soundtracks and live musicians for our shows.

Bridie & I have two small children, so it’s hard to find time to immerse ourselves in music. There’ve been dozens of times when the boys fall asleep in the car, so we keep on driving, talking about ideas for shows, playing albums, and making major decisions about Citrus Arts’ future as we keep going until one of them wakes up. It costs us a fortune in Ice Cream when we eventually stop to play in a park, or beach for a while before turning back home.

My go-to sounds at the moment all come from the brilliant Late Night Tales series of compilations. The LNT label invites top-notch musicians & producers to curate a 1-hour musical soundtrack for a ‘movie’ that’s never been filmed. My favourite track I’ve discovered so far is “Henry McCulloch” by David Holmes, BP Fallon, & Andrew Weatherall.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list five records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why? 

The Stranglers – ‘All Live & All of The Night’

My first music festival was Reading in 1987, where I saw The Stranglers headline the Friday night there along with The Cramps, The Pogues, and Iggy Pop over the weekend. This album was partly recorded that night. I still love the sound, image, and artistic message of the punk movement, but was just a young lad with a paper round when it had the real power to shock.

The musicianship in this album still stands out as a moment that shows how punk evolved into the more interesting areas of the charts in the 80’s.

Devo – ‘Q- Are We Not Men?’

I’m still enthralled by how this band made a unique musical, visual, and political style around their image and output. Two brothers in the band made Devo’s pop videos way before the advent of MTV, another member invented the Roland Emulator keyboard/synthesiser, and between them they built a complete and un-improvable artistic world for their music and message.

I love the fact that the lead singer Mark Mothersbraugh now makes music for Marvel super-hero movies.

Massive Attack – ‘Blue Lines’

I was working at a big record shop (a “Megastore”, according to Mr Branson) in Cardiff when this came out and nobody, and I mean nobody, from the Phil Collins-loving security guards to the guys in the classical music department had anything but huge praise for this album. For me it was a re-connection back to my years of loving early Hip-Hop, Soul, and Jazz influenced music, and represented a way to cross between tribes of taste and friendship groups.

Every single track is excellent, but the decision to choose “Safe From Harm” as the opener was a masterstroke.

Ted Barnes – ‘Underbelly’

It’s hard to find Ted’s wider work on the usual online platforms, but this album is a great example of his style. Citrus Arts’ first touring show was based around Ted’s music and if you listen to this, you’ll hear why we chose it.

Barnes was Beth Orton’s composer when she rode high in the UK album charts in the 2000’s. My favourite story about this music is knowing that Ted’s father was a Toymaker in the seaside town of Whitstable in the post-war years.

This album sounds like a boy sneaking-in to his Dad’s shed where wood was carved, and tiny mechanical things came to life.

DJ Shadow – ‘Private Press’

Another personal tale coming up here, but this is DJ Shadow’s best album.

In 2012 the Hip-Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa donated his personal record collection to NY Columbia University’s Cultural Archive – they were the plates of vinyl that were cut, scratched, and mixed to create Hip-Hop in the yard parties that founded the genre.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist were allowed to take those actual records on tour as the Renegades of Rhythm performances where they played them as a set, in tribute to one of the founding artists of Hip-Hop.

I saw the show. I listened to those actual grooves on those vinyl plates that inspired me to take a lifelong journey into physical performance, and the way that communities can make their own lasting mark on what I’m sure wasn’t considered ‘art’ at the time.

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? 

I feel like I want my own Radio show after doing this!

If there’s one track I’d like to share with you, rather than remember for personal reasons, it has to be Ted Barnes’ “Sting in The Tale”.

Its lush, gorgeous, beautifully crafted music that everyone should try dancing to.

Thanks for your time James

Review: Cara Vita: A Clown Concerto, Vault Festival By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Clown meets Circus meets Classical Music.

Felicity Hesed has happily and triumphantly summed up this performance in her title. Full of comedy, music, Cara Vita is a great piece of fun for any evening.

Going through the trials and tribulations of a woman’s life, we meet Hesed on her wedding night all the way through family, breaking up and finding herself as a woman and a person again. The story is told with plenty of audience interaction, comical clown moments and up close and personal circus skills, flying high above us with a beautiful live played soundtrack.

Much of the telling of this tale is quite abstract; using sock puppets at one point to describe a break up; using other pieces of clothing to show the growth of children and the changes that come with this, to suddenly becoming invisible to rekindle the love for ones self when she then becomes visible to others on stage once again. The approach is very niche but not unwelcome, but it did seem to fall flat to some who one would assume came for a traditional clowning experience or traditional circus.

The pace of the production was quite similar; slow and steady, with pauses which eventually speeding up near the end for a climax. But it felt that little burst of energy could have kept us intrigued and engaged a little longer.

Cara Vita: A Clown Concerto is bundles of fun, comedy and a lovely narrative, celebrating women. A quicken of pace could have made it that little bit more special.

14 Months On A Response To Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

In November 2018 we published an article in response to the new Arts Council Wales Corporate Plan “For the benefit of all..” with a range of contributions from Creatives in Wales. We revisit this area in the updated article below with responses from one of the creatives featured in the article as well as an additional contribution.

Our mission statement at Get The Chance is “Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events.”

We were very pleased to see some of the priority areas in the new Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

In particular we were interested in Commitment 2 below

We will enable a greater number and a wider diversity of people to enjoy, take part and work in the publicly funded arts.

ACW then go onto make a series of intentions (below) for where they want to be in 2023 (5 years)

We will be able to demonstrate clearly that all our funding programmes promote and contribute to equality and diversity

There will be a narrowing of the gap between those in the most and least affluent social sectors as audiences and participants

We will develop the creative work of disabled artists by funding “Unlimited” commissions and developing a scheme similar to “Ramps on the Moon” operated by Arts Council England

We want to introduce a “Changemakers” scheme placing BAME and disabled people in senior executive positions in the arts

We want to see a doubling of the number of disabled people in the arts workforce

We want to see a doubling of the number of Black and Minority ethnic backgrounds in the arts workforce

We want to have introduced an Arts Council Apprenticeships scheme designed to provide opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds

We will have achieved a trebling of the number of BAME and disabled and on APW boards of governance

You can read the full article from last year here

Adeola Dewis

Artist, researcher, academic and TV presenter

I struggle to fully engage this as a response. My recent experience has revealed that there is certainly a surge to include diversity in all its forms on boards and in creative spaces and projects. However, this new ‘interest’ feels more like organisations ‘needing’ to diversify rather than ‘wanting’ to diversify, in order to secure their future and funding. I am hopeful though.

Elise Davison

Artistic Director, Taking Flight Theatre Company

What a year of change 2019 has been.  For Taking Flight it has seen the company move away from the annual Shakespeare production to more indoor, venue-based work.  

peeling by Kaite O’Reilly, opened on International Women’s Day in March at The Riverfront, Newport and then toured Wales and England and was a huge success earning 4 and 5* reviews.

The Guardian stating “Accessible theatre? Do it properly – do it like this”.  Following this Taking Flight was invited to Grenzenlos Kulture festival in Mainz, Germany as an example of best practice in accessibility.  It was a huge tour and highlighted once more the inaccessibility of much of Wales; accessible accommodation is very hard to find, and some venues struggled to meet our access riders.  However, this did lead to some very inventive solutions involving temporary dressing rooms created with flats, curtains and even a marquee! Obviously not the ideal but with our hugely creative stage management team always looking for solutions rather than the problems and the support of venues we made it work. High applause to Angela Gould at RCT Theatres for her work in this department. 

Angela Gould, Theatre Programme and Audience Development Manager, RCT Theatres.

One of our lovely actors toured with her dog who was a lovely addition to the team. Max is a therapy dog; many places we visited were only familiar with guide dogs, which made us realise how much there is to learn about the different types of assistance dogs.  

Everything we learnt during this extensive tour will feed into the work we have been developing towards a scheme like the Ramps on the Moon initiative.  A scheme like this can never be replicated, but the interest and passion from venues in Wales to be involved is overwhelming.  Creu Cymru, hynt and Taking Flight have been in ongoing discussions about ways to make this happen.  We read with interest that it was also a priority for ACW and have begun conversations with them around a similar scheme. As we have been researching and pushing for this to happen since ‘Ramps’ began in 2016, we are passionate that this becomes a reality.  Taking Flight has just received funding for their next production, Road, at Parc and Dare, RCT Theatres and we hope this partnership will be the first step.   Taking Flight will give support to participating venues to be confident to manage and produce inclusive work, to provide excellent access and a warm welcome to all- both audiences and creatives. 

While peeling was out on the road in the Autumn, we also remounted the hugely successful and totally gorgeous You’ve got Dragons.  After a run at WMC we hit the road again for a UK tour including a week run at Lyric Hammersmith which was almost sold out and incredibly well received. The desire for inclusive and accessible work for young people is growing.  Watch this space for more news on You’ve Got Dragons next adventure.

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Taking Flight has often dreamt of setting up a Deaf- led Youth Theatre for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing young people and with funding from BBC Children in Need we have finally done it. Led by the tremendous Stephanie Back in BSL and English, the youth theatre began last week and the results are already fabulous. The Wales Millennium Centre are our amazing venue partner and host the weekly sessions for D/deaf children aged 4-18. We have been overwhelmed with interest in this project, demonstrating that this has been needed in Wales for a long time.     

There has also been a surge in interest from companies and individuals wanting to consider access while writing funding applications.  There is a general excitement around making work accessible. There are some brilliant intentions and I’ve had exciting conversations with companies about different types of access and have been able to recommend consultants and access professionals.  

The ground has been fertile for change for some time and there is much more inclusive and accessible work being created here than when we first started 12 years ago.   Theatres are also much more interested in programming diverse work and many have invested in Deaf Awareness training with Taking Flight (Led by Steph Back). 

Steph Back

 There is a real desire to diversify audiences and welcome them to theatre spaces.  Taking Flight’s next symposium on 28th Feb at Park and Dare RCT theatres on Relaxed Performances brings the brilliant Jess Thom, Touretteshero to Wales to discuss ways to provide the warmest possible welcome to those who may find the traditional etiquette of theatre a problem.   

Jess Thom, Touretteshero

There has been a surge of work featuring D/deaf and disabled performers, productions like Jonny Cotsen’s Louder is Not Always Clearer, Leeway Productions Last Five Years and Illumine’s 2023 really engaged new audiences and the venues have really built on this success.    There have been more productions that embed access in a creative way, a gorgeous example in Gods and Kings by Fourinfour productions with integrated BSL from Sami Thorpe.  I had lots of fun working with Julie Doyle and Likely Story integrating BSL interpreter Julie Doyle into Red. Companies are choosing to interpret, audio describe or caption all the shows in a run rather than just one which is really encouraging and promoting more equality of access to shows.

So, the will to make accessible work is absolutely there, the best of intentions are definitely there and, now the funding for access is factored into budgets, the funds are usually there. However, why is it still access that falls through the cracks, gets pushed aside or forgotten as a production approaches opening night?  I hear stories of interpreters and audio describers who can’t get into a rehearsal space to prep or are placed somewhere on stage that is neither aesthetically pleasing nor practical.  It can still sometimes feel like access is something that needs to be ticked off a list in order to fulfil a funding application.  

I am absolutely sure that this is not the intention; but we are all so overstretched, one person is often doing multiple jobs (especially in small companies) and when no one is directly responsible for access or it simply forms ‘part’ of someone’s role. So those best intentions and exciting plans are really hard to fully achieve.  Taking Flight are exploring this lack of provision for access co – ordination with Bath Spa University so watch this space for the results of our research… The next generation of theatre makers are coming, and they really care about making work that can be accessed by all – that makes me happy.

Review Entrée, Jose Pedro Fortuna By Rhys Payne

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

In a one-person performance, there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the actor as the whole narrative is told through them and they have to keep the audience engaged and enthused. Which is clearly very difficult but Jose Pedro Fortuna didn’t seem to even hesitate in his one-man production of Entree performed at USW Atrium Theatre.

The plot of this play was pretty simple as it was about a master of ceremonies going to deliver some sort of speech. But as he gets ready start to go wrong and hilarity ensues. This shows a modern and contemporary interpretation of the classic art form of clowning by using magic tricks (which were incredible and mind-blowing to watch) and sound effects. One of the highlights of this concept was a trick where Pedro made a dropped card float from the floor to the top of a ladder where he was stood. This art form (clowning) is fundamentally very comical and Pedro also included traditionally physical theatre tropes such as being stuck in a curtain, the constant dropping of his bow-tie and misplacing props to create a piece of theatre that respected the tradition of clowning while also bringing it to the 21st century.

Pedro decided to make some other creative decisions such as having no dialogue in the entire play, a focus on physical comedy and having it be a nice easy production to watch. Because of all this and the nature of this show, I think the show would work better as a dinner time entertainment in a fancy restaurant rather than in a theatre as a play. Pedro has devised this play so that it built in a logical and natural way. Each prop was introduced in its own sketch before being included in the final set up which was really nice to watch. As a performer, Pedro was entertaining and jovial but also as a magician he was able to manipulate the audience attention and focus so he could perform his sleight of hand trick and certain comedy skits which worked excellently. It was especially fantastic to see the blending of magic and theatre which was a unique blend that I personally had never seen before but I definitely want to see explored again in the future.

This was a thirty-minute show which only added to how easy it was to catch. There were discussions about expanding it to an hour show in the future. This clearly shows how the play is in a sort of developmental phase. On top of this there were feedback forms handed out to find out what the audience enjoyed or not but also a Q and A at the end of the show (which was a fantastic idea as it allowed the audience to find out about the show making process etc) during this we found out that some aspects of the show are improvised and also that Pedro introduces new skills and tricks in different performances. This all means that no two shows of Entree are the same which makes it a very exciting piece of theatre.

In conclusion, Entree is a modern piece of clowning that had the audience laughing throughout. It is a unique show that is one not to miss. I would rate this show 4 out of 5 stars. Entree is a really entertaining piece of theatre that’s shows a side of clowning that many people have not seen before.

Review: Rouge, Underbelly Southbank London, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Who couldn’t be excited by an adult only circus? We begin our night by our intro full of comedy, verbal notes on a good time and nudity – and this is exactly what we get.

Amongst awe inducing stunts, flying high in the air, balancing on unstable chairs, fire, whips, you name it, we get a show full of attitude, hilarity, tongue and cheek and lots of naughtiness. It’s true that this is a circus unlike any other.

This isn’t a show for the prudish, or the shy. The group openly admit that their idea behind the show is breaking down gender and sex roles, and so we see plenty of sexual tension between all sexes – they throughout cross gender roles, with femme and androgynous looks as well as woman taking a lead in dominance. And this shows another great step towards more open and equal performances that are popping up across the theatrical scene.  

Don’t be shocked if you fall in love with these characters – each with their own personality on show, they can be demure and intense with more serious acts but none are afraid to make a fool of themselves, taking playful approaches to S&M, hilarious dance routines with obscured faces by a lamp shade and dancing to a song stating ‘turn me on’ – at this point a light switch by their genitals can be flicked on with light blasting out. There’s no end to the inventiveness and comedy with their routines.

And of course, the more intense stunts are beautiful, well-rehearsed and stunning. The ability to make it look so easy, but with our full knowledge of the strength and skill going into these. They keep their performance faces on, even if the heat literally gets turned up as they swallow fire or keeping their head as they are swung around the room.

Rouge is raunchy, a great degree of enjoyment and certainly a brilliant night out – For ADULTS ONLY!

Rouge plays at Underbelly as part of the Southbank Festival until the 15th September.

Review: YUCK Circus, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The only way to start this review is to announce that this was one of the best and most inventive things I have seen for a long time.

The word ‘circus’ could however be a loose term for the performance; there are some small stunts, a little aerial and flexibility, but this is not the main focus, and that does not make me mad.

This all female group openly spit in the face of the patriarchy, but with a sense of humour and no fear. The YUCK ladies take elements of female life, from menstruation, to talking about messy nights out, pubic hair to ‘dick pics’ and ultimately doing this with a hint of satire on how women are perceived in Circus shows.

The YUCK performers are dressed in basic black shorts and tops, modest and purely to help with the stunts. But at one point, they point out that there has been little circus; to fuel our need, they do a balancing act, but not before pulling their shorts up, exposing their bottoms and facing the audience. This is not only hilarious but is addressing the importance that we are used to seeing scantily clad circus performers, and at times we question if this is really for function or for the ‘male gaze’.

They are unapologetic in parts of life that are not feminine – beer drinking, burping – who cares! They certainly don’t and through this humour and inventive acts, they poke fun and make a stand at the same time.

They interact fully with us, making eye contact, coming into the audience and so this is not a show for the shy by any means.

There is also music; and again, these range from satirical live music, poking fun at what the aerialist is doing, as well as some quintessential feminist songs, some disco – all the tunes you cannot stop yourself dancing to.

YUCK Circus is what every feminist woman should go to to feel another push in what we are striving for in society; for every woman who is still in the dark; and for every man who is stuck in the patriarchy. It is for everyone who wants to laugh, has a slight dark and unbarred humour and to feel really empowered by these unapologetic and fierce women.

 

Review: Super Sunday, Race Horse Company, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

In the last few years, there seems to have been a break out of traditional circus. The tricks and skills are generally the same, but the themes, the approach and ultimately the execution are all so different and unusual.

Race Horse Company bring their carnival, grown up kid-like circus to us, full of crazy stunts and belly laughing comedy.

This male group, a cross of hipsters meets a lad group who have been friends since childhood, they quite obviously explicitly trust one another (a must in circus) but also really enjoy what they do, while parading around in close to matching outlandish shirts and beach shorts.  

As any circus, we have a mixture of low level tricks to dangerous stunts – one minute the group are juggling or creating a comical dance routine wearing large horse puppets, and the next they are throwing one another up into the ceiling and performing in circular tubes that spin on their own at the same time on their own axis. Yet no matter what the performance, it seems effortless, smooth and there’s always an element of comedy to what they are doing.

A giant teddy bear being flung into the air, brightly coloured balls bouncing everywhere, this show is completely geared for children and you can hear the innocent giggles amongst the audience, along with gasps of all ages. Of course, any good show throws little jokes for the adults that go over the children’s heads and so we enjoy is just as much as the children are – giggling in our own corners and gasping in awe.

Super Sunday is extremely exciting, shocking in their courage and stunts but ultimately a brilliant Circus show.

Review: Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, Roll On, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

At half 9 at night, the last thing you would be expecting to see is a sock puppet show. I love a good puppet, but I equally love an usual concept. Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (SFSPT) sure are the unusual.

Opened to the world of adult puppetry and it becoming more familiar a concept, we have all heard of the adult themed ‘Avenue Q’ and a few years ago, ‘Hand to God’. Even cartoons have become more adult friendly, opening up a whole new world in performing arts.

And while I hesitate to compare SFSPT to such shows (a joke in the performance itself reflecting this), it is agreeable that this concept Is not as unusual as it may once were. Yet I was still pleasantly surprised and excited. 

Puppetry come comedy, the FSPT does not rely on humour alone to get by. There is a theme, and it is ever changing (as we hear from its 15 or so years of its presence). This round is Circus themed –with The Greatest Showman being so prevalent in the last year, SFSPT draw upon this to create a narrative, but feels free to go a little off course, ad lib where necessary and it is all just as funny as the original plan. We are at times asked to use our imagination, thinking of a sock puppet out of shot on a tightrope or completing an another amazing feat.

They keep the information present – keeping to events and news from the last year, even making jokes and making it clear that some of the audience may find some too obscure, we cannot help but love it and definitely feel included.

With only one man, two puppets, and maybe around 5 character’s, it is a feat of genius and skill at set and ‘costume’ changes with one hand- a magical experience we all wish we knew the answer to. He manages to give each character its own personality, even with their interaction with one another being quick. Of course there are times when a Australian accent is suddenly Scottish and he soon realises it. But this only adds to the humour – there is no masking mistakes, only inclusion of them.

The narrative went a little off course and dark humoured, but you know what, I was not mad at it. I was sufficiently entertained, laughed my socks off (pardon the pun) and had a really interesting and splendid time.

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre is not exactly breaking theatrical boundaries, but my gosh was it a lot of fun. If you fancy something unusual, ridiculous (is a good way) and a good laugh, then this show is a total must.

Interviews and articles from 2018

Please find below a range of interviews and articles from the Get the Chance team published in 2018.

Welsh and Wales based artists respond to the new Arts Council Wales Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”  

Guy O’Donnell.

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Ahead of the 2018 Brecon Baroque Festival, Roger Barrington had the chance to chat to it’s Artistic Director, Rachel Podger about what to expect this year and also about her own flourishing career as one of the world’s leading violinists.

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In this article we interview a range of arts professionals to share good practice in the areas of Access, Inclusion and Diversity.

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I am going to explore with you the invaluable discoveries and perspective gained from participating in the YANC event held at the Wales Millennium Centre over last weekend.

Beth Clark.

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In this article we look forward to a range of cultural highlights in 2018. Thanks to all of the creative artists involved for their own personal response.

Guy O’Donnell

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The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Rachel Boulton, Artistic Director of Motherlode, they discussed her background, thoughts on the arts in Wales and Motherlodes new production ‘Exodus’ which premiers at the Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare on the 5th of October before touring.

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Philip Ridley’s acclaimed one-act 2000 play, “Vincent River” tells the story of a mother whose son Vincent has been murdered in a homophobic attack. In the aftermath, she learns about her son’s homosexuality. An interview with Director Luke Hereford.

Roger Barrington.

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The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Sarah Rogers, Artistic Director of Ransack Dance, they discussed her background, thoughts on the arts in Wales and her new production ‘Murmur’, taking place on Fri 14th September 2018 at Memo Arts Centre, Barry.

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An audio/subtitled interview with Carole Blade, Director of Coreo Cymru and Creative Producer for Dance in Wales. Editing by Roger Barrington.

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Top Tunes with Jonny Cotsen

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Get the Chance values the role Welsh or Wales based playwrights bring to the cultural life of our nation. Here is the latest interview in this series with actor and playwright Matthew Trevannion.

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The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with playwright and actor Joe Wiltshire Smith.They discussed his background, creative opportunities for young people in Bridgend, his new play Five Green Bottles and his thoughts on the arts in Wales.

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The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Aisha Kigwalilo. They discussed her background, a new arts project called G.I.R.L. Xhibtion and her thoughts on the arts in Wales.

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The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Aleksandra (Nikolajev) Jones. They discussed her background and training, a current project Gravida and her thoughts on the arts in Wales.

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An interview with BSL interpreter Cathryn Heulwen McShane

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A response to Casgliad 2018 – Nurturing Youth Arts in Wales By Beth Clark

I am going to explore with you the invaluable discoveries and perspective gained from participating in the YANC event held at the Wales Millennium Centre over last weekend.

Firstly, a massive thank you to YANC and Get the Chance for the opportunity to be part of this event. Ground breaking engagements are being made by YANC with a diverse scope of arts practitioners and young people of today pushing boundaries in delivering up to date masterclasses, whilst providing and facilitating the relaxed and required networking opportunities. I loved the fact that YANC seemed to be almost inclusively driven by what the Youth want out of these sorts of occasions, with lots of brain storming and idea throwing activities around.

As soon as, I walked in, I was greeted by Sarah  Jones, YANC network’s Chair and artistic director for Mess Up the Mess. Sarah kindly told me exactly what was going on and where. A welcome pack was provided in English and Welsh, this included the days schedule where you would choose what masterclasses you wanted to attend which was also sent by email prior, a feedback pull-out, a substantial list of delegates names, company and their email was provided (invaluable data!), when your wish to pursue contact with people that you have met. This handy touch further enables the networking continuing process, after the event, something that is sometimes missed at previous events similar to YANC’s.

The types of delegate in attendance

There were various freelancer’s in attendance, dramaturgs’ and performers’ from many companies and practitioners, many having toured throughout the UK, ladies from SPARC theatre and Valley Kids, Various personnel from Mess up the Mess Theatre, tutors from CAVC and RCT, Flossy and Bo, Opera Sonic, Rawfest, Ethnic minorities and youth support, Team Wales (EYST), Narbeth Youth Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre, 20 stories High, Circus practitioners, Theatre Na nOg, Jukebox collective, Young Identity, Common Wealth theatre, and Paper trail.

I especially enjoyed my chats with a young man called EZ Rah, a Cardiff based Mike Controller, who has recently won an award for his contribution in attendance at Jason Camilleri’s Radio Platform held at the Millennium Centre and that was launched last year. It was also good to see, such a myriad of people from all over Wales and even outside of Wales enjoying and interacting creatively.

Masterclasses

Young Identity

Young Identity is Led by outstanding facilitators, versatile poets and established spoken word performers. Shirley A May @thegirldreams is one of the founders of Young Identity, someone who I found talks deeply from the heart.

It was herself, her daughter, practitioner and spoken word artist Nicole May and Reece Williams, an artist development advocate and one of BBC1 Extras Words First Finalists, that delivered to the group.

The session starts with interactive word, action and mind play. “Hulla hulla Dance, Dance – Hoop, Dance. It was extremely interactive with competitions from the offset. After all that dancing about and whilst our adrenaline was pumping, they asked us to talk about our life stories. They used their own life experiences to encourage people talk about theirs. “Today I was feeling” and you were then asked to write for 5 minutes about this. Some were spoken aloud, then significant sentences were drawn out, through a thought provoking process they taught. “Cloudy with a chance of rain” and, “I often get nervous around people, but I love them”, were proudly spoken by others. Many other practical skills and ways of creating structured poems in the conventional and un-conventional ways were explored and I ended up coming away feeling I could literally carry on with the process they taught and explore the whole concept a lot more having been in attendance.

Shirley May talked about visiting Picasso’s house in Malaga and the journey that Picasso took to get to the end art product and breaking form. She said Art; whether, it’s in written form or whether its structured to everyone’s approval or not, it is about developing but not discarding the old forms and the characterized elements like rhyme, line length, and metrical pattern.

Young Identity encouraged participants to always read; whatever that may be. To push yourself to overcome barriers, stance and with practice how, power can come through your body. The no disclaimer policy whereby you are not allowed to say anything to support or condemn your own words before talking. This is great because it encourages equal levels when delivering this art form. Another thought concept noted, “Is it even a poem, if we cannot hear you speak it?” Reece Williams told us that we could click our fingers also known as snapping, instead of clapping our appraisals and that this is becoming more and more popular in today’s culture.

Young Identity is part of the Frankfurt International school, but sadly has had their funding cut recently from the government. For me an absolute shame, as the work they are doing as like YANC and Common Wealth Theatre needs to be done.

Common Wealth Theatre

Common Wealth make site-specific and award-winning theatre events that encompass electronic sound, new writing, visual design and verbatim. Their work is political and contemporary – based in the present day – the here and now. Described by Lyn Gardner from the Guardian, “a company that bursts open our consciousness”, a statement, I wholly agree with.

Facilitating this event was the absolute amazing Rhiannon White. Rhiannon is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Common Wealth and a Cardiff local. I received an outstanding energy from Rhiannon and the depth of her work is liberating. This part of the day is where I felt I was intensively challenged positively, enforcing collectiveness and the freedom of individual thought. Rhiannon did this well, by firstly asking us to speak to people and tell them random things about yourself, what we are most proud of etc. Before I knew it there was fully grown and smaller humans of all walks of life, dancing around imitating Body Builders, their Fathers after a few, and people in-love.!

It was hilarious, but a respected art form at the same time. Jumping back into the thought pool you were asked to write down three things to do with each thought induced subject. The subjective answers of individuals were then placed into a centred bundle, we talked about these, using different forms of expression, whether voice, movement or complete silence. The range of ways that you could respond in felt like art in present and was moving, emotional and sometimes philosophical.

Rhiannon talked about her projects, what she feels about theatre and how we can all be a part of it. WOW is a festival that celebrates the achievements of woman and girls, also looking at the obstacles woman face across the world. They are holding think in sessions and big public planning meetings starting Wednesday 2nd May at Butetown community centre and around Cardiff at various locations over the period of four days. I would highly recommend attending one of these sessions, which are open to everyone, woman, men, girls and boys.

Last but not least

The YANC Meeting

The very important YANC meeting took place, minutes were provided and accounts. Why did this happen at the networking event? I was thinking this at first then it come to me. If you are going to buy a membership and invest in this group, then surely you would want to know where the money is going? It was a brilliant way of demonstrating just how much work and support is provided. Also, how most of the work done is voluntary, reflecting just how much this group wants to help the youth sector.   There is to be a lot of role swapping and the inclusion of new people this year which is hoped to bring for new and exciting projects. YANC will be supporting RawFfest this year and planning more Casgliad events.

Overview

I need to be honest and give you how I saw attending this event from my very personal view. I had been looking forward to this event for weeks, but I suffer with acute anxiety. My anxiety stopped me from attending the first day as I hadn’t been to this sort of event for some time, I felt I was totally out of the loop, but with help from the fantastic Guy O’Donnell, I attended Sunday and I am elated from the experience. My barriers were instantly broken down, I was enjoying myself, learning, laughing, meeting new people and wondering why the heck I was scared to go in the first place. So, If you are reading this and you too, have anxiety, about these sorts of events, then get in touch with YANC because these meetings are so inclusive, down to earth and real in approach you will worry about nothing and instead be in one creative bubble to the next. They also offer support and membership through email and social media interaction and one to one meets if necessary as well as these fabulous events.

Beth Clark