Category Archives: Film & TV

Europeans (THE GUARDIAN) – A Review by Eva Marloes

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

If you, like me, are tired of the formulaic plot-driven writing that saturates our screens, head for The Guardian channel on YouTube. There you will find Europeans, a series of seven short films with seven writers, each from a different European country: Poland, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden, UK, and Ireland. The Guardian shows that it’s ahead of the game in producing documentaries and now drama. The writing of Europeans is fresh and original. The format allows the films to go beyond the demands of TV, where short films have no presence, and crucially the constraints of national cultural traditions.  

The films are so different you wonder whether they were responding to different briefs, but that is precisely what’s good about them. They are not made to fit into a category, although all of them have a strong theatrical voice. This is partly because each film is a monologue delivered to camera exploring Europeans relationship with Europe. 

The series opens with the French film One Right Answer, the most overtly political episode of the series written by Alice Zeniter and performed by Sabrina Ouazani. A young woman talks of her experience of democracy betrayed. She voted for her first time against the Treaty of Nice in the European referendum of 2005. The referendum was lost and yet the result ignored. She was against the neoliberal Europe dominated by consumerism and the free market, but little transpires as to what she believes in. Sabrina Ouazani gives credibility to the monologue, but it doesn’t go past the disillusionment with the process rather than touch on a generation’s aspirations for Europe.  

Borders, the second episode comes from Poland and was written by Jakub Żulczyk and performed by Jacek Koman. It is the story of a lorry driver who has travelled Europe everywhere but has been nowhere because always on the move. Before Schengen, he travelled east and would read books during the long waits at the border. The lorry driver had to sacrifice time with his family to put food on the table. Today, he travels to Germany in a Europe that has no borders. A Europe where his son earns well and can spend time with his family.  

In the UK episode, Dim Sum, written by Clint Dyer and performed by Javone Prince, a bailiff acts tough while he empties a house. It is the longest piece, which allows the monologue to be interspersed with short bursts from the people whose house is being emptied. The bailiff, a black man, presents himself as the product of British society, where people only care about themselves and trample on others to be rich. He is British and has nothing to do with Europe, though he is not blind to the deep racism that casts him and his children as outsider in their own country. The bailiff does his job with no compassion, and yet, that one time, when a pregnant woman from a European country opened the door, slightly trembling and then crying, that time left a scar. The captivating writing gives life to a rounded character. Javone Prince’s intensity makes us relive with the bailiff the memory of that encounter. 

Equally dramatic is Terra Firma, the Spanish episode, written by Blanca Doménech and performed beautifully by Paula Iwasaki. A woman tells us of when she left her rural village for London only to find herself exploited in demeaning jobs. Now back home, as she walks down the streets of her village, her anger at the dehumanising economy is mixed with a feeling of guilt for betraying her roots. She looks up, to the statue of Mary during a procession, and all is forgiven. She is lifted up, away from the the everyday struggle, from the pain, and feel worthy as a human. Thus she can be true to herself.  

For the German episode, Neanderthal, the writer, Marius von Mayenburg, has chosen a Neanderthal man, performed by Robert Beyer, to tell a poetic tale warning of the danger of forgetting the past. It is the story of a tribe that thought themselves stronger than others, which led to war. As he tells the tale, the setting changes from a museum, to the woods, to a theatre, just as a country and a continent change throughout history, and yet repeat the same story, that “Those who don’t want to live together, will die together.” Only in friendship there is life and the future. 

Written by Jonas Jonasson, Top of the Class, the Swedish episode makes fun of the Swedish attitude of superiority saying that “We didn’t really join the EU, we rather decided they could join us.” It blames social media for reducing politics to soundbites and creating divisions. The shortest episode, it is performed well by Viktor Åkerblom, but it feels a little too underdeveloped.  

The Irish Fake Tan, written by Lisa McInerney, alludes to Brexit by presenting an Irish woman splitting up from her British boyfriend. Lighter in tone, the woman, played delightfully by Evanna Lynch, is the embodiment of an Ireland that no longer needs Britain and can fit anywhere.  

I was particularly touched by Dim Sum, Terra Firma, and Neanderthal, which convey complexity through elegant simplicity. They are part of a whole. The films may seem very different dramas, but you get a sense of cohesion, partly achieved by the excellent direction of Amy Hodge, who conveys the emotions in a few careful shots. This cohesion out of difference is just what Europe is, or dreams to be. Europe is not defined by the past but by a dream of the future. Europe looks to what has been to imagine what can be. It is my hope that The Guardian will now commission a series that speaks of our hopes, our dreams, our imagined future. 

Showbiz Chatter, Maureen Lipman – A Tale of Two Kitchens

Not surprised to see the indomitable Maureen Lipman, who was 74 this month, taking part recently in an online cookalong project to cook something delicious for a neighbour or friend in need.  Maureen, who is due to start filming more episodes of Coronation Street in June, made a nutritious bean and barley soup in the small kitchen of her home in Paddington. The kitchen looked perfectly adequate but it brought back memories of the much larger kitchen of the family home where she lived with her late husband, the playwright Jack Rosenthal, and two children, Amy and Adam.  The house had a large garden, at the bottom of which stood a red telephone box, which was presented to Maureen when she was appearing as Beatie in the British Telecom adverts.

Maureen’s kitchen in that house was her pride and joy.  I went there to do a big article and photoshoot about said kitchen, which was painted in sunny yellow with blue painted cupboards and the latest in worktops.  It was a full-on day. Maureen and Jack were due to go to a wedding later, but like the true pro she is, Maureen didn’t let that faze her.

Jack, and Maureen’s mother Zelma, however, were a different matter. Both kept wandering in; Jack to enquire the whereabout s of different of items of clothing (a shoe lace broke, causing a major problem), while Zelma – a lovely lady whose mission in life seemed to be making sure everyone was fed – appeared at intervals to offer sustenance.

 I still remember one particular shot with Maureen perched atop her kitchen counter with a red rose between her teeth!  Not your traditional kitchen photo, but that’s Maureen. I have interviewed her several times over the years and she is one of the spunkiest people I have ever met, going on stage many years ago in a demanding play after major spinal surgery, and in 1998 taking on the challenge of learning some fast dance routines as Aunt Eller in the musical Oklahoma!

Barbara Michaels

Showbiz Chatter By Barbara Michaels

Good old ‘Corrie ‘– veteran of the soaps Coronation Street this month celebrated 60 years on the small screen. The longest running TV soap not only in the UK but in the world, there is even going to be a commemorative set of stamps, on sale from May 28th, to mark the anniversary.

 I well remember ‘Corrie’ way back in its early days. Granada TV took a posse of us – some eight or ten showbiz journalists – up to the set in Manchester by train.  First class, no less, and a full cooked breakfast with a glass of bubbly in the dining car.   

But the TV company got their money’s worth when we arrived at the studios.  Interviews with the cast followed, one after the other, each of us being firmly moved on to the next one when your time was up.  

I headed straight for the wonderful Violet Carson, complete with hairnet in her role as the miserable old bat Ena Sharples – she of the jutting jaw and woe betide you if you crossed her.  Vi was a gem – a true pro knowing exactly what was wanted.  Then it was on to the flame-haired Pat Phoenix, bold, brassy and larger than life on TV as Elsie Tanner.  A very different kettle of fish – feisty and fun in real life too.  As for the men – William Roache (Ken Barlow in the series), who had his 88th birthday last month, was politeness personified.

I must have done at least six interviews that day.  Exhausting – but a great day out!

Barbara Michaels

Review Gretel and Hansel by Eva Marloes

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

With Gretel and HanselOz Perkins retells the famous Grimms’ tale centreing it on Gretel’s ability to survive in a hostile world and overcome the temptation of evil. One should not be fooled by the title and the focus on Gretel and believe that it is a feminist rendering of the tale. The film hasn’t got an ounce of feminism or women’s empowerment. On the contrary, it is infused with the traditional misogynistic tropes of mad women and witches as women who kill children, including their own. It is not a misogynistic film either, thanks to a pervasive ambiguity, a clever weaving together of the stories of its protagonists, and subtle acting. 

Faced with poverty and starvation, the mother of Gretel and Hansel turns mad and kicks them out. There begins Gretel’s journey of growing up and taking responsibility for herself and her little brother. She acts as a mother towards Hansel, protecting him from danger until Hansel’s hunger leads them inside the house of the witch. Gretel is at first wary of the hospitality of the witch. She becomes seduced by the witch’s knowledge and power. The witch teaches her magic, but it is a dark magic that requires sacrifice. The witch tells Gretel that she sacrificed her own children and asks Gretel to sacrifice Hansel to gain power. 

Historical scholarship has shown that women victims of witch hunts were often those who did not conform to patriarchal norms and fulfil their roles as dutiful wives and daughters. Louise Jackson’s research on the Suffolk witch trials of 1645 shows that these were unmarried women, widows who lived alone, women suffering from depression, women who were not as submissive as they were meant to be.  

The type of crimes of which the women were accused mirrored in reverse the tasks imposed by their social role of mothers and wives. As mother and wives, they were meant to feed, nurture, heal, and give birth. Thus, they were accused of poisoning, infanticide, harming, and of death. The witch is the opposite of the good wife and mother. It was not religious zealotry what motivated the witch-hunt, rather the systematic controlling of women. The pressure was so high that women convinced themselves that they were indeed witches and confessed to being a witch. 

The mythical figure of the witch is constructed in opposition to the good wife and mother. She is dangerous and evil because she is not under the control of male authority. In the 1890s, as the figure of the New Woman begins to emerge in fiction and art (think Gustav Klimt), the witch and the female vampire are presented as strong in their sexuality, though largely still for the gaze of men. One of the central features of how women have been portrayed, especially in horror stories, is their dangerous power, which comes from their body, its ability to seduce, to give life, and thus destine us to death. Life is the beginning of death.  

The film balances well the allure of the dark power of the witch with Gretel’s attempt at being responsible for life. It is, however, full of allusions and short of clear intent. The cinematography (by Galo Olivares) is slick without indulging in the aestheticism so prevalent in today’s cinema. Sophia Lillis, as Gretel is excellent, though it is Alice Krige, as the haggard-witch, who steals the show. The slow pace makes the film suggestive and subtle for most part. Alas, in the final act the writing (by Rob Hayes) turns artificial and wants to make a point quickly. It assumes a moralistic tone and falls for a simplistic triumph of good over evil. It’s as if the male authors couldn’t help but restoring order.  

Artistic EVOLUTIONS, a new Arts Podcast

Wales based writer Neil Bebber has recently launched a new arts Podcast.

EVOLUTIONS. Is an arts-based show, finding out about how artists started out, where they are and where they’re going. For the first episode, Neil has been lucky to be able to talk to Harry Holland, who was pretty inspiring and a lot of fun.

Its available at Apple podcasts
It’s also available on Buzzsprout:
and on Spotify:

Showbiz Snippets with Barbara Michaels

Showbiz Snippets

 Olivia Colman and the rest of the ‘Royal’ family are preparing to film a fourth season of The Crown when restrictions are lifted.  Which brings back a Royal memory to me.

When working on the local newspaper in the Fifties, I was sent to report on a special  4th June firework display at Eton College to be attended by the Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip.  Knowing I would be the only female in the Press enclosure, I had lashed out on a new dress for the occasion. 

As the Royal party passed where members of the Press party were herded together behind a barrier, Prince Philip glanced our way. He then turned towards the Queen and said something sotto voce which made her smile.  For years I kidded myself it was a complimentary mention of me in my new dress, but knowing HRH’s penchant for pithy remarks it was more likely to have been: “Good lord – they’re letting women in now!”

On another occasion, I was sent to cover the tea the Queen was giving, in a huge marquee in the grounds of Windsor Castle, for tenants of the Crown lands.  Determined to be prepared, I went over the day before to check who would be sitting next to Her Majesty at tea.  A courtly elderly gentleman was putting around the place names at the top table.   On HM’s right was the name of a well-known member of the aristocracy, but the name on her left was unknown to me.

“Who is that?” I asked.  “I’ve never heard of him!”

My escort blushed.  “Actually,” he said. “It’s me.”              

Barbara Michaels

Showbiz Snippets

Did you know that Pierce Brosnan, soon to be seen on Netflix in a new comedy Eurovision, turned down the role of James Bond the first time he was offered it?  It took seven years for him to accept the role, in his first Bond film Golden Eye, to be followed by four more.

Don’t forget to watch the National Theatre’s Anthony and Cleopatra before Thursday.  Free on YouTube. As Anthony, Ralph Fiennes is a man of the flesh in all respects, while Sophie Okonedo is a manipulative Cleopatra.  Brought back memories of Richard Burton with Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 film.

Review Normal People, BBC Three By Vic Mills

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Normal People, written by Sally Rooney, Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe and directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie McDonald is based on the novel by Sally Rooney and stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal.

I came to this with no knowledge of the book and for that I am grateful; some of the finest qualities of this drama are in the screenplay, direction and, above all, in the acting, and, whatever the qualities of the novel, this is a piece of art in its own right and should be judged as such.

The characters played by Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal are Connell and Marianne.  The story begins with them in their last year of High School in County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland and follows them in twelve short episodes through the end of Sixth Form and on through their undergraduate years at Trinity, Dublin.

Psychologists and our own experience teaches us that what we go through at this time in our lives identifies us for ourselves – we always see ourselves, in some sense, as what we were then, as our life is at its most intense for us.  The music, the art, the sport and above all the relationships experienced at this time, we come to think of as ‘our time’, ‘our era’.

It is this quality which drives not the narrative but the emotional landscape of this superb drama.  There is an unerring touch with the writing, editing and the resulting atmosphere of this piece which makes us feel intensely for Connell and Marianne as they stumble into and through their love.

There are a number of likeable and quite well-drawn characters in this piece; Connell’s mother, played beautifully and with real restraint by the gorgeous Sarah Greene is the most notable of the supporting cast – but support is all they ever really are.  You can draw each figure with a sentence as they never matter for themselves, only for the way in which they impact upon Marianne and Connell.  Marianne’s mother and brother clearly impact her life horribly, but it is the impact on her only which is allowed to interest us.  They cannot be allowed to take our eye off the ball by mattering in and of themselves.  The awful death of Connell’s school friend is a central trope which is explored in depth, but we don’t know the boy or care for him, we know Connell and watch him experience his grief.  Similarly, the ghastly boyfriend of Marianne’s is little more than a cipher to show us more of Marianne herself and of Connell.  There is great discipline in the screen writing which never allows us to shift our focus or interest away from our real subject.

The work is intensely claustrophobic; we are almost suffocated by the script and the camerawork; we feel voyeuristic and deeply uncomfortable at being present for such private moments, which are handled beautifully and with the surest of touches throughout.  There’s an awful lot of sex.  Thankfully, it is almost always between Connell and Marianne – Edgar-Jones and Mescal got to know one another very well, without a doubt.  In a world were sex for young people can become so commoditised and influenced by pornography, the simple, tender, naïve couplings of these two youngsters is quite lovely.

There are funny moments, deeply touching moments and an awful lot of dreadfully sad moments.  It was a fine decision to keep episodes so short – we could let ourselves breath after half an hour and feel some measure of relief that it was over, then long for the next episode to begin.

In watching Connell and Marianne we watch ourselves.  That, I think, is the most wonderful thing about this drama – the way in which it takes us to that time in our own lives.   The quality of the work delivers emotions which are raw in the extreme and our late teenage and early twenties lives come roaring back at us like the Sligo waves.

Film and television acting is, by necessity, a very technical thing; making something so convincing, so visceral, so raw and so real then is a huge achievement.  This is work of the very highest order and for those of us who shared Marianne and Connell’s journey, it will stay with us for some time.

Hers, A Short Film by Alexa Morden (with Katie Elin-Salt), Reviewed by Gareth Williams

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

In Alexa Morden and Katie Elin-Salt are two actors determined to change the industry. Through their excellent podcast ‘The 98%’, they give a warts-and-all account of what the #actorslife is truly like. It is an insight that will prove particularly valuable to recent graduates; and for other creative types like me there is plenty to learn from and to relate to. More than anything, it brings a new-found respect for those pursuing this most fraught and fragile of “career” paths.

The creation of Hers by Alexa Morden springs in part from the difficulties of the jobbing actor. For anyone already familiar with their podcast, the idea of acting as a full-time profession is a distant dream for most. Thus, in response (and to quote Morden), ‘When the industry isn’t giving you lemons… grow your own oranges’. The result is this short film that is fresh, fragrant and ripe for watching.

Morden stars as Beth, a young woman who happens upon kindred spirit Laura (played by Elin-Salt) in the bathroom of a house party. They hit it off immediately through a conversation about online dating apps, soon finding themselves acquainted with one another on the tiled floor. What follows is a wonderfully frank scene, featuring full frontal dialogue that is smart, witty and well-polished. Some may consider the so-called ‘X-rated’ content here as being too much. Some would argue that it has been pulled straight from the Fleabag Scriptures. In either case, Hers feels fresh and raw (in spite of the ordinariness of its characters and its mundane setting) suggesting that such explicit conversation around women’s sexual experiences remains rare onscreen.

I would expect nothing less from its two stars however, who to some extent play versions of themselves here. Their no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach to their podcast is reflected here in the casual flow with which this duologue is delivered. The film benefits greatly from their off-screen chemistry, which makes the friendship that blossoms between their characters onscreen all the more believable. They are well-suited, with Elin-Salt’s strong South Walian phrasing and expressive movement providing a nicely-balanced contrast to Morden’s softer tone and sharply defined actions. They have the makings of a very entertaining partnership. In the real world, of course, this is already a reality. But there is also something about these two characters that, at the end of the film, makes you want more of their company.

This may be a one-off piece. But Hers has the potential to be something much bigger.

Click here to watch the film*.

To find out more about The 98% podcast, click here.

Reviewed by Gareth Williams

*contains strong language and adult themes

Series Review, In My Skin, BBC3 by Gareth Williams

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Don’t get me wrong. The first two episodes of Normal People were beautifully-crafted, and I am looking forward to watching the rest of the series. From this initial glimpse, I can see why it has received such high praise from critics and viewers alike. Whilst this show has been taking all the plaudits however, another BBC3 commission has been quietly going about its business. In My Skin may not have been given a privileged primetime slot on BBC1, but I would argue that its voice has been no less powerful than that of its highly-acclaimed stablemate. The series has just come to an end, hanging on a somewhat explosive cliffhanger that suggests a second series is already confirmed. If so, it is hugely deserved.

In My Skin has been misunderstood in some quarters as being about popularity. I don’t believe that to be the case. In the main character of Bethan (Gabrielle Creevy), I found someone not wanting fame or even attention. In my eyes, she simply wants to be liked. As a result, she spins a web of lies surrounding her family in order to paint her life as an alternate reality wherein everything is “normal” and she is “ordinary”. She tells these lies to Poppy (Zadeiah Campbell-Davies), an archetypal Miss Popular, not because she desires to be with the in-crowd. It is not status that Bethan seeks but a relationship. She fancies Poppy. Part of this coming-of-age drama is the exploration of one’s sexuality. This is done with such gentle understatement as to capture a truth very rarely seen in fictional portrayals. The heterosexist narrative that presents same-sex attraction primarily (only) in terms of the closet is instead replaced here with a delicate acknowledgement of her sexual orientation. It is neither a problem nor a revelation; a source of pride nor of shame. It just is. And there is something quite beautiful and refreshing about that.

Some people may sigh at the thought of another teen-focused drama. Yet In My Skin places a spotlight on a corner of the world still underrepresented on television. Writer Kayleigh Llewelyn has talked about ‘wanting to recreate accurately the Wales we knew’. She has praised the likes of Ruth Jones (Gavin & Stacey, Stella) for capturing the ‘warm, broad characters’ of her homeland whilst taking this further, into the realm of traditional kitchen-sink drama, presenting ‘the grittier side’ found in the nation’s working-class communities. For all that I have delighted in the TV dramas emerging from Wales over the last decade, I must concede that most of these shows have been middle-class in nature. In My Skin takes us to the coalface, as it were; to life on a typical semi-urban street on a Welsh council estate. It doesn’t shy away from the challenges of Bethan’s home life, but it is also shot through with plenty of humour. Her dad (Rhodri Meilir) is an alcoholic; her mum (Jo Hartley) bipolar. In her Nan, played wonderfully by Di Botcher, Bethan finds a warm, witty and supportive companion. Hers is a world that is very rarely seen, yet represents for many an everyday reality. This is what the BBC, when it works, does best. We take it for granted at our peril.

Kayleigh Llewelyn

The relationship between Bethan and her mum is the pivot on which the series rests. Hartley is astronomical in her representation of bipolar disorder, giving a performance of such magnitude as to believe she was the real deal. It shows in the accuracy and detail of her portrayal that she has taken on board everything that Llewelyn sought to put across of her own experience. For her part, Creevy presents an inner strength to Bethan that both masks an underlying fear and grows out of a persistent love for her mother. She reflects the vulnerability of her character at the same time as drawing out a steely determination within her. In their relationship, we see the pain, joy, frustration, anger, humour, and love that bind them. It is harrowing, heart-rending, and inspiring. It is what makes the series tick. But like many of its fellow comic-noirs (Fleabag chief among them), its supporting cast are so well-rounded as to add pungency to the show’s centripetal force.

In My Skin is a complete and utter triumph. It deserves major plaudits too.

Click here to watch the full series.

Reviewed by Gareth Williams

Graduate Showcase Lauren Ellis-Stretch

Many Welsh or Wales based arts graduates are finding this current period especially difficult. Their usual opportunities to meet agents, prepare for final year exhibitions or productions may take place later in the year or sadly not at all. To raise awareness of the diverse talent graduating this year GTC is offering any Welsh or Wales based graduate the opportunity to be showcased on our website. If you are interested, please do get in touch.

Hi Lauren great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hi! My name is Lauren Ellis-Stretch, am originally from Porthcawl in Bridgend. I am a playwright, theatre maker and some-time critic. I am currently in the midst of, rather abruptly, finishing my studies at the University of Manchester. Approximately, I am only a ‘mere’ 14,000 words away from completing a BA in Drama and English Literature!

 So, what got you interested in the arts?

Well, in highsight I think I’ve always had a penchant for story-telling. I wouldn’t say I lied, but as a child my stories were perhaps always well-embellished… I lied a lot. Then, in secondary school I found Drama and I was seduced by its transformative potential, its collaborative nature, and the magic theatre possesed which I have been chasing ever since. I developed a love for play scripts reading The Tempest, and A View From the Bridge, and other old-exam board favourites. But the seminal moment which transformed my encroaching fascination into true obsession came when we were taken to see A Doll’s House at the Sherman Theatre, in 2015. It was one of the first professional plays I had ever seen, and I just knew that I wanted to make things that made people feel as electrified as that production had me.

A Dolls House, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. Credit Nick Allsop

Can you tell us about your creative process?

A lot of reading, seeing things, talking to people, quite often it involves ill-timed epiphanies which send me scrambling to find loose paper or the notes app on my phone. I haven’t yet had the pleasure, and perhaps, equally, the horror of working over a long stretch of time on one project. Mostly, the plays that I have written have been churned out in the pressure-cooker of student theatre in which everything is created within a max of ten days, mid-essay deadlines. It has been, on the whole, an exhilarating way to work, and always an intensely visceral process. However, I do look forward to seeing how I can approach writing over an extended period of time in the hope that I will expand, develop, and interrogate the work more thoroughly than ever before.

As a young Welsh artist graduating during a very difficult period what investment and support do you think is required to enable your career to develop and prosper?

I think what is required is guidance. There is going to be a lot of time, which I identified above as something which could be incredibly beneficial in an artists’ process. However, this runs the risk of resulting in a stagnated period of learning about our chosen crafts. If the pace at which you’re working, and trying things out is particularly rapid you will learn what mistakes not to make again, and what is good practice very quickly. To see more mature and experienced artists reaching out to younger artists  (not only in age but in experience) and offering their support and guidance would be particularly beneficial for the individuals; also, on a wider scale, this could assure the emergence of a thriving and innovative, post-lockdown, industry.

A range of arts organisation and individuals are now working online or finding new ways to reach out to audiences. Have you seen any particularly good examples of this way of working?

There is so much incredible content being put online at the moment! I have been thoroughly enjoying watching NT Live productions, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical screenings. I also, recently, enjoyed a very sweaty Frantic Assembly warm-up with Simon Pittman, which was inspired by their show Beautiful Burnout. And, I loved listening to Ashes to Ashes Funk to Funky by Martha Reed on Chippy Lane’s Podcast.

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

I think, biasly (as my passion is for playwriting) that more needs to be done by established theatres to engage with new, fresh and diverse voices in Wales. I think the Welsh industry, in comparison to other theatre ecologies in the UK, is really lacking in a scripted theatre/playwriting culture. I think recent steps towards readdressing this by the Sherman Theatre, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, the Other Room, and Chippy Lane Productions has been a step in the right direction but this has to continue. Particularly, there needs to be more effort in engaging with BAME, working-class and womxn writers.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

Having a theatre scene that is effectively much smaller, and less established than in cities such as London and Manchester means that there is a real sense that anything is possible! Also, there is access to certain resources that in a larger cultural hub would be hard to access. The community, for example, in the Welsh arts scene is particularly inspiring for young artists, I feel. More experienced artists often seem very willing to share their experience and time with you which can be so rewarding when you’re just starting out.

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

Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats at HOME, in Manchester! It’s not the last great thing I saw, however, it is really really great, and I’d like to put a spotlight on a smaller theatre company. (However, Three Sisters at the National Theatre, and the Royal Exchange’s Wuthering Heights have been other cultural highlights for me, in the past couple of months!) But, Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats was a piece of theatre that I found so incredibly joyous, thought-provoking, and devastating all at the same time.

It was political, and silly, and they gave out a lot of booze. It was an wholly-encompassing and arresting theatrical experience. I don’t want to say too much about it because hopefully, at some point in the future, they will continue with their tour, and you will get to see it! The reason I think it’s so notable as a great piece of theatre, though, is because for younger theatre-makers it is the perfect example of being anarchistic, daring, and completely unique in your rebellion; and I think that is what will be needed of us in an artistic landscape, post-lockdown, creative rebellion. 

Many thanks for your time Lauren.