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.
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 Lewis great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hi, thanks for giving me this opportunity. I really appreciate it. I was born and raised in the South Wales Valleys in a little village called Cwm which is near Ebbw Vale. I’m just wrapping up my university degree now which is at the Atrium studying BA Theatre and Drama.
I was meant to be performing Frankenstein in May as a final show where I would be playing the role of The Monster but due to obvious circumstances that got cancelled. The creative team that I was working with on this project was a team of talents that I’ve known throughout my time at the university and I would definitely be interested in still doing this show as a non assessed piece. I have a Youtube channel that I share with my brother called ‘Silent Valley Productions’ where we upload projects we’ve worked on.
We are currently working on a 5 episode web-series thats been in development now for over two years, a very long process but one I’m sure that will be worth it in the end. I also love helping out with the media students with their projects, even though the budget isn’t Hollywood level, they’re all capable of making interesting and engaging stories, and that’s always fun to be a part of. I performed my first musical role in 2018 when I played Mr Sowerberry in Oliver with the theatre group i was with and had to perform my first live song. I also love playing on my PlayStation 4 in my spare time.
So, what got you interested in the arts?
Ive been acting now for about 4-5 years now. it was always a subject I got on well with in school and was really the only lesson I looked forward to. My drama tutors always saw something in me and encouraged me to take it further in my career, so without them I don’t think I would be where I am now. I was, and still am, a huge fan of Doctor Who and growing up I always wanted to play The Doctor and hope that one day i have the opportunity to fulfil this dream or even have a role in it. I always had a imaginative childhood, to this day I still have school friends come to me and say to me how creative I was and I think all of this put together is where I get my passion for it from.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
It really depends on what kind of project im working on. If its an acting role then I always find it easier to create a scrapbook and look for other characters that could help shape the image that I have for the particular role. I keep a scrapbook in my room for characters that I think are unique and ones that I think could be useful in a future project, so there’s something I always have to go back to and reference to if needed.
As a young Welsh artists 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 the support has been really well all round on my behalf, with organisations like yourself giving opportunities which are really useful for people who are graduating to introduce ourselves to the rest of the industry. This situation should be taken to learn a new skill or start something you didn’t have the time to do in the past. At the moment I’m learning to play guitar and really pushing the pre-production for the series I mentioned earlier. I think it would be helpful if we used this opportunity to share these ideas and have different eyes review it.
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?
I’ve seen quite a few opportunities arise on Twitter especially. Its My Shout is something that people should look into.
Normally filmed in the summer but now would be a good time to send them monologues and try to apply for their scheme. I’ve been gathering a list of agents from different companies like United Agents and Regan Management. Going back to what I said earlier I think creatives should also take this opportunity to look into uploading auditions and show reels on You tube. Most of what you see on YouTube don’t really have a budget or if they do its minimum, and they get 20 million views due to the entertainment quality. Its a site that hasn’t reached its peak yet and with projects getting 20 million views, I believe it’s the perfect opportunity to show off your talent. Now is the perfect time to start looking into it too.
If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
Off the top of my head I can’t really think. Amateur productions are something that I think should be given a bit more of a funding as the copyright for a lot of shows are really expensive which then makes the budget for the set, theatre booking and costumes a lot more tighter than would it could be. I would like to see some kind of better funding go towards people who want to make short films too,Having known people being in that position, I understand it can be difficult pulling off projects with such small budgets. Some of the ideas I’ve heard of in the past have been really fascinating to hear about but due to the funding, they’re either put on hold or cancelled which is a bit disheartening, especially for the people in that position. So some kind of better funding to help those guys out.
What excites you about the arts in Wales?
The future of Wales is looking bright for sure! with massive Hollywood films like ‘Dolittle’ with Robert Downey Jr and ‘Infinite’ with Mark Wahlberg, it looks like Wales is finally getting noticed.
Along with the talent, schemes and ideas in Wales, the overall future is bright and I can’t wait to see what opportunities the future holds!
What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
There’s a few things that come to mind. I’ve seen quite a few live TV recording’s of ‘The Big Six Nations Kick Off with Gabby and Gareth’ I got the male lead to ‘A Vampire Story’ which was my first time doing a lead in a show. But what stands out the most to me is when I went to New York to see the musical version of King Kong, going to Ellens Stardust Diner, and looking at some of the incredible views from the skyscrapers!
I also went to the Welsh BAFTA’s where I got to speak to quite a few big producers, actors and actresses like Ioan Gruffudd, Eve Myles, Catrin Stewart and Mark Lewis Jones, so that was a pleasure to meet all of them and hear what successful professionals had to say.
In the 300th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Robinson. The Other Island offers a multilayered way to rethink the book. Director Mathilde Lopez and John Norton, Artistic Director of the company Give it a Name, blend Robinson Crusoe with Michel Tournier’s Friday and convey a somber mood through an original sound experience, devised by John Norton and Jack Drewry. The play unfolds in our heads as we listen to the sounds, words, and music with headphones. Robinson is more than a play; it is a shared and intimate experience of reading and reflecting on solitude.
The Robinson Crusoe of Robinson. The Other Island (played by John Rowley) suffers a maddening loneliness alone on the Island, but lonely is also Bianca (played by Luciana Chapman), who reads Defoe’s and Tournier’s books. Bianca is alone in her flat, eating microwavable meals, trying to work out how to fix a leaking tap, hiding from her father, and yet seeking a connection with him. As Bianca reads about Robinson in our ears, it is also us who experience loneliness. Isolated from other members of the audience by headphones, yet establishing a connection with them as we watch and listen together. The drama is at times broken by the lively and funny interventions of book clubbers talking about Robinson Crusoe into the mics of Robinson and of Bianca. It is effective, although on opening night there were perhaps too many voices, rather than the one or two during rehearsals, thus losing intensity.
Robinson Crusoe’s misogyny, racism, and colonialism are not brushed under the carpet but take centre stage. They are tackled with humour, puzzlement, and even violence. At the words ‘I bought me a negro slave,’ Bianca gets angry in her anger she becomes Robinson. She orders to fetch the Governor’s coat (Robinson’s), smokes, and reads the horrendous passage where ‘negroes’ are things, tools of work, lesser humans. The colonial racism is juxtaposed with Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Whitey on the Moon,’
The 1970’s that contrasts the power of white man colonising the moon while black people have no money to pay the doctor’s bill. Bianca takes up a plank of wood and attacks Robinson breaking into the world she is reading about.
Bianca and Robinson interact only slightly. It
is a dance of two lonely people seeking connection and forgiveness. Robinson is
shown in his humanity: lonely, resourceful, exploring and observing the island,
fighting against his destiny, and begging for forgiveness. A soft music creates
intimacy. Bianca and Robinson sit together playing with dough like children and
like children the audience listens to the voice reading the book. In the week
when Jean Vanier, the founder of the community L’Arche, died, Robinson
reminds me of his teaching on loneliness:
‘Loneliness is part of being human, because there is nothing in existence that can completely fulfill the needs of the human heart. … It is because we belong with others and see them as brothers and sisters in humanity that we learn not only to accept them as they are, with different gifts and capacities, but to see each one as a person with a vulnerable heart. We learn to forgive those who hurt us or reject us; we ask forgiveness of those we have hurt.’
Robinson is a meditative piece that stimulates thought and nudges us slightly towards compassion.
I am a podcast fan. I listen to podcasts on long journeys, while I’m cooking dinner, while I’m gardening and to help me off to sleep. There is a world of fascinating knowledge and stories out there that I can’t get enough of. The first of these, recommended to me by my son, is the encyclopaedic purveyor of unusual facts, 99% Invisible. Produced in Oakland, California it is part of the Radiotopia network and whilst rooted in the USA, has a truly international outlook. I find it delightful.
If you visit their website, the ‘about’ section tells us that “99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.” Fascinating enough, but it’s much more than that. To date there are 325 episodes that you can download, beginning in 2010 and carrying on to the present, they have covered what I consider to be everyday wonders of the world. If you haven’t listened to any of them yet, you’re in for a treat. I wish I could start from Episode 1 again – in fact I may well do that because there are many that I would like to hear again.
Each episode begins with an introduction from the velvety voiced Roman Mars, with the inevitable but very important messages from their sponsors (independent means they need the advertising). “I’m Roman Mars……” and proceeds to tell us about some fascinating thing that we’d really never thought about but might just observe now, like the way that large buildings are designed to make people behave in certain ways – in airports for instance in Episode 126: Walk This Way, and Episode 93, which tells us why we should always use the revolving doors.
Then there are my all-time favourites: Episode 160 Perfect Security reveals that “in the entire history of the world, there was only one brief moment, lasting about 70 years, where you could put something under lock and key — a chest, a safe, your home — and have complete, unwavering certainty that no intruder could get to it.” The story of Bramah, Chubb and the lock controversy of 1851 unfolds. Episode 164 tells us how the discovery of Bakelite helped to make the awful practice of creating billiard balls from elephant tusks come to an end – did you know that by the mid-19th century, elephants were being slaughtered for their ivory at an alarming rate, just to keep up with the demand for high-end billiard balls – no more than eight balls could be made from a single elephant’s tusks. Closer to home is Episode 316 The Shipping Forecast featuring interviews with that reassuring voice of Peter Jefferson that anyone who listened to his dulcet tones late at night in will appreciate.